Recipe: Cottage Pie

Hurrah, it’s getting colder and it’s pie time, yes yes yes!!! As an alternative to Sunday roast I love a good old Cottage Pie, rich, meaty and covered in bubbling cheese. Served with my Yorkshire puddings this goes down a treat and makes enough for leftover snap to take to work. This recipe is for 2 so just add more ingredients if you have more mouths to feed.

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You will need:

  • 250g lean Minced Beef
  • 2 Carrots
  • 1 Onion
  • 2 Rich Beef Stock cubes
  • 1 tablespoon Tomato Paste
  • good glug of Hendersons Relish
  • 300ml water
  • 1 tablespoon Bisto Beef Gravy Granuals
  • 5 Potatoes
  • Butter and Milk for Mash Potato
  • Salt and Pepper to season
  • 150g Mature Cheddar, grated

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Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 190 degrees Celsius.
  2. Finely dice the onion and carrots and fry over a medium heat for 5 mins until the onions start to turn translucent, turn up the heat and add the mince to the pan.
  3. While the meat is cooking, peel and chop the potatoes and start to boil to make the mash.
  4. Once the mince is cooked, add the stock cubes, herdersons, salt, pepper and water to the pan, turn down the heat and simmer. Add the gravy granuals to the pan and turn off he heat, mix until the liquid starts to thicken and transfer to an oven proof dish. (I know it’s a bit of a cheat move but it’s just an easy way to thicken the gravy and add more meaty flavour, forgive me?)
  5. After 10-  15 minutes of boiling the potatoes should be soft enough to drain and mash, then cream in the milk and butter and season.
  6. Top the meat mix with the mash flatten down, then sprinkle over cheese (of which I like to use a lot) and bake for 30 mins until the cheese is golden and the pie is bubbling. Mmmmmm.
  7. Serve with veg and Yorkshire puddings. Enjoy!!

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Eating Out: the Hop Pole, revisited

As we had such an amazing meal last time (see previous post) we decided to dine here again for dad’s birthday last weekend, and again it was amazing. I’ll keep this post/ review brief as my last one pretty much covered all the bases but I just couldn’t not share these beaut food pics with you..

Trio of pork: roast fillet, slow roasted belly and pulled hock croquet with mini toffee apples, baby leeks and roasted beetroot. Each part of the trio had a character of it’s own but all married together nicely and went lovely with a big glug of Hendersons. It felt like there was half a pig on my plate but I managed to plough through it.

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Rabbit and black pudding Wellington with roasted carrots, parsnips and a rich jus. Lovely and moist and full of flavour.

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And… The biggest steak and ale pie I have ever seen, served with chips. Naturally. Lovely tender beef and tasty boozy gravy. mmmm gravy.

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On another note, I know this is supposed to be all about food but I couldn’t resist sharing  a picture of this she-wee contraption, speechless.

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Recipe: Dark Chocolate and Hazelnut Fudge

Okay, okay. I admit that I have a bit of a thing for a dark chocolate and hazelnut combination but when something works, it just works, right? Here it is, the recipe for my dark chocolate and hazelnut fudge, I made this using a few leftover buts I had from when I made my Caramel Fudge (see earlier post) it makes enough if just for yourself and a friend but for bigger portions just double (or triple needed) the quantities used.

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You will need:

  • 100g Dark Chocolate with Hazelnuts
  • 120ml Double Cream
  • 180g Caster Sugar
  • 40g Butter
  • 4 tablespoons Glucose Syrup
  • 1 tablespoon Cocoa Powder
  • 1 tablespoon icing sugar
  • Sugar thermometer

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Method:

  1. Line a high sided baking tin with baking paper and grease well.
  2. Roughly chop the chocolate to break up the hazelnuts.
  3. In a medium pan add the double cream, sugar, butter and glucose and melt together over a medium heat. Once all the ingredients have combined together, turn up the heat and continue to heat until 110 degree Celsius (this is where you will need the sugar thermometer). Try not to stir the mixture too much but you will need to to prevent the mix burning and just remember be careful because sugar work is hot!!
  4. Once the mix is up to temperature, take off the heat and stir in the chocolate until fully mixed in and the mix is smooth and glossy.
  5. Next, whisk in the cocoa and icing sugar, be careful as the mix will still be extremely hot.
  6. Once everything is all mixed in pour the fudge mix into your prepared tin and leave to cool and set for a few hours.
  7. When the mixture is set chop up into nice little (big) squares and enjoy.

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I’m getting into the swing of fudge making and really happy with the results, can’t wait to start experiment with some new flavours. If you have any that are worth a try, let me know.

Recipe: Mediterranean Pork Kebabs

This is a simple yet flavoursome recipe which is what I made us for tea last night. I will admit I had a little mishap when making these, I would normally use onions or peppers to go alongside meat for the skewers but this time I decided to use leeks and, erm, well the kind of just fall off the skewers. But they chargrilled nicely anyway and became a tasty little side dish. This recipe uses pork but also works well on chicken too, or if you’re not a meat fan just mixed veg, just forget the leeks.

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You will need:

  • 500g Pork Loin, diced
  • juice of 1 Lemon
  • 1 teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dried Marjoram
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dried Thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cayenne Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Paprika
  • 3 cloves of Garlic
  • 1 Chicken stock cube, crumbled
  • salt and pepper to season
  • 6 Fresh Mint Leaves, chopped

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Method:

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well to ensure the pork is well covered with all the flavours. Cover and leave to marinade for at least 30 mins.
  2. Thread the pork onto skewers, this should make approx 12 skewers which will be enough for about 4 people if served with a side dish/dishes.
  3. Over a high heat, heat a griddle pan until very hot and one by one add the skewers.
  4. Turn every few minutes to colour on each side. The kebabs will take approx 10 mins to cook but if you are unsure you can always cut open a pice of pork to check that the meat is no longer pink in colour.
  5. Once cooked sprinkle over fresh mint, take out the pan and serve.

I enjoyed my kebabs with roasted potatoes and homemade garlic and Parmesan bread but would go fantastic with Pitta bread, salad and Tzatziki (see older post for My Tzatziki recipe). This would also be great as part of a meat platter and great finger food when having friends over.

Recipe: Pink Pickled Onions

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These pickled onions have a slightly more fresh and foodie feel to them than those dreary silverskins you see on the supermarket shelves. These are easy to make, versatile and look great. You can tailor the flavours to a little bit of what you fancy, I made 3 different types all in cider vinegar; plain, garlic & pink peppercorn and Mexican style.  This recipe made 2 350g jars and 1 200g jar full.

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You will need:

  • 3 Red Onions sliced
  • approx 250ml Cider Vinegar
  • approx 250ml water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt per jar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar per jar
  • Clean glass jars
  • plus for extra flavours:

Garlic & Pepper flavour;

  • 1/2 teaspoon pink peppercorns
  • 2 cloves of Garlic, halved

Mexican;

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon pink peppercorns
  • Good pinch of dried chipotle chilli flakes

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Method: 

  1. Once you have sliced the onions in which ever way you fancy, I sliced mine into moons, put in a large bowl and cover with boiling water.
  2. After 20 seconds drain the water from the onions.
  3. Fill the onions into jars, making sure you press down well so the onions are compact.
  4. Once the jars are full then add your salt, sugar and your extra flavours.
  5. Pour over the cider vinegar until the  jar is filed half way up, fill up the jars with cold water to the top.
  6. Tightly screw on the caps and give the jars a good shake to disperse the flavourings.
  7. Leave the jars for a few days for the colour and flavours to develop and enjoy.

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This was the colour just after 1 day.

Great with many things, I’ll be enjoying mine with salads and as a side dish to many things. The Mexican will be great with pork pibil and tacos, mmmmm.

Another idea, these would make a great gift for any pickle lover.

Recipe: Easy Last Minute Peach Crumble

This was my saviour last night and my first crumble of the season, well we are well into the first week of September after all. This is an easy recipe for peach crumble which can be knocked up last minute and takes only 40 mins to prepare and bake, great if you get any unexpected visitors. With this recipe you also get extra crumble mix which can be stored in the fridge for a later date, or a later late night sweet fix.

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You will need:

  • 3 ripe Peaches/ Nectarines
  • 2 tablespoons Maple Syrup
  • 100g Plain Flour
  • 60g Sugar
  • 50g Butter (at room temperature)

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Method:

  1. De-stone and slice your peaches and mix with the maple syrup in a shallow oven proof dish.
  2. Place in a preheated oven at 200 degrees and bake for 20 mins.
  3. While the peaches are baking away, in a bowl rub together the flour, sugar and butter using your fingers. Carry on until the mixture forms crumbs, you’ll just know when it’s ready.
  4. Once the peaches have baked for 20 mins and top with your crumble mix, you’ll need to use about half of what you have made. Put the other half in a food bag and store in your fridge until the crumble cravings hit again.
  5. Bake for a further 15-20 mins until the crumble is golden brown and the fruit mix ifs bubbling through. Enjoy.

Recipe: Slow Cooker Beef Stifado

Another one of my Greek favourites the Beef Stifado made using a spice mix that I picked up on my holiday in Cyprus, fear not though see mix breakdown below which you can add the spices separately yourself. This recipe uses one of my favourite meat cuts of the moment beef shin, which you should be able to pick up at your butchers, it’s one of those forgotten cuts but slow cooked is succulent and just melts in the mouth. Easy to prepare and as it uses a slow cooker you can do the preparation the night before and allow to cook throughout the day while you work meaning it’s ready for you when you get home.

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You will need:

  • Beef Shin (as much or as little as you like)
  • 1 Jar of tomato based pasta sauce (eg. Bolognese, this is me cheating so you could substitute for chopped tomatoes and herbs)
  • 1 large glass of Red Wine
  • 2 tablespoons of Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1 Beef Stock Cube/ Stock Melt
  • 3 tablespoons Stifado Spice mix (which contains basil, onion, cinnamon, bay leaf, juniper and chilli)
  • 2 Onions- Sliced
  • 4 Whole cloves of Garlic
  • 2 Tomatoes- Chopped
  • 200ml water
  • Salt & Pepper

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Method:

  1. In a preheated oven at 180 degrees, season and roast you beef shin for 45- 50 mins until it has browned.
  2. Let the beef cool and add it with the rest of the ingredients with your slow cooker and slow cook for 8-10 hours.
  3. and… Enjoy! It’s literally as easy as that.

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I enjoyed my Stifado with roast potatoes and sprinkled on some freshly chopped mint how I would in Greece but would be good with roasted vegetables or rice. I even cooked up the leftovers with some pasta which was delicious.