Individual shepherd’s pie

Last night Alberto was out for dinner and so I decided to use one of my individual pie dishes to make a little, one person Shepherd’s pie. I’m not planning on blogging the whole recipe – it’s basically this one:

https://cookingwithneil.wordpress.com/2013/10/02/shepherds-pie/

scaled down for just one. I’m only really writing about it now as it’s so cute in its little tin!

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Goulash Tirolese

I had the day off yesterday and so was able to go for a recipe that took slightly longer than normal. I love a bit of goulash and have blogged about it before –

https://cookingwithneil.wordpress.com/2013/10/14/goulash-with-fried-gnocchi/

and so was interested by this recipe that I found in the Radio Times last week. It’s an interesting variation on goulash, with no tomato, no lemon peel or bay leaves, but still plenty of paprika. (I’d avoid my mistake of chucking half a jar of paprika all over the kitchen floor, if I were you!)

Alberto said that he preferred this recipe to the normal goulash, so it seems like this was a hit! :D

The recipe claims to be Italian, rather than Hungarian, and influenced by Austria – regardless of where it comes from, it’s tasty!

Serves 4

3 tablespoons of olive oil
2 large onions, peeled and sliced
100g of pancetta, cubed
Approximately a litre of vegetable stock
1kg of braising steak, diced
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds, crushed
1 teaspoon of paprika (I also added ½ a teaspoon of smoked paprika, for extra flavour)
2 sprigs of thyme (I stripped the leaves from the sprigs and stirred them in.)

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and sweat the onions on a medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring regularly

Remove the onions from the pan and set aside.

Add the pancetta to the pan and cook on a medium heat until coloured then remove from the pan and set aside. (It’s difficult to avoid the temptation of snacking on these lovely little cubes whilst they’re sitting there, just doing nothing. Best to set ‘em aside somewhere out of sight!)

Return the onions to the pan, add about 3 tablespoons of stock and cook for about a minute until the liquid has evaporated.

Add the beef, increase the heat and brown the meat all over.

Add 100ml of stock, reduce the heat to low, cover with a lid and cook gently for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

After 30 minutes, add another 100ml of stock and continue to cook for a further 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid sticking.

Stir in the garlic, cumin, paprika, thyme and the pancetta. Add another 400ml of stock, cover and cook on a low heat for a further hour, stirring often and adding more stock as required.

Serve with crispy, fried gnocchi and garlic bread. Delicious!

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Pork, leek, chorizo and cider pies

On Saturday Vanessa and I met up with our friends William and Craig at a cafe in town and William ordered an individual pie that came in a lovely individual white and blue pie tin. I immediately decided that I needed a couple of those pie tins! Bert’s Kitchenware was able to oblige – a snip at £2.99 each, although I found out the following day that Lakeland had them on special offer for £1.50 each! Hey ho!

Anyway, all of that preceding waffle is simply to explain why I made a couple of individual pies for Fig and I this evening. I made up the recipe as I went along so some of the measurements are a bit hit and miss, but it seemed to work.

Makes 2 pies

Olive oil
3 pork shoulder steaks, trimmed and diced
2 leeks, sliced
60g of chorizo, sliced or roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, sliced
¼ of a red pepper, de-seeded and diced
300ml of medium-dry cider
1 tablespoon of plain flour
Leaves from 4-6 sprigs of thyme
1 teaspoon of mixed herbs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Puff pastry

Pre-heat the oven to 200.

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and brown the pork dice.

Once browned add the sliced leek and garlic and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes, until slightly softened. Add the chorizo and fry until lightly crisp. Then add the diced red pepper, herbs, salt and pepper and cook for another minute. Sprinkle over the flour and stir in, then cook for a further minute.

Gently add the cider and stir to mix well. Cook for 5-10 minutes until the sauce thickens.

Take the meat and sauce off the heat and then divide the mixture between the two pie tins.

Roll out two pastry lids, slightly larger than the tins. Brush the edges of the pie tins with a little milk and fit the lids, trimming off any excess pastry and then crimping the edges with a fork. Make a couple of steam holes in the centre of each lid and then brush each one with a little milk.

Cook in the oven for 25 minutes, until the pastry is risen and golden.

Rather tasty if I do say so myself.

I served these with mash and steamed spring greens.

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Aubergine bake with meatballs and cheese

I made this for Alberto and I tonight and it’s very tasty. Once again it’s from the Greek Islands cookbook that I got for Christmas. In essence it’s not really that different from the Moussaka that I made last week but it’s different enough to make it tasty and worthwhile. Also – meatballs!

Serves 2-3

For the bake:

1 aubergine
1 onion
1 garlic clove
Olive oil
salt
1 slice of white bread, crusts removed
A little milk
500g of beef mince
¼ a teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
¼ a teaspoon of dried mint
1 tablespoon of chopped parsley leaves
200g of mozzarella
75g of gruyère

For the sauce:

1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tablespoon of tomato purée
1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
500g of passata
½ teaspoon of dried oregano

Slice the aubergines into rounds 5mm thick, then place them in a colander, scatter with salt and leave to drain for 10 minutes. (This draws out the bitter tasting juices from the aubergine)

Pre-heat the oven to 200.

Brush a large baking tray with olive oil. Dry the aubergine slices with kitchen paper and then place them on the baking tray. Brush the slices with olive oil and place in the oven for 15 minutes, turning halfway through cooking.

Whilst the aubergines are cooking prepare the meatballs.

Shred the bread into small pieces, place in a bowl and cover with milk. Soak for a couple of minutes until most of the milk has been absorbed, then lift out the bread, squeeze out the milk and set aside. Discard the milk.

Cut the onion in half and grate half of it into a bowl. Also grate the garlic clove. Add the minced beef, soaked bread, pepper, herbs and ½ a teaspoon of salt.

Mix thoroughly with your hands, ensuring that the herbs and onion are really well mixed in. (This is always fun – messy but fun!)

Once the mixture is well mixed and you are happy with the seasoning shape into balls. The recipe should make about 18 balls – you don’t want ‘em to be too big, otherwise it will be tricky to cook them through without burning them on the outside.

Heat some oil in a frying pan and brown the meatballs over a gentle heat, turning regularly to prevent burning. Once they are browned remove from the heat and set aside.

Whilst the meatballs are cooking you can make the sauce.

Chop the other half of the onion and finely chop a garlic clove, then heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a saucepan and gently fry the onion, with a pinch of salt, for 5 or so minutes, until softened but not coloured.

Add the garlic and cook for a further minute, then add the tomato purée and cook, stirring, for another two minutes.

Splash in the red wine vinegar and cook for a further minute, then add the passata and oregano, stir well and season to taste, then cook for 5 minutes. (This always spits a lot so be prepared to wipe down your walls afterwards!)

Once the meatballs and sauce are ready you can assemble the bake.

Place the meatballs on the bottom of a ceramic oven-proof dish in a single layer. Tear half of the mozzarella into small pieces and tuck the pieces between the meatballs. Pour half of the tomato sauce over the meatballs, then arrange the aubergine slices over this. Pour on the rest of the sauce then tear up the remaining mozzarella and place over the sauce. Grate the gruyere on top.

Place in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden and bubbling with deliciousness.

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Lamb Kleftiko

On Saturday my friend The Lovely Vanessa was down for the weekend and so that gave me the opportunity to try this interesting looking recipe for the three of us, It’s from the new, Greek Islands cookbook that Alberto got me for Christmas. It all went rather well, although I accidentally put the oven on the wrong setting – defrost – and so, whilst I thought it was preheating, and, indeed cooking, it wasn’t doing anything at all. Hey ho – I rectified it just in time and dinner was only delayed by about 10 minutes. The only other slight issue is that wrapping two long strips of greaseproof paper into a tight parcel is more tricky than it at first appears – the paper is very springy and doesn’t want to play ball. Still, got there in the end though!

Serves 4

6 tablespoons of olive oil
600g of lamb – shoulder or leg, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 onion, finely sliced
6 garlic cloves
1 carrot, finely chopped
2 tomatoes, de-seeded and roughly chopped (I used one large beef tomato and 5 or six cherry tomatoes)
2 large white potatoes, peeled and cut into rough chunks
80g of hard goats cheese, cut into small chunks
Juice of 1 lemon
Leaves from 1 sprig of rosemary
4 sprigs of thyme
1-2 teaspoons of roughly chopped parsley leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 180.

Place two long strips of greaseproof paper into a large,metal roasting dish, arranging them to form an X.

In a large frying pan heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and brown the lamb all over.

Once nicely browned, remove the lamb from the pan and place in a large bowl.

Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan and brow the onion.

Tip the onion into the bowl with the lamb.

Add the rest of the ingredients; the potato, carrot, garlic, tomatoes, lemon juice, goat’s cheese, parsley, rosemary and thyme.

Season generously and toss gently to ensure that everything is coated and the herbs and cheese are well mixed in.

Pour the whole lot into the middle of the double layer of greaseproof paper. Fold the edges upwards so that no liquid can escape and them pour over three tablespoons of olive oil and three tablespoons of water.

Then, starting with the innermost layer of paper, bring the two sheets together and fold them in on themselves, using small folds until you have folded them down to the lamb. Repeat with the next layer of paper until you have a tight, steam-proof parcel.

Place in the oven and cook for an hour and a half. Allow to stand for 15 minutes before serving.

Open and inhale the lovely, flavoursome steam, when serving.

Delicious with lots of lovely flavours. I served it with plain, boiled rice and garlic bread.

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Moussaka

I made this on Wednesday morning so that Alberto and I could have it in the evening after my late night. I know that I’ve made moussaka before, and blogged about it, but this recipe comes from the Greek Islands cookbook that Alberto got me for Christmas and so is a bit more authentic than the recipes I might’ve used before.

It’s fairly easy to make but involves a fair few steps that were a bit more time consuming than I’d initially anticipated but it is certainly worth the effort as the end result is delicious and very filling. And fairly authentically Greek!

For the béchamel sauce:

60g of butter
60g of plain flour
800ml of hot milk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg
20g of grated pecorino or parmiggiano
1 egg, beaten

For the filling:

2 large aubergines
400g of waxy potatoes
Olive oil
500g of lamb mince
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon of tomato purée
160ml of red wine
200g of passata
1 tablespoon of finely chopped parsley leaves
½ a teaspoon of dried Greek oregano
A little cheddar to garnish

Preheat the oven to 200

Slice the aubergines into rounds 5mm thick, then place them in a colander, scatter with salt and leave to drain for 10 minutes. (This draws out the bitter tasting juices from the aubergine)

Meanwhile, peel the potatoes and slice them into rounds of the same thickness as the aubergine slices. Heat the oil in a frying pan and gently fry the onion slices until lightly coloured. Remove from the frying pan, drain on kitchen paper and set aside.

Brush a large baking tray with olive oil. Dry the aubergine slices with kitchen paper and then place them on the baking tray. Brush the slices with olive oil and place in the oven for 15 minutes. Turn after 15 minute and cook for a further 5-10 minutes until starting to brown.

In a large saucepan heat some olive oil and brown the mince, stirring until it’s all separated.

Remove the meat from the pan and set aside. Add the onion to the pan and cook over a gentle heat, for 5-10 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic and tomato purée and cook, stirring, for another 2 minutes.

Return the meat to the pan and add the wine. Allow to bubble for a couple of minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to loosen any stuck bits.

After a couple of minutes add the passata and herbs, then 200ml of water. Simmer for 15 minutes. Season to taste.

Oil a large ovenproof dish and line it with the potato slices. Pour over the meat sauce and then top with the cooked aubergine slices.

Then make the béchamel sauce.

Melt the butter over a low heat and then add the flour. Mix and cook gently for 2-3 minutes. Gradually add the hot milk , little by little stirring as you go to avoid lumpiness.

Cook for 10 minutes, on a low heat, until the sauce becomes thick and glossy.

Season with salt and pepper and then add the nutmeg and stir in the grated cheese.

Allow to cool for a few minutes and then slowly pour in the beaten egg, whisking vigorously. (The sauce needs to be slightly cooled or the egg will scramble as you pour it in.)

Pour the cooked sauce over the top of the aubergines, grate a little cheddar on the top and then bake in the oven for 55 minutes.

Leave to stand for 10 minutes before serving – otherwise it will fall apart a bit upon serving.

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Spice lamb and herb stuffed squash

I made this for myself on Saturday evening but it has taken me a while to get round to writing it up. It was a tasty little dish – the allspice made the whole thing smell rather strong when it was cooking but it wasn’t overwhelming flavour-wise.

Serves 4

2 small, round squash, like acorn or onion squash. About 500g each. (I used one end of a butternut squash as it was just for me.)
1-2 tablespoons of olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 red onion, finely sliced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
500g of lamb mince
2 teaspoons of ground allspice
2 teaspoons of cumin seeds
1 cinnamon stick
250ml of hot chicken stock
1 tablespoon of runny honey
50g of pine nuts, toasted
A large handful of fresh parsley, chopped
A large handful of fresh coriander, chopped
Salt and black pepper

Heat the oven to 200

Cut each squash widthways in half and scoop out the seeds and fibres.

Place the 4 halves, cut side up, on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until tender. (as I was using a, rather larger, end of butternut squash I roasted for nearly 40 minutes. Adjust according to the size of your squash!)

Whilst that is roasting, heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and fry the onions for 5-10 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic and chillies and fry for a further minute.

Add the lamb mince, increase the heat and brown, breaking the mince up with a spoon.

Add the spices, including the cinnamon stick and fry for a further couple of minutes. Then pour in the stock, add the honey and season with salt and pepper.

Stir well and simmer for about 15 minutes until the stock has evaporated and the lamb mixture is sticky.

Remove the cinnamon stick, stir in the toasted pine nuts and chopped herbs.

Spoon the lamb mixture into the cooked squash halves and serve.

Delicious!

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Spicy scallops with lime and chilli

I made this for myself on Thursday. I was off to my friend Abigail’s for a spot of Doctor Who and so I needed something quick before I set off. I’ve made this one before about 3-4 years ago and it’s a nice recipe, tasty and full of different flavours, but not massively filling. It also came out looking a lot darker than it does in the photo in the recipe book, (The Big Book of Wok and Stir-Fry.) with the onion and garlic both a bit crispier than in the photo.

Serves 4

16 large scallops, shelled
1 tablespoon of butter
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
1 teaspoon of crushed garlic
1 teaspoon of grated fresh ginger
1 bunch of spring onions, finely sliced
Finely grated zest of lime
1 small red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
3 tablespoons of lime juice
Lime wedges to garnish
Plain rice to serve

Using a sharp knife, trim the scallops and remove any black intestine, then wash and pat dry with kitchen paper.

Separate the corals from the white pieces and then slice each white part in half horizontally, making two discs. (It doesn’t say what to do with the corals…)

Heat a wok over a medium heat and add the butter and oil. Add the garlic and ginger and stir-fry for 1 minute, without browning. Add the spring onions and stir-fry for a further minute.

Add the scallops and continue stir-frying, over a high heat for 4-5 minutes.

Stir in the zest, chilli and lime juice and cook for a further minute.

Transfer the scallops to a serving plate and spoon over the juices from the pan, garnishing with lime wedges.

Tasty and full of flavour.

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Salmon and dill pie

Last night was another lovely pie from the book Pies! This one is a creamy, tasty pie which is given a bit of bite by the use of Dijon mustard. I added a little fried leek to the original recipe as I find that leek and salmon go very well together.

Serves 4

450g of skinless, boneless salmon fillet, cubed
Puff pastry – about 450g
1 small leek – finely sliced
300ml of double cream
1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
2 egg yolks, beaten
2 tablespoons of dill, chopped
1 egg, beaten
Salt and ground white pepper

Preheat the oven to 200

Roll out half of the pastry and line the base of a pastry dish. Cover the pastry with a sheet of greaseproof paper and baking beads and bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Then remove the paper and beads and bake for a further 5 minutes to dry the pastry out a little. The pastry will puff up but you can push it back down with the back of a spoon.

Arrange the salmon in the pastry dish, on top of the part-cooked pastry, in an even layer.

Gently fry the leek in a little olive oil, over a medium heat, until slightly softened.

Place the fried leek over the salmon in the dish.

Mix the cream with the mustard, chopped dill and egg yolks and season with salt and white pepper.

Pour the cream mix over the salmon and leeks.

Roll out the remaining pastry and lay it on top of the pie.

Trim away any excess pastry and crimp the edges to seal.

Brush with beaten egg and bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes until cooked through and golden.

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Lamb pea and mint pie

On Tuesday I bought a recipe book in Sainsbury’s called Pie! (it doesn’t actually have an exclamation mark on the end of the title, but I think that it ought to have.) and so yesterday pie was on the menu. I had a look through all the recipes and Alberto and I decided upon this one as it looked tasty. There’s also a salmon and dill one that I strongly suspect I’ll be making on Friday.

The recipe is a tasty one and the use of lamb mince rather than pieces of lamb means that it is fairly quick to prepare, as well as giving the resulting pie an interesting texture.

Serves 3 (or, in this instance – one big slice each for Alberto and I for dinner last night and a smaller slice each for lunch today.)

2 tablespoons of olive oil
450g of minced lamb
1 onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
600ml of good quality beef stock
1 large potato, peeled and diced
150g of peas
2 tablespoons of mint leaves, finely chopped
Puff pastry
1 egg, beaten
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the mince for 5 minutes, until browned.

Add the onion and garlic and fry for a further 5 minutes.

Add the stock and potato and bring to the boil. Simmer for 8-10 minutes.

Then stir in the peas, mint and salt and pepper. Stir well and cook for a further 5 minutes or so.

Pre-heat the oven to 220

Place the lamb mixture in a square baking dish and level off the top.

Roll out the pastry, then place it on the top of the dish and press down around the edges.

Trim off any excess pastry.

Brush with beaten egg and bake for 30 minutes until golden and cooked through.

Delicious!

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