Marmalade curried beef (this is not a typo)

This week’s recipe comes to you from a bleary eyed Saturday morning after a brilliant night out watching Dick Gaughan in Dundee with oor pals Brendan and Caddy. If you haven’t heard of him you really should check him out!

It’s been a slow week in the office for me, reading and attempting to write, but I feel like I’m making some headway with my research so today is a chirpy one.

We’re going to drop by a friend’s place the Fountain Cafe along the road later on for brunch. It’s worth pointing out that he has just opened a new takeaway coffee and sandwich joint on Lauriston place called Contino. Check it out if you’re in that end of town. I can tell you that the coffee, from the fair hand of Meg, is rich and dark (a relatively unknown Italian supplier) and that a smoked salmon and cream cheese roll will set you up nicely for the day.

[Update] – As is perhaps apparent, this is not Saturday. I wrote this post yesterday and published it today which means I can bring to you an exclusive picture of one of the best brunches you could hope for. Simon (our pal, the owner) recommended the pancakes with bacon and maple syrup which, even having had a fairly large breakfast only an hour before, was entirely irresistible. The salty savoury bacon with the sweetness of the syrup and the light fluffy stack of pancakes delivered pleasure beyond measure! Here they are in all their glory!

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The recipe this week is rather experimental, especially because it came to me in a dream about 3 months ago. You hear of these things happening to musicians, they wake up humming a wee ditty or whatever, but it’s never happened to me before. Naturally I had to cook it! Catherine took a bit of persuading (hence the 3 month hiatus) but I finally ground her down enough to let me try it. It is a real corker (if I don’t mind saying so myself). I’ve just asked her for a quote on the curry:

Not as bad as I thought it would be… Nah, it was amazing

Take from that what you will.

The dish itself requires a little time and actually works best, I’d say, in a slow cooker or a casserole dish in the oven. this allows the flavours to infuse and for the beef to tenderise. The marmalade, although unconventional, dots the curry with sleek jewels of bitter-sweet rind and gives the curry a richness that is hard to beat. Just think of it like mango chutney and you’ll soon get over the apprehensions I’m sure you’re harbouring as you read this.

So, to the recipe! This is pretty rough so you should feel free to muck about with it a little if you like. Let me know in the comments if there are any additions/substitutions you discover. Also, it looks like a lot of ingredients but if you combine the whole spices in a wee bowl before hand then you can turf it all in at once!

Marmalade curried beef

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Ingredients:

1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1/2 cinnamon stick
1 red onion roughly chopped
3 cloves of garlic
2 sliced red chillies seeds left in (adjust to tastes/tolerance)
1 black cardamom
5 cloves
1 star anise
1 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tsp sea salt
500g stewing beef diced
1/2 butternut squash diced
1/2 courgette diced
3 tbsp thick cut marmalade
Beef stock
1 tsp garam masala

Method:

1. Toast coriander, cumin and cinnamon in the pot you’ll use for the curry over a medium heat. When they just start to smoke and release a bit of their fragrant oils tip them into a spice mill and grind them to a fine powder (you can do this in a mortar and pestle if you prefer/if it’s all you have).

2. Return the pot to the heat, whap in a glug of veg oil and gently fry the onion until soft. Add the garlic and chilli and fry for a further 2 mins.

3. Now tip in the whole spices (cardamom, cloves, star anise, fennel and fenugreek seeds) and stir them in. It should be smelling amazing by now! Give it a few minutes and then tip in the ground spices and salt. Keep stirring so they don’t burn.

4. After a minute or so throw the beef in and let it seal all over (4-5 minutes should do it).

5. Now add the veg and the beef stock and two tablespoons of the marmalade (the last one will go in at the end) and bring to the boil. The stock should just cover the meat and veg (if you’re using a casserole dish add a little more as it will reduce a little in the oven).

6. If you are using a casserole dish give it 2-3 hours in the oven on 180C or gas mark 4-5. If you’re using a slow cooker give it 5-6 hours on low (you can really leave it all day if you’re out though and it will be amazingly succulent and tender when you get home).

7. Just before serving stir in the remaining tablespoon of marmalade and the garam masala. this will just brighten it up a little.

8. Serve with boiled basmati rice and yoghurt (the entirely pretentious orange zest is optional).

I really hope you try this one out, it’s well worth stepping a wee bit out of your comfort zone for! The dream recipe thing seems to work, perhaps next time we’re hosting for dinner I should have a wee nap and see if I can come up with a whole menu?

Let me know what you think.

Till next time…

Roman Steak and Rocket (Bistecca di Manzo con Rucola)

In a bid to reassert some order over this blog I have decided to make a small post today to get back into the Monday/Friday pattern. This might be a simple dish but it’s a cracker and one which you can throw together in minutes after work.

During our summer holiday we stopped over in Rome for a few nights. being of thrifty mind (and light of pocket) we were keen to find foodie delights which, whilst stretching our waistlines, didn’t stretch our budgets. Looking through the Rough Guide book we came across Da Augusto in Trastevere which was described as an “old-timer […] serving Roman basics outside on the cobbles”. Equally importantly, “a hearty meal” would only set us back around 14 Euros with wine. We made a bee-line for the restaurant and were not disappointed. Set on a small piazza the tables are jammed into rows together outside and every seat was full with expectant diners at least 45 minutes before dinner service began or the restaurant doors were even open! The queue was constant with more discerning and hungry punters than tables.

Whilst service was patchy (ours was great but a lovely young German couple beside us didn’t get their starters until we were half-way through our mains after ordering at the same time…), The food was brilliant. Roman basics they may have been, but each dish was well flavoured, seasoned and presented sticking to the Italian dictum of simplicity and quality.

The highlight of the meal for me was the bistecca di manzo con rucola, or beef steak and rocket. The steak, so tender and juicy, is beautifully offset by the crunchy peppery rocket (or as used in the recipe below giant cress). By luck, last week I picked up a few copies of The River Cafe cook books and a recipe for the dish jumped out at me. The simple flavours marry so well together that it really needs nothing else but if, like me, you’re the hungry type, you can stick some nice boiled new potatoes on the side.

Bistecca di Manzo con Rucola

Bistecca di Manzo con Rucola

It really couldn’t be simpler:

  • Bistecca di Manzo con Rucola (serves 2)
  1. Two nice sized steaks out (roughly 250g each)
  2. Two handfuls of rocket (or some good giant cress – not the micro watercress though)
  3. Five tsp extra virgin olive oil
  4. Juice of a whole lemon
  5. One tbsp of red wine vinegar

First, flatten your steak between two sheets of clingfilm with a mallet or rolling pin. I used some good quality frying steak here but you can use a couple of sirloins if you’re feeling flush. Get them as thin as possible and then slice into thin strips.

In a jar mix the oil, lemon juice and vinegar and set aside.

Heat a griddle or heavy-based frying pan until smoking and then fry the steak in batches until browned.

dress the rocket or cress and place the steak on top.

Simple!

I hope you get a chance to make this dish and that you enjoy it as much as I did. There’s real pleasure in the concise ingredients list and the few minutes taken to knock it up belie its classy flavours. This is fast food Jim, but not as we know it.

It would be a travesty if I wrote a whole post on a Roman theme without saying: ‘when in Rome’ (eat bistecca di manzo con rucola)!

Until next time…