Cottage Pie: Comfort food, easy to make using roast beef leftovers. Easy Cottage Pie.
Cottage Pie: Comfort food, easy to make using roast beef leftovers. Easy Cottage Pie.
I was going to be away from home for a week and I needed to make sure there was nothing left in the fridge that would turn before I got back. I didn’t want to have to face the prospect of arriving from holiday to find I had a smelly fridge that needed cleaning out.
There are times when foraging in the fridge doesn’t give you major ingredients to work with. Here you’ve got to be creative and inventive needing a little something extra (herbs and spices) to help your ingredients shine like the stars they were in your shopping basket.
I want to create delicious meals that don’t taste like second best.
My fridge-foraging session turned up: summer berries, bananas, bread, eggs, cheese, milk and pepperoni. Not much to make a meal with but with a little ingenuity these items created three fantastic dishes that will make it into my regular meal choices.
Use any bread that needs using up, I know a brioche style slice would be the most decadent and that using croissants would be just as great but I had my slightly stale multigrain loaf with seeds that always gets a space in my weekly shopping basket.
Beat the egg with milk and a dash of vanilla bean paste. Next add your chosen slices to the mixture and leave to one side so that the mixture absorbs the eggy-milky liquid. Add butter to a hot frying pan. Turn the bread slices over and leave to soak more of the liquid on the other side. Then drain the excess liquid and add your eggy bread to the hot butter – do not be tempted to push the bread around, leave it and only turn once the bottom is golden brown. Fry on both sides until slightly souffléd and golden, drain on kitchen paper. I served mine with the summer berries I had knocking around in the fridge but would have been equally delicious with cinnamon and honey (Gibraltarian torija-style).
Pasta lunch with garlic, chillies, pepperoni and Parmesan
Cut the pepperoni and fry in olive oil. Once the pepperoni has released its paprika spice and colour add the garlic and chillies and fry for a few minutes. Add your boiled pasta of choice and toss everything together until your pasta is slicked in paprika-oil. Add fresh basil and grate Parmesan over.
Banana bread muffins
A very easy recipe that doubles easily should you need to create a larger batch. I usually make this as a loaf which will need a greater cooking time than muffins. NB: this makes a very liquid batter.
|2 cups Plain Flour1 tspn Bicarbonate of Soda
½ tspn salt
1 cup Sugar
(1 ½ cups dried fruit optional)
|½ cup Vegetable Oil2 Eggs
4 Ripe Bananas (over ripe bananas are ideal!)
1/3 cup Milk
1 tspn Lemon Juice
2nd: Mix all the ingredients together.
3rd: Bake in a well greased loaf tin (or muffin cases) at 180°C for 60-70mins for the loaf or 40mins for the muffins.
None of these are difficult to make nor do they need an excessive amount of ingredients to make them a meal. I packed my suitcase whilst the banana bread muffins were in the oven so there was a warm treat waiting for me when I finished. AND when making a cake batter you’re always going to need flour, sugar, eggs and either butter or oil and any other additions; chocolate, fruit, a filling/cream/ butter icing, the list can go on – so as far as a tea cake goes these were quite simple to put together.
From now on, before I go on my weekly shop let alone on holiday, I’ll be checking to see what I can put together from the ingredients left in my fridge as I often throw out ingredients that just need a little imagination or reinvention to become a delicious snack, treat or meal.
I remember as a child I would mix it all together so that every spoonful was a mashed-potatoey, mince-meaty, ketchup-tangy mouthful.
And then came the correction; it’s only Shepherd’s Pie if made with real shepherds – or at least minced lamb! If made with beef mince it is a Cottage Pie. Either name, I loved it as much as a child as I do to this day (however as I’m all grown up now, I only mix it up into a potatoey, meaty, ketchupy mouthful at home!)
But even though I make it in the same way that both my Mum and Granny taught me, I recently stumbled across a recipe by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall that makes a very decadent shepherd’s pie.
The premise is that it uses up your left-over Sunday roast. And that for me is great as I’m not one to have reheated day old roast lamb. I can’t make up my mind whether it is the smell or the gelatinous texture that puts me off so this is a brilliant way of exploiting your leftovers.
1st: Heat the olive oil in a saucepan big enough to accommodate all the ingredients. Coarsely chop the meat and brown in the hot olive oil – this will render out any excess fat and make the meat crispy around the edges. Remove onto a plate.
2nd: Sweat the onions (I used a leek that was hidden at the back of my fridge and bunged in diced carrot for good measure!) make sure to scrape any meaty bits off the bottom of the pan whilst turning the onions.
3rd: Once the onions are translucent return the meat to the pan and add the red wine, Worcester sauce and ketchup. Mix in the left over gravy and season to taste. Simmer gently for a few minutes and if the mixture looks too dry add a little water. Simmer gently for 20-30mins.
4th: Have a final taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary – add more ketchup, wine, salt/pepper to taste. Again add a little water to slacken the mixture if you feel it needs it.
5th: Put the mixture into a casserole dish and cover the meat completely with your mashed potatoes. (I wanted to use up the left over roast potatoes too so I chopped these up into small dice as I want them to retain some shape. As you can see from the photo I covered half in mashed potato and the other half in diced small potatoes.) Bake at 200˚C for 30-40mins until the mash is lightly browned on top and the sauce if bubbling around the edges.
Recipe taken and adapted from http://www.channel4.com/4food/recipes/chefs/hugh-fearnley-whittingstall/hugh-s-mum-s-shepherd-s-pie-recipe
As a meal it ticks all the boxes – delicious, comforting, familiar, easy to make, and above all, thrifty. With spring warmth having finally kick started but chilly evenings this is the sort of food you want to eat for supper.
This makes a delicious mid-week supper. If you have left-over lamb that you do not know how to use up I urge you to give it a try – it may seem lengthy but to be honest there really is nothing to it as it is either simmering on your hob or baking in the oven – you are not slaving stove-top for 1hour. I preferred the diced roast potatoes on-top to the traditional mash and this would take out a whole stage of the process, alternatively using instant mash may also be an option. What I wouldn’t recommend is that you purposefully roast some lamb to create this as the whole point of this dish is to use up left-over meat so as not to be wasteful.
This recipe should serve 4-6 people but if you need to serve a large number of people you could always add some veg on the side or add minced lamb to make the dish go further.
Kedgeree is at its most basic, a dish consisting of boiled rice, flaked fish, curry powder and hard boiled eggs. It is thought to have originated from an Indian rice and bean/lentil dish called Khichri, and widely believed that the dish was introduced to the Uk by returning British soldiers who enjoyed it in India whilst serving there during the British Raj.
During Victorian times it was served as a breakfast dish, as part of the very fashionable colonial Anglo-Indian cuisine that was sweeping Victorian Britain.
It is one of many breakfast dishes that, in the days before refrigeration
“converted yesterday’s leftovers into warm, hearty and appealing breakfast dishes.”
Kedgeree can take on many guises; some people fry onions until crisp to scatter over top before serving, others add sultanas into the mix, some use a variety of fish (e.g. smoked haddock). Celebrity chefs have turned the recipe from a simple putting together of ingredients into a much more decadent dish by using every ingredient in your spice rack or by using ingredients that you need to spend your lunch break searching for!
My advice: keep it simple
2nd: Place a salmon fillet per person into a saucepan. Cover with water and add peppercorns, salt and bay leaves. If you’re feeling adventurous add a few crushed cardamom pods. Simmer gently for 10mins. Allow to cool in the liquid.
3rd: Chop a medium sized onion and fry in some butter.
4th: Once the onion is soft, add a couple of teaspoons of curry powder to the saucepan and stir.
5th: Add the rice (I use basmati) and coat the grains with the buttery, curried onions.
6th: Use the poaching liquid and top up with any extra water to cook your rice using the 2:1 method. For depth of flavour I always use a stock cube – if you leave this out check for seasoning later.
a) remove the skin off the salmon and flake into pieces (take care with any bones)
b) sprinkle with fresh parsely
c) mix everything with the back of 2 wooden spoons and serve
d) squeeze a lemon over the rice
e) peel the eggs and chop into quarters but serve these equally to avoid argument!
*I like mine to have peas, so once the rice is cooked and whilst assembling the dish, I add frozen peas to the saucepan to cook them quickly in the residual heat.
Even though its intention was to be a breakfast dish, and it is relatively simple to make, it is just not practical for me to want to cook this for breakfast – not even at the weekend! But it does make for a great light supper or a fantastic weekend brunch; especially a late-Saturday-morning-hangover-looming-brunch! However, let’s simplify this even more: dispense with stages 1 & 2, don’t bother with the hard boiled eggs and poached, flaked salmon and just open a can of tuna into the boiled, curried rice.
As I savour the last bite of my Pesto Chicken Quesadilla with its melted cheese oozing around white chicken breast pieces, I look back at an inspired menu where the leftovers played the starring role.
After Sunday’s lamb roast I could not face red meat again on Monday. There is something about lamb that even though delicious at the time of consumption has a lingering fatty richness that can put me off eating red meat again too soon.
“So still needing to satisfy my carnivore cravings it was chicken that ticked all the boxes.”
I bought two large chicken breasts and asked my butcher to slice them into thin fillets as I was planning on coating them in breadcrumbs and frying them. There is nothing more rapturous than a pile of golden crisp gallina empanada (scalloped chicken) dipped in mayonnaise or dare I say it again – Chilli jam! But I digress…
…So with 0.5Kg of chicken fillets (way too much for one meal) I decided to alternatively make my own pesto sauce and have Italian-influenced pesto chicken.
Into a food processor add toasted pine nuts, the juice and zest of a lemon, a chunk of parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, basil leaves and olive oil. Blitz until you form a smooth paste. Alternatively use a jar of shop bought pesto!
Place the chicken fillets into an oven dish and pour the pesto over. Cook in an oven until cooked through and golden.
Monday dinner – Pesto Chicken with potatoes and vegetables.
Tuesday lunch – leftover Pesto Chicken with cauliflower and green beens.
Wednesday lunch – leftover Pesto Chicken wrap
Thursday dinner – leftover Pesto Chicken Quesadillas
1st: Place a flour tortilla in a dry frying pan.
2nd: Add grated cheese to cover the tortilla.
3rd: Chop the leftover, cooked chicken breasts and add spread over the tortilla.
4th: Just because I had in the cupboard, I also added piquillo peppers before placing the tortilla lid and turning the quesadilla over.
Please excuse the globe trotting from Italy to Mexico but I couldn’t resist it
Andele! Andele! Arriba! Arriba! Epa! Epa! Epa! Yeehaw!