I’d been treated to a big lunch and knew I wouldn’t want a full dinner. But what to have? On the walk home from the station I got a craving for cheese scones. A hot scone or two with a little butter melting on them… yes!
When I got in there was a little package of cheese waiting for me from Joseph Heler. It was “Red Leicester with Authentic Indian Chutney”, traditional English cheese flavoured with Geeta’s mango chutney. I hacked off a chunk immediately, and it’s perfectly pleasant but not bursting with Indian flavour. It’s the kind of thing that would be perfectly good as part of a wider cheeseboard, along with the Wensleydale with cranberries or stilton with apricots or Dairylea with ginger or whatever.
It was just in time for my cheese scones though, and with an extra kick of Indian spicing it made a great snack. And make sure you serve it not with strawberry jam, but more mango chutney.
Masala cheese scones (makes about 6 – 8):
150g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
½ teaspoon salt
2-3 tablespoons milk
75g Joseph Heler’s chutney cheese, grated
1 large egg
1 tablespoon nigella seeds
- Preheat the oven to 220°C. Mix the flour, baking powder, garam masala and salt together, then rub in the butter. Mix in the cheese.
- In another bowl beat the egg and 2 tablespoons of the milk together, the incorporate into the mixing bowl. Blend gently – try not to over-mix – and pull together into a soft dough. It should leave the bowl clean.
- Pat gently into a chunky patty about 2cm thick, slice roughly and put on to a floured baking tray. Brush with the remaining milk, scatter over the nigella seeds and bake for 15 – 20 minutes until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack for about 10 seconds before scoffing the lot with mango chutney on the side.
Student food can mean an endless diet of jacket potatoes. If this is the case you can ring the changes with my puffed-up potatoes and incorporate whatever you have in the fridge to round out your dinner. The whisked egg whites lift the stodge of dense potato and gives a soufflé-like finish. It takes a little longer to make than a regular “jack pot” but I think the finish is worth it.
(In the pictures they’re accompanied by sweet and sour peppers but this is optional – there’s plenty of sustenance in the potato!).
Approximate cost for main ingredients, excludes storecupboard ingredients (prices from Tesco.com 7th Oct 2012): 62p
Soufflé potatoes (serves 1):
1 baking potato
1 slice of smoked ham, sliced
Big handful of grated cheddar cheese
1 spring onion, sliced
1 egg, separated
1 teaspoon mustard
- Bake the potatoes as you would for jackets, smothering with a little oil, salt and pepper and baking in a 180°C oven for about an hour.
- Just before you take the potatoes out of the oven, whisk the egg whites to soft peaks. Mix the mustard into the yolks.
- Take the potatoes out of the oven and leave to cool for a moment (this helps loosen the flesh from the skin and makes them easier to handle).
- Using a teatowel to hold the spuds, cut the potatoes in half lengthways and scoop the flesh out into a bowl. Put the hollowed-out skins back on the tray.
- Mash the flesh with the cheese, mustard, ham, spring onion egg yolk and mustard.
- Fold in the egg whites and scoop into the empty skins. Put back in the oven and turn up to 220°C.
- Take out of the oven in about 15 minutes, or when the tops have started to brown.
Lasagne has to be one of my favourite dinners. If I’m stuck for what to cook, it always pleases a crowd and satisfies. I like a lasagne with gutsy tomato sauce, plenty of layers of pasta and a bubbling, cheesy topping. I’ve tried all sorts, with Marmite in, with marmalade in, with soy sauce in… this version is about as traditional as I make mine.
I used some CIRIO tomatoes in this one, a mix of thick passata, tomato puree and the amazing Pizzassimo sauce.
On a whim, I picked up a jar of pre-made white sauce. Before I knew how to make bechamel I would use Ragu white sauce. I don’t know why I went for this; I haven’t tried it in maybe 12 years. But I was really pleased with the taste of it, slightly peppery and perfectly creamy. I didn’t dare look at the ingredients list but if I was running short on time I’d definitely use it again.
Looking for other lasagne recipes? Try Summer veg lasagne or this more full-on lasagne recipe.
Lasagne al forno (serves 6 with a green salad):
1 onion, finely chopped
500g beef mince
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon tomato puree
1 jar tomato passata
½ tin Pizzassimo sauce
500ml beef stock
1 jar Ragu white sauce
About 10 lasagne pasta sheets
Big handful of grated cheese. Yes, cheddar will do
- Get a large saucepan on a low heat, add a splash of oil and fry the onion gently for about 10 minutes. When softened, crank up the heat and add the mince, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. Add the garlic, tomatoes and stock and simmer for 20 minutes. Check for seasoning and take off the heat to cool slightly.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C. Get an ovenproof dish and start with a layer of pasta. Add a thin layer of mince mixture, half the white sauce and top with pasta. Add more mince, more pasta and top with white sauce. Grate cheese over the top and bake for about 30 minutes until bubbling and golden. Leave out of the oven to set for a couple of minutes, it’ll be easier to cut.
I’ve always wondered what fricassée meant (I had to google “wiki fricassee” to find that. Try saying it out loud, it’s fun), and making this recipe meant I finally looked it up: poultry stew in gravy thickened with dairy. I’ve strayed a little from that definition in making this but I hope it’ll do.
I came to this recipe via Port Salut. It’s a cheese I’d almost forgotten about; until I was sent some to try along with some Jean Christophe Novelli recipes. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Jean Christophe before and couldn’t wait to try these out. Essentially chicken, leeks and mushrooms sweated down with cream and cheese – what’s not to like? I substituted a few things based on my larder and came up with a wholesome and tasty one-pot dinner. The Port Salut was creamy and nutty, kinda like a Brie.
Personally speaking I’d put the breadcrumbs to one side and serve it with tagliatelle next time. I think it would be great all tangled up with some pasta.
Chicken, leek, mushroom and port salut fricassée (serves 2):
2 chicken breasts, diced
Pinch of paprika
2 leeks, sliced
1 red onion, sliced
1 sprig of rosemary, leaves finely chopped
150g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
100ml white wine
200ml creme fraiche
100g Port Salut, thinly sliced
50g Port Salut, diced
50g wholemeal breadcrumbs
- Preheat the oven to 180°C. Put a large casserole dish on a medium heat and a little oil.
- Dust the chicken with paprika and season, then fry in the pan for a couple of minutes until coloured all over. Remove to one side.
- Turn the heat down to low, melt the butter in the pan and add the leeks, rosemary and onion. Sweat gently for 5 – 10 minutes until softened. Add the mushrooms and garlic and continue to cook for a further 5 minutes, then crank up the heat.
- Add the wine. After a minute of bubbling away stir in the creme fraiche, sliced Port Salut and put the chicken back in. When everything is melting together stir well and check for seasoning. Top with the breadcrumbs and diced cheese and bake in the oven for 15 minutes, or until everything is bubbling and brown.
Got veal leftovers? I do. This is a great potato pancake recipe that works with any cold meat, or even without!
I’ve tried making rosti before and never achieved decent results: soggy, or tasteless, or not quite cooked enough but this recipe from Alex Mackay is the business. I’ve cooked it twice now and it’s pleasingly consistent. It’s another recipe from Everybody Everyday. His version is with roast chicken but the excellent veal (from Farmer’s Choice) tastes just fine.
Veal potato pancake (serves 2):
700g floury potatoes
150g cooked veal, diced
8 sundried tomatoes, sliced
50g mozzarella, diced
20g cheddar, grated
2 spring onions, sliced
14 black olives, diced
- Preheat the oven to 200°C. Peel the potatoes and grate them into a tea towel. Gather up the tea towel and squeeze as much liquid as you can out of them. Season the potato really well.
- Get a frying pan super-hot and add a little oil. Add half the potato into the pan and pack down with a fish slice. Combine the veal tomatoes, cheeses, onions and olives in a bowl and season. Layer this mixture on top of the potato, then add the remaining potato on top. Press it down and dot half the butter around the edge of the pancake. Fry for a couple of minutes until golden.
- Using a plate flip the pancake over and slide the raw side back into the pan. Add the remaining butter around the edges and transfer to the over. Bake for 15 minutes or until the potato is cooked through. Serve with a fried egg and gravy.