Cottage Pie

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The summer is at an end, the nights are drawing in and it’s getting darker slightly earlier each evening.  You can see the leaves turning their amazing hues of yellow, gold and red almost in front of your eyes, and there’s a distinct nip in the air to be felt.  Shortly we’ll be putting our clocks back and that will signify the real start of the dark nights ahead until the promise of spring joins us once more.

At this time of year, what better meal to enjoy then a hearty Cottage Pie?  Good quality, lean minced beef. Thick and delicious gravy enrobing the meat, topped off with a delightful, buttery soft mashed potato.  It’s not a pretty dish for the eyes to behold, but it sure is a tasty one! Am I making you hungry yet?

Cottage pie with Albert Bartlett potatoes

I used 5% lean Angus Steak mince from Lidl and British grown Albert Bartlett potatoes (which I love for their taste and light, fluffy texture when cooked.  Both of which have the Red Tractor mark of quality.  To enjoy a meal as tasty as this, you’ll need:

  • 15ml Rapeseed oil
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 500g Lean minced beef
  • 1 Knorr onion gravy pot
  • 200ml Boiling water
  • 50ml Red wine
  • 10ml Worcester sauce
  • 10ml Dried parsley
  • Salt & Pepper to season
  • 4 Large Adrian Bartlett Potatoes, peeled & cut into 2-3cm pieces
  • 100g Butter, cubed
    1. Heat your oven to 200℃.
    2. Gently heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the onion until soft, but not browned.
    3. Add the mince and cook until browned.
    4. Mix the stock pot with the boiling water, red wine and Worcester sauce, then add this to the mince along with the parsley.
    5. Bring to the boil and season to taste.
    6. Turn the heat down low and simmer, stirring occasionally, whilst you cook your potatoes.

Cottage pie with Albert Bartlett potatoes

  1. Add your potatoes to a pan of cold water, bring to the boil and cook until soft.
  2. Drain the potatoes, add the cubed butter, season and mash them really well (no lumps are welcome in this recipe!).
  3. Pour the minced beef in to an ovenproof dish, then scoop the potatoes on top.
  4. Spread out the potatoes to an even layer and rough the surface with a fork to allow parts of the potato topping to brown more than others.
  5. Place the cottage pie in the oven and cook for 20 minutes until the top is a rich golden brown, and the gravy is just oozing up between the potatoes and the dish.

Cottage pie with Albert Bartlett potatoes

  1. Remove from the oven and serve with generous amounts of vegetables.

Cottage pie with Albert Bartlett potatoes

Don’t forget, that when dinner tastes this good, it’s perfectly OK to go back for seconds.

This recipe was not sponsored or endorsed by either Lidl UK or by Adrian Bartlett potatoes.

Event – Unilever Kitchen

I was one of 12 food bloggers to attend a rather special event at the Unilever headquarters in Leatherhead, Surrey on 13th October.

After an early morning start, 2 trains, the Underground and 3 hours later, myself, along with the other bloggers, were met by minibus at a very wet and rainy Leatherhead station for the short transfer to their impressive building.  The atrium at Unilever opens to reveal a light and airy space complete with hairdressers, Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream lounge and Unilever staff shop which you can’t fail to be impressed with.  We were met by the Clarion Communications team and taken into the kitchen where pastries, tea and coffee awaited our arrival as we dried out from the rain.

We were treated to a talk on the history of Tea by Jane Pettigrew. Who knew that servants were paid in tea as part of their wages as it was so expensive originally?!  I’ll write up a few of these interesting facts of tea in a separate post for you soon.

We were taught to taste tea, which teas should be served with or without milk, what temperature your water should be at for the various types of tea, and where the teas come from in the world.  We were also given the history of PG Tips from inception in the 1930’s through to today and what we see on our supermarket shelves to buy and enjoy.

Next came an exciting introduction to seasonings and flavourings in a masterclass by Marco Pierre White.  We were treated to two tastes of fillet steak; one with only salt used as the seasoning, the other with a Knorr Chicken Stock Pot rubbed on as the flavouring.  The taste is more rounded with the stock pot as it contains a blend of herbs as well as the meat seasoning.  We were then shown how to cook the perfect fillet steak with a wonderful, rich and creamy 3 Peppercorn Knorr Flavour Pot sauce (not for those dieting as it did contain a fair bit of double cream and a whole bottle of Worcester Sauce, but nevertheless, it did taste fantastic!)

Oh, and guess who got caught taking a sneaky photo of Chef? Yep, me!

His reaction?  ‘Madam, if you’re going to take a photo, let’s do it properly and do a selfie!’  What a gent!

We were then split into pairs to prepare lunch under the guidance and critique of Marco.  Teams cooked Risotto al Funghi, Curried Parsnip Soup, Bruschetta with Tomatoes and Herbs, whilst my team-mate Layla and I cooked a simple bolognese sauce.

Our afternoon was completed with a talk and demonstration by Sue Batty, the Stork expert.  We were then invited to choose our flavourings and make our own batch of cupcakes to take home with us.  the 7 of us on the train back to London had a bit of a cake swap!

My fellow bloggers were Kirsty (Hijacked by Twins), Lucy (Supergolden Bakes), Amy (She Cooks She Eats), Leyla (Motherhood Diaries), Dominic (Belleau Kitchen), Agata (Barktime), Fiona (London Unattached), @GlutieBaker, Jack (koukouvaya), Manjiri (Slice Of Me) and Heidi (Heidi Roberts Kitchen Talk).

Thank you to the Unilever Kitchen, Jane Pettigrew, Marco Pierre White, Sue Batty and to Clarion Communications and all my fellow bloggers for a fantastic event.  A very long day for me with 6 hours spent travelling but a lovely day too.  Thank goodness for the trains so I could sit and chill out on my journey home with Monkey to keep me company!

Meatballs with a Spicy Chilli Sauce

Similar to my other meatball recipe, I made this today but had a play with the sauce to spice it up using a Knorr Mixed Chilli Flavour pot.
2 medium Onions
3 cloves Garlic
Generous handful of fresh herbs (I used basil, sage, thyme, oregano & parsley)
2 eggs
100g Dried breadcrumbs
500g Minced Beef
Sauce
Small handful of fresh basil, sage & oregano
540g Passata sauce
1 medium Onion
4tbs tomato ketchup
1tbs Tomato purée
2tbs Cider vinegar
Knorr beef stock pot
Knorr mixed chilli flavour pot
Extra Virgin Olive oil

1. In a food processor, place the onions, garlic cloves, herbs and eggs.
2. Blitz until they form a thick, foamy paste.
3. In a large bowl, place your breadcrumbs and mince.
4. Pour your onion, garlic, herb and egg paste onto the mince and breadcrumbs and mix together thoroughly, using your hands.  Then wash your hands.
5. Without the need to wash the food processor bowl, add the sauce herbs, Passata and onion.  Blitz these together until they form a smooth sauce.
6. Pour your sauce ingredients into a large saucepan and add the ketchup, tomato purée and cider vinegar.
7. Mix the Knorr beef stock pot in 500ml boiling water until dissolved.
8. Add this to the sauce mixture with the Knorr mixed chilli flavour pot (I only used half of the chilli pot, but add more or less according to your own personal taste).
9. Bring the sauce ingredients to the boil then reduce the heat to a simmer.
10. Roll your meatball mixture into small balls, about 2cm in diameter.
11. Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan and brown the meatballs all over.  It’s best to do these in batches so that they brown and don’t steam.
12. Transfer your browned meatballs to the sauce and shake the pan to coat.
13. Repeat until all of your meatballs are in your sauce mixture.  Try to avoid stirring the sauce so that you don’t break your meatballs up.
14. Bring a large pan of water to the boil and add your chosen pasta shape. Return to the boil then simmer until cooked to your liking.
15. Drain the pasta and add to your serving bowl.  Spoon some meatballs and sauce over your pasta.
16. Serve with a generous sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.


Roast chicken curry with Clearspring Organic Rice Trio

Having spatchcocked the chicken, placed it on a trivet of sweet potatoes and onions and originally intending to make a roast dinner out of it, I changed my mind when the chicken was cooked and had come out of the oven, so I made a quick & easy chicken curry out of it instead.  Here’s how:



For the roast chicken:
1 large chicken
2 sweet potatoes, quartered
2 medium onions, quartered
200ml cold water
For the curry:
30ml/2tbs Mango chutney (or to taste)
To serve:
Fresh coriander, chopped

1. Heat the oven to 180C.
2. Turn the chicken onto it’s breast and, using a pair of robust scissors, cut down each side of the spine to remove it.
3. Turn the chicken over and open out the legs and the wings.
4. Press down on the ribcage until it cracks and the chicken flattens out.
5. Peel and quarter the sweet potatoes and onions.
6. Place into the centre of a large roasting dish and place the chicken on top, breast & skin side up.
7. Pour in 200ml cold water & cover tightly with foil.
8. Roast for 1 1/2-2 hours until well cooked.
9. Remove the chicken from the pan, cover and allow to rest.
10. Pour the meat juices, sweet potato and onions into a saucepan and add the Knorr Curry Flavour Pot.
11. Bring to the boil and then add the mango chutney, adjusting the quantity to taste.
12. Blitz the curry sauce with a stick blender until smooth.
13. Bring a large pan of water to the boil, then add the Clearspring rice trio.
14. Gently boil the rice for 10 minutes, or until cooked and then drain.
15. Meanwhile, flake the chicken into pieces.
16. Serve the rice, making a hollow in the centre.
17. Add the flaked chicken to the centre of the rice and spoon some curry sauce over the top.
18. Garnish with chopped coriander and serve with naan bread.


The Clearspring Rice Trio was sent to me free of charge to sample.  All other ingredients were purchased by me personally and were not sponsored. I was under no obligation to publish content using the box of rice sent to me. We found the rice trio combination to be tasty, as well as enjoying the different textures of the Basmati, long grain brown and the Wholegrain rice.