Gatto di patate

Gatto_di_patate

More comfort food – this time an Italian potato cake, based on a recipe in today’s Guardian, by Rachel Roddy. You get lovely warming, buttery, cheesy potato with a layer of melted, slightly chewy, cheese in between. I served mine with lightly cooked broccoli. Enough for four people.

  • 750g mashed potato (I baked some largish potatoes, and removed most of the cooked potato, so I could use the skins as a separate snack)
  • 60g grated parmesan
  • 35g butter
  • Nutmeg
  • Black pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 100ml milk (or a mixture of milk and cream)
  • 80g provolone cheese (or mature gouda, or emmental)
  • 125g mozzarella ball
  • A little olive oil (to grease the baking dish)
  • 1 tbsp finely ground breadcrumbs

Mash the potato together with the parmesan, 25g of butter, grated nutmeg and black pepper to taste. Lightly beat together the eggs and the milk, and mix into the potato mixture.

Cut the provolone and mozzarella into small (0.5cm) cubes.

Grease the inside of an oven proof dish (I used a square earthenware dish about 21cm square) with the olive oil. Place half the potato in the bottom of the dish, and sprinkle with the cubed provolone and mozzarella. Place the remaining potato on top and smooth the surface. Sprinkle with the breadcrumbs and dot with the remaining butter.

Cook in the oven for about 30 minutes, at 180C (Gas Mark 4), or until the top is brown and crispy. Leave to stand for about 10 minutes before serving.

 

Potato and cheese dumpling topping

Potato_Dumplings.

If you’re after comfort food in this cold weather, here’s a quick recipe for topping a casserole or even a couple of tins of baked beans. My casserole was made from onions, garlic, chilli, celery, carrots, butternut squash and tinned tomatoes. But this would also suit a beef stew. I think chicken might be better without the cheese – in that case, I’d leave out the cheese and substitute double cream for the milk (to maintain the fat content), or use soft cheese instead of grated cheddar (and initially add less milk, so that the mixture is not too wet). Enough for 3 people:

  • 250g mashed potato made with 30g of butter
  • 120g wholemeal flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 60g finely grated cheddar
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped parsley
  • 90ml milk

Sift together the flour and baking powder. Mix in the grated cheese and parsley. Mix in the mashed potato using a fork until it is well integrated.

Heat the oven to 180C (Gas Mark 4). Your casserole or beans etc needs to be hot so heat on the hob or in the microwave if cold.

Mix the milk into the dumpling mixture, and using your hands, place golf ball sized pieces of dough on top of the casserole.

Cook in the oven for 20 minutes until the dumplings are risen and starting to brown.

Serve as it is – nothing more is required!

Borlotti bean and tuna lunch box

Enough for 2 lunch box portions:Borlotti_Lunchbox

  • 1 tin tuna steak (drained);
  • 1 tin borlotti beans (drained and rinsed);
  • 1/2 small onion (chopped);
  • 1 piece of fennel (peeled from a bulb and chopped);
  • About 8 sprigs of flat parsley ( roughly chopped);
  • Dressing made with olive oil, lemon juice and black pepper.

Mix all the ingredients (except the dressing) together, then mix in sufficient dressing, so that the mixture is moist but not too wet.

As usual, this comes with cherry vine tomatoes, beetroot, spring onions, carrot sticks and oil and vinegar dressing.

Meatball and pasta bake

Pasta-meatballs_Tile

I used half of the meatballs (see Pork meatballs) to make this hearty, comforting dish. Serves 2-3 people.

  • 3 ‘handfuls’ of dried penne (cooked);
  • 12 meatballs;
  • 1 quantity of tomato sauce;
  • 30g grated cheddar.

Place the cooked pasta in an oven proof dish. Place the meat balls within the pasta. Pour over the tomato sauce and sprinkle with grated cheddar. Cook in the oven at 180C (Gas Mark 4) until piping hot and cheese is browned.

Pork meatballs

Enough for 4 people. I froze half of mine for a later meal.

  • 1 large slice of stale bread;Pork_meatballs
  • 1 large portobello mushroom;
  • 1 medium sized onion;
  • 1 clove garlic;
  • 1 small red chilli deseeded;
  • Small bunch of mixed herbs (eg parsley, rosemary & thyme);
  • 500g pork mince;
  • 1 tbsp tomato ketchup;
  • 3 ‘shakes’ of Worcester Sauce;
  • Black pepper;
  • 3 tsp tahini;
  • Oil;
  • Plain flour.

Finely chop the bread, mushroom, onion, garlic, chilli and herbs (I used my Cuisinart Mini-Processor).

Thoroughly mix the chopped ingredients with the pork in a large bowl. Mix in the ketchup, Worcester Sauce and black pepper.

In small bowl, gradually combine a small quantity of cold water with the tahini, until it becomes slightly runny. Thoroughly mix this into the pork mixture.

Using a plate of flour, take ping-pong ball sized piece of the mixture in your floured hands, and roll in the flour until ball shaped. Place on a flour tray. I made made 24 meatballs from this mixture.

Oil a baking sheet and place the balls on it, brushing or spraying them with more oil.

Bake at 200C (Gas Mark 6) for about 20 minutes, until they begin to brown.

I served twelve of my meatballs in a pasta bake, made with penne (3 ‘handfuls’ of dried penne (cooked)), 1 quantity of Tomato Sauce, topped with grated cheddar, and cooked in the oven for 20 minutes at 180C (Gas Mark 4). This will feed 2-3 people.

Lentil and bulgur pilaf

This is based on an Ottolenghi recipe, which he suggests is one of the ultimate comfort foods. My version contains far less oil and butter, but still seems fairly comforting to me. Enough for 2 people as a main meal.

  • 5 tbsp olive oil;Lentil&bulgar_Pilaf
  • 1 aubergine (cut into 2cm dice);
  • 60g bulgur;
  • 70g green lentils (rinsed);
  • Bay leaf;
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds;
  • 1 medium onion (chopped);
  • 1 clove garlic (finely chopped/crushed);
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric;
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice;
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon;
  • 170ml water;
  • 2 tbsp flaked almonds;
  • 1 tbsp raisins;
  • Zest of half a lemon (grated);
  • 15g butter;
  • Black pepper;
  • Lemon juice to taste;
  • Fresh coriander;
  • Greek yogurt (to serve on the side).

Mix 3 tbsp of oil with the diced aubergine. Spread the aubergine on a baking tray and bake in the oven for about 15 minutes at 180C (Gas mark 4), until browned and nearly cooked though.

Meanwhile, cook the lentils with the bay leaf on plenty of water. Bring to the boil, simmer for 12 minutes and drain (they should be al dente).

At the same time, heat the remaining oil in a large oven proof, lidded casserole, and cook the cumin seeds for about 1 minute. Turn down the heat, add the onions and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the garlic, turmeric, allspice and cinnamon, and cook for a further 2 minutes. Add the bulgur and the water, bring to the boil, and simmer for 3 minutes.

Stir in the aubergines, lentils, almonds, raisins, lemon zest and butter, and season with black pepper. Place in the oven at 160C (Gas Mark 3), and bake for 10 minutes, or until the lentils are just becoming soft.

Stir in lemon juice to taste, and serve sprinkled with coriander and a portion of Greek yogurt.