The Olive Oil Buyers Guide

The Olive Oil Buyers Guide

Olive oil is widely recognised as being one of the healthiest edible oils because it contains less saturated fats than other oils on the market. However, when buying olive oil from the supermarket, do you favour regular olive oil, extra virgin olive oil or light olive oil? 

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Slow Cooker Blueberry, Lemon & Ginger Cake

Slow Cooker Blueberry, Lemon & Ginger Cake

This delicious Slow Cooker Blueberry, Lemon & Ginger Cake is made in the slow cooker / crock pot in just 3 hours.

Since I tried making my first cake in a slow cooker earlier this year, I have been keen to try out some new recipes. Earlier in the week, I had some blueberries that needed eating up and seeing as though I was off on a play date the next day I thought a cake would make use of the fruit. Finding a jar of opened lemon curd inside my fridge, it seemed only fitting to make a Slow Cooker Blueberry, Lemon & Ginger Cake. Read More

Piri Piri Mini Roast Beef

Piri Piri Mini Roast Beef

I love roast beef with all the trimmings for a Sunday lunch. There is something so comforting about it, aswell as it being so delicious due to the flavours of the meat and the fact that it make for the best gravy of all the meats (in my personal opinion).

However, as much as my family and I enjoy eating it, I have to admit that it never occurs to me to cook a mini roast beef during the week. I would consider roasting a chicken mid week however, and indeed I have done this several times, but not a small piece of beef. So when I was approached by Red Tractor to showcase a recipe using a good quality piece of British beef to use as a midweek roast supper, I was very happy to accept and try out a new way of cooking beef. I think also that because I cook my Sunday lunch joints of beef in a slow cooker, I forget how quick and easy it is to prepare a mini roast.

I bought a medium sized mini roast joint, as I was cooking for all four of us but of course mini roasts are also the perfect size for two to share.

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I do not know about you, but it is important to me to know that I am purchasing farm assured quality meat that is produced by British farmers here in the UK.  The Red Tractor logo means that any beef (or lamb) that carries this on its packaging can be traced back to the farms the livestock came from. Therefore, I can buy it safe in the knowledge that the farmers and suppliers who produce beef (and lamb) for both schemes meet comprehensive standards covering safety, hygiene, environmental protection and animal welfare at every stage from farm to fork.

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I am probably bit boring when it comes to adding flavour to my beef, as I always use the same method because I know it works and taste great, so it was nice to be a bit adventurous and try something new and different. Red Tractor have some delicious recipes on their website, because Mini Roasts are very versatile and can be used for a huge variety of recipes such as, Teriyaki beef with noodles, or lamb with a delicious pistachio crust.  I decided to showcase their Portuguese inspired Piri Piri Beef . It was very easy to prepare – about 5 minutes in total, which can be done while the oven is preheating. You simply make a marinade , slash the meat with a knife, coat the beef with the marinade and then roast it for 40-60 minutes depending on how you prefer your meat.

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One tip I have for this, is that to save some time you could marinade the mini roast the night before or even in the morning in between breakfast and leaving the house, and then that would save a little time and help the flavours soak into the meat, making it more flavoursome and tender.

I decided to add some potato wedges to my beef while it roasted, to allow the potatoes to take on the delicious flavours of the beef juices and the marinade. I par boiled the potatoes, and then added them to the roasting pan once the beef had been cooking for ten minutes. Then 25 minutes later, I gave the pan a shake and stirred the potatoes to ensure all sides were covered. 

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I also roasted some carrots, onions and cauliflower in a separate pan and in the same marinade as the beef, which I hoped would work ok!!! We prefer our beef medium to well done so the mini roast was given 50 minutes to cook, and then while the broccoli was cooking, the beef rested while I turned the oven up a notch to give the potato wedges a quick blast off heat to crisp them up a tad. Look at the beef – the sticky glaze running down it with the patchy gnarly tasty parts over it. It smelt divine!

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To serve the Piri Piri Mini Roast to my hungry family, I sliced it

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and sat it on a serving platter with the roasted wedges, veg and broccoli around it and poured over the sticky juices. 
 
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Then everyone got their forks and spoons and stuck in and helped themselves!

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Yummy!!!!!

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I did actually buy some ingredients to make a yogurt dip to accompany the beef dish, but I forgot to make it! Still, the meal was delicious enough so it was not missed at all. I wish this post has smell-o’vision because it was amazing and all the sticky juices made everything so tasty, and no one minded the subtle heat from the chilli.

Mini roasts are a great way to serve your family a quick, tasty and easy mid week meal and by serving alongside roasted veg, I saved myself a lot of hassle as everything was taken care of by my oven and there were less pans involved too! Win win I say! My mini roast cost £8 which for a family of four, or even for two is very reasonable , especially as there was leftover beef to use again for another meal. I often buy minced beef, and this can cost almost £5, so for another £3 this makes a mini roast mid week meal even more appealing! 

For everything you need to know about beef and lamb, more recipe ideas and information about Red Tractor beef and lamb, please visit www.simplybeefandlamb.co.uk

This post was written in collaboration with Red Tractor.

Tasty Fish Suppers – Ideas & Inspiration

Tasty Fish Suppers – Ideas & Inspiration

Here are some Tasty Fish Suppers to inspire you to cook at home. Fish is so good for you and can be used in cooking in na variety of different meals.

I love using fish in my cooking. It is so good for you in so many ways: it is a high-protein and it is a low-fat food that provides a variety of health benefits. White-fleshed fish, in particular, is lower in fat than any other source of animal protein, and oily fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids, or the “good” fats as they are known. Here are some Tasty Fish Suppers Ideas and Inspiration for you and your family. 

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The Perfect Lasagne Recipe

The Perfect Lasagne Recipe

My perfect homemade lasagne recipe with a little help from Schwartz recipe mix

Perfect lasagna recipe

I can still remember the first time I made my own lasagne. I had always enjoyed eating it, in fact it was probably my very favourite main meal when I was a teenager. I would often choose it off a menu if we went out for lunch, and occasionally we would have a ready made version at home with some oven chips and peas on the side. However, the best lasagne was my Mum’s homemade version. So I was thrilled when I was able to watch her make it, step by step from scratch and learn how to make, what I think, is the perfect lasagne.

I am pretty sure that back then Mum would have used a Schwartz recipe mix for lasagne (don’t worry, she will soon correct me if I am wrong!), as I recall that she often had a little collection of packet mixes lined up in one of the kitchen cupboards. 

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Anyway I have digressed slightly. As I mentioned dat the start of this blog post, I can still remember the first time I made my own homemade lasagna from scratch. It was March 1987 so I would have been 12 (13 in the June), and I know this because my Mum had gone into hospital for an operation and while she was in the Zeebrugge ferry disaster occurred as I remember it being shown on the TV in the hospital. Well, while my Mum was staying in the hospital I must have helped (or maybe thought I was in charge of it!) with the cooking for my Dad and brother, and I decided on one of the days to make a lasagne. I had watched Mum make it once not too long before, and it looked simple enough as it was basically a bolognese sauce (which I must have made before), with a cheese sauce. Mum showed me how to make a roux and then stir in lots of grated cheese with a dash of mustard and cayenne pepper, so I thought I would be able to replicate it. Then it was just a case of layering it with lasagne sheets and topping the final layer of cheese sauce with some mozzarella (might have been cheddar back in 1987, but hey, lasagne cheese topping has evolved since then!).

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So that was the start of my lasagne making days and no-one was sick from eating it, so from that moment I think I would offer to make it often as a way of helping mum, who did pretty much all the cooking back then. Bar my dad bunging a ready made lasagne with oven chips in the oven, and some peas in the microwave!!! I enjoyed making it to be honest, and I made many version over the coming years: a vegetarian one, a bacon one, a chicken and bacon one, a tuna one, a turkey mince one and a prawn and spinach one. I have even made a Slimming World version, which is ok but not the same as one made with a real cheese sauce!

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However, the best lasagne is one made from minced beef and one based on my Mum’s recipe and the same one I have been making for almost 30 years. When I recreated this recipe the other weekend for my OH and the boys because Schwartz invited me to write about and feature a recipe that was a family favourite and one which brings back fond memories, I have to say it was devoured happily by all of them and my OH I particular was pleased that it was a full fat version and not a SW one!

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The great thing about the Schwartz recipe mixes is that they hardly take up any room in your kitchen cupboard, and they are full of all the herbs and spices your meal needs to really bring out the flavour and make it extra tasty. It was really delicious and made me realise how much a SW version sucks compared to the real thing!

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If you fancy having a go at making what I think is the perfect lasagne, which has had slight tweaking over the years but is essentially the same as what I made all those years ago.

The Perfect Lasagna
 
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 500g minced beef (I used the 5% fat version)
  • 6 rashers of bacon, cut into small pieces
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 onions, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 apple, core removed and chopped into 4
  • 2 x peppers
  • 1 spoonful of oil
  • 1 tsp garlic granules
  • good pinch of black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried mixed Italian herbs
  • 1 Schwartz Lasagne recipe mix
  • 1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 x 500g pack of passatta
  • 1-2 tsp sugar (depending on taste)
  • *CHEESE SAUCE*
  • 250g grated cheese - I use a mature one, which is a half fat version - just to help with the calories 😉
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 500ml milk
  • A dash of english mustard
  • sprinkling of cayenne pepper
Instructions
  1. *Meat Sauce*
  2. place the minced beef into a large non stick pan and brown it
  3. after a few minutes add the bacon and continue to cook for about 5 minutes
  4. meanwhile, place the onions, carrots and apple into a food processor (otherwise chop very finely if you do not own one) and blitz until they are tiny pieces
  5. add the veggie mix to the pan with the beef and bacon and cook on a medium heat for 10 minutes
  6. do the same with the pepper with the food processor, and then add this to the other veggies and meat and cook for 5 more minutes. Remembering to stir often so they don't stick to the pan
  7. add the Schwartz recipe mix and give it a good mix
  8. Add the tinned tomatoes, passatta and the garlic, herbs and pepper and give it a good old stir.
  9. Increase the heat and bring to the boil. One this has happened, cover with a lid, reduce the heat to low and gently simmer away for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally
  10. minutes into the simmering, pre heat the oven to 180oC / 160oC (fan)
  11. *Cheese Sauce*:
  12. Add the butter to a medium sized non stick saucepan and when it is starting to melt add the flour and stir well until combined.
  13. Keep stirring and very soon the mixture will come away from the sides, once this happens the mixture must be cooked for 1 minute to cook the flour, and it must be continually stirred.
  14. Once this has happened remove from the heat and add a few glugs of milk to start with, and stir the pan so that the flour mixture and the milk combine. You may find that using a whisk helps here. The idea is to get rid of the lumps before you return the pan to the heat.
  15. Once the lumps have gone, return the pan to the heat and while stirring all the time, allow the milk to heat up. Add the rest of the milk and after a couple of minutes you should feel the sauce thicken. Now add your cheese, probably in three parts, and again keep stirring.
  16. Once the sauce comes to the boil, keep stirring and allow it to cook for 1 minute.
  17. Remove from the heat and add the mustard and the cayenne pepper and stir well. The cheese sauce should be lovely and thick now.
  18. *Assembling*
  19. Once both sauces are ready, get a large square/rectangular oven proof dish and lightly grease the bottom of it
  20. Line the bottom of it with the ragu sauce
  21. Add a layer of lasagne sheets
  22. Add a layer of cheese sauce
  23. Repeat layers, making sure the final one has cheese sauce on the top
  24. Add the mozzarella liberally across the top of the lasagne
  25. Cook in the oven for about 30-35 minutes until the cheese is all golden and bubbling
  26. Cut into portions (you could possibly get 8 portions if you served with chips) and serve with salad and garlic bread, or whatever takes your fancy

 

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Simply scrumptious! Hopefully it is a recipe which I will one day pass down to Burton and Jenson for them to adapt and cook for their families, and maybe they will recall the first time they made their own lasagne too with fondness.

 

I wrote this post in collaboration with Schwartz

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