Tag Archives: familyfavourites

Cottage Pie

Cottage pie is another one of those staple meals that somehow manage to keep these cold winter nights at bay.  It is a meal that I used to make fairly regularly at university as it was affordable and could easily feed a large number of people.  It is what I would describe as wholesome food – it gives you a good dose of protein, vegetables and carbs.  It is a meal that could very easily be prepared in advance and stored in the fridge for cooking later in the week.  It is definitely a meal to keep in mind during these winter months as it is another one of those comfort foods.

DSC_0120

Cottage Pie

Ingredients:

For the meat sauce:

  • 400g minced beef
  • 1 onion (diced)
  • 2 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
  • 2-3 carrots (peeled and diced)
  • 1 tin of tomatoes
  • 1 heaped tbsp tomato puree
  • 2-3 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 1-2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1tsp mixed herbs
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • seasoning
  • oil (for cooking with)

For the mashed potato topping:

  • 5-6 medium potatoes (peeled, cut into quarters)
  • knob of butter
  • 3-5tbsp milk
  • seasoning
  • 25-50g grated cheese

Steps:

Step 1 – make the meat sauce

  1. Place the onions and garlic in a pan with a little oil and allow to soften.
  2. Add the meat and cook stirring occasionally until it has browned off.
  3. Add the carrots, tinned tomatoes, tomato puree, beef stock cube, herbs, half of the ketchup and the Worcestershire sauce and season well.
  4. Allow the sauce to bubble away and reduce slightly for 20-30 minutes.  Then taste and add more ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and seasoning as necessary.

Step 2 – make the mashed potato topping

  1. Whilst the sauce is reducing start making the potato topping.
  2. Place the potatoes in a saucepan with some salt, cover with water and bring to the boil. Leave to simmer until potatoes are cooked (to test see if a knife passes through the potatoes easily).
  3. Drain the potatoes and put back in the saucepan.
  4. Add the milk, butter and seasoning then using a potato masher, mash the potatoes until they are smooth.

Step 3 – make up the cottage pie

  1. Place the meat sauce in a deep ovenproof dish.
  2. Then carefully cover with the mashed potato and create a swirly pattern using a fork.
  3. Finally top with some grated cheese.
  4. Place in the oven and cook at 180C fan for 30 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving with the vegetables of your choice.

 DSC_0117 (2)

Lamb Roast

DSC_0663 (2)

A Sunday roast has always been one of the meals I look forward to the most.  Tender meat served with crispy roast potatoes, loads of vegetables with a rich gravy – it doesn’t get much better than this.  I remember when I first started cooking roasts I found them fairly stressful due to all the component parts.  However, it is all about good preparation and timing- if you can get that right then it is a fairly painless process.

As we rear our own ducks we tend to make our own duck fat, which is then frozen in portions ready to be used for roast potatoes.  After plucking, drawing and butchering the ducks we render the unwanted skin of the bird down in a hot oven (180C – 200C fan) for about 40 – 55 minutes to draw out the fat.  The fat is then sieved and left to cool slightly before pouring it into small pots ready to be frozen.  If you can’t get duck or goose fat then use olive oil or vegetable oil in its place.

As I have mentioned in previous blogs, as a family we prefer to eat lamb well done, consequently all timings recommended for the meat are made with this in mind.  If you prefer your meat medium or rare please see the notes.

DSC_0648 (2) - Copy 

Roast lamb with garlic and rosemary

Ingredients: (Serves 4)DSC_0656 - Copy

  • 1 leg of lamb (1kg – 1.5kg)
  • 3 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
  • 3-4 stalks of rosemary (cut into 2” pieces)
  • 1-2oz butter (softened)
  • 1-2tbsp olive oil
  • seasoning

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 180C fan.
  2. Mix the garlic, butter and oil together in a bowl.
  3. Take a sharp knife and make deep incisions into the joint roughly 6-8 times.
  4. Smear the garlic butter all over the joint, push some gently into the incisions.
  5. Insert the rosemary pieces into the incisions and season well.
  6. Place the meat joint in a roasting tray.
  7. Place in the oven and cook the lamb for 1hr -1hr 15 minutes basting occasionally for a well done joint.
  8. Remove from oven, wrap in foil and allow to rest for 15 minutes in a warm place before carving.

Note:

If you prefer a more scientific approach to cooking meat and would rather use a meat thermometer to gauge how your leg of lamb is cooked work on the following principle:

  • 50C – Rare
  • 60C – Medium
  • 70C – Well done
  • 75C – Very well done

Alternatively, insert a knife into the joint and press down slightly so that you can see the colour of the juices, the pinker the juices the rarer the meat.

 DSC_0657 - Copy

Roast potatoes in duck fat

Ingredients:

  • 6-8 medium potatoes (peeled and cut into large pieces)
  • 2-3tbsp duck fat.
  • seasoning

Steps:

  1. Place the potatoes in some salted water and par-boil for 15-20 minutes.
  2. Drain in a colander and set above the pan to continue to drain for 30-45 minutes.
  3. Roughly 40 minutes before serving, place the duck fat in a roasting tin and place in the oven at 180-190C fan for 5 minutes to melt the fat.
  4. Remove from the oven and very carefully tip in your potatoes.  Stir and turn the potatoes in the pan to make sure they have all been covered in oil and then season.
  5. Cook in the oven for 30-35 minutes until golden brown.

 DSC_0660 - Copy

Red cabbage with sultanas

Ingredients:

  • 400-500g red cabbage (finely sliced)
  • 1 handful of sultanas
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2-3tbsp olive oil
  • 2tsp sugar

Steps:

  1. Place the cabbage and sultanas in a pan of salted boiling water and cook for 5-6 minutes (or until the cabbage is soft).
  2. Drain the cabbage well, then return to the pan and add the vinegar, oil and sugar and stir well.
  3. Taste and add seasoning as required, serve.

 

Honey glazed carrots with parsley

Ingredients:

  • 5-6 carrots (peeled and cut into batons)
  • 2 heaped tsp honey
  • 1 heaped tsp butter
  • 1tbsp freshly chopped parsley
  • seasoning

Steps:

  1. Place the carrots in a pan of salted boiling water and cook for 10-15 minutes (or until the knife goes easily into the carrots).
  2. Drain the carrots and return to pan, add the butter and honey stir together and add cover for 5 minutes.
  3. Just before serving scatter over the parsley and season with a little salt and pepper.

 

Roast onions

Ingredients:

  • 4 onions (peeled, and left whole)

Steps:

  1. Cook the onions in the same roasting pan as your joint.
  2. Remove the onions from the pan after about 40-45 minutes.
  3. Place in a small ovenproof dish, cover with tin foil so that they stay warm.
  4. If they cool too much, pop them back in the oven for 5-10 minutes before serving.

 

Gravy (for lamb)

Ingredients:

  • juices from the meat pan
  • 1 glass red wine
  • 2 heaped tsp red currant jelly
  • ½ pt – ¾ pt water (or vegetable water)
  • 1 stock cube
  • 1-2 heaped tsp cornflour (made into a paste with a little water)

Steps:

  1. Having removed the meat, place your meat pan along with its juices on the stove and heat.
  2. Add the glass of wine and allow to bubble away for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add ½ pt of water, red currant jelly and crumble in the stock cube stir together.
  4. Pour in the cornflour paste and stir continuously as your gravy thickens, add a little more water if it is needed.
  5. Pour into a gravy boat and serve.

 

Classic Lasagne

The weather is truly miserable at the moment, it is cold and rainy and it doesn’t make me want to go outside very much.  It is the perfect weather for enjoying a lasagne, another of my comfort foods.  The recipe below is our family recipe that I have been using for years.  It is everything you want from a lasagne – a meat sauce between layers of pasta and a creamy cheese sauce.  For some reason lasagne reminds me of my university days. I think this is because it is an affordable dinner party option that was always comforting and guaranteed to go down well!

Whilst I have been living in France I have been experiencing issues with the pasta bought locally not cooking properly which I think this is down to it containing a lot of starch.  Consequently, I have had to soak the pasta sheets before putting them in the lasagne rather than just putting them under the tap which I would normally do, which seems to have resolved the problem of excess starch.

As a family we tend to enjoy the lasagne with a big tomato and red pepper salad or coleslaw.  If I am feeling particularly indulgent I sometimes serve garlic bread as well.

 

Classic Lasagne

Ingredients: (Serves 6)

  • 12-16 lasagne sheets

For the meat sauce:

  • 300g minced beef
  • 1 onion (diced)
  • 1 garlic clove (minced)
  • 500ml passata (or tin of chopped tomatoes)
  • 1 heaped tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • 1tsp mixed herbs
  • seasoning
  • oil (for cooking with)

For the topping:

  • 25g hard cheese (e.g. emmental or cheddar)
  • freshly grated nutmeg
For the cheese sauce:

  • 1pt milk
  • 50g butter
  • 1 handful of plain flour
  • ½tsp of freshly grated nutmeg
  • pepper (for seasoning)
  • 75g hard cheese (e.g. emmental or cheddar)

 

Steps:


Step 1 – prepare the meat sauce:

  • Place the onions and garlic in a frying pan with a little oil, cook for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the meat and allow it to brown off.
  • Once the meat has browned off add the rest of the ingredients and allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Step 2 – prepare the cheese sauce:

  • Make a roux by melting the butter in a saucepan.
  • Add the flour and make a thick paste.
  • Slowly add the milk a little at a time, stirring continuously to avoid lumps.
  • Add the nutmeg and season with pepper.
  • Once the sauce has thickened slightly add the cheese and stir until it is melted.

Step 3 – make up your lasagne:

  • Soak the lasagne sheets in warm water for a minute or so to remove some of the starch and allow them to soften slightly.
  • Take a large oven proof dish and make up the lasagne in the following order:
  1. Meat sauce
  2. Lasagne sheets
  3. Meat sauce
  4. Cheese sauce
  5. Lasagne sheets
  6. Meat sauce
  7. Cheese sauce
  8. Topping – scatter over the cheese and grate over some nutmeg.

Step 4 – cook:

  • Place in oven and bake at 180C fan for 30 minutes.
  • Serve with coleslaw, a salad and/or garlic bread.  Enjoy!

 

Chicken in breadcrumbs

This is one of my all-time favourite things to eat.  This is my aunt’s recipe which she often cooked for us when we visited her in Italy.  Whilst it may not be the healthiest thing to eat, it is absolutely delicious as most fried foods tend to be…

When I was last in London my brother cooked this for me, however, he broke away from the traditional recipe and used a combination of stuffing mix and parmesan because he couldn’t find any breadcrumbs.  I have to say it worked well, but, my aunt’s recipe will still always be my favourite!

I tend to make my own breadcrumbs these days as a way of using up any stale bread as I hate throwing things away.  Below is a quick guide to make them.

Quick guide to making breadcrumbs

  • Preheat oven to 100C fan.
  • Cut any old or stale loaves/rolls etc. into chunks.
  • Place the chunks onto a roasting tray and bake in oven for 45 minutes to an hour to remove any moisture from the bread.
  • Remove from the oven and leave to cool down.
  • Place the bread in a food processor and blitz until you have fine crumbs.
  • Store in an airtight jar.

 

Chicken in breadcrumbs

Ingredients:

  • 3 chicken breasts
  • 4oz breadcrumbs
  • 1oz parmesan
  • seasoning
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • oil (for cooking with)
  • 1 lemon (cut in quarters for serving)

Steps:

1.  Slice or beat the chicken (using a rolling pin) into thin escalopes.

2.  Dip the chicken pieces into the beaten egg (make sure it is well covered).

3.  Combine the breadcrumbs, parmesan and seasoning together in a bowl.

4.  Place the chicken pieces into the crumb mix and coat thoroughly pressing the crumbs firmly into the chicken.

   

5.  Heat a good amount of oil in a frying pan.   Once it is very hot, carefully add the chicken in batches and fry on both sides for 3-4 minutes. (Check to see if the chicken is cooked by cutting into the middle of one of the escalopes).  Place the cooked pieces in an ovenproof dish, keep the warm in the oven at 100C fan

6.  Once all the chicken is cooked serve with a piece of lemon and the vegetables of your choice for example ratatouille and/or mashed potatoes.

 

Chilli con carne, jacket potato and coleslaw!

Everyone has their own ‘go to’ comfort food and I think that chilli con carne is in my top five.  What I like about this dish is that the chilli offers warmth and a little bit of spice whilst the coleslaw counteracts some of that spice and provides certain freshness and a pleasant crunch. Finally, a jacket potato with its crispy skin and wonderfully soft middle fills you up and soaks up all the other flavours on the plate.  Perfect comfort food!

I recently entered a competition for comfort food with my lemon drizzle cake with raspberry sauce.  It did quite well and was selected as one of the top 10 recipes. However, sadly it did not win.  Since entering the competition I have been thinking about comfort food and how what food I go to for comfort changes during the course of the year.  For example, in the summer, my preferred comfort food is the aforementioned cake because it is so light and refreshing and gives you a brilliant sugar rush but on the whole doesn’t make you feel that guilty…  Whereas, in the autumn months, chilli con carne and lasagne are two of my favourites, particularly when the cold wet weather and short days are getting me down.

Chilli con carne

Ingredients: (serves 4)

  • 300g mince
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 tin of kidney beans, drained
  • 1 tin of tomatoes
  • 4-5 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped (optional)
  • 1tbsp tomato puree
  • 2tsp ground cumin
  • 2tsp mild chilli powder
  • 1tsp sugar
  • 1tbsp red wine vinegar
  • seasoning
  • oil

Steps:

1.  Place the onion, garlic, sugar and a little oil in a pan – cook on a low heat until the onions are soft.

2.  Add the mince and spices and cook until the meat has browned off.

3.  Add the tomato puree, tomatoes, red wine vinegar and season well, cook on a low heat for 30 minutes stirring occasionally.

4.  Finally add the kidney beans and cook for a further 10-15 minutes.

Salted Jacket Potatoes

Ingredients:

  • Potatoes (ideally Maris Piper, King Edward or Mona Lisa)
  • Salt

Steps:

1.  Preheat oven to 200C fan

2.  Wash the potatoes well removing any bruises, eyes and bad bits.

3.  Sprinkle salt all over the potatoes.

4.  Place in the oven and bake for 50 minutes – 1 hour and 15 minutes depending on the size of the potatoes.  To see if the potatoes are cooked either see if a knife goes through easily or, preferably, give the potatoes a squeeze to check if the middle is soft enough.

5.  Serve with a little butter.

Coleslaw

Ingredients:

  • 400g white cabbage
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1 eating apple
  • 1 small onion
  • 2-3 heaped tbsp mayonnaise

Steps:

1.  Grate the cabbage, onion, apple and carrots using either a manual grater or a food processor.  (Personally I prefer it when the vegetables are coarsely grated).

2.  Place the grated fruit and vegetables into a bowl, add the mayonnaise and mix well.  Serve.