Greek Fisherman’s Stew

Serves: 6

Wow, this is a gorgeous stew and on every level.

It tastes amazing, it is simple to prep and it’s healthy enough. Mopped up with some crusty bread, we loved every bit of it.

I’d go as far as to say this could become one of your favourites.

There is literally nothing not to like. Just make sure you season well.

Surprise yourself with this 10/10.

Ingredients

3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium red onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1 small head fennel, diced
½ tsp red chilli flakes
2 large ripe, truss tomatoes, cored and roughly chopped
1 tsp sea salt (plus extra to season at the end)
Freshly cracked pepper
1 cup dry white wine
250gm potatoes, peeled and diced
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 kg firm white fish, cut into 3cm pieces (we used Pink Ling)
12 basil leaves, torn
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp harissa paste (or hot sauce)
Crusty bread to serve

Method

  1. Warm the oil in a heavy saucepan over a medium heat and saute the onion and garlic until soft though not brown. Add the fennel and cook for a few minutes until softened. Stir in the chilli flakes and then add the tomatoes and salt and cook on medium for about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the wine and 2 ½ cups boiling water, bring to the simmer and cook for another 10 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Check the seasoning and add the lemon juice.
  3. Add the fish pieces and simmer on low until the fish is just cooked through; another 5 or so minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, combine the mayonnaise with the harissa paste (or hot sauce).
  5. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the basil to wilt it.
  6. Serve with a good dollop of the spiced mayonnaise and some crusty bread. And a good glass of cold vino of course.

Spiced chicken, spinach and sweet potato stew

Serves: 4

So, between the time of writing this and next Friday (4 days away), Maxy Ashes Beerworth will be born.

A little man destined to make – and break – our lives, at least in the short-term. (The making will be a much longer-term affair though the immediate focus is on the cannonball that will interrupt any concept of sleep, dancing with tequila in the kitchen late at night or eating out on a whim.)

But kids are a long-term game and I am so bloody excited, words do not describe.

But back to the short-term play.

We will need food and at a time when the sous vide and micro herbs probably won’t play a part.

Herein starts a short series of posts dedicated to Maxy, our sanity and eating well.

And this bloody marvelous stew is a great way to kick it off.

It takes a while and I have adjusted the recipe to add a touch more spice – of which you could certainly add more – and I recommend it it without hesitation if your little Maxy is about to enter the world.

Or you just want an awesome, super-healthy stew for lunch.

Seriously, she is good.

Ingredients

Stew

1 tbsp olive oil
3 sweet potatoes, cubed
200gm baby spinach, fresh
8 chicken thighs, chopped
500ml chicken stock

Spice mix

2 red onions, chopped
2 red chillis, chopped with seeds
1 tsp paprika
Thumb-sized piece of ginger, grated
400gm can tomatoes
2 preserved lemons, deseeded and chopped

To serve

Coriander
Pumpkin seeds, toasted

3 preserved lemons, deseeded and chopped
Warmed naan bread

Method

  1. In a food processor, blend all of the spice mix ingredients until very finely chopped.
  2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and cook the spice mix for around 5 minutes until thickened.
  3. Add the chicken and cook until the sauce has thickened.
  4. Add the stock and reduce over a medium heat until thick; an hour at least, likely two. You want a thick stew and the chicken breaking apart.
  5. Meanwhile, boil the sweet potato for 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  6. Season the chicken with pepper, add the sweet potato and spinach. Combine for a minute or two.
  7. Serve with coriander, pumpkin seeds and a sprinkle of chopped, preserved lemon.

Moroccan-style Vegetable and Chickpea Stew

Serves: 6 – 8 lunches

We don’t buy our lunches at work.

Instead, we cook something big on Sunday night – a stew, a mince, a dahl – and that is lunch for the week.

Nat repeatedly makes the point that there is simply no point in wasting calories during the week. Or to the point, wasting calories, at work, at lunch. Better to reserve the pastas and pastry for the weekends when you can have a few wines and mop everything up with bread and more wines.

I don’t disagree.

Thus why you should consider this stew and making it for your next week of lunches.

Working backwards, it is a calorie blackhole. You’ll burn more calories eating it.

Secondly, it tastes just great.

Thirdly, thanks to the chickpeas, it is filling and you won’t be searching around for a Rivita before four.

Save the money, save the calories and save the weekend for the big chicken sandwiches.

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1 – 2 tsp chilli flakes
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 dates, pitted and chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped into 2 cm pieces
1 large or 2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 2cm pieces
2 x 400gm cans of crushed tomatoes
3 cups of vegetable stock
1 yellow capsicum (pepper), stemmed and chopped into 2cm pieces
2 cups of cooked chickpeas
Salt and pepper
Couple handfuls of baby spinach
To serve: Greek yoghurt, coriander, lemon zest, brown rice

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over a medium heat. Add the onions, lower the heat and cook until softened. Add the spices and chilli flakes. Slowly saute until the onions are really soft.
  2. Add the garlic and saute for a minute. Add the dates, carrots and sweet potatoes. Season with the salt and pepper and mix. Add the tomatoes, stir and then the vegetable stock. Bring to a boil and simmer until reduced and thickening.
  3. Add the capsicum and chickpeas; check your seasoning. Simmer for another 5 minutes.
  4. Add the greens and cook for a final minute, adding olive oil, lemon zest and seasoning as need be.

Aubergine purée

Aubergine purée

Serves: 4

The base for a rich braise or stew is often half the dish.

A magic potato mash or a creamy polenta; anything with celeriac, cauliflower, semolina and of course, parmesan, cream, butter and salt.

So here is your next base and it is seriously amazing.

The next time you pour a bottle of red wine into your casserole and set aside hours of slow cooking, you must try this purée.

Magic.

Ingredients

4 medium aubergines
30gm butter
30gm plain flour
380ml full-fat milk (we added a dash or two of pouring cream in addition)
75gm parmesan cheese, grated
1 lemon, juice only
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200c.
  2. Roast the aubergines whole for 30 minutes until soft. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Peel, chop and mash well using a fork.
  3. In a pan over a medium-heat, make a roux: melt the butter and add the flour and cook, stirring for 2 minutes. Add the milk and stir until you have a thick white sauce.
  4. Mix in the aubergine, cheese and lemon juice. Season with the salt and pepper and keep warm.

 

Rich Turkish lamb stew with aubergine purée (Hunkar begendi)

Rich Turkish lamb stew with aubergine purée (Hunkar begendi)

Serves: 4

We have been watching Rick Stein’s inspiring cooking tour – Venice to Istanbul – over the Christmas Break.

We’ve streamed an episode or two a week as a treat after dinner and other than dozens of plans to spend months of our lives travelling Greece, Croatia and Turkey, we’ve also picked up some pretty amazing recipes to try.

When Rick cooked this Turkish stew, he was pretty taken aback by it, especially the aubergine purée.

It is incredible.

It is a whole new chapter in stews for me with a unique, earthy, rich, creamy heat; literally, as good as stews get. So much so that I am breaking the aubergine purée out as its own post.

It is a comparable to my favourite pan fried polenta as the base for a rich braise or stew.

There is a little bit of prep work in it, though this is an awesome stew.

10/10.

Ingredients

For the red pepper paste

600gm red peppers (3 – 4 red peppers)
50gm tomato paste
½ tsp salt
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tbsp olive oil

For the aubergine purée

4 medium aubergines
30gm butter
30gm plain flour
380ml full-fat milk (we added a dash or two of pouring cream in addition)
75gm parmesan cheese, grated
1 lemon, juice only
Salt and freshly ground pepper

For the lamb stew

4 tbsp olive oil
850gm boned lamb shoulder, cut into 3cm pieces
1 tbsp red pepper paste
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 onion, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 green finger chilli, sliced
1 green pepper, seeds removed and sliced
3 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
200ml hot water
Chopped flat leaf parsley to serve

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200c.

For the red pepper paste

  1. Roast the peppers for 30 minutes until dark and softened. Transfer to a bowl and cover with clingfilm and leave until cool enough to handle.
  2. Remove the charred skins, stalks and seeds.
  3. In the blender, blitz the peppers with the remaining ingredients; store for up to a week in the fridge.

For the aubergine purée

  1. Roast the aubergines whole for 30 minutes until soft. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Peel, chop and mash well using a fork.
  2. In a pan over a medium-heat, make a roux: melt the butter and add the flour and cook, stirring for 2 minutes. Add the milk and stir until you have a thick white sauce.
  3. Mix in the aubergine, cheese and lemon juice. Season with the salt and pepper and keep warm.

For the lamb stew

  1. Warm half the olive oil in a large casserole pan over a high-heat and brown the lamb in batches.
  2. When browned, return all the lamb to the pan and add the red pepper and tomato pastes, the remaining olive oil, onion, garlic, chilli and green pepper. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until softened.
  3. Add the chopped tomatoes, oregano, salt, pepper and the hot water. Bring to a simmer, turn down the heat, cover with a lid and allow to cook slowly for 1 – 1½ hours.

Reduce the gravy to a thick consistency and serve ladled over the aubergine purée, scatter the chopped parsley.

Sambhar (Indian lentil-stew)

Sambhar (Indian lentil-stew)

Serves: 4 – 6

This is a very popular Southern Indian lentil-stew, especially as an accompaniment to dosai.

It is dead easy to prepare (once you have prepared your Sambhar powder), incredibly healthy and a great way to use up the lentils you probably have left over from winter soups.

Let it simmer and double the recipe so you have plenty leftover for lunch.

Yum.

Ingredients

100gm Yellow lentils or Tour Dal
¼ tsp Turmeric
1 cup Tomato puree (passata)
1 medium-size onion, diced
1 tbsp Sambhar powder*
¼ tbsp Tamarind concentrate
1 sprig fresh curry leaves
Salt to taste

*Sambhar powder (makes plenty; stores for 6-months)

1 ½ cups coriander seeds
1 cup dried red chillis, broken into small pieces
2 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 ½ tsp black mustard seeds
1 tbsp cumin seeds
½ inch cinnamon stick
⅓ cup unsweetened dried coconut, shredded
¼ cup firmly packed fresh curry leaves
1 tsp asafoetida powder**

Method

For the Sambhar

  1. Cook the lentils with the turmeric in approximately 2 litres of water until soft and mushy.
  2. Add the tomatoes and onions and cook until they are soft.
  3. Add the Sambhar powder, tamarind concentrate, fresh curry leaves and salt to taste and bring to the boil. Simmer for a bit.
  4. Check the seasoning, garnish with fresh coriander leaves and serve hot.

Sambhar powder

  1. Heat small saucepan over low heat. Separately dry-roast coriander, chilli peppers, fenugreek, mustard, cumin and cinnamon until fragrant and only lightly coloured. Place in a bowl.
  2. Toast coconut in pan, stirring, until lightly browned. Add to spices.
  3. Dry-roast curry leaves, tossing often, until crisp. Add to spices with asafoetida. Mix well and let cool.
  4. Place mixture in airtight container until ready to use. (Will keep for up to 6 months in the refrigerator.) Just before using, grind to a powder in spice grinder and use as recipe indicates.

** Enhances colour and flavour and settles the stomach; unless you have it or feel inclined to get it, you can live without.

Simple (wonderful) fish stew

Simple (wonderful) fish stew

Serves: 6

Nat and I had lunch at Rick Stein’s restaurant in Mollymook NSW over the weekend and what a treat it was. Just as good as the first time we visited a few years back.

The highlight was a brilliant fish and shellfish soup with rouille and croutons, something I have promised to recreate. A wonderful fish stock, infused with saffron, chilli and orange, it was just excellent.

The only problem – returning early Monday morning to work after a long drive back up the South Coast – being that a fish stock isn’t the sort of thing you can quickly whip up on a Monday night. All we had in the fridge was some Parmesan cheese, bacon and assorted vegetables!

We also needed something healthy for dinner on account of a long weekend consisting of several late dinners remit with red wines, slow cooked meats and more than a handful of desserts.

This simple, wonderful fish stew is your Monday night cheater’s recipe and an adaptation of something I found online.

It is incredibly healthy, super simple and packing flavour if you can find the time to caramelise the vegetables and let the stock and tomatoes simmer.

Finish with some chopped parsley and some croutons and you are getting very close to something you’d be happy to have in a good bistro. Seriously, with a cold beer and a good show on the TV, it just made our night.

I’ll do Rick’s wonderful soup one weekend coming up, though for your Monday night fix, this just cannot be beaten.

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp fennel seeds
1 onion, diced
4 carrots, diced
4 celery sticks, diced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
4 leeks, white part only, thinly sliced
2 cans, tomatoes
1 liter, good quality fish stock
600gm firm white fish, cut into pieces
250gm raw prawns
Flat leaf parsley, chopped to serve

Method

  1. Heat the olive oil over a low, medium heat in a large saucepan and saute the fennel seeds, onion, carrots, celery and garlic. Cook as slowly as you can until softening.
  2. Add the leeks, tomato and stock and season. Bring to the boil and then simmer on a low, medium heat for around 20 minutes.
  3. Add the fish and prawns and cook for a few minutes. Check the seasoning and serve with the parsley (and croutons if you have managed to avoid the the wines the weekend prior!).

Bean and pork stew

Serves: 4

Initially, I wasn’t sure if I’d type up this recipe.

But it seriously grows on you and the next day, Nat and I simultaneously messaged each other in disbelief at how good the stew was for lunch.

There is no question that as far as recipes I’d cook for a work lunch, this is one I would do again and again. And if you have followed this blog for a while, you’ll know that I try to put a bit of effort into workday lunches and often cook dishes especially for the weekday lunch run.

It is super healthy, it’s full of those beans we don’t get enough of and it would easily double and freeze.

It started life like a calf finding its feet for the first time, though once we had our head around this stew, it was all on!

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil
125gm mild salami, chopped
2 x 350gm pork fillets, trimmed, cut into 3cm pieces
1 carrot, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
6 thyme sprigs, leaves chopped
2 sage leaves, finely chopped
1 ½ cups (375ml) chicken stock
250gm baby roma tomatoes, halved
2 x 400g cans butter beans
400g can red kidney beans
100g baby spinach leaves
Ciabatta to serve

Method

  1. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a casserole dish over a high heat. Cook salami, stirring for 2 – 3 minutes until crisp, then remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel. Do not drain oil from pan.
  2. Season pork. In two batches, cook, turning for 2 – 3 minutes until golden.
  3. Reduce heat to medium and add the remaining 1 tbsp oil. Add the carrot, onion and celery and cook for 3 – 4 minutes until softened. Add garlic, thyme and sage and cook for 2 – 3 minutes until fragrant. Add the stock, tomatoes and beans, bring to the simmer and cook for 5 minutes or until flavours have infused. Return the pork to the pan and cook for a few more minutes, until the pork is cooked and the stew thickened. Stir through the spinach and remove from the heat.
  4. Scatter with the crisp salami and serve with toasted ciabatta.

Pot-roast beef with salsa verde

Serves: 6

This is a freight train of a dish and in a good way.

Bottle of red wine; a kilo of steak, salsa verde; plenty of cooking time.

The result is so inevitably luxurious and warm, though like a freight train, not particularly unapologetic. You get out what you put in and what you get out is a rich, silken, winter stew that would belt the shit out of anything that came close to it.

Next day at work, the concentration of flavour doubled and before I had it in the microwave, a friend commented; afterwards, it was almost awkward. People don’t eat rich stews and potatoes for lunch on a Monday and the fact they are is beyond words.

11/10.

And here is the best part.

I didn’t cook it.

Nat did. On a Monday. Before I got home from work.

As if salsa verde wasn’t enough sprinkled on top (cutting through the richness), I didn’t have to lift a finger until it was served.

Try this one cold night this winter and revel in it.

Excuse my language, though it is a finger to winter and a bloody effective one at that.

Brilliant! And thank you Nat.

Sunday on a Monday!

Ingredients

Stew

750ml bottle good quality red wine (Seriously!)
1 kg skirt steak, cut into 3cm pieces
2 tbsp plain flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 onions, sliced
4 garlic cloves, crushed
4 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf (or 2 dry)
750ml beef stock (starting to see my point?)

Salsa verde

2 cups flat-leaf parsley leaves
3 cups mint leaves
2 tbsp capers, rinsed
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
150ml extra virgin olive oil

Mashed, boiled (with butter and parsley), whatever potatoes to serve; just don’t go overboard or this could be the end
Steamed green beans

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 160c.
  2. Place wine in a large saucepan/casserole (with a lid) over a medium heat and simmer until reduced by half. Set aside.
  3. Toss the steak in the seasoned flour. Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the steak in batches until well browned. Set aside.
  4. Add onion to the pan and cook for 5 minutes until golden; add the garlic and the herbs.
  5. Return the meat to the pan with the reduced wine and stock. Stir and season. Cover and cook in the oven for 2 ½ hours. (You have my point now, right?)
  6. To make the salsa verde, place all the ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Season.
  7. Remove meat from pan/casserole and set aside. Place the pan/casserole back on the stock and cook until the sauce is thickened.
  8. Return the meat and serve with the salsa verde and potato.
  9. Loosen tie, remove shoes, be thankful for winter.

Neil Perry’s Beef Braised with Guinness

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Such a great cook book. Everything is a success.

Serves: 4 – 6 with a good dollop of champ or parmesan polenta

My favourite cookbook is Neil Perry’s The Food I Love. I’ve had it for years and have cooked so much from it.

The first recipe from it – years and years back – to christen a new Le Creuset pot was this beautiful braise. Since then, it is one of the first recipes I cook when the colder part of the year starts; that afternoon where you notice the chill and put on a good jumper.

It really does put a smile on your face as you snuggle up with a glass of red, a good serving of champ and some beans. Put on a movie, dim the lights and look forward to the coming months filled with meals like this.

Ingredients

1 kg beef shin, cut into 2cm cubes
Sea salt
1/3 c extra virgin olive oil, plus extra
2 fresh bay leaves
1 medium brown onion, chopped into 2cm cubes
1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into 2cm lengths
1 medium leek, white part only, cut into 2cm lengths
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 thyme sprigs
1c (250ml) Guinness (yes there is some left over and yes you should drink it – it’s cold!)
Freshly ground pepper
2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

Method

  1. Remove the beef from the fridge an hour before cooking and season with sea salt.
  2. Put olive oil and bay leave sin a heavy-based saucepan with a tight-fitting lid over a high-heat. When hot, add half the beef and brown all over. Remove and repeat with the remaining beef.
  3. If need be, add a little more oil to the pan and add the onion to the pan and cook for 10 minutes over a gentle heat.
  4. Return the beef to the pan and add the carrot, leek, garlic, thyme Guinness and 1 cup of water. Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook for about 1 ½ hours. Remove the lid and cook for another 30 minutes or until the beef is tender and you’ve reached the right consistency.
  5. Remove the bay leaves and thyme and season with pepper. Serve sprinkled with the parsley.