Recently on BBC iplayer we've been watching Delia Through The Decades - a retrospective of Delia Smith's career in TV cookery. It inspired me to dig out my Delia Smith cookbooks and see how the recipes have stood the test of time. It's been cold and wet, with slushy snow and sleet for the last couple of weeks, so I gravitated to the Winter Collection and particularly the chapter on casseroles! I bought a Casserole Box from the Well Hung Meat Company and set about converting the meat into delicious meals - so my recipe selection was partly dictated by the cuts in the box.
First up was the pork stroganoff with three kinds of mustard, using the diced pork. Instead of grainy mustard I used some fancyschmance sun-dried tomato mustard that I got in a Christmas hamper. I also subbed buttermilk for the creme fraiche because it is a third of the price, and added some dried porcini mushrooms because they are delicious. Sadly, this is a very beige plate, because when I cut into the red cabbage that I intended to braise, I discovered that it was in fact a green cabbage with red outer leaves. So I stirfried the shredded cababge with onions and apples and seasoned it with nutmeg. So aesthetically speaking this is a fail, but for flavour a definite win.
Then came Braised Steak au Poivre - a slow-cooked variation on a French pepper steak. My only real variation in this one was to use a mixture of black and fresh green peppercorns. Again, it won't win any beauty contests - although serving it with gratin dauphinoise made things worse - but the flavour was excellent. The braising steak became tender and even though there is only a small amount of cream in it, it tasted very rich and decadent.
With the diced beef from the casserole box, I made Black Bean Chilli with Avocado Salsa. This was the only one of the recipes I'd made before, so I knew it was good. Unfortunately the supermarket substituted a small can of red kidney beans for my 500g bag of dried black turtle beans, so the chilli wasn't as beany as I like and didn't have the luscious purple colour that the black beans give. But the flavour was excellent and the fresh, cool salsa is such a nice contrast in temperature and texture.
Lastly, the lamb neck fillet was crying out to become Irish Stew with Crusted Dumplings. I only used neck fillets, rather than a mixture of fillets and cutlets, and I cheated and bought suet dumplings - I can get suet dumplings from supermarket for less than the ingredients to make them. So because my dumplings didn't have parsley in them, I added some dried thyme to the seasoned flour. I made this on Tuesday night, while my spaghetti sauce was simmering for that night's dinner, then added the dumplings and finished it off in the oven last night, so even though it has a long cooking time, it wasn't at all arduous. This one will definitely be made again - somehow I hadn't realised that lamb and barley and dumplings are three of Paul's favourite foods, and together they had him in raptures.
I'm now inspired to go through more of my cookbooks, to see what treasures I have missed, or forgotten!