Beef Pho

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Spending time in the cottage kitchen in winter is one of the best ways to stay warm, likewise, having a big bowl of seductively soothing and aromatic pho is also another layer of added comfort.

I’ve tried a number of different variations when making this Vietnamese dish, from a super easy cheats method using stock cubes to the the more time consuming 48 hr bone broth method. I’ve settled on this one though as it’s the right balance of time and ease that mean I feel like it’s been a labour of love without it being a pain in the arse.

I’m lucky enough to have my beloved Derek Jones Butchers close by who, for a donation in the charity pot, will generously furnish me with some big beef bones. Make friends with your butchers, they are your allies and offer a wealth of knowledge along with their gentle pisstaking and camaraderie. Basically if they don’t take the piss out of me for something when I go in, I begin to worry.

I add a splash of vinegar to my bone broth once it is simmering, not only does it help bring all the impurities up to the surface for skimming (when it bubbles up upon addition), but the vinegar helps extract the minerals from the bones for extra nourishing broth.

This is not a traditional pho but rather one that I keep coming back to making again and again whenever the call of the bones takes me. It’s particularly good if you are feeling under the weather or recovering from anything that’s had you on your back. If you can’t be bothered to make your own stock then a couple of good cubes dissolved in hot water will do, just don’t forget to add all the broth aromatics.

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Beef Pho

Ingredients:

For the bone broth:

  • Beef bones
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 onion, halved
  • 1 bulb garlic
  • 200g ginger, unpeeled but sliced
  • 4 star anise
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tblsp fish sauce
  • salt and pepper

flat ribbon rice noodles

To serve:

  • sirloin or fillet steak, very finely sliced
  • tenderstem broccoli
  • thinly sliced butternut squash or carrot
  • spring onion, chopped
  • fresh chilli, finely sliced,
  • beansprouts
  • coriander
  • fresh lime

 

Method:

  1. Put your bones into a big pot, cover with water and bring to a simmer, foam will rise to the surface. Boil for 10 minutes then drain, rinse under cold water then return the bones to the pot, cover with water and then bring to a simmer.
  2. Once simmering add the vinegar, if foam bubbles up simply remove it.
  3. Char the ginger in a dry pan then add to the pot along with the onion, garlic, star anise, cinnamon and coriander. Simmer for a good 8-12 hours with the lid on, topping up the water as you need it. Leave to cool overnight.
  4. The next day you will see a thick layer of fat has formed, scoop this off and return it to a simmer, simmer away for another 4-6 hours or longer if you prefer. I often cook mine for a total of 24 hours. Add the fish sauce and season to taste.
  5. Once ready to eat, cook the noodles according to the packet instructions then divide between your bowls. Add your sliced beef then ladle over the hot broth and garnish. Serve with a big squeeze of lime and a pat on the back for being so awesome.

 

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Lemon drizzle gin cakes

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Excuse my appalling icing attempts in this post, I’ve always been utterly shit at icing, one day I’ll actually learn how to do it but until then you’ll just have to try look beyond the disastrous attempts at prettying cakes and bear with me

Gin and lemon, two happy bedfellows that sing about sunnier times and come as welcome relief in these cold winter days. These cakes are light and fluffy yet boozy and indulgent, what’s not to love?

You can hear me making these cakes by clicking here (you’ll need Iplayer as it’s a BBC clip). There’s no bad language so it’s perfectly safe to listen to in the kitchen whilst whipping up a batch of these tasty treats with the kids around.

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Lemon drizzle gin cakes:

Ingredients:

For the cake mixture:

  • 200g Stork
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 200g self raising flour
  • 3 large eggs
  • zest of 3 lemons
  • 90ml Sipsmith Lemon Drizzle Gin (or you could use a citrusy gin)

For the drizzle:

For the icing:

  • 1 x 500g tub ready made lemon frosting (yeah I totally cheated and got one from Morrisons)
  • Edible decorations such as fondant flowers and white chocolate stars.

Method:

  1. Heat oven to 170C (fan). Place 12 cupcake cases into a muffin tray
  2. Use an electric whisk to cream together the Stork and the sugar until it’s light and fluffy.
  3. Add flour, eggs and zest and beat together.
  4. Gradually beat in the gin.
  5. Fill the cases around two thirds full, use all the mixture
  6. Bake for 12 minutes or until the cakes pass the skewer test.
  7. Make the drizzle by combining the ingredients in a pan, heat over a medium heat until the sugar has dissolved, bring to the boil and boil for 30 seconds them carefully remove the juniper berries.
  8. Prick the cakes all over the top with a pointed chopstick or skewer then carefully pour all of the syrup over them, leave to cool completely.
  9. Put the frosting in a piping bag, pipe all over the tops of the cakes (try and do a much better job that I did!) then decorate as you please.

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