Posted in comfort food, cooking, filling food, Food, Jamie Oliver, stew

Week 8 – Beef in Black Sheep Pie

Last year I took Mr Gem to the beautiful village of Masham in North Yorkshire for his birthday and we did a tour of the Black Sheep Brewery whilst we were there. I’m not really a big beer drinker, I don’t mind the odd one but as a general rule I’m more of a gin girl but even I found the tour incredibly interesting, I even enjoyed a half pint of Golden Sheep Ale which went down surprisingly well after all that talk of beer!

Beef in Black Sheep Pie


I’ve wanted to cook beef in beer pie for a while now, I had one bookmarked in Jamie’s Great Britain, but a proper pie needs time and attention and cold, miserable weather so that you can really appreciate how comforting a good pie is, luckily Sunday was a quiet, cold and miserable day and I got to make my pie!

The recipe for this pie can be found in Jamie’s Great Britain and here. In true Jamie style the ingredient list is pretty long but for the pie filling its worth it. I’ll be honest and admit for the second time in two weeks I used shop bought pastry, but for good reason, because Mr Gem wanted a puff pastry topping rather than shortcrust and frankly, life is too short to make puff pastry.

The recipe takes around 3 hours to make from start to finish but its worth it, plus the house gets all warm and cosy and smells amazing. Mr Gem was slightly perturbed when I started cooking tea straight after we’d cleaned up after lunch but I love a Sunday spent in the kitchen!

The first stage of the cooking is to brown the beef and onion in the herbs and a bit of oil and butter, once the beef is browned add the beer, tomato puree and stock and flour and then simmer for an hour. I used a bottle of Riggwelter from the Black Sheep Brewery – its a really dark beer that I could never drink but in a stew it has a really deep flavour which goes perfectly with the beef stock.


After the first hour of cooking is done stir in the barley and simmer for another hour (honestly this recipe is more about the waiting than actually cooking – I watched an entire Harry Potter film whilst this cooked!)

Once the second hour is done stir in the mustard, Worcestershire sauce and cheese – go easy on the mustard though, I was a bit heavy handed and it was a touch overpowering. Give the dish a good stir and then ladle into your pie dish and top with the pastry. Give the pastry a brush over with milk or egg and whack the whole dish in the oven for another hour or so.


Once the pastry is golden brown serve with green veggies – you wouldn’t need any potato with this because the pastry and barley make it pretty stodgy. It was absolutely amazing, stodgy, warm, comforting, filling…I literally ate half a plate full and was stuffed.


Perfect comfort food for a cold and dreary Sunday.

Posted in Jamie Oliver, stew, sweet and sour

Week 12 Part 2 – Roast Chicken and Sticky Pork Stew

So as well as a LOT of baking this week I did manage to rustle up a couple of new savoury dishes. One of which I stupidly forgot to take a photo of so you’ll just have to imagine how amazing it looked.

Nigel Slater’s Roast Chicken

As I’ve already hinted at I’ve never really made a roast dinner on my own, because it’s just the two of us it seems a bit wasteful making an entire roast dinner but we really fancied one this week and just used the leftovers for lunches. So I had to consult a recipe book on the chicken as I literally didn’t know what to do with it! So Mr Slater came to the rescue advising me to rub the skin with a garlic butter and some tarragon and I sat the chicken in a little bit of water and stock so I could baste it throughout the cooking. I roasted a couple of onions in the pan with the chicken so that I would have the base of an onion gravy at the end. The chicken went into the oven for an hour and a bit on 180 degrees, whilst that was cooking I peeled some sweet potatoes and put them on to boil – I’d decided I fancied sweet potato mash rather than potato mash because its healthier and so tasty! The other vegetables I used were cauliflower, broccoli and honey roast carrots. I par boiled whole baby carrots until I could just sink a knife into them, then coated them in honey and roasted in the oven for about 20 minutes.

The chicken came out lovely – the skin was crispy and garlicky and the meat was cooked just right, the sweet potato mash and honey carrots created a nice sweetness to go with the cauliflower, broccoli and onion gravy. I was so excited about my first chicken dinner that I forgot to take a photo but it was so good!

Sticky Pork Stew

I’m always looking for new things to cook – earlier on in the year I bought some pork for the first time in ages, I made a recipe for sweet and sour pork, which I blogged about in Week 3 and since then I’ve been buying it a lot more regularly. But a girl can’t live on sweet and sour pork along so I’ve been trying to find new pork recipes. I got the bones of the sticky pork recipe from a Jamie Oliver recipe but typically I didn’t read the recipe properly and didn’t realise it took 2 1/2 hours to cook – on a school night that’s just not achievable so I modified it!

I used pork, red peppers, leeks, red wine, red wine vinegar, apricots and put them all in a casserole dish, with a bit of water to cover the meat. It went in the oven for an hour or so on 180 degrees. After an hour I checked it and it smelled fantastic, but the sauce was a bit runny so I mixed up a tablespoon of cornflour and water and added it to the dish, it went back in the oven for 10 minutes whilst I rehydrated some cous cous. This was a really warming casserole but with a twist – the apricots added a real sweetness to the dish that you don’t get with a traditional casserole.

Mr Gem thought it was good but was disappointed not to have the butternut squash mash I’d promised! Regular readers of my blog may remember I bought a butternut squash last week but so far I haven’t attempted to cook it. It is currently sitting in my vegetable rack goading me at my lack of inspiration. The fact is I didn’t want to waste the brand new ingredient on something as bland as mash, but so far I haven’t been able to do anything with it. However this week the squash is for the chop…watch this space!

Happy cooking!

Posted in avocado, cooking, goulash, pancakes, pasta, stew, sweet pancakes

Week 8 – Skint Spaghetti, Pancakes and Goulash

The last couple of weeks have been one-recipe weeks, mostly because I’ve been focusing on getting the blog up and running and I haven’t really had the time for looking at new recipes. However now that I am officially live and blogging I thought I’d bring you a bumper Week 8 with no less than three new recipes!
So on the blog for this week will be; an Avocado Spaghetti Sauce, a Hearty Beef Goulash and in recognition of pancake day – Scotch Pancakes!
So, without further ado I’d better crack on otherwise I’ll still be writing this post in week 9!
First up this week was Avocado Spaghetti Sauce – and here it is:
The recipe for this sauce is something that I developed using a few leftovers in the Kitchen Gem’s fridge. Mr Gem and I eat quite a lot of pasta, but its easy to get into a rut and just cook the same dishes every week, so when I had a couple of leftover avocados I thought it would work quite nicely in a pasta sauce.
To make the sauce I blended the two avocados, two cloves of garlic, one chilli, and the juice of one lime, a splash of olive oil and a tablespoon of low fat cream cheese until it made a smooth sauce. The result was a fresh and zingy sauce that was delicious served over some wholewheat spaghetti with roasted vegetables and topped with a little Parmesan. 
This is a really quick and easy dish to make – and because the colour is green you feel like you’re getting some goodness. Mr Gem said it was a nice change from the usual pasta sauce and actually really enjoyed it despite being a little unsure at first.
For a quick Monday night dinner I’d give it an easy 7 out of 10 (lets face it – spaghetti sauce is never getting more than a 7 is it?!)
Next up for Week 8 was Scotch Pancakes:
I don’t like normal pancakes – I know that this fact makes me seem a bit strange but I never have like them. 
I didn’t think it would be fair to deprive Mr Gem of some form of pancake on Shrove Tuesday so I opted for a sweet version that we could have as a pudding rather than a main meal.
I found the recipe in Eat In magazine and it was so easy to make, I would definitely make these again for a treat. The exact recipe I followed doesn’t appear to be online but you can find a similar one here.
Basically you need to whisk flour, eggs, milk, sugar and baking powder to make a smooth batter and drop them into a hot frying pan 1 tablespoon at a time – I kept the pan oiled with low fat cooking spray between batches. When bubbles start to pop on the surface of the pancakes flip them over and cook on the other side until they are cooked through.
I did have a teeny tiny kitchen fire when I made the last pancake as my pan got a little bit too hot, but aside from the minor panic and Mr Gem swearing that I’ll burn the house down one of these days they were so easy to make and tasted lovely. We had them with vanilla ice cream and honey, but you could also make them with fruit, or nuts depending on your taste.
So because these are my first attempt at pancakes I’m going to mark these a 9 out of 10!
And finally for Week 8 we have a Beef Goulash: 
We don’t have stews very often at Kitchen Gems, but every time I make one it reminds me how much I love hearty warming food. I came across the recipe on BBC Good Food whilst I was looking for something else and it looked so lovely I wanted to try it.  Its a longish recipe so I won’t bore you with the details and if you want to make it all the details are on the link above.
Its quite an easy recipe to make, and the flavours are delicious. I would add more paprika next time to really lift the flavour. I didn’t have quite enough tomato puree to follow the recipe exactly but other than that it was a lovely stew. We ate it with baby new potatoes and greens, but it would go really well with rice or dumplings.
A lovely comforting dish and I’d give it a 7 out of 10. 

I’m now into Week 8 of my New Years Resolution and I can honestly say I’m loving it – I find myself wanting to try something new on an almost daily basis – can’t wait for next week! Happy cooking!