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.

Jersey Royals with Minted Lamb Leg Steaks

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My other recipe using Jersey Royal potatoes is more of a traditional one.  For this one, they’re gently boiled and then roasted to perfection, served with Chantenay carrots and deliciously lean New Zealand lamb leg steaks, slowly cooked in a rich Barolo red wine and mint sauce.

Jersey Royals with Asda

  • 1 lemon, zest & juice
  • 1 lamb leg steak per person
  • 10ml Rapeseed oil
  • 2 Red onions, chopped finely
  • 10ml Plain flour
  • 15ml Mint sauce concentrate
  • 250ml Barolo red wine
  • 100ml Vegetable stock
  • Bay leaf
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Rapeseed oil sufficient to roast the potatoes
  • Jersey Royal potatoes
  • Chantenay carrots
  • Broccoli
  1. Zest the lemon and squeeze the lemon juice over the lamb steaks. Toss to coat, cover and refrigerate for a couple of hours to start to tenderise the meat.
  2. Heat the oven to 180℃/160℃ fan.
  3. In a large ovenproof pan (with a lid), heat the oil and fry the onions gently until transparent.
  4. Turn up the heat and fry the lamb leg steaks until browned on both sides. Remove the lamb to a plate to keep warm.
  5. Evenly sprinkle the flour over the onions and oil and mix thoroughly to a paste (no floury lumps).
  6. Slowly add the red wine and vegetable stock, stirring constantly, to prevent lumps forming.
  7. Add the mint sauce concentrate and stir through, then add the bay leaf.
  8. Bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes until slightly reduced.  Season to taste.
  9. Return the lamb steaks to the pan, stir to coat and then cover with the lid. Place in the oven to cook.
  10. Add the Jersey Royals to a large pan of salted water, bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.
  11. Increase the oven temperature to 200℃, and place a roasting dish with oil in to heat up.
  12. Drain the potatoes and gently add these to the hot oil, toss to coat evenly and return to the oven for 30-40 minutes.
  13. Scrub the carrots, then slice them vertically from top to bottom.
  14. Steam the carrots over a pan of boiling water, adding the prepared broccoli florets for the last 10 minutes until both vegetables are cooked to taste.
  15. Serve the roasted Jersey Royals with the vegetables and a lamb leg steak each.

Jersey Royals with Asda

This recipe is cooked in collaboration with Asda and Jersey Royals to highlight the versatility and great flavour of Jersey Royal potatoes.

 

Slow Cooked Shin of Beef

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I’d originally wanted to cook Ox cheek, however neither of my two local butchers had any, and only one had some British shin of beef as an alternative, so that’s what I’ve used for today’s dinner.  I’ve cooked this in 2/3 bottle of Aldi UK Fleurie red wine, from the Beaujolais region of France, but you could use an ale if you prefer.

30ml Rapeseed oil

2 medium onions, chopped

3 medium carrots, chopped

3 sticks of celery, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, bruised

2tbs Plain flour

Salt & pepper

2kg Shin of beef, diced

500ml red wine (or ale)

300ml beef stock

Handful of thyme, roughly chopped

2 Bay leaves

Stick of cinnamon

 

1. Preheat your oven to 180℃ (160℃ fan).

Slow cooked beef shin in Aldi Fleurie red wine

Slow cooked beef shin in Aldi Fleurie red wine

2. In a large casserole dish, heat 15ml of oil.

3. Fry the onions, carrots, celery and garlic until transparent, but not coloured.

Slow cooked beef shin in Aldi Fleurie red wine

4. Remove the vegetables to a bowl whilst you prepare the beef.

5. In a plastic bag, put the flour and season with salt and pepper.

Slow cooked beef shin in Aldi Fleurie red wine

6. Place the beef into the bag and toss to coat evenly. Shake off the excess.

7. Heat 15ml of oil in the casserole dish and fry the beef in batches until brown on all sides.

8. Remove the beef with the vegetables.

Slow cooked beef shin in Aldi Fleurie red wine

9. Add 100ml of the wine to the casserole dish and scrape the bottom of the dish to release all the flavours.

10. Add the rest of the wine, the beef stock, thyme, bay leaves and cinnamon stick, along with the browned beef and vegetables.

Slow cooked beef shin in Aldi Fleurie red wine

11. Give it a good stir to mix, put the lid on and put the casserole dish into the oven to cook.

12. Cook for 3-4 hours until the beef is tender and falls apart.

13. Remove the bay leaves, cinnamon stick and the garlic cloves.

14. Serve on a bed of chive mashed potatoes with some steamed savoy cabbage.

Slow cooked beef shin in Aldi Fleurie red wine

Wonky Veg Blogger Challenge with Asda

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As a youngest of four children to parents who turned virtually all of their large garden over the growing of vegetables, I grew up knowing and appreciating the hours of hard work, dedication, blood, sweat and tears that goes into producing a harvest of fine fruit and vegetables for the table, not to mention knowing the provenance of my food.  Dad didn’t grown food because it would come out of the ground looking pretty, but because he wanted his family to eat wholesome food that mum would then turn into the most amazing meals for us to eat (IF we left it there long enough to get to the kitchen table that is.  Pods of peas were generally found empty and carrots were pulled and sneakily consumed straight from the garden but us all; including mum and dad!) We didn’t have much of a lawn in our large garden, because dad said “you can’t eat grass!” Our playground was the playing fields, tennis courts and running tracks of the school 2 minutes away at the back of the houses opposite my parents’.

This time last year, after a campaign my Jamie Oliver and Jimmy Doherty on their Friday Night Feast programme, Asda was one of the supermarkets to launch wonky fruit and veg for sale at discounted prices in their stores in a bid to help reduce this abhorrent food waste.  The public embraced this common sense approach and continues to do so today and Asda are now the first major UK supermarket to sell the Wonky Veg Box.  You may even have seen that Jamie and Jimmy featured this on Friday night (5th February) on their Channel 4 Programme highlighting the success of this trial.   Therefore, when I was approached to take part in the Wonky Veg Blogger Challenge in association with the launch of the Wonky Veg Box by Asda, that is being trialled in 128 of their stores I just couldn’t refuse!

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Having been sent a box of vegetables, which Asda say “could feed a family of 4 for a week”, which they’re selling for the bargain price of £3.50, along with a selection of food prep goodies, including a spiralizer, and a gift voucher with which to buy any additional ingredients to compliment my vegetables, I couldn’t wait to get stuck in with my challenge.

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Saturday being a non work day should have equalled a lay in, but oh no, not in my house when I have good food to prepare! At 8:30am I was already in my kitchen, my hair was tied up and my apron was on preparing to cook up a storm!

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Using less than half of the potatoes and a couple of the leeks, along with two onions, I set to making a simple but tasty potato and leek soup for lunch.  Simply chop the onions finely and sauté off in a little bit of butter, to soften, without colouring.

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Sliced the leeks and cube your potatoes and add them to the pan.  Cook out gently for another 6-8 minutes, until the potatoes start to soften too.

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Pour in about 500ml milk and bring to a simmer. Don’t boil it as you can split the milk.  Continue to cook until the potatoes are cooked through.

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Using a stick blender or a food processor, blend the soup until you get the desired consistency; be that with chunks or smooth.  Season with salt and white pepper to taste, and adjust the thickness if necessary with some boiling water.  Serve, with a little bit of sprinkled paprika over the top and some crusty bread. (You can even cube and fry some stale bread into croutons.  Don’t throw that stale bread away; it’s great for making croutons or for blitzing into breadcrumbs, you know).

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Dinner was next on my thought trail, so for this I decided I’d go for a hearty casserole.  The weather this weekend was wet, cold and blustery, so what would be better later than battening down the hatches, and tucking into some delicious and comforting food?  To go with the Wonky Veg from my box, I bought 3 sirloin steaks and a bottle of Merlot red wine, some chopped tomatoes, double cream, Thyme and gruyere cheese.

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Cut the steak into bite sized cubes.  Add to a hot frying pan to which you’ve added a splash of oil and sear all over to colour the outside for that added ‘oompf’ of flavour.

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Remove the browned steak to a casserole dish and set aside.

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Meanwhile cut your carrots, leeks, parsnip, red and green peppers and a couple more onions into even sized pieces and add to the pan that you’ve just removed your steak from (don’t let those amazing pan flavours go to waste!).  Add half a bottle of red wine and cook out for 5 minutes to remove the alcohol, scraping the bottom of your pan with a wooden spoon to release those unctuous meat juices from the bottom.

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Pour in a tin/carton of chopped tomatoes and a generous pinch of thyme which you need to have chopped.  Bring to a simmer.

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Pour the tomatoes and vegetables over the steak pieces in your casserole dish and stir together.

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Put the lid on and cook slowly about 150℃ for 3-3½ hours.  (You could even put this into a slow cooker and let it (as my mum would say) ‘chuggle’ away all day while you get on with whatever you have to get on with.

For my veg accompaniment, I chose to make a take on a potato dauphinoise using the addition of one of the two Savoy cabbages from my box to the equation.

In a large saucepan, add about 300ml double cream, 100ml milk, some grated nutmeg and a clove of garlic (that you’ve bashed open, rather than crushed).  Bring this to a gentle simmer whilst you prepare the potatoes and cabbage.

Peel and slice the potatoes thinly (I use a hand held Oxo Good Grips Mandoline on setting 2 for this) remove the central stalk and and finely shred the cabbage.  Butter the inside of a dish that you’ll be using and add a layer of potatoes, overlapping each slice to create ‘swirls’.  Top this with the shredded cabbage and another layer of the potato slices.  Press down to compress to form a potato/cabbage ‘cake’.

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Add salt and pepper to taste to your cream and milk mixture, then remove (discard) the ‘bashed’ garlic clove and pour this mixture over your potato and cabbage.  Sprinkle generously with some grated Gruyere cheese.  Butter the inside of some tin foil (to stop it sticking to the cheese) and place this over the top of your dauphinoise.

 

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Leaving the casserole in the oven, turn it up to 180℃, place the dauphinoise in the oven and cook for 35-40 minutes.  Remove the foil and allow to brown for another 10-15 minutes until the top is golden and the potatoes are cooked when poked with a knife blade.

Serve and enjoy!

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My box certainly won’t be feeding this family of 3 for a week (we’re one member of the family down as he is away at University), but we did get lunch and dinner out of the box, with leftovers of each dish to enjoy tomorrow night.

This is all I have left in my box:  One large and wonky cucumber, five onions, one red pepper and a savoy cabbage.  Not bad for £3.50 eh?  I’ll certainly be buying one in the future!

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I was invited to join the campaign and was sent the Wonky Veg box, along with the vegetable preparation tools and an Asda gift voucher to buy additional ingredients.