Photo credit: http://trialx.org/
Before I became a (much maligned) street based fundraiser and now operations manager for Concern Worldwide’s (www.concern.net,’the hunger charity’ + any budding cake makers should search ‘bake a difference’) in-house street fundraising team, I used, a very long time ago, to be a chef/caterer;nothing posh, mostly subsidised staff canteens (remember them?). I tend to specialise in making average, ‘traditional’ dishes less average or traditional. This one is a favourite with most of my family especially the kids.
Make a meat or vegetable bolognaise sauce;- Fry off minceed beef or lamb,onions and or vegetables (mushrooms and peppers are good but add any veg u like) add couple of tins of chopped tomato’s, passata, or jar of bolognaise sauce, basil or large pinch of Italian herbs and 1/2-1 (according to taste) bulbs of garlic. Simmer gently for a couple of hours (less for vegetarian only) so sauce infuses and thickens. Pour into oven proof shallow (3/4 inches deep) dish or Individual dishes so they are about half full and set aside to cool.
peel and boil a 50/50 mix of potato’s and sweet potato’s n.b Add sweet potato’s to the pot after ‘normal’ ones have boiled for 8-10 mins then cook until soft but not waterlogged. Drain and allow to dry off in a colander for a few minutes. Mash well adding a splash of cream or milk and season with salt, pepper a pinch of nutmeg and a large spoonfull of grated parmesan cheese (nutmeg and parmesan cheese also optional)
Using a large spoon and palette knife to spread at least 1-1 1/2 inches of Potato topping over entire dish. Tip start at the edge of the dish with small ish (large tablespoonfuls) blobs and go right round the dish spreading outwards to seal the sides then fill the middle in and smooth off gently. Run a fork over the top to pattern and/or ‘rough it up’ a bit.
Place dish into a medium-hot pre-heated oven, about 180 degrees or gas mk 6 (I think) and cook for about 40-45 mins untill starting to brown. Remove from oven and sprinkle a spoonful of grated parmesan and a handfull of pine nuts on the top (parmesan or any cheese and pine nuts are also optional but if you haven’t tasted toasted pine nuts I highly recommend them) then place bake in oven for 5-10 mins or until pine nuts are starting to brown.
Remove from oven, allow to settle for a few Minutes then serve: I recommend with a fresh green leaf and herb salad, garlic bread and a fruity Italian red wine.
Note: the Potato/sweet potato topping also works really well on/with a fishermans pie base. A little red wine cooked into the bolognaise (or white for fish pie) sauce works really well.
And bob’s your uncle :)
Graham Cooke, Concern.net