Thursday, 14 February 2008

Cottage Pie (Η πίτα της εξοχής)

In this house, nothing goes to waste. I won't let it. That's why, with the first sunny day of February, I raced into the garden and salvaged two cauliflowers, a cabbage, a whole lot of of radishes, some spinach, one (albeit scraggy) aubergine, and a few green tomatos. Nothing will go to waste.

Today is going to be leftovers day in our house: two servings of lentil soup, one serving of spag bog mince, one serving of leek potato soup, and one serving of moussaka. There's also an open box of cream which I had used in yesterday's soup, and more pastry leftover from the last round of pie-making. I know who wants the fakes and moussaka; yiayia is coming out of hospital today, so she can have the soup (if she wants it, as she isn't an easy person to please in her situation). That leaves me with the &%($#@ mince. I will not eat spag bog. Give me a carbonara or puttanesca any day, but not mince sauce. I like my meat in chunky bits as in a chinese stir-fry; that's probably why I prefer spag bog with rice instead of spaghetti.

What can you do with a tiny amount of leftover mince? Could a Greek-Italian cooked mince dish score a hat-trick and make an English cottage pie? Having a look at Margaret's version gave me an idea. The base of a cottage pie is cooked mince, with celery and carrots added (although Margaret readily admits that you could add all sorts of things to a cottage pie these days and still call it traditional). The topping is simply some mashed potato, topped with grated cheese. Sounds interesting to me; still very mincey, but at least it's not spag bog. My creative powers will come into play as I assemble this dish; what if it looks so good that someone else in the house might want to try some? After all, I'm only making one serving.

I suddenly realise that what I am about to cook is the kind of nouvelle cuisine that gets rave reviews under the auspices of Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay. This could lead to a new reality show, one that might be broadcast under the name "Food Scraps" or something similar. The contestants must be slightly eccentric environmentally aware misfits (I fit the bill nicely; my children think I look very much like Prof. Trelawney from the latest Harry Potter film). The heat is on to find a replacement for Delia: must be eco-friendly, with a Gordon Ramsay touch of finesse (OK, Trelawny wouldn't go down to well at the Boxwood...), without leaving behind an excessive number of carbon footprints, must be marketable (admittedly, Trelawney isn't exactly a money spinner). Vote for me! I say to myself in my dreams, while in reality, I invent "Poofter's Pie".

Being the good English teacher that I am, here's a 'recipe' for an interesting English language lesson instead of a cooking recipe, as today's post will be completely pictorial.
1. Give the students a copy of a cottage pie recipe.
2. Make sure they know the words for the ingredients and kitchen utensils needed to make this meal, for example
3. Get them to write the recipe of the new version of cottage pie, as depicted by the photos.

Individual cottage pies, made using leftovers. Very nice. And very British.

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Chili con carne