Monthly Archives: April 2012

Leftover Beef Burritos with Homemade Guacamole

Greetings earthlings!

I was a massive glutton yesterday.  I had what seemed like the universe’s biggest roast dinner for lunch and nothing but jam sponge and custard for my tea and despite being so full I could barely move, immediately started considering what to do with the leftover meat.

Some of it went into A Man’s sandwich (dubbed “definitely within the top 2 sandwiches I’ve ever eaten”) for lunch at work today, along with the leftover mushroom stuffing and some lettuce.  The rest I decided to make into yummy burritos/fajitas/something Mexican.  Does anyone know the difference between the two? Because I have no clue.  They’re both stuff in a tortilla, and that’s the important thing.

I love how fajitas are communal food.  You bring everything to the table in bowls, people choose what they want and leave what they don’t, and chat to one another.  Not to mention the fact that the combination of of spiced meat, meltingly soft onions and crunchy salad is one of my absolute favourite things to eat.  Yum!  It looks like there are tons of ingredients here, but most of them are the spices I used, which are infinitely interchangeable – use whatever is your favourite, or a pre-mixed blend if you prefer.  You can use this method for cooking steak (rather than leftover meat), pork, chicken or veggies – lots of peppers, courgettes and butternut squash are a good combination for a veggie version.

What’s your favourite food?  Are you a spice-head or do you like it more mellow?  And does anybody know the difference between a fajita and a burrito?!

Love love

Gemma xx

Leftover Beef Burritos with Homemade Guacamole

A Man is proud of his handiwork, bearing in mind that I managed to make the tortillas unnecessarily (and unintentionally) crispy.

Cold roast beef, shredded into fine strips
1 onion, cut into fine slices
Green pepper, cut into fine slices
1 fat clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp onion granules
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp Schwartz Cook Art Chilli Cocoa Bean Spice (don’t worry if you don’t have this – use 1/2 tsp ordinary cocoa powder instead)
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
Couple of twists from a chilli flake mill
1 tsp sugar
Pinch Salt
1 green chilli, finely chopped
Zest and juice of a lemon

For the Guacamole

Ripe avocado
Tomato, finely diced (optional – technically, guacamole should have tomato in, but I prefer it without.  Add it if you like)
1 onion, finely diced
1 chilli, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
Zest and juice of a lime

Flour tortillas
Preferred side dishes and burrito fillings, to serve

All of our ingredients, ready to be demolished.

  1. If your meat is very fatty, fry it on a low heat in a dry pan to render some of the fat out and pour it off.  Remove the meat from the pan.
  2. Fry the onion, garlic and pepper, stirring occasionally.  You want it to gain some colour, so start it on a medium-high heat, then turn it right down once the veg has started to brown.  Keep stirring regularly until the onion is very soft and sweet.  Switch the heat off once it is cooked.  It could take a while, so do your other prep in the mean time.
  3. Place the beef in a bowl with all of the spices, sugar and lemon zest and juice and stir really well.  If possible, leave this to marinade for a couple of hours.
  4. Cut the avocado in half and twist to separate the halves.  Remove the flesh from the skin and mash until it is as soft as you like.  Some people like their guacamole smooth, but I prefer mine with some texture.  Stir in the onion.  Purée the garlic and salt together with the flat side of a knife and stir into the avocado mix.  Add the chilli a little at a time, tasting regularly, until the salsa is as spicy as you like it.  Stir through the lime zest and juice, adjust the seasoning as necessary.  Place the avocado stone into the bowl – for some reason, this helps to prevent the salsa from going brown.
  5. Prepare your other side dishes.  My absolute favourite is very simply finely shredded white cabbage dressed with lemon juice.  Other popular ones include grated cheese (we had edam), sour cream, tomato salsa, coleslaw, grated carrots, sliced peppers, rice, sweetcorn and finely sliced cucumber.  Use whatever you fancy having with your meat.
  6. Warm the tortillas shortly before serving.  Add the marinated beef to the fried onion and pepper and cook gently until warmed all through and sizzling.  Serve immediately at the table so that everyone can help themselves.

Again, due to the somewhat crispy nature of the tortillas, it was impossible to roll. This one ended up like some kind of bastard son of a fajita and a calzone, with some piadina ancestry.


Slow Cooker Steamed Almond Pudding

After our epic roast dinner earlier, we were a little full to have pudding immediately.  Luckily, it wasn’t ready so was quite easy to put off until later.  I used my home-made butter in this one.

Steamed puddings can be a thing of beauty.  Light and fluffy and reminiscent of childhood, topped with lots of sweet creamy custard and especially good when the weather’s as crappy as it has been recently.  And the other advantage is that they’re incredibly easy to make.  They can be cooked in minutes in the microwave, but nothing beats a properly steamed pudding – they come out a lot lighter and moister that way.  I’ve used raspberry jam here, but more or less anything saucy can be added to flavour the sponge.

Love love

Gemma xx

Slow Cooker Steamed Almond Pudding

Having grown up as one of 4, I've never made a steamed pud so small! It's sitting dwarfed on a side plate.

2 oz melted butter
2  caster sugar
1 egg
3 oz ground almonds
1 oz self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
Raspberry jam
Custard, to serve

  1. Grease a 1 pint pudding basin.  Mix the caster sugar with the melted butter until dissolved.  Whisk in the egg, almonds, flour, baking powder and vanilla.
  2. The batter will probably be quite thick at this stage.  Add enough milk for it to become just thin enough to pour.
  3. Spoon some jam into the bottom of the pudding basin.  Pour the batter over the top, and cover the basin ready for steaming.
  4. Place an upturned saucer into the base of the slow cooker and place the pudding on top.  Carefully, so as not to get any water into the basin, pour in enough boiling water to come halfway up the basin.  Switch the slow cooker onto high.
  5. Cook for a couple of hours, until the pudding has cooked through and risen.  Remove it from the water and turn it up onto a plate.  Serve with lots of hot custard.

Dinner of kings! And somewhat soporific. Time for a post-lunch nap!

I tried Roast Beef and Garlic Mushroom Stuffing again today, with a couple of key changes. The joint was a piece of boneless rib of beef, roasted for only around 45 minutes before being taken out to rest. The stuffing was simply put in an oven-proof dish and baked by itself for around half an hour. All served up with roast potatoes, yorkshire pudding, runner beans and leftover marrow and cauliflower cheese.  And of course lots of horseradish sauce and yummy gravy made with mixed meat stock from the other day.  Pudding to follow later on, if I can get up…


Happy Sunday, everybody

A Man and I are going on holiday next week (hooray!!!) and so made quite a specific shopping list before buying food yesterday to make sure we didn’t have loads left in the fridge.  We decided we’d have a roast today, and I could make soup tomorrow, my intention being to make stock from the bones.  Somehow we came back with a boneless rump of beef.  Not quite sure how, but never mind!

You won’t get a beautiful, easy-to-carve joint after stuffing it like this unless you’re a wizard at butchers’ knots and have a much longer joint that we did (ours was a tiny 2-ounce piece, but that suits us fine) but you should get one that’s lovely and moist and flavoursome.  The advantage we did have by having a little joint was that it doesn’t take long to cook, and you can chuck your potatoes…

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Chicken and Ham Pasties


Today has been a day of frustration.  Since yesterday afternoon, I have spent about 7 hours pinning and hemming a dress which still isn’t finished, and have consequently done very little else.  I needed some comfort food, and that’s just what I made.

I bought a cheap cooked chicken yesterday, which was good for very little because it was so dried out!  But in these pasties the meat is enveloped in thick, creamy sauce so it doesn’t matter so much.  The meat almost disintegrated into tiny strips, which it probably wouldn’t have done if it was more moist.  I used this Jamie Oliver recipe for leftover turkey, changing a couple of bits.  I didn’t have any leeks, which was a shame as I love leeks.  But as I had plenty of other veg to have with it I don’t think it really mattered.  I had gammon and ham stock in the freezer from when I made quiche and leftover chestnuts from the venison stew were also put to good use.  As I had enough pastry and filling to make 4 pasties, I froze the other two in separate freezer bags for another day.

Love love

Gemma xx

Chicken and Ham Pasties

A Man pointed out that there had been no veg prep involved here at all. The carrots and spuds were kept whole and boiled for a couple of minutes, and the marrow was such a baby that I didn't bother to peel or seed it - just chopped it into chunks and microwaved it. I love lazy veg! Apologies for the unfocused photo. It didn't look that bad on the camera!

Leftover roast chicken, cut into chunks
Gammon or bacon, cut into chunks
Olive oil and butter
Plain flour
Good quality stock
Puff pastry
Chestnuts, crumbled into small pieces
Egg, beaten

  1. Heat the olive oil and butter in a pan until the butter has melted and fry the gammon or bacon for a few minutes until cooked and starting to brown.  Add the chicken and stir well.
  2. Add a lot of flour to the pan and stir well until all of the moisture has been soaked up.  Add milk to the roux a little at a time until you have a thick sauce.  Add stock and milk as required to create a thick gravy.
  3. Drain the chicken-ham mix in a colander so that there is only a small amount of gravy on the meat.  Stir freshly ground black pepper through the meat and set aside.  If you are making the pasties in advance, allow this to cool completely before continuing.
  4. Roll the pastry out on a well-floured surface until very thin.  Sprinkle one half of it with sage and chestnuts, fold the other half of the pastry over and roll it again gently.  Cut the pastry into squares.
  5. Spoon the mixture evenly over one-half of each of the pastry squares, leaving a gap at the edge of each.  Brush the edge with beaten egg, fold the pastry over and seal.  Transfer (gently!) to a baking tray and brush the top with beaten egg.
  6. Bake at 180OC/350OF/Gas mark 4 until the pastry is cooked through and golden brown.  Reheat the gravy which was set aside, and serve with your favourite veg.  We had new potatoes, Roasted marrow and baby carrots.

Carrot and Coconut Soup

Good evening good evening good evening

Even by my standards, my freezer has started to look a bit on the daft side.  I’ve been saving meat bones like there’s some kind of world shortage, and eventually got fed up of trying to pack “real food” around them, so I decided to finally make up the stock yesterday.  As I didn’t really have enough of any type of bones, the resulting stock was made in the slow cooker from a combination of chicken, lamb, ham and beef bones, along with a couple of carrots, some celery and some rosemary stalks.  I was dubious as to what would result, but pleasantly surprised by a delicious smelling, relatively gelatinous stock (click here for some fairly fool-proof stock instructions, adaptable for any type of carcass).

The fridge, on the other hand, is incredibly sad-looking.  Quite a variety of salad veg, a load of carrots and not much else.  Given that I really couldn’t be bothered to go shopping, I decided to make some carrot soup and concluded that the coconut cream leftover from the other day’s curry  probably ought to be used up too, resulting in this slightly tangy version of carrot and coriander soup.  Nice and simple, and fairly quick to make.  Hopefully I’ll regain inspiration later in the week and start cooking exciting things again!

Love love

Gemma xx

Carrot and Coconut Soup

I'm trying out a slightly more artsy style of photography. What do you think?

Lots of carrots, diced small
Ground coriander
Ground cumin
Onion powder
1 green chilli, seeds removed and chopped finely (top tip – don’t rub your eyes unlike some silly cow did this evening…)
Good quality stock (use meat stock if you like, or vegetable to make it vegetarian/vegan)
Half a carton of coconut cream
Fresh coriander leaves and stalks, roughly chopped

  1. Heat a little olive oil in a fairly deep pan.  Add the carrot and stir.  Shake in quite a lot of ground coriander and a smaller amount of cumin and onion powder.  Add the chilli and stir everything well.
  2. Add enough stock to cover the veg, topping up with water if necessary.  Stir through the coconut cream and turn the heat down to a slow simmer.  Cook for at least half an hour, until the carrot is really soft.  You don’t have to worry about boiling out all the goodness, as that’ll stay in the water, which will be whizzed up with the soup later!
  3. Once the carrot is soft, blend until smooth, adding more stock or water if necessary.  Stir through the coriander and serve with crusty bread.  A good tip if you have some bread rolls or a baguette or something which is starting to go a bit stale is to sprinkle some water over it and warm it through in a medium-hot oven.  Voila!  Fresh(ish) crusty bread 🙂

Stolen Recipe for Gammon Steaks

Tonight’s dinner was a stolen recipe, courtesy of Jenny Lau of – some 9p gammon steaks with fried egg, sweet potato chips, corn on the cob and pineapple salsa.  Pub grub, reinvigorated.  A Man added some garlic to the pineapple and it came out delicious!

Love love

Gemma xx

Gammon steak with caramelised pineapple and a fried egg.

Pork Steaks with Creamy Mustard-Apple Sauce and Braised Lettuce


Braised lettuce?  You mean you can cook with lettuce?  Apparently so, and as it happens it was pretty successful 🙂  You get lovely crispy bits, soft juicy veg and a yummy gravy to pour over everything too.

On Friday night, we mooched over to our local for a couple of ciders and an entry into the meat raffle.  We won a packet of 4 pork loin steaks, 2 of which are in my freezer and 2 of which are in my and A Man’s tummies.  Owing to all of my recent impulse buying of really cheap groceries, there were a few things in my fridge which needed to be dealt with, including 3 little gem hearts, half a fennel bulb and a tub of reduced fat (thank goodness!) creme fraiche.  What happened as a result of this cobbled together dinner was little short of bloody delicious!  I’m pretty confident I did the pork justice as it was lovely and moist, and this would be a great main course if you had a couple of friends over for dinner and wine as it’s not hard work, but seems like it was.  I also added a couple of slices of sad-looking salami to the veg pan – you can do the same if you like, or use bacon or lardons instead.

Love love

Gemma xx

Pork Steaks with Creamy Mustard-Apple Sauce and Braised Lettuce

I know, it doesn't look very appetising but I swear it was delicious!

Pork loin steaks (or chops)
Little gem hearts
Spring onions
100ml good quality stock (I used some of the excellent ham stock which was sitting in my freezer)
150ml white wine
Frozen peas
Fresh mint
2 apples
Creme fraiche
2 tsp wholegrain mustard
Juice of 1/2 lemon
New potatoes – I managed to buy some Jersey Royals for 9p 😀

  1. Melt some butter in an ovenproof pan.  Cut the lettuce and fennel into wedges and the spring onions into long pieces and fry in the butter for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the spring onions, stock, wine, mint and peas and place in a medium-hot oven.  Check on it occasionally and switch the oven off if anything’s starting to go a little too brown.
  2. Put the new potatoes on to boil.
  3. Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan.  Chop the onion into large dice and fry.  Core the apples and slice into wedges (you can leave the skin on).  Add to the onions and fry for a couple of minutes to brown.  Push everything to the edges, and place the steaks in the pan.  Cook for a couple of minutes to brown one side, and turn over.
  4. Add the mustard, creme fraiche and lemon juice to the pork pan and stir everything well.  Cook for a further few minutes, until the pork is cooked all the way through.  Serve immediately with the potatoes, braised veg and a glass of wine.