It’s been a very wet few days here in Worcestershire so much so that the need for some comfort meant the kitchen fire was lit for the first time this season and at least we had some cosiness to settle into. The back garden has flooded, too, so we’ve hurtled from our lovely Indian Summer straight into Autumn/Winter. Fires and drawn curtains, warm throws to snuggle on the sofa started me thinking of comfort foods and what I’d like to come home to if caught out in the cold, windy weather. Daughter No1 was here for the weekend and she mentioned macaroni cheese; The Husband likes oxtail stew (see below) after he’s had a day pike fishing and I love a fish pie.
The first recipe is a quick one – for those days you are caught in a sudden downpour, get cold home and wet and want a quick fix – and the second one is long and slow and full of anticipation for when you wake up to an already miserable day!
One-pan vegetable lasagne –
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 small onions, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 large courgette, chopped
- 125g button mushrooms, sliced
- 1/2 tin chopped tomatoes
- 100g baby leaf spinach
- 200g fresh lasagne sheets, sliced into strips
- Handful fresh basil leaves, torn
- grated parmesan to taste
- 1 x 125g mozzarella ball, sliced
Heat the oil in the pan. Add the onions and fry over a medium heat for 5-10 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add the courgette and mushrooms, increase the heat and fry for 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Add the tomatoes and 400ml boiling water, then season. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes over a medium heat. Heat the grill to high. Stir the spinach and pasta into the pan in batches. Once the spinach has wilted, stir in the basil, most of the parmesan and half the mozzarella. Scatter over the rest of the cheese, then grill for 3-5 minutes until melty and bubbling. Leave for a few minutes before serving.
Oxtail Stew – I cook this in a pressure cooker so it’s another one-pot wonder! I hesitated putting this on the blog as I always think of a stew as a dish for many – but then realised that , of course, one buys oxtail by the number so a perfect way of cooking for one!
- Oxtail pieces – your butcher sells these individually so pick what you want
- carrots, onions, celery, chopped
- swede/turnip (this gets a little confusing in UK. In Scotland where I am from a turnip is the yellow root vegetable – but in England this is the swede and the turnip is the little white one – so just go with whatever!) chopped.
- Beef stock cube, gravy thickening and redcurrant jelly
Chop all the vegetables and put in the bottom of the cooker. Place the oxtail on top and add water, flavoured with beef stock cube to cover. Bring to pressure and cook for 40 minutes. Switch off and allow pressure to drop. Take all the vegetables and meat out and bring the liquid to the boil, add a tablespoon of redcurrant jelly and thickening till it’s a lovely rolling mix. Add the vegetables and meat back into the stew. Serve with mashed potato. If there is any left over, put in the fridge and add some extra stock the next day to have as a soup. The meat will just fall off the bones.
You could also cook this in a slow cooker, putting it on the morning low to eat at night – or even a low oven/ Aga.