About Me

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North Somerset, United Kingdom
My parents were worried when I ran around with scissors – now I play with fire and (intentionally) break glass! Based in the beautiful South West of England, close to the sea and often the scene of beautiful sunsets, I am inspired by the countryside around. Working with sea glass collected from remote beaches, soda lime glass from Murano, Italy, Europe, USA and beyond, I create artisan beads, for use in my own jewellery or for you to enjoy in your own creations. But I couldn’t stop there; continuing the theme from round rods to flat sheets, mostly from the USA, I break large sheets of transparent, opaque, multi-coloured and dichroic glass into much smaller pieces to make a kiln-formed range of bright, colourful jewellery and home decoration. Each piece I make is individually designed around the shape, size and beauty of the materials and intended to be unique, wearable, usable and affordable. All my glass work is kiln annealed for strength and durability and designed to give pleasure for years to come.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Skinny beef stifado - an alien invention







Here it is - ignore the state of the pot!  I have smarter, prettier casseroles but this one just squeezes into my top oven.  This is a 2 part cook - I guess you can do in one part, but I like to double cook so the meat melts and falls apart (and you have a quick dinner the next day).

I don't do recipes, not the list kind.  I'm not very good at following instructions or orders.  Ask the endless frustrated list of school teachers, boyfriends, husbands (just the 2 of them) et al who have tried to tame me into something orderly.  I am what my mother called 'a free spirit' and my friends call 'eccentric' or 'just plain weird'.

Believe me this tastes better than it looks, but then you don't eat the pot.

"Other beef stifado recipes are available".  I should know, I've read most of them.

You'll need about a kilo of diced beef to feed 6 people - although it does the 2 of us for about 4 meals (but we are on a diet).  A bag of shallots comes in handy or a load of onions, which I chop into big chunks.  I use about half as much as the weight of the meat.  Garlic to taste - either a long squirt from the horrendously fatty tube stuff (it languishes unloved in my fridge door) or about 4-6 decent sized cloves.  A beef stock cube - I use the little pots of jelly like stock, it looks like it has (but probably hasn't) less additives.  A glass of red wine - but since I don't drink red wine often, a good slug of anything red and boozy - tonight it was Malaga.  A small slug of wine vinegar, whatever you have really, about 2 tablespoons of tomato puree or paste (or a big squirt if in a tube) then fresh or dried cinnamon, rosemary, nutmeg, bay leaves, salt and pepper.  I tend to go for a good shake, about a teaspoon I reckon.  If you have some tomatoes you need to use up, add them too - my sister's garden is over run with them so I have a few to be using.

Now I forget anything about a recipe as there's probably something on TV I want to watch live (as against record for 3am) and I like to get on with this as quick as possible.

Heat the oven to 180C / 160C fan oven and 4-5 gas oven.

Brown the meat in a fry pan - NO OIL - it'll do it's own thing, you don't need oil.  Alien doesn't like oil, sunflower or olive.  Add the onions or shallots - or if you pan is titchy like mine and your wok is in the dishwasher with 40 minutes to go - meat into casserole and use the juices in the pan to flavour the onions.  Give the onions about 5 minutes to soften up.  If they've not waved a white flag by then they go in the casserole whether they like it or not.  Add the herbs, flavourings spices etc to the casserole (removing any snails and bugs if fresh from a garden like mine).  Pour in the booze, whatever you have.  Put some boiling water into the fry pan and add the stock cube or jelly thingy and melt in with the meat juices - them's tasty.  Put that in the casserole as well.  Check nothing else left on the worktop that is meant to be in the pot, or could go in the pot.  Season, but don't go heavy on salt as it's bad for you and the stock will probably have enough already unless you've accidentally bought the 'reduced salt' stuff which has little flavour.  Now add a bit more hot water to the casserole as it will reduce down quite a lot.  Don't over do it, you can always check later and add a bit more if it looks a bit dry. I reckon half a pint should do it depending how bit your pot is and how much booze and stock you've already added.  You are aiming to end up with a thick rich sauce at the end, not school gravy.

Put the casserole in the oven for 90 minutes.  Turn off and leave to cool.  Refrigerate overnight.

Next day, check if you need to add more water, reheat the oven, put the casserole back in for another hour.  By now it will be melt in the mouth with a thick rich sauce.

Serve on its own with some bread to mop up the sauce, or with some creamy mash (add milk not butter and it will be creamy).  Celeriac and spud mash is nice for a change, or Swede (turnips to some folks, but the big orange one not the small thing of Baldrick's fixation) and tatties.  Can you tell I like mash?

So there it is.  A thing of beauty.  If you need a proper recipe then I'm not your girl.  If you can chuck things in a pot and make supper then you'll have no problem with this.  Whatever recipe you use, just miss out the 'add a wine glass of extra virgin olive oil' unless you want to meet an alien at 3am.  As I said, this will feed 6 to 8, depending if they are more gourmand than gourmet.  Eke it out with more mash if you aren't sure, but resist frying the leftover mash the next day!  Freezes well if you have to.

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