Friday, 31 May 2013

One-Pan Prawns with Potatoes and Courgettes

We had a lovely Bank Holiday weekend with lots of good company and good food. By Monday, I was left with a fridge full of odds and sods and a strong desire to create some space without wasting anything. We didn't have enough pasta left for everyone to have the family spaghetti "bolognaise", so I cobbled this dish together as an alternative for husband and I. I used Jamie Oliver's simple tomato sauce - it's great to have a few servings of this in the freezer for quick dinners.

The dish was slightly sharp, probably due to too much lemon juice. Next time I might try red wine or balsamic vinegar as a replacement.


  • Approx. 400g of Jamie Oliver's simple tomato sauce
  • A handful of prawns, peeled and de-veined
  • 1 heaped dessert spoon of pancetta cubes, or sliced streaky bacon
  • 200g new potatoes, washed and sliced at 3mm thickness
  • 1 courgette, half-peeled (for the stripy effect) and sliced diagonally at 3mm thickness
  • A tiny squeeze of lemon juice
  • Handful of fresh, torn basil leaves
  • (Optional) Grated hard cheese (I used cheddar) to serve
  • Olive oil for frying
  • Ground black pepper to taste
Serves 2


  • Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pan. Add the pancetta cubes and shake around until browned
  • Add the sliced new potatoes and stir occasionally for 2-3 minutes - let sit in the pan to brown
  • Add the courgettes and stir-occasionally for 2-3 minutes, browning nicely
  • Add the tomato sauce and a tiny squeeze of lemon juice, and the black pepper. Turn the heat to low, cover and simmer for 5 minutes
  • Add the prawns, replace the cover and simmer for another few minutes, until the prawns are just cooked
  • Add the basil leaves, stir and remove from the heat. Serve in warmed serving bowls, with a little grated cheese on top

One-Pan Prawns with Potatoes and Courgettes

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Jamie Oliver's Simple Tomato Sauce

This recipe is taken from Jamie's Dinners, and makes a lovely base tomato sauce. It's very easy, and useful to rustle up in batches - I panic a bit if I haven't got at least one portion in the freezer. You can use it for pasta sauces and bakes, and a concentrated version would probably make a tasty pizza topping - in his book, Jamie shares plenty of tasty-sounding suggestions. It's surprising how just a few simple ingredients can transform a bog standard tin of tomatoes.


  • 2 - 3 cloves of garlic, crushed or finely chopped
  • 1 whole red chilli, pierced with a skewer or sharp knife, so that it doesn't explode when cooking
  • 2 x 400g tins of peeled plum tomatoes
  • A pinch of dried oregano (or Italian mixed herbs)
  • Olive oil for frying
  • Tiny amount (1/2 tsp) red wine vinegar
  • Salt and ground black pepper to season


  • Heat the olive oil gently in a pan and allow the chopped garlic, oregano and chilli to cook slowly and infuse the oil for a minute or so - don't let the garlic burn
  • Add the tins of plum tomatoes, and leave whole. Lightly season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and allow to simmer gently for 30 minutes
  • Remove the chilli, and mush the tomatoes up with a wooden spoon. Check and correct the seasoning, then add a tiny amount of red wine vinegar, to give the sauce a little sharpness. For a sweeter taste, substitute the red wine vinegar with balsamic vinegar

Family Spaghetti "Bolognaise"

This is bolognaise in a loose sense of the word - purists would probably raise an eyebrow.

In my ideal world, there would be a glass of red wine and perhaps a chopped chicken liver or five in this recipe. I tend to chop the vegetables into very small pieces, and put the mushrooms into a food processor, which works well with the children. You can really bulk out the mix with lots of vegetables, and also add red lentils if you like. This one is a firm favourite with the middle child, who loves helping me to cook it, cleans his bowl and always asks for seconds.



  • 2 onions, chopped finely
  • 2 large carrots, chopped finely
  • 1 stick of celery, chopped finely
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
  • 2 heaped dessert spoons of pancetta cubes or sliced streaky bacon
  • 500g beef mince
  • 1 X 400g tin of peeled plum tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon worcester sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tomato puree
  • A handful of mushrooms, chopped finely (or whizzed in a food processor for the fungus-phobic)
  • 1 dessert spoon dried, mixed herbs (oregano, thyme, rosemary etc.)
  • A splash of milk
  • 1 beef stock cube, made up with 300ml boiling water
  • (Optional) 1/2 a glass of red wine
  • Sunflower oil for frying
  • Splash of extra virgin olive oil to serve
  • Ground black pepper to taste
Serves 8



  • Heat a splash of sunflower oil in a large, heavy-bottommed pan and add the pancetta when very hot. Stir around the pan, allowing it to brown
  • Add the onions and stir until they soften and turn glossy
  • Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, before adding the beef. Turn the heat to high and brown the mince all over
  • Add the worcester sauce, carrots, celery, mushrooms and mixed herbs and mix well
  • Add the tinned tomatoes, beef stock (and wine) and tomato puree. Bring to the boil, mixing well
  • Add a splash of milk, which will make your sauce take on a more silky texture
  • Add plenty of ground black pepper, lower the heat, partially cover and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour. If necessary, break up the plum tomatoes at the end of the cooking time
  • Add a splash of extra virgin olive oil to serve
The sauce improves in flavour if left overnight, and can be frozen in batches. My pasta of choice would be linguine or maybe tagliatelle, but any long pasta will do. The children like grated cheddar on top of the bolognaise sauce, so I usually serve a bowl at the table, and they help themselves.

Family Spaghetti "Bolognaise"

Monday, 27 May 2013

Slow-Cooked Beef Flank with Mooli (牛腩炆蘿蔔)

This is my Dad's recipe, which is loved by all who taste it. You have to be bold with the flavours, and I think it will take me a couple of attempts to get it right. Mooli (or daikon) is a long white radish, which can be found in Asian grocery stores and larger supermarkets (or you could grow your own!).

Some of the ingredients will be hard to find outside of a Chinese supermarket - the rock sugar can be substituted with brown sugar, but I don't think you can replace the fermented red bean curd:

Red Fermented Beancurd (南乳)

Dad bought me a muslin pouch to hold the spices, which improves the texture of the final dish - once the spices have done their job, you can just remove the pouch from the stew. The end result is sticky and gelatinous, and goes well with rice or noodles.

I've made this dish in a slow-cooker, but it can also be made in a pan in an hour and a half - just make sure it doesn't cook too vigorously, or the beef will be tough.


  • 450g beef tendon, cut into 2cm cubes
  • 1kg beef flank, cut into large pieces - 4 to 5cm
  • 1 mooli, roll-cut into wedges
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 tsp Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1-2 star anise
  • 3 cubes of red fermented beancurd (南乳) and a few spoonfuls of the sauce from the jar
  • 5-6 slices peeled fresh ginger, bashed with the flat of a cleaver
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and bashed with the flat of a cleaver
  • Small amount of rock sugar, approx. 1-2cm cube
  • Cornflour for thickening
  • Sunflower oil for frying
  • (Optional) oyster sauce
  • Few drops of sesame oil
  • Chopped spring onion or coriander leaves to garnish
Serves 8-10


  • Heat the cumin seeds, fennel seeds, Sichuan peppercorns and star anise in a dry pan, moving around until aromatic. Allow to cool, place in the spice pouch and tie securely
  • Place the tendon and the beef flank into a large pan, cover with water and bring to a slow simmer, to allow the scum to rise to the surface. After around 5 minutes, drain the beef and rinse away any scum
  • Heat a couple of spoonfuls of oil in a wok or large pan, and add the ginger and garlic. Stir-fry until aromatic
  • Add the beef flank and tendon, and stir-fry until the mixture is coated in the oil and slightly browned. Add the fermented beancurd and 2-3 dessert spoons of cornflour and mix well
  • Transfer the mixture into a crockpot, add water to just below the surface and add the spice pouch and rock sugar. Set the crockpot to cook on low for 10 hours
  • After 3 hours, add the mooli to the crockpot and mix well
  • At the end of the cooking time, taste the sauce and add a few lugs of oyster sauce if it is not salty enough. If the sauce is not thick enough, add more cornflour/water mixture and bring back to the boil, stirring until thickened
  • Remove from the heat, add a few shakes of sesame oil and garnish with chopped spring onions or coriander leaves
Beef Flank Slow-Cooked with Mooli

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Prawn Fried Rice (蝦炒飯)

Once you know the basics, fried rice is easy peasy. The most important thing is that the rice needs to be cooked and left to cool - so cooked one evening and refrigerated until the next day, or cooked in the morning for use in the evening. Try and get as much moisture out of the rice as possible, so don't cover it whilst it's cooling, and stick it by a window if you can. Also - break it up before you add it to the wok, so that it stir-fries more easily.

My Mum and Dad bought me a stone pan, which needs very little oil and is non-stick too. I've taken to using it as a replacement for my wok, but this recipe is originally intended for wok cooking. I have trouble with the rice sticking in the bottom of my wok - you need to make sure the oil is really hot before you add it.

The essential ingredients, apart from the rice, are spring onions, peas (petits pois are nicer) and egg. Anything else is optional really. Cooked chicken, ham, bacon, prawns or 叉燒 (char siu) pork are tasty additions, as well as cooked salmon. I used some fine beans in this recipe, which went down like a lead balloon with the older two. Fortunately the toddler was hungry, so leaned across the table at dinner time to grab his siblings' leftovers.


  • 4 bowls of cooked rice, cooled and refrigerated for at least 1/2 a day
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 150g prawns, peeled and deveined
  • A handful of fine beans, topped, tailed and chopped into 1cm lengths
  • 1 handful of frozen petits pois
  • 3 spring onions, chopped finely
  • Seasoned soy sauce for seafood (or light soy)
  • Ground white pepper
  • Sunflower oil for frying
  • Few drops of sesame oil
  • (Optional) 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds
  • (Optional) 1/2 teaspoon of Knorr chicken powder or salt to taste
Serves 4


  • Heat some sunflower oil in a wok and add the beaten egg. Swirl around the wok and scramble into small pieces. Put to one side and wipe the wok clean
  • Put a small amount of sunflower oil into the wok and add the prawns. Stir-fry quickly until sealed, but don't cook through. Put to one side and wipe the wok clean
  • Boil some water in a pan and put the fine beans in. Boil for about 30 seconds, drain and cool under the tap. Shake off as much water as you can and put to one side
  • Heat a few tablespoons of sunflower oil in the wok until very hot. Add the rice and let it sit in the wok for a few moments, before beginning to stir fry
  • When the rice is nice and hot, add the prawns, fine beans, petits pois and spring onion (and optional sesame seeds) and continue to stir-fry for 2-3 minutes
  • Add 2-3 splashes of soy sauce, a shake of ground white pepper (and optional chicken powder) to the pan and stir-fry until well mixed
  • Add the egg and heat through. Add a few drops of sesame oil, remove from the heat, stir and serve in warmed bowls

Prawn Fried Rice

Easy Japanese Curry

I was disproportionately excited to see a box of S&B Curry in my local Sainsbury's - in the past I'd have to ask friends and family who went to Liverpool or Manchester more frequently. I found the blog "Just Hungry", which looks great - and has a recipe for Japanese Curry Powder, for anyone who would like to make their own. For this recipe, I used a ready-made curry mix. You can add pretty much anything that you like by way of meat or vegetables, but good staples are carrots, onions and waxy potatoes. Other additions might include cauliflower, broccoli, pulses, spinach, pepper, beans.... the list is endless. In this house, it usually tends to be a combination of whatever vegetables are in the fridge at the time, but I do like the addition of chick peas for added texture.

S&B Medium Hot Curry Mix

The toddler held his bowl out for seconds - high praise indeed!


  • 100g Japanese curry mix
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, chopped into bitesize pieces
  • 100g waxy potatoes (I peeled mine, but it's optional)
  • A handful of fine beans, topped and tailed and cut in half
  • 1/2 a cup of dried chickpeas and 1/2 a cup of yellow split peas, soaked overnight, then refreshed in water and boiled vigorously for 20 minutes - alternatively use tinned pulses
  • 2 skinless chicken breasts, sliced into bitesize pieces
  • Sunflower oil for frying
  • Approx. 450-500ml water
Serves 6


  • Heat the sunflower oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pan and stir-fry the onions for a few minutes, until softened
  • Add the chicken and stir-fry until sealed
  • Add the carrots, potatoes, chick peas and split peas, and the water. Bring to the boil, cover and boil gently for approx. 20 minutes
  • Add the green beans about 8 minutes before the end of the above phase
  • Break up the curry mix into blocks and add to the mixture. Stir until all of the curry mix is dissolved and you have a glossy, thick stew
  • Serve with rice
Japanese Chicken and Vegetable Curry
Japanese Chicken and Vegetable Curry

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Pork and Tomato (番茄豬肉)

We used to have this as beef and tomato when I was a child, but then there was the mad cow disease scandal, and my parents took beef off the menu at home immediately. So we substituted everything beefy with pork, and this one never changed back. Mind you, the only really beefy dish my Dad does nowadays is beef flank slow-cooked with mooli (I'm salivating just thinking about that one).

Ordinarily I'd just use sliced pork loin, but because the not really a baby anymore is still only small, I bought some pork leg and put it through the food processor.


  • 200g pork mince, or thinly sliced pork loin
  • Thumb-sized piece of raw ginger, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon of cornflour
  • 4 large, ripe tomatoes
  • 2-3 tablespoons of tomato ketchup
  • 1 dessert spoon of worcester sauce
  • A splash of light soy sauce
  • Half a large onion, sliced thinly
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2-3 handfuls of frozen petits pois
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and bashed with the flat of a cleaver
  • Ground white pepper to taste
  • Sunflower oil for frying
  • A splash of sesame oil
Serves 2-3


  • Grate the ginger finely and squeeze the juice over your pork. Add the cornflour, a drop of sunflower oil and some ground white pepper and mix to combine. Leave for at least 20 minutes. (If you don't have time for this, just add the cornflour, oil and pepper to the pork and mix, and throw a couple of slices of ginger into the wok with the garlic later).
  • Skin the tomatoes. Cut a large cross into the bottom of each, place in a large bowl and pour boiling water over. Leave for 15 minutes, or until cool enough to handle. The skin should peel off easily. Chop roughly and put to one side
  • Heat some sunflower oil in a wok or flat-bottomed pan, and add the beaten egg. Spread it around the surface, so you have a thin pancake of egg. Flip over and cook through. Remove from the heat, chop into pieces and put to one side
  • Give the wok a wipe and return to the heat. Add a small amount of sunflower oil and when hot, add the garlic clove (and the sliced ginger if using). Swirl around the oil to flavour it, and remove before it starts to burn
  • Add the chopped onions to the wok, and stir-fry for 5 minutes until softened
  • Add the pork and stir-fry until it is browned
  • Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, worcester sauce and light soy sauce, and stir to combine. Add a little water to loosen the mixture, if required, and white pepper to taste
  • Cover the pan and leave to cook for 15 minutes
  • Add the petits pois and cook through for a few minutes
  • Add the egg at the end, heat through and add a couple of drops of sesame oil
  • Serve with rice

Pork and Tomato with Rice

Friday, 17 May 2013

Steamed Pork with Salted Eggs (咸蛋蒸猪肉)

This dish takes me right back to my childhood, and is a comforting meal accompaniment to soft, fluffy rice. Most nights, we would have our rice in bowls, then separate dishes of meat, fish and veg to pile on top of the rice. However, this is one of the few meals where you should empty your rice from bowl to a large dish, help yourself to a generous portion of the pork and egg, then mix it all thoroughly, and enjoy with some stir-fried or boiled green veg.

The methods seem a bit fiddly, but they are worth the effort - the secrets to this dish are pack a small amount of meat as loosely as you can in the bottom of the dish, to use as fresh eggs as possible, and to use cooled boiled water to mix with your eggs. The aim is to get as smooth and glossy a finish as possible on your egg. I added some ground white pepper to my egg mixture, but I think this detracts from the appearance.

Salted duck eggs are available in every Chinese supermarket. I've just used the last egg which was given to me by my parents, who salt their own. One day I will get around to salting a large jar of these myself!


  • Approx 250g pork mince
  • Thumb-sized piece of raw ginger, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon cornflour
  • Generous sprinkle of ground white pepper
  • A generous lug of sesame oil
  • (1 or) 2 salted duck eggs, both yolks but the white of only one
  • 2 hen's eggs, as fresh as you can
  • Cooled, boiled water 
  • Splash of light soy sauce
  • Drop of sunflower oil
Serves 3-4


  • Grate the ginger finely and squeeze the juice over your pork mince. Add the cornflour, 2-3 good lugs of sesame oil and a sprinkle of white pepper. Mix the whole lot thoroughly, cover and leave to marinade in the fridge for 20 minutes or as long as you can (I left mine overnight)
  • Place the pork into the bottom of a steaming dish, and fluff it and spread round the base loosely. If you compact it, it will shrink and get hard during cooking
  • Take the two salted duck egg yolks and slice each in half. Lay the half-yolks on top of the pork mince. Place the dish into a wok or steamer over water, and steam for 10 minutes.

Pork and duck yolks after 10 mins steaming

  • Meanwhile, make your egg mixture. Place the white of one of the duck eggs into a bowl. Add the two hen's eggs and 2 parts cooled boiled water per 1 part hen's egg - so I added 2 hen's eggs, then used the half-egg shell to put in 8 measures of water. Add a drop of sunflower oil
  • Combine the egg mixture gently, trying not to create too many air bubbles. Pour over the top of the pork mixture, cover and steam for approx. 10 minutes. If your water/egg ratio is wrong, or if you steam for too long, the egg will go rubbery and matt in appearance and texture
  • You can tell the egg is ready by poking it with a chopstick or spoon - when it is no longer liquid, remove it from the steaming rack.
  • Pour over a splash of soy sauce and serve

The white pepper spoiled the appearance somewhat

Steamed pork with salted eggs

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Pappardelle with Pesto

Fresh pesto is one of my favourite, quick comfort meals. The fresh stuff tastes nothing like the stuff on the supermarket shelf, but if you can't be bothered making it, you can now find it fresh in the fridge sections of most supermarkets. Fresh pesto will last for a couple of days in a sealed jar in the fridge, but make sure that it is covered with a layer of oil. If you don't have a food processor, you can mix the ingredients with a pestle and mortar.

When the weather gets a bit warmer, I like to buy a pot of basil and keep it on a sunny window sill, or grow it in a container outside. If you cut it lowish at the stalks, side shoots will pop up and your pot could well last you a couple of months.


  • Large handful of fresh basil leaves, washed and excess water shaken off
  • Half a clove of garlic
  • Heaped tablespoon of pine nuts
  • Heaped tablespoon of grated parmesan cheese
  • A tiny pinch of salt
  • Extra virgin oilve oil
  • 200g pappardelle pasta or pasta of choice
Serves 2


  • Lightly toast your pine nuts in a medium hot pan, until they turn golden. They burn easily so keep an eye on them. Set aside and leave to cool
  • Heat a large pan of boiling, salted water and add your pappardelle. Cook according to the instructions on the packet
  • Put the basil leaves, salt, cooled pine nuts and garlic into a food processor, and blend until the mixture is finely chopped
  • Scrape the mixture back into the bottom of the processor, add the parmesan and a slug of the olive oil. Replace the lid and pulse. Add more oil until you reach your desired consistency
  • Drain the pasta, place into warmed serving bowls, add the pesto, mix and serve

Fresh Pesto Sauce

Pappardelle with Pesto

Pappardelle with Pesto

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Fried Halibut with Ginger, Spring Onion and Soy Sauce

This recipe works for most types of firm fish - halibut, hake and monkfish fillets or steaks, whole fish such as bream and bass, and oily fish such as salmon. I haven't managed a great photo, and made a couple of errors tonight. One thing I discovered was the massive difference it makes if you're using standard light soy sauce - as a preference I would use a soy sauce labelled "for seafood" (e.g. Lee Kum Kee), which is sweeter, and milder. Failing that, perhaps a Japanese soy sauce such as Kikkoman. If you only have light soy sauce though, just taste it and make sure it's not too salty.

LKK Seasoned Soy Sauce for Seafood


  • One or two firm white fish fillets or steaks (I used halibut)
  • Spring onions, chopped finely (green and white parts)
  • 4-6 slices of raw, peeled ginger, bashed with the flat of a cleaver
  • Ground white pepper
  • Seasoned soy sauce for seafood
  • Sunflower or vegetable oil
  • (Optional) Cornflour for dusting
  • (Optional) Few drops of sesame oil


  • Dry the halibut fillets on kitchen towels
  • (Optional) Season some cornflour with ground white pepper on a dish, pat the fillets in to coat lightly, and pat off any excess cornflour. Set to one side
  • Heat a couple of spoonfuls of sunflower oil in a large, non-stick frying pan. When the oil is hot, add the ginger and stir round to flavour the oil
  • Add the halibut to the pan, and let cook for 3-4 minutes, depending on the thickness of the steak. Don't disturb the steak too much in the pan, to allow the surface to crisp up nicely. Remove the ginger if it starts to burn
  • Flip the fillet over, lower the heat setting and cook for a further 3-4 minutes on the other side. When the fillet is cooked, remove from the pan and place on a warmed dish
  • Discard any remaining ginger, give the pan a wipe and place back on the heat. You don't need a lot of oil at this stage, but add a few drops if you like
  • Add the spring onions to the pan and stir round quickly to soften, taking care not to burn
  • Add the soy sauce and a little water to the pan, and let boil. Add some ground white pepper and adjust water/pepper/soy levels to your taste
  • (Optional). Remove from the heat and add a couple of drops of sesame oil
  • Pour over the fish and serve
We had this with boiled rice, corn on the cob, stir-fried beansprouts and yesterday's leftover chicken. All three children love any fish and ask for ladle-fuls of sauce with their rice. The toddler had had a mammoth 3 hour nap, so ran around for most of dinner, but came to me periodically to have chopstick-fuls of fish, sauce and rice shovelled into his mouth :-).

Fried Halibut with Ginger, Spring Onion and Soy Sauce

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Salt and Pepper Chicken (椒鹽雞)

Today I was chatting with my friend, Kit, about dinner. I bought a chicken from the supermarket on final clearance on Thursday, so it's 2 days past its sell-by. Gave it a sniff and it seems fine! We thought about soy chicken, Hainan chicken rice, one of Jamie's recipes (with butter, pancetta and thyme, yum), 白切雞 (white cut chicken) and salt and pepper chicken. Salt and pepper chicken won, because it's a great, lazy recipe.

Kit also persuaded me to buy a halogen cooker when we were in Costco one time, and I used it to roast the chicken tonight. Result was lovely and juicy, and it was easy to collect all of the juices afterwards. The only problem with the halogen cooker is the addictive nature of the light going on and off all the time, which led me to hover anxiously by it for longer than I really need to!


  • 1.6kg chicken, preferably organic or free-range, giblets removed
  • A thumb-sized piece of raw ginger, peeled
  • My Dad's salt and pepper mix, which consists of salt and 5-spice, and some Sichuan peppercorns, all stirred around a hot wok until aromatic (you can jar this and keep it in the cupboard forever)

Dad's salt and pepper mix


  • Pluck any stray feathers and hairs from the chicken, cut off the parson's nose, pull out and trim any excess skin and fat, and wash the inside and outside thoroughly. Dry with kitchen towels.
  • Finely grate the raw ginger, and mix in 1 1/2 teaspoons of the salt and pepper mix. smear all over the inside of the chicken and leave to absorb the flavours, if you have time.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees.
  • Cover the wing and leg tips with foil to prevent them from burning. Sprinkle a little more of the salt and  pepper onto the outside of the chicken, and pat it onto the surface.
  • Put the chicken onto a rack, breast-side down, and place in the oven for 40 minutes.
  • After 40 minutes, turn to breast-side up and cook for another 40-45 minutes, or until the juices run clear.
  • Rest for 20 minutes, remove the foil and carve.
We had this with rice and boiled broccoli in oyster sauce. The thigh meat is lovely, oily, smooth and juicy, with crispy thin skin. The toddler wasn't so fussed, but he did enjoy eating his rice, with the chicken juice mixed in.

Salt and Pepper Chicken

Friday, 10 May 2013

Shepherd's Pie

My eldest has been pestering me to make this for a week - I don't recall ever making it, so perhaps she got mixed up with the cottage pie I made last week, or she's had it at a friend's house. Feeding 3 young children can be challenging at times, so I was heartened by the way they hoovered this one up and asked for seconds!


  • 400g lamb mince (or leftover lamb)
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 large carrots, finely diced
  • 450ml lamb stock (I used a Knorr stock cube)
  • 1 tablespoon worcester sauce
  • 1 large dollop of tomato puree
  • A dash of dark soy sauce for colour
  • 1 tablespoon of flour
  • 4 medium floury potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • Sunflower or Vegetable oil
  • Milk
  • Butter
  • Lots of black pepper and a bit of salt
Serves 4-6 people


  • Heat the oil in a large pan, and add the diced onions. Stir on a medium heat for 5 minutes until softened
  • Increase the heat, add the lamb mince and brown thoroughly. If there is too much fat in the pan at this stage for you, then tip the whole lot into a colander, give the pan a rinse and return the lamb and onion
  • Add the flour to the pan and mix in thoroughly. Stir for a few minutes to cook the flour.
  • Add the tomato puree, diced carrots, worcester sauce and lamb stock and mix thoroughly. Bring to the boil and reduce the heat. At this stage I add a bit of dark soy for colour, tonnes of ground black pepper and a bit of salt. 
  • Lower the heat to a simmer, cover the pan with the lid ajar and let cook for approx. 45 minutes.
  • In the meantime, make the mash. Add the potatoes to a pan of water and bring to the boil.
  • Boil for 25 minutes or until the potatoes are soft. Drain, return to the pan, mash, then add butter and milk until you have a smooth, soft consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 190 degrees if you are cooking immediately
  • Pour the lamb mixture into one large or two medium baking dishes. 
  • If you can be bothered, pipe the mashed potato on top of the lamb (I do this because it gives you a lovely crunchy topping). If not, spoon the mash over, starting at the sides and working your way into the centre of the pie.

  • If you are cooking immediately, the pie should take no longer than 30 mins in the oven. If, like me, you tend to do this in a panic at midnight for the children's dinner the next day because you are travelling or in late meetings (or because you can't stand the thought of trying to prepare this with a grumpy toddler biting your ankles and whinging at your knee), it will take about 45 minutes from cold.
  • Serve with lots of lovely rice and some greens - peas or broccoli work well. My eldest asked for sweetcorn and baked beans on the side!