Posts Tagged ‘comfort food’

In my last post, I served my Balsamic chicken with Boulangère Potatoes.  It was divine!  As promised, here is the potato dish recipe, in all it’s glory.

Anyone who regularly reads my posts will know of my tottie addiction.  This is my healthy alternative to potato dauphinoise (wouldn’t it be amazing if we could have dauphinoise every day?  I’d probably never get fed up of it).

Recipes vary and can get quite fancy, but I prefer mines nice and basic.  Here is what I did:

Ingredients (Serves 4):

1kg potatoes, sliced thinly

2 onions, sliced thinly

300ml chicken stock

salt & pepper to season

a couple of knobs of butter for the top (optional)

I went to town with my Mandolin slicer again!  Theres something very therapeutic about setting upon a mound of totties with a sharp blade…

My layer sequence was:

1/3 potatoes

1/2 onion


1/3 potatoes

1/2 onion


1/3 potatoes

I covered it with stock, until it almost came up to the surface, but didn’t quite reach.  I seasoned once again, dotted a few wee knobs of butter over the top and covered with foil. 

Then I put into a preheated oven (200 degrees) for 45 minutes.  I removed the foil, then baked for a final 15 mins.

If I were cooking for one, I suspect I’d probably still make enough for four.  I wouldn’t even make an accompanying dish; a tray of boulangère totties and a fork = One Happy Catherine.

It tastes even better the next day, if it manages to last that long.  It freezes well too!

Enjoy! 🙂

In other news, I have decided to only post on Wednesdays from now on.  This is so I can work on my writing commitments (which I have viciously bestowed upon myself), but I hope to still browse my favourite food blogs throughout the week (usually in the depths of procrastination; we may be seeing a lot of each other).

Till next Wednesday then! x


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Don’t you just love those rare days, when you have absolutely nothing to do?  Of course, days like that don’t really exist.  But, if you’re anything like me, you can just procrastinate* and think up reasons why things can be left till tomorrow.  It’s about the only way I can allow myself to unwind (and doubles my stress when the other deadlines approach, but it always seems worth it at the time).

It was on a day like this, when I decided to tackle my Achilles Heel of the cookery world.  Something that I failed so miserably on at my last attempt, and filled me with shame in the knowledge that I’d fed it to people…

… my basic, run of the mill pastry pie.

After the eye-watering disaster of my previous pie attempt, I tackled the mission with my usual determined stubborn-ness.  This time it’s going to be a fabulous pie, goddamnit.  This time, it’s going to be a Chicken & Sweetcorn Pie.

First, I bundled up all my ingredients:

Ingredients (Serves 4)

3  chicken breasts (or 575g), diced

2  leeks, chopped finely (I don’t like big chunky bits, but it’s your call if you do)

300ml  boiled water with 1 chicken stock cube dissolved

340g shortcrust pastry (I used frozen and let it defrost at room temperature for 1 hour before use)

1 tin of sweetcorn, drained

1 tbsp dried thyme

1 tbsp dried rosemary

3  bay leaves

3 tbsp plain flour

30g butter

1 tsp dijon mustard

1 very heaped tbsp soft cream cheese

1 egg, beaten


I pre-heated the oven to 200 degrees.

Into a casserole dish, I put the chicken, leeks, thyme, rosemary, bay leaves and chicken stock.  I seasoned it generously with salt and pepper, stirred, then popped into the oven for 1.5 hours.

Taking the casserole out of the oven, I carefully sieved into a measuring jug (twas very hot), separating the juices from the filling.  I discarded the bay leaves and set both aside for the time being.

I melted the butter in a pan, then added my flour.  I stirred until it formed a paste (or a roux):

On a low heat, I gradually added the casserole juices and whisked, until it formed a smooth, thick consistency.

I added the rest of the casserole ingredients to the pan, along with the mustard and tin of sweetcorn.  I turned off the heat and stirred in a big dollop of soft cream cheese.

At this point, it’s important to taste it and season, if necessary.

I cut my pastry in two and rolled them out on a floured surface; into rectangle shapes just bigger than my pie dish.  I pressed the first layer of pastry into the dish, trying to make sure it came over the sides, and poured in the filling.

I placed the 2nd layer of pastry over the top, trimmed the straggly bits around the sides of the dish and embraced my romantic side with the leftover pastry.  Awww…

I brushed the beaten egg over the top and made two slits within the heart to let the air escape (that sounds incredibly violent and gory!), and popped into the oven (200 degrees) for 40 mins.

Ahhh the golden wonderment… shame I had to attack it with my knife!

You could easily make this pie ahead, at various stages (up until it’s been casseroled, or once it’s assembled but before it goes into the oven).

It’s also a great pie for using up leftover chicken – just skip the casserole part and saute the leeks & herbs until soft, then set aside and start at the roux stage.

I thoroughly recommend you serve it with some fluffy, buttery mash and honey glazed carrots.  Yummaaay!

 Enjoy 🙂 x

* don’t procrastinate.  It’s very, very, very bad for you.  I’ll tell you why tomorrow…

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I am a big fan of the MoneySavingExpert site (although I’m a silent lurker), and I could honestly spend HOURS on their Complete Cooking Collection .  Ok, I admit it. I already have spent hours on the cooking collection, plenty of them.

There’s a forum thread where people post recipes that cost no more than 50p for two people*.  You’d think that would be quite difficult, but nay, there are 16 pages worth of suggestions!  That’s where I found the recipe for this potato, bacon and onion bake.  You can find the original recipe here, but I have scaled up my recipe to feed 3 greedy potato fiends:


4 baking potatoes, sliced thinly

8 rashers bacon, unsmoked (I cut the fat off cos I hate the texture *boak*)

2 onions, slices thinly

200ml milk, I used semi-skimmed

As you can see, I went to town with my Mandolin slicer; it’s BETTER than sliced bread, I tell ye.

I layered them in the following order: Potatoes (season with salt & pepper), onions, bacon.

I done that twice, then finished with a layer of totties:

I poured over the milk, seasoned, then baked this at 170 degrees for about an hour and 15 mins.  I would recommend the slower baking, as it really intensifies the flavour!  I covered it with foil about half way through as it was getting burnt on top (next time I’ll cover it with foil from the start, then remove for the last 15 mins or so):

So, do I serve the delicate purple sprouting broccoli?  The medley of Julienne vegetables?

Of course not.  This type of dish deserves baked beans, and plenty of them.

This is cheap, cheerful, extremely easy and utterly tasty.  There’s a time and a place for fancy food.  This is comfort food at it’s best.

You could substitute the milk for cream if you want to increase the richness, or top it with cheese to make it more indulgent.  It doesn’t need it though.  The salty bacon seeps through and flavours everything beautifully and the potatoes are deliciously moreish with a light crispiness.  I salivate in remembrance. 

Next time, I’m making enough leftovers for lunch the next day.  I’d never tire of this.

Try it 🙂 x

*The thread was started in 2006, so 50p probably wouldn’t apply these days with the inflation.  But still great value for money!

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This little gem of a dish I present to you, was discovered on the increasingly life-critical entity that is Facebook, or as I affectionately refer to it: Procrastination’s Playground!  I hadn’t realised (until now) quite how much Facebook has completely and utterly indulged my food obsession (honestly, anyone who loves food will love this).  And after trying this stupendously tasty dish, I am eternally grateful. 😀

Although I occasionally whine about my Facebook page being dominated by needless weather reports or commentaries on TV programmes that I don’t watch, there is one topic that my friends consistently update (much to my joy):  what they’re having for their dinner! 

Some people get their kicks from finding out celebrity gossip, or who’s being booted off the X Factor stage (or jungle, or dance-floor, or ice-rink…).  But if one of my friends post about their Sunday Roast, you will be sure to find a wee comment from myself underneath, enquiring about the juicy details.  Sad, perhaps.  Even somewhat perverse, but I love it. 🙂

My friend Heather recently posted a status update about having made a big pot of Marsetti.  I’d never heard of it before (so googled it, of course!) and found loads of different recipes for it.  Heather was kind enough to give me her version, and I will certainly not be looking to adapt it; it’s perfect and ridiculously tasty.

Heather doesn’t use measurements, but here’s what I used if you need a guideline:

Ingredients (serves 4):

Penne pasta shells (enough for 4 people; I used about 400g)

2 onions, diced finely

250g button mushrooms, sliced thinly (for the mushie-phobes out there!)

500g lean beef steak mince

1 tin condensed tomato soup

1 tin condensed chicken soup

2 tbsp dried mixed herbs (a mix of thyme, marjoram, parsley, oregano, sage & basil)

2 bay leaves

50g mature cheddar, grated

First brown the mince, then add the onions.

Once the onions start looking transparent, add the two tins of soup, the mixed herbs and the bay leaves.  Let it simmer for 30 mins, stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn’t burn at the bottom!

Cook your pasta according to the packet instructions in some well-salted, boiling water (I’ve started adding a touch of olive oil to the water too, after seeing Ina Garten do it on Barefoot Contessa.  I forget the reasoning behind it, but it’s your call whether you want to or not).

Take out the bay leaves and add your mushrooms to the mince:

Drain your cooked pasta, and take the heat off the mince.  Stir in the grated cheese (mmm… cheesy goodness), and season well with salt and pepper.

Stir in the pasta shells and mix thoroughly.  Then prepare your taste-buds for a treat. 🙂

This is so tasty, words do not do it justice!  It set me up nicely before attending my cousin Claire’s 18th birthday party (Happy Birthday, honey bunch!), and it was even more comforting the next day, when I was feeling rather tender and wanting to stuff my face!

Heather, I’ve got my eye on your “Chicken Divan” recipe next!

Enjoy 😀

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There’s a terrible rumour going around.  One of those rumours that you’re scared to believe, incase it might not be true.

The rumour in question is this: It’s summer.

I can’t comment on the truthfulness of it, since I have yet to see it with my own eyes.  However, there does seem to be a hell of a lot of clues to back up this lurid accusation.  Everywhere I look, there are advertisements for BBQ kits and recipe’s for “light summer dining”. 

Maybe I just love my comfort food a bit too much, but when it’s pouring down outside and the wind is blowing a gale, “summer dining” is the last thing I want.

Each to their own on this one, but I can’t comprehend the logic when people say things like “you can’t have soup, it’s summer” or “It’s the middle of July, have a salad”.  My grumbling tummy can’t differentiate between the seasons; it knows what it wants and will stubbornly whine until it gets it.  Stodgy, comforting, tasty food. 

Like this luscious Italian Shepherd’s Pie, crafted by the ever flamboyant Gino D’Acampo.

I adapted mines slightly to accommodate what I had available, but I am sure the taste wasn’t compromised as a result.  Bellissimo (as Gino would say, I assume)!

Ingredients (Serves 4)

500g x lean beef mince

1 x onion, finely chopped

2 x courgettes, peeled and diced

250g x button mushrooms, chopped

1 x red bell pepper, diced

1 x yellow bell pepper, diced

1 x glass red wine

500g x tin chopped tomatoes

2 x tbsp dried basil

2 x tbsp dried oregano

700g sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into chunks

30g x salted butter

50ml x milk (I used whole)

150g grated parmesan cheese

My mum made the sweet potato mash beforehand for me, by boiling them for 30 mins until soft, then mashing (combining the milk and 100g parmesan).  I find it easier to spread the mash over the mince mixture if it’s cooled.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

First, I fried my onions, mushrooms and courgettes, for 10 mins until soft.

I added my red and yellow peppers, and fried for a further 5 mins.

Then I added the minced beef, separating the clumps of meat with my spoon.  I seasoned with salt & pepper and fried for 5 mins.

I added my glass of wine and stirred until the alcohol evaporated.  I then popped in the tin of tomatoes,  basil and oregano, then cooked uncovered for 30 mins (over a medium heat), stirring occasionally.

Spread the mixture evenly into an ovenproof dish (and try not to eat it all, it is smelling divine by this point!)

Top with the mashed sweet potato, sprinkle with the rest of the cheese and bake for 15-20 mins (or until the top looks crisp and golden).

Serve and enjoy! 🙂

Next time I do this, I’m going to throw in a couple of normal potatoes with the mash, as I think that would provide a more pliable consistency for spreading etc (it felt a wee bit thin on the top).

I opened a bottle of red wine for this recipe, and I don’t drink red wine (rose and white are a different matter altogether, however!).  So I put the rest of the wine into little tubs and have frozen them for the next time a recipe calls for it!

Are there any other Gino D’Acampo recipe’s you have tried?  Please share!

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I’ve heard that chicken soup is good for “all that ails you”.  I can’t think of the reasoning behind it, but I couldn’t agree more!  Especially this recipe, of which I have reaped the benefits for as long as I can remember.  Another of my Mother’s amazing soup recipes mmm. 

I used to be terrified of touching raw meat, especially chicken.  It just made my skin crawl and I was always far too squeamish.  There have been many comedy moments, when I’ve attempted to wash a whole chicken, wearing full length rubber gloves (and still shrieking with terror) and I’ve been known to persuade other people to do it for me, with the promise of a lovely bowl of soup as a reward :p. Thankfully, however, I seem to have grown out of that phase!

This is the easiest soup I’ve ever made, because the preparation is so quick.  Heres what I do (serves 6 easily):

1 medium whole chicken

4 chicken stock cubes

1 large leek, chopped as fine or as chunky as you desire!

1 half cup barley (just a plain coffee mug, that’s plenty)

1 half cup white long grain rice

Wash the chicken (hopefully minus any traumatic episodes), put it in your soup pot. 

Fill with water until the chicken is covered. 

Add the stock cubes, leek, barley and rice, and season well!

Bring to a boil then simmer for 1 hour and 30mins.

Remove the chicken from the pot and stir the soup thoroughly, looking for any small bones that may have fallen off.

Cook for another 15 mins then serve, with pieces of chicken.

You could tear apart and put all the chicken pieces back into the soup, but we usually just keep it separate from the soup and add as much or as little chicken to our bowls upon serving.

This soup is so flavoursome and comforting.  It freezes amazingly too.  Perfect for breaking up a crap day at work, with a steaming hot bowl and some crusty, buttery bread! Mmmmm.  Enjoy! 🙂

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Today was a loooong day at work.  Infact, my eyes are half closing with sleepiness; which I’ll succumb to once I’ve shared my comforting midweek meal with you. 

Everyone has their food vices; for some it’s chocolate, for others, it’s cheese… the possibilities are endless.  For me, it’s potatoes.  I LOVE potatoes and get stupidly excited about trying out different methods (I was unnaturally overjoyed with my dauphinoise on Saturday night).  However, when it’s been a dull day and I want something quick, easy and soothing, nothing beats plain, buttery mash.  Mmmmmm.

In keeping with my comforting theme, I wanted something rich and creamy to accompany it.  Something quick, easy and uncomplicated; containing ingredients that I had to hand.  I opted for chicken breast with a cheese, onion and mushroom sauce to marry my mash.  This would also be sublime with sauteed leeks or spring onion.

This fed me and my mum 🙂

I rubbed a little olive oil and seasoned my chicken breasts, popping them into a preheated oven at 180 degrees for 25 minutes (check that it’s cooked through, by making sure the juices run clear when inserting a knife into the fleshiest part – or you could be clever and use a meat thermometer!)

2 chicken breasts

1 medium onion

button mushrooms

80g mild cheddar cheese

1/2 tsp mustard powder

3 tbsp butter

4 tbsp flour

300ml milk

In a separate pan, cook the onion and mushrooms for about 10 minutes.

Melt butter in a pan, then stir in flour, mustard powder, then milk.  Keep stirring , let it come to the boil, then simmer until it has a thick consistency.  Add cheese and stir until it all melts together into a wonderful gooey sauciness.  Pour in the mushrooms and onions and spread over your chicken breast.

Serve with some buttery, fluffy mash.  I also had a side of marrowfat peas.


It’s almost worth having a crap day for.  Enjoy!

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