Apologies in advance for the slightly longer post today but today is a sad day. A sad day for the UK. A sad day for Europe. At 11pm GMT tonight, 31 January 2020, the UK will no longer be part of the European Union. A union it has been part of since 1 January 1973, then known as the European Communities. Yes the UK has always been a little different to the rest of EU members, opting out of Schengen and the Single Currency for example, but just being part of this incredible Union and having access to the opportunities it provided is something special. For me personally, the fact that I have been able to travel, live, work and study in Europe without worrying about Visas has been life-changing.
In 2011-2012, I was fortunate enough to spend a year living abroad as part of my University degree. I spent the first 6 months of my ERASMUS in Granada, Spain, studying at the Universidad de Granada alongside other students not just from Spain but from all over Europe and even from America. I was able to immerse myself into a new culture, a new way of life (siestas are amazing) and improve my Spanish. Also – if you’ve never been to Granada I highly recommend you go as it is possibly my favourite city in the world! Check out the view of the Alhambra from the Albaicin:
For the second half of my ERASMUS, I studied in Padova, North-East Italy – my friends would debate the use of the word “study” but I swear it did happen. I made some lifelong friends who, 8 years on, I still spend time with regularly and although my Italian was already a lot stronger than my Spanish, I can honestly say that it improved so much more by just living amongst Italians for a mere 6 months (my parents were also happy that I now have a more neutral, slightly Veneto accent).
What’s important to state here is that none of this would’ve been possible without the ERASMUS scheme, not just as a result of the financial grant provided, but just the general exchange agreement in place between the Universities within the EU. With the UK leaving, British students will most likely lose this opportunity to spend time in Europe, which for many is so essential to their degrees. For EU students, they also lose the opportunity to travel to the UK for the same reasons.
It will be very interesting to see how the transition period goes, and then to see how this exit will affect the coming generations. And so, after this rant, as I sit here looking over the Dolomites, I only hope that we don’t start seeing chlorinated chicken on supermarket shelves.
NOW – BACK TO THE FOOD! If you’ve got this far, I salute you but I swear there is a recipe down here somewhere! I hear it’s mighty cold over in the UK, so why not get this heartwarming beef stew into your system! This is one you want to prep in the morning, and just let it do its thing in the oven until it’s ready to eat! Get yourself some crusty bread to scoop up all the delicious sauce and if you prefer, you can remove the potatoes and make a mash to serve it up with! Oh and this stew tastes even better the next day, so if you want to make ahead then I suggest you do it because WOWZA the flavour just develops even more!
Serves: 6 people
Prep time: 15 minutes Cook time: 3 hours 30 minutes Total time: 3 hours 45 minutes
Ingredients 900g Stewing beef 2 Tbsp Plain flour 5 Medium Carrots, 2 cm chunks 3 Celery sticks, 2cm chunks 6 Shallots, some halved, some whole 4 Garlic cloves, finely chopped 1 Rosemary stalk 6 Cherry tomatoes, rinsed 1 Tbsp Tomato paste 150ml Red wine 700ml Beef stock 1 Tsp Worcestershire sauce 2 Bay leaves 6 Medium Potatoes, peeled & quartered 4-5 Tbsp Olive oil 1 Tbsp Salt 1 Tsp Pepper
Preheat the oven to160℃ / 140℃ Fan. Cut the stewing steak into 2cm chunks, place in a large bowl and sprinkle over the flour. Ensure all the pieces are completely coated.
Put a casserole dish on a high heat. After 3-4 minutes, splash in olive oil and reduce to a medium heat. After another 2 minutes, take one piece of beef and test that the oil is hot enough – you want it to start searing instantly, so if it isn’t ready, give it another minute.
Once ready, sear all the beef in batches, top up the olive oil accordingly – don’t overcrowd the pan. It should take 2-3 minutes per side, then set aside.
Add an additional tablespoon of olive oil followed by the carrots, celery, shallots and rosemary. Leave to cook for 2-3 minutes before adding the garlic and cook for a further 10-12 minutes to allow them to soften.
Return the beef to the pan, along with all the juices, tomatoes, tomato paste and wine. Stir to combine so the tomato paste dissolves and allow the alcohol to burn off – this should take a couple minutes once it starts boiling.
Pour in the beef stock, Worcestershire sauce and bay leaves, season with salt and pepper give it a final stir before putting the lid on and sticking it in the oven for 3 hours.
With 90 minutes to go, add the potatoes so they boil directly in the stew, check the seasoning and adjust accordingly.
Serve with crusty bread or greens.