September 11, 2014

BEAUTY IS IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER – AND A COTTAGE PIE

cottage pie

Right in the middle of our house hunting adventures in France we had to dash back to the UK to take delivery of our beautiful new hob and oven.  Beautiful they are indeed.

John Lewis had a price match and trade in offer in August that we couldn’t resist.  The only thing I wasn’t entirely comfortable about was that we would be “trading in” virtually brand new, hardly used appliances and John Lewis told us they would definitely be going to the tip.  Something in my upbringing told me that wasn’t right so we did a bit of asking around and found new homes for both of them. 

The oven went to Nick’s sister, whose own oven was originally a better one but had stopped working properly – so even a basic model was better than that.  The hob will be replacing an old worn out model in a friend’s gite in France.  As trade-ins we provided the broken oven and the old hob, so everyone was happy.

The oven is the same as the ones currently being used in the Bake Off tent and the hob is an induction model.  We were thinking of having a gas hob, which  is what we have always been used to, but although the gas supply is fairly near to the oven end of the kitchen getting it fitted would have meant a lot of disruption and expense, not to mention the destruction of part of my lovely new kitchen, so we opted for induction.  We are very pleased with it so far, having had it for a total of one day!

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I was thinking there would be no time for baking again this month, the final stage of our two-nation house moving exercise being very near to its conclusion, then I picked up the little recipe book that came with the new oven and flipped the pages.  The book opened at a recipe for cottage pie – as if anyone needs a recipe for cottage pie – and with my dad coming round for his dinner on the middle evening of our brief three-day stay in the UK, I thought “why not?”.  I realise of course that the purpose of the recipe book is more about getting the owner of a new oven used to using all its knobs and buttons than actually presenting original recipes, so I dutifully followed the recipe to the letter.  This included adding some tomato purée, something which I have never put into a cottage pie before.

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The main difference between a cottage pie and a shepherd’s pie is that the first is made with beef and the second with lamb.  I didn’t know that until fairly recently and have been making both for decades thinking they were both a shepherd’s pie and wondering why some people called it a cottage pie! 

Either way, they’re simple to make and quite adaptable and the good thing is that you can wash up the pans while it’s in the oven so that by the time it comes to the table the kitchen is looking less like a war zone – something I’m trying to be conscious of now that we have a dining kitchen – eating dinner while staring at the washing up is something I don’t love about our new house.

cottage pie5

The casualties.

There are of course, casualties with my new hob and oven.  Well not so much the oven, but most of my pans will not work with the induction hob so I have had to get a new set.  The old ones will go to France to supplement or replace the mismatched selection of mainly cheap ones we have there – bought when we thought all we wanted was a holiday home and we wouldn’t be doing very much cooking……..how things have changed!

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I dislike pictures of leftovers but I completely forgot to take a picture of the finished cottage pie.  So I put in another of the oven as well – much more attractive!

The pie was delicious and because the recipe was sort of chosen at random I’m being cheeky and submitting it to this month’s Random Recipe Challenge, organised by the lovely Dom at Bellau Kitchen.  You can read all about it here.

If you want to catch up on the final stage of our house hunting adventures in France and take a peek at the new house – and its lovely kitchen – you can do that here.

Cottage pie – the ingredients

450g potatoes, peeled and quartered

225g carrots, peeled and diced

1 tbslp oil for frying

450g minced beef

1 onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tbslp plain flour

250ml beef stock

1 tblsp tomato purée

2 tblsp Worcestershire sauce

250g pack of mushrooms, sliced

1 tblsp grated cheddar cheese

Method

Boil the potatoes and carrots until cooked.  Drain and mash them together.

Fry the onions, garlic and mince in a large frying pan until the meat is browned.  Stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes.  Add the stock, tomato and Worcestershire sauce and stir well.  Mix in the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat the oven to 170°fan.

Spoon the meat mixture into a suitable baking dish.  Spoon the potato and carrot mash on top of that and spread out evenly with a fork.  Sprinkle with the grated cheese and dot with butter if you like.

Put the dish on a baking sheet if you want to be sure the pie will not boil over onto your lovely brand new oven floor!  Bake for 25-30 minutes until browned and bubbling.

Serves 4.  Serve with greens of some kind.