Mend and make do

Roast Beef and Vegetable Pie

Roast Beef and Vegetable Pie

It’s a Sunday morning in early January and I’m sitting in bed as I write this.  This is unusual for me as it’s now after 8 am and the house is very quite.  My partner has taken our three kids to stay overnight at a friend’s farm on the outskirts of Melbourne.  My alarm went off at 6 am but I kept on hitting snooze, relishing the opportunity for a sleep in on a cool and quiet morning.  

It’s been awhile since my last chance to look at this blog.  I started writing this back in November and then things started to get a bit crazy.  I had leased a shop front back in July while still at school fulltime doing a Patisserie course.  As the year started to wind up, I needed to do something about getting it open.  The events of the last two months are the subject of another (soon to be written) post but in the meantime, here’s one I prepared earlier…

Mend and make do was the way people used to live before 24 hour supermarkets, convenience stores and on-line shopping.  I’m old enough to remember when the shops shut at 12 pm on Saturday and didn’t open again until 9 am Monday morning.  Things seemed to move a lot slower then.  The cars didn’t go as fast, mail was delivered by the postman and the milkman still delivered milk in glass bottles with foil tops.

It’s a concept that seems foreign to many and old fashioned to most.  Why fix something when you can go buy a new one?  Shopping has become a recreational past-time rather than a necessity.  What do you want to do today? I don’t know lets go shopping.

After spending Saturday morning at the Collingwood Children’s Farm Market helping my de-facto cousin in-law Naomi on The Butterfactory stall, I came home laden with fresh local produce.  A succulent piece of bolar blade roast beef from Warialda and potatoes, pumpkin and parsnips from Kinglake were destined to become a Sunday Roast.

Sunday morning was spent in the Red Cat Food Store kitchen.  The strawberries my mum had picked up in the Yarra Valley became rather runny strawberry jam,  I’m calling it strawberry sauce.  It’s great with natural yoghurt and my coconut toasted buckwheat muesli for breakfast.

When I got home on Sunday afternoon, I put the piece of roast beef in the oven at 250 C and cooked it for 15 minutes before turning the temperature down to 160 C.  This ensured that the thick layer of fat started to render and crisp up.  After another half an hour the vegetables were put in and cooked along with the meat for another hour.  When the meat was cooked, I took it out and rested it covered in foil while I made the gravy.

We pulled broad beans out of the garden to make way for the summer tomatoes.  These were shelled and cooked in a pot of boiling water, then the skins were peeled off the beans and they were coated in a dressing of lemon juice, olive oil and garlic.

The now succulent beef was sliced thickly and put into a serving dish and all was served on the table with a jug of gravy.  I find with three small children it’s often easier to bring all the food to the table.  The kids seem to eat more when it’s there in front of them and it means I can enjoy a meal without having to get up and down all the time.

As the piece of beef was more than sufficient for one night’s dinner and I always cook more roast vegetables than we could possibly eat, there were plenty of leftovers.  What remained was chopped up and used to make the most fantastic Cottage Pie I’ve ever had.  That’s a pretty  big statement as my mum’s Cottage Pie was and still is a favourite of mine.

Mend and Make Do Pie

This is not really a recipe with measurements and a list of ingredients, it’s more of an idea and a method that will hopefully get you thinking about how you can re-purpose last-night’s leftovers.  

All the leftover roast meat was chopped into smallish pieces after removing the fat layer from the top.  The fat was also chopped and added to a hot cast iron frying pan to render.  When the fat started to run, I added diced onions and cooked them to translucent and golden.  Then the meat and diced roast vegetables (potatoes, pumpkin, parnips, carrots, onions and garlic) were added with the left over gravy and peas.  This was then cooked until bubbling and thick.

The filling awaits it's potato topping

The filling awaits it’s potato topping

I could have stopped there and served it up as a roast meat and vegetable casserole but decide to boil some potatoes and mash them with a generous knob of butter and a little milk.  The meat mixture was placed in a square pyrex dish and topped with the mashed potato.  A sprinkle of parmesan and some more butter to finish it off and into the oven at 350C for about 30 mins or until the top is golden and crisp and the gravy is bubbling.

Absolutely delicious! This would also make a great pie filling and this method could be used with any leftover roast meat.  The kids devoured it and my eldest who hadn’t been so keen on it the night before came back for seconds and thirds.