Sunday, 28 April 2013

Cottage Pie Ala Chris

I love to cook cottage pie, I've always liked the reaction to people eating it and going back for more. Traditionally an old left over recipe if done right can be a great winter or cold spring dish, since the weathers been so off and on.

Just to let everyone know the design for these cook ups is going to change, I'll do a quick intro to the food with pictures and how I cooked it, then I will list either the recipe or a revised recipe underneath with a guide for allergies etc underneath.

I wanted some way to use the butter and potatoes that me and Kris had bought from the local farmers market the last weekend and viola add some mince and herbs and you have a Cottage Pie.

I was quite busy the day that I cooked this and ultimately had to wait until our shared kitchen was free to get started so I was cooking late. I'd asked Kris to pick me up some mince beef, a good choice for mince is to go for the lean if its not grass fed, I'm poor so I went for lean, you don't need to go for extra lean otherwise you'll lose too much of the vitamins that are in the fat plus there is some omega 3 in there along with the omega 6 just not as much as grass fed.

She bought me 750 gram pack, I should have known it was too much but I chucked it all in as I was cooking in a rush (never a good idea) so I fried the lot with some onion and it barely fit in my large pan.

The potatoes took a lot of peeling either my batch was a bit wrong or organic potatoes from the farm had a bit of rot to dig out of each one.

I finally mashed up the potato with the butter using a broken potato masher, yay.

However I had to use the oven downstairs as someone had stolen the racks out of ours! I blame this on the potato not quite crisping the way I liked it even though I baked the whole thing for 30 minutes and finished with the grill for 15.
You can add some peas to the mix if you like but I like my pie on the sweater side and omit them.

Main ingredients:
  • 1 kg of floury potatoes for mashing. Or any kind of potato if your not fussy.
  • 500 grams (not 750 ) of lean beef steak mince or whole grass fed steak mince.
  • 300 grams carrots
  • 1 Large onion.
  • 2 Stock cubes dissolved in a small amount of boiling water.
  • 1 Tin of chopped tomatoes.

For mince:

  • 1/2 tea spoon of sea salt.
  • 1/2 black pepper.
  • 2 Tea spoon of Thyme.
  • 1 Tea spoon of Basil.

For mash:

  • 1/2 tea spoon of sea salt.
  • 1/2 black pepper.
  • 22 grams of butter if organic like mine or 32 if non organic (unsalted)
  • 2 Tea spoons of Parsley.
  • 1 Tea spoon of Sage.

To cook:

1. Clean and skin the potatoes, they need roughly chopping and then placing into either a steamer for 30 mins or 20/30 mins of boiling time, bring to boil and then simmer for the 20 mins or more.

2. Do the same for the carrots and cut into small medallions and half medallions for the larger pieces, again steam or boil for around 15 mins and put aside.

3. Pre heat the oven to 180C or gas mark 4.

4. Fry up the mince with the onion in a large pan adding the salt and pepper to taste, once fried add the Thyme and Basil and put to one side.

5. Get a small jug or bowl and dissolve 2 stock cubes or packs into a very small amount of boiling water, stir until dissolved, I like Kallo cubes as they tend to be lower in sugar and carbohydrates than even the new stock pots that are out.

6. Next get your baking dish, Medium to large sized and add the tomatoes,carrots, mince and stock to the dish, make sure to stir and mix everything thoroughly.

7. Mash the potatoes once cooked and add in the butter, salt, pepper, Parsley and Sage.

8. Spoon on the potato and use a fork to even it out, don't push hard or it will be lost in the mince! Alternatively if you have a piping bag you can take your time and make a real work of art.

9. Pop the dish into the oven and leave to bake for 30 mins, switch to the grill and finish for another 20 mins or until the potato turns golden brown.

10. Enjoy.

Allergy advice:
Gluten free, Nut free.

Diet types:
Paleo friendly if you like potato.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Queens Park farmers market on a warm day.

Farmers market in the sun, Salusbury Road Primary School

Ok so I've been meaning to go to the local farmers market much more regularly but 
when its grey and rainy and I'm broke its hard to find the motivation, but no more. 

The worm has turned and the weather can only get better and I'm making it a mid year resolution to visit the farmers market once a week if 

Our particular farmers market in Queens Park is "Fantastic", it was voted the best farmers market just last year. I can see why, it has such a good selection of different vendors representing so many local farms that its hard not to find something interesting each 
time that you go.

I'm looking forward to using more of the exotic and organic ingredients that I found. On 
this particular trip I settled for picking up a few basics to ease myself back in, I found a 
great dairy vendor who sells 1ltr milk for £1 which is non homogenized, which is quite 
hard to find in the shops, the guy who sells non pasturised milk wasn't there. You can 
only buy non pasturised milk at a market as its against the law to sell it in stores. We 
also picked up some butter from the same vendor, some potatoes, apples and
conference pairs from the main grocer.

Milk, cheese, potatoes, apples and conference pairs.
I was a bit overwhelmed by the shear amount of vendors at this venue and I'll be taking more notes and making some price comparisons on my blogs, plus some recipes that call for very fresh natural ingredients. I'll also be getting to know the vendors much better as everyone I spoke to was friendly and helpful.

I would highly recommend getting down to your local farmers market on a beautiful day and just enjoy the atmosphere. Buy some things as well and help your local farmers 
keep doing what they are doing.

I hope you all enjoyed your weekends as much as I did.

Gardening 101

A couple of quick posts this weekend as I've had two little projects that are food related or will be later on.

Firstly we have a small patch of grass and weeds outside our bedroom in London, its not pretty, me and my Partner Kristine have both been wanting to get round to 
turning all the earth and weeding it so that we can start planting flowers, herbs and 

As everyone noticed this weekend the weather was fantastic and it was just after a batch of rain so the ground was both dry enough to work but moist enough to dig through easily.

After two hours of elbow grease, mainly Kristine's! We had turned all of the earth and were being watched greedily by a pair of robins who were after all of the worms we had unearthed do to our gardening. Greedy beggars!

We now have a barren patch of earth ready for planting into although we are mainly going to pot before planting into the earth either way we are very happy to have gotten past the hard part and will be proudly posting our healthy growing herbs and
veg this summer.

Watch this space

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Baked mackerel, on a bed of curly kale with salad salsa and small potatoes.

I’d like to open up my food blog with an experiment from home based on things that I like and know so far.

I saw some very reasonably priced mackerel at my local Sainsbury’s and decided that I would try baking the entire fish and present it in a visual impressive way.
I picked up a few other vegetables to go with the fish and took it all home to start cooking.
The mackerel itself I simply cleaned and then placed into tin foil, I added a light marinade which consisted of a table spoon of olive oil, a teaspoon of ground ginger, juice of one lime and a pinch of chilli flakes. I then wrapped all of this up and put into the oven on medium heat 180C
Whilst the mackerel was cooking I prepared some curly kale, small potatoes for steaming and created a fresh salad salsa with two tomatoes, half a white onion, one teaspoon of white wine vinegar, one teaspoon of olive oil and some ground coriander which I then salted and peppered to taste.
After baking the mackerel on medium for around 20 minutes I then opened up the tin foil pockets at the top and reduce the heat to 120C to finish.
To serve I laid out a bed of Kale and placed the whole fish with juices on top, I added the side of potatoes with some fresh butter and ground sea salt and then drizzled the salad salsa on top of the fish.
My rating out of 10 is 7. My partner Kristine rated it a 9 as she really enjoyed the salsa but she thought the potatoes were a bit too filling and a bit basic. I thought the fish was too moist at the bottom and thought the salsa could have been a little sweeter.
The next time I attempt this dish I will bake the mackerel in the oven on a rack and baste with the lime marinade sans the ginger. Drizzled liberally each side for 15 minutes at 160C, turning once.
I will also quickly fry up the salsa in a small pan to sweeten the onion and finally I would slice the potatoes into small medallions with some butter and tarragon.
I will definitely be revisiting this dish, curly kale is a great way to present mackerel and we both enjoyed the meal immensely.
This dish is Gluten free, Pescetarian, Dairy free and Paleo friendly if you omit the potato/butter maybe try some parsnip chips instead.