Posts Tagged ‘supper’

As much as I enjoy the kitchen with both its discipline and creativity combined, there really are times when the idea of cooking for one can be more of a chore than a pleasure.  The thought of having wanting to create something comforting, wholesome and packed with flavour stirs images of the washing up taking longer than it does to eat!

“Pasta and sauce, rice and a can of tuna, soup, cheese toastie!” I hear you yell student staples at me.

“As if were that difficult!?” I hear you mock me.

But there are ways round this without having to reach for the jar of tomato sauce everytime.  Generally I find that if I want a simple, easy, one-off meal, packed with flavour and comforting AND minimises the washing up, cheese becomes my ingredient of choice.

Now I know that there are a multitude of cheeses which would naturally result in a greater multitude of cheese dishes.  However, I’m not talking about having to make complex cheese sauces nor am I talking about a cheese and crackers!  I’m talking about the simplicity and speed of heated or melted cheese.

No recipe to follow, just your judgement as to how much you want to use.

The point of heating cheese is simply to allow it to soften and ooze until it becomes a liquid permanently on the cusp of becoming solid again.   Normally used as a glue to ensure that the rest of the filling does not spill out – melted cheese is a delicious meal when encased in pastry or between slices of bread.

Take the humble cheese toastie – a great Sunday supper with or without extras!  With this comes the panoply of international variations: croque-monsieur (BTW: Bianca’s, Gibraltar makes a great one!) Welsh rarebit, mozzarella in carrozza, San Jacobo, etc…

But for me the ultimate, easy, quick and simple version of the ubiquitous toastie is a mexican quesadilla:

pestochicken2Quesadillas

Place a tortilla into a frying pan large enough in diameter.  Grate whichever hard cheese or combination of cheeses you wish to cover the tortilla (leave a 2cm rim around the edge).  Chop spring onions and a few slices of chorizo or pepperoni over.  Sprinkle over some dried chilli flakes or use fresh and add oregano and basil.  Season to taste.  Grate some more cheese over and cover with another tortilla.  Once the cheese has melted and the base not too crispy, flip it over and heat on the other side for another minute.  Allow to cool slightly before serving.

(Clicking on the image will take you to my pesto chicken quesadillas in a previous blog)

boxCamembert Baked in the Box

Where melted cheese is at its most sensuous and indulgent is a ripe Camembert baked in the box.  I remember a friend took this to a beach BBQ one year and we fought over eachother to see who could scoff more of it!  But before we proceed to the preparation of the cheese let me share with you my secret weapon:

ROAST GARLIC.  If like me you were given a garlic roasting pot as a present this is its ideal use, a roasting tin and some foil works just as well.

Give the garlic head a knock on the work surface to tease the cloves or cut the tops off and place into your garlic roasting pot and drizzle over honey, olive oil and add a bay leaf, sprig of rosemary and seasoning.  Add a knob of butter and roast in the oven for 40mins at 200˚C.

TOP TIP: If cooking this on a Sunday you can prepare this along with your roast, otherwise just prepare it in the evening bearing in mind to accommodate for its cooking time.

After 30mins take the Camembert from its wooden box and remove the wrapping, putting the cheese back into the box.  Put a large cross on the top of the Camembert and put the lid back on the box.  Cook alongside the garlic until the cheese is oozing and gooey.

The garlic once roasted turns into sweet amber nuggets that need to be squeezed out of their papery cases and spread onto your bread before dunking into the hot, bubbling Camembert.  Wash it all down with a classic French red.

It’s best avoided to entertain anyone’s company after this!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shepherd’s Pie, baked beans and ketchup – Oh my God!  Could food get any more comforting?!

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.

delicious, comforting, familiar, easy to make, and above all, thrifty

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.

Hugh’s Shepherd’s Pie

Ingredients

  • About 1Kg of leftover roast lamb
  • Olive oil
  • Onions
  • Any leftover gravy or lamb juices
  • Small glass of red wine
  • 2 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 2 tbsp Worcester sauce
  • Mashed potatoes made up to cover the dish
  • Seasoning

Method

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.