This page is mainly for my children so that they know how to cook the stuff that we eat regularly and they like. It’s going to be Spag Bol, Mac ‘n’ Cheese, Shepherd’s Pie, all the usual classics that everyone who likes to cook has a recipe for and hardly needs me to help with. However they are up for public consumption as the beauty of the blog, I am discovering, is that fact that you can access the information, if away from home and in need of a recipe, whomever you are.
Spaghetti Bolognese Sauce (Serves 4)
So per packet of mince (we usually use Sainsbury’s Organic 400g or 500g) otherwise go with the lean minced steak: 1 medium Onion, peeled and chopped, 1 clove of Garlic, peeled and chopped, 1 carrot, peeled and grated, Celery leaves from 1 stem, chopped plus some of the stem chopped, 1 tin of Chopped Tomatoes, ½ Beef Oxo cube, crumbled, 125ml water from the kettle, some mushrooms, chopped, ½ pepper, chopped, Salt, Pepper, Tomato Puree, ½ tsp Dried Oregano, Olive Oil.
- Fry off the meat gently in a frying pan stirring regularly until it is brown all over.
- Meanwhile put 2 tbsp of Olive Oil in a medium to large saucepan and gently cook the onion for about 5 minutes, then add the garlic, celery and carrot and stir round for another minute or two.
- Transfer the meat to the saucepan, using a draining spoon, so that any residual fat is left behind in the frying pan and stir that around with the onion mixture, then add the tin of tomatoes, tomato puree, Oxo cube, water, Oregano, salt, pepper.
- Allow the sauce to come up to the boil and reduce the heat and simmer whilst you chop up the pepper and mushrooms. Add those too and continue to simmer the sauce for a good 30 minutes or so, adding a small amount of water if required as you go along to keep it sauce like. Check the seasoning.
For 300ml (½ pint): 40g butter, 40g plain flour, 300ml milk, Salt, Pepper, a grating of Nutmeg (optional).
Melt the butter gently in a non-stick saucepan and add the flour, stir with a wooden spoon until you have a dough-like mixture and cook gently for a minute or two. Remove from the heat and very gradually and in stages add nearly all the milk until you have a sauce the consistency of single cream. Return to a low heat and stir continuously until it thickens and bubbles break on the surface. Add a little more milk it if seems a bit thick and won’t pour properly, and simmer for a minute or two. Add the salt pepper and nutmeg if using.
For Cheese Sauce, add a couple of handfuls of grated cheddar (or Edam for Mac ‘n’ Cheese) once the sauce is cooked and stir until it melts, omit the nutmeg.
Whilst we are at it:
You need a large saucepan for this. 100-125g of any pasta per person is a good rule of thumb but there is economy in scale so for 5 people or more allow 75-100g per person.
Bring the saucepan full of water to the boil and add a tbsp of oil and a tsp of salt. Add the pasta and once the water returns to the boil, turn down the heat and simmer for the alloted time. Pasta is cooked when you bite into a piece and the white center (uncooked pasta) has just disappeared ‘al dente’, so test as you approach the end of the cooking time. Drain and serve.
If pasta overcooks it has no bite and absorbs any liquid in the sauce like a sponge making your dish hard to eat as all the pasta clumps together. The same is true of noodles so check the back of the packet for the correct cooking time and stick to it. This is particularly the case with spaghetti, tagliatelle and linguine.
Lasagne (Serves 4-6)
For a sensible sized lasagne dish, so about 30 x 24 cm, double the quantities above in terms of sauce, and additionally you will need fresh pasta lasagne sheets and need to make ½ pint (300ml) of white sauce and some Parmesan cheese.
Preheat the oven to 190°C/Fan 175-180°C.
Spoon a couple of tbsp of white sauce onto the bottom of the lasagne dish and smear it around to provide a thin cover. Place lasagne sheets over the sauce to cover the bottom of the dish. Spoon on ½ the meat sauce, cover with sheets of lasagne, spoon on the rest of the meat sauce, cover with lasagne sheets and then cover the top of the lasagne with the white sauce. Grate Parmesan over the top of the whole lot and bake for anywhere between 30-45 minutes. It’s cooked when the top is golden brown and the meat sauce is bubbling round the sides. If the meat sauce was warm when you made up the lasagne you probably will only need to cook it for 30 minutes. If the sauce was cold when you made it up, then nearer 45 minutes.
Mac ‘n’ Cheese (Serves 2)
You will need: ½ pint (300ml) of white sauce, 250g Macaroni, some diced, cooked ham (optional), 2 to 3 handfuls of Edam Cheese, 2 tsp wholegrain mustard, a gratin dish (oval or oblong).
- Preheat the grill on a moderate setting.
- Make some white sauce, add 2 handfuls of Edam and stir in until it melts,
- Cook the pasta,
- Combine the pasta, once it is drained, with the white sauce,
- Stir in the ham if using and also the mustard,
- Empty into the gratin dish, top with the extra Edam cheese and pop under the grill until the cheese has melted.