Saturday, January 18, 2014

Shepherd's Pie

I was supposed to post this when Lizzy was away on a trip, but I am quite late in finishing it up!  Anyway, I was just thinking about it tonight at the end of a cold and gray day because shepherd's pie is a total cold-weather comfort food and pretty easy to make.  It's also another one that is so flexible to sub some different veggies or use different kinds of meat.  Also, if I have it that someone has sent us, I really like to use brown gravy mix for the meat mixture, but I tried to actually write down my recipe this winter without using that, as it isn't available here where we live.

Shepherd's Pie
1 kg potatoes
50 g butter
So, here's the thing.  Basically, you just want some mashed potatoes for the top. Different kinds of potatoes are available here different times of the year, and certain kinds feel like they need more liquid or something.  But, basically, peel and cut about 1 kg of potatoes and boil them in some salted water until tender.  After draining them (but while they are still hot), I added some butter and a pinch of salt.  Sometimes I also add a bit of milk, and as you mash them, you can add more milk to get the consistency you want.  Set the mashed potatoes aside to put on top of the casserole.

5-6 small carrots, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
500 g ground meat
3 T flour
1 c broth
1/2 t thyme
1 T ketchup
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 c shredded cheese (optional)

Preheat the oven to around 190 degrees Celsius (375 degrees F).

Cook the carrots until crisp tender.  I often steam them or even boil them for just a couple minutes.  It doesn't take long, as they will continue to cook in the casserole, so you want them still fairly crisp, but I have found that if you don't cook them a bit before, they stay a little too crunchy.  If you wanted to skip this step, though, you could probably chop them up in quite small pieces and just add them in without cooking first, and I think they would be fine.

In a bit of cooking oil (depending on how lean your meat is), brown the ground meat with the onions and garlic.  Once the meat is browned, add the flour.  Mix it in completely and cook it for 1 extra minute.  Then add the broth, thyme, ketchup, salt and pepper and the carrots.  Bring the mixture to a boil, and then reduce the heat and cook for another minute or two until it starts to thicken.  Then, pour this mixture into the bottom of a casserole dish.

Top the meat mixture with the mashed potatoes and spread them evenly over the top. Sprinkle the shredded cheese on top. Place the assembled casserole into the oven, and bake it until it is hot and the meat mixture is bubbly, which takes around 30 minutes.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Moroccan Chickpea Stew

Everyone recovering from all the crazy amounts of food you ate over the past month? I have actually had to cut out sugar temporarily due to daily headaches--so sad!! In an effort to get back to some more sensible eating and beat the cold air that has taken over our house, I made this Moroccan Chickpea Stew. Over the past year I have played with this recipe a bit, trying out different variations, but this one by Dave Lieberman seems to have the best flavor as far as the spice combination. The cinnamon and cumin give it a warming feel for winter. If you have trouble digesting beans, refer to my post on sprouting a few days prior to cooking your beans or use that digestive trouble as a way to keep warm. Hah!

Moroccan Chickpea Stew
2-3 Tbs oil (olive oil is preferred)
2 medium onions, chopped
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch red chili powder, more if like
1 teaspoon paprika
1 400g can tomatoes (or blanched and peeled tomatoes)
3 cups cooked chickpeas
4 cups water
2 vegetable broth cubes
Salt and Pepper to taste
Pinch sugar, if tomatoes are tart
Handful roughly chopped greens

Heat oil over medium low heat. Add onions and cook until translucent.  Add the garlic and cook about 1 minute. Stir spices into the pot and cook until fragrant. As you add the tomatoes, crush them. Add the water, vegetable cubes, a few pinches of salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then simmer on low for about 30 minutes. Add the greens, bring back up to a boil, and allow them to wilt on low for about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and serve with crusty bread.

If you want the soup to be more creamy, mash up some of the chickpeas in the pot before serving. This soup is totally flexible as far as how thick or thin you like it. At more or less broth to your liking. Pair it with the upcoming Pomegranate Herb Salad for an exciting Middle Eastern side.