Sunday, 24 June 2012

The Busy Cook's Secret Book

Hi everyone.
I made a recipe book and it was published in Scrapbook Creations a while ago. The book was called "The Busy Cook's Secret Book" because it contained a special recipe that could be changed to make many different meals. I should point out I'm not the world's best cook. The way I see it, anything that takes me out of the kitchen and gives me more time to get into the scrap room has to be a good thing!
I used October Afternoon's "Modern Homemaker" range of papers and chipboard which worked beautifully with the theme.
Here's the cover:

To enhance the "secret' theme I used flaps and envelopes to hide messages in and under.

I can hear you now - yes that book is all very lovely but "What's the secret recipe?" For the first time ever, by popular demand, only to be found on Heather's blog, here it is - the one and only "Secret Recipe"! 

1.5kg diced beef - chuck, blade or any any similar cut will do
1 - 2 large onions, chopped
1 leek, sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
4 sticks of celery, sliced
4 large carrots, chopped any way you like
Other vegetables (depending on which version you are making - see later notes)
2 x 425 grams cans of diced tomatoes
1/2 cup red wine
1 cup beef stock
some olive oil

1. Brown beef in small batches in olive oil in a frying pan.
2. Transfer beef to a large pot and add all other ingredients.
3. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for at least an hour. Remove lid and simmer for another half an hour.


However, knowing the recipe is only half the secret. Knowing what to do with it is the other half. The trick is to convert the basic recipe to create something that appears to be completely different. The above recipe should feed a family of 4 twice, so make one half with one flavour, and the other half with another flavour and serve the second one a couple of days later. Your family will think you spent hours making the second dish. 
Here are some of the alteration options:

Here are some other ideas:
Add a jar of your favourite curry paste. Add capsicum, potatoes and peas to a green curry and pumpkin to a yellow or massaman curry. Top with peanuts and coriander. Serve with rice.
Add rendang paste. Use less veges and serve with rice and salad.
Mum's old fashioned curry
Brown Keens Curry in the pot with a bit of oil before adding the rest of casserole. Add sultanas and diced apple right at the end. 
Other meats
Chicken works really well, either in whole joints or diced. Cook for about half the time you would cook the beef dish for. Think chicken cacciatore,  chicken curries, chicken pies etc...
Lamb is great, particularly with Middle Eastern dishes. Cook as for beef.
My daughter is a vegetarian and I have no trouble adapting this recipe for her. In a separate pot I use all the same ingredients except the meat. I make sure I add some sort of protein - chick peas for Middle Eastern, lentils or chick peas for Indian, tofu for Asian etc. Nuts are good as well.

Well there you have it. My secret recipe is secret no more!

I hope you all enjoy it.

This blog was especially for you Helen T!



  1. This is SO fabulous, I love it!! It was great to meet you at the expo :).

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  3. Your book looks really awesome and I really love that envelope or pocket folder you show in the 4th picture!!