Very quick Chinese: Beef Stir Fry

quick beef stir fry by felix cesare.jpg

Quick, so quick chinese stir fry, literally a home made take out.

‘a meal with an oriental influence is a welcome change once in a while.  This is the quickest Chinese style dish you can possibly prepare and believe me it does not taste any different to a take out.  For the best result I cut up the beef into very small pieces and cook it well before adding the other ingredients. Broccoli is abundant at the moment with nearly give-away prices in the market this week.’

For my quick Chinese style beef stir fry you will need:
1 tablespoon canola oil
500g  chopped beef (ask your butcher for a suitable cut for your stir fry)
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons cornflour
2 small cloves garlic, grated
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
1 tablespoon sesame oil
a pinch of chili flakes (optional)
1/2 cup stock
1/2 head broccoli broken up into florets, lightly steamed
150g mushrooms

Mix together the soy sauce, cornflour, honey until the cornflour dissolves. Cut the beef into small strips. In a large saucepan heat up the oil
in a large pan and cook the beef strips well until they start to brown. Then lower the heat, add the garlic, ginger, chili flakes if you are using it. Stir and cook for 2 minutes. Add half the cooked mushrooms, cook for a minute then add the cornflour mix followed by the stock. Stir on low heat until it starts to thicken. If it is too thick add 2 tablespoons of water at a time until it is the right consistency. Then add the steamed broccoli and the rest of the mushrooms.
I served ours with steamed pak choi and rice. Drizzle a few drops of sesame oil before serving.
quick chinese stir fry felix


Cottage Pie


On the island we are starting to see the slow approach of fall. Summer lingers here for another month or so, but gone is the intense heat and heavy humidity.

Cottage Pie is one of my family’s favorite meals in the fall and winter months, comfort food that does not make you feel too guilty.

In old cookbooks it is shepherds pie which is made with lamb and I found out that the pie dish was also lined with mashed potatoes with the meat sandwiched in between two layers of mash.

I use very little butter as and no added oil.

You will need :

1 onion
1 carrot
1clove garlic finely chopped
500 grams good beef mince
1 tablespoon of Worcestershire Sauce
2 tablespoons
1 teaspoon mixed dried herbs
Two bay leaves
2 cups stock
1/2 cup wine
2 tablespoons Bisto
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

5 large potatoes
1 teaspoon butter
1/2 cup skimmed milk, add more if necessary
Mature cheddar chesse, quantity as desired
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Peel and chop the onion and carrot.

In a non stick pan cook the minced beef then add the chopped onion, carrot and garlic and carry on cooking until everything is soft but not browned.

Add the stock,bay leaves and wine and simmer on low to medium heat until the liquid reduces by about half.

Add the Worcestershire Sauce and dried herbs and stir.

Finally add the Bisto granules and the sauce will thicken.

Season with a very little salt and freshly ground pepper. Remove bay leaves. Scatter the choped parsley on top. Spoon into a non stick ovenproof dish and allow to cool before you top up with mashed potatoes.

Peel the potatoes, chop into quarters and place in a medium saucepan with cold water just covering the potatoes. Add a little salt to the water and bring to the boil.

Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. When the potatoes are cooked, drain and place back on the heat for a few seconds to let any extra water evaporate. Mash the potatoes with the butter and add the skimmed milk. Season.

Preheat the oven to 190°Cor gas mark 5.


Spoon or pipe the mashed potato over the mince. Sprinkle grated mature cheddar cheese on top if desired and bake for 20 minutes or until the potato is golden and the pie is heated through.


Maltese Brodu taċ-ċanga [Maltese Beef Broth]


The traditional beef broth is delicious and I am told that the two most important ingredients not to ever be missed out is local celery, a dark green variety with thinner stems than what we find abroad and lots of black pepper. The fresh locally grown vegetables are a joy to cook with.

You can use Osso Bucco steaks which give the soup a wonderful flavor. There is nothing more delectable than eating the marrow out of the hole in the bone with the broth. On tv I used shin of beef [garretta], a secondary cut, which needs slow and long cooking so that the muscle and collagen melt and turn into a gelatine like substance and the meat falls apart and nearly melts in your mouth.

For two portions will need:


2 Osso Bucco Steaks or 1 boneless shin of beef [garretta]
2 Oxo Stock Pots
1 kohlrabi, peel and chopped
1 long marrow
2 zucchini chopped
2 carrots. peeled and chopped
2 large tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Plenty of local celery, chopped
2 potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 onions, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped or use Garlic Spray
3 liters water
Sea Salt, freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons Olive Oil, I use mild and light

Optional:  1cm fresh turmeric root

To finish off:  Lemon zest and parsley

Clean, peel and cut the vegetables roughly into cubes.

Place the olive oil in a large pot on medium heat.

Add the onions and cook gently.  Then add the rest of the vegetables.  Cook for a few minutes and add the beef.

Add the stock pots and on tv I used one beef and one garden vegetables.  Stir and add the water.  Bring to boil and then turn the heat down.
Add the salt, pepper and tomato purée or passata.
When it boils, turn down the head and simmer for an hour.
Turn off the heat and leave to rest of 5 minutes before serving.  Finish off with some grated lemon zest for flavour.   We love eating ours with local Maltese sourdough bread or ftira.

The soup is gluten free but you can also serve with gluten free rolls.

It is  lactose free,

For a vegan recipe, omit the beef steaks and just before serving add 1 grilled portobello mushroom per portion instead of the beef.  

To reduce the salt content, use an Oxo low salt stock pot or stock cube.

Lea’s Good Food Everyday airs on Smash TV and you can follow the page on facebook

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Trade Enquiries:

Oxo Stock Pots by Premier Foods at George Borg Ltd

X Tra Passata, Frylight Garlic Spray and Filipo Berio Olive oil at Rimus Group

Meats by Churchill Master Butchers

Fresh Vegetables by Big Fresh Mosta, Oscar’s Fruit and Vegetables Paola and Barbuto [organic]

Sunday lunch: Rib Eye Beef Tagliata, oregano potatoes and sautéed mushrooms


For the Steaks you will need

Depending on size and appetite, allow 150g to 300g of beef per person
Salt and Pepper

Always cook the steak from room temperature, never straight from the cooler.
Preheat pan by placing it on high heat.
Brush both sides of the steak lightly with olive oil.
Place steak on a very hot pan.
Turn it over and never cook a steak more than once on each side otherwise it will become tough.
I tend to season my steaks after they are cooked, especially when it is a good cut like this one as I want to make the most of its natural favors.
For my 300g steak, I cooked it 3 minutes on one side and 4 minutes on the other side and my guests have requested medium to nearly cooked all the way through.
Remove from heat and let it rest for 5 minutes. This is important.
I serve the steaks sliced at a diagonal angle against the grain with a fine serrated knife. I think it’s so much more appealing than a slab of cooked meat thrown on to a plate. However there is a time and a place for everything and I know most of the boys usually love their meat slabs left as they are, but after all this is Sunday lunch !


And for the Oregano Roasted Potatoes you will need


1 kg potatoes, washed and peeled
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/3 cup olive oil
Juice of half a lemon

Preheat oven to 175C.
Cut potatoes into large chunks and place in a single layer in a large baking dish. Add the oregano, salt and pepper; olive oil and lemon juice and toss around using your hands or a wooden spoon to coat evenly. Do not use a metal spoon.
Bake for about an hour or until potatoes turn crispy. I love this recipe as they remain soft and mushy inside !

For the sautéed mushrooms you will need


250g mushrooms, chopped or sliced
2tablespoons olive oil
Herbs of your choice, today I am using finely chopped flat leaf parsley
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to season

It is important to use a large pan so the mushrooms are in a single layer and will brown. Otherwise they will steam instead and release all their juices and flavor.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
Sauté the sliced mushrooms for 3 minutes until they start to brown. Add 1 tsp of herbs of your choice. Season and saute for another 2 minutes. Garnish and serve.


Welcome to the Year of the Horse … Crispy beef and broccoli noodles

Today marks the first day of the Chinese New Year. Goodbye to the snake and welcome to the horse with celebrations for the next two weeks …

There are a number of Asian food stores on the island and I popped in to Mr and Mrs Wang’s store yesterday as they stock authentic asian ingredients and brands.


I love Asian food and when I am in Mr Wang’s store I feel that I am back in the Far East. It is no different and we are so lucky to have access to all these great ingredients on the island. Mr and Mrs Wang are from the North East of China and they have been living on the island for 13 years now. They are always so helpful and willing to share their knowledge.

We were fortunate to have a Chinese nanny when the kids were young. She was a wonderful cook and most of the Asian dishes I make are originally her recipes. I am making Crispy Beef and Broccoli noodles today. It is a much lighter version to the usual dish and I use a good quality minced beef and cook it until its crisp, therefore avoiding any additional flour, cornstarch or batter and everyone who has tried it loves it.


You will need :

2 tsp chopped garlic
1 spring onion or 1/4 onion, finely chopped
2 tsp chopped ginger
Pinch of sugar
Soy sauce, according to your preference
250g good quality ground beef
2 teaspoons fish sauce
200g broccoli, steamed and set aside, make sure you do not overcook them as you want to keep some texture
1 tablespoon sesame oil
A little vegetable oil for crisping the beef
Noodles of your choice, cooked according to instructions on packet. Do not overcook. I used cellophane rice noodles.

Heat a wok or a large frying pan until hot and add a little vegetable oil.
Add the minced beef, cook and stir constantly to avoid it sticking until it becomes crispy.
Drain in a colander so that you get rid of most of the surplus oil.

In the same wok add the garlic, onion and ginger and stir fry quickly without letting them brown.
Add the beef, the fish sauce and soy sauce and heat through. Add a pinch of sugar,
Add the cooked noodles and stir to combine the meat.
Finally add the steamed broccoli.
Add the sesame oil and stir through and finally drizzle some more soy sauce.
Serve immediately. This recipe serves 4 but of course it depends on the size of your appetite.


Quick Weekday Meal … Simple Tortiglioni Bolognaise with lots of fresh basil …


Back to work for most of us. if you enjoy your work, its a pleasure to return but if you lack the passion for it you may have the Monday blues this morning…. in a couple of days you may hopefully find the motivation again.

I have a very simple dish today, a healthy wholesome and very simple pasta dish with a drizzle of olive oil as the only added fat. Many people I met over the last few weeks mentioned 2 January as the start of their diet. According to statistics, diets don’t last more than an average of 10 days. Personally I find it easier to swap unhealthy ingredients with lower fat ones for our daily meals and I follow a Mediterranean diet which I think is one of the healthiest in the world….

You will need:

Pasta, I use Tortigloni, Barilla No 83

400 g lean beef
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed. If you do not like garlic leave out.
1/2 glass wine
2 cans tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Dash of olive oil
A drizzle of balsamic vinegar
Freshly grated Parmesan
Fresh basil

And we are also having a green and tomato salad with finely sliced wild apples and fresh oranges from the garden for dessert.

Use lean beef from a good butcher….. this recipe serves four as long as you also have a lovely salad.

Cook the onion in a touch of olive oil. Add the garlic and minced beef and brown.
Add chopped canned tomatoes and a glass of wine.
Simmer for 30 minutes and add the tomato paste. Season and toss with cooked pasta of your choice. I am using
Lightly sprinkle some grated Parmesan and chopped basil.

Cook the past according to the instructions on the pack. Toss the hot cooked pasta into the sauce with lots of fresh chopped basil and a dusting of freshly grated Parmesan if you wish.

Serve immediately.

And freshly cut citrus from the garden !

Meat reheat part 4 – Donegal Beef and Cashel Blue Cheese Burger. My challenge to America.

Conor’s blog has been awarded the best Food and Drink Blog at the Irish Blog Awards 2013. I have chosen to reblog his recipe for a special burger using Irish Beef and Mrs Hennessy’s favorite cheese, Cashel blue available by mail order from Sheridans in Dublin. It looks amazing and I will certainly be cooking it one evening with my daughter this week….

One Man's Meat

IMG_8146Over a year ago, I posted about my home-made burger. On reflection, I have to admit that there was little to make it stand out from the crowd. Time for a big rethink. Time for a reheat and while I’m at it, time for a challenge. There are over 300 million of you out there who believe that you make the best burgers in the world. Yes, Americans, I’m talking about you. You certainly make and eat the most burgers, consuming over 40,000,000,000 of them each year. Yes, forty billion burgers. But the best? I doubt it. Not withstanding the growing horse meat scandal across Europe, that will run for donkey’s years, we have the better ingredients here in Ireland. 

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