birthday bonanza

I have had a bit of a break over the past few weeks. Partly because I’ve felt a bit bored and demotivated with cooking for just myself, partly because I’ve had some things going on around me, and partly because I just haven’t felt like writing. I guess with a steady readership of two (you know who you are!) I can take that luxury without upsetting people.

But now I’m back and so with a bang. I have written up a new meal plan for the coming two weeks (and the plan is to keep deciding what to eat two weeks at a time) with five new recipes in it so far and I technically have five recipes for you in this post. That’s right, five. And one of them has three variations to it.

The company I work for offers each employee a complete health check once every three years. Because it’s my first year with the company, I was offered one this year. They did a blood test which checked all your blood levels, iron, glucose, the health of your liver, etc. etc. and then there was a follow-up with a doctor where you got to check your weight, BMI, muscle and fat (percentage), lung capacity and ‘age’, eye sight, hearing, EKG and more. It was really interesting and I was happy with most of my results. The doctor said I was very healthy and I had a higher muscle mass percentage than the average woman (who apparently lies within a range of 24-30%) but I would like to improve my fat mass. And that brings me back to food – so now I’m going to renew my efforts of making good, and preferably healthy, meals as well as trying to keep myself accountable through keeping track of what I eat. I might, however, try not to make 2-4 portions rather than 4-8 so that I don’t grow bored of what I’m eating – especially if it doesn’t turn out the way I thought it would.

But before we get to all that we need to look back at what was my birthday dinner party a little over a week ago. S and I had invited my oldest friend and her boyfriend over for dinner and they are such foodies. I was terrified lol! Definitely had some major performance anxiety going on.

Anyway, I knew I wanted to make a main in the slow cooker, because it saves time and space. I also knew I wanted something warming and wintery, and preferably a slow-cooked piece of meat, and as I was googling ‘slow cooker dinner party recipes’ something popped into my mind: beef/ox cheeks. I found a recipe for slow cooker beef cheeks in red wine and decided to pair it with a garlic mash potato recipe I had seen before but never tried.  Dessert was already decided – I definitely knew I wanted to make something with Nigella Lawson’s salted caramel sauce and I decided that something was going to be scooping the sauce into the middle of a chocolate fondant and hope for the best. (Not really though – I did two practice runs beforehand.)

Then there was only the starter left. I had looked at maybe making some pick and mix bruschetta style bites, but then S came and said why don’t we make gravlax? We decided on doing three versions; traditional dill, the beetroot and gin one from Christmas, and a citrus one he found online.  Both the starter and the dessert also worked in well with my ‘do-as-little-as-possible- while-they’re-here’ approach, since the salmon needed to be cured for three days and would be ready to slice upon their arrival, and the chocolate fondants could be made and kept in the fridge for up to 24 hours before baking. All I would really need to do once they were here was slice some salmon and bread, make mash potatoes, and put the fondants in the oven.

So from the top down, here are the recipes (including the beetroot gravlax – slightly modified). Unfortunately for the blog I didn’t take any pictures since it was a party after all, so you’ll have to make do with pictures of the leftovers in the case of the starter and main and the trial run for the dessert!


Traditional gravlax

350g fresh salmon

50 ml salt

50 ml sugar

50 ml chopped dill

a splash of water

Beetroot and gin

350g fresh salmon

50 ml salt

50 ml sugar

3 tbsp gin

1 medium beetroot

Citrus fruits

350g fresh salmon

50 ml salt

50 ml sugar

1 orange (zest only)

1 lemon (zest only)

1 lime (zest only)

a splash of water


Place the salmon in a plastic bag.

Mix salt and sugar and rub onto the fish.

Sprinkle a few drops of water (or gin in the beetroot and gin version) over the mix, then add the condiments for your chosen version (i.e. dill or beetroot or the citrus zest mix).

Put the fish in a plate or tray of some sort, skin-side up, and leave in the fridge for three days, turning once a day.


Slow cooked ox cheeks in red wine (6 servings)

3 tbsp olive oil

1.2kg beef/ox cheeks

1 onion

1 carrot

4 garlic cloves

1.5 tsp dried thyme

4 dried bay leaves

1 cup beef stock

1 bottle (750 ml) red wine

3 tsp salt

black pepper

carrots

mushrooms

pearl onions


If necessary, cut off any large bits of fatty membrane. Season the cheeks with 1 tsp salt and some pepper.

Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large pan and sear the cheeks. (I don’t usually sear my meat for the slow cooker, but this time I did, since it was a ‘fancier’ recipe.) Set aside on a plate and cover with foil.

Turn down the heat and add 1 tbsp oil. Sauté the onions, carrots and minced garlic for about 3 minutes, or until the onion has become translucent.

Add the onion mix to the slow cooker and place the meat on top.

Return the pan to the heat and pour in 500 ml wine. Leave to simmer for a minute, then pour into the slow cooker, including all the brown bits stuck to the bottom.

Add stock, thyme, bay leaves, 2 tsp salt, and some black pepper to the slow cooker, then cook for 6-8 hours.

When the cooking is finished, remove the cheeks from the slow cooker and discard the bay leaves.

Blend the sauce with a handheld mixer until smooth and add the remaining wine. Pour it all into a saucepan and leave to simmer for about 10 minutes, or until it has reduced enough for your liking. You can also add some cornstarch mixed with water as a thickening agent if you would like to.

At this stage, as I knew I was returning the meat and sauce to the slow cooker to keep warm, I also added some mushrooms, carrots and pearl onions.

You can also make this as a non-slow cooker recipe and the instructions for that can be found in the original recipe.


Garlic mashed potatoes (4-6 servings)

800g potatoes

250 ml cream

3 garlic cloves

85g parmesan


Cook the potatoes until soft.

Mince the garlic and add to a saucepan with just a touch of butter. Brown for a few seconds, then add cream and bring to simmer. Set aside.

Drain the potatoes then mash them and add the garlic cream and the parmesan, stirring to combine.

Season with salt and white pepper to taste.


Salted caramel sauce (6 servings)

50g butter

50g white sugar

50g brown sugar

50g syrup

125 ml cream

1 tsp sea salt


Melt butter, sugars and syrup in a heavy-based pan. Let simmer for about 3 minutes, stirring every now and then.

Add cream and salt and stir to mix. Remove from heat and leave to cool.


Chocolate fondant (4-6 servings)

100g dark chocolate (I used half 55% and half 70%)

100g butter

100g sugar

100g flour

2 eggs and 2 egg yolks

butter

cocoa powder


Brush your moulds with melted butter and place in the fridge to cool. Once cooled, repeat, then dust with cocoa powder. Set aside.

Divide chocolate and butter into small pieces and place in a water bath (a bowl on top of a simmering pot of water – but not touching the water). Stir until completely melted. Set aside to cool.

Whisk eggs, egg yolks and sugar to a thick, fluffy, white-ish mix. Fold in the flour, then the melted chocolate – one third at the time.

Pour the batter into the moulds.

If you do not want to make caramel filled ones, fill to about three quarters. Leave in the fridge for at least 10 minutes before baking.

If you do want to make caramel filled ones, fill to just under half, then place something in the middle to make a hole. I used egg cups wrapped in cling film, which was a bit sticky. Leave to cool for 10 minutes, then remove your objects and fill the hole with caramel sauce. Cover with more fondant mix (which has been kept outside the fridge) and make sure it goes all the way to the edge, not just covering the top. Leave to cool for another 10 minutes – at least.

Bake for 10-12 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius.


Notes:

The citrus salmon was quite sweet. I think halving the orange zest and upping the lemon and lime zest would be better.

Also, last time I made gravlax I used the 1:0.5 ratio where you have half the amount of salt to sugar. I thought that was too sweet, so this time I did 1:1.

I cooked my ox cheeks for 6 hours on low, because I knew they would be keeping warm, and as such ‘after-cooking’, for another 2 hours. If you’re going to eat yours at once, you might want to cook them for 7-8 hours instead.

For the mash, make sure the cream is really heated or the mash will get cold. I would also recommend seasoning it with salt and pepper.

For my dessert I made two batches of salted caramel sauce – one that I made the day before and left in the fridge overnight to solidify a bit and one that I made just before our guests came and left out in a sauce jug to cool. If you’re using the sauce as an actual sauce (i.e. not as a filling) I would recommend not putting it in the fridge, as I felt that it went too solid to pour properly then.


Definitely a good birthday dinner.

/t

slow cooker mexican shredded beef burritos

When I worked in London we didn’t have a lot of nice lunch places around the office. Most often that meant having just a ready meal or sandwich from a local supermarket or something from the office restaurant (which was always a, shall we say, interesting experience…). But sometimes when the weather was nice and I didn’t feel stressed I would walk over to Embankment and treat myself. Some days that meant getting a Katsu curry at Wasabi, other days it meant getting a fully loaded Mexican Burrito from Wrap It Up!. The burritos were so good – huge and filled with shredded beef or chicken, rice, black beans, salad, cheese, guacamole and sour cream. Freshly wrapped up in foil, with the cheese melting with every step, I’d carry it back to the office and tuck in.

Lately I’ve felt a bit been-there-done-that with many of the slow cooker recipes I’ve been looking at since pretty much all I’ve had this autumn and winter have been soups and stews. I also had a real craving for Mexican (or European Mexican shall we say) food, and being in London over the weekend made me remember the cheesy, spicy burritos I sometimes had for lunch. So I went looking for slow cooker beef burrito recipes online and came about this Mexican shredded beef recipe. Often the pulled pork/shredded beef/chili recipes require lots of different ingredients that I don’t have or can’t that easily get hold of – especially since they’re often American. This required some spices I didn’t have at home but that I knew I could get at my local supermarket, so I decided to give it a go.

I don’t think it’s very often when you try and remake something you’ve had when eating out that the result exceeds your expectations, but this time it really did. It was exactly what I was craving and it really did feel like I was eating one of those Wrap It Up! burritos. I first had it for lunch, reheated in the microwave, with guacamole and when I bit into that first bite with the melted cheese and the spicy beef I knew I had found something good.

I should warn you though that this recipe makes a lot of beef ! And I mean a lot. Especially when you add rice, sweetcorn and beans like I did. I used 4 portions of rice, 200g sweetcorn and 380g (one box) ready to serve black beans. This mix is very beef-heavy, so if you want a more equal mix between your beef and the rest I would probably recommend using the same amount of rice, sweetcorn and black beans, but halving the beef (or cooking all of it but using half for something else). Unless you’re cooking for an army, in which case feel free to double the rice, sweetcorn and beans.

I would also recommend actually letting the sauce reduce down for at least 10-15 minutes, as it says in the original recipe. I didn’t have time to do that since I was doing the last bits in the morning before going to work, so mine only simmered for about 5 minutes. This unfortunately meant that the flavour of the sauce wasn’t as intense and there was way too much of it since burritos can’t be too liquid – or the tortilla will just become sloppy. Apart from that the result really was fantastic.


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Ingredients (many portions)

Spice Mix

1.5 tbsp chipotle powder

1 tbsp smoked paprika

1 tbsp oregano

1 tsp All Spice

1 tsp coriander powder

2 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp salt

black pepper

Beef

1 – 2 tbsp olive oil

1.5kg beef brisket

5 garlic cloves

1 onion

0.75 cup orange juice

2 tbsp lime juice

400g crushed tomatoes

500 ml beef stock

Burritos

4 portions long grained rice

200g sweetcorn

380g black beans (cooked/ready to serve)

grated cheese

soft tortillas

guacamole and/or sour cream


The original recipe recommends cutting the meat up into three similar-sized pieces, but I chose to keep mine in one large piece, since I’ve learnt my slow cooker seems to make the meat drier than some others.

Combine all the spices for the spice mix in a bowl, then sprinkle a few teaspoons over the beef and pat it in.

Heat the oil in a pan and brown the meat on high heat. Remove the meat from the pan and add to the slow cooker.

Fry the garlic and onion on medium heat until soft.

Add the orange juice and lime juice to the pan, then add the remaining spice mix.

Pour the contents into the slow cooker together with the chopped tomatoes and beef stock. Your beef should be mostly covered, but if it’s not – add water until it is.

Cook on low for 6-10 hours – the bigger the piece(s) of meat the longer the cooking time.

Remove the beef from the slow cooker and shred it with two forks. Set aside.

Pour the sauce into a pot. Simmer on the hob until thickened enough for your liking (at least 10-15 minutes), then pour as much as you like over the beef (though not all!).

To make my burritos:

Measure out four portions of long grained rice and cook according to the instructions.

Drain the black beans and rinse thoroughly.

Mix the rice, sweetcorn and beans into the beef.

Put a good-sized dollop of burrito filling in the middle of a tortilla. Top with as much cheese as you feel like, then fold it and wrap it up in foil.

Serve with guacamole and/or sour cream.


This is one meal I’ve made that I won’t grow tired of having both for lunch and for dinner several days in a row.

/t

beef stew with chili and chocolate (a slow cooker conversion)

So, as I mentioned in my how-to post, I converted a normal recipe to a slow cooker recipe for the first time this week!

Apart from the fact that I felt the stew was too liquid when it was done, I think it turned out very nice. When it had cooled in the fridge for a few hours the liquid had set a bit more, so it wasn’t as liquid as it was when I first took it off the heat. The flavour was definitely good (though more beefy than winey since I added more stock than wine) but the carrots were a bit too mushy. So I would recommend either adding them halfway through the cooking process or putting them in aluminium foil and laying them on top of the meat, mushrooms and liquid.

As I also said in the how-to post, I not only adapted this recipe from a regular one to a slow cooker one – I also had to adapt the ingredients slightly. My local supermarket doesn’t stock venison, so instead I got what we in Sweden call rostas, which is the inner muscle of the beef rump (basically the inner bit of the roast beef bit), and then I added mushrooms as well. I also didn’t use any coriander or chili powder, and bought tinned tomatoes with garlic rather than plain tinned tomatoes. Either way it turned out really good and served with mashed potatoes it’s great comfort food.


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Ingredients (6 portions)

1 kg beef (or venison if you have it at hand)

2 large carrots (ca 200-250g)

250g mushrooms

1 red chili

1 yellow onion

390g tinned tomatoes (with garlic if you wish)

2-300 ml beef stock (I used about 400 ml which felt like way too much)

250 ml red wine

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp thyme

1 cinnamon stick

3 tsp vegetable oil

40g dark chocolate (70%)

water + cornstarch


Chop up your onion and fry until golden in 1 tsp oil. Pour in 2 tsp oil into the slow cooker and add the onion.

Cut your beef into big-ish chunks and add to the slow cooker. If you wish you can sear them before putting them in the slow cooker but this time I didn’t have the energy to and I can’t say I noticed too much of a difference.

Cut up your carrots and mushrooms into similar sized pieces and add to the slow cooker. Alternatively; add the mushrooms to the slow cooker and keep the carrots aside until halfway through, or wrap the carrots in foil and set aside.

Chop up your chili and add to the slow cooker.

Add tomatoes, red wine, beef stock, cumin, thyme, and the cinnamon stick to the slow cooker. (If you have wrapped the carrots in foil, place them on top now.)

Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

If the stew is too liquid, add cornstarch to water until there are no more lumps then add to the stew and cook on high for 30 minutes.

Add chocolate and stir so it mixes in.

Serve with mashed potatoes, or boiled potatoes, or maybe even add potatoes to the stew? BBC also say that it’s really good as pie filling, but then you’ll want to make sure it’s not too liquid.


I know I often say so, but I’m definitely making this again. I might play around with it some more, but I’m pleasantly surprised with how this turned out, seeing as it was the first time I tried my hand at making a non-slow cooker recipe in the slow cooker!

/t

 

swedish meatballs

Swedish meatballs must be one of the most famous things to come out of Sweden. If you ask people what they know about Sweden the list usually goes; Abba, IKEA, Volvo, Swedish meatballs. If they’re into football, music, films, or Scandi noir, the answer might stretch a bit with things like Zlatan, Swedish House Mafia / Avicii / Red One, Alexander Skarsgård / Alicia Vikander / Ingemar Bergman, or The Bridge / The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – but those first ones are usually the first four mentioned. I mean who’s been to IKEA and hasn’t had the meatballs?

Here’s where it gets interesting though – because what I’m guessing that you don’t know (unless you read The Local Sweden) is that most Swedish people wouldn’t have the IKEA style meatballs the way they’re served in IKEA. This is because we have a division of how you serve ‘good’ and ‘bad’ (or ‘posh’ and ‘non-posh’ if you like) meatballs. And don’t get me started on meatballs with fries. Unless you’re buying them at a street vendor / kiosk / petrol station during a drive (and even then they often have mash as an alternative) or you’re a toddler, you do not have meatballs with fries.

So, as you may deduct from the above, the good, or posh, meatballs are the homemade kind. The ones your parents or grandparents used to make for you when you were little. The ones that are hand-rolled with love. These are (always) served with potatoes or (homemade) mash, cream sauce, and lingonberry jam. They are traditionally made from mixed mince – half beef half pork – but can also be all beef, moose, boar, deer, or whatever else your family is in to. In my family it was moose.

The bad, or non-posh, meatballs are the factory-made kind you buy in the supermarket – or at IKEA. In Sweden these are usually served with pasta (often snabbmakaroner, i.e. ‘quick macaroni’ which takes about 2 min to cook) and ketchup. I know! Ketchup. This is what we used to get in school when I was little and we were served meatballs. It’s also what my mum used to pack in my food thermos (that or pancakes) when we were going on outings with school.

Another use for the non-posh meatballs is on a traditional Scandi-style open sandwich, together with what we call beetroot salad (which is essentially small cubes of beetroot mixed with mayonnaise).

The other use for the posh meatballs is of course at the Christmas table and Christmas dinner – served besides the sausages and other hot foods – and that brings us neatly on to today’s recipe, because after Christmas we had loads of meatballs left. Feeling slightly tired of Christmas food, I suggested we could make meatballs with mash and cream sauce.

The recipe below is a very basic meatball recipe. My nan and my dad always used to put onion in theirs, but since I’m not a fan of onion (I can do it in stew where I can pick it out or soup where it’s blended) I don’t. Some people put garlic in theirs, others allspice. And like I already mentioned before, people use all kinds of meat. Even chicken and turkey, but then I don’t think it would go too well with the sauce. Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that if you want to experiment – go nuts! You can also replace the milk with cream if you want a heavier feel.

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Ingredients

500g mince (I use lean beef with 5-10% fat)

50 ml breadcrumbs

100 ml milk

1 egg

salt

pepper


Soak the breadcrumbs in the milk for about 10 minutes, until they have swelled and soaked up all the milk.

Mix in the egg.

Add the mince and salt and pepper. Mix together (best done with a fork or your hands).

Roll out the meatballs by taking a piece of mince mixture and putting it in between your palms, moving them in opposite directions.

Fry in butter on medium/high heat for 5 ish minutes, until cooked through.


For the cream sauce to go with it, I usually improvise. The way I go about it is: add a small piece of butter to a pot, then pour in 300 ml cream. Add 1-1.5 beef stock cube and stir until dissolved. Then add a splash of soy sauce, some white pepper and, if necessary, some flour to thicken. If it’s too thick, add some milk. Not enough saltiness, add more soy sauce. And so on. However, this doesn’t make for a very good recipe for someone who doesn’t know what they’re after in the taste and texture department, so I’ve Googled a recipe for you and adapted it slightly to go better with my version.


Ingredients

1 tbsp butter

300 ml cream

1 stock cubes / 1-2 tbsp concentrated stock

1 tsp soy sauce

white pepper

flour


So as stated above, melt the butter in a pot. Add the cream and a teaspoon of flour. Whisk until there are no lumps.

Crumble the stock cube (or pour in the concentrated stock) into the pot and stir until dissolved (combined).

Add the soy sauce and some white pepper.

Leave to simmer until slightly thickened.


This should be served either with a creamy homemade mash or with boiled potatoes, and then lingonberry jam. I know we haven’t talked that much about lingonberry jam before, but I think I’ve made it clear that this is a staple in the Swedish kitchen? We eat it with meatballs, with potato pancakes, with our macaronilåda pastabake, with oven-pancakes (pancake batter cooked in a large tin in the oven, often with bits of bacon in it), kroppkakor (Swedish potato dumplings with pork filling) and so on. If you really want to do these good meatballs justice, you should have rårörda lingon (which translates as raw-stirred lingonberries) because they have less sugar in them and are less jelly-ish in texture. But lingonberry jam will do. (It always does.)

So now you know that Sweden has a tier system in place when it comes to their meatballs, and how to serve them depending on which tier they belong to! You can of course do it differently, but once you’ve had a good, homemade, meatball, mash and sauce meal you will never be able to look at the IKEA version the same again

/t

‘singapore’ chili stir fry

The week when I bought the Blue Dragon satay sauce, I also bought the ingredients to make this dish. However, after the disappointment with the satay, I wasn’t quite so keen to take on another stir-fry, albeit one I had no expectations of, so I used the beef I’d bought to make the Kelda Texas Chili Stew (that I’m yet to post my review about). But that meant that I had the other ingredients lying around at home. So last week I decided to make this stir-fry, and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised.

I didn’t have much experience of hoisin sauce other than having a hoisin duck pancake once, which I didn’t really like (I thought it was a bit too sweet, and it probably didn’t help that the duck was dry) so I didn’t quite know what to expect. What I got was a dark, sticky – albeit sweet – stir-fry with bursts of chili, garlic, and ginger.

I think that it was maybe a little too sweet – more so when reheated in the microwave than when coming straight out of the work – but that can easily be adjusted by reducing the amount of hoisin sauce and adding more soy. I also think that adding another red chili would have made it pop more, but if you’re not a fan of spice, one will be enough.


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Ingredients (4 portions)

500g thinly cut beef strips

250g broccoli

1-2 red chili peppers

2-3 cloves of garlic (dependent on size)

1 cm fresh ginger

200 ml hoisin sauce

1-2 tbsp soy sauce

oil

rice


Cut up the garlic and chili into small pieces, and grate the ginger. Cut the broccoli into smaller florets and cut your beef into strips.

Brown the beef in oil, then set aside as you stir-fry the broccoli for 3-4 minutes.

Re-add the beef together with the garlic, chili, and ginger.

Then add the hoisin sauce and soy sauce and leave to cook for a little bit longer, until the sauce is heated through.

Serve with rice (or maybe noodles, but Jasmine rice was really good with this).


Such a quick recipe that is easy to adjust to your liking as well.

I bought what in Sweden is called lövbiff (cube steak or minute steak) to make this dish, and then cut it into strips. Because the beef has been tenderised to create a thinner piece of meat and allow for a shorter cooking time, I thought that cut worked out really well in this dish. Sometimes when I do a stir-fry I can feel that the beef can get a little chewy from first being cooked on its own and then cooked again for a bit with the vegetables and the sauce, but this cut didn’t.

/t

taco pizza parcels

In the past decade or two, something has happened in Swedish homes. Fridays have become synonymous with ‘fredagsmys’ (Friday coziness) and fredagsmys has become synonymous with tacos. And now I don’t mean real tacos like you get in Mexico – I mean mince fried in a taco spice topped with various vegetables, some salsa, sour cream, guacamole and cheese, and put in either a hard taco shell or a soft tortilla. Every Friday evening.

It started when I was little with the Swedish contest to find our Eurovision competitor. In Sweden we take Eurovision very seriously, and we have competitions where the public calls in and vote for their favourite. Their score combined with that of a jury decide who gets to go to Eurovision. Over the years things have changed a bit (undoubtedly because people realised they could make quite a bit of money on this) so now we have six competitions to find our contestant. Four regular shows, from which one person/group goes straight through to the final and one to the ‘second chance’, the second chance show, and then the final. Six Saturdays in a row. So Eurovision-craziness in Sweden usually begins around February-March, and I remember from when I was little that these Saturdays were often accompanied by tacos. Don’t get me wrong – I love tacos, but maybe not every week.

They were often also the food of choice when we had parties when we were 7-10 or so. It’s such an easy food to make and as a kid it’s quite fun to get to pick and assemble your own food. It’s also good because if you don’t like something you just don’t take it.

So a few months ago I was browsing around Ica’s recipe collection, thinking that I wanted to make pirogues. But making pirogues involves making the dough, and at that time I just felt a little bit too lazy for that. Then I came across this recipe (which they call taco pirogues) and thought I’d give it a go. It looked easy, sounded nice, and because you don’t have to make your own dough it was also quite quick.


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Ingredients (6 pcs)

500g mince

1 pc taco spice mix

90g frozen sweetcorn

1 pc pizza dough

1 pc tomato sauce (may come with the pizza dough kit)


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Brown the mince in a frying pan, then add the frozen sweetcorn and the taco spice mix. Depending on what mix you’re using, you might also want to add 50-100 ml water to make sure it blends with all the mince. Once it’s well incorporated, add the tomato sauce. Leave on a low heat to simmer a little.

Roll out your square, pre-made pizza dough to make it a little larger, then cut into six similar sized squares. Fill these squares with one sixth of the mince, and fold as you please. I’ve found that it’s easier to fold them as squares (i.e. folding in the corners towards the middle), but the original recipe has folded them in more traditional triangular shapes. It’s easier to get the dough to stick together if you brush some milk or beaten egg on the edges before you fold them.

If you want to, brush some milk or beaten egg on top (this creates a glossier finish).’

Bake in the oven at 200 degrees Celsius for 10-15 minutes.


If, like me, you can be a bit lazy from time to time, these parcels are great. They’re quick, easy, tasty, and keep well in the freezer for those days when you don’t have anything at home.

The original recipe calls for carrots instead of sweetcorn, but I think sweetcorn goes better. You can of course add other vegetables as well, but I recommend being a little sparse with your additions, because it can be difficult enough to fit the filling in the parcels already!

I have made these twice now. The first time I bought just a pizza dough and used a herb and garlic tomato sauce for the mince. This time I bought a pizza kit, and used that tomato sauce instead. Both work, but I think the pasta sauce was actually nicer, because it added a little more flavour. If you do use pasta sauce though, remember not to take too much. I think my sauce package carried around 250 ml.

If your mince mix is too runny, try to let it simmer for a while to reduce the water.

I’ve had these parcels for both lunch and dinner, and for lunch they work on their own, but if you’re having it for dinner I would recommend having some salad on the side. They’re probably also very nice together with guacamole or a flavoured crème fraîche.

/t

beef, mushroom, and greens stir-fry

I love Asian food. Especially the more Eastern dishes from China, Japan, and Korea – although a good Pad Thai is not to be trifled with. Sushi and dim sum are at the top, then come different versions of stir-fries and meat dishes served with white, sticky rice (think satay chicken, yakiniku, teriyaki, and so on).

The thing about stir-fries is that they’re so simple to make, but also so easy to mess up. Too much or too little sauce, too small pan, too dry meat. Having been to Asia and enjoyed the genuine Asian cuisine, the disappointment when it’s bad at home (whether you cook it or you’re severed it in a restaurant) is so much greater, because you know what you’re missing out on.

There are a few stir-fries that I would never attempt myself, like Pad Thai. I just know that it’s not going to taste as nice as it does when the Thai place down the street makes it, so I’m not even going to try. The ones I have made with the most success at home though are the beef and broccoli ones. I’ve made beef and broccoli in pepper sauce (the kind you can by in the Asian supermarkets) which was really nice, as well as a beef and broccoli one where the beef was just marinated in garlic, ginger, soy sauce and sesame oil.

So this time, looking for something similar yet different, I decided to go with a beef and mushroom recipe. All you need is some beef, mushrooms, greens of your choice, ginger, garlic, oyster sauce, soy sauce and oil. And then rice or noodles to serve. The original recipe calls for spring greens, but because we’re in the middle/late summer now and my supermarket’s selection of spring greens and cabbage was not that inspiring, I went for pak choi instead. I figured that being an Asian cabbage it would blend better with an Asian stir-fry than my European cabbage anyway.

This is a really quick and easy recipe, the only thing that can take some time is cooking the rice. But because I like convenience and portion control I usually get the boil-in-bag rice which doesn’t take much more than 10-15 minutes. 


Ingredients (3 portions)

300 g beef steak of your choice

200 g spring greens

150 g mushrooms

1 cm fresh ginger

2 cloves of garlic

3 tbsp oyster sauce

1.5 tbsp dark soy sauce

vegetable oil


Start by combining the sauces and setting it aside.

Heat a wok (or large frying pan – but wok is really so much better) until it’s really hot, then stir-fry the beef in some oil.  Set aside.

Chop the ginger and garlic and stir-fry until golden, then add the greens and the mushrooms. Cook for about 3 minutes, then add the steak and sauce mix and cook for another 3-4 minutes so that everything is heated through and the sauce mix has thickened slightly.

Serve over rice or noodles (or maybe on an omelette – seeing as the prawn and broccoli one was so nice?) and enjoy.

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It should be stated that the original recipe serves 4, with 400 g beef, but because I could only get my hands on a 300 g pack of beef in the supermarket I decided to rework it to 3 servings. I have divided the oyster and soy sauces exactly, but have a slightly higher quantity of greens and mushrooms than the original recipe does. I haven’t reduced the amount of ginger (the original recipes does not include garlic).

A stir-fry is probably the best thing for me to make when I want leftovers, because it’s easy to reheat both at home and at work. At work we only have a microwave and at home I don’t have one, so some foods are better suited for work while others should be enjoyed at home. For example, I made these really good little taco pizza parcels (they’ll make an appearance), but heating them up in the microwave made the pizza dough loose it’s crispiness, so they’re more of a home food. Whereas I haven’t had a baked potato in months – do you know how long it takes to bake a potato in the oven?

/t