I was coming home on the train and decided it would be pie or nothing for dinner. Luckily all the ingredients were on hand. Patchwork for two reasons: I had some squares of puff pastry to use because I’d absent-mindedly cut loads more than I need when making sausage rolls; and ended up using a hodge-podge of all odds and ends things I like.
Patchwork pie (serves 4 – 5):
500g beef mince
100g mushrooms, sliced
1 sprig rosemary, leaves picked
1 clove garlic, minced
50ml red wine
1 pack of ready-cooked chestnuts
300ml beef stock
1 teaspoon cornflour
1 sheet puff pastry, cut into squares
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon English mustard
- Get your oven on to 180°C, and two frying pans over high heat with a dash of olive oil in each.
- In one of the pans get the mince in and stir often until browned and starting to crisp up. In the other pan fry the mushrooms and rosemary together. After 5 mins add the garlic.
- When the mince has browned add the red wine to deglaze the pan a bit, then add the stock, chestnuts and the contents of the mushroom pan. Mix the cornflour with a splash of water to make a paste, then stir this in thoroughly.
- Bubble away for a couple more minutes until thickened, then pour into a baking dish. Layer the squares as neatly as you like over the filling. Mix the mustard into the egg and brush over the pastry. Sprinkle with some coarse sea salt and bake for 30 minutes until golden and puffy (well, it is puff pastry after all). Serve with carrots braised in butter and dusted with nutmeg.
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.
Practically every element of this could be substituted: the definition of a store-cupboard clearout dinner! Change the chorizo for another cooked meat, throw in another cheese and it’s off in another direction altogether. A blue cheese and salami version could be pretty good too…
Chorizo and red onion penne bake (serves 2):
250g chorizo, cut into chunks
1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard
200ml creme fraiche
150g Port Salut, diced
3 roasted red onions*
- Preheat the oven to 180°C. Boil the pasta until al dente.
- Mix the creme fraiche, mustard, onion and cheese together and add the penne. Add a splash of the pasta cooking water to make a nice slippery sauce. Pour into a baking dish and put in the oven for 20 mins or until starting to colour. Allow to rest for a couple of minutes out of the oven before serving.
*If you don’t have any roasted onions (I had some left over from this recipe) either chuck some in a hot oven for 30 mins or fry them for a few minutes before adding to the pasta.
I took a rare trip to Waitrose armed with gift vouchers, which meant I could spoil myself a bit buying things I wouldn’t usually reach for. I picked up some of this which at £2.29 for a little sachet of sauce is bit pricey. I picked up some sirloin steak too and thought it would be a good match. So I pan-fried the steak and while it rested warmed the sauce through in the same pan, and served it with some potato wedges.
Stone me it was good. Lick-the-plate good. A smooth mustardy flavour but packing seven shades of umami moreishness with each mouthful. According to the man himself it’s a version of sauce Robert bolstered by one of Heston’s favourite ingredients, konbu. I’d love to try making this at home sometime, but if I couldn’t be bothered I’ve been convinced this is worth the money for a special dinner.
“How to cook perfect barbecue ribs” proclaimed the headline. It would be rude not to give them a try. I knew I had most of the stuff lurking around the office, so after buying some ribs and some sandwich bags from the local supermarket I could marinade everything at lunchtime. By the time I’d got home it had plenty of time to impart flavour.
3 hours of roasting and barbecuing later, I had a pile of ribs to enjoy. What a crushing disappointment. For something labelled “perfect barbecue ribs” there was almost no BBQ flavour at all. Mildly sweet, but all the umami had gone. I note that as per Felicity Cloake’s “perfect” series she runs the gamut of celeb and other chefs to hone in on perfection. She tried Jamie Oliver’s recipe from Jamie’s America, but not the one which to my mind is superior – the one from Jamie At Home. I cooked a whole chicken with it last year, and it’s great. That’s your perfect BBQ rib sauce right there.
Barbecue ribs (serves 4):
2 racks of pork ribs
1 tablespoon Marmite
1 tablespoon English mustard
1½ teaspoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons tomato ketchup
2½ tablespoons dark muscovado sugar
- Mix together the marinade ingredients and rub half all over the ribs. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 150°C. Pop the ribs in a baking tray and cover with foil. Cook for 2½ hours and baste from time to time.
- After 2 hours oven cooking light the barbecue. Once the coals have turned ashen grey, transfer the ribs to the BBQ and cook for around 15 minutes, basting as you go. Make sure they catch a little and go all crispy and gnarly. Eat with baby wipes.