Sunday, 3 November 2013

Tasty winter warmer

When I put my oven on, I always try to make sure it's for more than one thing to maximise use of electricity.  I have a cook up, and today was no exception.  I was having sausage, bacon, chips and beans for supper, and while the oven was on to cook the sausage and bacon, I baked a loaf as well.  The dough was made in the bread machine which makes wonderful dough, but bakes terribly!

Freshly baked loaf
To make even better use of the oven, I prepared one of my favourite winter warmer dishes - beef casserole.   I made this using a pack of Aldi's diced beef, which I think was about £2.25, plus half a 69p pack of cup mushrooms.  The rest of the mushrooms have been sliced and put into the freezer.  To the mix I add two crumbled Oxo cubes, and around 3/4pt of gravy mix.

Beef and mushroom casserole

Now a word about the gravy.  I always use Bisto original powder, which is mixed with cold water, to make this (and any other gravy for that matter!).  I have tried using gravy granules - the ones you mix with boiling water - but the results just aren't the same somehow.  This is such a beautifully rich and delicious dish, it seems a shame not to do the gravy as much justice as possible!

My lovely old casserole dish is one which was handmade by a former neighbour, and it does have a nice heavy lid.  Once the oven was clear of the other stuff, I turned the heat down to 140 degrees Celcius and put this in.  I generally leave it for about an hour, then turn the heat off but leave the dish in the oven to continue cooking.  It's also an ideal dish to put in the slo-cooker so it's ready when you get home on an evening.

This generally makes four portions, so there's plenty to put in the freezer for other nights when I either can't be bothered to cook, or need something quick.  When I reheat it, I just plonk the portion into a saucepan and add a little water, bringing it to a near boil then simmering slowly until it's piping hot.  I serve it either with fresh crusty bread or with potatoes and veg.  It works out at less than £1 per portion and is very warming and filling - perfect for these colder nights.

Until next time. x

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