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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Beef Tasting plate with Leek Colcannon

Irish Food Bloggers Association (sponsored by Bord Bia) came up with a competition to promote Irish Beef across Europe and Irish food is the theme. You can check out the following link to read all of the various details.

http://www.irishfoodbloggers.com/2011/03/01/competition-win-a-chance-to-represent-ireland-at-a-european-food-bloggers-workshop/

The winner will get to go to a workshop to learn how to write blog’s better and to take better photographs. Many of you, especially my brother will say "Thank God, finally somebody can help the poor lad out"

My wife and I love sitting down to a steak dinner from time to time. When I do get around to making it, I like to make it special and this is our favourite way of eating steak. I always like to accompany a piece of fillet steak with a cheaper cut and everyone loves cottage pie. Cottage pie is generally made from beef and Shepard’s pie is made from lamb. Years ago when the Sunday roast was over any leftover meat was minced and made into cottage pie.

The meat I used was from Westmeath, from a farm very close to Mullingar. I was lucky as the meat had just come into the butchers. We are very lucky to have excellent meat in Ireland. I have been to Spain and France from time to time and their meat is not as good as ours.

This is a tricky dish to prepare as there are numerous ingredients. The best way to do this is to prepare most of the ingredients ahead of time and just reheat before serving. The only item that you have to cook at the last minute is the steak.

I like to eat my steak rare-medium. I always rest my steak for the same amount of time that I cook it. This way when you serve it the steak is juicy and succulent and there is no blood all over the plate. Resting makes a huge difference, try it out!

Beef Tasting plate with Leek Colcannon

By Trevor Thornton

Serves 2

Difficulty Hard

Ingredients
Cottage Pie

1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
200g beef mince, round or chuck
400ml beef stock
Colcannon
3 large potatoes, rooster I find are best
2 tbps butter
1 large leek
1 tbsp olive oil & butter
Creamed Mushrooms
1 tbsp olive oil & butter
225g Mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
30ml brandy
50ml cream
1 tbps chives, finely chopped
Fried Onions
1 large onion
50g plain flour
Steak
2 x 200g pieces of fillet steak

Method

For the cottage pie place a saucepan over a medium heat. Add the olive oil and the onions and cook for 5-6 minutes or until the onions become translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the mince and cook until the mince has browned all over. This should take 4-6 minutes. Add the beef stock and bring to the boil. Cover and reduce the heat to a low simmer and cook for an hour. Check there is enough liquid from time to time. If you need more add some water. After an hour remove the lid and simmer until nearly all the water has been absorbed. Set aside until ready for use.

Place the potatoes into a saucepan and cover with cold water. Place over a high heat and bring to the boil and then reduce the heat to simmer. Cook for 40-50 minutes and then test to see if the potatoes are cooked by piercing the potato with a fork. If there is any resistance continue to cook until there is no resistance. When cooked remove from the heat and drain the excess water. Leave in the saucepan to dry for 2-3 minutes. Remove the skin from the potato carefully and then mash the potato with the butter and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside 1/3 of the mashed potato for the cottage pie.

Take the leek and remove the bottom root section. Slice the leek in half along the length and finely chop. Don’t use the dark green section of the leek as it is tough. Wash the leek under running water to remove any dirt and grit. Add the olive oil and butter to a frying pan and place over a medium high heat. Place the leek into the pan and cook for 6-8 minutes until the leek is cooked. Add the cooked leek into the large portion of the potatoes and stir to combine. Cover with cling film and set aside.

For the mushrooms place the olive oil and butter into a non stick frying pan over a medium high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook for 5-7 minutes or until the mushrooms have released all of their moisture. Add the brandy carefully as it can catch fire and add the cream. Cook for 1-2 minutes until the cream reduces and coats the mushrooms. Add the chives and season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.

For the onion rings preheat a deep fat fryer to 180°C. Take the large onion and remove the skin. Slice the onion thinly to obtain nice rings. Place the rings into a bowl with the flour and shake to coat the onion. Shake off the excess flour and place the rings into the fryer carefully. Cook for 3-4 minutes until the rings are nice and golden. When they are nice and golden remove from the fryer and drain on kitchen paper.

For the steak heat a grill pan over a high heat. Make sure to take the steak out of the fridge for a good 30 minutes to come up to room temperature. Season the steak with salt and pepper and smear with olive oil. Place the steaks onto the grill pan and cook for 4 minutes on one side and then turn over and cook for 4 minutes on the other side. Remove from the heat and place into aluminium foil to rest. This will leave the steaks rare-medium.

Before plating it is best to reheat everything.

To plate up, place some of the cottage pie into a cup and top with the plain mashed potato. Place under a grill to colour the mashed potato if you desire. Place onto the plate. Divide the mushroom between the plates and spoon a large spoon of the colcannon on the plate. Remove the steak from the foil and place onto the plate. Top with the fried onions and serve immediately.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Pancake Tuesday

I love Pancake Tuesday and I remember when I was young we ate our pancakes with golden syrup and lemon juice. I still love eating my pancakes the exact same way to this day.
Pancakes are one of the easiest recipes to make. I use the Board Bia recipe and it gives a nice thin pancake, more like a Crêpe. We eat pancakes throughout the year and especially if we have kids staying over as they love trying to flip the pancakes.
For the recipe follow the link

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Mediterranean Couscous with Asparagus Tips and a Fried Egg


Most people I talk to don't like couscous and I can understand the reason why. On it's own it tastes of nothing and it feels a bit like cardboard, sounds exciting!!! Well if you add loads of exciting flavors to the couscous it really works. The couscous is an excellent flavor carrier and it is also one of the healthiest grain based products.

This dish could be vegetarian if you dropped the bacon and it can be made in advance. The asparagus season is quickly approaching so get your asparagus steamers dusted off.

Mediterranean Couscous with Asparagus Tips and a Fried Egg

by Trevor Thornton

Serves 2

Difficulty Easy - Moderate

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil
125g streaky bacon, remove if vegetarian
1 large leek
1 tbsp butter½ red pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
1 packet of asparagus tips, containing 20 tips approx
1 bag of couscous
10 - 15 pitted black olives, sliced
2 tbps coriander, roughly chopped
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
2 eggs

Method

Place a non stick frying pan over a medium high heat and add the olive oil. Roughly chop the bacon and add to the frying pan. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until the bacon has started to turn brown and crispy. Remove the bacon onto kitchen paper to drain. Top and tail the leek and remove the outer skin. We are only going to use the white, if you want to use the green you would have to finely chop and then wash to remove the dirt. Slice the white in half along the length and finely chop. Add the butter to the frying pan and add the leek. Cook for 2-3 minutes and then add the red pepper. Cook for another 3-4 minutes whilst stirring. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Cook the asparagus in boiling salted water for 2-3 minutes or until tender. Carefully remove the hot water from the pot. Add cold water to stop the asparagus from overcooking. This will retain their green flavour also. Chop the asparagus into bite size pieces. Keep the tips if you are going to decorate the place later.

Cook the couscous as per the manufacturer’s recommendations. When ready place the couscous into a large bowl and add the bacon, leek, peppers, olives, asparagus and coriander. Season with salt and pepper and add the olive oil and the vinegar. The vinegar will really bring out the flavour of the dish. This might seem strange but it really works. The couscous can be made in advance and then just placed in a microwave to reheat.

To serve place the couscous into a metal ring and press down. Remove the ring and add a cooked fried egg on top. You can decorate the plate with asparagus tips as shown in the photo.