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How to cook a Mediterranean shepherd's pie, and Sussex pond pudding

24 January 2020

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THIS Mediterranean shepherd’s pie brings moussaka-type flavours to sustain through the cold dark days.

1 large onion
2 carrots
2 celery sticks
2 cloves garlic
1 lb (450g) minced lamb
1 large aubergine, washed and diced
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons tomato purée
1 lamb stock cube
2 teaspoons oregano
1 glass (200ml) red wine
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 red pepper, diced
200g (½ lb) button mushrooms
1kg (2 lb) potatoes
450ml (1 pt) milk
45g (1½ oz) flour
45g (1½ oz) butter
120g (4 oz) cheddar cheese
 

Peel and dice the onion, then gently fry off in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Peel the carrots and dice along with the celery. Add to the onion for a couple of minutes. Bash the garlic cloves, remove the skins, chop finely, and add to the pan with the lamb mince. Brown the meat, then add the aubergine. Once it softens and colours, sprinkle over the flour with the tomato purée, stock cube, and oregano. Cook for a couple of minutes, then add the wine and tomatoes. Incorporate well before stirring in the pepper mushrooms. Simmer for 20 minutes. It should feel thick.

Peel and slice the potatoes. Pour the meat mixture into a large baking dish, layering the potato slices over the top, and then sprinkle with salt.

Whisk together the milk, flour, and butter in a pan until it boils and thickens. Simmer briefly with a pinch of salt and half the cheese. Pour this over the potato top; scatter with the remaining cheese. Place in the oven at 180°C/350°F/Gas 4 for an hour or so until browned.

Hurrah for blood oranges, ideal for Sussex pond pudding.

240g (8 oz) self-raising flour
120g (4 oz) suet
½ teaspoon cinnamon
120ml (4 fl. oz) half milk/half water
120g (4 oz) butter
120g (4 oz) soft brown sugar
2-3 blood oranges, scrubbed
5 cardamon pods, bruised
 

Mix the flour, suet, and cinnamon, then combine with the milk and water to form a dough. Set aside one quarter, and roll the rest out into a circle. Grease a 1½-litre (2½ pt) pudding basin, line it with the pastry circle, pressing down and on the sides to join together. Cube the butter and put half inside with half the sugar. Cut into the oranges on alternate sides to create a sort of concertina; place inside the pastry, scatter over the cardamom, and top with the remaining butter and sugar. Roll out the remaining pastry to create a lid, and press this on the pudding to seal. Take a large sheet of kitchen foil and fold over in the middle to create a 5cm (2 in.) pleat. Fasten with an elastic band and place in a double-boiler, and steam for 3-4 hours. When ready to serve, ease the sides with a knife, invert on to a plate, and serve with ice cream.

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