Beef Cheeks

We are working through the lower reaches of our freezer, and someone has given us beef cheeks. I am very keen on eating all of the animal, waste is a terrible thing.

Beef cheeks are tough, cheap and extremely tasty cuts of meat that need long cook times to make them tender. You could use shin of beef or venison for this recipe instead.

First off, I had to prepare the beef cheek. I started with about 600g of meat, but a lot of it was sheets of fat and connective tissue. I trimmed it, using a very sharp knife, and then cut the remaining sheets of meat into pieces about the size of half a post-card, and about 1 cm thick.


  • 600g ox/beef cheeks
  • seasoned flour, 2 tbsp
  • 2 tbsp olive oil or butter
  • 2 large Carrots, chopped
  • 2 sticks Celery, chopped
  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • a dash Brandy
  • 300ml Red Wine
  • 1 clove
  • half tsp of ground cinnamon
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 1 pinch of aniseed
  • 4 sprigs of time, or 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 can of tomatoes, blended
  • 2 Anchovies (you can buy these in a jar, in oil)
  • Salt and Black pepper
  • Flat Leaf Parsley, to serve.


Pre-heat the oven to 150 degrees celsius.

  • Trim the cheeks as described above, coat each piece with seasoned flour. Heat the oil in a large casserole dish, and brown the cheeks. Once they are done, remove from the pan and set aside.
  • Slice the onions, carrots, garlic and celery and cook in the same pan over a medium to low heat, until soft. Add a little more butter or olive oil if required
  • Once the vegetables are soft, increase the heat and add the meat back to the pan, with the can of pureed tomatoes. Mix to coat the ox cheeks and veg in the puree and bring to a simmer.
  • Add the wine, brandy, clove, cinnamon, thyme, bayleaves, aniseed and anchovies, and bring to a simmer. Put the pan into the oven to cook for 2 1/2 hours.You may wish to check that there is enough liquid in the pan half way; add stock or water if necessary
  • After 2 1/2 hours, check that the meat is tender, and turn the oven off, leaving the pan in the oven. Use this time to make mashed potatoes, cook any additional vegetables, have a cheeky wee glass of wine, and remember to warm the plates.

We had this with mashed potatoes, but the original recipe suggested polenta as an alternative. It was delicious.

Quick-braised celery

I got this recipe out of ‘how to cook’ book 2 by Delia Smith. Word of warning – takes a little longer than I anticipated.


  • 1 head of celery, trimmed and cut into 5cm batons
  • 25g butter
  • 75g carrots, cut to match the bits of celery
  • 1/2 large onion, finely sliced
  • 200ml marigold stock
  • Salt, pepper, chopped parsley


  • Melt the butter in a pan, and cook the onion over a medium to high heat, until golden
  • Add the carrots and celery, and cook for another 5 minutes, until beginning to brown
  • Season with salt and pepper, and add the stock, bring to the boil, cover and simmer for around 15 minutes
  • Take the lid off and boil the juices down to a reduced and thickish stock.
  • Serve with the juices poured over the celery and garnished with chopped parsley

I served this with Roman Beef Stew.

Pork chops grilled with blue cheese

This made a real mess of the grill but it was sensational. Recipe from Nigel Slater’s Kitchen Diaries. I love the way he is really showing us good ways to eat, rather than fancy ways to cook.


  • 2 large pork chops or steaks
  • 50g blue cheese
  • 50g butter
  • 50ml single cream
  • 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • a sprinkling of salt


  • Mash the cheese, butter, cream, mustard, thyme and black pepper together, and put in the fridge to chill a little.
  • Sprinkle the chops with a little salt, and grill under a hot hot grill, until just beginning to colour on each side, and the chops are just cooked through, about 7-10 minutes on each side
  • Put a slice of the blue cheese/butter mixture over the chops and return briefly to the grill, until the blue cheese melts onto the chops. Leave it too long and the mixture drips into the grill pan and makes a mess.

I served this with new potatoes, courgettes in a lemon and olive oil dressing, and some braised fennel.

Microwaved Cod in a creole sauce

Cod Creole: I sniggered. Recipe adapted from The Microwave Kitchen Handbook. I picked this because we had some locally caught cod.


  • 500g cod, cut into bite-sized chunks
  • Salt and pepper
  • 15ml lime juice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp creole spice mix from Seasoned Pioneers
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes


  • Put the cod in a plastic fridge container with a lid, and add the salt and pepper, lime juice and creole spice mixture, and store in the fridge until needed.
  • In an oven-proof bowl, put the olive oil, garlic, onion and pepper, cover and microwave on high for 10 minutes, stirring a couple of times.
  • Add the cod and chopped tomatoes, and microwave for another 8 to 10 minutes, stirring twice, until the fish is cooked, and flakes easily.

We served this with rice.

Mashed Cauliflower and Kohlrabi

Kohl rabi grow well here, in spite of the neglect I mete out to them.


  • 1 cauliflower, chopped into florets
  • 1 kohlrabi, well peeled and diced
  • 60ml (4 tbsp) Plain greek-style yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp horseradish
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 tbsp chopped chives


  • Steam the vegetables, until the kohlrabi is tender
  • In a pan, mash the vegetables, and add the yoghurt, horseradish, salt, pepper and chives
  • If you want a smoother texture, use a soup wand, but we just went for the rougher texture, and it was lovely.

Roast Kohl Rabi

A revisit – just about to start going through the posts from the old site and adding them back in.


  • Kohl rabi, peeled and chopped to 2cm chunks
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Thyme leaves


  • Heat the oven to high (gas 8, 230C)
  • Coat the kohl rabi chunks in the oil and season with salt, pepper and thyme. I do this by putting all the ingredients into a large plastic freezer box and giving this a shake
  • Roast for 45 minutes.

Jerusalem Artichoke Soup

Jerusalem artichokes grow well in the Uists, and they are delicious. Two words of warning – they tend to come back every year in the plot. They give me bad wind.


  • 100g butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped
  • 1 kg jerusalem artichokes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 stick of celery, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 litre of stock
  • 300ml milk, or milk/cream


  • Melt half the butter and gently cook the onion until soft.
  • Add the celery, jerusalem artichokes, and garlic, season with a pinch of salt, put the lid on the pan and cook gently for another couple of minutes
  • Pour on the stock, bring to the boil, and then simmer until all the vegetables are soft.
  • Puree, then add the milk, bring to a simmer and season to taste. Add more water if the soup is too thick.
  • Whisk in the rest of the butter, and serve with a garnish of toasted nuts or croutons

Ginger and Lettuce soup

Good for when you have bought the cheap veg in the co-op, and you don’t want a salad after all.


  • 2 onions, chopped small
  • 2 carrots, chopped small
  • 25g butter
  • 1 iceberg lettuce (or similar)
  • 1 cm fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 6 sprigs of parsley
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 litre of stock
  • salt and pepper
  • 50ml cream


  • Gently cook the onions and carrots in the butter until soft.
  • Turn up the heat and add the lettuce, ginger and parsley until they wilt, and then add the flour, stirring well.
  • Pour in the stock, and simmer for five minutes or so, until it starts to thicken.
  • Puree the soup, and then pour it through a fine sieve into a clean pan. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Reheat the soup, and serve with the cream swirled through, and with croutons.

Curried Parsnip Soup

The famous Jane Grigson recipe.


  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped
  • 1 very large parsnip, chopped
  • 1 potato, chopped
  • 1 heaped tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 heaped tsp madras curry powder
  • 1.1 litres beef or vegetable stock
  • 1.1 litres water (approx)
  • salt and pepper
  • 150ml cream
  • chopped herbs


  • Gently cook the onion, garlic, potato and parsnip in the butter in a large saucepan. Cover the pan and cook for 10 minutes.
  • Stir in the flour and curry powder, and continue to stir and cook for another 2 minutes.
  • Add the stock, and bring to the boil, and simmer for around half an hour.
  • Puree the soup, and dilute to taste with the water, and season with salt and pepper.
  • Reheat and add the cream, and serve with chopped herbs as a garnish, and with bread and butter.


Very good version of a classic soup.


  • 50g butter
  • 350g beetroot, peeled and diced
  • 1 medium beetroot, peeled and grated
  • 1 carrot peeled and diced
  • 1 onion, peeled and sliced into rings
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 litres of beef or vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cabbage, shredded
  • 2 potatoes, diced
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • black pepper
  • 150ml sour cream
  • 1 tbsp chopped fennel or dill leaves


  • Melt the butter and gently cook the beetroot and carrot.
  • Add the onion, tomatoes, vinegar and sugar, and a small amount of stock, and bring to a simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Add the cabbage and cook for a further 20 minutes. Keep an eye, and add extra stock if required.
  • Add all of the rest of the stock, as well as salt to season, the garlic, potatoes and pepper and cook for a further 15 to 20 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked.
  • About 10 minutes before the end, add the grated beetroot.
  • Leave to stand after cooking for around 10 minutes.
  • Serve in warm soup bowls, each portion topped with a good dollop of soured cream and garnished with chopped herbs. A side serving of bread and cheese goes well.