Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Szechuan Beef and Broccoli Stir-Fry

Another big freeze has hit the mid-west. The freezing rain began yesterday afternoon, continued into the night, and started again this afternoon. As of now, it is not as bad as last winter’s ice storm when we lost several trees, and other trees suffered a lot of damage. Today’s high was 21°F (-6°C), with a forecasted low of 13°F (-11°C). There is also snow forecast for tonight, which on top of all this ice will be treacherous.

We Brits are often accused of being obsessed with the weather, and it’s true, but that’s because the weather in Britain is awful most of the time. Oklahomans are equally obsessed with the weather, but that’s because we seem to suffer such extremes of it. Baking hot and humid in the summer, and perishingly cold in winter, with tornadoes an ever present threat in spring and fall.

Also, Oklahoma seems to grind to a halt in snow or icy conditions, as they don't bother gritting/salting or plowing the road. Well, not round here they don't. And to make matters worse, the power seems to go out at the drop of a hat, though that hasn’t happened yet. Fingers crossed.

Anyway, I’ll type faster, just in case. So what’s the recipe for today, Jan?
Hubby’s company gave him a box of steaks as part of his Christmas bonus, and to be honest, neither of us are huge fans of steak. Most of them will be chopped up and included in other recipes, such as this one.

Breaking News - In the time it's taken me to type this, it's begun snowing, very heavily. Brrr.

Szechuan Beef and Broccoli Stir-Fry


2 steaks, cut into thin strips
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped, divided
1 broccoli crown, cut into florets
1 onion, sliced
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 beefsteak tomato, cut into wedges
½ cup Szechuan sauce
¼ cup water

  • In a wok or large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over a medium-high heat. Add steak and half of the garlic, and stir-fry for 5 minutes. Remove beef and garlic from the pan, and keep warm.
  • In same wok/skillet, heat remaining oil over a medium heat. Add onion and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add garlic, stir-fry 1 minute. Add broccoli, 1 tablespoon of water and 1 tablespoon of soy sauce. Cover pan with foil and cook for two minutes.
  • Add Szechuan sauce, ¼ of a cup of water, tomato wedges stir-fry for 2 minutes. Return beef to pan and stir-fry for a further minute.
Serve over Basmati rice.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

London Particular

Once again, apologies for not posting in eons, I will get my act together one of these days. :-)
Last week I was interviewed by Pam at http://pamokc.blogspot.com/ So, on the off chance that any of you might want to know more about the reluctant cook, you will find the interview on my other blog here: http://grandlakeink.blogspot.com/

Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of posts about all the high-tech kitchen gadgetry other food bloggers have received at Christmas, and thought I would share my latest gadget...

...no batteries or electricity required, this baby is powered solely by elbow grease.

Anyway, without further ado, on with the recipe. You’ve probably gathered by now that we had ham at New Year – don’t worry it’s not still hanging around. I made this a couple of weeks ago, but am only now getting round to posting it, damned shirker that I am. In Victorian London, this soup was known as London Particular as its name derives from the thick fogs, known as pea-soupers, that were around at the time..

Pea and Ham Soup


1 ham bone with a decent amount of meat still on it
1 large onion chopped, divided
4 cups of chicken broth/stock
3 cups water
Cracked black pepper, to taste
2 bay leaves
1 lb. dried split peas, rinsed and drained
3 carrots, sliced
A handful of chopped parsley

  • Place first four ingredients in a large saucepan or soup kettle (use half of the onion), and bring to boil. Add bay leaves and season with pepper, reduce heat, and simmer covered for 1 hour.
  • Remove ham bone from pot, allow to cool, and shred meat from it. Retain all stock in pan.
  • Re-heat stock to boiling, add split peas and remaining onion to the pan. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.
  • Add carrots, parsley, and return ham meat to pan. Adjust seasoning if required, and simmer, covered, for a further 30 minutes.

Serve immediately with warm crusty bread.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Roasted Roots

I’m busy , busy again, this time getting my contest entries ready for the Oklahoma Writer’s Federation annual writing contest. It’s been really difficult to get myself kick-started after a long lay off due to the cat bite, and then Christmas and New Year getting in the way. It’s an up-hill struggle, but I am now editing and revising some old material, and trying to write a new short story. Wish me luck.

Today’s recipe is another one from good old Auntie Beeb at www.bbcgoodfood.com I am really into their recipes at the moment, and receive a weekly newsletter from them. I did change it up a little bit, but not too much.

This recipe was in their Christmas edition, and the roots are supposed to be cooked in goose fat. I didn’t have a goose, so I just used vegetable oil, and they turned out great. The best thing about this recipe is all your veggies cook in the same pan, and you know how much I like easy. I served these alongside some leftover ham from New year’s Day.

I always love roast potatoes, but I really loved the roasted parsnips. Parsnips have been a sadly neglected vegetable at my table, but no more, they also add an excellent flavor to soups and stews. The recipe also called for celeriac root which I didn’t have, so I substituted rutabaga. I would have used some homegrown kholrabi, but we’d eaten it all. Note to Mick, we need to grow more of them next year.

Roasted Roots


4 medium sized russet potatoes, peeled and chopped into large chunks.
1 small, or ½ a large rutabaga, peeled and chopped into large chunks
2 large carrots, scraped clean, and chopped into large chunks
2 parsnips, peeled and chopped into large chunks
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Fresh ground pepper to taste


  • Pre-heat oven to 375°F
  • Put all veggies into a large pan of cold water and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium high and boil gently for about 5 minutes, or until veggies just begin to soften slightly.
  • Drain into a colander, and allow to cool for about 10 minutes.
  • Sprinkle veggies with flour and black pepper and toss well to coat.
  • Heat vegetable oil in a roasting pan. Add veggies to pan and toss to coat with oil.
    Roast until crisp golden brown, approx. 45 minutes, turning them half way through cooking.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Ham, Leek and Potato Pie

I had a lovely New Year, I hope you did too. And, for once, I didn’t have a raging all day hangover, so cooking dinner was a breeze. I made roast ham, nothing very interesting or novel about that, even if it was delish and paired perfectly with my garden vegetable bake, which you can find here: http://range-warfare.blogspot.com/2008/09/green-garden-veg-pie.html

The ham leftovers, however, proved to be much more interesting, especially this Ham, Leek and Potato Pie, which I came across here:


I only made one or two slight adjustments to the recipe, and I’ve translated from metric/centigrade for my American friends.

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but hubby has a penchant for pies, and this one was definitely love at first bite. I’m pretty sure it will be making a return appearance to our dinner table in the not too distant future. Trust me, you’re gonna love this one, it’s sublime.

Ham, Leek, and Potato Pie


2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 leeks, finely sliced
2 large potatoes, cut into small cubes
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 cup ham stock/broth, or use chicken
Black pepper, to taste
½ cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons ground mustard
2 cups cooked ham, diced
1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 egg, beaten or milk to glaze

  • Melt butter in a large skillet over a medium/low heat, add onion and leeks and sauté for 5 minutes. Add potatoes, cover pan and cook for a further 5 minutes.
  • Add flour to skillet, and gradually add stock, season with pepper, and stir constantly until slightly thickened.
  • Remove pan from heat and stir in cream, mustard, and ham. Allow mix to cool for 10-15 minutes before spooning into a baking dish. While mixture cools, heat oven to 400°F.
  • Roll out pastry, brush edges of dish with beaten egg or milk. Slap the pastry on the dish, press down edges, trim any excess. Brush pastry with beaten egg or milk, and cut 2 slits in the top to allow steam to escape.
  • Bung pie in oven for approx. 30 minutes until crust has risen and is golden brown.

Serve with seasonal veggies. We had buttered, peppered cabbage, it was absolutely scrummy.