Hygge Gratin, with Bacon and Mushroom

Comfort ‘hygge’ food, to me, includes, cheese and bacon. Therefore, I’ve come up with this little winter warmer. That you can serve as a side, perhaps with the ‘hygge’ salmon salad, or on it’s own is also amazing. This is a bit naughty and probably doesn’t fit with everyone’s January diet plans, but I thought I’d indulge a bit before I check into a chocolate rehab centre, I’m hoping these exist. Plus, my last blog was a salad, so I feel the balance is right, which is what ‘hygge’ is all about.

The only downside to this dish is that you have to use 3 pans. I bet the Danes would just chill out under candle light smugly waiting for each part to cook, but I haven’t got my personality around to being this ‘hygge’ yet. As I get hangry, which is angry when hungry.

Serves 2 as a main, or 4 as a side.

Ingredients:

2 baking potatoes, slices into 1cm slices, leave the skin on

10 chestnut mushrooms, cut into thin sllices

3 pieces of good quality bacon, chopped into small pieces with a pair of scissors

Cheese Sauce

1.2 litres (2 pints) whole fat milk

50g (2oz) butter

50g  (20z) plain flour

250g (8oz) mature cheddar cheese, grated

Salt and pepper

Teaspoon of Paprika

Method:

Put the sliced potato into a pan of boiling water, add a pinch of salt, set your timer for 10 minutes.

In a frying pan, fry the chopped up bacon and mushrooms, add a shake of oregano. No oil is needed, as there will be oils from the bacon. Fry until the bacon is cooked.

Meanwhile, start the cheese sauce, the instructions in detail are in my Cheesy, Pleasy Lasagne recipe. Add the paprika before you add the cheese.

This should all take 10 minutes.

Then, carefully construct the gratin. Layer potatoes, then a third of the sauce, then the bacon and mushroom mixture. Do this so it has 3 layers, and then finish with a layer of potatoes and a grating of cheese.

Put this under the grill for 10 minutes, or until the cheese has gone golden and the potatoes on top a bit crispy.

This is on the table in 20 minutes, which probably isn’t very ‘hygge’ but it’s still impressive, no?

Good Old Spag Bol

Who doesn’t love a good old spag bol? It is a regular in most people’s homes. But, a few people have messaged me to ask what are the key ingredients to the perfect spag bol, as they often find it hit or miss. To share the love, I’ll share my 3 key ingredients to a fool proof spag bol. you guys won’t tell anyone right?!

Celery- cut it up really finely if you have any fussy eaters in the family, or even if you don’t like celery at all, I promise you it makes such a difference, and you won’t be running to be sick with an overwhelming celery taste.

Bacon- I’m sorry to all the veggies out there, but bacon makes a spag bol average to delicious. It revs up the scrumptious factor.

Nutmeg- This sweet, cheeky ingredient means that you get a sense of sweetness and warm through the bolognese. Lots of cooks add sugar to their sauce, so this has the same effect, but naturally sweetens the sauce.

My preference is to smother the sauce and pasta with a strong grated cheese. I steer clear of parmesan, as I think it smells like puke, but I know people love the ‘essence of vom’ cheese, so if I can get you to add celery, then who am I to judge, if you want to ruin it with parmesan.

Also the key is to simmer the sauce for 20-30minutes. However, if you dont have the time, then add a dollop of tomato puree, and add extra ingredients that will soak up and thicken the sauce. I always opt for a small tin of green lentils.

Serves 6:

Ingredients:

1 stick of celery

1/2 grated courgette

10 mushrooms, roughly cut up

1 onion

Small pack of mince, or quorn mince

2 garlic cloves, crushed

3 slices of chopped up bacon, or a teaspoon of paprika

1 400g tin of chopped tomatoes

1 teaspoon of nutmeg

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon oregano

Dollop of tomato puree

Method:

Cut up the onion and celery finely. Grate the courgette and chop the mushrooms. Crush the garlic, and roughly chop up the bacon with scissors into small pieces. Fry all of these for about 2 minutes.

Add the mince, nutmeg and oregano, and cook until the mince and bacon are cooked. Make sure you do this on a medium heat, so it doesn’t take all day, but also so it doesn’t burn.

Add the chopped tomatoes and reduce the heat and simmer for at least 20 minutes.

Keep giving it a stir every 5 mins, and make sure it is simmering on a low heat.

If after this it still looks a bit watery then add the dollop of tomato puree and simmer for another 10 mins.

Then cover in hurl scented cheese, or don’t.

Potatoes, Bacon and Peas on Earth Stew 

This recipe is earthy, hearty and healthy. I always feel really good eating this, and it has all the things that I need to kick start chilly Autumn nights, plus bacon, mmm delicious bacon. The butter beans add a creamy, loveliness to it, plus they are packed with protein and goodness to ‘kapow’ the onset of any colds. It will be on the table, to warm your insides, in under half an hour. Don’t bother peeling the potatoes as this is where all the goodness is, plus peeling isn’t very appealing (I’m so sorry).

As you should know by now, I LOVE BACON, but for those that have better will power and respect for pigs, just use a shake of paprika instead on the bacon, and, as I mentioned, veggies will get a dose of protein from the butter beans.

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

1 onion, finely chopped

4 rashers of bacon

10-12 new potatoes, unpeeled and cut into quarters, or use 3 baking potatoes, cut into bite sized pieces

Handful of frozen peas

2-3 teaspoons of dried mint

400ml chicken stock

Can of butter beans

Method:

Fry the finely sliced onion, and chopped bacon in a pan, in a little oil.

When the bacon and onion is cooked, but not browned, add the cut up potatoes and mint, and stir through.

Add the chicken stock, and add a lid to the pan. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the butter beans and peas, and simmer for another 5 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked.