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.
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.
A tasty way of serving fish that is quick to prepare and just right for a summer supper. A thick fillet of sole is grilled/broiled smothered in tiny broccoli florets and a cheesy sauce until the sauce is bubbling and golden.
170g (6 oz) broccoli florets (a medium head of broccoli)
40g (1½ oz) butter (3 tbsp, or ³⁄₈ stick)
40g (1½ oz) flour (⅓ cup)
300ml (10 fl oz) milk (1¼ cups)
115g (4 oz) cheese, grated (1 cup)
4 large sole fillets (each weighing about 170g (6 oz)
salt and freshly milled black pepper
1 tbsp lemon juice
butter for greasing
28g (1 oz) Parmesan, grated (¼ cup)
Baby new potatoes
You will also need a vegetable steamer and a large baking tray/sheet.
Preheat the grill/broiler to high.
Cut the broccoli into florets, trimming and discarding the stems. Then separate the florets into 1cm (½ inch) chunks. Steam for about 2 minutes, until just tender. Remove the steamer from the pan and set to one side.
Now melt the butter in a small pan add the flour.. Stir until smooth. Let this cook gently over a low heat for 1–2 minutes, until it starts to bubble.
Meanwhile, heat the milk in the microwave for 1 minute, which will then make it easier to blend into the roux. Remove the pan from the heat and gradually add the milk, stirring continuously until there is a smooth sauce. Return to the heat, bring the sauce to the boil, and then stir over a gentle heat until it thickens.
Remove from the heat and vigorously stir in the cheese until it has melted and blended into the sauce. (Just use the heat of the sauce to melt the cheese. Don’t put the pan over heat on the stove as this will make the cheese go oily.) Set to one side.
Next season the fish and then sprinkle over the lemon juice.
Grease the baking tray and place under the grill/broiler for 1 minute to heat up.
Lay the fish on the hot tray in a single layer. They will sizzle as they touch the hot baking tray/sheet.
With the grill/broiler rack 7.5cm (3 inches) from the heat, cook the fish for just 3 minutes and then remove.
Meanwhile, carefully spoon the broccoli into the cheese sauce to evenly distribute the florets. Spoon over the fish and then sprinkle the grated Parmesan.
Put the fish back under the grill/broiler and cook for a further 4 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling and beginning to turn golden.
Sprinkle a pinch of cayenne pepper over each piece of fish and serve immediately.
2 eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.), hard-boiled
French fries and peas
You will also need a large lidded frying pan/skillet and a shallow flameproof dish large enough to take the haddock portions in a single layer.
Cut the lemon in half and then slice one half and juice the other.
Lay the haddock portions in a single layer in the lidded pan.
Add milk, lemon slices and juice, parsley sprigs, and peppercorns. Bring to the boil, then turn off the heat, cover the pan/skillet and leave for 15 minutes, until the haddock can be flaked. Lift the haddock using a fish slice and transfer to the flameproof dish. Then flake the fish.
Strain and reserve the milk.
Preheat the grill/broiler to high.
Next, melt the butter in a pan and stir in the flour. Cook over a low heat for 1 minute.
Then gradually stir in the reserved milk until there is a smooth sauce and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat, season, and stir in the chopped parsley.
Now pour the sauce over the fish and sprinkle with the cheese.
Place under the grill/broiler and cook for about 5 minutes until bubbling, and the cheese has melted and is turning golden brown.
While the fish is under the grill/broiler shell the eggs and chop.
Once the fish is cooked, garnish with the chopped egg and serve.
These tasty little shepherd’s pies are made in a small gratin dish and are quick to prepare. The lamb is mixed with beans and a minted tomato sauce, and then covered with a creamy mash potato and topped with cheese and cherry tomatoes.
Summer is in full swing now. Lots of very hot, sunny days and being a summer person this is definitely my time of year. However, Shandy, our labrador, does not agree with me – he finds it just too hot. Even choosing the woods to take him for a walk, where the umbrella of the trees definitely cuts out the blazing heat of the sun, only gives a little respite. For him it’s indoors lying in a cool spot with the air conditioner turned on!
There is invariably something to see on our walks and we were surprised by a young deer with its mother wandering through the trees. They are so elegant and much larger than the muntjac deer we were used to seeing in Oxfordshire.
All that aside, the time I choose to be in the kitchen is less during the summer months and the following recipe is one from my summer collection. There was some lovely wild cod at the fish counter which is very rarely available, so I just had to buy some. It was thick and the flesh was, oh so white. I used it for this recipe. We really enjoyed it and hope you will want to try it too.
A very tasty way to serve cod that is super quick to prepare and cook.
Sun-dried tomato and butter are spread on the cod before topping with the cheese and plum tomato slices. It is then simply grilled/broiled and served with the buttery sauce, peas, green salad and crusty bread. A complete meal in no time.
You will also need a heat-resistant dish that is large enough to lay the 4 pieces of cod in a single layer.
Preheat the grill/broiler. You don’t want the heat too hot or the dish too close to the source of the heat.
Now lay the fish in a single layer in the dish. Spread the tomato paste over the fish and then dot with the butter. Next place two pieces of cheese over each piece of fish and top with the sliced tomatoes.
Grill/broil until the fish is cooked through. This should take about 10–15 minutes depending on the heat of your grill/broiler.
Increase the heat to high for a further two minutes until the tomatoes are just starting to brown.
Meanwhile, cook the peas. This will take just 2 minutes in a microwave.
Serve the fish with all the buttery juices and the peas spooned round the fish. Season.
This cheesy chicken cobbler is a great way to use up any leftover chicken from a roast. Pieces of chicken are stirred into frozen mixed vegetables and cream of tomato soup, then topped with a cheesy cobbler. Just pop in the oven for a quick supper.
You will also need a 1 litre (1¾ pint) (4 cup) shallow ovenproof dish
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) (gas 6).
Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Then in a medium bowl, stir together the chicken, frozen vegetables, soup, and some seasoning. Spoon the mixture into the ovenproof dish and set aside.
Sift the flour, baking powder, and a pinch of salt into a large bowl. Add 40g (1½ oz) (⅜ cup) of the cheese and set aside.
In a separate bowl whisk together the milk, egg, and oil. Then pour onto the flour mixture. Using a palette knife, bring the two mixtures together until a dough is formed. It should come together in clumps. Add a little more milk if it seems too dry.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, lightly knead, and then pat into a rectangle, roughly 9cm x 15cm (3½ in x 6 in). Cut the rectangle into 8 equal squares and arrange the scones on top of the chicken mixture.
Brush each scone with a little milk and then sprinkle over the remaining cheese.
Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until the scones have risen and are golden, and the filling is bubbling around the edges.
This chicken and mixed cheese bake is made with bite-sized pieces of chicken, strips of bacon and mushrooms, sautéed and then baked in a mixed cheese sauce with a grated Parmesan and breadcrumb topping. A very simple dish that tastes really good.
Cut the bacon into thin strips. Heat the oil in a frying pan/skillet and add the bacon. Cook over a medium heat until the bacon starts to crisp, about 4 minutes. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Next, cut the chicken into bite-size pieces and put in the pan in a single layer. Brown all over, adding a little extra olive oil if needed. This may need to be done 2 batches. Remove from the pan and set aside with the bacon.
Now put the mushrooms in the pan and sauté over a low heat for 2 minutes, turning occasionally.
Finally, pour in the sauce and heat through.
Return the chicken and bacon to the pan and stir to coat with the sauce. Season. Transfer to a gratin dish.
Mix together the breadcrumbs and parmesan and scatter over the chicken mixture.
Bake near the top of the oven for 20 minutes until the breadcrumbs are golden and the sauce is bubbling.