For me, eating in winter is all about comfort food. When it is cold outside, what bliss to light the fire, sit down to cottage pie then curl up on the sofa to watch a movie. I like staying in especially now that I have my new baby. He is 10 months old, a good eater and he sleeps through the night, bless him. His name is Oscar and he is a golden retriever. I guess he is my substitute child now that Nicholas, my son, is at university.
Luckily, Nicholas does not need to live on junk food at college because I taught him how to cook when he was a child. All three of my kids were given a recipe on a particular day each week for a month and they took it in turns to make that dish for the whole family. Repeating the recipe gave them the confidence to cook and by the end of the month they could make it without even measuring the ingredients. This was one of Nicholas's recipes. It is one of those wonderful dishes that can be prepared in advance and frozen for those cold winter evenings.
Makes 6 portions
250g swede and 200g carrots, peeled and chopped
a generous knob of margarine
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp vegetable oil
100g leek, finely chopped
100g red pepper, finely chopped
500g minced beef
150g button mushrooms, diced
4 medium tomatoes, skinned, de-seeded and chopped
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp caster sugar
2 tsp dried mixed herbs
1 beef stock cube dissolved in 300ml boiling water
salt and black pepper
200g frozen peas, cooked
700g potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
salt and a little white pepper
1 beaten egg
● Boil the carrots and swede in lightly salted water for 20 minutes or until tender and then whizz in a food processor with the margarine and a little seasoning until smooth.
● Heat the oil in a frying pan and sauté the onion and leek for 4 minutes, add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds, then add the red pepper and sauté for 2 minutes.
● Add the minced beef and sauté for 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms, sauté for 3 minutes, add the tomatoes and sauté for 3 minutes.
● Stir in the tomato puree, sugar, herbs and stock and simmer for 20 minutes. Season to taste.
● Meanwhile, boil the potatoes for 15 to 20 minutes, then drain. Return the potatoes to the empty saucepan and mash together with margarine, salt and pepper until smooth.
● Place the carrots in the base of a glass ovenproof dish (approximately 18cm diameter x 7.5 cm deep). Arrange the meat on top, then cover with a layer of cooked peas and top with a layer of potato.
● Brush the potato with the egg and cook under the grill for 6 to 7 minutes or until the top is browned.