My blog has been neglected so far this year, something I hate doing but I have a rather lovely excuse, as I have been on the other side of the world in Thailand soaking up a bit of winter sunshine, therefore not spending much time on my trusty MacBook. It's been a complete shock to my system returning from 37 degree temperatures in Thailand to -3 degrees in England, what on earth do you wear for travelling with such dramatic climate changes either side of the journey? I opted for layers, layers and more layers, however a huge mistake was only having a pair of French Sole ballet pumps in my procession (unprepared I know!), which led to a very chilly and slippery journey back from Heathrow!
It is slightly shameful to say that I love the cold weather, I love nothing more than log fire burning, dog on lap, PJ wearing kinda slumber. Yes it's inconvenient, yes it's cold but no one can say everywhere isn't looking pretty gorgeous at the moment. Just look (picture to the left) of this amazing icicle in my parents garden this week, it literally followed the drainpipe from the roof top to the ground, gorgeous!
Whenever the weather turns to the chilly side, I turn to my fail safe winter warmer recipe which I promise will warm even the coldest of winter nights. I've been using this recipe for years and it has been slightly adapted winter after winter, I just love it, even if I do say so myself. It promises three things, carbs, a kick of flavour and easiness to prepare, why not give it a whirl? It might look like a look of ingredients but I'm sure many things will already be in your kitchen stores.
For the champ topping:
3 floury potatoes, such as King Edward
Small handful of frozen peas
Knob of butter
2 spring onions
For the beef mixture:
1 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled, crushed
2 carrots, chopped, peeled, chopped into small pieces
1 celery stalk, trimmed, chopped in to small pieces
400g canned plum tomatoes
1.5 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp Tabasco
Pinch smoked paprika
1 fresh bay leaf (dry is fine)
90ml red wine
100ml vegetable stock
1 sprig fresh rosemary
Splash balsamic vinegar
Small handful flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
250g lean beef mince
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 200C. For the champ topping heat a pan of salted water, add the potatoes and bring gently to boil, simmer until they are nearly cooked through, about 15-20 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, for the beef mixture, heat half the olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat and gently fry the chopped onion, garlic, carrots and celery for 5-10 minutes or until softened.
3. Add the remaining beef mixture ingredients expect for the mince and season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. Bring to boil, then reduce the heat slightly and simmer for 5 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Keep warm.
4. Heat the remaining olive oil in a separate pan over medium heat, add the mince, fry until golden brown. Stir the mince in to the tomato sauce.
5. When the potatoes for the champ topping are almost done, add the frozen peas.
6. Gently fry the spring onion on a low heat, with the milk.
7. Drain the potatoes and peas, mash roughly. Add the warm milk mixture. Mash until combined but still chunky.
8. Spoon the beef mixture into a medium pie mix and top with champ. Scatter over the smoked paprika.
9. Bake the pie for 25-30 minutes until the potato is golden brown.
Let us know how you got on! Enjoy...