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Nana's Lunch

By Sally Green

At the start of this year I started doing a Meals on Wheels thing for my 93-year-old Nanna. She lives 20 minutes away so I usually cook the food at my place and then transport it over for 1pm, give it a quick blast in her microwave and Bob’s your uncle.

I love to cook but only know a limited amount of meals, so join me each month as I make basic recipes that are simple but tasty. Let’s not do measurements, just chuck in what feels right.

Cottage Pie

For the filling:
• A splash of olive oil or a spoonful of coconut oil
• Organic, free range minced beef (best to go to a local butcher so that you know it’s actually beef)
• beef stock
• 3 carrots
• 2 cloves of garlic
• 1 onion
• some plain flour
• squirt of tomato puree
• squirt of marmite (or a spoonful if you are using the conventional glass jar instead of the squeezy type)
• large glass of red wine (and an extra one to drink whilst cooking)
• splash of Worcestershire sauce, and a few drops of Tabasco if you like it spicy
• a few thyme sprigs
• a couple of bay leaves

For the mash
• 2 or 3 potatoes
• Salt and pepper
• milk
• Butter
• grated cheese (if you are not in to cheese, you can add a spoonful of horseradish sauce or Tewkesbury Mustard to the mash mix to add a tasty kick).

How to cook:
1. Heat oil in large saucepan and fry the mince until browned. Put the rest of the oil into the pan, add the vegetables and cook on a gentle heat until soft, about 20 mins. Add the garlic, onion, flour and tomato purée, increase the heat and cook for a few mins, then return the beef to the pan. Pour over the wine and boil to reduce it slightly before adding the stock, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco and herbs. Bring to a simmer and cook uncovered, for 45 mins. By this time the gravy should be thick and coating the meat. Check after about 30 mins – if a lot of liquid remains, increase the heat slightly to reduce the gravy a little. Season well, then discard the bay leaves and thyme stalks.

2. Meanwhile, make the mash. In a large saucepan, cover the potatoes in salted cold water, bring to the boil and simmer until tender. Drain well, then allow to steam-dry for a few mins. Mash well with the milk, butter, and three-quarters of the cheese, then season with the nutmeg and some salt and pepper.

3. Spoon meat into ovenproof dish. Pipe or spoon on the mash to cover. Sprinkle on the remaining cheese. If eating straight away, heat oven to
220°C/200°C fan/gas 7 and cook for 25-30 mins, or until the topping is golden.