Leftovers “Shepherd’s” Pie

If you often find yourself with leftover roast meat this recipe is a great way to use it up. Felicity Cloake’s original Shepherd’s Pie recipe on which this is very much based on/inspired by, calls for roast lamb meat or lamb mince (as per tradition), however, I wanted to use up some of the rabbit we had leftover from a roast and it will work with any meat. I hope the fact I’m re-purposing a British classic, such as the mighty Shepherd’s pie, will not cause too much upset with my British friends…

I used a combination of roast meat and cooked lentils to make the filling and it really worked out quite well, so I hope you will forgive me…

This recipe is based on Felictiy Cloake’s Shepherd’s Pie recipe from The Guardian’s Feast magazine. I’ve made several changes to the quantities, order of cooking and cooking times which worked quite well. Link to the original recipe is below.

More with leftovers: Leftovers Pie“Use up your Christmas leftovers” Pizza

Leftovers “Shepherd’s” Pie


Serves 4 | Prep 20 mins | Cook 1hr 15 mins

You’ll need:

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil;
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped;
  • 1 large carrot, finely chopped;
  • 1 celery stick, finely chopped;
  • 1 sprig thyme;
  • 350g leftover roast meat or game, chopped (if you have a smaller quantity of leftover meat, add a pack or can of cooked lentils to make up to 350g);
  • 0.5 tbsp flour;
  • 200ml lamb or beef stock;
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree;
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce;
  • 750g floury potatoes, peeled and halved;
  • 50g butter;
  • 50g cheddar, grated (optional)
  • 1 tbsp whole milk.

First, start with the filling. Heat the vegetable oil in a medium sized sauce pan or a deep frying pan. When hot, add the onion, carrot, celery stick and thyme sprig. Cook on a low-medium heat for about 10 minutes, until the vegetables have softened but not browned.

Add the chopped leftover roast meat and fry for a couple of minutes. Sprinkle over the flour and stir well. Pour a little of the stock and scrape the bottom of the pan to get any stuck on bits. Stir in the tomato puree, followed by the remaining stock and Worcestershire sauce. If using, add the lentils at this point. Turn up the heat and bring to a simmer.

Once simmering, lower the heat, cover and leave to simmer gently for 30 minutes. Remove the lid, simmer for another 5-10 minutes – watch that the filling doesn’t dry up too much here. Set aside.

While the filling is cooking, prepare the mash for the topping. Put the potatoes in a pan of well-salted water, bring to a boil and cook until tender (roughly around 20 minutes, depending on the size of the potatoes). Drain and put back into the hot pan to steam dry.

Roughly chop the butter. Mash the potatoes, then add the butter and milk and work through until you have a smooth mash. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Spoon the filling into an ovenproof dish and top with the mash. You can do this by scattering large dollops of the mash around the dish and the flattening it so it’s fairly evenly distributed. Drag a fork down the length of the dish to create ridges in the potato. If using cheese, scatter over the top. Bake for 30 minutes until lightly golden on the top.

This is based on Felicity Cloake’s recipe from The Guardian’s Feast, available online here. I’ve made several changes to the quantities of various items and cooking order/times.

Yotam Ottolenghi’s Hawaij root vegetable stew with whipped fenugreek

Does anyone else buy The Guardian on a Saturday purely for the Feast magazine included with it? No? Just me…? Well… at least it’s free with my Waitrose card……… Anyway, last weekend, I was reading through it while also doing some shopping, and was searching for inspiration for what to make for dinner that day. This was one of the first recipes I saw and I thought it looked interesting – I do love a dish that has a good variety of spices in it. I was also intrigued by the ‘whipped fenugreek’.

Fenugreek is a spice I most often use when making certain curries but I don’t get to use it all that often in general. So I was curious to see what the whipped fenugreek is all about. I didn’t even know that if you soak fenugreek in hot water for a couple of hours you will get a spice sponge, or that you can ‘whip’ a spice in general. I’m now wondering what other spices I can do this with and what effect will that have?

This recipe is a testament of why I like Ottolenghi’s cooking and food so much. It’s always full of flavour, colours and there are quirky things that I’ve never seen before. I like being challenged and have the opportunity to learn new things in my kitchen at home, so I thought I’d see what this is all about.

In all honesty, if you want a quick vegan stew you can skip the whipped fenugreek part all together and you will still have a nice, warming root vegetable stew* (see tip below). But if you fancy yourself a bit of learning something new and experimenting in your kitchen, give this part a go as well.

And you are wondering what the hell Hawaij is, Ottolenghi explains that it’s a spice mix from Yemen. It’s full of flavour and I can see it would go really well with chicken or lamb too! In my slightly adapted version below, I did cheat a little by using canned chopped tomatoes instead of grating fresh tomatoes and it worked well.

More Vegan recipes on the blog: Chickpea, tomato and spinach curry, Cauliflower fritters and Quick spinach, sweet potato and coconut stew.

Yotam Ottolenghi’s Hawaij root vegetable stew with whipped fenugreek

Serves 4, generously | Prep 40 mins | Cook 1hr 20 mins + Soaking 2 hrs
Easy/A little effort | Dairy & Gluten Free | Vegan


*Tip: I’ve added instructions relevant to the whipped fenugreek in italic so that you can easily ignore them if you aren’t making it.

You’ll need:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil;
  • 1 onion, peeled and cut into 8 wedges;
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed;
  • 2cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated;
  • 2 tsp tomato paste;
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes;
  • 30g coriander, roughly chopped, plus extra to serve;
  • 1½ tsp caster sugar
  • 1 small head swede, peeled and cut into 3cm chunks;
  • 2 parsnips, peeled, halved widthways, then into 4 lengths;
  • 2-3 carrots, peeled and cut at an angle into 1½cm-thick slices;
  • 2-3 baking potatoes, peeled and cut into roughly 3cm chunks.

For the hawaij

  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds, toasted;
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds, toasted;
  • ½ tsp black peppercorns, toasted;
  • 2 cloves, toasted;
  • Seeds from 8 cardamom pods;
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric.

For the whipped fenugreek paste

  • 2 tsp ground fenugreek;
  • 1 green chilli, deseeded and roughly chopped;
  • 1 spring onion, roughly chopped;
  • 10g coriander, roughly chopped;
  • 1 lemon, juiced to get 1½ tbsp;
  • Salt

First make the whipped fenugreek. Put the ground fenugreek and 250ml boiling water in a small bowl and leaving to soak for at least two hours, or overnight. Pour out and discard the liquid, leaving the spongy fenugreek in the bowl. Add a tablespoon of water and use a small whisk to whip the fenugreek until it’s pale and resembles mayonnaise – about 10 minutes by hand. Tip into a food processor, add the chilli, spring onion, coriander, lemon juice, a quarter-teaspoon of salt and three more tablespoons of water, and pulse until smooth, scraping down the sides as you go.

Now make the hawaij spice. Grind the coriander and cumin seeds, peppercorns, cloves and cardamom (in a spice grinder or mortar) until fine, then stir in the turmeric.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan on a medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for about four minutes, or until softened. Add the garlic, ginger, tomato paste and hawaij spice mix, and cook for 30 seconds more, or until fragrant.

Add the tomatoes, two-thirds of the coriander and two tablespoons of water, and cook for about five minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes have cooked down. Add 650ml water, the sugar, root vegetables and one and three-quarter teaspoons of salt, bring up to a boil, then lower the heat to medium and leave to simmer for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened and the stew has thickened. Stir in half the whipped fenugreek, cook for 10 minutes more, then stir in the remaining coriander.

Divide the stew between four bowls, drizzle over the remaining fenugreek mixture, scatter a little coriander on top. and serve with yoghurt (dairy-free or Greek) and some crusty bread, if you’d like.


Adapted from a recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi from Guardian’s Feast (16 February 2019), available online here.

Previously posted on this day (19 February):

== 2018 ==
* Coconut Dhal: https://foodnotesdotblog.wordpress.com/2018/02/19/sri-lankan-coconut-dhal/


‘Cures anything’ Chicken Soup

It’s the season of sore throats and runny noses. I’ve already had a cold twice, and so has my other half and my immediate remedy (or more likely comfort food) is a sturdy chicken soup.

In Bulgaria, every grandmother will tell you that the best cure for cold is the mighty Chicken soup. My grandmother used to always make it with chicken thighs or drumsticks because the bones made the stock even more delicious. So, this how I’ve started making my chicken soup – always with meat on the bone and never using chicken breast. It takes a little longer to cook but it’s well worth it in the end. I can’t really claim this to be a Bulgarian recipe as Chicken Soup isn’t particularly unique anywhere… But this is how we cook it in Bulgaria.

‘Cures anything’ Chicken Soup

Serves 4 | Prep 10 minutes | Cook 40-60 minutes
Easy | Gluten-free | Dairy-free

Chicken Soup 2

You’ll need:

  • 4 Chicken thighs or drumsticks (Or a mix of the two);
  • 1 onion, peeled;
  • 2 bay leaves;
  • 1 sprig of thyme;
  • 6 whole peppercorns;
  • 3 potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped;
  • 1 carrot, peeled roughly chopped.

Halve the chicken thighs (if using) following the bone. Put everything apart from the potatoes and carrot in a large saucepan and fill with water. Bring to the boil and cook for about 10 minutes. Add the potatoes and carrots. Season.

Cook for another 30-50 minutes until the chicken has cooked through (check it regularly after the 30 minute mark). When the chicken has cooked through, take it out of the pan, carefully chop roughly or shred and discard the bones. Return to the pan. Serve hot, with crusty bread on the side.

Potato and aubergine curry

I’ll be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of aubergines. I associate them with a unappealing mushy texture and bitter flavour. However, this summer I’ve been pushing myself to rediscover ingredients that I have thought for a long time that I don’t like. I’ve opened up to asparagus, broccoli and this recipe has definitely helped me appreciate an aubergine a lot more. I still can’t say I love them, but I know that cooked in the right way and paired with the right ingredients, they can be fantastic. So this recipe isn’t just for those of you who love a veggie curry anyway, it’s also for any others around here who don’t really like aubergines. I promise you, this curry might just change your mind about them. Take this from someone who has actively avoided aubergines for a fair few years.

Potato and aubergine curry

Serves 4 | Prep 20 minutes | Cook 40 minutes  | Vegan, Gluten-free | Easy


Tip: If you want to save a little time, you can use 3 tbsp ready made Tikka curry paste instead of making your own.

You’ll need:
For the Tikka Curry Paste (makes roughly 3 tbsp):
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled;
  • 4cm piece of ginger, peeled;
  • 2 red chillies (deseeded if you prefer less spice);
  • 1 tsp ground cumin;
  • 2 tsp ground coriander;
  • 1 tsp paprika.
For the curry:
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil;
  • 1 red onion, sliced;
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed;
  • 10 curry leaves;
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes;
  • 500 ml vegetable stock;
  • 500g new potatoes, sliced into thick disks (no need to peel);
  • 1 aubergine, cut into 2 cm dice;
  • 400g can coconut milk;
  • Chopped coriander (to serve).

First, make the curry paste. Put all the ingredients into a blender and mix on a medium speed until you have a paste. Set aside.

Tikka curry paste: all the ingredients required

Heat the vegetable oil in a large pan or casserole dish. Fry the onion, garlic and curry leaves for 10 minutes on low heat, until the onion has softened. Stir in the curry paste and cook for 2 more minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes, stock, potatoes and aubergine. Bring to a simmer, add a little seasoning, then cover and cook for 30 minutes, removing the lid for the final 10 minutes. Finally, stir in the coconut milk and bring to the boil. Season.

Serve the curry scattered with coriander and with rice or naan bread.

Original recipe for the Potato and Aubergine Curry is from BBC Good Food magazine, issue June 2012, not available online.

Original recipe for the curry paste from Kenwood World, available here.