Friday, 31 October 2014

Slow Cooker Beef Brisket


I must confess I don't really get the appeal of the slow cooker. I have owned one for a couple of years but don't often use it and the fault probably lies with me. I know many friends and fellow food bloggers who swear by it so I have finally dusted mine off and bought a book (Cook it Slow - I found it in TKMaxx) which has some truly wonderful looking recipes. I can't resist buying cookbooks – they are my catnip. I may have to devote half a wall to them in the new kitchen – it will be amazing to have them all accessible and on display. Currently they are either piled on the floor by my desk or hidden away behind a shelf and several 'prop' boards.

I wanted to try brisket in the slow cooker since a) I love brisket b) it always is a little tough when cooked in the oven c) I LOVE brisket. I recently attended the Unilever Kitchen event where Marco Pierre White was in attendance as Knorr ambassador and he demonstrated marinating fillet steak with a Knorr cube and some olive oil. I was doing that back in my student days only with cut-price chicken breasts and yes, it is surprisingly effective. So I employed the same technique here and maybe it was that or maybe it was the slow cooking method but whatever it was the resulting beef was both meltingly tender and incredibly yummy. Definitely worth dusting off the slow cooker for.


By the way, in case you are wondering, MPW is both approachable and quite intimidating. He demonstrated how to cook the perfect fillet steak (marinate with Knorr chicken cube, very hot pan, small amount of oil or clarified butter, cook until rare, take off heat and let meat cook in residual heat) and professed love for good pans (Le Creuset), sharp knives, heavy chopping boards and the best ingredients. He also made an amazing sauce au poivre using an entire bottle of Worcestershire sauce and double cream. Sadly he didn't cook us lunch – that was something we had to do ourselves.

But I am getting sidetracked. Brisket! Serve this with gravy made from cooking liquid (you probably need to break out a saucepan for this – I tried making in the slow cooker but run out of time) and Yorkshire puddings or shred the beef, pulled-pork style, and eat it in a bun or tacos. Soooo good.

You can prepare this a day in advance and put in the fridge overnight. Any fat in the meat juices will solidify which makes removing it an absolute breeze. You can then slice the beef easily and warm it in the gravy. If you haven't got a slow cooker you can cook this in a casserole dish (Dutch oven) in the oven at 160C (325F) for about 4 hours. I haven't had as much success with this method but it may have something to do with the quality of the meat I was using.

Slow Cooker Beef Brisket

Slow Cooker Beef Brisket 
900g | 2 pounds beef brisket
(or use large piece of meat)
2 Knorr beef or chicken stock cubes
3 tbsp olive oil
6 shallots, roughly chopped
3 large garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
2 carrots, roughly chopped
2 celery sticks, roughly chopped
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp Kikkoman Soy sauce
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1-2 tbsp ketchup
freshly ground pepper
500ml | 2 cups hot beef stock made with Knorr stock pot
2 tbsp cornflour (cornstarch) diluted in 1 tbsp cold water
Fresh thyme leaves to serve

See here for Yorkshire pudding recipe.

Method
  1. Put the Knorr cubes and olive oil in a small bowl and use the back of a spoon to crush and mix into a paste.
  2. Rub the paste all over the brisket and set aside at room temperature while you chop the vegetables.
  3. Heat a large heavy pan and then sear the beef on all sides until nicely browned. Set aside.
  4. Add the chopped vegetables to the pan and a splash of stock and scrape and bits of meat that may have stuck to the bottom of the pan. Cook until slightly softened then add remaining stock, soy and Worcestershire sauces, bay leaves and ketchup. Bring to a simmer.
  5. Transfer the vegetables and stock to the slow cooker then place the beef on top, fatty side up.
  6. Season with pepper and add the garlic slices on top.
  7. Cook on low for 8 hours. Transfer the beef to a plate and cover with foil.
  8. Drain the meat juices into a saucepan and discard the vegetables. Stir in the diluted cornflour and simmer until slightly thickened. Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper if necessary.
  9. Serve the beef sliced, smothered in the gravy, with over roasted potatoes or mash and some Yorkshire puddings (ok, add some steamed vegetables as well).
Slow Cooker Beef Brisket
Slow Cooker Beef Brisket

I would like to thank Unilever for inviting me to their Kitchen event. 

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Total Greek Yoghurt Cookbook Review & Giveaway


Total Greek Yoghurt has been a presence in my life since I was a little girl. It is, after all, the most popular brand of yoghurt in Greece where I grew up and continues to be my (only) choice in the UK. I always have a pot in the fridge, usually the 0% one as I tend to eat it for breakfast an awful lot but I also use the Classic in cooking and baking .

So it is a pleasure to review the Total Greek Yoghurt Cookbook on the blog and a welcome surprise that far from being an one-note book it has varied and delicious recipes from starters through to desserts. I have been a fan of author Sophie Michell since her Cook Yourself Thin days (anyone else remember that TV show? It was chock-full with talent, Gizzie Erskine and Harry Eastwood among them). Here she draws inspiration from Greece (where her family have a home), but also Middle East, Asia and from Total's own recipe archives to create dishes that look and sound incredibly tempting. I have road-tested one of Sophie's recipes – Pastitsio – scroll down to see the results.

Total are generously giving away a copy of their cookbook and a whole bunch of their products to one lucky Supergolden Bakes reader. Scroll to the bottom of the post and follow the instructions on the Gleam form for a chance to win.


Healthy Pastitsio Recipe

Pastitsio
Pastitsio is a Greek classic, a layered pasta and meat dish much like Lasagna – equally delicious and tremendously calorific! Sophie has substituted the incredibly rich b├ęchamel which normally covers Pastitsio with a much less heart-attack inducing layer of yoghurt. The resulting dish is remarkably tasty and obviously a lot healthier. Normally this is baked in one large dish but I decided to make individual portions instead. I have tweaked the recipe slightly - Sophie mixes the meat sauce with the pasta and tops it with the yoghurt but I have kept the layers separate as is traditional. Although the recipe doesn't include it, I think some crumbled feta cheese would be a nice addition in the topping.

For the meat sauce
750g | 26oz lean minced lamb
1 large onion, finely diced
2-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 large can chopped tomatoes (Sophie uses 400ml/14oz passata)
4 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp dark brown sugar
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick (or 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon)
1 tsp dried oregano
handful fresh thyme
250ml | 1 cup beef stock (my addition)
125ml | 1/2 cup white wine (Sophie uses red)
Salt and pepper to season
2-3 tbsp olive oil

For the pasta and topping
500g | 14.6oz penne pasta (or macaroni)
4 egg yolks
500g | 14.6oz Classic Greek Yoghurt
200g | 7oz grated Parmesan (or Kefalotyri)
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

Method
  1. Heat the olive in a large saucepan and add the lamb, garlic and onions. Season with salt and pepper and cook over medium heat until the meat is browned and onion softened. Add the cinnamon, sugar, bay leaves, thyme and oregano and stir.
  2. Add the tomato paste, chopped tomatoes, stock and wine and simmer for 40m-1h until sauce is thickened. Remove the bay leaves and cinnamon stick and set aside.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180C (350F).
  4. Mix the egg yolks, yoghurt, nutmeg and half the cheese.
  5. Cook the pasta until al dente, rinse and drain. Add a few spoonfuls of the yogurt and mix thoroughly.
  6. Divide the pasta between 6 (or up to 8 depending on size) small ovenproof dishes or use one large, fairly deep dish. Pack the pasta down with the back of a spoon to fill about halfway up.
  7. Top with an even layer of meat sauce and finally spread a layer of the yoghurt on top. Sprinkle with the remaining grated cheese.
  8. Place on a large tray (in case of leaks) and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the top is browned. 
Supergolden Bakes: Healthy Pastitsio Recipe

Win a copy of Total Greek Yoghurt Cookbook & Total products

Terms and conditions
> Giveaway open to UK residents over the age of 18 only.
> One winner will receive a copy of the Total Greek Yoghurt Cookbook and the following
TOTAL 0% GREEK YOGHURT 2 X 500G
TOTAL 2% GREEK YOGHURT 2 X 500G
TOTAL GREEK YOGHURT, CLASSIC 2 X 500G
I KILO – Total Greek yoghurt CLASIC
Split pots 2 x each flavour
Fruyo 2 x each flavour
> The giveaway ends on the 21st of November.
> Entries using an automated process or software to create bulk entries will be disqualified.
> The winner will be randomly selected, announced in the Gleam giveaway box and contacted via their provided e-mail address shortly afterwards. Please claim your prize within 4 days of being notified.