December 21, 2023


We have really enjoyed the most recent TV series by Mary Berry called "Mary makes it easy".  Her guests were all sweetie-pies too and the dishes she cooked all looked very "tempting" - a word she uses herself frequently.  

She’s such a good teacher, scattering useful little hints and tips here and there like sprinkles on a trifle and above all her recipes do work!   She really is a national treasure.  I could happily cook most of them from this series and the book is on my Christmas wish list. 

We are now back in the UK for Christmas.  We had invited a couple of  friends round for dinner a few days before we left France as we won't see them again for a while.  I had planned to serve this cannelloni.  Sadly, one them developed a bad cold and they cancelled, which was very considerate, as for us to catch it before travelling back would have spoiled our Christmas.

However, I had bought a pack of cannelloni tubes and the other ingredients and we were very keen to give the recipe a go.  So I scaled it down for just the two of us and it was delicious!  Another winner from the marvellous Mary Berry and destined to become a family favourite.  The quantity I made would have easily served three but we scoffed the lot between us.  It will be on our table on Christmas Eve as that’s how many of us there will be this year, just us and my brother.  Thank you Mary!

You can see the recipe here.  I didn't have any fresh herbs available but dried herbs worked fine.  This is how I adapted it for two (really three) servings:


8 cannelloni pasta tubes (or the right number to make a single layer in your dish)

1 ball mozzarella, sliced

30g grated parmesan cheese (I used the ready grated packet cheese)

a splash of olive oil for frying

1 small onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, peeled and grated or finely chopped

200g low fat minced beef

1 tblsp plain flour

150 ml beef stock, made with half of a stock cube

a splash of Worcestershire sauce

2 tblsp tomato purée

2 tsp dried thyme

For the sauce

a splash of olive oil for frying

1 onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, grated or chopped

1 400g tin chopped tomatoes

a squeeze of tomato purée

a pinch of sugar if needed

2 tsp dried basil


To make the beef filling for the tubes, fry the onion in hot oil until softened then add the garlic and mince.  Fry until browned.

Sprinkle over the flour, add the stock, W sauce, thyme and tomato purée and stir until well mixed.  Cover and leave to simmer for about 30 minutes while you make the sauce.  Add a splash of water if it looks a bit too thick or solid.  Once cooked set aside to cool.

For the sauce, heat the oil in a saucepan and fry the onion until soft.  Add the garlic and fry briefly before adding the chopped tomatoes and purée.  Add 100ml water (rinsing out the tomato tin) and season with salt and pepper.

Stir well, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.  Taste the sauce and add the sugar if it seems too sharp.  Stir in the basil.

Preheat the oven to 200C / 180 fan / gas mk6.

Put roughly a third of the sauce in the bottom of your ovenproof dish.

Using a teaspoon, fill each pasta tube with the cooled beef mixture and arrange them in a single layer on top of the sauce.  Spoon the remaining sauce evenly over the top.  Scatter the slices of mozzarella and the parmesan over the sauce and cook in the oven for 35-40 minutes until the cheese has melted and browned and the pasta tubes are soft.

Serve immediately with a nice green salad.

Serves 3 (or 2 very greedy/hungry people).


  1. Looks delicious. I'll look out for the book and series on catch up.

    1. It made a nice change from lasagne and if anything was easier to make!