Sunday, 29 June 2008

Strawberry and white chocolate pudding

This month's In The Bag blog event calls for using strawberries and white chocolate. June and July is the best time for British strawberries -- bright red, succulent and packed full of flavour. Is it any wonder that strawberries and cream are such a staple of Wimbledon during this time of year?

Strawberry and white chocolate pudding 2

This recipe (courtesy of Happy Love Strawberry) is a variant on the classic strawberries and cream flavour, with the use of white chocolate and a slightly crunchy brulee topping. Julia, who is the host for this month's event, said that they felt like something sweet for this month, and this pudding certainly fits the bill! Actually it was a little too sweet for my taste, but if you do have a very sweet tooth, it might just hit the spot for you. The addition of raspberries and lemon zest does help to balance the sweetness a little. In fact, it could probably do with more lemon zest to tone down the sweetness, if you prefer.

Ingredients (serves 4):

100g strawberries, hulled and halved or quartered
100g raspberries
Grated zest of one lemon
100g white chocolate, broken up into small pieces
150ml double cream
2 tbsp demerara sugar

Method:

1. Divide the strawberries and raspberries between 4 ramekins. Sprinkle with lemon zest.

Strawberry and white chocolate pudding 1

2. Heat the cream slowly in a pan until almost boiling. Remove from heat and add the chocolate. Stir until all the chocolate pieces have dissolved. Set aside Let cool to room temperature and then spoon into the 4 ramekins. Place in the fridge to chill until serving.

3. To serve, sprinkle the demerara sugar over the puddings. Then use a kitchen blowtorch on the sugared tops (or place until a very hot grill), for a couple of minutes, until the tops are golden brown and caramelised. Serve immediately.

Strawberry and white chocolate pudding 3

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Thursday, 26 June 2008

Oven roasted sweet peppers

Did you know that yellow peppers (capsicums) are just unripe red peppers? Perhaps that's why AP always insisted his favourite peppers are red because they are sweeter. In any case, red, orange or yellow, peppers do taste particularly sweet when slow roasted in the oven. (Except for green peppers... I cannot abide green peppers unless they are smothered in a strong stir fry sauce... ) This makes for a great vegetable side dish that could be left to cook in the oven while preparing the main meal. The red onion is optional although it adds more flavour and sweetness as it caramelises with the peppers.

Slow cooked sweet peppers 1

Ingredients (serves 2 as a side dish):

2 peppers (red and yellow, or whatever you fancy), sliced into strips
1 small red onion, sliced
1 tbsp olive oil
Juice of half a lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180 degrees C. Toss all the ingredients in a roasting dish or deep tray and cook in the middle of the oven for about an hour. You can stir and mix the peppers halfway through cooking or just leave the oven to do its job.

We had the roasted peppers with salmon with citrus herb crust and buttered new potatoes.

Salmon with lime and herb crust - uncooked

Slow cooked sweet peppers 2

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Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Pork and mushroom soboro bento

Soboro is a Japanese staple in bento lunch boxes, made of ground pork, chicken, egg or fish. It is seasoned with the standard ingredients of soy sauce, sugar and mirin and will keep well in the fridge for a few days. I have previously made a tri-coloured soboro bento with minced beef, eggs and spinach.

Soboro tastes great on its own, on top of steamed rice, or can be used in a stir fry with vegetables to add some protein and flavour. For this recipe, I used minced pork (you can use chicken, beef, or even turkey) and dried shitake mushrooms for added flavour and texture. You can also add peas, chopped spring onions, diced carrots or other vegetables for an all-in-one topping.

Our lunch for today: Pork and mushroom soboro on rice, broccoli tossed with soy sauce and sesame oil, and cherry tomatoes

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Ingredients (serves 2):

125g lean minced pork
3 dried shitake mushrooms
Oil for cooking
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp mirin
2 tbsp of mushroom soaking liquid

Method:

1. Soak the mushrooms in hot water for about 5-10 minutes. Gently squeeze out excess water, cut off tough stalks and dice the mushroom caps.
2. Heat some oil in a pan. Brown the minced meat over medium heat, breaking up all lumps.
3. Add the mushrooms, soy sauce, sugar, mirin and soaking liquid. Turn up the heat and continue stirring until the mixture is almost dry. Let it cool down before packing on top of rice for a bento or storing in the fridge.

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Sunday, 22 June 2008

Blueberry muffins

After the success of Devonshire honey cake with the family, I was keen to bake something else to bring with us when we went down south to stay over with some relatives one weekend. Given that there was a 4 1/2 year-old kid in the house, I thought something that is individually portioned might go down well. It was either cookies or muffins and since cookies take a little more time (having to bake in batches) and I was baking them in the same afternoon that we were going away, I turned to my trust muffins recipe and made a batch of blueberry muffins.

Blueberry muffins 4

Blueberry muffins were the first thing that I made when I started out baking. It is one of the easiest things to bake, does not require an electric mixer and simply involves stirring wet ingredients (butter, milk, eggs) into dry ingredients (flour, sugar, raising agents). Muffins really need very little effort and attention; in fact, the most common mistake with muffins is to overdo the mixing. Make sure that you only stir the mixture until just combined, with lumpy batter and traces of flour.

This is the same basic muffins recipe that I used for apple and cinnamon muffins. Having tried a number of slightly different muffin recipes, I found that this combination of ingredients work the best, producing airy muffins that are well risen and consistent. Try replacing the blueberries with other ingredients such as chocolate chips or other berries.

Ingredients (makes 12):

Dry ingredients:
300g plain flour
150g caster sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda

Wet ingredients:
100g melted butter (cooled)
240ml buttermilk (or add 1 tbsp lemon juice to milk, or use regular milk)
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

150g blueberries


Method:

1. Preheat oven to 200 C/gas mark 6. Put flour, caster sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda into a mixing bowl. Stir to mix ingredients.
2. In another bowl or large measuring jug, mix together the egg, milk, butter and vanilla extract.
3. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and pour in the wet ingredients. Stir a few times. Add the blueberries (if using frozen, add them as frozen so that they do not streak the batter) and mix gently to form a lumpy batter. DO NOT OVERMIX as muffins will become dry and tough. Batter should be lumpy with bits of flour.
4. Grease a muffin tin or line with paper cups. Fill each hole about 3/4 full. Bake in middle of the oven for 20-25 minutes until the tops are golden and well-risen, and when a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave the muffins in the tin for 5 minutes. Then remove onto a wire rack and cool completely. Great for breakfast or afternoon tea.

Blueberry muffins 2

Blueberry muffins 3

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Friday, 20 June 2008

Mostly rice bento

I have been packing mostly rice-based bento lately, although there was the occasional sandwich or pasta salad. The good thing about sandwich and pasta salads is that they could be packed in advanced (the night before) so I don't have to get up early in the morning to make them in time for AP to leave for work. That said, preparation time can be minimised by measuring out food, and doing the washing and cutting and marinating the night before so that everything could be cooked or reheated very quickly before being packed into their containers.

Honey roast ham with salad leaves in nuts and oats bread, satsuma slices, strawberries, and a Cadbury's chocolate fudge.

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Rice with black sesame seeds, meatballs and stir fried broccoli and red peppers.

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Rice with furikake, shogayaki (ginger pork), asparagus and cherry tomatoes.

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Coriander rice, chicken teriyaki, and stir fried asparagus and carrots.

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Pasta salad with meatballs, basil and honey mustard dressing, edamame and carrots, and strawberries.

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Salmon teriyaki, rice with salmon and cod roe furikake, sugar snap peas and cherry tomatoes.

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Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Seafood Mui Fan 海鲜烩饭

When I made my first risotto a while ago, a friend commented that she initially thought it was Mui Fan (烩饭 - Hui Fan in Mandarin) from that photo. That made me laugh but, come to think of it, the creamy texture of risotto is not dissimilar to Chinese Mui Fan or even some types of Japanese donburi like oyako don.

While the starchiness and richess of risotto comes from the arbario or rice itself (the starch is coaxed out of the grains through gentle cooking), the thick creaminess of Mui Fan is contained in the gravy that is poured over cooked rice, by adding cornflour and egg. This is a dish that is particularly good for using up leftover bits of food in the fridge or freezer, such as prawns, squid, chicken, pork, mushrooms, vegetables.

Seafood Mui Fan 海鲜烩饭

What I made was Seafood Mui Fan, or seafood (prawns and fishcake) and mushrooms on rice with egg gravy. You can easily substitute the ingredients with sliced chicken or beef or pork or more vegetables. The recipe is almost identical to the one for Wat Dan Hor (滑蛋河; flat rice noodles with egg gravy) except it is served over rice rather than noodles.


Ingredients (serves 2):

Cooked rice, 2 portions 450g rice noodles
1 garlic, minced
16 large or medium-sized prawns (shelled and deveined)
1 roll of fishcake, sliced
4-5 shitake mushrooms, sliced (I used dried mushrooms and added some of the soaking liquid to the stock)
Large handful of sugar snap peas (or other vegetables e.g. snow peas, bak choy)
Half a carrot, thinlu sliced
400ml chicken stock
1 tbsp cornflour mixed with 2 tbsp water
2 eggs
Pepper and salt to taste
Oil for cooking

Method:
1. Heat oil in frying pan/wok and stir fry the prawns (or chicken and other meat) till just cooked. Set aside.
2. Heat more oil in the same pan, add in garlic and lightly fry until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add in the fishcake, mushrooms, sugar snap peas and carrots and stir fry for a few minutes. Pour in the stock and bring to the boil.
3. Add in the cornflour mixture, mix well and simmer to thicken the sauce. Add the cooked prawns and season to taste.
4. Turn the heat right down. Pour the beaten eggs slowly into the gravy in a thin stream. Stir a few times to create 'strands' of eggs and turn the heat off, allowing the residual heat to cook the eggs. Ladle the gravy mixture over cooked rice and serve immediately.

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Monday, 16 June 2008

After Tastespotting and breast cancer campaign

This past weekend marked the end of Tastespotting, which many of us have come to love for our daily dose of droolicious photography and innovative recipes from the many food blogs it featured. After getting over the shock of seeing nothing but a note on the website, some determined food bloggers have set up alternative sites that would continue the good work of Tastespotting. Impressive work given that it's only been days.

Food Gawker - Set up as a clone with almost identical layout. The submission procedures and graphical interface is still being tweaked but it all looks very promising

Recipes 2 Share - Housed within a new Gallery section of an original site. It aims for a creative look rather than a clone of Tastespotting.

Food Porn Daily - Featuring much larger pictures and more editorial input.

I personally prefer Food Gawker at this point but it will be interesting to see how these sites develop over the next few weeks and months. In any case, these options should help fill the void left by Tastespotting for those who love food and good photography.

~ ~ ~

The Breast Cancer Site

Little Corner of Mine brought to my attention a breast cancer campaign by The Breast Cancer Site, which is to get as many clicks as possible by end of June to reach their target of 8 million clicks, in order for their sponsors to donate an additional $10,000 for free mammograms. Each click helps fund free mammograms for women in need — low-income, inner-city and minority women whose awareness of breast cancer and opportunity for help is often limited. All you have to do is click on the pink button on the site. Every click counts toward the goal of early detection, which allows for the best possible treatment options. You can also help by spreading word about this campaign and linking to The Breast Cancer Site.

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Sunday, 15 June 2008

Sausage and mushroom penne in mustard cream sauce

A friend made this for dinner (well, actually her husband did) when I visited their London flat a couple of years ago. It tasted so good that I asked them for the recipe (which was given verbally and informally) and recreated it myself when I got home.

I added some mushrooms (can I say again how much we love mushrooms in this household?) but otherwise the recipe has changed very little. The mustard cream sauce goes really well with the meaty sausages. Pasta shapes such as penne, conchigliette, fusilli or other shapes that hold sauces well will suit this dish. A scatter of fresh herbs such as basil or chives lifts the cream sauce a little. We had this with a side salad but you can also add in some peas for colour and veg.

Sausage and mushroom penne in mustard cream sauce 2

Ingredients (serves 2):

Penne pasta (or other pasta shapes), 2 portions
3-4 meaty sausages
1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2-3 stalks of spring onions, sliced into 1 inch sections
4-5 mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 1/2 tsp wholegrain mustard
200ml single cream
Salt and pepper
15g grated parmesan (optional)
Small handful of basil leaves (optional)

Method:
1. Squeeze the sausage meat out of their casings and shape into small meatballs. Heat some oil in a heavy based pan and brown the meatballs all over until just cooked. (Another method, which is what I have done, is to cook the whole sausages on the grill or fry them in a pan until cooked, and then slice them up.) Set aside.
2. Cook the pasta in a pot of boiling water until al dente, according to packet instructions. While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large heavy based pan and add the garlic and spring onions and cook over medium heat for a minute. Add the mushrooms and sautee till cooked. Add the sausages, mustard and cream and simmer until the sauce is reduced. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Sausage and mushroom penne in mustard cream sauce 1

3. When the pasta is cooked, drain and add to the mustard cream sauce. Mix well. Stir in the parmesan cheese if using. Dish up onto plates, scatter over basil leaves and serve immediately.


Similar recipes:
Chicken and chorizo pasta
Baked penne with chicken and salami
Cheater's meatballs with spaghetti
Salmon and mushroom linguine in cream sauce

Click post title for full recipe

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Devonshire honey cake

We were visiting relatives over the weekend and I wanted to bring something with me besides the usual flowers. Baking a cake seemed like a good idea, as I could then give slices away at each house. I flicked through the BBC Good Food recipes and found this very simple one for honey cake. I don't know why it's called 'Devonshire honey cake', just that it's simple and sounds delicious and different from the chocolate cakes, fruit loaves and muffins that I tend to do. I made it in the same afternoon a few hours before we left the house so it was definitely a quickie.

Devonshire honey cake 1

I was very pleased that everyone loved the cake. The taste and smell of honey is very strong in this cake so one definitely needs to like honey to appreciate this. A sweet tooth also helps! Perfect with a cup of tea in the afternoon, or serve as a dessert with custard.

I made this in a 9 inch cake tin instead of 8 inch as in the recipe. A skewer inserted in the middle of the cake came out wet at the end of cooking time so I stuck it in for another 10 minutes. This can also be made in a loaf tin, although cooking time will vary. Check after about 45 minutes and bake until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out dry (without batter clinging to it).

Ingredients (serves 8-10):

225g unsalted butter
250g clear honey plus 2 tbsp to glaze
100g dark muscovado sugar (or use dark soft brown sugar)
3 large eggs, beaten
300g self raising flour (or plain flour plus 1 1/2 tsp baking powder)

Method:

1. Cut the butter into pieces and drop into a medium pan with the honey and sugar. Melt slowly over low heat. When all the butter has melted, increase the heat and boil for about one minute. (Note: The mixture will bubble and expand in volume so make sure the pan is large enough.) Leave to cool (this will take a while; go have a shower, read the newspaper, watch some TV, call your mum, or run up and down the stairs to work off some honey-cake calories that you'll be ingesting later).
2. Preheat oven 160 degrees C/gas 3. Grease and line a 20cm/8 inch round cake tin.
3. When the honey mixture is cool, pour into a mixing bowl with the eggs and beat with a wooden spoon.
4. Sift the flour into a large bowl and pour in the eggs and honey mixture. Beat until a smooth batter is achieved. Pour the batter into the cake tin and bake in the middle of the oven for 50-60 minutes, until the cake is well-risen, golden brown and springs back when lightly pressed.
5. Turn the cake out onto a wire rack. Warm 2 tbsp of honey in a small pan and brush over the top of the cake to glaze. Leave to cool.

Devonshire honey cake 2

This cake will be my entry this week for the Bookmarked Recipes event run by Ruth's Kitchen Experiments.
bookmarkedrecipes.jpg


Other cake recipes:
Banana bread
Dark chocolate and orange cake

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Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Bento of wraps, rice and salads

These are some bento lunches from last week. The following two lunches used up the last of the tortilla wraps that we had leftover from dinner. AP had a ham and cheese wrap (honey roast ham and Brie), mixed leaf salad with piggy container of sundried tomato oil, and strawberries. The little picks helped to secure the wraps in transit.

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My lunch was similar except with some mango cheddar and a dark chocolate truffle. I love Lindt's chocolate truffles. I bought some of the dark chocolate ones to try them out. They are lovely and intense but I think I still prefer the milk chocolate ones (with red wrappers), which are to die for. This lunch is submitted to the Wholesome Lunchbox event held on the 15th of each month by Coffee & Vanilla, along with my picnic bento from a couple of weeks ago.
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This was for AP, when I was working from home. Rice with salmon furikake, gyoza, meatballs, cherry tomatoes and sugar snap peas.
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And this was for me, when AP had lunch provided at work: peppers and onion quiche on a bed of salad leaves and cherry tomatoes. Oil and vinegar dresssing in the cucumber container.
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Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Beef hotpot soup

AP loves stews, especially beef stew, even on a hot and sunny day. Well, anything with beef really. It must be a man-thing. I don't mind making stews and casseroles, because there is nothing simpler than just putting everything in a pot and letting the oven (or crockpot/slowcooker) do its job with hours of slow, gentle cooking.

With the amount of meat and vegetables that I buy and how they are packaged or portioned, I often end up with more than 2 persons' share. The leftover often go into the freezer when just one of us need lunch or dinner. But other than eating the stew again later as it is, or making a pie (but that's for another post) one could also make a soup out of it for something different.

I made a beef stew last week, following this recipe (using less beef and adding two chopped parsnips for sweetness). We had most of it for dinner and I kept the leftover portion in the fridge and made a soup out of it for lunch the next day (which we had with some bread, cheese and tomatoes). All the flavours were already in the stew, just in a 'concentrated form' compared to a soup. So what I did was to thin out the leftover stew with a bit of stock (around 300ml), bring the mixture to the boil and simmer for a few minutes, and break up the large chunks of beef and vegetables with a wooden spoon (they break apart easily from having been slow cooked). You can also pulse the mixture in a food processor, and control how chunky or blended you want your soup to be.

Beef hotpot soup

Related articles:
Beef stew
Chicken and leek casserole
Somerset pork

Click post title for full recipe

Friday, 6 June 2008

Spaghetti aglio e olio with sundried tomatoes

There are tonnes of recipes for pasta in cookbooks, magazines and on the Internet. Pasta is a very popular dish around the world, partly because it is so versatile. Usually I tend to favour pasta with cream sauce but there are times when I feel like something lighter but still filling. That's when the classic dish of spaghetti aglio e olio really hits the spot.

Spaghetti aglio e olio is a dish seldom found on restaurant menus, because it is too simple and unimpressive. The name of the dish literally means spaghetti oil and garlic and that's all the essential ingredients. As with every simple recipe, this dish really relies on quality ingredients so make sure you use really good extra virgin olive oil and fresh garlic. I had some sundried tomatoes to be used up and decided to add them to the dish too, giving it a summery twist that tasted pure Mediterranean. The spaghetti is slippery with fruity olive oil and thoroughly infused with garlic and sundried tomatoes. Extremely tasty especially if you love garlic. Another bonus with this dish (do you need another?) is that it is super quick to prepare, taking just as long as the pasta takes to cook.

Spaghetti aglio e olio with sundried tomatoes 1

Ingredients (serves 2):

Spaghetti, for 2 persons
1-2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
Extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp dried chilli flakes
4-5 pieces of sundried tomatoes, finely chopped
Handful of parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper

Method:
1. Cook the spaghetti in a large pan of boiling water until al dente.
2. When the pasta is a few minutes away from cooked, heat a large heavy based frying pan and add a good glug of oil. Over medium heat, gently fry the garlic, sundried tomatoes and chilli flakes until the garlic is lightly golden. Be careful not to burn the garlic otherwise it will turn bitter. Turn off the heat.
3. Drain the spaghetti and add to the pan with the chopped parsley. Mix well with the garlic and tomato oil. The heat from the freshly cooked spaghetti will help the pasta soak up all the flavours. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper and tuck in!

Spaghetti aglio e olio with sundried tomatoes 2

There are always plenty of fabulous recipes on the Presto Pasta Nights weekly round up. My entry for this week could well be the simplest amongst them! This week's guest host for Presto Pasta Nights is Kevin from Closet Cooking.
prestopasta

Related articles:
Chicken and chorizo pasta
Prawn and pepperoni tagliatelle with lemon and chilli
Salmon and mushroom linguine in cream sauce

Click post title for full recipe

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Miso aubergine

I bought a couple of huge aubergines from the grocers the other day. Such a bargain at £1.50 for two large and beautiful vegetables that I couldn't resist. I'm always looking for ways to use up the large jar of miso in my fridge so this recipe for miso aubergine was just the thing. The addition of some chilli flakes helped to balance the sweetness of the miso. Toasted sesame seeds also provided a lovely crunch to the silky texture of the cooked aubergine.

Miso aubergine

You can use either white or red miso with this dish. I used white miso since that was what I had in the fridge; it has a milder and sweeter flavour. If you fancy deeper and more intense flavours, which would complement the chilli flakes, red miso would be a good option.

Ingredients (serves 2 as a side dish):

1 medium or large aubergine (or 2 long slim ones)
2 tbsp sake
2 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
2 tbsp miso, mixed with 2 tbsp water to make a paste
Toasted sesame seeds, to garnish

Method:

1. Slice the aubergine into bite sized pieces. Sprinkle with salt and let it sit for 30 minutes to draw out bitter juices. Rinse and pat dry. (If using the slim Asian varieties, skip the salting.)
2. Heat a pan or wok and add a tsp of sesame seeds. Stir over medium heat until lightly toasted. Set aside.
3. Heat some oil in the pan. When the oil is hot, add the aubergines and stir fry for about 5-8 minutes until tender. You might want to add a little water or stock in between if the aubergines get very dry, since they 'suck' a lot of oil.
4. Add the sake, mirin, sugar, light soy sauce and chilli flakes and stir for another 2 minutes. Finally, add the miso mixture and simmer for another minute or two to heat through, being careful not to burn the sauce. Dish out and sprinkle sesame seeds on top.

Related articles:
Panfried aubergine/eggplant with egg
Fish fragrant aubergine/eggplant (鱼香茄子)

Click post title for full recipe

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Cottage pie with cheese crust

Cottage pie is a traditional English dish made with minced meat covered with mashed potato and baked in the oven. Beef or lamb is traditional, although turkey is also used in North America. When minced lamb is used, it is usually called shepherd's pie. Vegetables such as diced carrots, celery, peas or mushrooms are sometimes added to the filling.

Cottage pie with cheese crust

I made a cottage pie for dinner when we had some friends over for dinner last week, mainly due to the tight schedule I had to work with. I couldn't get home till about half an hour before friends arrive so I wanted to do something that only needed heating up or minimal cooking when I got home. So what I did was prepare the vegetables and cook the minced beef filling in the morning and filled the baking dish. After it has cooled, I placed it in the fridge and then left for the office. I then got AP (who got home before I did) to cook and mash the potatoes and all I had to do was spread the mash potatoes on top of the beef mixture, scatter cheese on top and pop it in the oven. While it was baking, I grilled some asparagus to be served as a vegetable side dish. I made lemon cream pie the night before so dessert was sorted and we had good food, good company and good wine for a lovely evening. It took some planning but was totally worth it.

I added grated cheese on top of the mashed potatoes for a savoury crust. You can omit this and just leave the potato topping as it is. Try running a fork across the topping to create lines all over, either straight lines/furrows or random swirls and peaks. It helps the crust to colour nicely in the oven and creates a slightly crispy top.

Ingredients (serves 4-5):

500g minced beef or lamb
1 large onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
6-7 button mushrooms, sliced
1-2 carrots, diced
2 tbsp plain flour
200ml beef or vegetable stock
1 tbsp tomato paste
Salt and pepper
3 large or 4 medium potatoes
2-3 tbsp milk
10g butter or to taste
50g grated cheese
Small handful of chopped parsley (optional)

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C/gas 6. Peel and cut the potatoes into chunks. Boil in a pan of water for 15-20 minutes until tender. Drain and mash until creamy, adding some butter and/or milk to taste.
2. While the potatoes are cooking, heat some oil in a large heavy based pan. Saute the onions and garlic over medium heat until soft. Add the minced beef and cook over high about 5-8 minutes, breaking up all lumps. Add the mushrooms and carrots and mix.
3. Add the flour and mix well. Slowly add the stock and stir over low heat, simmering until the sauce thickens. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
4. Place the beef mixture onto a baking dish. Spread the mashed potato on top evenly. Scatter the grated cheese over the top and cook in the oven for 40 minutes until the cheese has melted an the top is golden. You may want to pop it under a hot grill for a minute to get a nice crust. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve.

Related articles:
Chicken and leek pie
Salmon pie

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Sunday, 1 June 2008

Picnic bento, amongst others

AP and I went for a picnic in Wollaton Park yesterday, taking advantage of what was just about the best weather this past week. I packed us a picnic bento in a multi-tiered jyubako box. There are three tiers in that container but I only used two. It was a blend of Japanese food and English produce in season.

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The top tier had inarizushi, grilled English asparagus, mini scotch eggs and the first English strawberries that I've bought this season. They were small, bright red and packed full of flavour.
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Bottom tier had onigiri with salmon furikake, cherry tomatoes, more mini scotch eggs and containers of soy sauce.
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This picnic lunch has been submitted to the Wholesome Lunchbox event held on the 15th of each month by Coffee & Vanilla.

I didn't pack many bento this past week with different things coming up in our work schedules. But there is one made from some leftover Kung Pow chicken on rice, broccoli, cherry tomatoes and sweetcorn on the side. Packed in my trusty Lock & Lock container.
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This one is for AP tomorrow, packed in a Laptop Lunches container. Leftover chicken fajitas from dinner tonight (a lid goes on top after the photo), a tomato salsa tortilla wrap, and grapes and strawberries. I forgot the sour cream and we had to do without. Boo.
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