You will also need a 2 litre (3 pint) (8 cup) ovenproof dish.
Accompany with a green salad
Heat the oil in a large pan and cook the onion and garlic over a medium-low heat for 3 minutes, until softened.
Increase the heat, add the lamb, and stir-fry for 3–4 minutes until browned all over, breaking up any lumps as it is cooking.
Now reduce the heat and stir through the tomato purée/paste and cook for 1–2 minutes.
Then stir in the tomatoes, bay leaves, and stock, and season. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 35–40 minutes.
minutes before the meat sauce has finished cooking preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) (gas 4).
Cook the macaroni in boiling salted water as directed on the packet. Drain well.
Meanwhile make the white sauce. Melt the butter in a small pan, then tip in the flour and stir to make a smooth paste. Cook over a low heat for 1–2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Gradually whisk in the milk, stirring continuously, until smooth. Then cook for 4–5 minutes on a low heat, stirring until the sauce starts to thicken.
Spread half the macaroni over the base of the dish. Spoon the meat sauce on top. Then cover with the remaining macaroni.
Pour the white sauce evenly over the top and scatter with cheese.
Bake for 25–30 minutes until the sauce is bubbling around the edges.
A foolproof way to make a smooth white sauce:
Once the butter has melted, tilt the pan so all the melted butter rests in one corner. Tip the flour onto the pool of butter. It will then be easier to stir to a smooth paste. Also preheat the milk in a microwave, on high, for 1 minute, then gradually whisk it into the roux. Adding warm milk gradually will make a smooth sauce without any lumps.
4 chicken portions (breasts, legs or quarters, skins left on)
6 tbsp Parmesan cheese, finely grated
150ml (5 fl oz) chicken stock* (⅔ cup)
150ml (5 fl oz) single cream (table cream) (⅔ cup)
4 tomatoes, diced
*The sauce is enhanced by using a good stock. In Canada I can recommend ‘Better Than Bouillon’. It really makes a tasty stock and doesn’t contain a lot of additives. In the U.K. I would choose the organic range.
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) (gas 6)
Mix the flour, seasoning and curry or chilli powder together and spread on a plate. Spread the Parmesan cheese on a second plate.
In a small roasting pan, melt 115g (4 oz) (½ cup, or 1 stick) of the butter in the oven. This will only take about 1 minute. Then remove.
Turn the chicken pieces in the butter, shaking them a little when lifting to remove any excess butter. Coat in the flour mixture and then the cheese. Reserve remaining flour.
Return the chicken to the pan in a singe layer, skin side down. Cover with foil, and bake for 20 minutes.
Remove the foil, turn the chicken and return to the oven for a further 5 minutes to crisp up.
Meanwhile melt the remaining 28g (1 oz) (2 tbsp) butter in a large frying pan/skillet. Add the tomatoes and cook over a medium heat. Shake the pan frequently to keep turning the tomatoes.
Take the chicken out of the pan and keep warm while making the sauce.
Mix the reserved flour into the buttery residue in the pan and stir well, scraping up any sticky bits from the bottom of the pan. Over a low heat, cook for 1 minute. Slowly blend in the chicken stock and then add the cream. Bring to the boil while continuing to stir and then simmer until the sauce has thickened as is smooth. This will only take a minute or two. Remove from the heat.
The traditional shepherd’s pie can be quite bland and my basic Shepherd’s Pie recipe has extra seasonings to liven it up. This one brings a touch of Italian using a Napoletana sauce and with grated Parmesan on the top.
1 fresh rosemary sprig (or a large pinch of dried)
225ml/8 fl oz red wine (1 cup)
500g/16 fl oz Napoletana pasta sauce (or similar) (2 cups)
900g/2 lb potatoes (floury) (about 6 medium)
55g/2 oz butter (¼ cup, or ½ stick)
55g/2 oz Parmesan cheese, coarsely grated (½ cup)
Brown the lamb in a large pan over a medium heat, stirring frequently to break up any lumps, about 7 minutes. It should be really well browned. Then remove from the pan and set aside.
Add the onion to the pan with the rosemary and cook until soft and golden, about 10 minutes. There should be enough fat left from browning the meat not to require adding any oil.
Now, return the lamb to the pan and stir in the wine. Loosen any crusty bits from the bottom of the pan and then leave the wine to bubble gently until roughly half of it has evaporated.
Stir in the pasta sauce and then simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, cut the potatoes into large chunks. Put in a pan of water and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20–25 minutes until tender. Drain and return to the hot pan to dry off any excess moisture. Mash with the butter and half the Parmesan.
Preheat the grill to high.
Spoon the meat sauce into a medium-sized ovenproof dish. Top with the potatoes, no need to smooth the surface, then sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan.
Brown under the grill for about 3 minutes.
Serve with seasonal vegetables.
The dish can be prepared ahead of time up to the grill stage. Cover the dish then refrigerate for up to two days. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas 6 and cook the pie for 25–30 minutes until heated through and golden on top.
You will also need a large frying pan/skillet and a deep sided casserole dish
Remove the crusts from the bread and cut into rough pieces. Place in a bowl and moisten with the milk. Mix with a fork to break up into crumbs.
In a large bowl, mix together the soaked breadcrumbs, onion, lamb, eggs, seasoning, and nutmeg until thoroughly combined.
Shape into 32 meatballs, using wet fingers. Just keep a small bowl of water nearby. (Fingers dipped in flour will just become sticky.) Place them on a plate, cover, and chill for 1 hour to firm up.
Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F) (gas 4)
Meanwhile, heat half the butter in the pan/skillet over a medium heat. When the butter is foaming, add half the meatballs. Shake them in the pan to keep them moving and cook until browned all over, about 5 minutes. Transfer them to the casserole dish using a slotted spoon. Repeat with the remaining meatballs, adding extra butter if needed.
Pour the stock into the panskillet. Bring to the boil, scraping off any bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Then stir in the mustard. Pour over the meatballs.
Cover the dish with foil and cook above the centre of the oven for 45 minutes.
Next mix the crème frâiche and cornflour/cornstarch together in a bowl, then stir into the casserole until well blended.
Return the dish to the oven for a further 15 minutes, uncovered, until the sauce is bubbling and has thickened.
Looking for a quick and easy supper from cupboard staples? Then here’s a tasty Tuna and Egg Pasta dish. Penne and a couple of cans of tuna are folded into a cheese sauce and topped with egg and crunchy buttered breadcrumbs.
This is one of my favourite fish pies which is really good to serve to guests as it looks so scrumptious and different when baked. Filo pastry keeps it light and is used in a decorative way as a topping. The herby cream cheese filling which is added to cubes of salmon and prawns/shrimp is so smooth and delicious too.
You will need a 20cm (8 in) loose-bottomed flan tin, 3.75cm (1½ inches) deep, buttered, and a baking tray/sheet. Also a deep sided frying pan/skillet.
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) gas 6.
Pop the baking tray/sheet in the oven to heat up while preparing the pie.
Now bring some water to the boil in the frying pan/skillet. It will need to be deep enough to cover the salmon. Then add the salmon and bring back to the boil. Immediately remove from the heat, cover the pan/skillet and leave for the water to poach the salmon, about 2–3 minutes, until it is just cooked. If the prawns/shrimp are uncooked, they can be cooked in the water at the same time as the salmon.
With a slotted spoon, remove the fish and leave on a plate to cool completely.
Meanwhile, beat together the crème fraîche, cream cheese, eggs, herbs, and seasoning until the mixture is smooth.
You are going to need five sheets of the pastry which will be large enough to line the flan tin and overlap the edge. Brush one sheet with melted butter, then lay a second sheet on top, rotating it slightly so the edges don’t line up. Brush this sheet with melted butter. Now lay a third sheet on top, again rotating it slightly, and brush with butter. Lay the fourth sheet on top, slightly rotated.
Lift these pastry layers and line the flan tin, gently pressing the pastry down into the tin, and leaving the edges extending over the rim. Brush the top layer of pastry with melted butter.
Brush the remaining piece of pastry with melted butter and put to one side so it doesn't dry out.
Mix the cold salmon cubes and prawns/shrimps with the cream mixture and tip into the flan tin.
Now bring the edges of the pastry up over the the filling around the edge, leaving it roughly scrunched up.
Tear the remaining piece of pastry into long strips. Scrunch these up and use them to cover the exposed filling.
Place the flan tin on the hot baking sheet and loosely cover with foil. Then bake in the oven for 25 minutes.
Remove the foil and continue to bake for a further 3–5 minutes until the pastry is crisp and turning golden in colour.
Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes for the filling to set.
Now carefully lift the pie from the tin but leave on the base. Let it cool for 2 minutes then gently slide off the base onto a serving plate.
Serve cut into wedges along with a green salad.
Filo pastry dries out very quickly, so keep it covered until needed to be used.
As the pastry does not contain any fat it can be refrozen. Remove the packet from the freezer to thaw, keeping it covered. Then when the pastry is needed, unroll it and remove the 3 or 5 sheets, depending on the size of the sheets. Now carefully roll the remaining pastry back up, return it to its wrapping and place back in the freezer.
These meringues are flavoured with coffee and, when cooked, a little melted chocolate is drizzled over. Serve on their own or with whipped cream or ice cream. Whatever you choose, they just melt in your mouth.
3 eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.), whites only
170g (6 oz) caster/superfine sugar (¾ cup + 1 tbsp)
85g (3 oz) dark chocolate
You will also need 2 medium baking sheets/trays lined with baking parchment
Preheat the oven to 140°C (275°F) (gas 1).
If using coffee granules, dissolve in 1 teaspoon of hot water and leave to cool.
Put the egg whites in a large bowl and whisk until just stiff. Now gradually add the sugar, one tablespoon at a time, whisking constantly until the mixture becomes very thick and glossy. Then sprinkle over the coffee and whisk until it has thoroughly mixed in.
Dab a little meringue on the corners of the baking sheets/trays which will prevent the parchment paper from slipping. Then line each sheet/tray, pressing the baking parchment down at the corners. Spoon 4 mounds of meringue onto each baking sheet/tray, spacing them well apart. Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes. The meringues should feel hard to the touch and lift off the parchment paper easily.
If you like your meringues crisp on the outside but chewy in the centre, then remove from the oven and leave to cool completely on a cooling rack. If you prefer them crisp all the way through, then leave in the oven until it has become cold.
Meanwhile break the chocolate into small pieces, put in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of just simmering water, making sure the bowl does not touch the water. Stir the chocolate until melted and smooth, then remove from the heat and leave until it has become cold.
Drizzle the melted chocolate over the meringues. Leave in a cool place for the chocolate to set.
A dish that is full of flavour and very scrumptious. Lamb cutlets sit on a base of garlic roasted vegetables with a hint of basil and rosemary and served with thinly sliced potatoes cooked in a garlic cream sauce.
Mediterranean Lamb Cutlets with Potatoes Dauphinoise
Prepares: 4 servings
Preparation time: 55 minutes
Cooking time: 50 minutes
For the ratatouille and lamb cutlets
2 tbsp olive oil
½ medium aubergine/eggplant
1 red bell pepper, deseeded
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
8 lamb cutlets
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
400g tin cherry tomatoes (small can)
1 tbsp fresh basil leaves, torn
salt and freshly milled black pepper
For the potatoes dauphinoise
800g (1 lb 12 oz) potatoes (5 medium)
240ml (8 fl oz) whole milk (1 cup)
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
240ml (8 fl oz) double cream/whipping or heavy cream (1 cup)
salt and freshly milled black pepper
For the potatoes dauphinoise
Peel, wash and cut the potatoes into 5mm (¼ inch) thick slices.
Slowly bring the milk to the boil in a sauté pan with the garlic.
Reduce the heat and stir in the cream, seasoning, and a little grated nutmeg.
Now add the potato slices and turn to coat. Simmer very gently for 20–25 minutes until they are just tender. Turn every 5 minutes so all the slices cook evenly and they don’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
Tip into an ovenproof dish 28 x 20cm (11 x 8 inches).
They will need to cook in the oven for a further 20–25 minutes until bubbling and the top is starting to brown. Before putting in the oven, though, prepare the vegetables for the ratatouille. The ratatouille will need to cook for the same length of time as the potatoes and so they both go into the oven together.
For the ratatouille and lamb cutlets
Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F) gas 5.
Pour the oil into a roasting tin/pan and put in the oven while it is heating up.
Cut the aubergine/eggplant, pepper and courgettes/zucchini into 2.5cm (1 inch) cubes.
Tip into the roasting tin/pan and sprinkle over the rosemary and seasoning. Turn in the oil to coat, then return to the oven and roast for 20–25 minutes until tender. (At this point, also put the potatoes in the oven.) Turn the ratatouille halfway through cooking.
Meanwhile preheat a griddle pan or heavy based frying pan/skillet.
Season the cutlets and then spread over the garlic. Over a moderate heat, cook for 5–10 minutes on each side, depending on how thick your cutlets are.
While the cutlets are cooking, empty the tomatoes into a medium sized pan and place over a gentle heat.
Once the ratatouille is cooked, add it to the tomatoes and stir through. Now add the torn basil leaves.
Divide the vegetables amongst four plates and top with two cutlets each. Serve with the potato dauphinoise alongside.
Pour the milk into a large pan. Cut the salmon into cubes and add with the prawns/shrimp to the pan. Bring the milk to the boil and then remove from the heat. Cover the pan and leave for 5 minutes to cook the fish.
Now drain the fish, reserving the liquor, and place in the base of the pie dish with the sweetcorn.
Next, melt the butter in a clean pan. Add the flour and mix to form a paste. Cook over a low heat for 1 minute.
Then gradually stir in the reserved liquor and keep stirring until the sauce is smooth. Increase the heat and stir the sauce until it is really thick, about 2 minutes.
Now stir in the wine and add the mushrooms. Simmer for 3 minutes.
Season to taste and add the dill.
Pour the sauce over the fish and give everything a good stir so the sauce coats the fish and vegetables. Leave to cool slightly, about 10 minutes.
Trim the pastry to fit the top of the pie dish.
Dampen the rim of the dish with water and use the trimmings to cover the rim of the dish.
Now dampen the rim of pastry with water. Cover the pie dish with the large piece of pastry pressing down around the rim of the dish to seal the pastry. Knock back the edges.
Make 2 holes in the top to allow steam to escape during cooking.
Brush the top of the pastry with egg glaze.
Place on a baking tray and bake in the centre of the oven for 25-30 minutes until the pastry is golden.
This chicken dish just takes 20 minutes to cook – one to choose when time is short. The chicken breasts, chunky potatoes and garlic are sautéed in olive oil and butter until crisp and then covered in a white wine sauce.
You will also need 2 large frying pans/skillets and a medium-sized serving dish.
Warm the serving dish in the oven.
Peel and cut the potatoes into small chunks. Place in a pan of salted water and bring to the boil. Simmer the potatoes until just tender, about 15 minutes.
Pat dry the chicken breasts and season.
Now divide the butter and oil between the two pans/skillets.
Place one over a medium heat and, once the butter is foaming, add the chicken breasts and brown for 5 minutes, turning the chicken halfway through.
Reduce the heat and continue to cook the chicken for about 15 minutes, until it is cooked through, turning once.
Meanwhile, drain the potatoes when they are just tender and leave for a couple of minutes to dry out.
Heat the oil and butter in the other pan and, once the butter is foaming, add the potatoes with the garlic. Turn to coat. Cook over a medium heat until the potatoes are golden and crisp on the outside, turning occasionally.
When the chicken is ready, transfer it to the warm serving dish and keep warm in the oven. Add the potatoes and garlic once they are ready.
Pour the chicken stock and wine into the pan the chicken was cooked in, and let it bubble over a high heat until reduced by half. Stir occasionally and scrape all the crispy bits from the bottom of the pan.
Pour over the chicken, potatoes, and garlic and serve immediately garnished with the parsley.
A firm favourite with children of all ages. These lamb meatballs flavoured with oregano and Parmesan cheese are cooked in a passata based sauce. Usually served with spaghetti but any pasta you choose will work.
2 slices, about 55g (2 oz) white bread, preferably one day old
120ml (4 fl oz) whole milk (½ cup)
450g (1 lb) lamb mince/ground lamb
14g (½ oz) flat leaf parsley/Italian parsley
1 tsp dried oregano
1 egg, beaten
28g (1 oz) Parmesan cheese, grated (¼ cup)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the tomato sauce
1 small carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
1 small stick celery, chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled
14g (½ oz) butter (1 tbsp)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 x 700ml bottle passata
2 bay leaves
salt and freshly ground black pepper
120ml (4 fl oz) whole milk (½ cup)
Pasta and a green salad or Caesar salad
You will also need large sauté pan with lid and a large frying pan/skillet.
Heat butter and a tablespoon of olive oil in a small pan and, when hot, add the onion and stir to coat. Sprinkle with salt, and cook over a low heat for about 10 minutes until softened but not browned, stirring occasionally. Remove to a plate lined with kitchen paper to absorb any excess fat and leave to cool.
Now remove the crusts from the bread and tear into pieces. Put the bread in a shallow dish and cover with the milk. Put to one side.
Next for the tomato sauce, put the carrot, celery, and garlic in a food processor and blitz.
Put the butter and oil into the sauté pan and, when hot, add the vegetables and stir to coat. Cook over a medium–low heat until soft, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Then stir in the passata and add the bay leaves and seasoning. Cover and gently simmer for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile prepare the meatballs.
Put the lamb in a large bowl.
Squeeze the milk from the bread and discard, adding the bread to the lamb.
Put half the parsley onto a chopping board, sprinkle over the dried oregano and chop the parsley finely. (This will activate the oregano.) Now add the herbs to the lamb with the egg, Parmesan, cooled onion, and some pepper. Mix together until well combined.
Make into 20–24 meatballs , flattening them slightly, and place them on a baking tray/sheet lined with clingfilm/plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 20 minutes to firm up.
When the tomato sauce has cooked for the 20 minutes, stir in the milk and continue to cook gently, uncovered, for a further 10 minutes. Season to taste.
Once the meatballs have firmed up, put two tablespoons of oil into a large frying pan/skillet and brown the meatballs all over, about 5 minutes. Remove them with a slotted spoon and add to the sauce. Cover the pan and cook for a further 20–30 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through.
Chop the remaining parsley and, just before serving, sprinkle over the meatballs.
565g (1 lb 4 oz) salmon fillet, skinned and cut into 4 portions
450g (1 lb) baby potatoes (about 9)
450g (1 lb) cherry tomatoes
20 black olives, pitted (optional)
3 tbsp olive oil
1½ tsp herbes de Provence
salt and freshly ground black pepper
You will also need a large heavy based baking tray/sheet.
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) (gas 6).
While the oven is heating up, place the baking tray/sheet in the oven to get hot.
Brush the hot tray/sheet with a little olive oil.
Now toss the potatoes in a small bowl with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and a little salt. Then spread on the baking tray/sheet and roast for 17 minutes.
Meanwhile, brush the salmon pieces with a little olive oil and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of herbes de Provence. Season.
After the potatoes have been roasting for 17 minutes, turn them, leaving a space in the centre of the tray/sheet. Now lay the salmon pieces in the centre and then return to the oven for 10 minutes.
While the salmon and potatoes are in the oven, slice the courgettes/zucchinis into 1.25cm (½ inch) rounds and put in a bowl. Add the tomatoes, olives (if using), the remaining olive oil, and herbes de Provence. Season. Now toss to coat.
After the salmon has been baking for 10 minutes, remove the tray/sheet from the oven, turn the potatoes again and spread all the vegetables around the salmon. Return to the oven and continue cooking for a further 10 minutes until the tomatoes are just starting to burst but still holding their shape and the salmon is cooked through.