Tag Archives: beef

Reindeer and Butternut Squash Winter Stew or How to Survive a Snow Day in London


Reindeer and Butternut Squash Winter Stew
It’s blistery cold here in London, it’s been snowing for the last 24 hours and many trains have been delayed or altogether canceled. The whole country is in the state of a national emergency judging by the frequent TV, radio and other media “sever weather” announcements. Every Facebook status update, Twitter feed and any conversation refers to this awful snowfall, yet when I look outside my window this is the picture I see.Snow Day in London
Yep, a light dusting of snow. Being a Russian Canadian I need to dig deep to find compassion or understanding for this hysteria. However I have to admit that although my husband and I have experienced much colder weather  in our days we found ourselves unprepared for how overwhelmingly ‘chilled to the bone’ this winter day feels! Right now London is wet, windy, snowy and grey and after a long way home the best remedy to combat this misery  is the comfort of a warm and homey stew brightened with orange chunks of butternut squash. If that still didn’t peak your interest I know the fact that it’s also made with a reindeer meat would!  You are probably wondering where in the world one would find reindeer meat (you can read my story here) but did you know that reindeer also live in North America under the name of caribou? I beg you not to discard this recipe if  reindeer meat is not stored in your freezer. Truth be told whether you use reindeer, caribou or plain beef this stew is a winner and your family will love you forever!


  • Reindeer steaks-350 gr
  • Stewing beef-500 gr
  • Italian pancetta (cubed) or unsmoked bacon- 200gr
  • Onion- 2 medium
  • Carrots- 2 medium or 4-4 baby carrots (cubed)
  • Celery- 2 stalks
  • Butternut Squash- 1/2 of a medium (cubed)
  • Tomato paste-1 tbsp.
  • Red Wine-1 cup
  • Juniper Berries-3-4 (crushed to release flavour)
  • Thyme- leaved of 2-3 sprigs or 1 tsp of dried thyme
  • Flour- 1 tbsp
  • Garlic- 2 cloves
  • Salt and Pepper to taste


Preheat your oven to 350F/180C.

I like to cook my stews and stew-like dishes in a cast-iron pot. It cooks everything much fast due to the even heat distribution and a heavy lid that traps the heat and moisture producing magical results. If you can’t invest money in the most popular brand like LeCreuset, don’t despair there are other brands that are more affordable like Ikea(worldwide) or Sainbury’s for those living in the UK. I have both of those brands in different sizes and I prefer the Sainsbury’s brand as their pots are enameled and the Ikea ones aren’t.

Add a tablespoon of olive oil to your pot and cook your pancetta on medium-high heat until golden and most of the fat is melted away.


Cube the reindeer steaks and beef into 1″ cubes and add to the pot, sear the meat on each side for 3-5 min for extra flavour.

Reindeer Stew

Peel your onions and slice them, do the same with celery and cut the carrots in big chunks if using the whole ones or half the baby carrots. Add the vegetables, stir everything and cook for 10 min., adding thyme, minced garlic and crushed juniper berries. If you don’t know what juniper berries are look up what gin is made from!
Juniper Berries

Put your tomato paste in and sprinkle flour, give it another good stir to coat all the ingredients.

Now pour in your wine and top it up with water so the vegetables are just covered, add your butternut squash, stir and add a pinch of both salt and pepper. The reason I add the squash at the end is because I don’t want it to overcook and turn mushy.

Butternut Squash Bring your stew to a boil, cover it with a lid and put it in the over for 2 hours, check on it occasionally making sure it’s not too dry, add more water if necessary.

At the end of 2 hours your meat should be incredibly tender and delicious. If your stew is too soupy, take the lid off and leave it in the oven for 20-30 min. longer. Serve it with crusty bread or over creamy mashed potatoes. Stay warm!!


Beef Wellington ( the humble version)


Ground Beef WellingtonToday is American Thanksgiving and I am quite sure their bellies are going to be full of all kinds of amazing food. I am also sure this post is going to be absolutely irrelevant to the nation quietly snoring on their couches by 5pm. As for the rest of the world…well, we still gotta eat something. What I am bringing to you today is a humble, speedy but no less delicious version of grand Beef Wellington.  Traditionally Beef Wellington is prepared with a good cut of beef but our recipe calls for ground beef which is much cheaper and less intimidating to work with. While I’ve always wanted to make the “real” version I never seemed to be able to justify spending the money on the high priced chunk of beef. When Jamie Oliver came up with this recipe I knew it would become a regular week night dinner option. On a side note, I would like to express my love and devotion to Jamie Oliver. Isn’t that guy amazing?!! I simply adore his food. I follow him on Twitter, I follow him on Instagram, I subscribe to his daily recipe, I watch him on TV and I have at least 5 of his books! Wow, I think I just scared myself with my passion for the man! No intervention needed I think I got it under control.

Right, back to food.This tasty dish is a winner with everyone, from young to old. It’s beautiful and will make you look like you possess chef-like skills in the kitchen while it’s a breeze to make. Ready?


  • 1 onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 potato
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 portobello mushrooms or 5 regular button mushrooms
  • olive oil
  • 4 sprigs of rosemary or thyme (your choice)
  • 1/2 cup of frozen peas
  • 1 egg
  • 1lbs of ground beef/mince meat( I used  a half and half mix of extra lean beef and pork)
  • 1 package of store-bought puff pastry -500gr
  • flour for dusting and rolling
  • salt and pepper


Preheat your oven to 350F/180C and take your pastry out of the fridge to soften a bit. Peel onion, carrot and potato. Dice all the vegetables (except the peas!) into similar size pieces, put your frying pan on a medium heat with 2 tbls. of olive oil, chop up your herbs and squeeze the garlic through a garlic press or chop it up with a knife and throw them in the pan as well. Gently saute everything stirring occasionally until your vegetables are tender and onions are translucent. It will take about 5-8 minutes. Then transfer your mixture into a bowl and cool completely.

Ground Beef Wellingon

Once it’s cooled enough to touch add your beef and peas to it. Here is your chance to play with your food-get into the bowl with your hands and start mixing everything together adding salt and pepper and a half of your beaten egg, reserve the rest for the pastry. If you are one of those people who really doesn’t like to touch meat I recommend buying kitchen gloves for instances like that because it’s really important to get into the mixture with your hands to ensure even distribution of all the nice bits plus it’s just fun!

Ground Beef Wellington

Dust your clean work surface with a handful of flour and roll out your pastry to a 1/4 inch thickness or use an already rolled one!

Shape your beef mixture into a log and place it on your rolled out pastry sheet, brush the edges with the reserved egg. Roll it up tucking the ends inside like a giant burrito, brush with the egg all over and place it on a baking sheet seam down.

Ground Beef Wellington

Bake Beef Wellington in the preheated oven for 45 min to an hour depending on your oven until golden.

That’s what mine looked like…

Ground Beef Wellington

Serve your Wellington with a simple green salad or roasted potatoes if you wanted it to be a heftier meal.

Ground Beef Wellington
Enjoy and come back for more!
Ground Beef Wellington