Thursday, 19 January 2012

I have rediscovered my love of food after temporarily *scunnering myself over the festive period. Here in Edinburgh it has been very, very cold or as the locals say baltic! This means there has been lots of slow cooking going on and spicy foods in abundance.

As January is always a bit of a frugal month for us, I've been making food that will stretch but something a bit more exciting than our usual mince based dishes.

The first up is a delicious pot roasted brisket dish from which the leftovers can be used for a hearty winter minestrone.


  1. 2 tbsp olive oil
  2. 1.6kg piece rolled and tied brisket, blade or braising steak
  3. 2 carrots, halved lengthways and cut into large chunks
  4. 2 celery sticks, chopped
  5. 2 onions, cut into small wedges
  6. 400g can chopped tomatoes
  7. 2 bay leaves
  8. 1 litre hot beef stock made from
  9. 1 stock cube
  10. 250g dried country vegetable mixture, including split peas, lentils and pearl barley
  11. Small handful fresh flatleaf parsley, finely chopped


  1. 1. Heat the oil in a large casserole and sear the beef all over until just browned. Add all of the vegetables and bay leaves to the pan and cover with the stock. Bring to the boil, then cover and reduce the heat and simmer gently for 1 hour.
  2. 2. Add the dried pulses and continue to cook for a further 1½ hours, until the stock is thickened and the pulses are cooked. Remove the beef and cut into thick slices, discarding the string.
  3. 3. Ladle the stock and pulses into bowls and serve with the beef slices and a good sprinkling of chopped parsley.
  4. Winter Minestrone
  5. Ingredients
    1. 2 tbsp olive oil
    2. 1 small onion, finely chopped
    3. 1 leek, halved lengthways, washed and chopped
    4. 1 celery stick, halved lengthways
    5. and sliced
    6. 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
    7. 400g piece brisket, diced
    8. 1 large carrot, diced
    9. 2 medium potatoes, diced
    10. 1 fresh rosemary sprig
    11. 1 bay leaf
    12. 600ml vegetable stock
    13. 400g can chopped tomatoes
    14. 100g savoy cabbage or Brussels sprouts, finely shredded
    15. 400g can cannellini or haricot beans, drained
    16. 100g small pasta shells
    17. 8 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan or Grana Padano, to serve


    1. 1. Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the onion, leek, celery and garlic and cook for a few minutes, until softened. Add the brisket, carrot, potatoes and herbs. Pour over the stock, tomatoes and 750ml water to cover. Bring to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes.
    2. 2. Stir in the cabbage or sprouts, beans and pasta and simmer for a further 5 minutes. (The pasta will be slightly undercooked at this point but will be perfect after reheating.)
    3. 3. Leave to cool completely, then freeze (see tip) or cook for 2 minutes more, if serving immediately, until the pasta is cooked. Serve with griddled ciabatta and cheese.

Spicy sausage penne
Sausages and pasta in a chilli tomato sauce is a cheap and easy midweek meal that's sure to satisfy everyone.
  1. 1 tbsp olive oil
  2. 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  3. 1 red chilli, deseeded, finely chopped
  4. 150ml red wine
  5. 400g can chopped tomatoes
  6. Pinch of caster sugar
  7. 400g penne
  8. Handful fresh parsley, finely chopped
  9. Parmesan shavings, to serve


  1. 1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas 6. Put the sausages in a roasting tin and roast for 15-20 minutes until cooked through. Remove and slice on the diagonal.
  2. 2. In a frying pan, fry the onion in the oil until soft. Season. Add the garlic and chilli and fry for 1 minute.
  3. 3. Add the sausage and wine. Bubble over a high heat for a few minutes. Add the tomatoes and sugar, bring to the boil, then simmer for 20 minutes, stirring, until thick. Season.
  4. 4. Meanwhile, cook the penne in a large pan of salted boiling water until al dente, then drain.
  5. 5. Divide the penne among bowls, then spoon the sauce over. Sprinkle with parsley and Parmesan to serve.
  6. Pasta coated in melting Brie is a quick and easy vegetarian dish to whip up for a weeknight supper so you can put your feet up in front of the TV. At a well known supermarket beginning with S, you can get a wedge of Brie for 98p!

    1. 300g vegetarian Brie, rind removed, cut into cubes
    2. 2 garlic cloves, crushed
    3. 6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
    4. 300g cherry tomatoes, halved
    5. Large handful fresh basil, chopped
    6. Grated zest of ½ lemon and
    7. a squeeze of juice
    8. 400g fettuccine or spaghetti


    1. 1. Put the Brie, garlic, oil, tomatoes, basil, and lemon zest and juice in a large bowl. Season, mix together and leave for 10 minutes to infuse.
    2. 2. Cook the pasta in a large pan of salted boiling water, then drain.
    3. 3. Promptly toss the hot pasta with the Brie mixture, then serve.

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