Beef Bourguignon

IMG_9787IMG_9789

This is the type of dish to make when you want to potter around the house and be very happy to peek in on a dish every now and again to check it and add a few more things, and after a few hours be remarkably delighted with the end result. This traditionally French dish is so lovely and complex in flavour – meaty and mushroomy, gravy, thymey and winey. My good friend Edrea and I wanted to cook something together, and after many flicks through one of my new favourite cooking and baking books, The Great Australian Bake Off, this is the one we finally settled on. Originally designed as a pie filling, we adapted it to make a pasta dish instead. Alternatively, you could make the pie version (which would be equally delicious I presume and come on, who doesn’t like pie…) if you were keen on making some pastry as well. So get your day planned and cook up this delicious beauty – we filled our waiting time with watching P.S. I Love You – whatever takes your fancy!

IMG_9802

Ingredients

  • 750g chuck steak, cut into small chunks
  • Plain flour (to coat the steak in)
  • Vegetable oil
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 350mL red wine (nothing too fancy – I bought a $3 bottle which actually turned out wonderfully)
  • 250mL beef stock
  • 250g button mushrooms, finely sliced
  • Pasta (to serve, such as fettuccine – a nice thick one)
  • Fresh thyme

Essential kitchen items

  • Large pot/saucepan (to cook all your ingredients in)
  • Small saucepan (to reduce down the wine)

Preparation

1. Toss the beef in the flour and season with salt and pepper. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large saucepan. Add in the meat pieces a little at a time and fry for around 2 minutes until they have browned slightly. Then remove onto a plate.

IMG_9761

2. Turn the heat down and stir in the onions and garlic. Cook down for about 10 minutes   until the onions are very soft.

3. In a separate small pan, simmer the red wine until it has reduced by about one-third (I hadn’t actually ever tried this technique before, but it worked! You can test how much it has reduced down to by pouring the wine into a measuring jug after about 10-15 minutes. The aroma is delicious too, think mulled wine!) Once the onions have cooked down, stir in the wine, stock, beef, and thyme sprigs. Bring to the boil for a few minutes and then lower the heat, covering the dish and cooking gently for 1 hour, stirring from time to time. During this time, the mixture should take on a new taste, colour and texture, and begin to look for like a gravy.

4. After the hour, add in the mushrooms and let simmer, uncovered, for another hour. Add salt and pepper as needed. Towards the end of simmering, and when the gravy is nice and thick, put on the pasta and cook according to packet instructions.

IMG_9783

5. Voila! You are done!

Here’s a few of my other it’s Spring-but-why-does-it-still-feel-like-Winter?? recipes you can enjoy – Healthy Veggie Lasagna and Pea and Fancy Ham Soup

IMG_9797IMG_9793IMG_9799

“Green banana’s” smoothie

IMG_9049

I’m always trying to find new and interesting ways of adding veggies into my everyday eating. I’m happy to say that this delicious smoothie gets me off to the right start for the day. It also gives me an awesome injection of essential nutrients first thing in the morning – fibre, iron, vitamin C, potassium, protein and calcium.

Ok…so there are no actual ‘green bananas’ in this smoothie I whipped up over the weekend. I guess it’s more the ‘vibe’ of the drink.

Many of the smoothies I make are a bit of a blend of leftovers lying in the fridge, freezer and/or pantry (i.e. no strict measurements observed). This was a little experiment which worked out deliciously well. And, it’s almost vegan for you vegans out there (sans honey).

IMG_9040

Ingredients

  • Handful or more of baby spinach
  • 1 small green pear
  • 1 banana
  • Handful walnuts
  • Handful bran
  • 1 cup soy milk (I used Vitasoy  Soy Milky Lite)
  • Squeeze of honey (teaspoon)
  • Water, as needed, to blend

Whizz up everything in a blender and enjoy.

I love the creaminess and the flavours and textures in this smoothie. Sweetness from the banana and pear which lightens up the bitterness of the baby spinach, nuttiness from the walnuts, and creaminess from the soy milk. I usually include bran as well to increase my fibre intake and to add a slight crunch to the smoothie.

The smoothie is also fairly cold itself from the milk, but you can add some ice cubes or use chopped up frozen bananas instead.

IMG_9050

Healthy Veggie Lasagne

IMG_0243IMG_0245

Wanna eat lasagne without being afraid of putting on those lasagne kilos?? Then this is the recipe you want! Oh yes, you can make your lasagne AND eat it too. At only 400 calories per slice (yes, I actually did the math!) it’s wholesome and packed with essential veggies. Just compare that to some of those 900 or 1000 calorie lasagnes you get at restaurants. In addition to that, it’s super easy to make. I call it a 3 step process – heat the veggies, assemble the lasagne, and cook! It also freezes wonderfully if you have leftovers. And don’t worry about incorporating ‘light’ ingredients into the dish – it’s light on calories but not on flavour – promise!

IMG_0219

Ingredients

  • Dash of olive oil
  • 3 medium zucchini (thinly sliced into circles)
  • 1 brown onion (thickly sliced)
  • 1 cup light cheese, such as Tasty or Mozzarella (I used Woolworths Select Light Tasty)
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese (I used Woolworths Select Smooth Light Ricotta)
  • 250g button mushrooms (thickly sliced)
  • Box of wholewheat oven-ready lasagne sheets (I used San Remo Wholemeal Instant Lasagne Sheets)
  • 2 cups pasta sauce (I used Woolworths Select Tomato & Basil Thick and Chunky Pasta Sauce)
  • 2 tomatoes (thinly sliced)
  • Black pepper
  • Parsley (optional)
  • Leaf salad or baby spinach (to serve)

This will make 6 generous, healthy and satisfying slices.

Essential kitchen items

  • Large skillet or pan
  • Baking dish to assemble and bake the lasagne in – approx. 32cm x 20cm x 6cm

Preparation

1. First step is to heat up the veggies a little to cook them through. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add in the onion, zucchini and mushrooms and cook for around 5 minutes until they have softened slightly.

IMG_0221

2. While the veggies are cooling, it’s time to assemble the lasagne and preheat your oven to 200 degrees. Line a sheet of baking paper in the base of the tray. Now repeat the following process three times (using one third of the ingredients at each step):

  • Lay out a few lasagne sheets so they are touching or overlapped slightly
  • Spread out the ricotta
  • Crack some black pepper over the ricotta
  • Spread out the cooked veggies
  • Drizzle over the pasta sauce
  • Lay on top the sliced tomato
  • Sprinkle over the tasty or mozzarella cheese
  • REPEAT 2 MORE TIMES
  • At the final layer, sprinkle over the parsley

_MG_9752  _MG_9754

_MG_9756  _MG_9764

3. Cover the lasagne with aluminium foil and bake at 200 degrees for at least 45 minutes. Towards the end of cooking, remove the foil and let it cook some more uncovered. You’ll know when it’s ready when the lasagne sheets are nice and soft and have lost their stiffness.

IMG_0232

Not a fan of zucchini or mushroom? You can substitute or add some other favourite veggies if you wish like grated carrot, thinly sliced eggplant or roasted capsicum.

_MG_9766

IMG_0240  IMG_0238

_MG_9767

Pea and Fancy Ham Soup

IMAG1289

A gorgeous green pea and ‘fancy’ ham soup that is perfect for the winter days. This recipe I adapted from Donna Hay’s book Fast, Fresh, Simple. and have doubled in quantity to serve 4. It forms part of the ‘fresh’ component of the book – classic recipes that have been taken, transformed and injected with new life. The result is fresh, light, creamy and easy on the wallet. This dish can be made in under 30 minutes, but as usual, most of the leg work is in the preparation.

IMG_9252

Ingredients

  • 4 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 brown onions, finely chopped
  • 3 cups (360g) frozen peas
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and grated (I used medium-sized sebago)
  • 2L (8 cups) vegetable or chicken stock (depending on your preference, I used vege stock)
  • ½ cup mint leaves (this is mostly for taste. I’m not a big mint fan so only used a few leaves)
  • 1 cup (250mL) single pouring cream
  • 1 cup defrosted peas (no need to microwave, just leave out to soften whilst cooking the soup)
  • Sea salt and cracked pepper
  • Enough prosciutto for 4 (2 slices per person is perfect, so 8 slices in total)
  • Crusty bread or toast to serve

Serves 4

IMG_9255

Preparation

  1. Heat up a saucepan over medium heat, then add the oil and chopped onion and cook until soft.
  2. Add the frozen peas, potato and stock and bring to the boil, cooking for 6 minutes or until the peas are tender.
  3. Add in the mint, cream and a generous crack of salt and pepper.
  4. Once this is all combined, place the mixture into a blender and whizz until smooth (this might need to be done in a few batches).
  5. Once blitzed, return the soup to the saucepan.
  6. Preheat a grill on high heat and grill the prosciutto for 1 minute or until crispy.
  7. Ladle the soup into 4 bowls. Divide up the defrosted peas and sprinkle into each. I added this element to the recipe as I found it nicer to have some sort of ‘bite’ to the dish against the smooth creaminess.
  8. Break up 4 of the crispy prosciutto into pieces and sprinkle into each bowl leaving the other 4 whole to serve. Serve with bread and enjoy.

IMG_9263

IMG_9446

Donna Hay – fast, fresh, simple.