Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Meat and (Two?) Veg

This is pie for lazy people, or people (like moi) with only half an hour to get dinner ready and a serious craving for pie. All you need to do is make a filling and stick in a case made separately, by scoring and baking some ready-made puff pastry. The kids enjoyed it and as for Hubby, well, it's PIE - what's not to like?

Cheaty Meaty Pie

500g block puff pastry
1 red onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
3 large mushrooms, chopped
500g beef mince
300ml beef stock

Roll the pastry out into a rough square about half a centimetre thick. Cut into quarters, then score a square in the centre of each. Put on a baking tray and bake for 25 minutes or so at 200°c.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Fry the onion, pepper and mushrooms together until softened, then add the mince. Brown it well, then pour in the stock. Bring to the boil, then simmer until the pastry cases are ready.

Place each pastry case on the serving plates and use a knife to remove the centre squares. Fill each case with some of the meat mixture, then top with the pastry squares for 'lids'.

Serve with a green vegetable (or two, if you like).

Monday, 29 September 2008

Change of Plans

I was going to make stuffed pancakes today - until late this morning, when I remembered that (a) I had a pack of tortillas in the freezer that needed using up and (b) that making pancakes is a pain. So it became a tortilla bake. Spinach is one of my favourite vegetables, especially when paired with nutmeg. In a mildly cheesy sauce like this it even meets with approval from avowed spinach-haters.

Cheese & Spinach Tortilla Bake

6 flour tortillas
300g soft cheese
300g spinach
nutmeg
150ml soured cream
100g cheddar cheese, grated

Wilt the spinach by putting it in a colander and pouring a kettle-ful of boiling water over it. Cool, then squeeze out as much water as you can, Chop the spinach and mix with the soft cheese and about half the grated cheese, seasoning with fresh nutmeg and black pepper to taste. Divide the mixture between the six tortillas, roll them up and place in an ovenproof dish. Spread over the soured cream and scatter with the remaining cheese. Bake at 200­°c for 20 minutes, until the cheese is melted and everything is heated through thoroughly.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Pre-prandials: Classy Classics

A true classic cocktail this Sunday, and one not to be messed about with. Thankfully I have yet to come across a messed- about Raspberry Mule or Moscow Cosmo, but I'm sure it's only a matter of time before some loopy dude comes up with those. I don't (yet) have any copper mugs in which to serve my Mules - but that's about the only departure I can put up with. Does anyone else remember the truly hideous Smirnoff Mule alcopop from the late nineties? The one that could simultaneously induce diabetic coma with its sweetness and strip tooth enamel with its roughness? Thankfully that one seems to have evaporated into alco-hell, along with student staple Hooch. This is soooo much better...

Moscow Mule

For the ginger beer, I like Fentimans' Traditional or Idris' Fiery Ginger Beer. You want to feel the heat of the ginger, that's half the fun! Everything must be well-chilled, even so.

50ml vodka
juice of 1/2 lime
ginger beer

Pour the vodka into a suitable receptacle and squeeze in the lime juice. Top up with ginger beer and add a wedge of lime for garnish, if you must. I must. Chin Chin!

Saturday, 27 September 2008

It's Been a While...

Sorry, but sometimes life just gets in the way of blogging, the cheek of it! Most of September has been taken up with the whole rigmarole of getting back to school and organising Christopher's birthday, not to mention a 'Pirates' party for several overexcited children

You can see the all-important cake here, along with a pic of some chocolate ├ęclairs I stuck in for the hell of it. Choux pastry is fast becoming my new best friend, albeit a friend who is a bad influence; being able to produce cream cakes at home is the true definition of 'Naughty but Nice' (remember the 80s?).

Any pastry cookbook has a recipe for choux pastry and believe me, it's easy-peasy. Having spent (literally) years being too scared to try doing it, a couple of weeks ago I had a bash at some profiteroles (lush) and now there's no stopping me. I've got a piping bag and I'm not afraid to use it!

Feels like I've never been away... xx

Monday, 1 September 2008

Another Popular Veggie Supper

I'm a manic clipper of magazines and newspapers. Anything that I think might come in handy in future gets torn out and goes in my cuttings drawer. This could be recipes, website URLs, ideas for kids' parties, or just pictures that i really like (though these normally end up on my collage wall upstairs). This pie was originally adapted from an ancient cutting from the Safeway magazine (telling you just how old it was). The veg I use most often are potatoes, carrots, leeks and swede, but vary them as you like. Chunks of squash are good in it, as are parsnips in place of the swede or potato.

Cheesy Vegetable Filo Pie

approx. 2lb vegetables (and see above), peeled and cut into smallish chunks
284ml double cream
50ml dry sherry
vegetable stock cube, dissolved in 50ml hot water
350ml cheese sauce (homemade, or use a shop-bought tub of 'fresh' sauce)
200g frozen peas
270g pack filo pastry, defrosted if frozen
melted butter
75g grated cheese

Heat a little oil in a large, deep pan and fry the vegetable chunks for 10 minutes until lightly browning. Pour in the cream, sherry and stock-cube water then add plenty of black pepper. Mix well, cover the pan and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the veg are tender. Stir in your cheese sauce and the frozen peas. Transfer all this to an ovenproof dish. Brush the sheets of filo with melted butter and lay them on top, scattering on grated cheese as you go. Bake at 200­°c for 15 minutes until the pastry in browned and crisp.

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