Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A wodge of stodge

Yay, my laptop was returned yesterday! The scribbled note that accompanied it said there had been something wrong with the mainboard. Does that mean anything to anyone? My lack of techno-knowledge is shameful. Anyhoo, they fixed it and I'm back up and running :-)

So, what have I been cooking in the meantime? Lots of things that went wrong, as it turns out! I tried making rugelach for the first time and managed to weld them firmly to the baking sheet. A cranberry orange sorbet turned out a brilliant deep red colour but only tasted of oranges (nice but not the point...). Then a salmon dish I was convinced would be a total stunner ended up just being, meh, ok. Soon I'll be burning toast.

When it all goes wrong in the kitchen, there are certain fall-back recipes that I return to repeatedly because they never ever, ever let me down. Like this shepherdless pie - it's certainly a great big wodge of stodge with all that mashed potato on top but it's also crammed with veggies in the lentil layer, so you feel like it's doing you some good, even as you roll away from the table to collapse on the sofa in a starch haze. Perfect cold weather food.

Right, now that I've got my proper list of favourites back, I'm off to catch up with the rest of the blogosphere!

Shepherdless pie - adapted from a Good Food magazine recipe somewhere back in the mists of time

Serves 6

You'll need:

2 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, chopped
2 celery sticks, diced into small pieces
3 carrots, diced into small pieces
2 peppers, diced
400g can of chopped tomatoes
¾ pint / 425ml veggie stock
2 tbsp tomato pureƩ
100g red lentils, rinsed
3 tbsp green pesto

For the mash:

1.5kg floury potatoes, such as Roosters (told you there was a substantial starch element)
Cheddar cheese, grated
2 to 3 garlic cloves, crushed

1. Heat the oil in a large pan with a heavy base. Add the onions and fry for about 10 minutes, or until soft. Add the celery, carrots and peppers, and continue to cook for another 5 minutes.

2. Stir in the chopped tomatoes, stock, tomato pureƩ and lentils. Bring the mixture to the boil, then cover and simmer for 20 minutes, until the lentils are tender.

3. Take off the heat, season well, stir in the pesto and then spread the mixture in a 1.7 litre capacity ovenproof dish.

4. Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6 and get on with whipping up the mash - you don't have to use the version above if you have a particular or favourite way of making it. But you'll need about 1 to 1.5kg of potatoes, depending on how much you love spuds. Me, I love them, so I err on the side of greed and chuck in a couple of extra.

5. Spoon the mash over the filling, sprinkle some more cheese over the top and then bake in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until the topping is crispy and golden brown.

Cook's notes

My friend uses red pesto for this recipe and we sometimes argue (nicely) about which is better - green or red. I still think green wins out - adds a real zip to the recipe.

This is a great one for the freezer - divvied up into individual portions and stashed away, it can be a bit of a lifesaver in the dark, miserable days of winter when the inspiration/motivation/energy to cook goes right out the window.


Conortje said...

My stomach is actually rumbling reading this. The pesto sounds like a reallly interesting addition - will definitely try this out. I love that you're cooking away to Nina by the way ;-)

Jen said...

Hi Conor.

The pesto is definitely what makes this recipe work (and very moreish). Whoever thought of it was a genius.

The first song at our wedding was 'My Baby Just Cares for Me', so I have a huge soft spot for Nina.

Catherine said...

Oooh what a lovely recipe. Although reading food blogs during one's 3 o'clock slump is making me very very hungry. Also, genius first dance song! :)

lorraine@italianfoodies said...

welcome back, I'm pretty useless myself on the whole techie side!! ah well we can't be brilliant at everything:)

Jen said...

Hi Catherine.

I hate that 3pm slump! The only way I can deal with it is to go walkabouts for a while and see if I can kickstart my brain again!

The first dance was fun. And we walked back down the aisle to 'Bring Me Sunshine' by Morecombe and Wise...

Hey Lorraine.

I think I'm going to stick to cooking rather than computer maintainence - although some of my recent efforts in the kitchen have been disasters too! Here's to getting back into the swing of things :-)

Holler said...

Shepherds Pie or Shepherdless pie as you have re-named it (good thinking), is one of our favourite's, although I don't make it often! Graham absolutely loves it. I usually make it with soya mince, onions, garlic, carrots and lots of mushrooms. Here is my recipe.
I can't wait to try your version, it sounds really good!

Holler said...

Oh and I prefer green pesto, definitely!

Jen said...

Hiya Holler.

Can't take credit for the name - that was Good Food's doing!

I'll have to try out your version next time - I've never used soya mince before. Sounds like lovely comfort food :-)

Green pesto rules!

Holler said...

The Good Food Magazine is a must, isn't it? I have it on subscription!

Jen said...

Hi Holler.

It is good, isn't it? Did you get hold of Veggie Xmas Good Food? VeggieKate had trouble finding it. She eventually picked up a copy but for a while it seemed like Edinburgh had a Veggie Xmas drought!