Nov 16

Winter Warmers : Scalloped Potatoes & Beef Pie



So yesterday was extremely cold (by my standards) … it got to -2°C during the night and in the morning there was a layer of frost all over the lawn which turned the grass an eerie silvery grey. Very pretty actually. Every step I took on the grass was followed by a ‘crunch crunch’ underfoot.  I could not resist … I had to get out there and snap some photos even though it was bitingly cold. It is on days like this I wish I had a better camera. 🙁 I wanted to snap a picture of the entire lawn but my humble point and shoot just couldn’t do it. And I was just so happy with my first ever “Frost Experience”. I hope there will be frost again tomorrow morning so I can maybe be a touch more prepared and I can take better photos.


Claire was a tad miffed when these photos made their way onto Facebook; she so wanted so see some semblance of crystalised H20, be it frost or snow, when she was over here during her visit. She left on Saturday, and the frost happened on Wednesday. Mother Nature and her evil sense of humour. Poor Claire.

Despite it being exceptionally cold today it was a very beautiful day; the sky was a brilliant blue with not a cloud in sight and the sun was a muted golden amber. And I could not resist …. I had to hop on my bike and take a cycle. An opportunity soon presented itself in the form of a delivery request. R had left his headphones at home so I volunteered to bring it in to the office for him. All up it would be a distance of about 3 – 4 km from where we live to the office in the heart of the city and back home again. Fantastic.

I got appropriately rugged up, attached wicker basket to bicycle and off I went, marvelling at the amount of frost all over along the curb and paths. The wind across my cheeks turned them numb but it was a good kinda numb (if there even is such a thing). It was a very refreshing morning. By the time I got to the harbour to catch my ferry ride across to the city center the sun was much higher in the sky and it gave off some very welcomed warmth.

Dropped off the headphones then I spent a good hour browsing potential future purchases at the American Bookstore. The reason I popped in there was because R said he had a bit of a nosey in there himself some weeks back and found they sold Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, the boxed set. So I was curious and wanted to see it for myself (and possibly buy it). Alas! I got there and the box set was wrapped in plastic. Crap! But it was okay, I simply buried my nose in all the other books which immediately made me feel like buying every single one. Oh, the pictures! So real I could almost smell the aromas coming straight off the page.

The books were not cheap, however, so I had to put them back on the shelves. But I did walk out with a copy of the BBC Good Food magazine ~ the Christmas issue. Came with a FREE 2012 foodie calender too … WIN! Gorgeously presented magazine, full of glossy pictues of all the divine food I probably would never make coz I am a food photo junkie first and foremost. I am quite happy to just flip through the pages and indulge my senses with a bit of “food porn”, as Chef John Mitzewich refers to it.


If only my Christmas meals at home looked like this.


My very yummy looking (and FREE) foodie calender 2012


 If you think these photos were delish, how about you check out the dessert section on the back cover. Oh Lordy, it looks absolutely divine!! *Plans on getting a pudding basin*


Too beautiful to eat ... but its chocolate, so quite possibly I'll change my mind.


All this food oogling in the shop made me hungry and I started thinking about what to have for dinner. I didn’t want anything too fussy and I wanted something comforting. Stodgy. I was beginning to formulate an idea in my head. I knew I wanted something with mince in it and I wanted a one pot dish. Then it came to me …. creamy mince beef topped with scalloped potatoes! I would serve it with baby peas and carrots. It would be something R would like as well because it has a low veggie to meat ratio. 🙂 I really do try to sneak as many vegetables onto his plate as I possibly can get away with, but he is simply not a fan of them. Salads are totally out of the question.


Got to Albert Heijn supermarket and picked up some essentials like mince beef, celery, parsley and the scalloped potatoes. Okay so I had it easy with this because in the Netherlands scalloped potatoes come pre-packed complete with Béchamel sauce. All you have to do is shove them into the oven for 30 minutes or so. They may come pre-packed from a supermarket but they are the yummiest potatoes ever. In fact it never ceases to amaze me at how fresh and inexpensive fresh produce is here. The variety of potatoes alone seems endless. If you don’t have pre-packed potatoes then follow this simple recipe at the end for béchamel sauce, then just add thinnly sliced potatoes to the mix.

There is hardly any prep for this dish at all, which is wonderful. Busy women will appreciate the ease of putting this together, I’m sure. So I started by chopping up some garlic and onions. The celery and parsley came pre-cut. In a pot, on medium heat, with some butter and olive oil, I sauteed the onions, celery, parsley and garlic. Then I added the mince and seasoned with salt, pepper and a touch of cajun spices (but feel free to experiment with any spice you want). Leave everything to brown nicely, breaking up any lumps of beef as you go along. Some fat will rise to the surface and you need to drain this off, coz you don’t want a greasy pie filling. All I did was take the pot off the heat and tip the oil into the sink then returned the pot to the heat.

Once back on the heat add in some beef stock and bring it up to the boil then lower to let it simmer. Add the cream and simmer about 20 minutes. Then take it off the heat, taste for seasoning and transfer to a baking dish. If the sauce is too runny then add about 2 tsp of cornstarch mixed with a little cold water. Arrange the potato slices (already coated in thick bechamel sauce), over lapping one another, in a ring over the meat filling.

Bake in a hot oven at 190°C for 40 mins until the pototoes are tender and the béchamel topping is slightly browned. And you are done!! Leave to cool for about 15 minutes before serving. This was really yummy and it really hit the spot tonight. Its a successful dish as far as I am concerned and it will be featured again at our table.



  • 600g mince beef
  • 3 cloves garlic,minced
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced
  • 1/2 stick celery, chopped
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 50 mls beef stock
  • 100 mls cream
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 tsp cajun seasoning
  • 200 g scalloped potatoes






Simple Béchamel Sauce.

  • 40 g butter
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 300 mls cold milk
  • salt & pepper
  • Grated cheese* (optional)

1. Melt butter in a heavy saucepan. When fully melted and it starts to bubble, add flour and keep stirring to cook some of that rawness out of the flour.

2. Add cold milk, a little at a time and keep stirring to eliminate lumps. Remember, cold milk + hot roux = no lumps. What you want to achieve is a smooth, velvety texture. The mix might look runny at first but with a little simmering the sauce will thicken.

3. Add your seasoning according to taste. If you prefer to have a cheese sauce instead then add a couple of handfuls of grated cheese to the béchamel.


Permanent link to this article: http://foodflurries.com/savoury/winter-warmers-creamed-beef-scalloped-potato-bake

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