Casseroles Lamb Soups and Stews

Lamb Shank Redemption – In the Spirit of Jamie Oliver’s Classic Dishes

    Slow Cooker Lamb Shanks
    Slow Cooker Lamb Shanks

    Last weekend, I decided that my own back-to-school supply should be a new slow-cooker. I had a crock pot already, but I needed something that was larger and more programmable. So I purchased an All-Clad Slow Cooker similar to the one pictured here (and available at I actually bought the one just larger than this one and it’s huge. I wanted to be able to make entire roasts in it.

    Today, I am making one of my favorite slow-cooked dishes: braised lamb shanks. Lamb shanks, with marrow filled bones, and a layer of fat, are perfectly suited for slow-cooking. I think it might be impossible to overcook a lamb shank. The long cooking time simply works to make it extremely tender and falling off the bone.

    This version of braised lamb shank is inspired by ossobucco recipes. It includes wine, tomatoes and is finished with a gremolata. Gremolata is a bright, flavorful mixture of lemon zest, parsley and minced fresh garlic. Adding this mixture at the end brightens up the long-cooked dish.

    The best thing about the All Clad Slow Cooker is that the insert is stove ready, so you can brown food before setting it to cook for the rest of the day. This is a key step when making braised lamb shanks. I browned these shanks in batches, then added olive oil and onion, sautéeing the onion a bit before replacing the insert to the slow cooker for the rest of the cooking time.

    Lamb Shanks
    Braised Lamb Shanks
    Lamb Shank Redemption - Slow Cooker Braised Lamb Shanks
    Prep time
    Cook time
    Total time
    Similar to ossobucco, these lamb shanks are melt in your mouth
    Recipe type: Stew
    Serves: 4
    • 3 large lamb shanks or 4 medium ones
    • 2 Tbsp olive oil
    • 1 large, sweet onion, diced
    • 2 cloves crushed garlic (I used Trader Joe's frozen crushed garlic)
    • 2 cups mini carrots
    • 2 Bay Leaves
    • 2 large sprigs of fresh rosemary
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • 1 cup red wine
    • ½ 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
    • Zest of one lemon
    • ⅓ cup chopped parsley
    • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
    1. Heat the slow-cooker insert over medium high heat (or use a skillet or dutch oven). Add lamb shanks, one or two at a time, and brown on all sides. Remove from pan and brown in batches to avoid over crowding.
    2. Remove shanks and add olive oil. Add diced onion and garlic. Toss to coat. Let sautée until wilted and starting to brown. Add shanks back in and return insert to the slow cooker.
    3. Add carrots, Bay Leaves, rosemary, salt, pepper, and wine and toss to combine. Add tomatoes and toss. Cover and cook on low heat for 8 hours or high heat for 4 hours.
    4. Serve over mashed potatoes, or noodles, or even rice. Garnish with the gremolata.
    5. To make the gremolata, simply mix together the lemon zest, chopped parsley and minced garlic.

    So, why the image from the movie, you ask? Well, it’s just a pun I thought of a long time ago and always wanted to build a recipe around. What are your favorite movie title pun memes?
    Lamb Shank Redemption

    And finally today, this video of Jamie Oliver’s Britain features the tastes of York, which means of course, Yorkshire pudding. There’s also an interesting lamb shank recipe in this video, which draws more heavily on Moroccan flavors. He uses fresh mint instead of fresh parsley and even makes a mint oil to garnish his lamb shanks.

    The other great tip he imparts is to use an immersion blender to blend the sauce leftover in the slow cooker once everything is finished cooking. Blend it and then thicken it by simmering it down over the stove. Perfection.

      Casseroles Rice and other Grains Sides Uncategorized Vegetarian

      Roasted, Stuffed Acorn Squash: Barley-Bulgur Pilaf with Caramelized Apple

        Stuffed Acorn Squash

        Here is a dish elegant enough for Thanksgiving or an autumn dinner party, and hearty enough to serve as a vegetarian (vegan) main dish. Favorite fall flavors of apple, squash, and nuts come together in this healthy, whole grain pilaf. Feel free to substitute your favorite grains. Try it with millet, farro, wheatberries or wild rice. Even lentils would be a lovely addition. Substitute fresh sage or thyme for the parsley, if you prefer. Substitute pear for the apple. Try it in a pumpkin. The possibilities are endless.

        Roasted, Stuffed Acorn Squash: Barley-Bulgur Pilaf with Caramelized Apple and Almonds
        Prep time
        Cook time
        Total time
        Fall flavors come together in this hearty (vegan) side dish - elegant enough for a dinner party, yummy enough for any night.
        Recipe type: Hearty Vegetarian Main Dish or Side Dish
        Serves: 4
        • 4 Medium Acorn Squash (I chose a variety that was a lovely orange color, with smooth skin but any variety will do)
        • 2 Tbsp olive oil
        • 1 medium onion, diced
        • 2 cups vegetable stock
        • ¼ cup pearled barley
        • ¼ cup brown rice
        • ¼ cup bulgur
        • 1 apple (on the sweeter side, like Honeycrisp or Braeburn), sliced thinly
        • 2 Tbsp chopped almonds, toasted
        • ¼ cup dried apricots, sliced thinly
        • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
        • salt and pepper to taste
        1. Preheat oven to 400˚F. Cut each acorn squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and add water to the pan so that the squash skins don't get scorched. Add a little dab of butter to each acorn squash. Bake for about 45 minutes to an hour until the squash are cooked through, but not collapsing.
        2. While the acorn squash are baking, prepare the pilaf. In a medium saucepan, heat the 2 Tbsp of olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and sautée until onions have softened and started to brown, about 8 minutes. Pour in 2 cups of vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Add the pearl barley, reduce heat and cover. The pearl barley will simmer for a total of 45-55 minutes. After 10 minutes of cooking, add the brown rice. Continue to simmer, covered on low. When 15 minutes remain, add the bulgur.
        3. In a separate frying pan, over medium heat, heat a bit of olive oil. Then add the apple slices, chopped almonds, and apricots. Toss to coat and sautée for a 3 minutes or until apples start to soften and brown. Remove from heat. Preheat oven to 375˚F.
        4. Once the grains are cooked through, drain any remaining liquid and toss in the apple mixture. Toss in the chopped parsley, reserving some for garnishing later. Season with salt and pepper.
        5. Divide the mixture evenly between the acorn squashes. Place the stuffed squashes on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove and garnish with the remaining fresh parsley and serve immediately.


          Casseroles Uncategorized Vegetarian

          Engine 2 Diet Lasagna Featured by Dr. Oz


            Vegan Lasagne
            Vegan Lasagne

            Rip Esselstyn developed the “Engine 2 Diet” plan for a team of Texas firefighters, who were overweight and suffered from high cholesterol and high blood pressure. He found that eliminating meat and dairy (including chicken and fish, milk and cheese) from his diet, helped him and his team lose weight, lower their cholesterol numbers and turn the tide on high blood pressure.

            He wrote The Engine 2 Diet: The Texas Firefighter’s 28-Day Save-Your-Life Plan that Lowers Cholesterol and Burns Away the Pounds to share his insights with the world.

            I used to be a die-hard 3 meals a day with meat kind of gal. Well, maybe not breakfast with meat everyday, but still. I would make up for it later in the day. Heck, the post before this one is a burger with cheese. But I bring you this recipe because it is as satisfying as any meal I’ve had with meat, including meat lasagne, and packs more veggies per serving than any dish I’ve ever prepared. Talk about sneaking in veggies in your kids’ meals. This recipe does that in spades.

            Dr. Oz endorsed this eating plan on his show in February 2010, just about the time my husband and I started exploring the benefits of a vegan diet. The timing was perfect. This is a great meal to transition effortlessly to a diet that treads more lightly on the earth and on your body.

            In the photograph above, I have not yet sprinkled the top with the ground cashews, because that step occurs after you’ve baked it for 45 minutes. It’s amazing how the cashews successfully take the place of mozzarella cheese.

            Engine 2 Diet Lasagna Featured by Dr. Oz
            Who knew lasagna could be vegan?
            Recipe type: Main
            Cuisine: Vegan
            Serves: 10-12
            • 1 onion, chopped
            • 1 small head of garlic, all cloves chopped or pressed
            • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
            • 1 head broccoli, chopped
            • 2 carrots, chopped
            • 2 red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
            • 1 can corn, rinsed and drained
            • 1 package firm tofu
            • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
            • 1 tsp oregano
            • 1 tsp basil
            • 1 tsp oregano
            • 1 tsp rosemary
            • 2 jars pasta sauce
            • 2 boxes whole grain lasagna noodles
            • 16 oz frozen spinach, thawed and drained
            • 2 sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed
            • 6 Roma tomatoes, sliced thin
            • 1 cup raw cashews, ground
            1. Preheat oven to 400 ° F.
            2. Saute the onion and garlic on high heat for 3 minutes in a wok or nonstick pan. Add the mushrooms and cook until the onions are limp and the mushrooms give up their liquid. Remove them to a large bowl with a slotted spoon. Reserve the mushroom liquid in the pan.
            3. Saute the broccoli and carrots for 5 minutes and add to the mushroom bowl. Saute the peppers and corn until just beginning to soften. Add them to them to the vegetable bowl.
            4. Drain the tofu by wrapping in paper towels. Break it up directly in the towel and mix into the vegetable bowl. Add spices to the vegetable bowl and combine.
            5. Cover the bottom of a 9x13 inch casserole with a layer of sauce. Add a layer of noodles. Cover the noodles with sauce. This way the noodles cook in the oven, saving time and energy.
            6. Spread the vegetable mixture over the sauced noodles. Cover with a layer of noodles and another dressing of sauce.
            7. Add the spinach to the second layer of sauced noodles. Cover the spinach with the mashed sweet potatoes. Add another layer of sauce, the final layer of noodles, and a last topping of sauce.
            8. Cover the lasagna with thinly sliced Roma tomatoes. Cover with foil and bake in the oven for 45 minutes.
            9. Remove the foil, sprinkle with the cashews, and return to the over for 15 minutes.
            10. Let sit for 15 minutes before serving.

            This post is part of Real Food Wednesdays hosted by

              Casseroles Pizza and Pasta Sides Uncategorized

              Dungeness Crab Mac-n-Cheese

                Dungeness Crab Mac n Cheese
                Dungeness Crab Mac n Cheese

                The Dungeness Crab season is in full swing here in the Bay Area and while my appreciation for Dungeness Crab is limited by my upbringing on the Eastern Shore of MD (Chesapeake country, blue crabs), I can’t resist this pale imitation once a year, so when I saw the price had dropped to $5.99/lb at Mollie Stone’s, I jumped. I paid $9.50 for a single crab which yielded about 1 cup of crabmeat.

                Last year, I made a crab-picking video which has been playing continuously ever since on my livestream channel. You can check it out here: It’s embarrassing for me to watch and I can’t stand the sound of my own voice, so although I host StreamingGourmet (the blog and video site) I don’t make very many videos. I felt compelled to demonstrate how easy it can be to yank big chunks of crab meat out of the back fin of a crab, though, since it can be a little intimidating. I like to confess that I picked dungeness crab on my very first date with my (now) husband, so if he can fall in love with me with crab juice dripping down my chin and crab meat wedged in my fingernails, then we’ll probably be fine when we’re 65.

                Dungeness Crab
                Dungeness Crab

                Dungeness Crab Mac-n-Cheese
                Serves 3-4

                1/2 lb penne
                Olive oil
                1 cup heavy cream
                1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
                1 cup shredded Gruyére cheese
                1 tsp salt
                freshly ground pepper
                freshly grated nutmeg
                1 Tbsp butter
                1/4 cup chopped onion
                1 large clove of garlic, minced
                1 cup crab meat
                1/2 cup white wine
                1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
                1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
                a few dabs of butter


                1. Prepare penne according to al dente package directions. When drained, toss with a bit of olive oil to keep it from sticking together while you prepare the other elements of the dish. Set aside.

                2. Preheat oven to 350˚F.

                It’s best if you work on steps 3 and 4 simultaneously. Read them through to see what I mean.

                3. In a medium saucepan, slowly bring the cream to a boil. Allow it to thicken and reduce by half, watching carefully not to scald the cream or let it boil over. Turn off the heat and let it cool for about a minute. Then add the cheddar and Gruyére cheeses in small batches, incorporating each batch before adding the next. Try not to over stir the mixture as this could make it stringy. Halfway through adding the cheese, you can pop the heat back on low, but be careful to keep the heat as low as possible while still promoting the melting process. Heat that is too high will cause the cheese fats to separate from the proteins. If that happens, there’s no going back. After the last batch of shredded cheese is incorporated, add salt, pepper and nutmeg to the sauce. Turn off heat and let sit, stirring occasionally.

                4. While the milk is simmering and reducing, (before you are melting the cheese into it) prepare the other part of the sauce: In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and sautée until onions are softened, but not browned, about 4 minutes. Add wine and simmer to reduce wine by half, about 15 minutes. Add crab meat and continue to simmer until wine has reduced by half again. Remove from heat.

                5. Stir the wine & crab meat mixture into the cheese sauce until fully combined. Spray a casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray. (You could also prepare this dish in individual serving-sized gratin dishes). Add pasta to the casserole dish and then pour the wine/cheese sauce over the pasta and toss to combine. Top with bread crumbs. Dab with butter and sprinkle Parmesan cheese across the top.

                6. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until bubbly. If the top is not browned by the end of the baking process, stick it under the broiler for a few minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes and then enjoy immediately.

                  Casseroles Sides Uncategorized Vegetarian

                  Creamed Pumpkin Potatoes

                    Creamed Pumpkin Potatoes
                    Creamed Pumpkin Potatoes

                    Day 29 of 31 days of pumpkin and you’re still here? You’re crazy.

                    Just kidding.

                    I’ve been doing a lot of fattening up of recipes lately and this one is no exception. In fact, I actually adapted this one from a lighter recipe in Cooking Light Five Star Recipes: The Best of 10 Years. The book was published in 1997 and is out of print, but it’s available on Amazon:

                    The difference between the recipe in the book and the one I’ve published here is that Cooking Light leave out the extra 1/4 cup of Gruyere that I added and they use 1/4 cup of fat free sour cream instead of 1/4 cup of heavy whipping cream. If I had had sour cream on hand, I would have used it, but to be honest, I had a lot of heavy whipping cream on hand because of the all the garnishes I’ve had to do this week, so I just substituted it in. Their recipe also didn’t call for nutmeg, which I added in because it’s a flavor I love to mix with Gruyere and with pumpkin, so it was a natural addition.

                    The last difference is that the Cooking Light recipe does not call for baking the mixture in the oven with a little bit more cheese on top. That’s all me.

                    This is a great side dish, and perhaps a fun addition to a Thanksgiving lineup. It could use a bit more flavor, however. Next time, I might add chives to the ensemble or other fresh herbs. The pumpkin flavor was subtle. You can substitute two cups of canned pumpkin if you don’t have the fresh pumpkin all peeled, deseeded and chopped on hand. I actually did have it on hand because of this crazy pumpkin month I’ve been having.

                    Creamed Pumpkin Potatoes
                    Creamed Pumpkin Potatoes

                    Creamed Pumpkin Potatoes
                    Yields 5- 1 cup servings
                    Adapted (and fattened up a bit) from Cooking Light Five Star Recipes: The Best of 10 Years

                    4 cups peeled, cubed baking potato (about 1 1/2 lbs)
                    3 cups peeled, cubed pumpkin flesh
                    1/4 cup shredded Sharp cheddar cheese
                    1/4 cup shredded Gruyere cheese, divided
                    1/4 cup heavy whipping cream, at room temperature
                    1/2 tsp salt (or more)
                    1/4 tsp ground pepper
                    Pinch ground nutmeg


                    1. Place potato and raw, fresh pumpkin chunks in a large saucepan; add water to cover and bring to a boil. Cover and cook for 20-30 minutes or until tender; drain.

                    2. Preheat oven to 375˚F. Combine potato, pumpkin, cheddar cheese, half of the Gruyere cheese, whipping cream and seasonings in a large mixing bowl. Beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. (You could even pass it through a sieve to make it really smooth). Transfer mixture to an oven proof dish like a Gratin dish and sprinkle remaining Gruyere on top. Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes or until top is golden brown. Let stand for 5-10 minutes before serving.

                      Casseroles Sides Uncategorized Vegetarian

                      Pumpkin & Garnet Yam Gratin

                        Pumpkin - Yam Gratin with Thyme & Gruyére
                        Pumpkin - Yam Gratin with Thyme & Gruyére

                        Day 18 of 31 days of pumpkin and I’ve decided to bring one of my favorite potato recipes into the world of pumpkin. The dish? Gratin Dauphinois or Potatoes Gratin. Thinly sliced potatoes baked in cream and Gruyére cheese. Surely pumpkin can adapt, but not on its own and so I’ve paired it with Garnet yams. One of my inspirations cooking this dish with pumpkins and yams comes from the fact that I always add a little nutmeg to dishes with melted Gruyére, like macaroni and cheese. It’s not a far jump from nutmeg to pumpkin, so I thought, maybe pumpkin and yams will stand up to the creamy cheesy sauce that is a gratin. I was right. This dish is great for confronting October’s chill.

                        Everything I know about Gratin Dauphinois, I learned from Jacques Pépin and his book, Chez Jacques Deluxe Edition: Traditions and Rituals of a Cook Awhile back, I did a blog post called, Gratin Dauphinois of Potatoes, Jerusalem Artichokes (Sunchokes) and Leeks. If you’re going to get serious about making Potatoes Gratin at home, it’s worth investing in a mandoline. I purchased a simple one for under $40 that I like, but it doesn’t do really fancy cuts like waffle cuts. It is available at Amazon.

                          Casseroles Pizza and Pasta Sides Uncategorized Vegetarian Video How-to

                          Mac-n-Cheese w/ Hidden Broccoli & Cauliflower

                            Mac-n-Cheese w/ Broccoli & Cauliflower Hidden Inside
                            Mac-n-Cheese w/ Broccoli & Cauliflower Hidden Inside

                            My four-year old is a very picky eater. If he could have macaroni and cheese at every meal, he would. So I’ve taken to hiding healthy foods in the mac-n-cheese to ensure he’s getting enough nutrition. This version worked pretty well. If I were making it for myself, I would have used stronger cheeses like (you guessed it) Gruyére, and I would have added other punchy flavors like garlic or nutmeg. But I wanted this dish to go down without a fuss, so cheddar ruled the day.

                            I didn’t conceal from him the fact that I was concealing healthy foods in his macaroni and cheese. In fact, I enlisted his help during the broccoli and cauliflower grinding process. He loves to push the button. We used my new Cuisinart mini chopper. It’s a snap to pull out, use, and clean up.

                            Cuisinart Mini Prep Plus
                            Available at Amazon - Click here
                            My son
                            Broccoli Chopped in the Mini Prep
                            Broccoli Chopped in the Mini Prep

                            Macaroni & Cheese with Broccoli and Cauliflower
                            Serves 4


                            1 1/2 cups broccoli florets
                            1 1/2 cups cauliflower florets
                            1 tsp olive oil
                            1/2 lb elbow macaroni
                            3 Tbsp butter
                            2 Tbsp flour
                            1 1/4 cup whole milk (or heavy cream to make it really decadent)
                            2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (we had fun shredding ours in a vintage Mouli)
                            1 tsp salt
                            1/2 cup bread crumbs
                            1 Tbsp melted butter

                            Broccoli & Cauliflower sautéeing
                            Broccoli & Cauliflower sautéeing


                            1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Put broccoli florets into food processor and grind into teeny weeny pieces. Remove to a bowl. Repeat with cauliflower.

                            2. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add broccoli and cauliflower and toss. Basically, we’re browning these vegetables just a little bit to enhance the nutty sweet flavors they bring to the dish. After a few minutes, turn off the heat and leave for later.

                            3. Bring salted water to boil in a large pot and boil the macaroni. Since you’re going to be baking this dish, you can shave off a minute from the boiling time recommended on the package.

                            4. In the meantime, for the roux, heat the milk in a saucepan to almost boiling. Remove from heat for later. Melt butter in a heavy-bottom saucepan. Add flour and whisk continuously. Sautée flour for 3 minutes. Don’t let it brown or it will get bitter. Add the warm milk in a steady stream and whisk continuously. Simmer gently (no boiling!) until thickened, about 2 minutes. Add shredded cheese in small batches, incorporating each batch completely. Season with salt. Add broccoli and cauliflower and stir until well combined. At this stage, you have a kind of broccoli-cheddar cream soup. You could use this sauce for lots of different things. I put it over a baked potato and it was awesome.

                            5. Mix bread crumbs and melted butter in a small bowl.

                            6. To assemble, pour macaroni into a baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. I used this small Le Creuset dish. Stir in the sauce, coating all of the macaroni completley. Top with the buttered bread crumbs. Bake uncovered for 25 minutes or until bubbly. If topping is not already browned, you can put it under the broiler for a minute at the end.

                            Le Creuset. Available at Amazon
                            Le Creuset. Available at Amazon

                            Want to see a bunch more macaroni and cheese ideas? Check out this video collection at

                            Looking for more broccoli recipes? Check out ComfyCook’s collection of Broccoli recipes collected from BSI participants around the blogosphere.

                              Beef Casseroles

                              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

                                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


                                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
                                  Casseroles Produce Uncategorized

                                  Gratin Dauphinois of Potatoes, Jerusalem Artichokes (Sunchokes) and Leeks

                                    Gratin of Potatoes, Jerusalem Artichokes and Leeks
                                    Gratin of Potatoes, Jerusalem Artichokes and Leeks

                                    When a friend of mine told me she had a bumper crop of Jerusalem Artichokes in her backyard, I saw an opportunity to try yet another overlooked, underappreciated vegetable.

                                    I had never heard of Jerusalem Artichokes (now often called Sunchokes), though once she dropped them off, I recognized them from that isle in the produce department devoted to intimidating root vegetables. Jerusalem Artichokes are not actually a kind of artichoke though they are in the artichoke family. They are a kind of sunflower and are native to North America. They were grown by Native Americans before Samuel de Champlain discovered them and brought them back to France in the early 1600’s.

                                    Jerusalem Artichokes
                                    Jerusalem Artichokes

                                    When picking sunchokes, look for ones that are firm to the touch and plump. They should be crispy when you slice them raw. As sunchokes sit around, they get mushy.

                                    I figured the best way to cook this unfamiliar root vegetable would be to add it to a Gratin Dauphinois. I used the Gratin Dauphinois in Jacques Pépin’s book as the basis for my recipe.

                                    Chez Jacques: Traditions and Rituals of a Cook
                                    Chez Jacques: Traditions and Rituals of a Cook

                                    I adapted the recipe by adding the sunchokes, the leeks and the nutmeg. Also, I made a few substitutions based on what I had on hand in my kitchen. For example, I didn’t have Gruyère cheese, nor did I have half and half or heavy cream, so I substituted 4-year aged cheddar for the Gruyère and 2% milk for the half and half. It came out great, so you should feel confident making these kinds of substitutions in a pinch.

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