Anyone who knows me, knows I love baking. I mean really love it.
What a lot of people don't know, is that I also love savoury dishes that go in the oven. Anything that can be mixed with a sauce or gravy, topped with cheese, or slices of potato, and put in the oven until it's golden, with a crisp lid yielding to the soft, unctuous delights beneath.
I'm a fan of these dishes too, because they can be very thrifty. They make the most of cheap and nourishing ingredients. They are flavourful, practical, and hearty. They're rarely glamorous dishes, but they're like a favourite worn, cosy jersey. They're the kind of thing that I go back to again and again.
Last night, I made one of these old favourites for dinner. A firm, fresh cauliflower, mixed with a little macaroni. Then, a few slices of bacon, some left over mushrooms, and a thinly sliced leek, sauteed together until their flavours blend, and the leeks are soft. Mix all that with a thick, silky cheese sauce, generously laced with wholegrain mustard. Place in a dish, top with grated cheese, and let the oven turn these humble ingredients to homely gold.
Today was a sweet day. I decided to make a couple of pies, using my grandmother's recipe for sweet shortcrust pastry which my Aunt gave me. This pastry is buttery, sweet, crisp and melting, and the perfect casing for all sorts of sweet fillings, from jam, to lightly spiced apple, to tart rhubarb.
Well, it's past the twins bed time, so I'm off to administer bottles and cuddles. I hope you decide to give some old fashioned, oven baked dishes a try. Your wallet and your tummy will thank you :)