Corned Beef and Potato Pie (serves 4)

Corned Beef and Potato Pie by The Fat Foodie

I’m originally from the North East of England and as a result I was born with a love of pastry in all of its beautiful forms. Northeasterners are extremely skilled at working all types of pastry into divine concoctions. They can make delicious steak pies, mince pies and chicken pies. They can also create outstanding apple turnovers and jam tarts. However, for all that they are great at creating these wonderful delicacies, in my eyes none of these pastries compare to the humble plate pie.

Plate pie is exactly as it sounds – a pie baked on a plate, with the gentle sloping curves of the plate helping to contain the filling within a pastry casing. My Mum and Dad (both of whom are Northeasterners) are masters of the plate pie, just as their own parents were, and frequently make them for family gatherings. They often make plate pies filled with minced beef and onion, which is delicious, but my favourite is their corned beef and potato pie.

Once upon a time, it would have been necessary to peel and boil countless potatoes to make the mash for this pie, but the invention and ease of access to cheap, good quality ready-made mashed potato in our supermarkets has made the creation of this pie a much faster task than it ever was. The same can be said about the convenience of picking up a pack of ready-made (and even ready-rolled) puff or shortcrust pastry instead of having to go through the palaver of making your own. We’re truly living in exciting times, my friends!

For all that it’s now July, on the day I’m writing this the weather is, as the Scots would say, ‘dreich’ (drizzly, overcast and cold) and I’d highly recommend making this plate pie on a day such as this. The lovely warmth of the fan oven is gently circulating around the kitchen and the scent of the pie cooking is reassuring me that a good dinner will warm me up even further very soon. I’m going to serve it with steamed broccoli, thyme-infused carrots and a ‘stick to your ribs as it goes down’ rich beef gravy. And now I think of it, I’m sure there’s some rhubarb and ginger crumble left in the freezer that we can have with warm custard. Shall I set another place at the table for you?

Ingredients:

A 500g block of gluten-free puff pastry

A 340g tin of corned beef

A 500g carton of good quality mashed potato

1 tsp asafoetida

1 tsp ground white pepper

1 beaten egg (for sealing the edges and glazing the top of the pie)

Method:

Get a large, deep dinner plate or a pie plate and keep it to one side.

Put the corned beef, mashed potato, asafoetida and ground pepper into a large bowl and mash together.

Cut your puff pastry in half and keep one half aside.

Roll one piece out on a floured surface until it is the right size to fit comfortably on top of the plate with a little hanging over the edges.

Put the beef and mash mix in it and smooth it out, leaving 1 cm around the edges bare so you can seal the pie edges later on.

Roll the other piece of puff pastry out until it’s the right size to fit on top of the pie.

Spread beaten egg along the edge of the pie and fit the lid on top. Use a fork to gently seal the pastry together and then trim off the excess with a knife and make two small knife cuts in the centre of the pie. (This helps steam escape.)

Bake in the oven for 30 – 35 mins until the pastry is risen and golden brown.

Corned Beef and Potato Pie by The Fat Foodie

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Aloo Palak (Potato and Spinach Curry) (serves 4)

Aloo Palak (Potato and Spinach Curry) by The Fat Foodie

I love aloos, potato-based Indian dishes, because they’re so hearty and flavoursome and they make a lovely light alternative to heavy dairy and meat-based curries. I’m particularly a fan of aloo palak, a potato and spinach curry, because the addition of spinach leaves makes the dish very fresh tasting and brings out the natural sweetness of the potatoes.

I know a lot of people who would never dream about making a curry from scratch because they think it’s too hard or that it involves too many ingredients, an attitude I can understand because some curries are pretty labour and ingredient intensive. However, this aloo palak is really easy to make and its ingredients list isn’t that extensive either.

The beauty of making a curry yourself lies in the fact that you can use fresh flavours that really pack a wallop, such as minced ginger root and fresh coriander leaf. Accordingly, you’re rewarded with an aloo palak that tastes much nicer than a curry sauce that comes from a jar. As an added bonus there’s no onion or garlic in this recipe because asafoetida powder is used to impart those flavours instead, so it’s FODMAP friendly.

Although this aloo palak is vegetarian, it’s substantial, requiring little more than some crisp and crunchy poppadums to accompany it, but even though there’s no meat in it it’s rich and stuffed full of a variety of flavours. It’s a vegetarian curry that’s well worth making.

Ingredients:

800g potatoes cut into small cubes (peeled weight)

3 tbsps vegetable oil

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp garam masala

1 tbsp fresh minced ginger

1 tsp asafoetida powder

1 tsp hot madras powder

1 tsp ground turmeric

2 tbsps sesame seeds

2 tbsps dessicated coconut

200g fresh washed spinach

Fresh coriander and poppadums for serving

Method:

Parboil the potatoes in generously salted boiling water until just soft and then drain.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large pan and add all of your spices and cook for a minute.

Add the potatoes and desiccated coconut and cook for a couple of minutes before adding the spinach.

Cook until the spinach has wilted down and add a little water if you’d prefer the curry to be a bit saucier. Taste for seasoning (it might require a generous seasoning of salt at this point).

Serve with freshly chopped coriander and crisp poppadums. (It’s also lovely with fresh chopped chilli and a cucumber and mint raita.)

Aloo Palak (Potato and Spinach Curry) by The Fat Foodie

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Dairy-Free and Gluten-Free Moussaka (serves 4-6)

Dairy-Free and Gluten-Free Moussaka

One of the meals that seems to be very popular within the FODMAP community is moussaka. I must admit, I love when Marks and Spencer includes their moussaka as a main meal option when they have their Dine In For £10 deal on, but sadly it’s unsuitable for me now because it contains loads of dairy in the form of its generous topping made of rich, butter and cream-filled béchamel sauce. Oh, and I think it’s got gluten in it too. Sigh.

However, I’m not one to shirk at a challenge so I decided that I would try to create a dairy-free and gluten-free moussaka that would rival the decadent M&S one. I headed off to my lab (aka the kitchen) and started tinkering with a recipe which resulted in a very tasty moussaka that had layers of soft flavoursome vegetables sandwiching a rich tomato beef mince ragù and was topped with a thick, creamy béchamel sauce. I’m quite proud of it actually!

Traditional moussakas are made with layers of aubergines and potato, but I’m not a massive fan of aubergines because quite frankly they bore me. They have hardly any flavour and no real texture to speak of. I’m hard pushed to think of a vegetable that could rival the aubergine to claim the title of most boring vegetable in the world. I know they’re supposed to be great at soaking up flavours in dishes, but my view is, why not just use a tastier alternative in the first place?

As a result of these strongly held opinions I have regarding the aubergine, I have used sliced courgettes and sweet potatoes in the moussaka which I believe enhance the flavours of the herbs and spices in the tomato ragù. Feel free to go with the traditional if you like, but I’d urge you to try this version instead. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. And although this is a dairy-free and gluten-free moussaka, if you don’t have any dietary restrictions you could just make it with normal butter and flour. It’ll taste just as good regardless.

Ingredients for the tomato mince:

2 courgettes (sliced thinly lengthwise)

1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp ground black pepper

400g beef mince

1 tsp dried oregano

1 1/2 tsps dried mint

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tbsp gluten-free plain flour (I use Dove’s Farm G/F flour because it’s made with low FODMAP ingredients whereas many other gluten-free flours are made with high FODMAP options.)

1 tin of chopped tomatoes

2 tbsps tomato puree

2 tbsps olive oil

280g sweet potatoes (thinly sliced)

For the béchamel sauce:

50g dairy-free butter

50g gluten-free plain flour (I use Dove’s Farm G/F flour because it’s made with low FODMAP ingredients whereas many other gluten-free flours are made with high FODMAP options.)

400ml rice milk

1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

3 tbsps of Engevita (or 25g parmesan if you’re not dairy-free)

1 egg

Method:

Thinly slice your courgettes and place them on a microwaveable plate. Cook in the microwave until soft. Do the same with the sweet potatoes.

Place a saucepan on a medium heat, add the olive oil to the pan and cook the mince.

Once the mince is cooked add the salt and pepper, cinnamon, oregano, mint, flour, tomato puree and the tin of chopped tomatoes. Cook until hot.

To make the béchamel sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan before whisking in the flour, Engevita and nutmeg.

Slowly add a little rice milk at a time, stirring continuously, so that eventually a thick sauce is created. (Don’t panic if it looks really lumpy, just keep stirring and adding more milk and it’ll come together.)

Once the béchamel sauce is thick, take it off the heat and add parmesan if you’re using it. Leave to one side to cool a little while you build your moussaka.

Preheat your oven to 190C/170C Fan/375F/ Gas mark 5.

Take a large casserole dish and spread a third of the mince over the bottom of the dish.

Dairy-Free and Gluten-Free Moussaka Base Layer

Place your courgettes on top of the mince in an even layer and top with another third of the mince.

Dairy-Free and Gluten-Free Moussaka Second Layer

Top the mince with the slices of sweet potato.

Dairy-Free and Gluten-Free Moussaka Third Layer

Add the last of the mince on top.

Dairy-Free and Gluten-Free Moussaka Fourth Layer

Whisk the egg thoroughly into the white sauce mixture. Pour the béchamel sauce over the mince and bake in the oven for 45 mins.

Dairy-Free and Gluten-Free Moussaka Béchamel Sauce Topping

Freshly Baked Dairy-Free and Gluten-Free Moussaka

Serve either on its own or with a fresh salad.

Dairy-Free and Gluten-Free Moussaka

Dairy-Free and Gluten-Free Moussaka

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Potato Wedges

Potato Wedges by The Fat Foodie

Potato Wedges by The Fat Foodie

Fact: There’s nothing better than a homemade chip.

Second fact: Fried chips have been sold in Britain since 1854, but they’ve actually been eaten in British homes for centuries.

Third fact: Homemade chips taste way better than a frozen ready-prepared chip ever could.

Fourth fact: Homemade potato wedges are unbelievably easy to make. So, let me show you how…

I made my family lentil ragù the other night, but because I’m following the FODMAP diet (to help manage my IBS better) it wasn’t suitable for me to eat. I was then faced with the decision about what I was going to make for my own dinner. I had a bag of potatoes in the fridge (which are fine to eat for FODMAP followers) so I figured that a plate of potato wedges would go down nicely while also serving as a nice side to go with the lentil ragù the family were having.

Potatoes are packed full of vitamins and minerals. In terms of vitamins, you’re talking about getting a healthy portion of vitamin C, E and K, B6, and folate. Their minerals include calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. That’s better for you than a plateful of starchy wheat-based pasta any day, isn’t it really?

I had two varieties of potato in the fridge, not for a particularly exciting reason, it was just that they were left over from two separate bags of potatoes. My point is that the blend of two varieties lent a nice variation in texture and flavour to the potato wedges because some of them were really sweet and firm whereas others were dry and floury. For such a plain plate of food, it truly was a celebration of the humble potato.

I cut my potato wedges by hand with paring knife, but you can buy really clever potato chip makers produced by companies like Lakeland which make it really easy to make perfect chips. Equally, you could use a tool such as an Easy Grip Potato Slicer which is much cheaper and would give you uniformly cut potato wedges. I’m happy with oddly shaped, non-uniform potato wedges personally though, so I’ll just stick to using a plain old knife.

You don’t need me to tell you what to serve potato wedges with, but I had mine with a tin of mackerel in spicy tomato sauce and it was a delicious meal. The potato wedges had far more flavour to them than any frozen chips I’ve ever had (even the expensive upmarket ones). If you fancy more exciting potato wedges you could add a teaspoon of smoked paprika to your seasoning before you pop them in the oven which will give them a smokey, BBQ sort of flavour. Whether you pep up their seasoning or not, these potato wedges were sweet and crunchy around the edges, but soft and fluffy in the middle, just like any good potato wedges should be.

Ingredients:

Enough potatoes for the number of people you’re going to be feeding (I normally go with around 2 medium sized potatoes each)

Sunflower oil

Salt and pepper

Method:

Preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan/400F/Gas mark 6.

Peel your potatoes and cut them through the middle into halves and then into wedges. I normally get around 8 wedges from a medium sized potato.

Place on a non-stick baking tray and coat them lightly with sunflower oil. (Only use enough so that they’re just lightly coated because you don’t want them swimming in oil.)

Season generously with salt and pepper and place in the oven.

Raw Potato Wedges About to be Baked by The Fat Foodie

Raw Potato Wedges About to be Baked by The Fat Foodie

Once your wedges are golden brown and soft when pierced with a fork, remove from the oven and serve.

Freshly Cooked Potato Wedges by The Fat Foodie

Freshly Cooked Potato Wedges by The Fat Foodie

Potato Wedges by The Fat Foodie

Potato Wedges by The Fat Foodie

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Potato and Cauliflower Curry (serves 4)

Potato and Cauliflower Curry by The Fat Foodie

The other day I was looking for dinner inspiration in the fridge and I saw that we had a cauliflower that needed to be used up and I was in the mood for a vegetable curry, so I decided to use it in a creamy korma-esque potato and cauliflower curry.

Potatoes are naturally a low FODMAP food, but cauliflower is high in polyol-mannitol so if you fit into this category I’d not bother with this recipe. However, if your digestive system is fine with polyol-mannitol then let’s get cooking!

This is a really tasty curry that’s rich and creamy due to the use of coconut milk, but equally, if you love cream and your system can tolerate it (and you’re not bothered about your cholesterol levels) then you could be a devil and use lactose-free single cream instead!

The fact that this a vegetarian curry comprised of hearty chunks of potato, cauliflower florets and little sweet mangetout means that it’s not a heavy curry, as it would potentially be if it were made with meat in it. Really, you can make this curry with whatever vegetables you have on hand in your fridge, but I’d always tend towards using potatoes as your base vegetable because they are brilliant at absorbing the flavours of spices.

I often think that vegetable curries, particularly ones that are potato based, don’t really need rice to accompany them, but they are very nice to eat scooped up with some soft naan bread or crisp, crunchy poppadums. This makes quite a generous amount of curry so I took the leftovers in to work for lunch with some peshwari naan bread and all of my colleagues commented on how delicious it smelled. I’ll definitely be making this little gem of a curry again.

Ingredients:

4 large potatoes (cut into equal-sized pieces)

1 tsp asafoetida powder

200g cauliflower (cut into small florets)

A large (thumb-sized) piece of fresh ginger (minced)

1 tbsp garlic-infused oil

1 tbsp coconut oil

1 tin of chopped tomatoes

60g mangetout

1 tin of coconut milk

1 tbsp turmeric

1 tbsp garam masala

1/2 tsp salt

Fresh coriander

Method:

Put the pieces of potato into a large pan of salted boiling water and boil. When the potato is almost cooked add the cauliflower.

Once the potato and cauliflower are soft, drain and leave to one side.

In a frying pan melt the coconut oil with the garlic oil and add the ginger and spices and fry for 2 mins.

Add the potato, cauliflower and mangetout and coat in the spice mixture before adding the chopped tomatoes and coconut milk. Stir well and simmer for 15 mins.

Taste and check for seasoning, adding more salt if necessary. Serve with naan breads or poppadums and fresh coriander.

Potato and Cauliflower Curry by The Fat Foodie

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