* Prices may differ from that shown
It is that time of year again where stews and soups start making an appearance on the dinner table. I often make stews in my slow cooker and here is a really easy recipe for a hearty and healthy beef stew.
Ingredients you will need
450 grams of stewing steak
4 large carrots
2 large onions
2 celery sticks
1 red bell pepper
Pack of mushrooms
4 cloves of garlic
Tin of chopped tomatoes
2 beef stock cubes or stock pots
100ml red wine
Tablespoon of flour
Salt and pepper
This is a really simple stew to make. You just rub the stewing steak with the flour and then brown it. Chop up all the vegetables and add them to the slow cooker along with the stewing steak. Pour in the tin of chopped tomatoes and red wine and then fill up with some beef stock until it is just covering the meat and vegetables. Add some salt, pepper and mixed herbs and then just leave it in the slow cooker for at least 6 hours until all the meat and veg is cooked and the sauce has thickened.
This makes such a tasty stew and cooking it in the slow cooker makes the meat incredibly tender and the veg is always cooked perfectly. I add mushrooms and a red bell pepper to the stew because I love the taste of them and also because it helps bulk it up the stew without having to add more meat. It makes a huge portion of stew and is more than enough for at least 4 people. The red wine makes a huge difference. It is only a small amount but it really makes a difference to the taste. You can just buy a small bottle and then freeze the rest for the next time you make it. Once you make this for the first time it will become a staple as it is really good.
Japanese curry roux are my must haves in the kitchen. It is essential to my ''Quick Stew'' - a name I''ve given to this curry stew that only takes 20 minutes to make! The curry roux comes with seasoning so unless you have tons of other ingredients to damp out its taste, you rarely need any other kind of seasoning. Use any type of vegetables you want with this, I''m assuming if you''re reading this you''d be quite lazy in the kitchen so I''d recommend frozen vegs like peas, carrots, sweetcorn etc. Chicken/Beef/Pork (or bacon) would go nicely with this recipe. Potatoes are great with the curry sauce too. You will need : Japanese curry roux, onions, fresh or frozen vegetables, potatoes and your choice of meat (optional) Cooking : Start by frying up some onion. Once it has caramelised throw in your curry roux and add JUST ENOUGH water to dissolve into a paste. Once that is done, add in your potatoes and meat. Add in vegetables last, when potatoes/meat are 70% done. Eat this with rice, bread, couscous, anything you like. This recipe is healthy, quick, easy and cheap! These curry cubes will cost you about 3pounds for 4 of them, but each cube will be enough to serve 2 portions. Other than that, you''ve got all your greens, proteins and carbs all in one pot. This is my go to recipe when I''m really busy but still want to bag a healthy meal in my stomach. The only thing bad about this are the curry roux, they are, after all, pre packed and thus have unnatural chemicals in them. Once or twice a week won''t hurt you though :D
I first made my own salsa to go with fajitas. I originally intended to buy some from my local Sainsburys but they only had some rather expensive branded salsas, so I decided to make my own with ingredients I already had. I had a quick look on the internet for salsa recipes and there were various ones. I didn't have all of the ingredients for a lot of them but there were a few ingredients which popped up in several of the recipes which I did have. I improvised a little with quantities but after a couple of attempts I produced a very tasty salsa, using products which most people will have in at all times.
400g chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoon lemon juice
2 cloves garlic
Half an onion
A sprinkling of mixed herbs
A pinch of salt
A sprinkling of black pepper
Simply combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. If you happen to own a blender this could be useful. Refrigerate, preferably for 3-4 hours for the flavours to combine properly. However, if you don't have this much time, an hour will suffice.
The final product is a tasty, very mild and tomato-y salsa. For a more spicy alternative, try adding a small chilli or jalapeños.
From all the Greek foods that I was cooking as a student, tzatziki is the one that all my international friends loved!
For this simple and easy recipe you will need around 20 minutes of preparation.
400 gr Greek style yogurt -one medium container (Total if you can find)
1 big cucumber
4 cloves of garlic
2 big spoons of vinegral
1/3 cup of olive oil
1/2 tablespoon of salt
Wash the cucumber very well, cut the edges but do not peel it. The secret in this is to grate the cucumber as it is, in the extra coarse side of the grater so that it keeps some of its natural water content. Then, leave it in the strainer for 10-15 minutes until all the water has drained and finally squeeze out the excess of water with your hands.
Put the yogurt in a big bowl, add the cucumber and mix it very well with a spoon. If you don't find Greek yogurt you might have to strain it seperately before mixing. Grade the garlic in very small pieces and melt it until it becomes creamy, or mince it very fine. Add a bit of salt and mix it with the yogurt. At this step you should taste the yogurt with a small spoon to check how strong it is. If you want it to be stronger, you can add more! Finally, add the oil and the vinegral and keep mixing until it becomes smooth and homogenous.
Tzatziki is served in a bowl as a cold side plate. I add 2 or 3 olive oils at the top for decoration and drizzle some olive oil. It is perfect to eat with chips, pitta bread, steak, lamb...
It is preserved in the fridge and you will notice that the taste gets better the next day!
Avoid eating it in the morning because if it's too strong, the garlic smell might be unpleasant..
I will be the first to admit that I am useless at cooking most things!! I tell you, I could burn a sandwich that doesn't require cooking lol!!
The one thing I am good at it broths and stews..... Any varity I'll give it a go. I was taught by my nan.... who's in my opinion cooking can't be beaten!
~~~ Chicken Stew ~~~
Very simple to make and a good way of getting rid of any chicken left over from a roast dinner.
Cooked chicken, carrots, swede, potato, leek, parsnip, 2 oxo/bovrill cubes, water, pinch of salt and pepper.
Simply chop up the vegetables and add them to a saucepan of hot water, add a pinch of salt and pepper and the stock cubes, give it a cook stir and then place the pieces of cooked chicken into the mix. It's up to you on how much ingredients you use, the more the better in my opinion. If you start it all in the night and let it simmer for a while it will be perfect the next day for lunch. Or start it in the morning and it will be fine for lunch or tea. Generally the longer you leave it the tastier it will be!
You can subsitute the meat for any other really, beef works well and then you get more of a broth, or corned beef will give you a corned beef stew.
Serve with a buttered crusty roll, or delicious fresh bread. DONE!
A very easy to make and tasty cheese sauce that goes well with Irish Potato Layer Cake - see my other Dooyoo recipes for this!
YOU WILL NEED:
30 g plain flour
25 g butter
1 pint of milk
100 g grated mature cheddar
1. On a low heat, melt the butter in a pan, then add the flour and mix together until you get a smooth sticky paste.
2. Add the pint of milk and then use a whisk until there are no big floating lumps of flour.
3. Turn the heat up and add the grated cheese a bit at a time, allowing it to melt between additions. Keep mixing with the whisk.
4. When all the cheese has melted into the sauce, get it as hot as you can without burning the milk / cheese and serve. Alternatively, you can pour into airtight containers and allow it to cool before storing in the fridge for up to roughly a week.
Who doesn't love a good home made chilli con carne, it's easy to make, it all fits in one pot and it tastes great.
The recipe below should be looked at as sort of a guideline because people' taste differ and who am I to tell you how something should taste. It is a great dish to experiment with, especially when it comes down to the amount of spices you add. Therefore I will only give the "right" amount for the basic ingredients, for the spices, well add to your own taste as you go along. When I make this dish it never tastes the same, but it always taste great!!
I think in theory you should be able to feed 4 people with this, but to be honest I eat so much of it it only feeds 2...
1 big onion
1 red pepper
4 cloves of garlic
500 gr of minced beef
1 can of red kidney beans
1 can of chopped tomatoes
2 table spoons of tomato paste
Some sunflower oil
Pinch of sugar (you might not need this)
Chilli powder (or flakes)
You may wonder why I use both cayenne pepper and chilli pepper. The reason for this is that both kinds of pepper give a different heat to the dish.
! Have a big enough pan ready for all ingredients to fit and simmer
1/ Heat the oil in your pan on a medium fire
2/ Add chopped onion and garlic and leave to sauté for a bit (until onion gets soft)
3/ Add your mince to the onion and garlic and season with salt and black pepper
4/ When the mince is fried sufficiently add the tomatoes, beans (with liquid), the chopped red pepper and tomato paste. Let it simmer for 5 minutes.
! This is a good time to already have a taste. If your tomatoes are a bit too acidic for your liking add some sugar and taste again, the sugar will counter the acidity.
5/ This is the moment of truth as at this stage you will add the other spices (cumin, cayenne pepper and chilli) to your liking.
!! Be gentle on the spices in the beginning. You might not feel the amount of heat at the very beginning but after 5 minutes of simmering it might be a whole different story.
6/ Let the whole dish simmer on a low fire for at least 30 minutes (the longer the better)
7/ Have another taste and add seasoning if needed
8/Serve with white rice
Enjoy!! (The chilli will even taste better the next day ;-) )
If you feel adventurous why not add one of the following ingredients:
- Small can of sweet corn
- Some dark chocolate
- Small amount of lager
Stop right there! Yes that jar of sharwoods is on offer at just a pound but it's discounted price doesn't offer you a sense of achievement....tasty tasty achievement.
Want to make a tasty simple meal? Like a bit of Chinese flavour? Got a couple of pans?
Well here's how I make my Chinese chicken noodles in your own sauce - concentrate!
You will need the following ingredients
1 Chicken Breast - Diced
1 Clove of Garlic
½ A Medium Onion
Tomato Ketchup (Heinz is best)
1 Nest of Noodles
Five Chinese Spice
Ok here's how to cook it up.
Heat 2 ½ tablespoons of oil in a pan. Now put this on a medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add a teaspoon of mustard seeds, I tend to use black. Now if the oil is too hot then your kitchen will turn into WW3 as the seeds pop all over the place. What you should have is the seeds slowly cracking in the oil.
Chop the onion and add to the pan, you want the onions to sizzle in the oil and soften, stir them to keep them from burning. Now add a teaspoon of your Chinese spice to the pan and stir it round.
Now with your onions coated in the spice and the oil flavoured, add your chicken and stir to get it coated in your pan ingredients. Crush one clove of garlic and add to the pan as well as two tablespoons of soya sauce.
Let the chicken cook through for about two minutes, turn the heat down and add about two tablespoons of tomato ketchup. Now all your ingredients are in the pan, mixed and simmering.
On the other hob you should have some boiling water ready. Take some noodles and run them under the tap. Then add them to the boiling water. Normally I use Sharwoods and these take about four minutes to soften. Once cooked, drain and then rinse under cold water, again draining excess water.
With your noodles done and your sauce coated chicken in the pan, chuck those two things together in the pan of sauce and chicken. Stir through and the sauce will coat the noodles.
Throw on a plate and there you have it a simple dish with a simple sauce that I find tastes better than anything you can buy off the shelf. That's probably because something you've made yourself always tastes better. It's also quite cheap to throw together and you can choose to add other things if you wish. As a slight alternative I add some chopped mushrooms to the mix.
So give it a go, I hope you like it!
*Banger and Bean Casserole/Stew*
I would like to share with you my favourite recipe. It's perfect for cold, winters days - a meal the whole family will enjoy. Bangers and beans, what a perfect combination!
1 packet of 8 sausages (could be vegetarian) whatever you like (add more if you are hungry)
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 lb potatoes (peeled and cubed)
3 or 4 large carrots cut into 1 inch chunks
1/2 pint stock chicken is good (or vegetable for vegetarians)
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 can baked beans
salt and pepper to taste (I don't usually but you might like it)
1. Cook sausages and onions in a large saucepan, until browned. (Alternatively, you could cook them in a frying pan and then transfer, but my way saves washing up ;o)
2. Add all other ingredients (except salt and pepper) to the pan. Bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until veg are tender. Season to taste just before dishing up.
Brown off sausages and onions, add all other ingredients. Put casserole dish in oven (preferably with a lid on). Cook for about an hour and a half, depending on how big you cut your potatoes.
You could even prepare this in the morning and put it all in a slow cooker on low, for a really tasty evening meal.
For a cheap meal, buy nice sausages but buy shops own basics, beans and tomatoes, as you wouldn't be able to taste the difference in this.
Serve with hunks of crusty bread and enjoy.
My grandma pretty much saved me from starvation when I went to uni. Luckily she lived in the same town as me and dropped by every now and then with bag fulls of shopping. To this day I still don't know how she managed to get it all on the bus or up the 3 flights of stairs but she did...and I am so grateful for that. If it wasn't for her surprise visits I would have literally lived on pasta and cheese for 3 years.
Anyway...in amongst the shopping she would leave little notes and recipes for me to follow and cook something different for a change. One recipe has stuck with me from that day because it was so unbelievably easy!
Braising steak / diced beef / lamb (any kind of raw meat)
A few carrots
A few parsnips
1 can of vegetable soup
A knob of butter
An oxo cube
A pinch of salt + pepper
1. Take a large oven dish (which has a lid)
2. Cut the meat including bacon into chunks and place them in the dish
3. Chop the onion, peel and slice the veg and then add these to the dish
4. Crumble an oxo cube over the ingredients
5. Sprinkle some gravy granules for an extra thick sauce
6. Add the butter
7. Pour in the vegetable soup
8. Mix well
9. Pour over enough cold water to cover all of the ingredients
10. Add a pinch of salt/pepper and a sprinkle of mixed herbs
11. Mix again
You then need to put the lid on and cook it in the oven for 2 hours at 200c. Stirring every 45mins or so. My oven cooks very quickly so I don't usually pre-heat it but that's your own choice.
When its done the veg should be soft and the gravy should be thick. You can either eat it on its own as I do, or with rice like my OH prefers.
This recipe is one of my favourites; it has proved popular with my flatmates at uni, my fiancée and my son. I hope you like it too.
I am not a big fan of a stew but in the winter my mom makes this recipe and I love it. It is the one stew that I get excited about eating and I do like to make myself. It also gets me to eat beef in this form which is rare for me so this is my recipe for a beef and cashew nut stew. The only thing is that there is quite a few ingredients to use and does work out quite expensive if you are making a lot of it.
* Beef stewing steak or any kind of beef you can use for stew but we always go for the best.
* Cashew Nuts - not roasted or salted
* Green pepper
* Potatoes - a nice selection that you can boil and they will be all soft and floury
* Red wine - always good!
* Beef stock
I havent added much in the way of measurements as like most of the things I make I do guess but with the beef and potatoes if you get enough for the amount of people you are cooking for. Usually I buy a 2.5kg bag of potatoes and use half. With the beef I just use a packet which is usually around 250g if I am cooking for just me and Dave.
Ok so this is how you do it. Fry your onion in a little oil until golden brown. Add a teaspoon of sugar for a minute whilst mixing with the onion. Add the meat so you can get this nice and browned so it cooks nicely. In the meantime chop all of your vegetables so the carrots and pepper and potatoes. When you are satisfied that the meat will be ok then add just under a pint of vegetable stock and the red wine. We always use one of those individual bottles of wine so we can just stick it all in.
Add the vegetables to the mix and then bring to the boil and leave boiling. Add the cashew nuts at this stage as you want them to go nice and soft and gain all of the flavours too. Then put in the oven at about 200.
I leave this stew cooking usually for about an hour and a half but this is because I brown the meat very well indeed but it can be left for a lot longer. The best way is to feel the meat and see if it is as soft as you like it to be.
We serve this stew on its own with some nice crusty bread and it is delicious. What you find is because of the sugar and the cashew nuts, the stew has quite a sweet flavour but not too sickly. The meat I like as it is extremely soft and tender and you know it is well cooked as if I find one bit of red then it turns me off my whole meal.
The stew is not that filling on its own I find so you do need the bread but the bread used to mop up all of the sauce is delicious. The stew does not let you get overpowered by the wine flavour either but you can still taste it is there which is nice. Then the cashew nuts are very soft so even if you are not a fan usually you might like them in this as they mop up all of the juices.
The final thing to tell you about this meal is that it is nice on a very cold winters or autumn day so give it a go. It is also a firm family favourite as it seems to work out every time.
In conclusion I think that if you are after a stew to make this one is particularly nice and stews are always quite easy to make and then leave to cook while you make your house ready for guests so it is a winner in my books. Plus any recipe that can actually make me like beef in this way has to get some votes.
Thanks for reading.
I've seen so many gravy "recipes" in food magazines that look so vile yet are claimed to be the ultimate gravy I thought I better share my accompaniment to roast meats. Also, in restaurants of any type, fancy or down-to-earth they usually serve up a few teaspoons of posh "jus" which is some insipid coloured water or some poopy brown liquid that tastes artificial and unrelated to the meat it accompanies.
Note this is not a "healthy" gravy but then everything in moderation as part of a fresh balanced diet is good for you, I say.
We cook all roast meats in roaster bags to save all the cooking essential juices. With chicken a large onion is stuffed up it's b**; beef needs nothing extra; lamb has a sprig of fresh rosemary and a couple of crushed garlic cloves and pork is roasted with a couple of onions.
So when the meat is done, always let it sit for quarter of an hour whilst the oven is turned up high to give the roast potatoes a final blast.
Drain the juices from the bag into a large saucepan. Add a couple of dessertspoonfuls of self-raising flour, or just enough to blend in all the juices to a thin roux.
Add about 125ml of tomato passata, the crushed/liquidised whole tomato, not tomato juice or puree. Add a good splash, about 25ml of mushroom ketchup; have only found the one from George Watkins, and the same quantity of gravy browning; a good thick one like Crosse & Blackwell.
Now add about 150ml of cheap red plonk, we keep a stock of the cheapest red wine on offer, no more than £2.50 per bottle after discounts.
Lastly add half a teaspoon of marmite.
Then start blending in the stock, if you have it avaialable:- chicken stock for chicken, lamb and pork or beef stock for beef. If none around then use the cooking water from the carrots. If no carrots on the menu use fresh boiled water and add a couple stock concentrates like Knorr Stockpots. Don't use the water from potatoes, too starchy or from green vegetables, too strong.
Stir in enough liquid to make into the consistency you like and keep stirring it off the bottom of the pan till it boils and starts to thicken, then simmer for a few minutes.
Using the meat juices will give the right flavour for the right meat, so, no, the gravy doesn't always taste the same. Save any gravy left over into a jug and store in the fridge till the next roast.
None of this throwing away all the fat and reducing what's left till it is half the volume to concentrate the flavours nonsense. For us, it's all about making a big saucepan of gravy and enjoying a couple of big ladles over your roast meat, crunchy roast potatoes and veg and tucking in.
The healthy food brigade seems to have forgotten that some flavours only exist in fats, removing the fat from foods removes all the subtle tastes.
To balance the fact that we use all the fatty meat juices we eat no actual meat fat or skin but only because none of us physically like it, the texture or the taste, so we tend to buy the leanest cuts of beef and pork, beef topside/corner cut and pork loin pieces; lamb legs and whole chickens.
See what you make of this simple gravy.
I thought I would share with you a lovely recipe I found in an old Weight Watchers cook book, I first made it a few months ago and have made it so many times that I don't need to refer to the recipe any more! It's a delicious hearty seafood stew which is low fat and contains just 3 Weight Watchers points per serving. The recipe serves 4 and keeps nicely in the fridge for a couple of days providing you have used very fresh fish. It can be frozen but I find you lose a lot of the juice when you defrost and reheat it, if you plan to freeze it perhaps add an extra 1/4 pint of milk at the first stage.
What You Will Need
1 pint skimmed milk
250g smoked haddock fillet, or you can use smoked cod if preferred
1 Veg Stock Cube dissolved in 450ml boiling water
1 onion, finely chopped
175g potato, diced into small cubes
75g frozen peas
75g frozen or tinned sweetcorn
2 tablespoons cornflour, blended with a little water
100g prawns, the king prawns are perfect
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, or 1 heaped teaspoon dried
Put the milk and haddock into a large saucepan. Bring up to simmering point and cook gently for 6 - 8 minutes. Strain the milk into a jug and keep for later. Skin and flake the fish, thowing away any bones you find and set aside.
Put the veg stock, onion and potato into a small pan. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and cook for 15 minutes, or until the potato is tender.
Pour this back into the large saucepan (which will need washing while the potatoes and onions are cooking or else the milky bits will burn) and add the strained milk, peas, sweetcorn and blended cornflour. Bring up to the boil, stirring continuously until it has thickened.
Add the prawns, flaked fish and parsley to the saucepan and cook gently for 2 - 3 minutes until the prawns are heated through.
Season to taste and serve with a warm crusty cob.
I was watching a program the other week about the little chef chain and a chef trying to help them, and he came up with a dish that comprised of ox cheeks..... not everyones cup of tea, but made me think about when i was little and the oxtail stews my mum made, so i digged out the recipe and made it last on monday and it was gorgeous, so i thought i would share with you guys, and maybe get people to try oxtail as its something that many people do not like but is really nice if cooked slowly and properly.
Stews are such a great meal especially at this time of year when its cold, i like the fact also that you can stick a pot on and sometimes i will just leave on stove and as and when people get in from work and school, you can just serve up especially if anyone is like me and you have loads of after school activities and parent meetings etc etc...can come in handy. Tastes great the next day also with a big door stop size of crusty bread.
Anyway here its goes hope you enjoy!
25 grammes of beef dripping
110 grammes of streaky smoked bacon cut into pieces
225 grammes of onions chopped finely
225 grammes of carrots cut into chunks
50 grammes of celery chopped into chunks
450 grammes stewing steak, cut into cubes
2 oxtails cut into joints ( can be brought from tescos or local butchers )
150 ml of red wine ( and then the rest for me while im cooking...hehe!!)
450 ml of beef stock
1 bay leaf or dried
1 sprig of thyme or dried
one table spoon of tomato puree
one teaspoon of butter
one teaspoon of flour
salt and pepper
for the parsnip mash
700 grammes of parsnips
700 grammes of mashed potatoes
75 grammes of butter
salt and pepper
* Preheat your oven to 160C or gas mark three
* Heat the dripping in a frying pan (large ish one if possible) add the bacon and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add the onions, carrots and celery and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a casserole dish.
* Cook the beef and oxtail pieces in the frying pan until the meat is beginning to brown off (you may have to do this in a few batches dependant on how many people you are cooking for etc) add the meat to the casserole dish
* Tip the wine and 150ml of the stock into the frying pan. Use a whisk to bring the mixture to the boil and to dissolve the meat juices.
* Add the liquid to the casserole dish and add in the bay leaf, thyme and a little parsley, the remainder of the stock and the tomato puree and season with salt and pepper.
* Put on a lid and cook in the oven for 2-3 hours, or until the beef and oxtail and vegetables are very tender. It should be just slipping of the bone.
* For the mash pots , peel the parsnips thinly. Cut off the tops and tails and cut into wedges. cut into wedges, cook them in boiling salted water for 15-20 minutes until quite soft.
* Drain off and mash the parsnips. Mix in the mashed potato and butter, and season with salt and pepper. sprinkle on some chopped parsley.
* Transfer the meat and vegetables to a serving dish and keep warm. Remove the bay leaf, thyme and parsley stalks.
* Warm 1 teaspoon of butter over a medium heat and tip in the same amount of flour; stir to combine, while cooking for a few seconds more.
* Bring the casserole's cooking liquid back to the boil. Whisk in the butter-flour mixture and cook until slightly thickened. Return the meat and vegetables to the dish and garnish with chopped parsley.
*Adjust the seasoning if necessary, before serving with the parsnip mash.
This meal is a really warm and hearty meal, and i really enjoyed it, I know oxtail is not to everyones liking, but its really great and apparently im not sure if its true but my mum says its a good source of iron.
There are loads of other stuff you can do with oxtail also obviously most people have heard of oxtail soup, but you can also look at quite a few italian recipes that contain oxtail, i have got two recipes im trying next week, so fingers crossed.
I really hope some of you will give this a try.
A key staple in many good recipes, the bechamel sauce is one that seems to get people into a tizzy for some unknown reason! It's very easy to make a good one and it's definitely a technique to stock in your culinary arsenal.
There are varying levels of complexity depending on the time you have, so I'll discuss both a fast bechamel and a more fragrant (but slightly more time consuming) version. For both versions I've added two sizes - the first is generous for two people, the second should be ok when cooking for four with some sort of side.
30g/50g Unsalted butter
Heaped tablespoon plain flour/2 heaped tablespoons
300/400ml Semi skimmed milk
1. Melt the butter in a small sauce/milk pan, with the ring at approximately 1/3 heat (fairly low).
2. Add the flour and stir into the buter using a wooden spoon, making sure there are as few lumps as possible.
3. Turn the heat right down and leave this roux to cook for a few minutes. If you don't, your sauce will have a distinct floury taste.
4. As soon as you've done this, heat your milk in a plastic/pyrex jug in the microwave on high for 2.5 minutes (based on an 800W microwave). You can make a bechamel with cold milk, but it's very slow. Heat it for just over 3 minutes if using the larger quantities.
5. Pour the milk into your roux in 4-5 stages, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. To begin with, it will thicken up very quickly - don't panic, it's normal! At each subsequent stage the sauce will take a bit longer to thicken up and you may wish to return the heat of the ring from minimum to roughly 1/3 heat again.
6. Voila - A smooth white sauce for a range of cooking tasks, with many possible additions to enhance the flavour.
30g/50g Unsalted butter
Heaped tablespoon plain flour/2 heaped tablespoons
300/400ml Semi skimmed milk
1/2 White onion
Bay leaf, crushed slightly with a large spoon
The same as for the basic bechamel, except you put the half onion (one piece - don't slice it!), crushed bay leave and 1-2 cloves in the milk jug for 30 minutes before preparing the sauce. Remove these extra ingredients before cooking, they will give a wonderful piquancy to the sauce.
Hint*: If you're making a fish pie, using the milk for the bechamel to poach your fish quickly before putting it in the oven will give your sauce a fantastic fishy aroma.
Variations and extra flavour:
A base sauce, the bechamel can be enriched with a variety of tastes and bonus ingredients. Adding the following after cooking the basic sauce can really transform it for different purposes.
Mornay - one of the most popular variants, stir in ~70-100g of grated mature cheddar cheese and a teaspoon of mustard to make a great sauce for mac and cheese. Alternatively, add a level teaspoon of mustard powder to your flour while making the roux.
Hint*: Try replacing the cheddar cheese with your most stinky mature blue cheese for an excellent pasta sauce. Simply add 150g of wilted and well drained spinach for instant pasta fun.
Anchovies - a couple of minced anchovies give the sauce an enjoyably salty taste with a slight flavour of fish
Tomato puree - stir in 2-3 tablespoons of tomato puree and some shredded fresh basil for a sauce that goes well with chicken etc.
Mushrooms - 3-5 finely diced flat mushrooms will add real bulk to a bechamel and will go well with a variety of meats
Lemon juice - 1-2 tablespoons of lemon juice and a few very fine pieces of shredded lemon rind can make a light and pleasant sauce. Add fresh herbs to taste, making this ideal for use with fishy dishes
Brandy - 2 tablespoons of brandy and some black pepper will make an interesting boozy white sauce. Add the brandy in very small amounts, stirring frequently
Hope these tips are of some use - now try making it for yourself.
Ps. Remember to pronounce it with a bad French accent and try to impress friends and family with your preparation of a delicious, but genuinely simple sauce.
A stew is a common dish made of vegetables, meat, poultry, or seafood cooked in stock and water. The line between stew and casserole is a fine one, but generally a casseroles ingredients end up as larger pieces and retain some of their individual flavours, a stew may have thicker broth as the vegetables will have gone mushy after three hours of cooking. A stew is more likely to be eaten as a main course than with other vegetables on the side, hence the reason for fewer vegetables in a casserole. There are exceptions; for example, an oyster stew is more like a soup. Gravy is a traditional sauce used on roast dinner, which (traditionally) comprises roast potatoes, roast meat, boiled vegetables and optional Yorkshire puddings. Apple sauce and mint sauce are also used on meat (pork and lamb respectively). Salad cream is sometimes used on salads. Ketchup and brown sauce are used on more fast-food type dishes. Strong English mustard (as well as French or American mustard) are also used on various foods, as is Worcestershire sauce. Custard is a popular dessert sauce. Some of these sauce traditions have been exported to ex-colonies such as the USA.