Daube de boeuf, part 2.

So the fiddliest bit of this recipe involved taking my giant, very unattractive tub of ingredients and separating them into meat, marinade and vegetables. The best tactic I found was using two spoons, first to strain off most of the liquid into a bowl, and then to pick up a piece of meat and flick the finely sliced onion, carrot and garlic off. It was worth doing though, as the meat has to be browned before adding to the casserole pan and the veg would be sizzled to a bitter crisp in the process.

Veg, browned meat, more garlic, marinade, and a tin of tomatoes into the pot, then back to some calming slicing and sautéing of mushrooms.


Given that the meat needs a good 90 minute or 2 hours, the mushrooms would be completely disintegrated, so this is a good trick that I’ll use again.

Next up, the sludge. There’s no other way to describe this brown-ish goo, flecked with green. It’s just not attractive, but that’s not the point. Garlic, anchovies (I used the oil to sauté the mushrooms in), red wine vinegar and parsley. While the recipe calls for 2tbsp of chopped parsley, I just stuck in a few stems from a bunch as the stalks in parsley are just as tasty as the leaves once whizzed up.



Deeply unattractive, but exactly what the dish needs – some pure umami, a little sharpness, and a fresh burst from the herbs. It’s stirred in about 15 minutes before the end of cooking, with a little roux to thicken the sauce, if that’s how you roll.

While the pot simmered I made some mashed potatoes to go along with the stew, and dealt with the dishes, of which there are quite a few – marinating and pulling the food processor out makes it a little heavier on the washing up.

Et voilà, the end result!


Maybe I shouldn’t have gone for something so unphotogenic and….brown goo-ish for my first recipe, but it was delicious. My only regret is that it’s taken me this many year to make it. We had leftovers this evening and, like most stews, it was even better

Next time I make it, I’ll start the meat marinating on a Friday night, so I can do some chopping and stirring on Saturday and then reap the minimal effort rewards on Sunday. While I made plain, buttery mash, the recipe recommends a leek champ to go along with it – I think it would be particularly good with a root veg mash, especially one with a little cream and nutmeg involved.

Oversll, two hearty thumbs up. Yum!


Daube de boeuf, part 1.

It’s very much stew weather around here, but instead of my usual “what’s in the fridge?” version of beef stew, I broke out a book that I’ve had for more than a decade but can’t actually remember the last time I made anything from it; Darina Allen’s Ballymaloe Cookery Course.

It’s a big tome of a book, which is to be expected from an Irish food Mecca that trains some of the best professional chefs in the country. Multiple columns of directions per page, and photos are few and far between, but the recipe is pretty straightforward. It’s a teaching book at heart, after all.

It doesn’t seem a particularly complicated recipe, but it’s time consuming – more in marinating and cooking time than actual active work though.

I’m lucky to have a great local butcher, so I used their diced round steak instead of buying and dicing a piece of topside as indicated in the recipe. Round steak is great for stewing.


I have the beef marinating with red wine, onion, carrot, garlic, thyme, bay, salt, pepper and olive oil. I’ve added a couple of extra bay leaves as I love bay and I’ve got a miniature tree in a pot so it’s not in short supply around here! Total time for weighing, measuring, chopping and soaking was about 10 minutes.

A quick note on wine:

I’ve used this is a decent merlot-malbec for this recipe. There’s quite a bit of wine in the marinade – 300ml all in – and cutting corners here will absolutely have an effect on the end result. Not as much as in something like coq au vin, but enough that I wouldn’t risk using Casa Collapso, or something open from the back of the fridge that should really just be chucked.


The whole lot is in a big lock and lock tub, and is not the prettiest sight, especially when the wine starts to work its magic on the beef. The tub is watertight though, so I can whack everything in very unceremoniously, snap the lid on, and then give it a good shakey shakey to mix everything. As I’m in and out of the kitchen this evening and tomorrow, I’ll give it another quick shake to keep everything moving along nicely.

In other news, while wandering around town this afternoon I discovered that Nisbet catering supply have opened a branch here! Very exciting, especially as they sell to the public. I had a good wander around, and picked up a nice balloon whisk – something that’s been missing from my kitchen.


I’ve bought and passed on/chucked multiple balloon whisks over the years, largely as they’ve always felt a bit flimsy for heavier jobs, or because they claim to be dishwasher friendly and aren’t. I once had trapped dirty dishwater slowly leak from a whisk handle into the bowl of cream I was whipping. Not the flavour addition I was hoping for, to say the least.

New Year, New Project!

While I’m firmly in the “no thanks” camp with the whole new year resolution business, largely to avoid whole depravation/self-flagellation cycle, I’m a big fan of new projects and new adventures. This will be both I hope. Travelling without moving, and all that.

Despite multiple (often far more gut-wrenching than they should have been) destashes of my cook book shelves, fuelled by several house moves, I still find myself with the better part of a hundred cook books. Most of my early favourites have been passed on to other homes as my confidence in the kitchen improved, and produced more and more delicious results. I’ve got some fabulous everyday volumes and some big and imposing ones. Everything from vegan ice cream (actually delicious!) to 1970s housewives friends, and even a few of the historic and historical.

While they’re largely all well thumbed through, and all occupy a competitive spot on the shelf, there are more than a few that have so far just been inspiration and I’ve yet to actually cook anything from them. Other books, I cook the same half dozen recipes from over and over, but never venture further.

My challenge to myself this year is to cook my books. Hopefully I’ll discover some new favourite, learn a lot, and generally have fun as I go!

My only rule is that I want to average one completely new recipe a week. I can revisit old favourites, but the whole point of this is to do new things. I’ll blog as I go, largely as a reference to myself (Did I really like that? What substitutions did I make?  Was that largely a hot mess in hindsight?). If anyone else wants to cast an eye over, or drop a comment, then the more the merrier!

Tonight though, our local Japanese restaurant that delivers is having a New Years special, and they’ve also delivered too much sushi (I didn’t think such a thing exists either!) so for this evening I’ll be eating far too much and being thankful for baggy pajamas