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
- 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.
This is a great ‘winter warmer’. I had quite a few parsnips left over from Christmas and this seemed like a good way to use them up – adapted from a Thomasina Miers recipe – enough for 2 or 3 people:
- 3 medium parsnips (about 300g)
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 onion (finely chopped)
- 1 clove garlic (chopped/crushed)
- About 20 black peppercorns
- 1 clove
- 1.5 tsp coriander seeds
- A generous grating of nutmeg
- 650ml of vegetable stock (or equivalent using cube/powder)
- Lemon juice
- Torn coriander leaves
Peel the parsnips and slice thinly. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan, add the onions and cook gently for 6 minutes. Add the garlic and continue cooking for another 2 minutes.
Meanwhile, finely grind the peppercorns, clove and coriander seeds. Stir the spice mix into the onions, and grate over the nutmeg. Stir-fry for 2 minutes. Stir in the parsnips, and then add the stock. Bring to a boil and simmer for about half an hour, until the parsnips are completely soft.
Prior to serving, blend, add lemon juice to taste, and stir in the coriander leaves.
A Christmas leftover recipe (Christmas pudding and brandy butter), which (if frozen) allows you to re-experience Christmas in small bites over the coming months. It’s based on my recipe for Bread Pudding.
Makes 12 ‘modest’ pieces:
- 4 large ‘thick cut’ slices of stale wholemeal bread
- 400g leftover Christmas Pudding
- 100g leftover brandy butter (make sure it is a ‘fridge’ temperature so you can grate it into the above ingredients)
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/8 nutmeg grated
- 300ml milk
- 1 large egg (beaten)
Cut the bread into small cubes and put into a large bowl. Crumble in the Christmas pudding, grate in the brandy butter, add the spices and ensure the ingredients are well mixed. Stir in the milk and egg. Then scrunch the mixture with your fingers, ensuring that the bread is broken up and the pudding evenly distributed. Leave to soak for 15 minutes.
Heat the oven to 170C/Gas Mark 3. Line the bottom of a cake tin with silicon paper (I used a tin about 20cm x 10cm). Transfer to the cake tin, smoothing the top. Bake for about 1.5 hours until firm and golden brown (cover with foil if browns too much).
When cooked, turn out onto a wire rack (removing the paper). Cut into squares. If freezing separate squares with silicon paper.
I think this is equally good, cold just like a cake; or hot with custard.
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.
It seems that many people regard nutmeg as an exclusively Christmas spice – according to the BBC.
Well I get through a great deal of the stuff all year round: lasagne, rice pudding, celery soup, bread pudding and anything containing spinach (not an exhaustive list).
- 1 onion (sliced)
- 3/4 of a head of celery (washed, leaves discarded and sliced)
- 1/4 nutmeg (grated)
- 2 tsp vegi-stock powder
- 1 litre water
- 2 tbsp double cream
- A squeeze of lemon juice
- Freshly ground black pepper
Heat a little oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion and celery and cook gently, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.
Mix in the nutmeg, the stock powder and the water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 30 minutes.
Purée (using a hand blender or a liquidiser). Stir in the cream and heat until just boiling (stirring as it starts to boil at the edges).
Add black pepper and lemon juice to taste. Serve (I served this with croutons).
This is vegetarian comfort food – serves 2, maybe 3, as a main course. I used some frozen pancakes I had made previously (I often make these if I have eggs which are about to go out of date):
- 6 savoury pancakes (made from 300ml milk, 130g plain flour, 1 large egg, 1 tbsp oil (and more for cooking the pancakes))
- 250g fresh spinach (you could use frozen chopped spinach instead)
- 150g low fat cottage cheeese
- 30g butter
- 2 rounded tbsp plain flour
- 300ml milk
- 120g grated cheddar
- 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
- freshly ground black pepper
Wash the fresh spinach, drain (and if you have one, spin in a salad spinner, to remove additional water). Microwave the spinach in a covered bowl at 750W, for 2 mins (then stir and stand for a minute); then cook at 750W for a further minute. When cooled, squeeze any excess water from the spinach and roughly chop. Mix with the cottage cheese.
Make the cheese sauce with the butter, flour, milk, the black pepper and most of the grated cheese.
Mix a little of the cheese sauce with the spinach and cottage cheese mixture, stir in the grated nutmeg, and spread this mixture on one half of each of the six pancakes. Roll up the pancakes and place in an ovenproof dish. Pour over the cheese sauce so that it covers the top of the pancakes, and sprinkle with the remaining grated cheese.
Bake in the oven at 180C (Gas Mark 4) for about 25 minutes until the top starts to brown, and the whole dish is piping hot.