Recipes that are delicious and that always work!

You know these recipes are delicious because if I didn't think that they were fabulous . . . I wouldn't be showing them to you. You can also be sure that these recipes work for the same reason! The rest is simply a matter of taste.

Monday, 16 November 2015

Merlot Beef Ragout

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IF I am really on the ball on Sundays, I make good use of my slow cooker by popping dinner into it before we leave for church.  This week I got lucky and got this lovely Merlot Beef Ragout on quite early in the morning, so it was cooked to perfection by the time we got home.  Some rice and a couple of veg and dinner was served in short course!  I love it when that happens.  I am usually starving when we get home!

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This is really quite a simple recipe.  My slow cooker has a browning function on it, so I don't really have to faff with browning the meat, etc off in a skillet before hand.  I just do it in the slow cooker and it's very simple.

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The original recipe calls for one cup of Merlot wine (Not your Mother's Slow Cooker) and suggested that it serves 2 with leftovers.   I didn't have wine, so I used beef stock and some balsamic vinegar and in my opinion it would serve 4 generously.   (Then again, we are not huge meat eaters.  That is a 9 inch plate.)

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It's also Todd's plate.  I had far less than that.   I think to say that it serves 4 would be a reasonable assumption and even then you might have leftovers, depending on your appetites.

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The meat was fork tender and quite delicious.  The sauce had a beautiful flavour.   It went very well with some whole grain and wild rice and a bit of veg on the side.  I am thinking it would also go great with mash.  You decide.  (The secret to the colour is in the browning of the meat!)

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*Merlot Beef Ragout*
Slow Cooker
Serves 4 
This is a deliciously flavourful beef stew, done in the slow cooker, and perfectly sized for two people with leftovers.  Perfect for those days when you are going to be busy out and about and won't have time to cook.  All you need on the side would be a fluffy rice pilaf and a green salad.  Leftovers freeze beautifully.  A good browning is the secret to the deliciousness of this dish.


1 3/4 pounds lean, boneless beef stewing beef, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 TBS olive oil
2 medium onions, peeled and chopped
1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 (400g) tin of chopped italian tomatoes in tomato juice, undrained (14.5 oz)
225ml dry red wine, such as merlot (1 cup) (See note below if you don't drink alcohol)


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Sprinkle the cubes of beef with salt and pepper.  Heat the oil in a large saute pan.  Add the beef and cook, browning it very well on all sides.  (If you need to do this in batches, do it.)  Don't skint on this.  You want it nicely browned.  Add the onions to the skillet and brown slightly.  Add the garlic.  Tip in the tomatoes and wine,  and bring to the boil, stirring to scrape up any tasty bits on the bottom of the pan.  Tip the whole lot into the slow cooker.  Cover and cook on low for 7 to 8 hours, until the meat is very tender.   During the last 45 minutes of cooking, check the consistency.  If you think the juices are too thin, increase the temperature to high and leave the cover off to let some of the moisture to evaporate.   Serve hot as above with some rice and a salad on the side.


Note - if you are not a person who does alcohol, you may substitute a scant cup of beef stock and 1 TBS good quality balsamic vinegar.


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Using wine:
Calories per serving:  481
Fat:  27.2g
Carb: 10.1g
sugars: 2.8g
Protein:  54.9g


Using beef stock and vinegar:
Calories per serving:  439
Fat:  27.2g
Carb:  8.6g
sugars:  2.4g
Protein:  55.5g


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I have to tell you about this really neat tableware I was sent recently from Olpro, made from rice husks.  When I was asked if I would like to try them out I wasn't really sure what to expect.  I have to say that I was very pleasantly surprised when they arrived!  They were not what I was expecting at all.


All OLPRO Husk Tableware is made from rice husk (the little shell rice comes in). They are eco-friendly, biodegradable and rice husk does not contain any harmful substances at all.

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 From their page:


"Through working with companies in both the US and Malaysia we have constructed Tableware products using Husk which means having created a great green product, which isn’t expensive at all and can also be used in the Microwave (no longer than 3 minutes). The range consists of plates, bowls, mugs, cutlery and storage. Husk can turn into compost in just 90 days compared to plastic which can take between 20 and 500 years. Once the rice has been harvested we test the husk for any chemicals. All good Husk is turned into a raw material which at high temperatures is molded into OLPRO Husk Tableware. All OLPRO Husk Tableware has been TUV tested in Germany and also tested to show contains no BPA." 

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I was sent an OLPRO Husk Breaktime Beaker   RRP £5.99

A modern, eco friendly, travel mug for hot or cold drinks on the go. It comes in  6 colours and is heater and freezer safe, as well as Microwave safe (up to 3 minutes). Made under 1.96 Mpa pressure (equivalent to 200 tons). It is 1.27 times harder than glass. High density with no pores prevents bacteria, Husk has antibacterial properties. The high density with no pores prevents bacteria and along side the natural antibacterial properties of Husk means an extremely safe mug. The cover of the drinking cup is made from safe to consume silicon. The mug can safely hold liquids as cold as -30 up to 120 degrees celsius so perfect for coffee on the go. Because it's made from pure Husk it also contains no Formaldehyde or metallic substances. A very strong, safe, environmentally friendly Mug.

And it feels nice in the hand.

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The smallOLPRO Husk Kimchee Bowl.  RRP £3.99

The OLPRO Husk Kimchi bowl is a unique Korean styled bowl for people looking for a green, modern looking, healthy bowl. Perfect for rice, snacks, fruit and of course, Kimchi. The OLPRO Husk kimchi bowl is heater and freezer safe, as well as Microwave safe (up to 3 minutes). Made under 1.96 Mpa pressure (equivalent to 200 tons). It is 1.27 times harder than glass. High density with no pores prevents bacteria, Husk has antibacterial properties. The high density with no pores prevents bacteria and along side the natural antibacterial properties of Husk means an extremely safe plate. Also, because it's made from pure Husk it also contains no Formaldehyde or metallic substances. The bowl is 16.3cm in diameter and 5.8cm deep.

I think it makes the perfect cereal bowl.

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The OLPRO Husk Oval Plate RRP £4.99

The OLPRO Husk oval plate is heater and freezer safe, as well as Microwave safe (upto 3 minutes). Made under 1.96 Mpa pressure (equivalent to 200 tons). It is 1.27 times harder than glass. High density with no pores prevents bacteria, Husk has antibacterial properties. The high density with no pores prevents bacteria and along side the natural antibacterial properties of Husk means an extremely safe plate. Also, because it's made from pure Husk it also contains no Formaldehyde or metallic substances. The plate is 26.7cm long by 18c.8cm wide and 3.5cm deep.

Not only does this make a great bread roll serving dish.

Some Facts About Rice Husks:

Rice husk is an agricultural waste. Annually, the world's rice production is approximately 500 million tons. Of this, the ratio of rice husk to rice is approximately 1:4, which is equivalent to about 125 million tons of rice husks produced each year. Plastic takes up to a thousand years to biodegrade in natural environment. Imagine our landfills where plastic bottles are left to biodegrade naturally. Poisonous toxins and particles will also be released into the ground over time.


By switching to natural plant materials like rice husks, this material can be turned into natural compost after just almost 90+- days and certified by DIN (German Institute for Standardisation). Producing products out of the natural plant resources also uses up to 70% less CO2 to produce than conventional plastic.

Revives Waste 
Instead of disposing of rice husks as agricultural waste, the husks are revived into an entirely new product; thus giving it a new lease of life on this planet as natural-material dining ware.

Reduces Pollution 
Burning of agricultural waste releases harmful substances such as sulphur dioxide, silicon dioxide and inhalable particles into the air we breathe and contributes to the global warming effect. The smog as a result of husk-burning also decreases air visibility which has adverse impact on road traffic and aviation safety. Reviving husks into new products reduces this burden imposed on the planet.

Reusable 
 Once used, plastic food containers or food boxes will be thrown away and end up in landfills. These materials take between hundreds to thousand years to biodegrade in the natural environment. HuskWare products are durable and can be reused for years. As the material contains 80% husks and 20% starch, it is easily biodegraded when it ends up in landfills after completing its lifecycle.

Conserve Our Valuable Natural Resources 
 By repurposing agricultural waste into new resources, it helps to conserve our natural resources such as oil, metal, wood and water.

 Creates New Demand
Products made from agricultural waste create new demands for more biodegradable and toxic-free products which, in turn, help our economy.

Personally, I think these dishes are great.  I love the ethos behind the product and I love that they are unbreakable, and made from Husk, making them Green and bio-degradable.  I am very impressed with their quality.   You would never think that they have been composed of waste material and I love that this waste material is being made into something useful rather than filling up landfill sites.  I like these dishes so much that when I get some money saves up I am going to buy myself a complete set for every day use.  It's been a long time since I have felt so positive about table ware like I do about these.

To find out more do check out the OLPRO website.  They sell a lot more than table ware.

Follow them on Facebook
Follow them on Twitter

Many thanks to OLPRO for sending me these pieces to try.  Do note that although I was sent these free of charge, any and all opinions are my own and I was not required to write a positive review.

6 comments:

  1. The recipe sounds delicious. I would expect that amount of meat to feed our family of four, twice. My cooker has a brown function and it died. The company replaced it but now when I brown in it, the darn thing won't cook. I must investigate this very soon. I love casseroles as once they pot is filled the rest of the work is so easy. I do use spirits in my Christmas cakes but rarely use wine in the every day cooking. I now have to think about what to cook for dinner in about two hours and I have no idea. I have left over cauliflower cheese.

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    1. I know Suzan, it's an incredible amount of beef and the recipe said it made two servings with leftovers. I can only think it is a misprint! Leftover Cauliflower Cheese on toast? Sounds tasty to me! xo

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  2. I love when people send yu things..so well deserved..and this looks delish..I would have to brown mine;)

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    Replies
    1. I like it when they send me things too Monique! ;-) Browning is the key to success with any stew Monique! xoxo

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  3. Hi Marie, this casserole sounds fantastic. What slow cooker do you have, mine does not have a browning function and I must admit I'm not keen on browning in a fry pan?
    Take care, Pam.

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    Replies
    1. This is the slow cooker I have Pam: http://theenglishkitchen.blogspot.co.uk/2011/11/slow-cooker-with-wonderful-difference.html It's a Morphy Richards Flavour Savour Digital Slow Cooker.

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