Posts tagged ‘cheddar’

January 10, 2012

Last Night’s Dinner: Ella’s Shepherdess Pie

Well, it might have been last night’s dinner; it certainly was recently and no doubt it soon will be again. When winter is here, a plate of filling, hot comfort food is a must. Ella’s go-to recipe is this Shepherdess Pie, which our friend over at rather non-veggie The Chilli Source site might call “a plate of sense”.

Sherpherdess Pie? A Shepherd’s Pie without the meat, of course. Over the years we’ve tried many savoury vegetarian options under the pillow of mashed potato and I think Ella’s recipe with Puy lentils is the best.

First, bring a pan of water or, preferably, vegetable stock to the boil and simmer enough Puy lentils to make a inch-deep layer in your oven dish/pie tin when cooked (they’ll take around 20-30 minutes and should retain a little nutty bite). As they’re simmering, finely chop a large onion and fry it in a little olive oil for 10 minutes.

Along with onion, we like to pimp the savouriness of the lentil base by adding a little bit of vegetable variation. So, dice a carrot, or a red pepper, or some button mushrooms – or all three and, like the onion, lightly fry in olive oil for 10 minutes.

Actually, you have some options here: the veg can be fried separately as above (best), or added in with the onion (okay) or you can even skip the frying bit and dump it in with the simmering lentils (lazy). They will all work, but the first option will provide the greatest differentiation between flavours.

When the lentils and veg are cooked, drain the lentils and mix them all together in the pan before spreading into the oven dish. Set aside.

Now for the mash. Do I need to explain mash? I hope not. But keep don’t make it too soggy or buttery – this isn’t a Michelin-star-abused side-dish.

Spread the mash over the lentil base and rough up the top slightly with a fork. Bake in the oven at 190 degrees for 40 minutes and, if you like, grate some Cheddar or Gruyere cheese over the top before returning to the oven for a final 10 minutes. The trick is to get a crisp, almost crusty top to the potato. It’s a texture thing.

Serve with seasonal greens.

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June 15, 2011

Last Night’s Dinner: Broccoli and cheddar soup

1 June 2011

Whenever I eat broccoli, I really enjoy it. And yet I so rarely feel the urge to cook it. In a stir-fry it can be nutty and sweet, it adds depth to a cheese quiche and here, as a soup, it’s a big bowl of savouriness.

We often make this soup in winter, combining the broccoli with a soup base of potato, onion and, perhaps, leek. You can use Stilton too, instead of cheddar. It works, as here, in a slightly lighter, more summery version.

So, slice up one medium white onion and gently fry it in a little olive oil in a large pan or stockpot. Dice a handful of new potatoes and add them to the pan. Cook for 5 minutes. Finely chop a clove of garlic and add to the pan too. Then finely chop 6-8 spring onions and add them as well. Next, take one whole head of brocolli and break it up into small florets. Add to the pan and top up with a light vegetable stock. Season with a little salt and pepper and half a teaspoon of ground nutmeg. Bring to the boil and simmer until the brocolli is soft. Leave to cool and then blend with a hand blender. Return to the heat and add around 100g of cheddar cheese, grated. Or, if you like, use a mix of cheddar and parmesan. We like the cheese to add a creaminess to the big bowl of green but not become overpowering. A cheese soup this is not! Serve with a dollop of cream or creme fraiche. Depending on the size of the brocolli and how thick you like the soup, this will feed 2-3 hungry people easily, or around 4 regular servings.