Overstrand Life - Janet's Diaries

Pork & Sausage Casserole

This is such an easy recipe and as a child, it was one of our youngest son’s favourites. Good quality Pork & Sausages (something we are not short of here in Norfolk) are the key to the success of this dish.

Sunflower Oil
Pork Chops - 4
Chipolatas - 6
Onion - 1, large, peeled and sliced
Flour - 2tbsp
Chicken Stock - 400ml, homemade
Tomato Puree - 2tbsp
Ground Black Pepper

• Heat the oil in an oven proof casserole, large enough to take the chops in one layer.
• Fry the chops until golden brown, remove from the casserole to a plate.
• Twist each chipolata in half and cut to give 12 small cocktail sized sausages. Fry these in the casserole until brown. Remove and put on the plate with the chops.
• Reduce the heat, add more oil to the casserole if necessary, and gently fry the onions until soft.
• Sprinkle the flour over the onions and cook for about 1min
• Add the stock to the pan, a little at a time allowing it to thicken between each addition.
• Stir in the tomato puree and season. Return the chops and sausages to the casserole, making sure they are covered with the sauce.
• Cover the casserole and put on the middle shelf of an oven, preheated to Gas4/180°C for 1¼ hours.

Variations: Substitute homemade chicken stock with water.

Serving Suggestions: Mashed Potatoes and seasonal vegetables or buttered pasta go well with this dish.

Serves: 4

Potato Gratin

I like Gratin Dauphinois but find using half cream and half milk can make it rather sickly. Of course there is Potatoes Boulangeres which uses half stock and half milk but I prefer to compromise and use all milk i.e. no cream or stock.

Butter – enough to grease the dish and flake on the top
Potatoes – 300g
Pepper – Ground Black
Garlic – 1 large clove, crushed
Milk – semi- skimmed 150ml
Nutmeg – grated

•Grease a gratin dish with butter
•Peel the potatoes, wash and slice thinly into rounds, using a mandolin
•Put a layer of potato to cover the bottom of the gratin dish, season with salt and pepper and about half the garlic
•Place another layer of potato over the top and season with salt and pepper and the remaining garlic
•Top with the remaining potato
•Pour over the milk
•Dot with flakes of butter and grate the nutmeg over the top
•Put the dish on a baking tray and put on a high shelf in an oven preheated to Gas 2/150°C for about 1½ hours by which time the potatoes should be cooked through and the top lightly browned.

Notes: I use a mandolin for slicing the potatoes but it is possible to cut the potatoes into thin rounds using a fine blade knife or a food processor.

Serving Suggestions: Complements both roast and grilled cuts of Lamb

Serves: 2


I used to make these biscuits using different shaped cutters e.g. trees, stars, half-moons etc. when our sons were small, especially at Christmas when other family members joined us for the celebrations.

Butter – 220g, softened
Castor Sugar – 100g
Flour – 250g, Plain
Cornflour – 100g

•In a large bowl beat the butter using a wooden spoon.
•Add the sugar to the butter and beat the two together.
•Gradually work the flours into the butter and sugar mixture.
•Using your hands, bring the mixture together into a ball and transfer to a lightly floured surface.
•Roll out to about 3mm thick and with a 7cm round cutter cut out the biscuits, transferring to a baking sheet.
•Make the trimmings into a ball, re-roll and continue cutting out until all the mixture is used.
•Put the baking sheet onto a fairly high shelf in an oven preheated to Gas 2/150°C for about 20 minutes. Carefully lift the biscuits to a cooling rack and when cold dust with castor sugar before transferring to a tin.

Notes: Using both plain and cornflour gives these biscuits added shortness.

Variations: Use different shaped fancy cutters or roll out thinner and cut larger biscuits for strawberry shortcakes, adjusting the cooking time accordingly.

Serves: Makes about 24 biscuits.

Spanakopita - Feta Cheese and Chard/Spinach Pie

We quite often used to buy a slice of spanakopita or tiropita (cheese pie) in the morning, to take with us on our walks in Greece. The pastry used was quite often filo but others used something similar to our 'rough puff' It was the latter I preferred and I have reproduced this here, providing a crumbly pastry which perfectly encompasses the soft cheese and chard filling. I like to serve this with my recipe for Green Beans in Olive Oil* along with my homemade bread.
*This recipe can be found, along with over sixty more of my Greek recipes, in my book, 'The 3R's - Recipes, Reflections and Reminiscences'.

The quantities below are for a dish approximately 17cm x 24cm x 4cm

Plain Flour – 350g
Salt – ½ teaspoon
Bicarbonate of Soda – ¾ teaspoon
Butter or Margarine – 175g
Soda Water – 175ml chilled

Feta Cheese – 200g
Chard or Spinach – 375g, cooked weight, well drained
Onion – medium, finely chopped
Nutmeg – grated
Dill – 6 sprigs, finely chopped
Ground Black Pepper
Egg – 1, large, beaten

Milk – to dampen pastry edges and brushing over top

•Put the flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl.
•Cut the butter up into walnut sized pieces, add to the flour and mix together.
•Gradually add the soda water to the flour and butter and mix together with a fork until you have bound all the ingredients together to make a dough – because of the butter, this will be lumpy.
•Put the dough onto a well-floured board. Roll out into an oblong. Fold into three, give a quarter turn and roll again. Repeat three more times but on the fourth time do not roll. Put the folded dough in a plastic bag and put in the fridge to rest while you prepare the filling.
•Crumble the feta into a bowl, add the chard (squeeze out any excess moisture, if necessary), onion, nutmeg, dill and ground pepper.
•Mix together well before adding the egg
•Remove the pastry from the fridge and cut off 2/3rd. Roll this out and line the dish so the pastry comes up the sides.
•Roll out the remaining 1/3rd to make a the lid for the pie.
•Spread the pie filling over the pastry in the dish.
•Dampen the top edges of the pastry with milk and place the pastry lid over the top. Seal the two edges by pressing together firmly.
•Cut across the pastry lid to form a diamond pattern.
•Brush the top of the pie with milk and place on the middle shelf of an oven preheated to Gas6/200ºC. Cook for 15 mins before reducing the temperature to Gas4/180º and cooking for a further 15-20 mins until the pastry is golden brown.
•Remove from the oven and leave the pie to firm up for about 10 mins before cutting into portions.

Notes: Freezes well, defrost before reheating in a fairly hot oven

Serving Suggestions: Serve with green beans cooked in olive oil with tomatoes and onions (I can supply my recipe for this) and some good (preferably homemade) crusty bread

Serves: 4-6

Tuna Stuffed Peppers

The original recipe for this dish was given to us by friends a number of years ago. Although the cooking method remains pretty well the same, over the years I have changed some of the ingredients and quantities to suit our tastes. I usually cook this in the summer and early autumn, using our fresh garden produce.

Tuna – 185g tin
Green Bell Peppers – 4 medium, with flat bases
Olive Oil
Onion – 1 medium, finely chopped
Garlic – 1 clove, crushed
Tomatoes – 3 large fleshy Marmande types, skinned and chopped
Cheese – 120g, strong cheddar type, grated
Pepper, freshly ground black

• Drain the tinned tuna through a sieve or similar, over a bowl.
• Carefully cut the tops off the peppers and discard the tops. Remove all the seeds and any membranes.
• Submerge the peppers in a pan of boiling water. Simmer for about 15 mins. until they are just softening but still hold their shape. Drain in a colander with the peppers base side up.
• Sweat the onion and garlic in olive oil until just soft.
• Add the tomatoes to the onion and garlic and gently cook until the tomatoes are soft.
• Tip the drained tuna into a large bowl, add the tomato mixture and 60g’s of the grated cheese. Season with pepper and stir.
• Put the peppers in an oven proof dish and carefully fill the peppers with the tuna stuffing.
• Top the peppers with the remaining cheese and put the dish on the middle shelf of an oven preheated to Gas 4/180°C. Cook for about 40 mins when the cheese topping should be nicely brown.
• Remove from the oven and leave to stand for a few minutes before serving.

Notes: I do not add salt as I find there is enough in the cheese

Variations: Substitute fresh tomatoes with about 200g of chopped tin tomatoes.

Serving Suggestions: Serve with some crusty white bread (great for mopping up any juices from the peppers)

Serves: 4 for a starter of 2 as a main course.

Vanilla Ice Cream

Milk, 280mls
Eggs, 4 yolks, separated from the whites
Sugar, Caster, 85g
Cream, double, 280mls
Vanilla Essence, 8-10 drops

•Pour the milk into a saucepan and over a gentle heat, bring almost to boiling point.
•Put the egg yolks and sugar into a bowl and beat together lightly with a balloon whisk.
•Pour the milk over the egg and sugar and mix together well before returning to the pan
•With the pan still over a gentle heat, keep the mixture moving with a whisk or wooden spoon until the custard base thickens. Take care that the mixture does not boil otherwise you could end up with a mix resembling scrambled eggs!
•Pour into a clean bowl, cover with cling film and leave until completely cool before putting in the fridge to chill.
•When the custard is well chilled, pour the double cream into another bowl and using an electric hand whisk beat until starting to thicken.
•Add the vanilla essence to the cream and pour in the chilled custard and whisk again for a few minutes.
•Pour into an ice cream maker and allow it to churn until the ice-cream is soft, about 15-20 minutes.
•Spoon the ice-cream into a plastic lidded container and put in the freezer until firm and ready to eat

Notes: Some of the larger branded food mixers have ice cream makers as attachments.
If you do not have an ice-cream maker or food mixer attachment; you can pour the mixture into a container and place in the freezer. Remove it periodically to beat with an electric whisk which will break up the ice crystals.
Use the egg whites to make Meringues or Macaroons etc.

Serves: 6 portions

© 2017 Overstrand LIfe - Janet's Diaries

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