Thursday, November 4, 2010

Boring Names & Delicious Snacks

Things settled down for the second half of England week.  No more toads, faggots or bangers...things grew normal names for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Beef'n Cheese Pie

Friday was Beefsteak Pie with Cheese Crust.  Essentially, stew meat with gravy, onions and carrots, baked in a casserole and covered with a cheese and bread crust.  It was good -- really good.  The kids even all liked it, which is like finding a critically-acclaimed Schwartzenegger movie.  We had no leftovers.  Well, none that weren't welded to the casserole dish or the pizza pan that was thankfully under it.  After soaking for 24 hours in soapy water, I was able to release the charred remains into the wild.

Saturday was not only "Beef Braised With Beer and Cheddar Cheese Dumplings" -- but it was also "Nick Cooks Dinner" night.  Mwoo-ha-ha-haaa.  Honestly, the dinner was very similar to Friday's dish.  Beef baked in a casserole dish with onions and gravy, and dumplings this time.

Beef'n Beer Casserole with Dumplings

However, this meal didn't receive the same rave reviews as Friday's.  The recipe called for a fair amount of brown sugar and some cinnamon, and that sweetness carried all the way through the dish.  It meshed with the brown ale all right, but not really with the beef, resulting in a sort of off flavor that turned off pretty everyone but me.  The dumplings were pretty darn good, though, and marked our first encounter with shredded suet as a dry ingredient.

Sunday, though, redeemed itself.  For Halloween Sunday, we had Beef Wellington before taking the kids out to trick or treat.  For the uninitiated, Beef Wellington is a whole tenderloin -- or as much of one as you can afford (!) -- browned and wrapped in pastry with mushrooms and pate, and baked until golden-brown and delicious.  The logistics involved in wrapping a 2lb piece of meat that wants to fall apart with a thin, rippable pastry are difficult, requiring the hands of two adults, but the end product is worth it.

Beef Wellington

Nevermind for now that pate is pretty much unobtainable in northern Michigan, and that we had to mail-order it.  Never mind that we spent $20 for just the meat.  This dish is good!!  The meat was fork-ably tender, and so savory-delicious with the pate and 'shrooms, and then add flaky pastry just because you can.  My head almost exploded when I managed to get a bite with all the flavors combined.

Beef Wellington, Rice, Green Beans

There were no leftovers.  If we'd made twice as much...there would have been no leftovers.  It's almost blasphemous that we ate this while watching Monsturd on the tv. (it was Halloween, after all!)

And, it was actually after the week was over, but I was looking for hidden Halloween candy in the cupboard, and I found a little bag of Smiths Bacon Flavoured Fries.

Bacon Fries? Bacon Fries!!

"Bacon fries?  What's this?" I asked.
"Those are yours," Angel said.  "We ordered them, remember?"
"Squeak!"  I said.  I did remember when Angel was placing an order for some of the more, um, British ingredients, she'd asked about Bacon Fries and I'd said "sure, whatever."

Oh, man, I don't know why they can't make these in the States, because it was like eating bacon in a bag.  The pieces were colored and striped like bacon, and flavored perfectly like bacon, and crunchy like well-cooked bacon.  I shared them with the kids...but truth be told, I didn't wanna.  They were delicious.

Bacon Fries = Yum!


Beefsteak Pie With Cheese Crust

Besides being eaten on its own with bread, Cheshire cheese is often used in the north of England for cooking pastry or scones.
Serves: 4

---- filling ----
1 Kilogram Lean stewing steak (2lb), trimmed & cut into small cubes
2 Tablespoon Seasoned flour
2 Tablespoon Dripping or oil
2 Medium Onions, finely chopped
4 Medium Carrots, finely sliced
Pinch Mixed herbs
Pieces Grated nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Whole Cloves
600 ml Beef stock (1 pint)
---- pastry ----
150 Gram Plain flour, sifted (5 oz)
Pinch Salt
65 Gram Butter (2 1/2 oz)
75 Gram Cheshire or Lancashire cheese (3 oz)
Preheat oven to 190 °C / 375 °F / Gas 5.

Roll the meat in the seasoned flour. Reserve 2 teaspoons of the excess flour.

Heat the fat or oil and just soften the onions and carrots in it but do not let them colour. Remove them and put them in a flameproof dish. In the same fat quickly brown the meat all over and add it to the vegetables.

Add the herbs and spices to the pan juices, together with the reserved seasoned flour. Mix well to absorb the fat, then add the stock and mix well until it boils and becomes smooth.

Pour the thickened stock over the meat and vegetables, bring back to the boil then cover and put into the oven for 1-1 1/2 hours.

Meanwhile, make the crust by putting the flour and salt into a bowl, then rubbing in the butter until it is like coarse breadcrumbs. Add the cheese and mix well.

When the eat is cooked, allow to cool slightly, then sprinkle the pastry mix evenly over the meat and bake for about 30 minutes or until it is golden and cooked.
Beef Braised with Beer and Cheddar Cheese Dumplings
A delicious and economical meal using good West Country ingredients.

Dumplings are known as 'doughboys' in the West Country.
Serves: 4

25 Gram Beef dripping, or oil (1 oz)
2 Medium Onions, sliced
675 Gram Stewing beef, cubed (1 1/2 lb)
1 rounded tbsp Plain flour
1 Teaspoon Brown sugar
Pinch Cinnamon
300 ml Brown ale ( 1/2 pint)
Freshly ground black pepper
---- Dumplings ----
100 Gram Self raising flour (4 oz)
50 Gram Shredded suet (2 oz)
25 Gram Cheddar cheese (1 oz)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2-3 Tablespoon Water
Preheat oven to 180 °C / 350 °F / Gas 4.

Heat the fat or oil and soften the onions, then take them out and put them into a casserole dish. Quickly brown the beef on all sides, then add the flour and let it cook for 1 minute, stirring from time to time. Add the sugar and cinnamon and gradually pour in the brown ale. Stir well then add salt and pepper to taste. Put the meat and gravy into the casserole dish. Cover and cook for half an hour, then reduce the oven temperature to 170 °C / 325 °F / Gas 3 and continue cooking for a further hour.

For the dumplings, mix together all the dry ingredients. Add the water gradually, adding a little more if needed to make a fairly slack dough. Flour your hands and break the dough into 8 small pieces, then roll into little balls with the palms of your hands. Chill until required.

After 1 1/2 hours' cooking time, test the meat with a fork. If necessary, cook for a further 30 minutes. If the casserole seems dry, add a little water, or more beer. About 20 minutes before the meat is ready, place the dumplings on top of the casserole, leave off the lid and cook until they are risen, about 20-30 minutes. Alternatively, poach the dumplings, about 4 at a time, in a saucepan of boiling salted water, for about 15 minutes. Drain well.
Beef Wellington
The Duke of Wellington was a highly prominent statesman and soldier of the nineteenth century. This dish, however, bears his name not because he was a great gourmet but because the finished joint was thought to resemble one of the brown shiny military boots which were called after him.
Serves: 8

1.4 Kilogram Fillet of beef (3 lb)
1 Tablespoon Vegetable oil
40 Gram Butter (1 1/2 oz)
225 Gram Button mushrooms, sliced (8 oz)
150 Gram Smooth liver paté (6 oz)
325 Gram Puff pastry (13 oz)
1 Egg, beaten, to glaze
Pre-heat oven to 220 °C / 425 °F / Gas 7.

Trim and tie up the fillet at intervals with fine string so it retains its shape. Heat the oil and 15g ( 1/2 oz) of the butter in a large frying pan, add the meat and fry briskly on all sides. Press down with a wooden spoon while frying to seal well. Roast for 20 minutes, then set the beef aside to cool and remove the string.

Meanwhile, cook the mushrooms in the remaining butter until soft; leave until cold, then blend with the paté. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry to a large rectangle about 33 x 28 cm (13 x 11 inches) and 0.5 cm ( 1/4 inch) thick. Spread the paté mixture down the centre of the pastry. Place the meat on top in the centre. Brush the edges of the pastry with the egg.

Fold the pastry edges over lengthways and turn the parcel over so that the join is underneath. Fold the ends under the meat on the baking sheet. Decorate with leaves cut from the pastry trimmings. Brush with the remaining egg and bake for 50-60 minutes depending how well done you like your beef, covering with foil after 25 minutes. Allow the Beef Wellington to rest for 10 minutes before serving.
~ Recipes from the Great British Kitchen website, here, here and here.

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