Turnip Cake

Turnip Cake

Turnip cake is not actually made with turnip – well technically not English turnip. It is made from a root vegetable which is part of the turnip family. This root vegetable is called daikon but it is also known as mooli or even just Chinese radish.

Daikon is like a big white carrot looking root vegetable with a subtle radish flavour. It’s also lovely boiled in soups and stews, grated in spring rolls or even just grated or julienned in a nice salad.

Today we are going to make a savoury turnip cake. A popular dish at dim-sum and one of my daughters favourite dishes. It’s so easy to make and tastes great pan fried.

Get your ingredients ready …

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Firstly grate the daikon, I use a box grater for this. Trim the ends of the daikon and peel the skin then grate the daikon into a large bowl.

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Transfer the grated daikon to a wok (or a large pan) and add the water. Bring the water to the boil then reduce to a simmer – cook the daikon for about 15 minutes continuously stirring.

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Once cooked, remove the daikon from the wok, drain the water into a cup (top the water up to 250ml) and allow the daikon to cool in a large bowl.

Dice the mushrooms, Chinese sausage, shrimps, scallops and spring onions.

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Add some scallion oil to the pan and fry them all in a wok (or large frying pan) until they are nicely browned.

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Put the cooked daikon into a large bowl and add the rice flour, cornflour, salt, sugar and white pepper with the water. Add the fried sausage and mushroom mixture to the bowl with the daikon and mix well.

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Mix well …

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Lightly coat a shallow heatproof dish with some scallion oil (or sesame oil) then transfer the mixture to the dish.

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Use the back to a spoon to push down the daikon into the dish to flatten it and evenly spread it in the dish.

Steam the turnip cake for about 50 minutes to 1 hour. The turnip should be nice and soft with a paste like texture.

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I use a wok filled with water to steam the daikon. You can use any steaming method you prefer, but you may have to adjust the timings.

Once steamed, the turnip cake should be soft and paste like in texture. It will firm up once it has cooled down.

Allow the turnip cake to cool down completely before slicing.

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Once cooled, take a slice and pan fry it. Depending on the size of your dish and the thickness of the turnip cake you can slice the turnip cake through the middle so that the slices are not too thick. Do this before you fry them.

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Once pan fried, the turnip cake with have a lovely crispy coating with a soft paste like texture.

Serve on its own as a snack or will be a great accompaniment to any meal.

See below for a printable recipe.

Turnip Cake

INGREDIENTS:
– 600g daikon (also known as mooli or Chinese white radish – peeled and grated)
– 250ml water
– 2 tbsp scallion oil (or sesame oil)
– 2 tbsp dried shrimps (washed, soaked and finely chopped)
– 10g dried scallops (washed, soaked, dried and finely chopped)
– 5 large Chinese mushrooms (washed, soaked and finely chopped)
– 1 Chinese sausage (finely diced)
– 2 spring onion stalks (finely chopped)
– 150g rice flour
– 1 tbsp cornflour
– Pinch of salt to taste
– ½ tsp sugar
– Pinch of white pepper to taste

METHOD:
1. Firstly prepare all the ingredients as above.
2. Peel and grate the daikon and place it in a large wok with 250ml water. Bring the water to the boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook the daikon for 15 minutes continuously mixing it.
3. Once the daikon is cooked, transfer it to a bowl to cool slightly. Keep the remaining liquid and top it up to make 250ml of water.
4. Add the rice flour, cornflour, salt, pepper and sugar to the daikon. Add the water and mix well. Set aside while you cook the rest of the ingredients.
5. In the same wok, fry the shrimps, scallops, Chinese sausage and spring onions in some scallion oil until nicely browned. Add this to the daikon mixture and mix well.
6. Lightly grease a shallow heatproof dish with some scallion oil. Add the daikon mixture and use the back of a spoon to press down the daikon into the dish and flatten it. Spread it out evenly.
7. Steam the dish for about 50 minutes to 1 hour. The turnip mixture will cook and form a firm paste.
8. Once steamed, allow to cool before serving. You can eat it as it is, but for even more texture and flavour, cut the turnip cake into slices and pan fry them to give them a crispy texture.

Enjoy!

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Fried turnip cake garnished with slice spring onions and red pepper flakes

I hope you give this recipe a try. It’s delicious and so simple to make. Let me know how you get on!

Head over to my Instagram page where you can see what I have been up to in my kitchen. Don’t forget to hit that follow button below to get alerts on new blog posts and leave me a comment to let me know you popped by. I love receiving mail!

~ Boss Mum xx

The Lockdown: Week 15 – Happy Independence Day!!!

Saturday 4th July 2020

My apologies for this late post … this is what happened.

On Thursday the Hubby told me that the window fitting guy was coming round on Friday morning to do some final measurements for my home windows. I’m like great!

Let’s get this ball rolling … 9am he was coming.

Come Friday morning, a van pulls up outside my house and two tradesmen knock on my door. They are here to install some windows. I turn to my Hubby and said: “Huh? I thought they were just here to re-measure?” My Hubby thought so too … but here they are knocking out the old rotten windows and starting to put in the new frames in the bedroom windows.

The Hubby gets in touch with the company and they said there must have been a miscommunication, they were ready to install and had all the windows ready. Woah! I was pleasantly surprised. So because of this … I totally forgot to do my end of week blog. Shame on me!

They were here until 10pm doing finishing touches which was tiresome. I just wanted to get washed up and go sleep. I’m feeling super tired. They were coming back tomorrow.

So this morning, me and the Hubby was waiting around … 9am passes … 10am passes … no sign of them. We call the company and the main contact guy … no answer. We are starting to get worried … another case of rogue traders – but they left their tools in the house so they must be coming back right?

11:30am … the van pulls up and the tradesmen come out. Me and the Hubby was so relieved! I asked one of the tradesmen what happened? He said that he woke up and 5am … went for a walk round the park for half an hour … came home and fell back asleep again. Haha. At least he was honest! I told him I didn’t blame him and he must’ve been really tired after a non stop 12 hours labourious day previously. He was forgiven.

So anyway …

Can you believe it’s July already? I mean … come on! Where has the last few months gone? We are now 15 weeks of lockdown restrictions … well not really lockdown anymore – as things are easing up and people are starting life in their new normal.

I am still a little reluctant to go out and attempt a life of normalcy. The virus is still out there and I am still worried that I may catch it. So for as long as I can I will keep myself to myself. I have had some friends and family over … albeit social gatherings in my garden. It’s been nice to see them and socialise again. But I will be cautious …

Home schooling is still in session. The children’s workload is slowly dwindling – not as much as when lockdown first started. I am glad and I can’t wait for the summer holidays (just two weeks time). No more home schooling! I can’t wait to utter these words to my children when the time comes.

Got to love you and leave you for now … more home renovations needed. I will post some before and after shots in next weeks blog post. Yay!

Oh … and Happy Independence Day to all my American followers!

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Happy 4th July!!!

Head over to my Instagram page where you can see what I have been up to in my kitchen. Don’t forget to hit that follow button below to get alerts on new blog posts and leave me a comment to let me know you popped by. I love receiving mail!

~ Boss Mum (and family) xxx

The Lockdown: Week 14 – Summer Is Officially Here

Friday 26th June 2020

Happy Friday! How awesome was the weather this week!? I mean come on … 30°C heat. I must admit I was sweating.

We are officially into summer … yes, a whole season passed us while we were in lockdown. How do I know we are officially in the summer season? Well, the Summer Solstice just came and went without anyone noticing. It had been eclipsed by the coronavirus I guess. But yes, Summer Solstice was last Saturday (20th June) and it marks the end of spring and the start of summer and also longest day of the year.

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Summer is here

You know, for the last few weeks my husband has been on this health kick. Eating only one meal a day and just being really active … walking whenever and wherever he can. There was one day last week where he walked over 40,000 steps in one day. Yes … ONE DAY! He walked all the way to South London to meet his friend who lives in Elephant and Castle, then the both of them went on to walk 8 of London’s bridges – making their way to Westminster bridge … then he walked back home. He’s on a little health kick right now and has lost so much weight. I think I may be a little bigger round the waist than him right now – something I didn’t think I would ever say. But good on him though! It got him off that darn sofa at least.

So he inspired me to dust off my Fitbit and do some walking. I do not like walking so I won’t be doing any mammoth walking sprees like him … but I aiming for at least 10,000 steps a day.

So every day … in the late afternoon, we go for a walk around our local park. I am lucky to live opposite one of London’s nicer parks – Victoria Park. Big, lots of green open space and a nice place to stretch our legs and get some fresh air. Lockdown has made me lazy and lethargic, so I am making an effort to get off my butt and move!

Monday – 11,300 steps
Tuesday – 10,700 steps
Wednesday – 9,400 steps
Thursday – 10,700 steps
Friday – 8,900 steps

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Victoria Park

We also noticed a new ice-cream parlour opened up in our village – Vanilla Cream. They sell vegan gelato and many other flavours of luscious ice-creams and gelatos. I treated myself to a lovely pistachio ice-cream in a waffle cone and Skye had mint chocolate chip which she loved.

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Village Cream – lovely ice creams … perfect in this weather.

After a hot and sweaty week, we are forecast to have rain next week. It will be a little relief for me anyway. I don’t do well with hot weather. I suffer quite easily from sunstroke so I prefer cooler weather.

Anyhow, head over to my Instagram page where you can see what I have been up to in my kitchen. Don’t forget to hit that follow button below to get alerts on new blog posts and leave me a comment to let me know you popped by. I love receiving mail!

~ Boss Mum (and family) xxx

The Lockdown: Week 13 -It’s Been A Rough Week

Friday 12th June 2020

Hello all!

It has been a pretty exhausting week mentally for me. I’m not going to get into it in detail but the lockdown has put a strain in our family dynamic. Living in close proximity to someone can bring out the worst in you … and this week all our frustrations came out in the worst possible way.

I confided in one of my dearest friends and she brought me back to reality. Sometimes we have to take a step back from a relationship and really dig deep to find the good in another person. Something that I don’t often do. I take people at face value and sometimes it’s just not enough. Not for me anyway. Am I talking in riddles?

Life is too short to be angry and bitter all the time.

So I am trying to be more positive … looking for the good in everything around me. Negativity is just so exhausting. It really is so I am going to smile more often and try to be happy. Is this even possible?

Another coronavirus update: I think a second wave is imminent. China is seeing over 100 new cases of coronavirus infections. Brazil is in crisis … there are over a million people currently infected and their government is just overwhelmed. It is said that Brazil could have the highest Covid-19 death toll in the world by July. How crazy is that? They get over 1000 new deaths every day.

It all stemmed from the fact that the Brazilian President dismissed that there was a pandemic when the whole world was heading into lockdown. He allowed his country to continue as normal and slowly but surely their numbers increased at an alaring rate. I feel so sorry for the people of Brazil. As a country, you rely on your government to protect you but in this case they were completely let down. Pray for Brazil!

We went for a walk in the park today. The rain eased off so we attempted our daily walk. The kids rode their bikes and me and the hubby went for a stroll.

We actually went in search for something unique in the park. In Victoria Park, there is a face in a tree. We found out about the face a few days ago and decided that we were going to go look for it for fun. Considering that Victoria park is pretty big and there are over 4,500 trees spanning 88 hectares of land. That is a lot of trees to look for.

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The face in the tree

But we did find it … eventually. It’s an eerie face (I think it’s made out of clay that has worn away). I don’t know anything about the history of the face in the tree … where did it come from? How long has it been there? Who made it and put it there? I have no idea … I will have to research this properly because it’s made me super curious.

Update: I did a little digging and found out that the face in the tree is actually a memorial to the late Margaret Muller. This young lady was brutally stabbed to death in 2003 in Victoria Park at this spot [Source: Unsolved Murders]. Margaret (an art student) was jogging in the park early one morning and it is suspected that two men approached her and launched an unprovoked attack which resulted in her death. She was heard screaming but there was no signs of robbery or sexual assault. Her killers were never found. Her body was brought back to the USA for burial.

On that sombre note …

Head over to my Instagram page where you can see what I have been up to in my kitchen. Don’t forget to hit that follow button below to get alerts on new blog posts and leave me a comment to let me know you popped by. I love receiving mail!

~ Boss Mum (and family) xxx

The Perfect Quiche

The Perfect Quiche

I just love a great quiche. Nothing too fancy, just a cheese and tomato quiche will do me just fine. A generous sized portion with a side of salad … now there is a great meal.

It has taken me a while to perfect my quiche recipe. When I first starting making my own quiche, I use to use ready rolled pastry because I wasn’t confident enough to make my own. Pastry work is not my strong point … but when I deconstructed the idea, I wondered … is it really that hard? So I researched and practiced and I think I have found a wonderful pastry recipe. Trust me, if I can make this from scratch, so can you.

Firstly, we’re going to make the pastry. The flaky pastry I am going to make is made up of three ingredients: flour, butter and cold water.

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Get your ingredients together

Put the flour and a little salt into a large bowl. I like to use super cold butter then use a grater to grate the butter into the flour. Using two forks, mix the butter, salt and flour together. I like to use two forks instead of using fingers because the warmth of your fingers will start to melt the butter. You want to keep the butter cold as possible.

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Mix together the flour and butter with a couple of forks

Once the flour and butter is roughly mixed together, weigh out the cold water and slowly add the cold water to the flour and butter mixture. Gently mix together the flour, butter and water with a fork until all the water is added. Tip the mixture on to a lightly floured surface and gently use your hands to bring it together. Fold the dough together until the butter and flour are mixed well together. Do not knead the dough – just gently fold together. Do this quickly so the butter doesn’t start to get warm and melt. It is normal to see specks of butter in the dough so don’t over mix it.

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Slowly add the water

Once the dough is combined, form the dough into a ball, gently flatten it until it is the shape of a disk then wrap it in some clingfilm. Put it in the fridge for a couple of hours to firm up.

Now would be a good time to preheat the oven to gas mark 6 (200°C / 400°F).

Grease a 9″ fluted loose bottom quiche tin with a generous amount of butter.

Take the dough out of the fridge and place it on a lightly floured surface. Using a large rolling pin, roll out the dough until it is about 2mm to 3mm thick. Roll the dough into a large circle – roll outwards and keep turning the dough as you roll it to get an almost round shape.

Carefully lift the rolled out pastry and place it on top of the quiche tin. Use your fingers to gently press the pastry dough into the edges of the quiche tin. Take your time with this part, you want the pastry to fill every pary of the tin, so really take your time to push the pastry into each groove.

You want some of the pastry to hang over the edge of the quiche tin. Do not trim all of this off. This will be trimmed off after it has been baked. The reason for leaving some pastry overhanging is to anticipate some pastry shrinkage during the baking process.

Place the pastry tin back into the fridge to chill for an hour or so before we blind bake it.

Once chilled, we need to blind bake the pastry. Firstly, use a fork to prick the bottom of the pastry. This is to prevent the pastry from puffing up when baking.

Line the pastry with a piece of parchment, then fill the quiche tin with baking beads. We are going to bling bake the pastry so that when we bake the pastry with the egg mixture, we are trying to prevent getting a soggy bottom.

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Line tin with baking parchment and baking beads

Blind bake the pastry for 15 minutes until you see the edges turning light brown. After 15 minutes, remove the baking beads and parchment paper and continue to bake for another 15 minutes. The pastry should be partly cooked and a nice light brown colour.

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Blind baked … ready for the filling

Whilst the pastry is blind baking, we can get on with the filling.

Ths quiche filling recipe is like a blank canvas. You can add almost anything you want: fish, seafood, bacon, chicken or other proteins, vegetables, and salads and different cheeses. Experiment and add your own favourite fillings.

For the basic filling, combine the eggs, milk, cream with a handful of cheese and season with salt and pepper. Add whatever fillings you like at this point – bearing in mind you don’t want to add too much so aim for around 150g to 200g in weight of filling.

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Prepare your filling

In todays quiche I added a handful of spinach and some streaky bacon. Mix all the ingredients well and add to the blind baked pastry. I sprinkled some more cheese on top and finish with a sprinkling of dried mixed herbs and red pepper flakes.

Pop the quiche back into the oven for about 40 minutes. You will start seeing the egg puff up. This is normal.

After about 40 minutes take the quiche out of the oven. The egg will be nicely puffed up and golden brown. As it cools, the egg with settle down. Allow the quiche to cool before serving.

Once cooled, use a sharp knife to trim of the excess pastry that is overhanging. We want to clean up the edges, the pastry should be nice and flaky.

To remove the quiche from the tin, place the quiche on a bowl turned upside down. The outside of the tin should just slide off.

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The perfect quiche

This quiche can be served hot or cold and is great for lunches, picnics or even an afternoon snack.

See the printable recipe below.

  • Difficulty: ”easy”
  • Print

INGREDIENTS:
For the flaky pastry
– 300g plain flour
– 1 tsp salt
– 230g butter
– 120ml cold water

For the filling
– 4 large eggs
– 115g milk
– 115g double cream
– 100g cheddar cheese
– 150g to 200g fillings of your choice e.g. vegetables, meats, seafoods etc.
– Salt and pepper (to taste)
– Extra cheese for topping
– Dried mixed herbs to garnish

METHOD:
For the flaky pastry
1. Mix the flour and and salt together in a large bowl. Grate the cold butter into the flour and use two forks to mix together until it resembles small lumps.
2. Slowly pour in the cold water and gently mix together with the forks.
3. Tip the flour onto a flat surface and quickly use hands to fold the dough together until flour is incorporated into the butter.
4. Roll the dough into a ball then flatten slightly with the palm of your hand. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and pop it into the fridge for a couple of hours to chill.
5. Once the dough has chilled, take it out and unwrap it from the clingfilm. Place it on a lightly floured surface and use a large rolling pin to roll it into a large circle about 2mm in thickness.
6. Careully lift the pastry dough onto a greased loose bottomed quiche tin. Use fingers to gently push the dough into the edges of the quiche tin. Leave some of the dough to hang over the tin.
7. Use a fork to prick some holes into the base of the quiche tin. This is to allow steam to escape and prevent the pastry from puffing up.
8. Line the pastry with a piece of parchment paper, then fill the quiche tin with some baking beads.
9. Bake in a preheated oven (gas mark 6 (200°C / 400°F) for about 20 minutes until the pastry starts to brown. After about 20 minutes, remove the baking beads and parchment and continue to bake the pastry for a further 10 to 15 minutes.
10. Once the pastry is lightly browned, remove from the oven and set aside for a few minutes whilst you prepare the filling.

For the filling:
11. In a large jug, add the eggs, cream and milk. Season with salt and pepper and add the grated cheese.
12. Add your preferred filling to the milk and egg mixture. Mix well.
13. Pour the mixture into the blind baked pastry case.
14. Top the quiche with more cheese and a sprinkling of mixed herbs (you can use fresh herbs too).
15. Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes. The egg will puff up in the oven, this is normal, it will deflate as it cools.
16. After it has baked, remove from the oven and allow to cool before serving.

Enjoy!

Hope you enjoyed making this recipe.

Head over to my Instagram page where you can see what I have been up to in my kitchen. Don’t forget to hit that follow button below to get alerts on new blog posts and leave me a comment to let me know you popped by. I love receiving mail!

~ Boss Mum xx

The Lockdown: Week 12 – How Do You Plead?

Friday 12th June 2020

HAPPY FRIDAY ALL!

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Happy Friday!

HOW HAS YOUR WEEK BEEN?

Some children went back to school this week. I was contemplating it … Skye is in year 6 and this is her final few weeks of primary school before she heads off to secondary school in September. She really wants to go back to school but me and the hubby made the decision to keep her at home. The virus is still out there and we just don’t want take that risk of her bringing something home. I have severe asthma (my inhalers are not working as well anymore and I am on oral medication for the asthma) so catching the coronavirus will be a big issue for me. I just can’t take that risk. Skye has mild asthma so that is something that we have had to take into consideration.

Me personally, I feel guilty not allowing her to go back to school. Almost selfish on my part. Is it wrong for me to keep her home?

Should I trust the school that they will keep her safe?

I did notice in the playground that they had cordoned off the tyre swing and the rope climb. There’s plastic tape wrapped round it. It made the whole situation real. I mean, the children can’t even play in the playground properly. With all these restrictions in place, does it even feel like school anymore?

On the flip side though, we live right next door to the school and their playground is right in front of our house. So during the school breaktime Skye would hang outside the fence and talk to a few of her friends who had returned to school. I guess that’s something. She is grateful for that.

I have finally received my IT equipment from work and this week I have managed to set up the computer to the office network. If feels really weird working remotely. All my icons and programs are sitting on the desktop looking familiar against my purple desktop background. I’m actually looking forward to doing work that doesn’t involve home schooling.

So home schooling is still going strong … well, not that strong.

Skye wakes up at 7am and is downstairs … breakfast eaten and home schooling underway. She’s disciplined like that. By the time me and Devon wake up (around 9:30am … sometimes even after 10am) she has already finished her work for the day. She makes the emphasis of coming upstairs and waking us up just to tell us this.

Devon doesn’t get out of bed until after 10am sometimes (even 11am on those extra tiresome days) so he is not finishing his schoolwork until way after 4pm! He’s not as efficient and organised as his sister. Different strokes for different folks I guess.

How have you all been? Hope life is treating you kind and all that!

Head over to my Instagram page where you can see what I have been up to in my kitchen. Don’t forget to hit that follow button below to get alerts on new blog posts and leave me a comment to let me know you popped by. I love receiving mail!

Lots of love to you all.

~ Boss Mum (and family) xxx

Best Bolognese Sauce

Best Bolognese Sauce

Everyone should have a great bolognese sauce as part of their repertoire. I mean, who doesn’t love spaghetti bolognese .. or a simple pasta bake?

My bolognese sauce is simple and very verstatile. Not only do I use it with pasta, I also use it for lasagne, chilli con carne and pasta bakes. The great thing about this bolognese sauce is that it freezes really well. I usually make a big batch for meal time and the leftovers I freeze in batches. They defrost quicky and are great for quick lunches. My kids sometimes have pasta and bolognese sauce for their school packed lunch. I just heat it up in the morning, put it in a Thermos and by lunchtime they have a nutritious and delicious school lunch. It beats a bland school lunch any day of the week.

Firstly, get your ingredients ready …

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Get your ingredients ready

In a large pan, fry the beef mince until browned. Transfer the mince to a plate and set aside for a few minutes.

In the same pan, brown the onions, garlic, ginger, carrots and bay leaves. Slice the mushrooms and add these to the pan. Cook the ingredients until the onions have browned and softened. Put the mince back in the pan and mix well.

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Fry the mushrooms with the onions, garlic and ginger

Make a well in the middle of the meat mixture and add the wine. On a medium heat, cook the wine until it reduces by half. Add the paprika, tomato puree, sriracha sauce, mixed herbs and brown sugar. Season with salt and pepper and mix well.

Add the passata and about 100ml of water and give it a mix. Bring the bolognese sauce to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Place the lid on the pan and simmer for at least half an hour. I like to simmer it for an hour to get the full flavour of the ingredients.

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Add the passata and simmer

Serve straight away or cool it down completely and portion the sauce into freezer bags and keep them in the freezer until you need it. Great for packed lunches or quick meals when life gets a bit too hectic.

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Spaghetti Bolognese

See below for the printable recipe.

Hope you enjoy it!

Best Bolognese Sauce

INGREDIENTS:
– 500g beef mince
– 600ml tomato passata
– 1 large carrot (diced)
– 1 onion (diced)
– 2 bay leaves
– 4 cloves of garlic (minced)
– 2 thin slices of fresh ginger
– 2 tbsp paprika
– 2 tbsp tomato puree
– 2 tsp sriracha sauce
– 1 tbsp mixed herbs (or handful of fresh basil)
– 6 large mushrooms
– 1 tbsp brown sugar
– 300ml red wine (optional)
– Salt and black pepper (to taste)

METHOD:
1. Brown minced beef in a pan until browned. Transfer to a plate, then in the same pan fry the onions, garlic, carrots, ginger, mushrooms and bay leaves for a few minutes until onion have softened and browned.
2. Put the minced beef back into the pan with the onion mixture. Mix well.
3. Make a well in the middle of the meat mixture and add the wine. On a medium heat, cook the wine until it reduces by half. Add the paprika, tomato puree, sriracha sauce, mixed herbs (or some fresh herbs work even better such as basil) and brown sugar. Mix well.
4. Add the passata and season well with salt and pepper. Bring the bolognese sauce to the boil, then reduce to a simmer. Place the lid on the pan and simmer for about half an hour to an hour.
5. Serve straight away or cool it down completely and portion the sauce into freezer bags and keep in the freezer until you need it.

Enjoy!

How simple was that? Simple and nutritious meal for the whole family. You can jazz up this bolognese with other vegetables. You can use turkey or chicken mince too – they work really well. Experiment to your hearts content! Let me know how you get on.

Head over to my Instagram page where you can see what I have been up to in my kitchen. Don’t forget to hit that follow button below to get alerts on new blog posts and leave me a comment to let me know you popped by. I love receiving mail!

Much love to you all!

~ Boss Mum xx

The Lockdown: Week 11 – Work Ahoy

Friday 5th June 2020

Hello! It feels like I haven’t checked in with you all in forever, but it has only been one week. Alot has happened this week in terms of news. Not only is the pandemic still in full swing, but we now have the “Black Lives Matter” situation in America. The riots and looting in some states are now becoming out of control. I am going to reserve my opinions to myself because this is not that kind of blog. But it saddens me that we live in a word that is still so segregated.

No one is born racist … they are taught it.

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I’m just gonna leave that right there!

Onto other news … it has now been 11 weeks since I have been off from work. It’s actually been great hanging out at home, cooking and experimenting in my kitchen. I am loving it … but it looks like I am going to have to do some proper work. One of my managers from work called me the other day stating that I should be expecting a delivery of some IT equipment today. Considering that a colleague was expecting IT equipment in April and it didn’t turn up, I wasn’t very hopeful.

So this morning, I am laying in bed at around 9am and my daughter runs in the room telling me that I have six packages downstairs. I wasn’t expecting any deliveries … and lo and behold there it was. Six packages of IT equipment. Damn! I thought … now I have to actually do some work!

To tell the truth, I am actually looking forward to doing some work … my mind if full of food ideas right now which is not helping my waistline so a welcome change of daily tasks will be a breath of fresh air.

Moving onto the coronavirus … things seems to be settling down and the numbers are low enough now for the UK government to start ease restrictions.

I am still quite sceptical regarding the whole thing. Now they say that we are allowed to meet up with up to 6 people from outside of your own home anywhere outdoors – keeping that 2m distance of course. Me personally, I am still refusing to meet up with family and friends. I can’t risk it … I won’t risk it. So me and the hubby have decided to contiue to stay home as much as possible. We believe that there will be a second peak coming soon.

Why?

Boris Johnson wants to believe that the people of England will use their common sense and stay safe and keep that all important distance. But have you seen the pictures? The weather has been great lately – as soon as the sun comes up people are packing out the beaches and the parks – where is the social distancing?

There have been alot of protesting in regards to the “Black Lives Matter” issue. Alot of crowds can be seen … where is the social distancing there? It is inevitable that numbers will increase again. I am not about to step out of my house into that.

My children’s school is re-opening on Monday for Nursery, Reception and Year 6 children. I have chosen not to send my children to school. I am not 100% confident that my children will be safe. My daughter is in year 6 and really wants to go back to school but she understands my concerns and she is ok with staying home.

So we will be going into our 12th week of lockdown. That’s three whole months guys! I have only stepped out of my house ONCE in the whole of the three months. I went to work yesterday to pick up some things. I actually did not go into the building though. I asked my friend from my office to grab some of my work stuff so that I can start working from home. So she shoved it all in a bag and met me outside of the office building.

Anyway … hope you are all safe and well. What have you all been up to lately? Would love to hear from you so leave me a message or even drop me an email. I love receiving mail.

Have a good weekend!

~ Boss Mum (and family) xxx

Hearty Cottage Pie

Hearty Cottage Pie

I commonly call this dish ‘shepherd’s pie‘ … but in truth it is actually a cottage pie. What’s the difference? The only difference is that a cottage pie is made from beef mince and a shepherd’s pie is made from lamb mince (pretty obvious now right?). The rest of the dish is the same … is your mind blown yet?

There are so many difference variations of cottage pies and shepherd’s pies and with all recipes the ingredients and methods are different.

I like my cottage pie, it is rich in flavour, saucy with plenty of fluffy mashed potatoes. It is a family favourite … comfort food at its best, served it with some steamed greens and family!

Here is how I made my awesome cottage pie.

Get your ingredients ready …

Main Ingredients
Get your ingredients ready

In my recipe I have included mushrooms which my daughter loves. You can omit this and add peas or diced carrots if you prefer. This recipe is adaptable so feel free to try other ingredients.

Firstly, prepare the vegetables … dice the onions and finely mince the garlic. Slice a couple of slices of ginger and slice the mushrooms. In a large pan, fry the onions and ginger then add the bay leaves – fry the onions until they are nicely browned. Add the garlic and mushrooms and continue to cook until the mushrooms have softened.

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Fry the onions, garlic, ginger and mushrooms in a pan with the bay leaves

Once these ingredients have cooked, remove them from the pan onto a plate and set aside.

Now brown the mince beef in the same pan.

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Brown the mince and add the rest of the ingredients

Once the minced beef has browned, add the onion and mushroom mixture. Stir until all the ingredients are combined. In the middle of the mixture, make a well then add the red wine. Turn the heat up and cook the wine for a few minutes. We are looking to reduce the red wine … whilst the wine is reducing, add the Worcestershire sauce, paprika, tomato paste and a generous amount of salt and pepper.

Once the wine has reduced by about half, give the mixture a stir. Mix well then add the beef stock to the pan. Bring the pan to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook (with the lid on) for about half an hour.

In the meantime, cook the mashed potatoes (this will be a good time to preheat your oven – gas mark 7 or 220°C / 425°F).

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Boil you potatoes until soft

Chop the potatoes into small chunks, then boil the potatoes in some boiling water until soft.

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Mash the potatoes with some cheese, butter, cream and seasoning

Once the potatoes have boiled, place them into a large mixing bowl – add the butter, cream and grated cheese. Use a potato masher and give the potatoes a good mash. I don’t mind some little lumps in my mashed potatoes, but you can put the potatoes through a ricer if you want a lump free mash. You are aiming for mashed potatoes that are smooth and creamy. Season well and set aside.

Back to the minced beef mixture that has been bubbling away for about half an hour. The sauce in the pan will be slightly thin, it can be left as it is and still taste wonderful, but let’s thicken this sauce up!

There are a couple of ways of thickening the cottage pie sauce up a little. Cornflour is a common way to thicken up sauces – just mix a little water with some cornflour and add this to the mixture.

I prefer to use a roux to thicken up sauces such as those in cottage pies. It’s super simple to do and adds an extra richness and flavour to the sauce.

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Prepare your roux

In a bowl add equal amounts of plain flour and softened butter. Mix well until it becomes a paste (consistency will be like a soft buttercream).

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Add the roux to the sauce

Add about 3 spoonfuls of the roux to the mixture. Pop the lid back on the pan and let it simmer for a couple of minutes. This will give time for the roux to soften and melt. After a couple of minutes, lift the lid and give the mixture a stir. The roux will have melted into the sauce and you will see it thicken.

The thickness of the mixture is entirely up to you, you can add another spoonful if needed … you won’t need all of the roux you have made. Taste the meat mixture and adjust the seasoning if needed. Give it a final stir then transfer the mixture to a baking tray.

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Spread the mashed potato over the meat mixture. Top with some grated cheese

Spread the mashed potato evenly on top of the meat mixture. You can use a fork to make lines through the mashed potato if you’re feeling fancy. I prefer the rustic look so I just like to leave it as it is. Sprinkle with a handful of cheddar cheese then pop into the oven for about half an hour at gas mark 7 or 220°C / 425°F. You want the top to be nicely browned and you will see some of the sauce bubbling up from the sides.

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Bake in the oven until the top has browned and the sauce is bubbling

How gorgeous does this look? The cheese helps the top of the cottage pie brown and I just love it when the sauce bubbles up from the corners. That is the sign of a great cottage pie.

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Serve with steamed greens

My daughter loves this cottage pie and will always go for seconds. It tastes great served with some fried or steamed vegetables.

See below for the printable recipe.

Cottage Pie

INGREDIENTS:
– 1 large onion (chopped)
– 4 garlic cloves (minced)
– 750g minced beef
– 500ml beef stock
– 200ml red wine
– 2 tbsp tomato puree
– 2 bay leaves
– 1 tsp paprika
– 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
– Handful mushrooms (optional)
– Handful peas (optional)
– Carrots (diced)
– Salt and pepper to taste

For the roux:
– 50g butter (softened)
– 50g plain flour

For the mashed potatoes:
– 1kg of potatoes
– 25g butter
– 100ml double cream
– 50g grated cheddar cheese (plus extra for topping)
– Salt and pepper to taste

METHOD:
1. Fry onions, bay leaves and garlic until browned and softened. Add the mushrooms and peas and carrots (if using). Once cooked, set aside on a plate. Fry the beef in the same pan until browned. Once the beef has browned add the onion and mushroom mixture. Mix well.
2. Make a well in the middle of the meat mixture and add the red wine. Do not stir at this point, let it simmer for a few minutes until reduced by half.
3. Whilst the red wine is reducing, add the tomato puree, paprika and Worcestershire sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste. Once the red wine has reduced, mix all the ingredients well.
4. Add the beef stock and mix well. Place the lid on the pan and simmer for half an hour on a low heat.
5. After half and hour, make a roux by mixing equal amounts of softened butter and plain flour. Mix until it resembles a smooth paste.
6. Add 3 tablespoons of the roux to the cottage pie meat mix. Cover the pan with the lid and allow it to simmer for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes the roux should have melted. Mix well into the rest of meat mixture.
7. If the mixture still is not thick enough, you can add another 1 or 2 tablespoons of roux. Turn off the heat and set the pan aside whilst you make the mashed potatoes.
8. At this point you can preheat your oven to gas mark 7 or 220°C / 425°F.
9. For the mashed potatoes, peel and chop the potatoes then boil them for a few minutes in boiling water. You wanted the potatoes to be really soft.
10. Drain the water from the potatoes and place them in a big bowl. Add the butter, cheese and cream with a little salt and pepper then mash it together with a potato masher (you can put it through a ricer if you want a smoother mash).
11. Transfer the meat mixture from your pan to a baking dish. Use a couple of spoons to scoop the mashed potatoes on top of the meat mixture. You can use the back of the spoon to smoothen it all out.
12. Finally sprinkle on some extra grated cheese and then pop the cottage pie in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes or until the top is brown and bubbling from the cheese.
13. Serve with steamed vegetables or whatever you fancy!

Enjoy!

I hope you enjoy making this hearty cottage pie.

Head over to my Instagram page where you can see what I have been up to in my kitchen. Don’t forget to hit that follow button below to get alerts on new blog posts and leave me a comment to let me know you popped by. I love receiving mail!

~ Boss Mum xx

The Lockdown: Week 10 – Anniversary Week

29th May 2020 – Friday

Today is my 20th anniversary. Yep, I have been with my husband for 20 years. Gosh, that is a long time to be with one person. I’ve been married for 13 years but together for a whole two decades.

I met my husband in university – he wasn’t the usual guy that I got for but I knew when I met him I would spend the rest of my life with him.

He is my GOAT (Greatest Of All Time).

We normally got out for a celebratory dinner on our anniversay, but due to our current circumstances, we ordered in. We let the kids pick and they chose Peck Peck. A lovely little fried chicken shop that sells the best crispy chicken wings and fries. Haha yes, fried chicken for our anniversary dinner – and why not!? Here’s to another 20 years! Bottoms Up!!

This week has been a stressful week. I am having some family problems which is really getting me down. They say you can’t choose your family … damn right! When you give an inch and they take a mile … keep taking and taking without any thought for someone other than themselves. I have gotten to the point where I am ready to walk away … I need to for my own mental health. Is it wrong of me? Is it wrong of me to put myself and my children first? Being family doesn’t it give them the right to  behave the way they behave … their sense of entitlement is laughable!

Lockdown update: Dominic Cummings (Boris Johnson’s Senior Advisor) has been naughty … it has been revealed that during the lockdown he and his wife travelled over 250 miles to drop off his children to his parents home in Durham. He did this because he said that his wife and himself were about to succumb to the coronavirus and would not be able to look after their children.

What the public was angry is that they broke the lockdown rules. Not only did he leave his children with his (elderly) grandparents which is not allowed, he also travelled over 250 miles to drop them off. Non-essential travel was prohibited at that time. So the question that is on everyone’s lips was how was it ok for Cummings to break lockdown rules, but the general public were getting fined for the similar actions?

The public demanded answers and for the resignation of Dominic Cummings. Boris Johnson however decided to stand by his man and the government are now reviewing the circumstances of members of the public who were fined for similar situations. How shameful is our government?

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Peonies … my favourite

Hope you are all well and safe. Lots of love to you all!

Head over to my Instagram page where you can see what I have been up to in my kitchen. Don’t forget to hit that follow button below to get alerts on new blog posts and leave me a comment to let me know you popped by. I love receiving mail!

~ Boss Mum (and family) xxx