Kestrel Kitchen
Taste the difference with our healthy recipes,
and shopping advice.
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Kestrel's quick, easy, tasty, brain-food recipes 

If you're making the most of your time in the UK, you won't want to spend hours a week shopping or standing over a stove conjuring recipes like some domestic god or godess. At the same time your brain and body needs proper nourishment. Here are some of the quickest, most nutritious recipes around. If you cook two or three times what you need, you can put the extra in the fridge and save time during the week.

We'll also sneak in a few recipes for British food (just to show that traditional recipes can be quite tasty, if done well) and a few recipes that take a bit longer but will supply you with quick meals for the rest of the week.


Shepherds pie 200px


      For the sauce

  • Approx 900g minced lamb or beef
  • 2 onions
  • 2 carrots
  • 3 sticks celery
  • 3 cloves
  • Fresh or dried oregano
  • Ground cinnamon
  • A splash of Worcester sauce
  • A pinch or two of sugar
  • A splash of red wine (optional)
  • Olive oil
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • Fresh mint leaves.

    For the topping
  • 1 kg potatoes (for boiling)
  • A little butter
  • A little hard cheese (Cheddar)

SHEPHERD'S PIE - serves 4-6 hungry people. Perfect for cold or rainy days.

If you want to give traditional British cooking a chance, this recipe will be a very good introduction to how food is cooked from fresh ingredients in the home. Cook on the weekend and it will provide plenty of quick meals you can freeze for later, or there will be enough to entertain a few friends.

You can find fresh minced lamb at a butcher's (more expensive) or good quality frozen minced lamb in supermarkets such as Waitrose or Tesco. Finding fresh mint is always a good conversation topic with the British, who love to help if you ask a direct question. Many will know of a garden with mint plants. They may, of course, just refer you to a supermarket.

Choose a large pot or saucepan with a lid, preferably one that can also be placed in the oven later. (If not, start with a large saucepan and transfer later to a casserole dish.) Pre-heat the oven to reach 180 degrees C (gas mark 5 or 6 in UK).

Chop the onions, carrots and celery. Soften them over a medium heat in 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the lamb and herbs. Soften until the lamb turns light brown but is not completely cooked. Add the tomatoes, a pinch or two of sugar, a splash or two of Worcester sauce (very British), and a splash of red wine if you like. Cook gently for 5-10 minutes and stir occasionally. Check for seasoning, add salt if necessary.

Place in the oven (or transfer to a casserole and place in the oven) for 1 hour. Make sure there is enough room in the pot or casserole to add the potato topping later.

Make the mashed potato topping. Peel and halve the potatoes. Place in a saucepan with salted water and boil until soft. (The British often use a pressure cooker to reduce the boiling time to 8-9 minutes.) Mash the softer potatoes in the saucepan. Add 2-3 knobs of butter and mash into the potatoes until they become smoother. Leave to cool.
Grate the cheese.

When the sauce is ready, take it out of the oven (but don't turn the oven off.) You can locate and remove the cloves if you prefer. Place the mint leaves on top of the sauce. Then spread the mashed potato evenly on top of sauce and mint. Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the potato.

Put the pie back in the oven until the top has turned a golden brown. Eat hot, with salad or cooked green vegetables.

This dish remains tasty after freezing and reheating.
If you substitute minced beef for the lamb, you have another famous British dish called

Fish Saffron sauce 200px

  • 4 boneless fillets of frozen cod, pollock or another white, meaty fish
  • 1 tub of creme fraiche (must be full fat: low fat ruins this recipe)
  • Saffron, horseradish sauce or a tin of chopped tomatoes
  • Salt

FISH WITH CREME FRAICHE - 2 or more meals for one, depending on your appetite.

This is really quick to prepare and you don't have to spend much time monitoring progress. You can work while it cooks. The great advantage is you can cook the fish from frozen. Any good supermarket will have frozen fish fillets in large packs at reasonable prices. You can also choose the flavour of your sauce with this dish: saffron, horseradish or tomato. A good supermarket should sell saffron in small sachets and small jars of horseradish sauce. Any small corner shop will have tinned tomatoes. The dish illustrated is with saffron sauce.

Begin heating the oven to 180-200C. Sprinkle a little salt on both sides of each fish fillet. Lay these in an oven baking dish.

Place the creme fraiche in a medium-sized bowl. Choose a flavour: saffron, horseradish or tomato. Add one of these, check the taste. Stir. Pour the contents of the bowl over the fish and make sure all the fillets are covered. Place in the middle of the oven. Check after 25 minutes. The fish should be cooked and the sauce should have some small signs of browning at the edges of the baking dish.

Serve with boiled potatoes or rice and a green vegetable. Peas are quick: five minutes in a microwave with a few teaspoons of water, a little salt and a sprinkle of sugar.

PastaTomatoSauce 200px 
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 large or 2 smaller onions
  • 100g butter
  • salt
  • pasta (tagliatelli or spaghetti)
  • parmesan cheese
PASTA WITH TOMATO SAUCE - at least two meals, even for the hungriest student.

This has to be the easiest, quickest fresh pasta sauce on the planet. Double the amounts of ingredients if you want to freeze some for later.

Pour the tomatoes into a medium-sized saucepan. Peel the onion. Cut each onion in half and place in the pan with the tomatoes. Add the butter as one 100g pat. Place the pan over a low heat.

The sauce must simmer gently for 25-30 minutes. It must not simmer vigorously or boil. The sauce is ready when it begins to thicken. At this point - and this is vital to the recipe - turn off the heat and add a sprinkle or two of salt according to taste, and stir.

Some people remove and discard the soft onions. But, as onions are good for you, a lot of people leave them in.

Add sauce to the pasta, grate parmesan or other cheese over the top, and add a green vegetable or salad.

The dish illustrated has sugar snap peas, a summer favourite in the UK. For best results, steam for a few minutes, making sure they are still crisp, not overcooked and soggy