Special Cottage Pie

sp9 In 1998 our family moved from Washington State to England. We lived there for about eighteen months. Shortly after we arrived a lovely British family we had met invited our family for dinner. It was the first home cooked meal we’d had since arriving. The menu was shepherd’s pie made with lamb, and bread and butter pudding for dessert. The meal was delicious and their hospitality was a blessing to us. I found as we traveled about England, Scotland, and Ireland they all had this on the menu but they called it Cottage Pie or Shepherd’s Pie and made it with a beef or lamb mixture and topped with potatoes that were toasted under a broiler. I have always made  mine with beef. I like to top mine with cheddar cheese and then put in back in the oven to get all melted. The ingredients are simple but very delicious. A comforting meal on a cold winter day.  I call it special cottage pie and this is my version.

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Special cottage pie

For the filling

2lb. ground beef

3 large shallots, chopped

3 large cloves garlic, minced

2 bay leaves

½ teaspoon ground allspice

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 tablespoons tomato paste

4 small carrots sliced (boiled)

2 1/4 cups beef stock

For the topping

10 small Yukon gold potatoes

½ up ¾ cup whole milk  

1/2  – 1 stick butter

2 tablespoons sour cream

Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

¼ cup chopped fresh chives (optional)

Grated cheddar cheese (optional)

Prepare filling

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

Brown the ground meat and reserve 2 tablespoons of the fat. Set Add the meat aside add reserved fat back  to the pan over medium heat add the shallot, garlic, and bay leaf cook for 1 minute. Add the meat back to the pan add the allspice, cinnamon, salt and pepper, 2 tablespoons of flour, carrots, and the tomato paste. Stir mixture together and cook 2 minutes. Add the beef stock slowly while stir to get a nice juicy consistency. You don’t want it to be to soupy looking. Cook about 15 minutes. Remove the bay leaves. Fill a pie plate with the mixture or individual oven ware.

For the topping

Boil the potatoes, drain, mash potatoes using electric mixer. Add butter, sour cream, salt and pepper, and milk. Whip till light and fluffy add the chives at last mixing. When mixing mash potatoes always mix the potatoes till they look smooth before adding milk this will reduce any lumps. Unless in fact you like lumps then mix less before adding milk. Top the meat mixture with the potatoes, I use a pastry bag to do this but you can just heap them on top. Bake 15-20 minutes till top browns add cheese at the last few minutes.

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Janet’s Beef Stew

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November’s here and there’s a  chill in the air today. I’m remembering the yummy comfort food dinners I made for my kids when they were young. One of their favorites was their Grandmother Janet’s beef stew. We made this stew together on one of her visits to Washington, State where we lived at the time. I have used this recipe ever since that day with just a few tweaks of my own. One of the magic ingredients in this stew is the fresh lemon juice. It gives the stew a fresh flavor. The beef, onion, garlic, fresh thyme, and Worcestershire sauce are mingling together in the pot. Then I add a big squeeze of half a fresh lemon. When the lemon juice hits the bottom of the pan the fragrance makes you instantly hungry. When I’m really craving a heartier dish, I omit the quartered potatoes and mash potatoes and top them with the stew and yummy gravy. I serve homemade biscuits with soft butter to dip in the gravy. I’m making this stew today and cherishing those memories of the past.

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Janet’s Brown Stew

2lb. boneless beef chuck, cut into 1”cubes

¼ cup flour to dreg the meat, optional

4 cups hot water

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 large onion, ½ chopped and half sliced in half

2 bay leaves

Fresh thyme, 3 sprigs

2 tsp. Salt

½ tsp. pepper

6 carrots, sliced into rounds

4 potatoes, diced

Canola oil, as needed to brown meat

In a heavy saucepan, brown meat in canola oil. I like to dreg the meat in flour with salt and pepper this is optional. You don’t want to crowd the meat the browning is very important to the flavor of the stew. Do the meat in batches and set aside. Add chopped onion cook 4-5 minutes till tender and then add the garlic cook 1-2 minutes. Add the meat back to the saucepan, bay leaves, fresh thyme leaves, Worcestershire, salt, and pepper, and lemon juice. Add the potatoes and carrots. bring to a boil, lower heat to a simmer after the boil. simmer 3-4 hours. If you want a thicker gravy use 2 tablespoons of cornstarch mixed with a little water. Stir the cornstarch mixture into the stew then boil for 1 minute. Serve with biscuits or crusty bread.

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Mash Potatoes

My favorite mash potatoes.
My favorite mash potatoes.

Mash potatoes have to be the ultimate in comfort food. Do you like them totally smooth, a few lumps, lots of lumps, dripping with butter melting off the top or with gravy in a pool on top? Honestly I could eat them any way they are served. I love Yukon gold potatoes best for mash potatoes. My preferred way to mash is with an old fashioned potato masher. You have total control of how smooth or lumpy the potatoes become. If  I want really smooth and creamy potatoes I  mash them until the lumps are out. If I want some lumps I mix them less. I love just a few lumps with butter or gravy. To put my mash potatoes over the top I add either 2 teaspoons of cream cheese or 1/2 cup of sour cream. To give them a little bite I add green onion or fresh chives. Boil 3 pounds of peeled and quartered  Yukon gold potatoes, Drain. Heat 2/3 cup of milk and add at least 6 tablespoons of butter and more butter to the top after there mixed. Lots of fresh cracked pepper and kosher salt. I used sour cream and green onion for my potatoes.

This is a potato masher.
This is a potato masher. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Yukon Gold Potatoes
Yukon Gold Potatoes (Photo credit: Indiana Public Media)
Boil the potatoes. Add a good splash of salt.
Boil the potatoes. Add a good splash of salt.
Gather your ingredients.
Gather your ingredients for mashing the potatoes.
Drain fork tender potatoes. Add the butter, salt and pepper. Mash to desired smoothness before adding any milk.
Drain fork tender potatoes. Add the butter, salt and pepper. Mash to desired smoothness before adding any milk.
Add the sour cream, milk, green onion. Mash to combine.
Add the sour cream, green onion. Mash to combine.
Add the milk and mash to combine.
Add the milk and mash to combine.
Completely mashed.
Completely mashed.
Ready to serve.
Ready to serve.

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Mincemeat over Pappardelle

Mincemeat over pappardelle.
Mincemeat over pappardelle.

Mincemeat was a meal my Mom made when I was a young girl. It was a good cheap meal to feed a big family like ours. I always thought it was rather bland, but my Mom and Dad loved it so much we had it as a regular meal. I have never made this meal for my own family it just never appealed to me. I thought it would be fun to reinvent it. The ingredients in my Mom’s mincemeat were chopped onion and ground beef. I remember her serving it over egg noodles, my sister remembers mash potatoes.  The noodles appeal more to me for this dish so I’m going with them. I decided to saute the onion separately from the meat. Mom always put the onion and meat together in a frying pan. I added kosher salt, pepper, and pulled the leaves off of fresh thyme and sprinkled them over thickly sliced onion, and let the onions caramelize a bit. I cooked the ground beef separately, then drained the fat from the meat and added some Worcestershire sauce, concentrated tomato paste, kosher salt and black pepper. To make a sauce I stirred in a little flour and some beef stock. It’s was really looking good at this point! I combined the meat and onion then let it simmer for 20 minutes for the flavors to marry. I then served it over the egg noodles and grated a little cheese over top. I thought the presentation was really nice. It tasted delicious, a dish you would serve on a cold day with a piece of buttered bread. If my Mom and Dad could taste my remake I just bet they would have loved it.

Saute onion with kosher salt, Pepper, and fresh thyme.
Saute onion with kosher salt, Pepper, and fresh thyme.
Fry the ground beef. The drain off the fat. Return to the pan add Worcestershire sauce, concentrated tomato paste, salt, pepper. Stir in flour tossing well with the meat. Slowly add the beef broth to make a gravy.
Fry the ground beef. The drain off the fat. Return to the pan add Worcestershire sauce, concentrated tomato paste, salt, pepper. Stir in flour tossing well with the meat. Slowly add the beef broth to make a gravy.
Cook your pappardelle.
Cook your pappardelle.
Serve with freshly grated cheese.
Serve with freshly grated cheese.

Enjoy!

Minced Meat

1 lb. ground beef 85/15

1 large onion, slice thickly and then cut in half

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon concentrated tomato paste

Fresh thyme, 5 sprigs

1 tablespoon flour

1 ¼ cups beef stock

Salt and pepper, to taste

Egg pappardelle

1 tablespoon butter

Parmigiano Reggiano, grated

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle thyme leaves over the onion. Cook onion until it is brown. Transfer to a bowl. Using the same skillet cook the ground beef. Drain off the fat. Add the onion to the pan with the meat. Stir Worcestershire sauce, and concentrated tomato paste into meat mixture. Add flour, stir into the meat mixture and then slowly add your stock in let cook till it’s thick and bubbly. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper. Serve over the egg pappardelle and sprinkle freshly grated cheese over top. Cook the pappardelle according to the package direction. Add 1 tablespoon butter to the cooked noodles, season with salt and pepper.

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