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Pulled Beef Brisket (slow cooker)

Slow Cooker Beef Brisket in Ale

At a friends recent 40th Birthday party they served slow cooked beef brisket rolls - they were soooo good. So of course I got hold of a recipe to make it for us. Happily it's a 'hands off' easy recipe to make and is quite similar to the scrumptious pulled pork, but, with less messing about with spices. Be warned - you need to do this the day before or get an early start if you want it for dinner as it takes 8-10 hours.


1.5kg beef brisket joint
salt and pepper
2 sliced onions
3 bay leaves
1 bottle of ale

Optional - gravy powder, corn flour, extra salt and pepper and a 1/2 teaspoon of salt


Pop the sliced onions in the bottom of the slow cooker. Place the brisket joint on top. Season thoroughly with salt and pepper. Drop in the bay leaves and then pour in the ale.

Slow cook on low for 8 to 10 hours.

Let cool a little and stand / rest then remove from the slow cooker and 'pull' using two forks. 

I like to remove the onion from the cooking sauce and add it back to the beef and then season with a generous amount of black pepper and a little salt. Don't forget to remove the bay leaves. 

Lastly, simmer the remaining cooking sauce in a pan, add a little gravy powder and a half teaspoon of sugar to make a lovely gravy to go with the pulled beef brisket. Thicken with a little corn flour as required. You may want to season it further as well.

Green Sauce or dip or dressing - gosh it's good

Did I mentioned it's green...
Our food processor packed up before Christmas and Santa brought me a new one. Hence some perusing of the internet to find new things to make in one. I found this recipe for '5 Minute Magic Green Sauce'. It has avocado, coriander and line, three of my favourite things and promised to be quick. Sold!

Once the first batch was finished I understood why the blogger (Lindsay, 'Pinch of Yum') that featured it was so excited. I love it and it works loads of different food, from salad to chicken or a steak. If you add more oil it makes a great salad dressing, it super with carrot sticks as a dip or nachos and just topped onto meat.

You can make it garlic free if you have work the next day and vary the amount of chilli depending on your mood.

1 avocado
1 cup packed parsley and coriander leaves (together, to be honest one supermarket packet of each)
1 jalapeño, ribs and seeds removed
2 cloves garlic
Juice of one lime (I looked it up 2 tablespoons of juice from a bottle)
½ cup water
½ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup pistachios (pine nuts or walnuts work as well)

Snip the larger stalks off the herbs. Pop everything except for the nuts into the food processor. Pulse until combined. Add the nuts and pulse until you have a consistency you like. Taste and adjust the seasoning to suit you. Enjoy.

Baked Aubergine Steak

I ate out a few days ago and saw this on the menu - aubergine steak with polenta chips. Intrigued I gave it a go and very much enjoyed it. Still not a big fan of polenta though, but maybe one day I will find some brilliantly cooked. Here is my homemade version of the aubergine. I served mine with a roasted sundried tomato and mozzarella ball side dish from the deli counter.

1 medium sized aubergine per person
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
Cayenne pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 180°c and pop some foil on a baking tray
2. Slice the aubergine on opposite sides so it has a flat edge top and bottom. I like to trim the green stem back a little as well
3. Score the top face of the aubergine in a diamond pattern - this will give texture and hold the seasoning
4. Place on the baking tray, season and drizzle with a little oil
5. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes

Lemon Drizzle Loaf

My favourite lemon drizzle traybake is here, however, it's not the right bake for a loaf tin. This recipe is slightly denser and therefore much easier to achieve lovely, thick, tasty slices.

175g self-raising flour
1 tsp. baking powder
175g butter or margarine (the cake in the picture used Lurpak spreadable as it was on hand)
175g  caster sugar
3 medium eggs
2 tbsp. milk
Grated rind of 2 lemons

1. Prepare your loaf tin (pop in a liner wins my vote) and set the oven to 180 C. Mine is a 1.5lb tin.
2. Pop the flour and baking powder into a bowl and mix, then add the rest of the ingredients and mix until smooth
3. Pour into the loaf tin, about 3/4 of the way up the sides if you want a flatter, less domed top. Who doesn't love a spoon of cake mix...Fill her up if you don't mind a craggy muffin top! 
4. Bang the tin on the worktop a couple of times to release any large air bubbles
5. Bake for 50 mins to an hour - until a skewer comes out clean and the top springs back when you press it. Take it out of the tin as soon as you can
6. Gently stab the cake a few times with a skewer or slim knife to allow space for the topping to sink in - don't over do it - you need the cake to stay in one piece
Cake with skewer holes ready for drizzle
7. Dissolve the sugar in the lemon juice over a low heat in a pan and spoon over the cake whilst it's still warm. If it dribbles down the sides use the paper liner to encourage it to squeeze back up the sides and soak into the cake

This keeps for about 4 days in a container if not at out house.

Tomato Soup Pasta Bake

Simple, filling, make ahead - tick, tick, tick! Perfect for Sunday lunch after Rugby practice. Easily serves 4 with leftovers for lunch.

500g pasta - the more complicated the shape the better as it holds the sauce, stopping it from sinking to the bottom
1 tin of cream of tomato soup
1 diced onion
4 bacon rashers - we prefer unsmoked
150g of cream (left over from a 300ml pot if you make the cheesecake). You could use milk and thicken it with corn flour, however, it won't be as rich a dish overall
Handful of grated cheese
Black Pepper

1. Saute the onion until soft then put to one side and cook the bacon to just done, chopping it into 1cm strips (before or after doesn't make any difference)
2. Whilst sorting out the bacon and onion cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet. Slightly underdone is perfect - overdone leads to a soggy bake which isn't as nice
3. Mix the onion bacon, soup and cream together, season with black pepper
4. Put the drained pasta into a large ovenproof dish and pour over the sauce giving it a bit of a mix
5. When you are ready to bake sprinkle on the cheese and pop in the oven for 30 mins at 180 C or until hot all the way through

No Bake Lemon Cheesecake

A simple, easy to make with the Junior Gingerbreads, recipe. What's especially lovely is you can use this as a base and change the flavour and presentation. Go for 6 (or 4 nom nom nom) small bowls to create individual portions instead of one large cake. You can swap the lemon flavour for whatever you have to hand - a few crushed chocolate chips or fudge pieces. Change the lemon for lime or leave it plain and smother in sauce.

200g digestive biscuits (chocolate digestives and oaty biscuits also work well)
80g butter
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
300g cream cheese
75g icing sugar
150ml double cream

1. Place the biscuits into a food bag, crush into crumbs with a rolling pin
2. Pop the butter in a pan large enough to hold the biscuit crumbs and melt it over a low temperature on the hob. Remove the pan from the heat. You could also do this in the microwave in a suitable bowl
3. Add the crushed biscuits to the melted butter and stir with a wooden spoon until completely mixed
4. Tip the mixture into a 20 cm springform cake tin. The bottom of a glass is helpful to flatten the base out evenly and chill in the fridge for around 20 minutes
5. Wash the lemon and grate the zest into a bowl. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze out the juice
6. Place the cream cheese and sugar into a mixing bowl and mix together. Then whisk in the double cream. Pour in the lemon juice and zest, whisk until creamy
7. Remove the chilled biscuit base from the fridge. Spoon the cream cheese mixture on top of the biscuit base and spread it out evenly
8. Cover and put the cake in the fridge to chill for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight
9. Unclip and carefully remove the cake tin  - decorate the top with a few zest pieces or fresh fruit if you fancy - and now it is ready to eat

Confession time - we ate this one for breakfast the next day as the kids couldn't wait

Chocolate Loaf Cake

A new loaf tin and lining papers for £2 lead to the disposal of my silicone loaf tin which kept spreading and not forming a nice shape. I do like the silicone cake tins, just not the loaf shape. Paper tin liners are super, speeding up the tin prep and reducing the clean up - although the loaf doesn't look as nice to my eye as the finished article. Still tastes amazing though.

This chocolate loaf cake can be made by my kids it's versatile and works cupcakes or mini loaves, just reduce the cooking time. If you want it even richer then fold in 200g of choc chips before pouring it into the tin.

175g butter, room temperature
175g golden caster sugar
3 eggs - these are best at room temperature for this if possible
200g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
110 ml of milk
4 tablespoons coco powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Optional -  200g chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 160 C  prepare your loaf tin - loving being able to just drop a lining paper in
2. In a large bowl, combine the butter and sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Sift in the flour then add the baking powder, milk, coco powder and vanilla extract. Beat until well blended and light
3. If using the choc chips add them now with the minimum stirring possible. Pour into the prepared loaf tin and smooth the top
4. Bake in the oven for 50 to 60 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and remove from the tin and place onto a cooling rack