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UK / US Cuts of Beef

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November 24, 2013 · 7:49 am

Cooking with the seasons – Summer*

Summer BerriesSummer is, of course, the best and easiest season in which to source fresh, locally grown produce.  However while supermarket shelves are heaving under the weight of fresh fruit and vegetables at this time of year, you need to be aware that many are still sourced from way beyond your direct area.  It’s quite possible that there are smaller, local producers selling many of the same products fresh from the fields and this is why I’m a fan of farm shops.  Seek them out and you will often be rewarded with the best fruit and veg money can buy and the satisfaction of knowing that you are supporting traders in your own community.  

It may be that supermarket shopping is easier for you and that buying locally produced goods is less of a priority.  Whatever the case, Summertime gives us an enormous variety of fruit, veg, fish and meat which is at its best at this time of year.

SUMMER

Seasonal Vegetables

Artichoke, Asparagus, Aubergine, Broccoli, Carrots, Cauliflower, Corn-on-the-cob, Courgettes (Zucchini), Fennel, Green beans, Green peas, Herbs (Basil, Chives, Dill, Fenugreek, Mint, Oregano, Parsley, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme), Jersey New Potatoes, Kiwi Fruit, Marrow (Squash), New Potatoes, Peppers, Rhadishes, Rocket, Runner beans, Salad ingredients, Sorrel, Spring Onions, Spinach, Squash, Tomatoes, Turnips, Watercress

Seasonal Fruits

Apples, Apricots, Blackberries, Blackcurrants, Blueberries,   Cherries, Gooseberries, Elderflowers, Loganberries, Melons, Nectarines, Peaches, Pears, Plums, Raspberries, Redcurrents, Red water melon, Rhubarb, Strawberries, Tayberries,

Seasonal Meat & Game

Lamb, Wood Pigeon

Seasonal Fish

Cod, Clams, Crab, Dover Sole, Grey mullet, Haddock, Halibut, Herring, John Dory, Lemon Sole, Lobster, Mackerel, Pike, Pilchards (Sardines), Plaice, Prawns, Salmon, Sardines, Scottish Squid, Sea Bass, Sea Trout, Trout

…………………………………..

*(Seasons and availability of produce obviously varies from country to country depending on geographical location.   This list is primarily based around location in the UK & western Europe).

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You're kidding…right?

sad-boyThis recipe was advertised on my Googlemail page and just the title made me click on it.  I had no idea that people still ate Spam let alone a ‘French Fry and Spam Casserole’ (with a few crushed cornflakes in there for good measure)! 

Actually this inspires me to start collecting the worst sounding recipes I can find.  At some point I may (may, I say) actually try them to see if they really do taste as bad as they sound.  Anyone want to contribute?  Genuine recipes only (together with a note of the source if you can).

Here is the recipe for Spam and French Fry Casserole, as listed at recipesource.com.  Try it – I dare you.

Title: FRENCH FRY SPAM CASSEROLE
  Categories: Main dish
       Yield: 8 servings
 
       1 pk Frozen french fry potatoes,
            -thawed (20 oz)
       2 c  Shredded Cheddar cheese
       2 c  Sour cream
       1 cn Condensed cream of chicken
            -soup (10 3/4 oz)
       1 cn SPAM Luncheon Meat, cubed
            -(12 oz)
     1/2 c  Chopped red bell pepper
     1/2 c  Chopped green onion
     1/2 c  Finely crushed corn flakes
 
   Heat oven to 350’F. In large bowl, combine potatoes, cheese, sour
   cream, and soup. Stir in SPAM, bell pepper, and green onion. Spoon
   into 13×9″ baking dish. Sprinkle with crushed flakes. Bake 30-40
   minutes or until thoroughly heated.

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Cooking with the seasons – Spring*

salad-bowl1To cook the best food you need to use the best ingredients, but this needn’t involve huge expense if you buy with the seasons.  Local produce is obviously the freshest and most cost effective but even food that has to be imported from elsewhere follows seasons when it is at its best, is more readily available and therefore cheaper. 

SPRING

Seasonal Vegetables 

Asparagus, Avocado pears, Beetroot, Broad Beans, Broccoli, Butter beans, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celeriac, Chicory, Chives, Courgettes, Leeks, Mint, Mushrooms, New potatoes, Parsley, Peas (beginning in May), Peppers, Purple sprouting broccoli, Radishes,  Salads, Spinach, Spring greens, Turnips, Watercress

Seasonal Fruits

Apples, Apricots, Bananas, Gooseberries, Grapefruit, Grapes,Pears, Pineapples, Rhubarb

Seasonal Meat

Hare, Rabbit, Lamb

Seasonal Fish

Cockles, Crab, Lobster, Mackerel, Mussels, Oysters, Pollack, Salmon, Sardines, Sea Trout

…………………………………

*(Seasons and availability of produce obviously varies from country to country depending on geographical location.   This list is primarily based around location in the UK & western Europe).

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Marinating

Making a marinadeIn our health conscious world, fat in meat has received a bad press and is largely shunned by the consuming public.  The fact of the matter is that fat is an essential element in good meat, providing both flavour and moistness.

If you’ve bought a very lean piece of meat you may need to be careful how you treat it and cook it if you want to avoid chewing on something akin to shoe leather!  One way to help tenderise it before cooking begins is by ‘marinating’ it.  Marinating breaks down some of the fibres in the meat and the more acid the marinade, and the longer you leave it, the greater the effect.  Just bear in mind that the process draws nutritious juices out of the meat so don’t throw the marinade away once you’ve used it!  Either baste the meat with it as you are cooking or make an accompanying sauce out of it.

A marinade is typically a combination of three elements:

  • an acid ingredient, such as wine, sherry or vinegar
  • oil – infused oils such as chilli, garlic etc., olive, walnut and sesame oils – which help to impart flavour and retain moisture
  • seasoning –  from basic salt and pepper, to herbs, to spices, to other ingredients like honey, lemon, good old ketchup and Worcestershire sauce.

If you’re experimenting and making your own marinade just try to balance the three elements and use ingredients that are complimentary to the meat.  For instance, lamb and rosemary is a classic combination, pork works well with either sage or rosemary, and chicken with lemon and thyme.

The process is very simple: Put the meat in a shallow glass or pottery dish – not metal, because the acid ingredients may react with the metal and taint the food.  I find sturdy zip-lock bags very useful for marinating. Pour your marinade ingredients over the top and turn the meat a few times to coat.  (This is where a zip-lock bag comes in useful because you can just pop the whole lot in the bag, zip the top and toss the bag over and over a few times to thoroughly coat).   If using a dish, cover and then, whatever the container (including zip-lock) you need to put it in the fridge for the alloted time.  If your marinade doesn’t completely cover the meat, turn it every half hour or so.   Pork and poultry will take 2-4 hours happily in the fridge, red meat and game, 4-6 hours.

Marinating is not confined to meats.  Both fish and vegetables can be given the same treatment but bear in mind that fish, in particular, is a far more delicate meat and if you overdo the marinating time the whole lot could become mushy.  For fish and veg therefore I’d recommend just half an hour to an hour in the marinade.

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Turkey Roasting Times

Hey, I'm ready! The safest way to cook turkey and stuffing is to cook them separately as a stuffed bird may not cook as evenlyCook the stuffing in a separate little casserole dish therefore. 

If you’re going to ignore me (!) and stuff the bird anyway, you’ll need to calculate cooking times by weighing your bird after it’s stuffed – you might well have to use bathroom scales in order to do this.  There is a cooking chart below but as an example, for an 8 – 12 pound bird allow 20 minutes per pound (40 minutes per kg) at 170C (325F), gas mark 3. 

Remember that if you are usng a fan oven, cooking temperatures are generally lower (usually 20C lower than in the conventional oven…consult your manufacturer’s manual).  

If you don’t have a meat thermometer, the way to test whether the bird is cooked is to pop a knife into the area between the turkey body and leg (drumstick).  If the juices coming out look clear and not pink or bloody then the bird is done.  

If it isn’t ready yet, return it to the oven for 20 minutes and test again.

A good meat thermomter will show when the meat is cooked.  Latest guidlines state that the minimum safe temperature is 165F. Check the temperature by placing the thermometer probe in the thickest part of the inner thigh.

The folowing chart is for a whole turkey cooked at 325F / 170C. In all cases the temperature of the meat (if you have a meat thermometer) will be 160 – 170 degrees.

4 – 8 lbs……….325F / 170 C ………2 – 3 hours

8 – 12 lbs……..325F / 170C ……….3 – 4 hours

12 – 16 lbs…….325F / 170C ………4 – 5 hours

16 – 20 lbs…….325F / 170C ………5 – 6  hours

20 – 24 lbs …… 325F / 170C ……..6 – 7 hours

There are some great recipes available for cooking the turkey.  If you don’t have one don’t be scared by the whole prospect of doing one just because it’s The Big Day. 

For the novice cook – remove the bag of giblets from the body cavity (these make wonderful stock but now may not be the time to be telling you that)!  Now just think of the turkey as a large chicken that you have to roast.   Maybe loosely pop some pieces of raw onion,  and herbs (say, thyme) in the body cavity, rub the outside of the body with butter, season with salt, pepper and perhaps a further sprinkling of herbs and then put the bird in the roasting tin (I tend to roast my birds on a base of root vegetables – onions, carrots etc).  Cover loosely with foil to stop the breast burning.  Cook for the required time (chart above), removing the foil for the last 20 minutes to allow the bird to brown. 

All roast meat benefits from ‘resting’ for a period after being taken from the oven.  This allows some of its juices to be re-absorbed back into the meat. Turkey is no exception. If you can manage to tip the bird to drain any juices from the body cavity into the roasting tin then do so (enlist someone’s help if you can).  Put the bird on a warm plate, cover loosely with foil and let it sit while you finish off things like the roast potatoes and gravy.  You can leave it like this for 30-60 minutes.  

There are some helpful notes here and charts here

Happy Christmas!

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Cooking with the seasons – Winter

BroccoliSourcing seasonal food, particularly if it is grown in your area, means that you will be buying produce at its freshest and cheapest.  In Winter (UK), look for the following local and imported produce:

Seasonal Vegetables:

Beetroot, Broccoli, Brussel sprouts, Brussel tops, Cabbage/greens, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celeriac (celery root), Celery, Jerusalem Artichoke, Kale, Leeks, Onions, Parsnips, Potatoes, Red cabbage, Shallot, Swede (rutabaga, yellow turnip), Sweet potatoes

Seasonal Fruits & Nuts:

Apples, Brazil nuts, Chestnuts, Clementines, Cob nuts, Cox’s apples, Cranberries, Dried fruits, Hazlenuts, Lemons, Limes, Mandarins, Oranges, Pears, Pineapples, Satsumas, Walnuts

Meat / Fish and Poultry

Beef, Pork    /    Cod, Flounder, Hake, Halibut, Herrings, Mackerel, Mussels, Plaice, Skate, Sea bream, Sole, Sprats, Whiting    /    Chicken, Goose, Guinea fowl, Turkey.

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