Sooo... like my knees predicted (or rather, the weather forecast did) the sun turned to rain. Not that I minded, because Edmonton was getting so dusty it needed a good clean out. The leaves are out and the grass is turning green and everything is happy, and so am I. Its great to see the approach of spring and the weather here turns so quickly, one day you see bare branches out of the window, next day its green shoots everywhere.
So as a last hurrah to winter, the rain gave me an excuse to make my favourite comfort food, cottage pie. Normally cottage pie is made with beef, but as I cater for a family of vegetarians I make a veggie version with quorn mince (Yves Veggie Ground Round, for the Canadians). You could leave out the mince and use several other vegetables and it works well with most of them. This recipe has been worked out by trial and error, and taste, so do play around with the tastes to suit you. I serve with some green veg like asparagus or broccoli, but it works well just by itself. I made a big casserole full and when I went back into the kitchen for seconds, three quarters had disappeared, that's how much some people like it :-)
About 2 tbsp olive or vegetable oil
1 pack quorn mince or similar (you can leave it out and use other veggies instead)
2 carrots, diced
2 sticks of celery, diced
1 big onion, diced
1 or 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or microplaned
1 tsp thyme (dried or fresh, make it 3 tsps for fresh) or use fresh sage for a change, or a combo of both, or rosemary (you get the drift!)
2 ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 tbsp tomato puree
2 tbsp Worcester sauce
1 tbsp Marmite (opt, but it does give a super deep flavour)
200 ml vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste (you may not need salt, with all the stock and Marmite)
4 large floury potatoes, chopped
About 25 ml milk
About 2 tbsp butter or margarine (less, if you want to be healthier)
Some grated cheddar (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
In a pan, heat the olive oil and add the onions, garlic and celery. Saute for a few minutes until the onion is soft. Add the carrots. Saute again for a few minutes, and add the quorn mince and the thyme. Stir around for a few minutes, then add the tomatoes, puree, stock, Worcester and Marmite. Stir all together and simmer for about 15 - 20 minutes, until the mixture is thick. Season to taste. If it hasn't thickened, simmer for a few more minutes. Leave to cool.
Meanwhile, boil and mash the potatoes with the milk and butter. Season to taste. Leave to cool down.
In a deep dish (I use my Le Creuset), pour the mince filling, level out the surface. Then drop the mashed potato over it, smoothing it out, until the mince mixture is fully covered, sealing up the edges. Use a fork to scrape over the top of the potato, as this will give a crisper finish. Sprinkle over the cheese, if using, and bake in preheated oven for about 25 minutes, at around 200 C, until the topping is lightly browned. If the topping is not browned to your satisfaction, put under a grill for 5 minutes or so.
Kay enjoys his with ketchup (ugh) so if you feel like it and all that :-))