Basic wholewheat and oat loaf

Makes 1 medium loaf

1 ½ cups warm milk or milk and water
¼ cup molasses or honey
2 ½ tsp yeast or 1 package
1 egg
3 cups wholewheat flour
1 cup plain flour
½ cup rolled oats
1 ½ tsp salt
1/3 cup sunflower seeds

Mix all ingredients other than sunflower seeds in food processor and process for a minute, or combine in a bowl and knead for ten minutes. Leave to rise for an hour in a warm place. Punch down, then roll in the sunflower seeds and form into a loaf shape. Place in a greased pan and leave to rise for about half an hour. Bake at 180C until done, about 30 minutes.

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Alternately, use a breadmaker on the setting for 1kg (2lb) with light crust, making sure the liquid ingredients are added first and the yeast last. I find the setting for white bread works better than the wholemeal setting, though I'm not sure why, and it needs 2tsp yeast rather than a whole package. The sunflower seed addition doesn't really work with a breadmaker, so instead I add flaxseeds when the machine beeps after the first kneading, telling me that extra ingredients can be added.

The photo above is for this loaf made on the medium breadmaker setting (for a 750g loaf) which is just right for our family of four for lunchtime. I use one-and-an-eighth cups of warm milk (soya milk sometimes), a good dessertspoon of honey, one-and-three-quarters teaspoons of yeast (added last), two cups wholewheat flour, one cup white flour, just under half a cup of oats, an egg, 1 tsp salt, and flaxseeds if I remember. Too much yeast makes it rise too fast and then sink in the baking, since a breadmaker isn't as flexible as hand baking. But it's much less trouble!

Shepherds' Pie

(serves about four people)

500g (1lb) minced meat such as lamb or turkey, or veggie mince, or cooked lentils
1-2 onions, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried cinnamon
1 cup water
1 tsp marmite (for Brits; vegemite for Australians; ignore this for Americans!)
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
1 tblsp brown sauce
1 medium can baked beans in tomato sauce
1 kg (2 lb) potatoes
milk for mashing

Peel the potatoes and chop into medium sized pieces, then boil until soft. Drain, then mash thoroughly, mixing in sufficient milk to make a smooth consistency.

While the potatoes are boiling, heat the mince in a pan with the onions, stirring until the mince is browned and the onions translucent. Add the rest of the ingredients, other than the baked beans, and stir gently until just boiling. Simmer until the liquid is reduced, then stir in the baked beans and put the mince mixture in a large ovenproof baking dish.

Top with the mashed potato, and run a fork over the top to smooth it down and leave a pattern. Place in a fairly hot oven and cook for at least half an hour or until the top of the potato is crispy. If you like it very brown, place under the grill (broiler) for a few minutes but watch it the whole time or it will burn.

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A warming meal for chilly winter evenings - this is a traditional British dish. Serve with peas and other vegetables, and lots of tomato ketchup! Technically, it should use lamb mince; the beef mince equivalent is really called Cottage Pie. But it can be made with chicken or turkey mince, or vegetarian mince such as the Linda McCartney variety, or lentils instead of any kind of mince. To make this for a vegan, use soya milk to mix the mashed potatoes.


Lemon Meringue Pie

serves 4-6

160g flour
pinch of salt (optional)
80g margarine
1-2 tsp cold water

filling and topping:
4 tblsp cornflour
300ml water
25g butter
grated rind and juice of two lemons
2 eggs, separated
150g sugar

Make the pastry in a food processor, or by hand (rub fat into flour then bind with water). Roll out on a floured surface, and use it to line a 20cm flan dish or shallow cake tin. Bake on its own at 190C for about 15-20 minutes.

Blend the cornflour with a little water in a small pan. Add the remaining water and butter, and bring to the boil slowly, stirring all the time. Cook, stirring, for three minutes. Remove from the heat, then add the lemon juice and rind, egg yolks, and 50g of the sugar. Pour into pastry.

Whisk the egg whites stiffly, then whisk in 50g of sugar and fold in the rest. Spread over the filling. Bake at 160C for 20-25 minutes. Serve hot or cold.

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Not, perhaps, the simplest of desserts but one of the most delicious, particularly with fresh lemons picked from the garden! If you buy lemons, make sure they're unwaxed (preferably organic) and wash well prior to grating the rind. Just grate the yellow bit, not any of the white pith.

The easiest way to make pastry is to throw the ingredients in a food processor, then process (with metal or plastic blade) until a ball is formed. If it doesn't go together, add a tad more cold water until it does. Too much water makes it difficult to roll, so just add tiny amounts. By hand it's much messier: use fingertips to rub the margarine in the flour gently between the fingers and thumbs, shaking every so often until the whole looks a bit like breadcrumbs. Then use a knife to mix in the water - again, add just a little at a time, and try to gather it into a ball. If it goes together, knead it slightly and it should be slightly pliable.

Of course you could always buy a 250g pack of ready-made pastry and use that instead. It won't taste so good, and may have some additives, but it's less messy than making your own.

Roll the pastry on a well-floured surface using a floured rolling-pin. Turn it so it rolls evenly and makes an approximate circle.

When whisking the egg whites to make the meringue topping, it's much easiest to use an electric whisk. If you don't have one, a hand-whisk with a handle to turn will work but takes longer. A balloon whisk without a turning-handle might possibly work but would take ages!