Keep it real with Kirstie Allsopp's favourite family recipes
Busy families today need hearty, wholesome meals that are fuss-free, quick and simple to prepare. Try three of Kirstie Allsopp's favourite 'real' recipes.
Roast rib of beef with a mustard crust
This beef has been a winner in our family ever since James Mackenzie - of the Pipe & Glass Inn in East Yorkshire - cooked it for one of my TV series. He was also the one who famously taught me to cook the accompanying Yorkshire puddings. I have roasted this beef for Sunday lunch, and occasionally for Christmas Day lunch. It is an expensive cut, so you don't want it to go wrong, and with this recipe, it won't. I love the idea of a 'trellis' of vegetables keeping the meat above the surface of the pan and allowing air to flow around the joint. The vegetables add enormous flavour to the rich gravy as well.
2.5-2.6kg forerib of beef (about 2 ribs)
2 carrots, washed and roughly chopped
1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1 leek, washed and roughly chopped
1 celery stick, washed and roughly chopped
2 tbsp English mustard paste
3 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
For the mulled wine gravy:
Rapeseed oil, for frying
2 large onions, peeled and sliced
500ml homemade mulled wine or red wine
Red wine vinegar (optional)
2 tbsp plain flour
1 litre beef stock (a stock cube is fine)
2 tbsp redcurrant jelly
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 220°C/fan 200°C/gas mark 7. Put a roasting tray inside to heat up. Sear the joint in the hot roasting tray on top of the stove, using a little of the oil, until golden brown all over. Transfer the beef to a plate. Make a criss-cross arrangement of the vegetables in the roasting tray - this 'trellis' will serve as a rack for the meat. Mix the three different types of mustard in a bowl and rub all over the meat.
Cover the exposed bones with foil. Place the beef on the vegetables, cover the whole tray with foil and roast for 20 minutes. Remove the foil, reduce the temperature to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas mark 4 and continue roasting for a further 1½ hours (the meat will be medium rare).
Meanwhile, start the gravy. Put a little rapeseed oil in a large saucepan and fry the onions over a medium heat until soft and caramelised (about 20-30 minutes).
Add the mulled wine and bring to the boil over a high heat. Taste and if you find it too sweet, add a touch of red wine vinegar. Lower the heat and simmer for another 30 minutes.
When the meat is ready, remove it from the tray and leave it to rest, covered loosely with foil, for at least 20 minutes.
Pour the excess fat out of the roasting tray, but keep the roasted veg in it. Place the tray over the heat, add the flour and cook, stirring for 2 minutes. Pour in the beef stock and stir well, scraping up any crusty bits from the tray. Bring to the boil and simmer for 3-4 minutes. It should thicken up a little. Strain through a sieve into the pan of cooked onion and mulled wine, using the back of a spoon to get out as much flavour as possible out of the vegetables.
Stir the redcurrant jelly into the oniony gravy and check the seasoning.
Carve the meat and serve with roast or mashed potatoes, a simple green veg, the delicious gravy and Yorkshire puddings (optional).
My first experience of Middle Eastern food was at Maroush in Beauchamp Place: their Jawaneh chicken wings are something else. When I did my history of art course at Christie's, I used to go to a nearby Lebanese kebab shop every day for my lunch. That was when I fell in love with tabbouleh, an affair that continues.
Many recipes for tabbouleh use a Middle Eastern spice mix, such as baharat (which can include allspice, black pepper, cardamom, cassia, cloves, coriander, cumin, nutmeg and chilli), or Lebanese seven-spice mix (paprika, pepper, cumin, cassia, cloves, coriander, cardamom and nutmeg), but you can mix your own. Simply use a pinch each of coriander, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg, or any of the spices mentioned above, to make a teaspoonful of flavouring.
25g bulgur wheat
50ml boiling water
300g ripe tomatoes
2 large bunches of flat-leaf parsley
Small bunch of mint
6 spring onions
3 tbsp lemon juice
4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp mixed ground spices (see introduction above)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
To serve: At least 8 small Romaine or Little Gem lettuce leaves
4 ready-made flatbreads
Put the bulgur wheat in a small bowl and add the boiling water. Stir, then set aside for 20 minutes, or until the water has been absorbed. Drain in a sieve to be sure.
Meanwhile, use a sharp knife to remove the calyx and hard core from the tomatoes. (You can also skin the tomatoes and remove the seeds if you like, but I don't usually bother.) Quarter what's left, then cut into dice and put into a large serving bowl.
Pick the parsley and mint leaves, discarding the stalks or saving them for a stock. Chop the leaves finely, and do the same to the spring onions. Add them all to the tomatoes and mix well. When the bulgur wheat has absorbed all the water, use a fork to fluff it up and separate the grains. Add it to the tomatoes. Drizzle the lemon juice and olive oil into the tomato mixture and season to taste with salt, pepper and your chosen spices. Mix well.
To serve, arrange the lettuce and flatbreads on 4 serving plates. Offer the tabbouleh in its bowl and ask people to help themselves, scooping tabbouleh into the leaves.
Blackberry & apple crumble
Where I was brought up, in the country, there were endless hedgerows, and we always picked blackberries from them. About 14 years ago, I really overdid it when making Location, Location, Location, and I got what they call 'walking pneumonia'. I took 10 days off work and went to my parents' house in Dorset. There was just me and my border terrier, Foxy, so I began my recovery by watching the first three series of The West Wing back to back. I also went on long walks and picked blackberries - loads of them - and made lots of lovely things, including blackberry vodka, blackberry jam and jelly, and blackberry and apple crumble. These days, however, a family berrypicking expedition with the four boys means we rarely make it home with a single blackberry, so we end up eating apple crumble.
700g Cox's apples, cored and cut into wedges
Juice of 1 orange
1 tsp ground mixed spice
3 tbsp light soft brown sugar
For the topping: 175g plain flour
100g butter, chopped
50g light soft brown sugar, plus an extra tablespoon for sprinkling
50g regular rolled oats
Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas mark 6.
Put the apples into a bowl with the blackberries, orange juice, mixed spice and 2 tablespoons of the sugar. Mix well, then spoon into a shallow ovenproof dish.
To make the topping, put the flour into a large bowl and rub in the butter. Stir in the sugar and oats, then spoon the mixture over the fruit in a thin layer. Sprinkle the remaining tablespoon sugar over the crumble. Bake for 40 minutes, until the crumble is golden brown and the fruit underneath it has softened. Serve with custard.