Sunday, March 29, 2009

Lobscouse - with beef!

Ah yes, its a theme thing. . .

I feel like that kid in 'The Castle' - "Dad, I made another stew".

This time it is beef, with a warm smokey flavour and loaded with winter vegetables.

"It is one of the oldest Forecastle dishes, and eats very savoury when it is well made" - The Far Side of the World


  • 1 Large Onion - diced
  • 1 Leek - chopped
  • 1 Swede - diced
  • 1 Parsnip - sliced
  • 3 large carrots - sliced
  • 3 large potatoes - diced
  • 450g Diced beef
  • 500g Pumpkin - diced
  • 1 cup of peas
  • 400g of Borlotti beans
  • 3 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 3 cloves of garlic - chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of oil
  • 200ml of dry white wine
  • ground pepper
  • salt
  • 2 teaspoons of paprika (or smoked paprika)
  • pinch of ground cloves
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • water


Fry the onion and leeks together in a tablespoon of oil till translucent then remove.

Add the beef with remaining oil and brown. Return the leeks and onions to the beef and add the garlic. Stir and pour in the white wine.

Simmer for a few minutes before adding the tomato paste and seasonings. Add enough water to cover the meat the simmer for 30 minutes.

Top up with water as required. At 30 minutes add the borlotti beans - if using dried beans you'll need to have soaked them for 12-24 hours before use, otherwise tinned beans will do to substitute.

Simmer for a further 30 minutes then add the vegetables. Simmer for one hour stirring occasionally and topping up with water as required. The lobscouse should thicken quite well over this time - and will indeed"eat quite savoury" when done.

Makes 8 large serves or 14 small serves. One small serve is about 140 calories.

Friday, March 27, 2009


This is a favourite of mine - I have known the dish for many years, but not by this name. It is supposedly a welsh dish, but the Irish lay claim to one variant and the famous Lancashire Hotpot is yet another. The name 'Lobscouse' became familiar to me after reading Patrick O'Brian's superb Aubrey/Maturin seafaring series (on which the movie "Master and Commander" was based). Originally from the Norwegian 'Lapskaus', the welsh adopted both the dish and the name with only slight changes.

Yes, its a stew, and just in time for winter. My version is not exactly traditional, but it is tasty, filling and warming. Can be consumed with wine, mead or ale.

  • 300 g Carrots, chopped
  • 300 g Lamb or beef (or both!), sliced
  • 300 g Potatoes, diced
  • 300 g Pumpkin, diced (it will thicken the lobscouse)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 cup of green peas – to be added at the end
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa
  • 200ml dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • Pepper to season
  • Salt to season


Dice the onion and add it with the oil to brown lightly in a deep heavy based pot - a big Le Creuset is ideal if you have one.

Add the meat along with the chopped garlic and brown until the first touch of caramelisation can be seen. Season with salt and pepper and add the white wine and tomato paste.

Stir until it thickens and add 3 cups of water and the chopped pumpkin. Sprinkle the cocoa over the top then cover and leave on a low heat for 30 minutes stirring occasionally and adding water to maintain the volume.

Add the potato and carrot and allow to simmer covered for a further 30 minutes - again, check every 10 minutes or so, taste and add seasoning as required.

When the meat pulls apart easily the lobscouse is ready - add the peas and simmer a further 5 minutes.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Meatball Soup


  • One cup each of - carrot, celery, potato and zucchini diced
  • 400gr beef mince
  • 2 small handfuls of bread crumbs
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • one diced onion
  • 1x 440gr tin tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • ½ - ¾ cup of angel hair pasta
  • 1 ½ L water
  • seasoning


Combine the mince, garlic and breadcrumbs and salt and pepper to make the meatball mix, then break into teaspoon sized pieces and roll into meatballs. Brown them off in some olive oil then remove them from the pan.

Sauté off the onions cooking with no colour then add the diced vegetables and cook for 2-3 minutes, add the water, tomatoes and tomato paste and bring to the boil.

Once it has come to the boil turn it down and simmer it, skimming off any scum that comes to the top.

Add in the meatballs and the pasta and simmer for 10 - 15 minutes until the vegetables are tender and the pasta is cooked, skim during the cooking.

Now check your seasoning, I use salt and pepper and knorr chicken stock powder

This soup makes 7 cup sized serves -

242 calories
1008 kilojoules
6.8g fat
16.1g protein
28.1g carbohydrates
3.6g fibre

Turkey, Mushroom and Spinach Soup


  • 1x turkey forequarter *
  • 250gr mushrooms
  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • ½ zucchini
  • 1 large potato
  • ¼ cabbage
  • 1x420gr super sweet corn
  • 1x440gr tin diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup of rice
  • 2 bunches of English spinach
  • 4L turkey stock

  • Method:
    Thinly slice the mushrooms and sauté off in a little butter until the have browned. Add diced onion and chopped garlic and cook until the onion is tender, add in diced potato and zucchini and finely shredded cabbage.

    Pour in stock, tomatoes and corn, bring to the boil and skim, reduce to a simmer and add in the rice and chopped turkey. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring and skimming frequently.

    Finely chop the spinach ( wash the spinach twice and spin in a salad spinner to dry) once the rice is cooked check the seasoning then turn off the heat and stir in the spinach.

    *roast the turkey forequarter for an hour and ½ at 200C, then make a stock out of it, to a big pot add some celery, onion and carrot and the turkey, cover with water (5L) and bring to the boil, once it has boiled turn it down to a good simmer and skim off the fat and scum and simmer it for 40 minutes, drain off the stock to a clean bowl, keep all the meat and throw away the vegetables, skin and fat.

    Once it has cooled take all the meat off the bone and chop it for your soup.

    This soup makes 17 1-cup serves, each serve has -

    157 calories
    656 kilojoules
    3.4g fat
    13g protein
    19g carbohydrates
    1.5 fibre

    Sunday, March 8, 2009

    Basil Pesto

    Pesto is an amazing food - and one that Mrs Grendel and I do not share.

    By that I mean that I love it and Mrs Grendel does not like, not one little bit, so when I eat pesto, I eat it alone.

    I have had a terrific season for basil this year - I only grew 5 plants but each flourished and I have been supplying basil to the local pizzeria (owned by my next-door neighbour) for their Margarita pizza.

    I finally got around to picking up some pine nuts so that I could prepare a small tub of pesto to flavour the much smaller meals I eat these days.

    Pesto is high in calorific content, so use it sparingly but the flavour from this recipe is intense so you actually don't need much at all.


    • 1.5 cups of fresh basil leaves
    • 3-4 cloves of garlic (see below)
    • 60 grams of grated Parmesan cheese
    • 55 grams of toasted pine nuts
    • 5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil


    There are very few things so easy to prepare. First toast the pine nuts very gently and loow to cool. You can either do this by placing them on a tray in a low-to moderate oven for 10-15 minutes until they just start to brown, or my preferred method is to place them in a large frypan at very low heat and stir continuously until browned. Allow the pine nuts to cool and head outside to pick your fresh basil. If you have none of your own, make sure any basil you buy is very fresh. Wash the basil and dry the leaves gently.

    Peel the garlic gloves and add these, along with the basil, cheese and pine nuts into a food processor. Give it a quick pulse and slowly add the oil. When you have an even consistency spoon it carefully into a small container for storage. Pesto can be frozen if you pour a layer of oil on the top before freezing. Allow to thaw slowly in the fridge for a day before use.

    I've never had to freeze mine - it doesn't last that long around me.

    Note on buying garlic - it is really important to choose garlic carefully. Locally grown garlic has an allicin content high enough to give it that delicious garlic 'bite' and allowing the garlic flavour to be heard along with the fresh basil.

    Imported garlic, especially that from China, is very 'weak' in comparison. The Chinese garlic is often bleached white and the monoculture of garlic variety that seems to come from China lacks anything like the fresh locally grown product. Some imported garlic from Argentina and Mexico falls between the locally grown and Chinese garlic for flavour.

    Vital Statistics

    For those interested in such information one serve of this recipe (about a 15th of the total amount you make) includes approximately:

    98 Calories
    408 Kilojoules
    9.9g Fat
    2.1g Protein
    0.4g Carbohydrate
    0.1g Fibre

    Obviously the less you use, the less calorific content. To get the totals for the recipe - just multiply by 15.

    Pumpernickel Bruschetta

    A key ingredient of this meal is a pesto that I make myself - and I'll post the recipe for that shortly, however, this was today's lunch, and it was very tasty - as well as colourful.


    It is a simple meal with simple ingedients:

    • 1 Ripe Tomato
    • 4 Marinated Kalamata Olives
    • 1 tablespoon of soft cream cheese 
    • 1 slice of whole rye pumpernickel
    • 1 tablespoon of fresh pesto


    Simply smear the pumpernickel with cream cheese, dice half a tomato and several olives (I used 4 large ones) and scatter across the bread. Top with pesto. A variation you might like to try is a little diced red onion. I don't generally add garlic as my pesto is loaded with it.

    Pesto for me has never been about small jars or tubs, for as with coffee I am a pesto snob. I make it fresh and eat it within a few days, which means I make only small amounts at a time. Shortly I'll post my pesto recipe - which is remarkably similar to many other pesto recipes, although mine tends towards thicker and with more garlic than most.

    Vital Statistics

    For those interested in such information this meal includes approximately:
    235    Calories
    984    Kilojoules
    11.7g  Fat
    6.2g   Protein
    26.6g Carbohydrate
    5.8g   Fibre
    By using a 'light' cream cheese you could easily cut the fat content considerably.