This week has been a flipping disaster. Firstly, poor Sandie the fluffy dog ended up at the vets where we found out she has an ulcer on her cornea. The poor little mush is not a happy dog at all with eyedrops being administered by Little Sis and Lulu forming a two man headlock team every few hours and painkillers hidden in pieces of chicken. She's feeling very sorry for herself indeed. Then the next day, I hurt my eye. Nothing major, I thought. Just whip out the contacts, stick on the (hated) specs for a day and all will be well. Eh, no. A visit to the chemist turned into an immediate visit to the GP which transformed into a "get to Casualty in the Eye and Ear hospital. Now". After having my eyelid turned inside out twice - as gruesome as it sounds - and dye drops into my eye, I also have an ulcer on my cornea. Nice.
So this means no driving for a week, lots of eyedrops every few hours, avoiding bright light, splitting headaches and rummaging through the freezer for dinner as quite frankly, I'm not in the humour to cook. This is the time I'm grateful for batch cooking because I unearthed two portions of special cottage pie that I froze before Christmas. In foil dishes too, so no washing up necessary. In fact, had I been alone, I possibly would have eaten it straight from the container. But decorum called for a plate, extra veggies and cutlery. Can't let standards slip just because I'm like One Eyed Jack. This makes 4-5 decent portions which you can eat straight away or freeze for up to 6 months.
Double Spud Topped Cottage Pie
2 large Potatoes, peeled & cut into 2cm chunks
1 large Sweet Potato, peeled & cut into 2cm chunks
1 tsp Salt
1 tbsp Oil
2 Onions, finely chopped
600g Minced Beef (about 10% fat content)
2 Carrots, grated
150g Mushrooms thinly sliced
250ml Beef Stock*
2 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
Salt & Pepper
100g frozen Peas
Bring the potatoes and sweet potato to the boil, add the salt and simmer for 15 minutes until tender.
In a large frying pan, sweat the onions in the oil over a low to medium heat until translucent. Transfer the onions to a large pot, add the mushrooms and cook over a low hear. Now cook the minced beef in the pan until browned and cooked through. Add the meat to the vegetables, add the carrot, stock & Worcestershire sauce and stir well.
Bring this to the boil before reducing the heat and simmering for 15 minutes until the gravy has reduced and thickened. If you're planning to eat the cottage pie now, add the peas after 10 minutes to cook through. Otherwise wait until the end (if you cook them now, they'll go grey when you reheat the cottage pie later)
In the meantime, drain the cooked potatoes, add the milk, butter, salt and pepper and mash until smooth.
Now it's assembly time. I like to use foil containers if I'm freezing the pie as they can go straight into the oven to cook and there's no washing up. Ladle in enough cottage pie mix to fill the container 2/3 full and top with the mashed potato. Allow to cool before applying the lid, writing the name & the date on top (so you don't play Mystery Freezer Food) and freezing.
When you want to reheat, allow the cottage pie to thaw fully before placing onto a baking sheet, removing the lid and reheating at Gas Mark 4 / 180c for 25 minutes. You can go mad and top with some grated cheese for extra decadence if you like.
* my lazy stock is a Knorr Rich Beef stock pot, dissolved in 250ml boiling water