November comfort food

This week is brought to you by some of my followers who came to my aid when I tossed out a cry for help. Feeling uninspired, a couple of days ago I asked if anyone had a food they would like to see on tango-mango. Bingo! So far I have received six great suggestions. They may not all make it this week, but certainly a few of them will, with the others not too far behind.

Lost-My-Hearts-in-Republic-City asked if I could make a fall/wintertime comfort food and suggested shepherd’s pie. Motivated by the idea of creating something warm and delicious for cool and rainy days, I spent a fair amount of time looking through a dozen-or-so recipes. The origin of this meat pie dates back centuries, so as you can imagine, there are about as many versions of this dish as there cooks who make it.

According to history, the humble “cottage pie” dates back to around 1791, when the potato was introduced as an edible crop affordable to the poor. Along with the potatoes, any kind of leftover meat was used. Cookbooks from the early 19th century started calling it “shepherd’s pie” and those recipes usually listed lamb as the meat ingredient. Since then, (supposedly) lots of people have felt that shepherds primarily tended to sheep, therefore, a true shepherd’s pie must contain lamb. Cottage pie, shepherd’s pie – overall the names are fairly synonymous.

Last night’s casserole was gorgeous, and those spoonfuls of the savory meat-and-vegetable filling, blanketed with mashed potatoes hit the spot. It was so good, leftovers were packed in containers and taken away to work, to reheat later in the day.

This recipe is my own version, influenced by many. You could use any leftover vegetables you have on hand, including squash, beans and corn. A vegetarian version could easily be made substituting lentils for the meat.

Cottage pie (you can call it “Shepherd’s pie” if you wish)


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 - 3 sprigs fresh thyme, finely chopped (or ½ teaspoon dried)
  • 2 large carrots, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 glass red wine
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen peas
  • 6 - 7 cups mashed potatoes
  • 1 egg, beaten


Preheat oven 375°F.

Heat the oil in a large skillet or sauté pan. Add the onions and sauté them until they begin to turn golden, about 7 minutes. Add ground beef and continue to cook, breaking it up in pieces. Add carrots, salt, pepper and thyme and continue to cook until beef is done. Drain fat from pan and discard.  

Sprinkle beef with flour and stir through. Add tomato paste, wine and Worcestershire sauce. Let this cook for a minute or two and then add beef stock. Allow to reduce down until you have a thick gravy and carrots are beginning to soften. (They will continue to cook in the oven.) Taste and add more salt if needed. Stir in peas.

Remove from heat. Spray an oven proof 11 x 7 or 13 x 9-inch dish with non-stick cooking spray. Spoon meat mixture into dish. (I actually prepared two smaller dishes to created two casseroles.)

Stir egg into hot mashed potatoes. Spread or pipe the mashed potatoes over top, covering completely. Bake casserole until bubbly around edges and potatoes are beginning to turn golden, about 25 minutes. If potatoes haven’t browned but casserole looks done, put dish under the broiler for several minutes. Watch carefully!

Tent casserole loosely with aluminum foil and let sit 10 minutes before serving.

Cottage Pie

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Servings: 6

  • For a shepherd’s pie, use lamb. Or, try a turkey twist: Add 2 cups finely minced turkey meat along with the peas. 
  • To store, let cool completely, cover with foil, and refrigerate, up to 3 days. Reheat, covered, in a 350 degree oven until warmed through. 


  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced medium
  • 2 large carrots, cut into ¾-inch pieces
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 pound ground beef or lamb
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 cup dark (porter) beer
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup frozen peas
  • 1 large russet potato (¾ pound), very thinly sliced


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 
  2. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon butter over medium-high. Add onion and carrots and cook, stirring often, until onion is soft, 5 minutes. 
  3. Season with salt and pepper and stir in tomato paste. 
  4. Add meat and cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until almost cooked through, 3 minutes. Add thyme and beer and bring to a boil. 
  5. Cook, stirring frequently, until slightly reduced, 2 minutes. 
  6. Sprinkle flour over mixture and stir to combine. 
  7. Add 1 cup water and cook until mixture thickens, about 2 minutes.
  8. Stir in peas and season with salt and pepper.
  9. Transfer mixture to a 2-quart baking dish. 
  10. Top with potatoes, overlapping slices. Season potatoes with salt and pepper and drizzle with 2 tablespoons butter. 
  11. Bake until potatoes are browned around edges and tender when pierced with a knife, 40 to 45 minutes. 
  12. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.
Jam's Shepherd's Pie...

Hello, this is a dish I made for a dinner party the other night (Jelly was sous chef - since his chopping skills are superior to mine)… It’s a typical winter dish, but I was feeling patriotic with the olympics, so thought would try this out and serve with a salad (rather that traditional winter veggies) to cool it down. In Barcelona, it is surprisingly difficult to get minced lamb… We tried a few supermarkets and some halal butchers, but couldn’t find it, in the end we went to the boqueria and a butcher told us, it is so rare in Barcelona, it’s done on request since it’s not popular – so she offered to mince one of the whole legs she had in the display cabinet – Jelly said ‘yes please’. I must admit I was like, ‘what? That does not look like it will turn out like minced lamb’ but she de-boned it there and then and stuck it in a mincer – and no offense intended – but it looked just like the pre-packaged ‘crap’ I normally buy in the supermarket, so I was relieved… and it tasted gooooood. 1 point to Jelly… 

Jam xxx

PS. I apologise for the sideways pictures… plus, it seems like lots of steps, but its actually quite simple - if i can do it… 


2 tablespoons of olive oil (keep the bottle to hand)

1 large onion                                   Finely diced (Jelly helped with this)

1 large stick of celery                      Finely diced (Jelly helped with this)

2 decent sized carrots                     Finely diced (Jelly helped with this)

2 cloves of garlic

680 grams mince lamb

2 tablespoons of plain flour

4 sprigs fresh thyme

2 bay leaves

1 cup stock (ideally homemade lamb stock)

10 dashes of Worcester sauce

1 cup red wine

200ml tomato passata (US: puree) [in Spain we used Tomate Frito, slightly more flavours but couldn’t find plain tomato sauce]

1 beef stock cube (or chicken, these are for your taste).

2 handfuls of frozen peas

8 medium potatoes (I weighed it at 1.2kg, then peeled and cut to roughly uniform size to speed up boiling)

200ml cream

50ml butter

100g grated cheddar cheese

Salt & pepper to taste

  1. Add ½ tablespoon of olive oil into quite a deep pan.
  2. Fry onions on high heat until moist and sweaty – this will make them sweeter and add best flavour.
  3. Fill pan with water and add potatoes and generous pinch of salt to water, time for this to boil should fit with the other tasks – fingers crossed – keep an eye on it throughout – we want soft potatoes, but they shouldn’t start to fall apart.
  4. When onions soft and just about to brown, add the garlic (we just separated the cloves with the side of the knife, you can use garlic press if preferred), and add celery and carrots, add bay leaves and take thyme from stalks and add, continue to fry on medium heat.
  5. Add pinch of salt & pepper.
  6. Allow this mix to fry down – the goal is soft carrots and celery, will take roughly 15 mins with only occasional stirring to check no sticking – if something has stuck, add a dash of olive oil.
  7. When celery and carrots are cooked and tender – add the meat, allow to brown – stirring to avoid lumps, should take around 5 minutes until all meat is brown and the lamb’s fat has released.
  8. Add the flour evenly and stirring as you add.
  9. Add tomato sauce, 6 dashes of Worcester sauce, the cup of wine and the cup of stock stir in and allow to boil to reduce the wine.
  10. Taste test. If you think it needs a more meaty taste – add a beef stock cube (if it’s too meaty for your taste, some people add chicken stock cube). Also, taste test with no alcohol taste signifies wine has reduced significantly.
  11. Add 4 dashes of Worcester sauce for luck too.
  12. When potatoes are boiled, drain them, and in the same cooking pan, add the butter, half the cream and the cheese, and mash. Hold the rest of the cream back, since the potatoes sit a little, it will be added just before spreading to add some moisture.
  13. Empty mince into casserole dish, then add the potatoes – since the potatoes have cheese, they are quite gloopy consistency, will not be able to spread with just a spatula – I use a wide spatula and a thin one – and shape, 2cm thick ‘pattie’ squares on the wide spatula, then using the thin spatula, I release this messily onto the mince and pat down softly. Cover completely with potatoes.
  14. Fork the top of the dish all over (this gives different levels of crispiness).
  15. Please in pre-heated oven on 225 C on a medium shelf for upto 30 mins – but keep an eye on it, could be less – remember everything is already cooked – we want to create a crispy and/or browned top.
  16. Remove from oven, and allow to sit for 10 minutes as it will be piping hot.
  17. Serve with a side salad.
Lets talk BLOCK B in London

First off, if you weren’t a B-Bomb stan before that concert, its pretty safe to say if you were sat anywhere within the vicinity of my seat, you damn well are now! That boy has some serious fan service that ropes you in without telling you! From his effortless beauty that shines the minute he steps on stage, to his favourite English food of Cottage Pie (Who taught him that?), to the intense stares he was giving the entire left hand side of the balcony which, might i just say, are literally soul-sucking whenever his eyes land on you! Its safe to say, i’d give my entire life’s earnings to see B-Bomb smile at me again. O.O

But i digress.

To be honest, i probably owe everyone an apology for being a little too excited the entire hour we were seated leading up to the beginning of the show, so if there was a girl by you with deely boppers and grey/purple hair that was shouting and dancing too much to the sound system, I apologize for any inconvenience i caused you!  (I was just trying to make everyone a little more hype!) ;)

But its safe to say, the minute the lights went down and the VCR began, i could not stop screaming. And the moment they all came out, skipping onto stage whooping, Zico going above and beyond the level of hype i expected- I was gone, im pretty sure the scream that left me was long and continuous and did not stop for the entirety of the concert.

But shall we get onto the bit, that i know you’re all here for?

Block B, when seen with your very own eyes, are the epitome of beauty, and in the strangest sense, when you see them, reality comes squeezing in around you, and you’re forced to realize in that moment that their little feet start dancing around the stage, that they are in fact ACTUAL human beings. 

Along with this, the most prominent understanding you are forced to come to, is that, that Taeil that you’ve always seen on screen and in pictures, is LITERALLY JUST AS CUTE AND SMOL as he is in real life. I could not stop staring at how adorable he is- regardless of how manly he might actually see himself as. 

I was also forced to accept the true herculean form of Kim Yukwon’s thighs, and the reality of exactly why he’s got a girlfriend and has had her since debut and beyond- the boy is GORGEOUS. 

I had to confront myself about the reality that Jaehyo really is an extremely tall Ahjumma crossed with Adonis. And i cannot tell you the enjoyment i got watching him get to the end of the 3rd song, before seeing his face start to show the pain of exercise and dancing whilst all his other members were still happily bouncing away (because SAME). And by the half way mark, he had almost completely given up and had began to piss about with U-Kwon, who continuously tried to jab him in the ribs.

And then came Kyung. Now, im not the biggest Kyung stan as im sure most are aware. HOWEVER, i cannot deny him the fact that he is incredibly cute in his gestures, and he was SO HYPE to be in London! I swear to God he didn’t stop smiling the entire time, and i think that is one of the main memories that i will take away from that experience, is the huge arm heart that Kyung kept showing to the 2nd level- plus, when he smiles AS HES LOOKING AT YOU, you’re sure to go home happy. Although, can we just also talk about his miniature English q&a session (because he was all too aware he is the most fluent in English out of all of them), in which he asked the members about their favourite British foods, (hence B-Bomb and cottage pie) and he tried to rip into them for their adorable simplistic answers? Quick run down:

B-Bomb - Cottage Pie (proud of himself)
Jaehyo - burger and fries? (I think, was very shy and awkward when he said it xD)
U-Kwon - five guys (also pretty enthusiastic) 
Zico - fish and chips (very VERY enthusiastic, could be the new mascot for fish and chips tbh)
Taeil - (i feel like it was something generically English but i cant remember, my bad) 
Kyung - just giggled the whole time.

Now, lets move onto Zico. That boy, was LIVING for being in London. Before i got there, i got the feeling he was pretty excited to be here through his insta posts, but he could not stop going on about it the whole time, exceedingly smiley and energetic through the entire first half (and second half to be honest) but after Conduct for Zero (when he filled in for P.O- I was sad, but it was a lit stage) he just seemed so happy to be there, and seemed to genuinely be having the time of his life. He was ALL TOO HAPPY to speak English for pretty much the entire time, and just seemed so proud of himself to be able to do so, which was so adorable i cannot tell you! But after seeing Block B live, you can really understand what kind of a group leader he is; efficient, compassionate, and just BAWSE!! 

One of the songs which was a game changer for me, was the heavy rock version of Very Good they played!! Like holey moley, that was LIT TO HIGH HEAVENS!! (i’ll upload a video clip in a mo). But also NICE DAY WAS INSANE! And Taeil carried it SOOO well- if you ever do anything in your life, see Lee Taeil sing them high notes live man!! It is WORTH IT! But tbh, the highlight of that night, despite the lacking of P.O’s presence- which i think i would have legitimately fainted at- was Zero For Conduct. I’ve always been a HUGE Bastarz fan!…but seeing that live, has changed my life! Sincerely.

And also, you might be thinking, but how did the other members feel? Zico and Kyung were happily chatting away in English, but what about the others? However, despite wondering this myself, when the ‘thank you’-esq time came around, they had such a good translation system working, and although i initially thought it would be awkward, the minute the crowd started responding to what the translator was saying after the boys had spoken, it just became such a beautiful and warming atmosphere, because i dont know about everyone else, but i was soo happy to know how the boys felt about London, and the end of their Europe tour in general. And after Zico took his hat off for us like he said he would if we genuinely impressed him, i can honestly say, any normal band will never live up to the experience of a block b/kpop concert in general.

And on a final note, lets just talk about the fan service again, cause i still cant get over B-Bomb and i dont think i ever will. He is Apollo, he is sunshine on a rainy day, he is a tragically beautiful painting, and for as long as i live i will never forget the entire 5-6 times i locked eyes with that man and shared in his smile. Because even though I got to wave at Taeil who was waving and pulling many a sad/funny face at the second floor area, and even though Kyung may have shot a heart in my direction, and coupled it with the cheesiest grin i ever did see, neither of them for some reason compare to the utter, graceless beauty, that is B-Bomb’s smile when directed specifically at you.

I’d say more about Zico, but his attention was mostly on the front row and the standing crowd, and im not entirely sure he could see the balcony seats and up well- but he was having a grand time regardless. Jaehyo was smiling throughout, but i got the sense from him, that despite the fact he was having a good time, he was tired from the end of tour. And U-kwon was really just playing with the girls hearts in the front row the entire night- so if you were down there, r.i.p after Kim Yukwon.

And alas, here i sit. Crying over remembering all the little details of the show, that as soon as it started seemed like it only took 5 minutes before it was ending, cause i was simply enjoying myself so much. The Post-concert blues are real, and i think that concert truly did change my entire life, but if there is one bit of advice i’d give anyone who was thinking of going to a kpop concert, or any concert in general in the future…its simply to take a moment to take it in, it wont ever be enough, but as long as you take a moment for yourself to realize that what you’re experiencing is real, then it’ll all be okay.

P.S. imma probs do another post tomorrow with everything i’ve forgotten from this one, but for now, enjoy my reliving of ‘Blockbuster in London’. <3

name :  Jemma Anne Simmons
face claim :  Elizabeth H*nstridge
age :  29
height :  5′ 4″
species :  human
gender : cis female
nationality : English
birthday :  September 11, 1987
residence : The Playground [location classified]
marital status : single
drink :  tea, water, beer, wine
food :  steak and truffle fries, fish and chips, Indian, particularly butter chicken and vindaloo curry, cottage pie, Sunday roast, egg in a basket, steak pie, lamb stew, sushi, Thai, panang curry or red curry.
day or night :  day
snacks :  popcorn, biscuits, fruit such as apples and pears, nuts, particularly almonds
song :  Feeling Good by Nina Simone
pet :  Not currently. She likes dogs and cats both.
color :  purple
flower :  roses
body type :  petite, curvy
hair color : chestnut brown
eye color : whisky brown with a thin outer ring of green

Tagged by : @whiskeyandtwoshotglasses (indirectly)
Tagging : anyone who would like to do it.

Classic Cottage Pie

If you are a British citizen and you DO NOT know how to cook Cottage Pie, Shame on you! That is terrible! Thankfully, I am here to help…

What will you need?

  • Minced Beef (Cottage Pie= Minced Beef, Shepherds Pie= Minced Lamb)
  • A beef stock cube
  • Beef Gravy
  • Onions
  • Some veggies, just to make it seem healthier
  • Potatoes
  • Butter

What tools, you ask?

  • A Pyrex dish
  • A potato masher!
  • A frying pan

The Method behind the Meal:

  • Peel the potatoes and cut into small cubes so that they boil faster
  • Boil in slightly salted water until completely soft
  • Drain the water and mash until your arms are weak and your brow is sweaty
  • Add some lovely butter and leave to one side
  • Brown the mince with some onions in a large pan
  • Add the stock cube and stir, the mixture will turn browner
  • Add some gravy granules and a little water bit by bit
  • Add more granules and water until a gravy forms amongst the beef
  • Throw in yer veggies if that tickles your fancy
  • Pour the beefy concoction into the dish and slap on the mash
  • Spread the mashy goodness evenly onto the beef and make pretty shapes in it
  • Stick it in a hot oven until the mince is bubbling and the mash is brown and delicious!

So, Now you know. You have no excuse. To the kitchen! Now!