Thursday, 30 October 2014

Apricot Lamb Stew

Sous Chef J knows the sort of gifts I like and sought out a Slow Cooking recipe book as a present for me.  It's a 'old style' with lots of scrumptious ideas for meals for us to try out...

Although we didn't use the slow cooker for this recipe, it's something that will be putting the slow cooker to good use over the coming months.

The first recipe we decided to try, Lamb with Apricots, was picked by Sous Chef J as part of the Knorr Gluten-Free Challenge. We've used Knorr stock pots quite a lot in our recipes - like this Spiced Apple and Squash Soup and this one for Slow Cooker Potato Layers both are great for the cooler days and longer nights.

The ingredients we needed were -

550g braising lamb
2 Tbsp Plain flour, seasoned (we used Gluten Free Plain)
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
600ml chicken stock (made using a Knorr Chicken Stockpot)
1 Orange (grated zest and juice)
1 Cinnamon Stick
1 tsp Clear Honey
175g Dried Apricots
3 Tbsp Fresh Mint, chopped
30g Ground Almonds
30g Flaked Almonds, toasted lightly

The ingredients were weighed out, prepared and ready for use.

Dicing the lamb and coating it in some seasoned plain flour, we made sure it was well covered.

A large pan had the oil added to it and it was heated for a couple of minutes before the lamb was added.  Cooking the lamb, until browned, took about 4 minutes and it was removed from the pan.  (At this point add the meat to the slow cooker if you are using one)

Adding the onion and garlic to the pan, they were cooked gently on a low/medium heat for about 5 minutes until they started to soften.  We then added the lamb back into the pan and added all the other ingredients apart from the ground and flaked almonds.  (If you are using a slow cooker add same ingredients to the pot and turn the heat to high - cook for one hour, then turn to low and cook for 6-8 hours)

We put the lid on the pan and brought it up to the boil when the heat was reduced and the pan was left to simmer for an hour.

Once the meat had cooked through and the ingredients had become a lovely deep amber colour, the ground almonds were stirred through.

Sprinkling some flaked almonds over the top, we served the lamb stew with boiled baby pearl potatoes and steamed broccoli.

Disclosure - this blog post was written as part of Knorr's Gluten-Free Challenge. We were sent a hamper of ingredients but were not paid for this post. #glutenfreeknorr

Friday, 24 October 2014

Scary Skeletons

Using a basic biscuit mix, we made some 'men' bix and decorated them with runny icing... trying to see which was the best representation of a skeleton.

The ingredients we used were -
  • 200g unsalted butter, softened
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 1 medium egg, beaten
  • 400g Dove's Farm Gluten Free plain flour  
The butter and sugar were creamed together using an electric hand mixer.  Once they were soft and fluffy looking, the egg and flour were added.  This was mixed well, first with the mixer, and then using a silicone spatula until a dough was formed.  (At this point, you can roll the dough into a sausage shape, wrap in cling film or greaseproof paper, put in a plastic bag and freeze for later use.)  We rolled out the dough, to about 4-5mm thickness, on a silicone sheet and used a gingerbread man cutter to shape them.  They were cooked on a greased, non-stick baking sheet for 8-10 minutes in a pre-heated 170ºC oven.  Once lightly browned, they were cooled for 5 minutes on the sheet before being transferred to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating.

Once cooled, they were decorated using ready made icing... in various 'scary' skeleton-like designs.

Some were placed in airtight containers for later consumption... but were keen to attempt an escape! 

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

No G Pies

We spotted some new-to-us pies when shopping on the ocado website. They're from Too Good to be Gluten Free and we have tried savoury pies, quiches and sweet pies.  We took a some quiches (which can be eaten cold or hot) on holiday to Norfolk with us and they were well received.

Our first taste of No G was this crustless Garden Vegetable quiche and a Cheese and Onion quiche.  Both were eaten cold as part of our lunch en route to Norfolk. We all agreed that the Cheese and Onion quiche was our preferred choice.
Once back home, we placed heated the Steak and Ale Pie in a 180ºC oven for 15 minutes turned the pastry a light brown which was very appealing.  The pie tasted good and is something we'd buy again.

The last time we placed an ocado order, there was a gluten free meal deal offer - 2 savoury pies/quiches, 2 sweet pies and 2 bottles of Celia lager for £10 and, as B's a fan of Celia lager, we tried out a couple of the meat pies.
Pies we bought this time were Chicken Bacon and Leek and Steak and Mushroom.  Cooking time is quoted as 15 minutes and we also heated the Cheese and  Onion quiche which worked well.  All three looked appealing once heated through.  We like the No G embossed onto the top of the pies, it makes it very clear which pies are which (no risk of mixing things up here as we only eat gluten free food but could be useful if your household also has gluten eaters in it)

Cutting into the Chicken, Bacon and Leek pie, there was a good mix of all ingredients and the sauce was not too runny.  It was a tasty pie and was my favourite. 

The Steak and Mushroom pie also had a good look when it was cut and held together well.  This was B's favourite pie.

Sous Chef J liked the quiche and ate it too quickly for us to get a picture of it!

We all liked the savoury pastry - it was flaky but not too short and held together well.
The Lemon Tart filling was sharp and tasty and held together well.

Another dessert tart we tried out contained chocolate and morello cherry.  We particularly liked the crisp, chocolate pastry and that the filling was not too sweet.  Served with fresh cream, this was a real treat.

These products are made in Nottingham and are something we'll definitely add to our list of easy to make meals.