Cheese, onion and potato hotpot


We’d just got back from a long weekend and there wasn’t much to eat in the house. I fancied something warming, so I made this – enough for 2:

  • 3 medium sized onions (finely sliced)
  • 3 fairly large potatoes (peeled and sliced (2-3cm)
  • 100g grated cheddar
  • 800ml vegetable stock
  • Black pepper
  • 15g butter
  • Grated nutmeg

Take 1/4 of the potatoes and make a layer at the base of an ovenproof dish. Cover with 1/3rd of the onions and then 1/3rd of the cheese. Grate over a little black pepper.

Repeat the above (potatoes, onions, cheese etc), twice; and then add the final layer of potatoes.

Dot the final layer of potatoes with butter and lightly dust with pepper and nutmeg.

Gently add the stock at the edge of the dish.

Cover (either with the lid or aluminium foil) and cook at 180C (Gas Mark 4) for 2 hours. Then turn up the heat to 200C (Gas mark 6),  uncover and cook for a further 15-20 minutes to crispen the top layer of potatoes.

Serve with a salad (if liked). I used baby leaf salad with cherry tomatoes and spring onions, with a honey and mustard dressing.


Cottage pie


This is a recipe for cottage pie with rather more vegetables and less meat. I bought 400g of mince beef and used half to make this pie, with the other half used for chilli con carne. This quantity will feed 2 or 3 people.

  • Oil
  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • 1 carrot (chopped)
  • 1 celery stick (chopped)
  • 200g beef mince
  • 2 large mushrooms (roughly chopped)
  • 1 clove garlic (chopped)
  • A little fresh chopped parsley, thyme and marjoram (or dried mixed herbs, or oregano)
  • 150g tinned chopped tomatoes (or 2 fresh tomatoes skinned and chopped, together with 1 tbsp tomato purée)
  • ½ a beef stock cube
  • Hot water
  • 2 largish potatoes (peeled and cubed)
  • A knob of butter
  • 40g grated cheddar
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Heat a little oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion, carrot and celery. Stir, and gently fry for 5 minutes. Turn up the heat, add the mince and stir until it browns. Turn down the heat and add the mushrooms, garlic and herbs. Cook for 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, the stock cube (crumbled) and enough hot water to cover the meat and vegetables. Stir and bring to the boil and simmer for 45 mins.

Meanwhile, make the mashed potato topping. Place the potatoes in a saucepan, cover with cold water, bring to the boil and simmer until tender. Drain, and return to the pan over a low heat to allow the potato to dry out. Mash with the butter and grated cheese, and season with pepper (and salt if required).

Pour the meat mixture into an ovenproof dish. Carefully spoon on the mash. Cook in the oven (200C/Gas Mark 6) for about 25 minutes or until the topping is golden. 

Cauliflower Cheese


This on its own will be fine for 2 people:

  • 1 cauliflower (I used a romanesco cauliflower (reduced to clear), you could also use brocolli)
  • 25g butter
  • 1 heaped tbsp plain flour
  • 250ml milk
  • 100g grated cheddar (the stronger the cheap more flavour you’ll get)
  • freshly ground black pepper

Wash the cauliflower and divide into florets. Boil sufficient water (to cover the cauliflower) in a large saucepan.Add the cauliflower florets to the boiling water and fast simmer for about 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small saucepan. When fully melted stir in the flour (using a wooden spoon) until you have a smooth paste (‘roux’). Put the saucepan back over a gentle heat until the roux starts to look a bit like grains of fine sand. Stir in the milk (you need to do this slowly otherwise you will have a lumpy cheese sauce (if it does go lumpy you sieve it or, the easier option: use a hand blender)). When the milk has been incorporated smoothly, put the saucepan back on a low heat and stir constantly until the sauce thickens (this will happen as it reaches boiling point). Add most of the grated cheddar and the black pepper and stir until fully blended.

Drain the cauliflower and put in an ovenproof dish. Pour the cheese sauce over the cauliflower and sprinkle with the remaining grated cheese. Place under a hot grill for about 2 minutes or until it is starting to brown.

Spinach, Cheese and Tomato Quiche


I made this with the spinach left over from the Pork Belly Noodle Soup. I included some small tomatoes which were a little past their sell-buy-date. I peeled the tomatoes, and cooked them (with nothing added) on a baking sheet in the bottom of the oven while the pastry case was baking.

Provides 6 servings:

  • Shortcrust pastry made with 150g plain flour and 75g butter; or a sheet of savoury shortcrust pastry; or a ready made savoury pastry case (about 20cm in diameter). I made mine in a fairly high-sided tin. See these instructions on how to make a pastry case
  • 200g spinach (cooked, chopped and allowed to cool – I washed mine, then spun it in a salad spinner and cooked it in the microwave at 750W for 2.5 minutes; the drained it in a sieve and squeezed out the rest of the liquid by pressing the spinach against the inside of the sieve with a suitably sized round bottomed bowl)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 250ml milk
  • a little grated nutmeg
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 80g grated cheddar
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1/2 onion (chopped)
  • about 25 small tomatoes (peeled and cooked in the bottom of the oven while the pastry case is cooking (say, 20 minutes at 200C/Gas Mark 6)) [optional]

If cooking the pastry yourself, start preparing the filling once the pastry has gone in the oven.

Heat the oil in a small saucepan, add the onion and gently cook for about 5 minutes. Allow to cool.

Beat the eggs in a 2L bowl or measuring jug. Mix in the milk. Then add the nutmeg, pepper, cheese and spinach, ensuring they are well mixed together. Add the onion when it has had time to cool off. If using the tomatoes add these when you remove them from the oven.

Pour the mixture into the pastry case and cook for about 40 minutes at 160C/Gas Mark 3. The quiche will be cooked when top starts to brown and is firm.

My husband thinks it would be better without the tomatoes – what do you think?

Very Cheesy Scones


Cheese scones with butter and watercress

This recipe does not involve rubbing butter into flour. Instead all the fat comes from the grated cheese which is merely mixed into the flour before adding the milk.

Makes 8:

  • 200g plain wholemeal flour
  • 4 heaped tsp baking powder
  • 100g finely grated cheddar
  • 150ml milk
  • cream, oil or melted butter for brushing the tops of the scones

Sift the flour together with the baking powder into a large bowl (making sure the baking powder is evenly distributed throughout the flour).

Mix in the grated cheddar (again making sure it is evenly distributed and that there are no cheesy lumps). Add most of the milk and mix into the flour and cheese mixture with a palette knife using a ‘turning and cutting’ action. The finished product should stick together but not be wet and sticky, so only use the remaining milk if the dough is too dry.

Place the dough onto a floured surface and quickly shape it into a disc about 4cm deep. Cut the disc into 8 equal wedges and transfer each wedge to a floured baking sheet. Brush the top of each scone with a little cream, oil or melted butter. Bake in the top of the oven at 230C/Gas Mark 8 for 7 to 10 minutes (or until well risen and golden brown). It is important that the scones are baked as soon as possible after the milk has been added as the baking powder will have been activated.

Cool on a wire rack.