Purple Majesty

I think you could safely say that I am a fan of the spud.

I love baby salad potatoes boiled and with a lovely lump of salted butter melting slowly over them…or with a rich mayonnaise …or just steamed with salt and herbs.

I love floury potatoes baked slowly in the oven so they smell rich and delicious and cracking that hard outer skin reveals a steaming and fluffy middle.

I love chips either  eaten from newspaper on the sea front or par-boiled and then baked with a light tossing of oil in the oven in my attempt to lighten the fat load.

I love mash, passed through the ricer and whipped with butter and cream. I can eat it by itself as an antidote to sadness, exhaustion or disappointment.

I love roast potatoes, crisped and crackling from the oven to eat with meat, glistening and delicious.

I love fried potatoes in any of a myriad of ways… frittatas, say or as  sauté potatoes.

I love potatoes in a soup.

Or even in bread.

I think it’s safe to say that if a potato can be used in a recipe, I want to  try it. And I probably have.

And then one day….

I saw these. Purple potatoes… and by golly, they were purple. Albert Bartlett’s Purple Majesty.

I had to try them because a) they were a potato and b) because they were pretty and purple. Also, I have to say, because Albert Bartlett’s Rooster potatoes are my favourite all rounders. They are marvellous for mashing, baking and frying so I was assuming that if they had another kind of potato they would be worth trying.

I didn’t use them the night I bought them and I thought I would try one of the recipes on the bag when I had a bit more time.

The next day was a day from hell, it really was. Work was piling up, I was tired and what was worse, the Bear was away so I got back to an empty apartment. I really couldn’t be bothered to do anything at all and in a sulky, bad tempered fashion I looked at what was in the kitchen…. which was a bag of potatoes.

Now, I am normally very strict on how I treat potatoes – if they are to be turned into mash then they must be gently boiled  and then passed through a potato ricer to get mounds of fluffy potato that butter or cream can be mixed through. If they are going to be baked in their jackets then they must be scrubbed, pricked, rubbed with oil and salt and baked slowly in the oven so you get a beautifully almost dry potato when you break it open.

I’d never cook a potato in its skin in the microwave – that makes it wet  and solid. It doesn’t smell right. And it certainly doesn’t taste right. So I’d never do that. Never.

Except that night I was tired and evil tempered and quite frankly, my dear, I didn’t give a damn. Besides, it was only me… and I desperately needed something quickly, so I washed a couple of the purple beauties, jabbed them with a knife and set them away in the microwave. I’d eat them and get to bed and maybe the next day would be better.

And then I got them out of the microwave and split them open. They weren’t wet.

They were, in fact, almost dry (you know what I mean) like a proper baked potato. They certainly smelled nice…

They were purple… definitely purple… and they tasted delicious. They have a lovely rich flavour.

I stuck a great big lump of butter in them and started to eat. I was wrong about microwaving potatoes.  I was so wrong that I put another one in the microwave and ate that after I finished the first bowl.

I really don’t know how they do it, or how these potatoes are different  but this is the fastest way to have lovely jacket potatoes. So I did it the next night too….and the next. I finished the bag.

Next time you need a rapid baked potato fix, this could be the answer.

Then, when I had bought another bag and the Bear was home so I needed to do something more than just hand him a bowl of potato (no matter how delicious, he would want something to go with it) he asked if we could have chips.

Now I won’t have a deep fat fryer because it scares me a bit – the danger of fire and all that. It would also smell and living in an apartment means that the smell of frying gets everywhere. Thing is, there’s something quite delicious about chips…

So what we do is cut them and then par-boil them for a few minutes till they are beginning to get tender.

(Look at the gorgeous colour of them.. I really do love that colour. Filled with antioxidants, apparently)

Drain them and shake them so the majority of the water is off them, although the heat will allow the moisture to evaporate.

If you use a silcone sheet it makes cleaning up so much faster…. just lay the chips on a piece, which is itself spread over a baking sheet and sprinkle the chips with oil and then put them straight into a preheated oven say, 200°C or 390°F, to cook and to crisp up.

They need a stir or a shake to make sure that they are evenly cooked…

But when they are done?

They were lovely! Again they had that fluffy and very definitely not water logged middle, the outside was crisped and they have a really potatoey taste. I know that sounds a bit silly, but, you know, some potatoes don’t taste of anything much. These had a depth of flavour that was almost rich.

The Bear, of course, looked at them oddly when I handed him his supper but he tried them… and ate them and asked if there were any more.

So, if you see a bag of purple potatoes, snap them up. Try them microwaved in their skins – you’ll be surprised. Try them as chips….you’ll love them. They are so tasty that we finished that bag by doing more chips and more microwaved potatoes…..I’m going to have to get another bag so I can go onto mash.

And then of course, another bag so I can start on the recipes….

Meatfree Monday – citrus, thyme and garlic potatoes, or dinner from scraps.

We didn’t have much in the apartment – I’d been getting to work early and getting back late and the thought of stopping to buy food was just too much. Crawl through rush-hour traffic and pull off the main road, then fight through shoppers and then try and get back to the main road? No thanks.

I knew there were a few potatoes left and I could do something with them….

I had some polenta pie left so that would go with them.

I needed to liven them up a bit so as I drove back I worked through what else we had in the apartment… or what else we had growing outside the apartment.

There was a lovely, healthy bush of thyme, just outside the french doors. I could use that…..

And in the freezer there was a bag of quartered lemons and limes. Whenever I have lemons and limes left over, rather than letting them dry out and go to waste, I quarter them and freeze them. That way I have a marvellous ice cube for a G&T or other drink. But if I used them for the potatoes… well… they would go perfectly with thyme.

So I had a plan.

The potatoes were washed and  cubed and the oven put on at 180 degrees C/160 degrees C, fan assisted/350 degrees F.

I put the cubed potato in a bowl with some water and salt – minimal water – and microwaved them for 5 minutes. You could parboil them but this was faster and I was tired, hungry and didn’t want to wash any pans.

In a lined baking tray, I mixed crushed garlic with oil and salt

and grabbed a handful of thyme and lemon and lime pieces.

The potato cubes were thrown into the baking tin with the thyme and the frozen lemon and lime and everything was tossed in the garlicky oil.

Into the oven for twenty to thirty minutes while I went to get changed out of my work clothes and into something more comfortable.

The thyme leaves fall off the stem so all you have to do is pick out the stems and Bob’s your uncle.

The potatoes had that lovely, almost sweet, savoury taste, crunchy on the edges and deliciously soft in the middle. The lemon and lime had cooked slowly from frozen solid to soft, almost caramenlised roastedness, which gave everything a lovely sharpness and the garlic and thyme worked wonderfully. With a few salad leaves from the box on the balcony and a couple of tiny tomatoes and the remnants of the polenta pie, I had a marvellous meal in less than 40 minutes.

Now, look at that photograph more carefully…. guess who didn’t spot that lime quarter nestling amongst her potatoes?

What have I learned from this?

That a delicious meal can be made from scraps, that freezing lemons and limes are not just for gin…. and that wearing your glasses when dishing up is a good idea.

Crushed potatoes

Working full time is, as most of you will know, a pretty tiring business.

Working as a temp in an office is actually not that lucrative, so there’s always a fine line to be drawn between saving money and making things taste good.

This cold, dark winter seems longer than usual and it affects everyone’s mood. We get up in the dark, go to work in the dark and come home in the dark. If it’s not snowing then it’s raining or just bone-chillingly cold. The street lights come on mid afternoon and the freezing fog just hangs about.

I feel permanently exhausted and everything seems so much effort. Even cooking – my great joy – seems to be suffering. I want to come home and do the minimum…. the minimum, that is, until I have to eat it. I want something to cheer me up and make me feel marginally more special than a cold, dark and miserable Thursday warrants.

The answer is, of course, make something that takes the least effort imaginable, in the shortest time, with the loveliest taste.

When your mood is low then the thing to do is to get some potatoes… life always seems better when spuds are involved

The answer, therefore, is….. crushed and roasted (sort of) potatoes.

You’d be happy, I take it, with something that takes less than half an hour to make and serve? Some of those packet meal things take 40 minutes.. so something fresh and easy would be better? Surely?

So, you get some potatoes, peel them and cut them into manageable pieces… put them in a microwavable bowl with a sprinkle of salt and some water.

Put the oven on at 180 degrees.

Cover it with a plate and cook on high power for 6 or 7  minutes. (I say cover it with a plate because that is quicker and more economical than covering it with cling film and then throwing it out. Besides, that’s what I always do)

That’s just enough to mainly cook them but them still to keep their shape. Jab them with a knife to check there’s give in them.

Drain the spuds and put them on an oven tray… and get out your potato masher.

(Funnily enough, when I make mashed potato I won’t use the masher, I always use a potato ricer to make sure the mash is as smooth as can be. The masher is, however, perfect for part crushing the potatoes)

Now, don’t go mad. You aren’t mashing… you are bashing.

The potatoes need to be broken down around the edges… not flat, just bashed about.

Drizzle oil over it… garlic oil is good… as is chilli oil if you want your potatoes to have a bit of a bite … then shove them in the oven on a top shelf for ten minutes or so.

See how the littler bits have gone golden and crispy?

And the bigger bits have crisped up round the outside?

And there you have it… perfect to serve with (as I did) some roast lamb…. or maybe left over sausages, heated through, or maybe some roast chicken.

Sometimes, it is just enough to have a bowl of potatoes.

That really did take just about 30 minutes to make. 

And it really did take the edge off a bad day.

Jansson’s Temptation

While we were in the north I had high hopes of being snowed in and had made sure we had the makings of lots of delicious comfort food recipes  to see us through what could be a seige situation.

Of course, while there was snow we didn’t exactly get trapped by it. It showed no sign of melting, though, so I felt entitled to think about something warm and sustaining. Calorific, even. After all, if it did turn nasty, we wanted to be able to fend of hypothermia.

It really was cold, though. Colder than I have known in a long time. We went to the beach nearby and, even though it hadn’t snowed for three, maybe four days, there was still snow on the rocks that are piled up for the sea defences.

Now these rocks are lashed by the sea daily. The waves often crash onto the promenade and you can taste the salt in the air. You’d expect, then, that the snow would have either been washed away or to have melted.

There was even snow on the beach.  Nothing was melting.

Faced with all that, I knew I had to make something to cheer us up, warm us through and fill us with each decadent mouthful.

It had to be Jansson’s Temptation.  I was always told that it was called that because it is so delicious it caused a Swedish clergyman to break his vow not to indulge in earthly pleasures. If you haven’t made it, try it. It will be something you dream about.

It is an oven baked dish of potatoes, onion, cream and Swedish sprats, anchovy style.

Now before you start scuttling backwards, shrieking that you don’t like anchovies, bear with me. They are actually sprats, cured in the Swedish fashion, which means they are a beguiling mix of sweetness and saltiness. The best place to get them? That famous Swedish home furnishings superstore – Ikea.  And the tin to look out for?

Right. First things first. Peel some potatoes and slice them, first one way and then the other until you have matchstick sized pieces of potatoes. I used two potatoes per person because, somehow, this just slides down.

That’s probably a bad thing in terms of diets but a good thing in terms of sheer, unadulterated pleasure.

Parboil them for 3 or 4 minutes, then rinse them in cold water

While that is going on,  peel and slice thinly, a large onion

Butter an oven proof dish

And then put a layer of potatoes

Followed by a layer of onions

Then scatter your sweet and salty sprats

They are so pretty – pink and silver…. quite unlike Mediterranean anchovies.

I pour some of the liquid sweet brine over the potatoes as well

Then cover the lot with some single cream. A large pot should do it.

And then… well, what the heck… just put a few dots of butter on top of it….and then into an oven  at 170 degrees

……….until you have a golden brown,  delicious dish. It takes about 40 minutes or so.

 A bit longer, if you have other things to do. Just cover the top with tinfoil to stop it burning .

Then… heap your plate with what is probably the most delicious potato dish in the world. The sprats have dissolved completely into the cream and give a beautiful sweetly, savoury flavour. Unless you’d been told there were sprats or anchovies in there, you’d never know. This has everything you could wish for – the softness and comfort of potatoes, a creamy, mouth filling texture and that umami type of taste – all sweet, salty and deep.

You would just swoon with the first mouthful.

I serve it with plain roast meat – lamb is good… but the star of the meal really is the potato.

No wonder poor old Jannson succumbed.

Plate of beef

One of the best things in the world is to be able to spend time with your friends.

And when one of those friends is someone you have known since you were eleven years old, well, it is even better. Let’s just say that more than one decade has passed since we met. We could, in fact, be talking about decades in the plural. Several decades.

Be that as it may, it is J’s birthday on Christmas Eve. This always gives me great joy because for a few short weeks she is, technically, a year older than me. The Bear and I always try to be back for J’s birthday and it is something of a tradition of ours that she and K, her husband, come to stay on Boxing Day.

We cook for them and make it a special night.

I decided to do beef and chose one of the cheapest cuts – plate of beef.  I didn’t choose cheap because I wanted to cut corners and costs, I chose it because it has the most incredible flavour.

Plate of beef is the cut from the cow’s diaphragm muscles, the underneath of the cow, with the rib bones attached. A related cut is beef skirt that I use when I want to make  steak and chips. Plate of beef is fattier and tougher than skirt and the best way to cook it is to let is cook slowly for a long time and make sure you have some liquid to keep it moist.

See the layers, interspersed with fat? They need to be cosseted in a low oven so the fat renders down and turns everything into a soft, juicy and unbelievably flavoursome piece of meat. A braise is a good way of doing it but I wanted it as a slow roasted piece of meat….

That’s a big piece of meat for under £5. The butcher scores the outside so you just need to season it and choose something for the liquid not-quite-braise.

I stand the meat on a rack at first and pour over my favourite marinade – a mixture made with

Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce which gives it a sharper savoury flavour

Some Indonesian Sweet Soy Sauce which adds a rounded sweet flavour

Half a glass of red wine… because, well, why wouldn’t you? 

(The Bear saw me walking across the kitchen with the glass and was horrified at the thought I had turned to drink – it was, after all, quite a bit before midday and I was going to be driving)

A grinding of white pepper finishes it off.

Pour a glass of water into the tin (not over the meat) to keep the moisture levels up and that’s it.

This truly is a delicious marinade for meat – it seems to deepen the meaty flavour and none of the ingredients overpowers the others. It all seems to work really well together. Try it.

I put it in the oven at 1 pm, at 120 degrees C, covered with foil to keep the steam and the delicious juices in and then set off to do other stuff.

When we came back at about 5 pm it all smelled deep and meaty and hinted at juicy, glistening pieces of meat to eat later. The best thing about this cut is that is very forgiving in terms of time.

I took it off the rack and let it lie in the meat juices and marinade, then I just left it as it was until it was ready to finish off.

About an hour before we were ready to eat, I turned the heat up to 175 and took the foil off for the final 30 – 40 minutes.

I set the table and got ready

I was going to make the meal a simple one… just meat and some veg… but it was going to be marvellously tasty meat and veg.

Potatoes were parboiled and drained. If you do this in a colander, give them a good shaking so they roughen a bit and and then throw them into sizzling goose fat . I use a baking tray with an shallow edge on it and put a good two tablespoons of goose fat on it and let it heat up for ten minutes or so before I throw on the potatoes.

If they have had a bit of roughening round the edges, it lets the goose fat get in and make a lovely crispy and crunchy crust. The insides stay beautifully fluffy.  They just need to be turned so they brown all over.

I steamed some carrots and parsnips ( I had prepared too many batons the day before for Christmas lunch, but, kept in the fridge, they were still perfectly fresh and just needed a light cooking) and then tossed them in with the potatoes.

Time to start getting things ready.. so the candles were lit

The meat taken out to rest. The pan was deglazed with another half glass of red wine – it sizzled  and spluttered and the meat juices and marinade turned in a gravy that was so delicious you might be happy drinking it.

The meat looked fantastic.

The champagne was poured and the birthday girl was toasted (while I laughed quietly to myself because I am not as old as she is…… yet!)

And the meat carved into great, luxurious slices of rich and juicy beef…

All I needed to do now is call the birthday girl to the table, and get everyone to join her for her birthday meal

The plate of beef was considered a resounding success – it’s an underused cut and perhaps people think it is tricky to deal with or maybe ordinary and boring. It was easy – a marinade, a slow cooking throughout the afternoon with a final burst of heat to finish it off. The flavour is incredible – rich, deep and complex. The essence of meaty beefiness.

Just because it is inexpensive doesn’t mean it can’t be part of a special dinner.

Find a decent butcher who will sell you this cut and try it yourself. You will be very glad you did.

Cracking crackling

What can you get for £3.50 these days that will feed everyone? Not an awful lot unless you are prepared to put just a little bit of effort in… and when I say a little bit of effort that’s all I mean. That and planning to start things maybe 5 or so hours ahead. When  I went North, one of the things I did was go to the  butcher’s and I got a lovely piece of rolled belly pork.

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Belly pork… with crackling…. that has to be good. And the effort involved?

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Pat it dry… and then rub salt in the scored skin. The butcher will do that for you to save you having to run amok with a sharp knife – and let’s face it, he will have sharper knives than you will. Then, put the oven on as high as it can go and get it really hot. Only when you are sure that the oven is heated properly, put the pork in and let that meat sizzle! What you are doing is making a start on the world’s most delicious crackling!

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See? Half an hour or so and it has started to brown and crisp. There’s your  effort… you turned the oven on and kept an eye on the time. Now you can turn the oven down to 120 degrees or so and just leave it to cook slowly for the next 5 or so hours.

You can do what you like for a while then although, I suppose, you do need to think of vegetables to go with it. Not too much work there, either……I decided that shallots and apple would be just the thing to go with the pork – the shallots would be lovely, cooked slowly till they were soft and savoury and some apples (scrumped from my aunt’s tree) added to it to sharpen things up a bit and offset the richness of the pork… and maybe some roast potatoes just to make it all come together?

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       I’d also bought some broccoli that I thought might come in handy … well, I do so love it and if I slide some on the Bear’s plate, he will make a vague attempt to eat it … and I was thinking that maybe steamed and with a sprinkle of oil and lemon juice on? Hmmm? See that WOULD be nice, wouldn’t it?   

We have rosemary and sage growing in pots on the balcony so I went and got a few snippets, stripped the leaves from the stems and chopped it roughly

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 Then I peeled the shallots and the apples, sprinkled them with some salt, oil and the herbs… oh and a red onion peeled and quartered (well, it was just sitting there, asking to be included)

Bear's breakfast, slow roast pork 023                                                                                                     … put some foil over the top and put that in the oven as well. Long slow cooking alongside the meat would make the shallots cook down to a lovely soft sweetness……

The potatoes were put in round the meat about two hours before we were ready to eat (remember this is a low oven you have the meat on so they will need a bit longer to cook) … I’d normally steam them and peel them and then roast them in hot fat but all this carry on with my poor old arm meant that I was taking short cuts. They could get in there alongside that meat and cook alongside it.  And cook they did…….

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The broccoli….steamed for 4 minutes then sprinkled with oil and lemon juice…. salt and pepper…

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And now things were coming together.

The pork had been in for 5, maybe 6, hours… it had had that scorchingly hot start that makes all the difference to the crackling and then it had the rest of the time, cooking gently, the fat slowly basting the meat until it was soft and tender.

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Get that out and let it rest while you turn the heat up on the vegetables in the oven to get them beautifully coloured

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Then… slice your meat

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The crackling… oh my word… the crackling………..

So there you have it. Minimal work,  just a little bit of preparation – again, for less than a fiver you have a meal that would serve 4 easily and even leave some meat over for sandwiches the next day. Or, if you were any kind of a friend, you would make sandwiches for your friends who were drooling over this……and had had to listen to you crunching on the crackling.

So… get cracking for the best crackling ever! The meat’s not bad either 😉

Steak and chips…..

When I was back in the North, visiting the family, I went to the local butcher’s and bought, amongst other things, a big piece of beef skirt – a long flat piece of beef from the underbelly of the cow. The French call it ‘bavette’ and seem to value it more than we do. It is really tasty ( and by that I mean REALLY tasty) and you can either cook it slowly to tenderise it or give it a marinade and cook it quickly, keeping it relatively rare and serving it as as a steak.

Well, it is the weekend…. steak and chips and a glass of red seemed an excellent choice.

I don’t have a deep fat fryer because I really don’t like the smell of frying circulating everywhere through the apartment and also because, coward that I am, I’m always scared it will catch fire. So the chips would have to be made in the oven. That’s OK though, they still taste good. I suppose you could also say they were good for you because they aren’t deep fried.. they’re baked!

First, get your things togetherSteak, bread and Cookery Lotto 001 for the marinade – you need


Lea and Perrin’s Worcestershire Sauce

Soy sauce ( I used some Sweet Soy Sauce, because that was at the front of the cupboard. Otherwise use ordinary soy)


and salt.

Chop, or crush, your garlic. Mix it with 4 tablespoons of oil,  2 tablespoons of Lea and Perrins and 2 tablespoons of soy sauce. Add some salt. Give it a whisk together with a fork….


See this piece of wonderful beef skirt?  Maybe we should call it bavette, like the French. It sounds so much better, don’t you think? And not expensive… this cost me £4.56. Look at the size of it!

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Then, with your fork, give your wonderfully inexpensive piece of beef skirt a good jabbing. This will help the marinade sink in…

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The marinade is essential to prepare it for a quick grilling – that keeps it tender.




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Leave it for a couple of hours (though if you were incredibly organised you could even leave it to marinade overnight. I’m not, so I can’t really tell you if it makes it dramatically better. Two hours works fine for me) Keep turning it so it gets an even marinade.



Steak and chips 002     Peel and cut your spuds into chips.

Then boil them for 3 or 4 minutes in salted water, drain them and shake them dry.

Steak and chips 003Sprinkle them with oil and a shaking of salt ( I always use Maldon because I love the large crystals and I think it tastes ‘cleaner’ than ordinary table salt. I’m sure there’s a bit of a chemical tang to pouring salt but maybe that is just me being pretentious.)

Make sure the chips have a light coating of oil by rolling them about a bit on a greased sheet and then put them in a hot oven – 170 degrees or so. Because you have partly cooked the potato it will only take about 15 to 20 minutes to cook properly and brown to a delicious chip crispiness.


Now…. heat your grill till it is as hot as it can go. The aim is to get that steak cooked as quickly as possible, leaving the inside pinkish. That will keep it tender. Whack it on the grill and cook it for 8 to 10 minutes, turning it once. It will be gorgeously, glisteningly brown and still pink in the middle.

While that’s cooking, you have enough time to make a delicious garlic sauce by chopping some garlic finely, heating it in 4 tablespoons of butter and adding a teaspoon of Worcestershire Sauce. Simmer it gently and get ready to put everything together…..

Take the steak out and slice it across the grain – that’s the short side… so it looks like this….

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Pile your chips up.


Put the sliced steak on the plate and pour some delicious garlic sauce over the meat.


Pour a glass of red wine.


Remember to wipe your mouth afterwards – that will remove the garlic sauce that may have dribbled and the self satisfied smirk that will be all over your face after making such a delicious meal for two for just over £5.

Pastryless Pie!

Pastryless pie 002Sometimes, even in the best planned kitchens, there are leftovers. Sometimes, the best planned kitchens ENSURE there are leftovers! I knew I had to drive North, leaving the Bear to fend for himself and though he is perfectly capable, he has a very busy week and might just have trotted off to buy a sandwich. What he needed, I thought, was a Pastryless Pie – he could cut slices and take it in with some salad leaves. Far better for him than a shop bought sandwich. And he gets some greens into his diet.

I suppose the Pastryless Pie is really a kind of frittata, a sort of mutant child of a Spanish omelette and a vegetable quiche. Without the pastry, obviously. Now before you shudder and dismiss it….. Look at it… a beautiful, softly quivering slice of gorgeousness! 

And really, not much work at all. No tricky pastry to deal with, so no trauma with blind baking and red hot ceramic baking beans bouncing round the kitchen when you try and take them out of the pie crust and manage to drop the corner of the baking parchment… no comedy style lurching around as you stand on a baking bean and it rolls around underfoot…… oh sorry, I was letting a personal trauma affect me there.

So back to the pie. The ingredients vary but the constants HAVE to be eggs and cream or milk and some cheese. Because there isn’t any pastry, you can imagine that putting the quiche like filling in without a liner would make things very messy. You can buy cake tin liners which are one of the greatest things ever. I got these at Lakeland but I assume they are available everywhere

Liners 001Liners 002

You also need a tin to put it in. I use a springform tin (That’s one where there is a clip that you fasten and it tightens the sides round the base. It makes everything very easy to get out as the pie or cake remains on the base and the sides lift off.)

Anyway.. onwards…..

Pastryless Pie


First of all, select some ingredients.

6 eggs

140 ml pot of cream

100g  cheddar

100g Emmental

Packet of Parma ham, or proscuitto – maybe 6 or 8 slices

Cold boiled potatoes – just a few

A small courgette (ooh those hidden vegetables…muahahaaahahaaaa!)

Some steamed broccoli

Sweetcorn if you like it (although it is in the picture, it didn’t actually make it into the pie because when I peeled the husk back and cut the kernels off, they looked all pale and unripe)

Sweet potato – I had some spicy roasted cubes left, so they went in.

Leeks – not the two of them – when I started chopping I actually only used half of one.

Little tomatoes

Now before you say that you don’t like this or that,  just carry on reading then go and look in your fridge. Maybe there is something there you like better?

Pop the liner into the tin andCooking 038 then carefully peel apart your slices

 of proscuitto or Parma ham. Drape it round the sides and leave a bit hanging over the top. You don’t have to completely cover the outside.

Then prepare the rest of your vegetables – slice the potatoes (not too thin) and break up the broccoli florets into small pieces. I shred a courgette as it sort of disappears into the filling, which is handy, seeing as some people object to them. As I say, what the eye can’t see, the mouth can’t whine about .

In a bowl, whisk the eggs and the cream together with a bit of salt for seasoning. Grate the cheddar into it – it goes all lumpy, but that’s a good thing. When it bakes it all comes together wonderfully.

I bought Emmental presliced, for no other reason than when I went to get somethat was all there was. Turned out to be a good idea actually – I took it out of the packet and just sliced it.  See the picture? From the top left – shredded courgettes, left over cubed spicy roasted sweet potato, sliced Emmental, cold boiled sliced potatoes, finely chopped leeks, sliced tomatoes and the broccoli. Now you start to put it together. Put the oven on to pre heat at 160 degrees

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 Potatoes on the bottom so there is a bit of a base to the whole thing. Then the broccoli and the sweet potato in a rather fetching pattern – think of the slicing of it… oh, so pretty!

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 Scatter in the leeks and courgette – look at the lovely greenness!

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Now pour in your lumpy eggy, creamy (or milky), cheesy liquid, giving the pie a gentle shake so it settles evenly through all the vegetables. Scatter the sliced Emmental over it and the little tomatoes, which you have cut into quarters.

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See the ends of the ham? Flip them over, just like this. Then put it in the oven.

Turn around and walk away for maybe 30 – 40 minutes. Have a quick look after 30 minutes… it is browning nicely? Does it need to be turned? I have a terrible oven that cooks unevenly so I have to keep turning things so they get an even colour.

When it is looking evenly browned, using oven gloves (no burned fingers please!) gently shake the tin – it should be firmish. Give it a prod, if you like – it shouldn’t be rock solid, it should have a nice, gentle give to it. Does it smell nice?  Does it look a bit like this?

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Let me tell you, that smells gorgeous.  There’s a bit of a delicate wobble to it but there are no evil runny bits.

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It’s quite pretty, really. And even people, (I shan’t name names as he may be reading this) who have to be dragged kicking and screaming towards broccoli, (The Bear’s only flaw) manage to scoff this.

So, you see how easy it is? A bit of chopping. A bit of layering. A bit of mixing and that’s it.

It slices well and is good to eat the day you make it or to take to work or school in a packed lunch. You can put in vegetables that you have left over from other meals and, presumably, they would be vegetables that you would like seeing as you cooked them anyway. How very moneysaving! How very tasty.