Crockpot Beef in Beer

Here’s yet another easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy crockpot recipe (last Tuesday I showed you myCrockpot Chili Con Carne).  Great for those times when life is rushing past and you want to get a handle on things and have dinner planned in advance – with no cooking required!

Take a joint of beef.  The cheaper the better.  (You can chop it into small chunks if you really want to.)  If you have time and the inclination, then brown it quickly in a really hot pan.

Beef sizzling in the frying pan

Dump the beef into your crockpot and pour over a bottle of beer.  I used some Danish Christmas ale.

Use any beer you like…

Throw in a stock cube to ‘beef’ up the flavour [boom, boom!], lots of salt and pepper, put the lid on and turn the crockpot to high – or low, if you’re going to leave it there all day.  I also added a roughly chopped onion and some carrots, so that I wouldn’t have to cook veggies later!

The beer makes a really tasty gravy.  If you want to thicken the gravy/juices, then add a few spoonfuls of Maizena and turn the crockpot to high for about 30 minutes before serving.  We like to eat the beef with mashed potatoes (great to soak up the yummy gravy).  But rice, polenta or couscous would work well too.  And, if you’re really pulling out all the stops, how about adding some dumplings to the beef, during the last 45 minutes of cooking?  Divine!

We were so hungry on Sunday that I forgot to snap a picture of the beef all plated up.  So here’s the crockpot sans contents…ready for washing up!

The most difficult part of crockpot cooking?  Forcing yourself to clean the pot immediately
instead of leaving it to sit on the kitchen worktop for a whole week! ;o)

Bon appétit!

Diane :o)


Crockpot Chili con Carne

My sweetie friend H had a birthday recently and I gave her a crockpot – so this post, a starter recipe, is for her!

Crockpot loaded with chili ingredients and ready to go!

You’ll need:

  • 500g of beef cut into chunks (the cheaper the better – don’t use steak!)
  • a tin of tomatoes or a jar of tomato sauce (I like to add a spoonful of sugar, to counteract the acidity of the tomatoes)
  • an onion, roughly chopped (if you happen to have one)
  • a carrot, roughly chopped (if you happen to have one)
  • a stock cube (beef, chicken…whatever you have on hand)
  • a good shake of chili flakes
  • salt and pepper
  • a little water or red wine
  • a can of kidney beans

Dump everything into the crockpot except the kidney beans.  Now, listen up.  You do not need to brown the meat.  If you want to brown the meat, go ahead.  But it is not necessary!  [she typed…Queen of Shortcuts]

Cover the whole shebang with a little water.  Or a swig or two of leftover red wine, if you happen to have any.  But remember, no kidney beans just yet.  Pop the lid on, fire her up (‘low’ – if you will be away all day, ‘high’ if you only have the afternoon) and go off and do something else.

Add the kidney beans about 30 minutes to 1 hour before you are going to eat (turn the crockpot up to high, to give it a good bubble).

Add the kidney beans at the end of the cooking time.

Serve the chili in large bowls.  We didn’t bother with rice or bread but topped it with tortilla chips, guacamole, crème fraîche, grated cheddar cheese and sliced red pepper.  Yum!

Bon appétit!

Diane :o)

 


Beef and Apricot (Crockpot) Stew

Time for another recipe from my Little Red File blog…Beef and Apricot (Crockpot) Stew 🙂

I’m not exactly sure where this recipe came from. I’ve scribbled it down – in Danish – on a scrap of paper, so it’s probably an idea I got from my DMIL (dear – departed – Danish Mother-in-Law) who was a great cook.

You’ll need:

  • 500g of beef, cubed (remember to use a cheap cut if you’re using the crockpot)

  • a little butter or oil for frying

  • one, two or three onions (recipe said three, but decide yourself)

  • salt and pepper

  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce

  • 2 dl/200 ml pouring cream

  • tin of apricots and a little of their juice

The stew can be made on the top of the stove and finished off in the oven, but I decided to try it in the crockpot. Because I love that ‘superwoman’ feeling it gives, knowing that dinner is done and dusted early in the day! 🙂

Brown the beef in a little butter or oil and do the same with the onions. Or you could take the easy way out and throw the whole lot in the crockpot – thus saving time and making it fat-free… 🙂

Then all you have to do is tip in the apricots, soy sauce, cream, lots of freshly ground pepper and some (sea) salt. If you want to bump up the flavour, go ahead and add ½ to a whole beef stockcube. Put on the lid and cook in the crock on low for about 6 hours, on high for about 4 hours, or simmer on the top of the stove for 15-30 minutes.

The verdict? I thought the (yummy) sauce was a tad runny so added some cornflour and cooked it on high for the last 15 minutes. We ate it with couscous (though it would be great with mashed potatoes or tagliatelle) and the whole family enjoyed it. A keeper!

Bon appétit!


Mum’s Minestrone

There’s been a lot of talk amongst my twisters (Twitter sisters) about soups recently. Not really a surprise with the ‘postcard’ winter weather we’ve been having from London to Copenhagen to Iowa.

Here’s one of my own favourite family soups, my Mum’s minestrone. She always makes it in her pressure cooker – I always make it in my crockpot. I don’t know where she got the recipe, but it has niente to do with Italy… But mamma mia, it’s good! 😉

You’ll need:

  • an onion (a good soup always starts with an onion)
  • butter or oil for frying (if not using crockpot)
  • one or two cloves of garlic, crushed or chopped (if you like garlic)
  • couple of leeks, couple of carrots, roughly chopped
  • 1 pint or ½ litre of stock (I use chicken stockcubes)
  • tin of tomatoes
  • one tablespoon of sugar
  • teaspoon of dried herbs (oregano, thyme or basil – use what you have)
  • small handful of rice
  • two handfuls of pasta, or spaghetti broken into wee bits
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • bacon in small pieces (see note below)

There are two methods…

You can put the whole ‘shebang’ in the crockpot and let it cook on high for 4 hours or low for 5+ hours.

Or you can do it on the stove. Fry the onion in a bit of oil or butter. Add the garlic, leeks and carrots and soften. Add the stock, tinned tomatoes, sugar, herbs, rice, pasta and salt and pepper. Bring to the boil then simmer gently for about 30 minutes.

I always add bacon to mine. Either cut up into small bits and thrown in with everything else, so it gives flavour to the soup but is still soft. Or I fry it (in the oven for about 15 minutes at 200c/400f) until it’s really crispy and ready to crumble on the top.

Bon appétit and happy snowy Saturday! 🙂


Får De? (Are you being served?)

It’s been snowing all morning (been out twice to shovel and sweep) and now I’m off down to Hellerup to buy a scarf for a friend. So why am I stuffing a rather large crockpot cookbook into my handbag?

Let me introduce you to a fantastic teeny tiny place in Hellerup called “The Pink Flamingo“. The boring term for it is ‘shop’. In reality it’s an Aladdin’s Cave. Though Aladdin wouldn’t be seen dead in the place because it’s full of really girly stuff. Packed to the gunnels with it. So much so that it spills out on to the pavement…notice a few soft flakes of snow on the boots 🙂

And what’s inside the shop? Ballerina flats covered in sequins, buttons and bows, fashionable wellies, UGG boots, leggings and tights for every occasion, more Oilily bags than you can shake a stick at, makeup, skincare products, the latest trendy bracelets…

I’m not even going to try and describe the hair accessories. Suffice it to say that they cover the whole of the shop counter and hang precariously over the edge. How about some Danish design raincoats, dresses, tops, knitwear, candles, serviettes or lunchboxes. Back out on the street there are greetings cards and wrapping paper…and pair knifty, stripey socks? Brrrrr, love, you might want to put a coat on!

Last but not least, they have – hanging from the ceiling in the middle of the shop, together with handbags in every shape and size – a fantastic selection of my personal favourite…scarves! 🙂 Which was the whole reason I went there this morning. (And to look for another one for myself, bien sûr…) Got exactly what I was looking for, a scarf by the Danish company Erfurt. I’m still in love with the green one I bought back in October – you can see it on my earlier post These are a few of my favourite things – Scarves. Here’s the scarf I bought today, ready for it’s lucky new owner 😉

But why the crockpot cookbook? Well, the couple who own the shop are just so… Nice! 🙂 Everything is beautifully wrapped, they always have great ideas whether you need to buy a pocketmoney gift or a party outfit. And best of all they love a good chat! 😉 The last time I was in the shop we had a long and rather animated chat about my crockpot (as yet unheard of in little ole Denmark). They decided they’ll buy one the next time they’re in Germany (slowcookers are gaining popularity there). So I decluttered some cookbooks this morning (go me!) and the crockpot cookbook has now gone to a new home with two good owners! 😉

And now you need the address of this tiny shop, don’t you? Strandvejen 161, Hellerup. Busstop is called “Lille Strandvejen“. By the way, see the lady in the picture? Around these parts, the fur is ‘fur real’! 😉

Have a wonderful wintry Wednesday! 🙂


One potato, two potato, three potato, four!

Yesterday I made ‘baked’ potatoes in the crock for the first time. Yay, they turned out great! Another dish (if you can call it that) to add to my crock repertoire that isn’t a soup or stewy-type thing.

I tend to overlook potatoes a bit, even though they are one of my favourite vegetables. OK, I like them boiled, mashed, as wedges/chips and pre-made röstis.

But I remember very clearly, on one of my first visits to Denmark, being served up a very ‘posh’ potato. It was at my future DMIL’s house (in Viborg, Denmark) and they went by the name of Hasselbach potatoes. Hasselbach being the name of the Scandinavian person who came up with the dinky idea in the first place.

You take a normal, washed, raw potato and ‘nestle’ it on a wooden spoon, so it doesn’t roll away…

Take a sharp knife and make deep slits through the potato. The wooden spoon will stop you chopping all the way through and ending up with several bits of potato 😉

Put in an ovenproof dish or baking sheet. Brush with a bit of oil or melted butter, sprinkle with salt, herbs, whatever you fancy and bake for about 30 minutes in a fairly hot oven.

Voilà – a potato fit for a Scandinavian King!

(Forgot, in my rush to eat the darn things, to take a picture of the finished product. So you’ll just have to make them yourself or wait until next time I serve them!)


Slow cooker/crockpot baked potatoes

I’m experimenting today. Have jammed several large baking potatoes in my biggest crock. No water, no salt, just tatties! 🙂

The time is 9.45 am. Going to leave them until tonight and we’ll see how they turn out… Are you as excited as I am? 😉

Check back here later for updates.

*******

4 pm and everything smells good. They ‘look’ as though they are already cooked. Not going to take the lid off just yet, because I want to leave them as long as possible – just to make sure they won’t explode if I don’t prick them first and leave them all day 😉

6 pm and it’s time to serve up! They look a bit like boiled potatoes (skins are, of course, not crispy), their bottoms are slightly darkened (as if they had been on a baking sheet).

Now for the taste test! 🙂 Slice them in half and they mash easily. Quite yellow inside, not white, but quite fluffy. And they taste great with lashings of butter and grated cheddar cheese…

Things I would do different next time? Will try pricking them first. Read somewhere that makes them very fluffy inside (lets the steam inside escape).

And the million dollar question…would I make these again? Definitely! 🙂


What’s for dinner?

Menu planning is not to be scoffed at. I’m still no expert, but sitting down (or even standing up) and actually making a rough plan in my diary takes away one of my biggest ‘being a mum’ stress factors. It was – yes, you guessed it – the Flylady http://www.flylady.net/ who got me started.

I look in my diary, see what’s coming up for the week and try to plan accordingly. For example, the DKs go to Scouts (at different times) on Tuesday nights, so that’s a day that I keep things simple and do something in the crockpot or use Danish meatballs from the freezer.

It’s not rocket science… A normal menuplan for the week just includes:

various meats and fish: chicken, beef, lamb, pork, sausages
non-meat (pizza, quiche, main-course salad)
family favourites (pizza, Danish fishcakes, roast pork, Swedish sausage casserole)
crockpot meals (lasagne, stew, soup, curry, spaghetti bolognaise)

Make sure to vary the side dishes and vegetables:

Asian noodles, potatoes, couscous, rice, pasta, bulgur wheat
salad, raw veggies, cooked veggies

If the whole idea leaves you reeling, you can always do it backwards. Write down every dinner you have for a couple of weeks, then go back and use that. Another good idea from the Flylady is to have everyone in the family make a list of 5-8 meals that they like, and use them as a starting point.

I can’t claim that we eat exactly what is written down on my list. Of course not – plans change, we get invited out, DH doesn’t come home for dinner, fill in the blank. So I also keep a few ready-made things in the freezer.

And – as the proof of the pudding is in the eating – here’s this week’s menuplan… Bon appétit!

Monday

  • breaded fish, rice made in ricecooker, sugarsnap peas
  • Koldskål og kammerjunker (Danish summer dessert, bit like eggnog with small biscuits)

Tuesday (our guests arrive: 2 adults, 1 toddler)

  • Parmesan chicken, tagliatelle, spinach salad
  • The Moistest Ever Brownies courtesy of @luvschweetheart on http://www.twitter.com/ (see blogpost)

Wednesday

  • Danish fishcakes (made with fish, egg & cream, no potato) from the fishmonger, brown rice, carrots & peas, remoulade (Danish pickle sauce) and rucola/feta salad
  • Vanilla icecream with ‘flødeboller’ (Danish kiddies’ fave, biscuit base topped with artificial cream, whole thing covered in chocolate. Can’t remember what you call them in English.)

Thursday

  • grown ups are out for posh dinner (yay!), DKs will have spaghetti bolognaise and
  • rice pudding

Friday

  • herb-crusted salmon, garlic/mustard/mayo sauce, Hasselbach potatoes (old Danish classic), roasted green beans/anchovies/tomatoes/sundried tomatoes
  • cake from the bakers or maybe homemade

Saturday

  • homemade pepperoni pizza and salad
  • homemade chocolate mousse (the real kind, the best kind, French, made only with eggs & chocolate)

Sunday (think our guests are leaving today)

  • roast chicken, bulgur wheat, salad

POSTSCRIPT: No sooner than I had published this post, our friends rang to say they would arrive a day later than planned – and we are now going out for dinner in town on Friday instead of Thursday! So remember that menuplanning is not set in stone, just a guideline… 🙂


One for the Pot

My favourite boardgames as a child were ‘Ghost Train’ and ‘One for the Pot’ (both made by Denys Fisher). I took them to Luxembourg when I left home 20 years and it amuses me that my kids like to play One for the Pot too. Basically a teapot which squirts water into different coloured cups, you keep adding spoons and plastic sugar lumps as you go round the board, whoever overflows loses…you get the drift.

These days I have a new ‘pot’ that I play with – my crockpot. Bought one originally because the Flylady http://www.flylady.net/ always goes on and on about them. Didn’t really understand at first why people loved them but, 2 years down the line, I’m learning to love mine. In fact, I now have two.

We’ve got friends coming for dinner tonight and I made some lasagne in the crockpot at lunchtime. It’ll be ready when we are. Krista (a.k.a. @luvschweetheart from http://www.twitter.com/) put me on to the joys of crocking lasagne. No more conventional oven for me.

Go check out our Krista’s blog http://typical-ramblings.blogspot.com/ – she has a killer recipe for brownies (more on those another day).

Bon appétit!