DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
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5 May 2014

I've been cooking - cottage pie and magic cake

Cottage pie with mash top.

I've been cooking. Isn't a warm kitchen a comforting place to be on a cold Sunday? I can see the steam coming up from my tea and the food cooking on the stove and it makes me feel grateful that I'm warm in my own home and that for us, at this time, life's good. The cooler months are the best time for cooking. When I'm baking, it's nice and cosy near the oven, and just spending time there reminds me that our food today will be warming and nourishing. Gratitude seems like such an incompetent and weak word when I think of all the people who have neither warmth nor nourishment.

My first recipe is for a variation of the humble cottage pie. This one is curried beef mince with a sweet potato topping and it's delicious any time of the year, but particularly satisfying when it's cold outside. All that spice warms a body deep down to the bones.


I'm sure most of you know how to make a curried mince filling but I'll go over it again for the new cooks.

MEAT BASE - serves four hearty meals
  • About 500 grams/one pound of beef mince
  • One large onion, chopped
  • One large carrot, diced
  • Three sticks celery, sliced
  • ¼ medium cabbage, finely sliced
  • One clove garlic, crushed
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ litre/1 pint water
  • Two tablespoons curry powder or paste
  • Two tablespoons corn flour with enough water to mix into a paste

MASH TOP
  • Two large sweet potatoes, chopped
  • Two medium potatoes, chopped
Brown the meat in a frying pan and remove from the pan. Cook the onion, carrot, celery and cabbage  in the same pan until they start to turn golden brown. Place the meat back in the pan with the vegetables, add the salt, pepper, garlic and curry powder and stir it to prevent burning. Allow the spice to become aromatic and add half a litre/one pint of water, bring to the boil, then turn down the heat to simmer.  When the vegetables are cooked thoroughtly, add the cornflour paste and mix until the thick gravy forms. You can use any vegetables you want to use but these work well in this combination.

To make the top, peel and chop the sweet potatoes and potatoes into similar size pieces. Boil in salted water until soft, about 20 minutes, then pour off the water and mash the potatoes. Add salt and pepper with a little butter or cream until the potato is smooth. You can add herbs to the mash if you like.


Pour the filling into a baking tray and top with the mashed potato. Place in a 190C/375F oven until the mash is golden - about 30 minutes. Serve with brussel sprouts, silverbeet/chard or spinach.  If you use all the vegetables listed above you'll be eating six different vegetables. It's a healthy, filling and frugal meal.


The next recipe is for a new (to me) cake I've just started baking in the last week or so. It's similar to impossible pie, in cake form. For our new cooks, impossible pie is a pie made with a variety of ingredients which separate into layers while they cook. Often you have them come out of the oven with a sort of crust, a filling and a top, even though it went in as one single batter.

This is the cake they call magic cake, I got the recipe from here and it was absolutely delicious. You'll love it if you like custard desserts. The cake makes up as a very thin batter and comes out of the oven as a base, a custard layer and a cake top. The next time I make it, I'll make a coffee version.

What were you cooking on the weekend?

There is a thread on the forum about cottage pies now. If you have time, go and share your recipe.

37 comments:

  1. A magic cake would be one that makes the calories disappear after I've eaten it!

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  2. Thank you so much for the recipes, Rhonda.. I love the cake idea as it is so simple.. Hope you are having a great weekend.. xo

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  3. Rhonda, here in Britain we are just getting into our veggie growing and the days are feeling pleasantly warm. I couldn`t possibly make a cottage pie alternative right now, but your Yam topping on curry mince is a lovely idea for our autumn time. I`ve made a note of it and will try this, then.
    By the way, I`ve just received your little Penguin book in the post. It made for inspiring reading - never having expected less from your creation. I`m also re-reading my copy of Down To Earth and love both your books very much. Have a warm house and lovely autumn and winter. Much love to you and Hanno from across the big wide pond. XXXX Sarina.

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    1. Hi Sarina, for some reason I've always thought you were Australian. Thank you for buying my books and for giving me such positive feedback. You know, when I'm typing away here in this small room I feel cut off from the wonderful people who read what I write so it's heartening to get a comment like yours. I'm finishing off a Penguin Special on frugality this week but I doubt it will be published this year. We'll have to wait and see.
      love Rhonda xx

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  4. That first recipe seems like a possible winner in our home, I can't wait to try it, even if days are becoming longer and warmer here.

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  5. Good morning Rhonda, Snap - I also made cottage pie for dinner last night, a large tray so that my husband who now lives away during the week has plenty for his dinners too. I made some of 'your' bread using the breadmaker to mix/knead the bread but the oven to bake as per a recent discussion on the forum. Then we had a coconut/citrus cake made from a home made bulk cake mix which saves a lot of time. Lastly some cheese biscuits which were great, but left me with some heartburn from the flour (probably from the quantity consumed!), so I might have a go with some gluten free flour next time. My poor oven is now in line for a clean and polish!

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    1. you've been busy, Barb! Yes, that pie is a good keeper in the fridge, I hope your husband enjoyed it. xx

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  6. Rhonda, that cake looks fantastic! I finally tried your Whole Orange cake and my husband LOVES it! Can't wait to try this Magic Cake now!

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    1. The whole orange cake is a really handy cake to have in your repertoire. Hanno loves it too.

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  7. We baked biscuits for the same reason- it was nice to have the oven warming up the place! Simple baking recipes are very handy for keeping little toddlers occupied, lots of "stir this" and "add that"! With a sweet result at the end of course!

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  8. Rhonda, I always love your cooking posts! I grew up in Germany and my Mum wasn't much of a cook, so thanks to you I'm learning the good old Aussie cuisine which my OH loves. Thanks for sharing!

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  9. We are in spring here in northeastern US, so I spent a wonderful Friday afternoon ignoring my grading and making pasta salad, potato salad, and brownies for a Saturday BBQ/book swap get together we hosted. Sooo good to be in the kitchen.

    The magic cake sounds so easy and great! Thank you for sharing the link!

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  10. Your cottage pie looks delicious Rhonda. Sunday was very cold here and my kitchen faces North so the sun just streams in. It's a lovely place to be in Winter. We made date scones to warm us up as I love to cook on cold days as well:)

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  11. We love Cottage Pie here too. I often add in a can of baked beans and keep a pack of frozen mixed veg handy to add in if the fridge is a little bare. I love a sweet potato top but the kids won't eat it so it's the usual mash for us. Sometimes I'll add some sour cream into the mash though.

    I've had that cake in my Pinterest (a different) recipe for a while. Need to give it a go soon I think.

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  12. It sounds like a common theme - baking to keep warm! Not that we really need an excuse to do some baking. I made some coconut slice, using apricot jam I'd made earlier in the year from apricots gifted to me by a lovely lady who has so many she has trouble giving them away.

    This was a special request from my husband, as I'd made the slice a few weeks ago, and he loved it - said it reminded him of his childhood. How could I say no?

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  13. Great recipes, Rhonda. I make Pea and Ham soup with freshly made bread over the weekend. It has been and still is soooo very cold here the last few days and it really is good weather for baking. I haven't made Cottage Pie for yonks so I might take some mince out of the freezer and make some tonight.

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  14. I have been "reviving" my neglected kefir grains and making strawberry shortcake from scratch. Oh. My. Soooooo good and tastes like spring. Speaking of which, when I was coming back from the barn tonight, I stopped to check the asparagus bed and found a dozen lovely spears. They were promptly sautéed lightly in olive oil and sprinkled with parmesan cheese. We ate with our fingers. Yummmmmm....

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  15. Hi Rhonda I made meatball soup on Sunday, the way my mother in law showed me. Rest her soul. Mince, rice and a few vegies mixed into balls, rolled in flour and into some lovely stock. The final delicious touch is the egg and lemon added at the end. Creamy, a little bit lemony and oh so filling. Great after a morning in the rain watching my son on the footy field.
    Then we cooked scones in our bakers oven, warming us and feeding us.
    Oh I love Autumn. Have you read Keats 'Ode to Autumn' I think you would love it.
    kx

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    1. Oh yes, Keats is one of my favourites. :- )

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    2. Hi Rapunzes WIld Garden. Your meatball soup sounds amazing. I don't suppose you could share your recipe?

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    3. Hi Rapunzel, My mother in law used to make something like your meat balls with rice in soup. I wish I had asked her for the recipe while she was still with us. I'd very much like to make them if you are able to share.
      Blessings Gail

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    4. I'm very happy to share the recipe. Hope its ok to do it here Rhonda? Maybe I should add it to the forum too.
      The measurements are not exact because I learnt by watching and I make it up a bit each time.
      For the meatballs
      300 - 500g beef or lamb mince
      1 cup of white rice
      1 grated small onion
      1 grated carrot
      2 tablespoons chopped parsley and mint (more parsley than mint)
      S&P
      Roll into small balls and roll in flour.
      For the stock
      Fry a little finely chopped celery and add any good meat or veg stock or water with a tabsp of butter. I suppose about a litre to start but you may need to add more. I always do.
      Bring the stock to a simmer then gently put in the meatballs and cook for about 25 - 30mins.
      In a bowl whisk 2 eggs then whisk in the in the juice of one to two lemons, (one is usually enough). Slowley mix small amounts of the stock into the egg mixture till its quite warm then mix the egg mixture back into the soup. Be careful not to break up the meatballs, I just push them to one side. The soup should get lovely and thick.
      Enjoy

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    5. Of course you can share it, Kate. thank you for taking the time to do so. It would be great on the forum too. xx

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  16. My curried mince is very like yours Rhonda except I add a good splodge each of tomato and worcestershire sauce. I cook double the amount, freeze half in a ziplock bag and then I have a quick meal for weeknights. Thanks for the magic cake recipe.

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  17. Hi Rhonda,

    the cake looks fantastic! I cooked a beautiful Greek vegetable stew called Soufiko, as well as some zucchini and fetta fritters and banana muffins. There's nothing so cosy as having the oven going in the Winter :)

    Madeleine.X

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  18. We have fired up the Rayburn wood oven for the winter as it heats the radiators too. Cooked soup, biscuits, bread & lots of quinces to make jelly with. Love this time of year.

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  19. That cottage pie sounds delicious, and very warming! It's only 13 degrees in Melbourne at the moment, so warm food sounds very comforting :)

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  20. Hi Rhonda, for some reason my first comment hasn't appeared so I have just one query. In the recipe for the cake it says flour; now would that be plain flour or self raising flour? I'm guessing it might be plain flour so the layers separate but I don't want to spoil it, so thought it best to ask. The curry pie looks terrific as well. I too would love the recipe for the meat balls.

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    1. You're right, Gail. it's plain flour. I hope you enjoy the cake.

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  21. A chilly, dismal, rainy day here in BG, so the cake looks perfect to try this afternoon, especially as we have a surplus of eggs at the moment from my lovely girls! Cottage pie has always been a staple for us, but I've never tried it curried, have Pinned! Thank you for the inspiration.
    Jak x

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  22. Well Rhonda....I left your book on the coffee table and my wife picked it up....and the, all in one day there was your beautiful bread, your tea cake, your muffins (banana) and lots of discussion about flour types and kneading.....the tide is slowly turning back. In fact lots of cooking from scratch happening from the kitchen latey - the food has been amazing.

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  23. I am so keen to try this magic cake. All of a sudden it is also cold in subtropical Qld. I like the idea of your variation to simple cottage pie. Succulent roast lamb last night as we had guests and such a joy to be working in a cosy house with the aromas of rosemary and garlic. Thankyou Rhonda for sharing the cake recipe

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  24. How funny, I was just thinking to myself...Okay, I have a pound of ground beef and some potatoes. What can I make?
    Thank you so much! This will be for dinner. =)

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  25. Oh yeah! this cottage pie is on my list. These are all ingredients that I keep so I can make this on any busy day! Thanks so much!

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  26. So THAT is what impossible pie is! I always wondered. Now that is very neat, I'd like to try and make an impossible pie!

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  27. Oh that magic cake looks amazing. I haven't had impossible pie since my mum made it for me when I was a child. It must be time to remedy that!

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  28. What have I been cooking....a tomato and sourdough soup, and freshly baked naan bread...the soup - a recipe from one of my favorite chefs - Yotam Ottolenghi - is ready in half an hour; and the naan, once the dough has risen, is ready under 4 minutes! Perfect for a chilly autumn eve...

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