Monthly Archives: January 2009

Shepherd’s Pie – Scroll Down for Video

Shepherds Pie just out of the oven

Shepherd's Pie just out of the oven

For a couple of years now, I’ve been trying to master the art of making what those in the UK refer to as “mince.” We call it ground beef. My husband adores mince and tatties (translation: ground beef and mashed potatoes) and his mother makes it better than anyone I know. Here, I’m going to go ahead and put the mince and tatties (and carrots and onions) together into a Shepherd’s Pie, but the mince preparation can stand on its own – if it is as good as my mother-in-law’s of course. Her mince has so much flavor and is so finely crumbled. It just melts in your mouth. I’ve asked her what the secret is again and again. Preparing it is so second nature to her, she’s not sure exactly what I’m getting at. But after years of trying to absorb the knowledge,

These are the tips I’ve been able to glean:

1) Drain the fat after the initial browning of the ground beef.

It seems counter-intuitive, like draining the fat would get rid of the yummy flavor, but in this preparation, flavor is enhanced by an OXO cube and lots of simmering time, which brings me to tip #2

2) After draining the fat, return the browned ground beef to the pot, add a little water and an OXO cube, mix it all up and let it simmer for 20 minutest to half an hour.
The flavor intensifies and the extra simmering time breaks down the beef bits further so you get a finer consistency.

Mince simmering

Mince simmering

What is the origin of meat pies, you ask? Well, back before there was refrigeration, covering the meat with a crust helped prevent spoilage. When the potato became popular in Britain in the mid-1800’s, a mashed potato topping presented an alternative to the pastry one.

Mashed  with shredded cheddar cheese

Mashed with shredded cheddar cheese

Score the potatoes for a crispy finish

Score the potatoes for a crispy finish

Ingredients
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp unsalted butter – divided
1.5 lbs ground beef (80/20)
1 onion or 2-3 shallots, diced
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
3 large russet potatoes, cut into large chunks
1 OXO beef bouillon cube
1/2 cup water
Salt & pepper to taste
1 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
1/2 cup water
5 oz cheddar cheese, grated
1-2 Tbsp butter melted

Directions

1. In a stockpot over medium-high heat, add olive oil and melt 1 Tbsp of butter. Add ground beef and break up into little pieces while it is cooking. Brown for about 10 minutes, continuously breaking it into smaller bits and stirring it. Drain the beef through a colander (don’t forget to put a pan underneath to catch the drippings)! Return the beef to the pot and add 1/2 cup of water and one OXO beef bouillon cube. Break up the cube and stir it in until it is completely dissolved and incorporated. Cover and reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

2. Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil in a large stockpot and add the potato. Boil for about 20 minutes or until fork tender, but not mushy.

3. While the meat is simmering and the potatoes are boiling, heat 1 Tbsp of butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and sautée until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the carrots and continue to sautée until onions are browning, carrots are softened and starting to brown, about 4-5 more minutes.

4. When the mince has simmered for 20 minutes, add the carrots and shallots and stir to combine. Add 1 1/2 Tbsp of cornstarch to 1/2 cup water and stir with a fork until cornstarch is dissolved completely. Add this mixture to the mince and vegetables and stir to combine. Keep heat very low, cover, and let it simmer to a bubble.

Preheat the oven to 400˚F.

5. Mash the potatoes with 1/2 cup of milk, adding the milk gradually, until potatoes have reached smooth consistency. Stir in shredded cheddar cheese.

6. In a dutch oven or a shallow, but not-too-shallow baking dish, spread the meat evenly on the bottom. Then spread potatoes evenly on top. Score the top of the potatoes for better browning and crispiness. Drizzle 1 1/2 Tbsp of melted butter on top. Add just a bit of the shredded cheddar cheese on top as well.

7. Bake in 400˚F oven for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Remove and let stand for a couple of minutes before serving.

Shepherds Pie

Shepherd's Pie

Mini Pizza on an Eggplant Slice

I saw a photograph of mozzarella melted over an eggplant slice on an open-faced sandwich and it inspired me to create this recipe. It’s low-carb since there is no bread or pizza crust at all. You put the toppings right on the eggplant slice and bake. These mini-“pizzas” are super easy to make and you can do several variations in one batch.

Pizza on an Eggplant Slice

Pizza on an Eggplant Slice

Ingredients
1 large eggplant, 1/8 inch slices
Salt
Prepared spaghetti sauce

Possible Toppings:
Pepperoni slices (try the low-fat Turkey variety)
Fresh mozzerella, cut into 1/8 inch slices
Shredded Parmesan cheese
Fresh basil leaves
Tomato slices or diced fresh tomato
(Any topping of your choice!)

Instructions

1. Salt the eggplant slices and let them sit for 30 minutes. Press the water out of the slices into a paper towel.

2. Preheat oven to 425˚F. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray and lay the slices on the sheet without letting them touch.

3. Top each slice with a thin layer of tomato sauce and then add toppings of your choice.

4. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until cheese is melted and gorgeous. Allow to cool for 2 minutes before transferring to plate.

The eggplant “pizzas” are not stable enough to eat with your fingers. This is definitely fork food, but it shouldn’t be totally soggy either. If your slices are coming out really soggy, then there are a few troubleshooting tips: a) Salt them really well at the beginning and try to expel as much moisture as possible. b) Put less tomato sauce on. c) Don’t bake them for too long.

Eggplant slices salted

Eggplant slices salted

Eggplant slices with thin layer of sauce

Eggplant slices with thin layer of sauce

With fresh mozzarella and basil

With fresh mozzarella and basil

With pepperoni

With pepperoni

Pepperoni pizza on an eggplant slice

Pepperoni pizza on an eggplant slice

Salmon-Dill Quiche

Salmon-Dill Quiche

Salmon-Dill Quiche

I’ve been having a salmon craving lately so I decided to satisfy it with a quiche. One could substitute canned salmon in this recipe, but I decided to go all out and use fresh. I was going for a really creamy kind of quiche, which is why I used sour cream and half & half in my egg mixture. To get it even creamier, you might add some shredded cheese, like a Gruyère. I was hesitant, because I didn’t want to overpower the salmon and the dill with a sharp cheese, but you might give it a try anyway. Another creamy melted cheese that words well in quiche is Monterrey Jack. Since it’s a little less powerful than a Gruyère, it might be a good alternative.

Continue reading

Dungeness Crab Cakes

Dungeness Crab

Dungeness Crab

Crab Cake

Crab Cake

I adapted this recipe from the Crab Cake recipe at Simply Recipes®. In her post, Elise wrote that her crab cakes would have benefited from an added spice kick, so I added 1/4 teaspoon of Fiery Chile Fusion to mine. I also cut the ingredients in half since I only bought one crab. I made other small adjustments for taste and rewrote the directions to my own short-cut liking.

Continue reading

Blog Widget by LinkWithin