Category Archives: FOOD

Examples of my food writing which include restaurant reviews, memoirs and recipe reviews as well as photos of my food dishes.

Lamb Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato Topping

Lamb Shepherd's Pie with Sweet Potato Topping

Lamb Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato Topping

I think January is my least favourite month, it’s the only month with nothing fun to look forward to.  The high from the holiday season is over as we all get back into our daily grind.  The days are still short, with gloomy clouds and rare sunny days.  Over the years I’ve noticed a significant change in my mood in January, and I think I have mild seasonal affective disorder, or winter depression.  Heading south for a week of sun is the ultimate cure, but if that’s not possible, I retreat to my kitchen and cook up a storm.  One of my favourite comfort dishes to make is this Lamb Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato Topping.

This twist on a traditional Shepherd’s pie is my go-to recipe for a cozy winter dinner party. Filled with delightfully rich, savory flavours that are guaranteed to impress.  This dish can be made a few days in advance, making a weeknight dinner a breeze! Adding Worcestershire sauce and gherkins to this pie was a tip that I picked up from Gordon Ramsay. I absolutely loved the addition of the Worchestershire sauce to the pie.  The sauce adds more depth to the flavour of the meat, a bit of a sweet fermented kick.  Using gherkins in the pie also really tickled my taste buds, their sweet crunchiness cutting through the fatty richness of the lamb.  Over the years this recipe has morphed into the ultimate Shepherd’s pie, and is packed full of some of my favourite ingredients.

Lamb Shepherd's Pie with Sweet Potato Topping

Lamb Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato Topping

I adore lamb, and am always looking for ways to use lamb instead of beef.  Besides being so tasty, lamb is also a great source of iron, zinc and B vitamins.  I also combined sweet potato with yellow potatoes for a healthier pie topping.  Sweet potato is an excellent source of Vitamin A, potassium and dietary fibers – something we all need after all that holiday eating!  I also made the pie topping with almond milk, as my boyfriend is lactose intolerant, but if you can find cashew milk that’s even better because it’s a bit creamier.   Finally, I added some liquid smoke to give an element of smokiness to the meat, but this is optional.

Lamb Shepherd's Pie with Sweet Potato Topping

Lamb Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato Topping

My dad is of British descent and fully appreciates a hearty meat and potatoes meal.  He loved my take on Shepherd’s pie (but I guess your parents are supposed to say that, no matter what age!).  Also, I’m sure that I inherited my love of pickled foods from him.  While the sauce is deliciously rich, the pickle cuts through and helps to balance out the rich mince, and the generous topping of potatoes is light, fluffy and slightly sweet.  This Lamb Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato Topping is a spin on a classic British pub dish with some healthy substitutions.  If you’re feeling blue this January, call up some family or friends for an impromptu dinner party.  This hearty Shepherd’s pie is a wonderful way to warm up the soul on a cold January evening.

Lamb Shepherd's Pie with Sweet Potato Topping

Prep Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 25 minutes

Yield: 6 large portions

Calories per serving: 387

Lamb Shepherd's Pie with Sweet Potato Topping

Ingredients

    For the filling:
  • 900g lean ground lamb
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and finely diced
  • 2 x large carrots, peeled finely diced
  • 3 x garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons plain flour
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 ¼ cup red cooking wine
  • 1 cup low sodium beef stock
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 x sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 6 x sweet gherkins, finely chopped + extra for serving
  • sea salt and ground black pepper
  • liquid smoke (optional)
  • For the potato topping
  • 2 x medium yellow potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 x medium sweet potatoes
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup unsweetened almond milk or cashew milk
  • 2 x large egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 6 x sprigs of parsley, finely chopped

Instructions

  1. Boil the potatoes in salted water for 15-20 minutes until a knife can easily pass through the potato. Drain well, and return potatoes to the hot pot over low heat to dry out briefly.
  2. Heat a large sauté pan over medium high heat.
  3. Sauté lamb until lightly browned. Using a slotted spoon, transfer meat to a bowl lined with paper towel.
  4. Lower heat to medium and add 1-2 teaspoons olive oil as needed to the lamb fat. When the oil is hot, add the onion, carrot and garlic and cook until the vegetables soften and start to brown.
  5. Add the flour and tomato puree, stirring for another minute.
  6. Working quickly, add red wine and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to remove the browned bits. Simmer until reduced by half.
  7. Pour in the beef stock and bring back to a simmer.
  8. Return the meat to the pan and add the Worcestershire sauce, thyme and rosemary. Season with salt, pepper and a few drops of liquid smoke. Turn down the heat to low and loosely cover the pan. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring every once and awhile until the sauce has thickened.
  9. In the meantime, preheat oven to 350C.
  10. Bake sweet potatoes in the microwave on the potato setting until soft.
  11. Press yellow potatoes through a ricer and into a large bowl. Using oven mitts and a large spoon, remove sweet potatoes and their juices from their skins and add to the bowl.
  12. Mix in butter, almond milk and egg yolks. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  13. Add the chopped gherkins to the meat mixture and spoon into a 2.3L oven proof dish.
  14. Using a large spoon, top with sweet potato mixture by carefully spooning in large dollops over meat, slowly covering the entire surface. Sprinkle some paprika over top.
  15. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the potatoes start to brown and the sauce begins to bubble around the sides.
  16. Serve with parsley and extra gherkins.

Notes

Can be made in 1-2 days in advance.

http://iseehungrypeople.net/2017/01/09/lamb-sweet-potato-shepherds-pie/

Lamb Shepherd's Pie with Sweet Potato Topping

Lamb Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato Topping

Do you suffer from SAD?  What comfort food makes you happy?  I hope this recipe for Lamb Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato Topping lifts your spirits this winter!

2016 Top Food, Travel and Horror Movie Posts

2016.  Many people found 2016 to be a rough year, but I’m thankful that I seem to have emerged reasonably unscathed.  I feel really accomplished because I successfully blogged consistently for a second straight year.  I started this blog way back in 2009 (!) but I only buckled down and got serious with this site in 2015.  I have worked so hard and am proud of how far I’ve come.  My writing, recipe developing and photography skills have all improved and I continue to trouble shoot my own self-hosted website.  Social media is a whole other beast that I’ve had to conquer and continually battle, but I actually find that aspect of blogging really interesting, I just wish there were more hours in a day! When I looked at my analytics for the year, I was happy to see that they have all increased since 2015. I’m so grateful for new and old readers who dropped by my site this year, it’s a daunting web out there with so many blogs and social media avenues, I’m amazed and happy to see when one of my posts does well. These  2016 top food, travel and horror movie posts were the ones all of you kind and inquisitive folk enjoyed the most. 

My top post of 2016 continues to be my review of Gordon Ramsay’s Sticky Toffee and Chocolate Pudding, a post from my first year of blogging. I decided to reshoot this recipe because I cringe when I look back at my first attempt at food photos! I’m hoping my new and improved dairy free version of his sticky toffee pudding does just as well this year.

2016 Top Food, Travel and Horror Movie Posts Gordon Ramsay's Dairy Free Sticky Toffee Pudding

Gordon Ramsay’s Dairy Free Sticky Toffee Pudding

I was happy to see these new recipes in the top three food posts for the year:

Cherry Coffee Preserve Goat Cheese Crostini

2016 Top Food, Travel and Horror Movie Posts Cherry Coffee Preserve Goat Cheese Crostini

Cherry Coffee Preserve Goat Cheese Crostini

This year my friend and I expanded our canning repertoire and picked our own cherries. Many hours later we had an array of canned cherry products. I was really please with how these cherry coffee preserves turned out, and I was inspired to pair them with goat cheese on top of a crispy crostini. The result was a delightful bittersweet, creamy, crunchy bite, and made for a festive appetizer over the holidays.

Apple Cornmeal Flax Muffins

2016 Top Food, Travel and Horror Movie Posts Apple Cornmeal Flax Muffins

Apple Cornmeal Flax Muffins

I had been wanting to develop this recipe for awhile, as I loved the flavour combination of tart apple and sweet cornmeal. I still had some apples leftover from apple picking in the fall, so I was happy to finally make these muffins. Packed full of fresh, juicy apples, they made for a tasty high fiber breakfast or a yummy, healthy dessert.

Asian Sesame Sweet Potato & Squash Soup

2016 Top Food, Travel and Horror Movie Posts Sweet Potato Squash Soup

Asian Sesame Sweet Potato Squash Soup

I love incorporating my Japanese culture into my recipes, and this soup was a perfect example. I wanted to change up the usual butternut squash soup, so I added hints of sesame and topped the soup off with some nori. I also used miso instead of cream which made it lactose-intolerant-friendly for my boyfriend. A creamy, hearty soup that was really popular over the holidays.

As for travel, my big blog project this year was posting my two-week trip to Turkey. These posts took a really long time to put together as I diligently compiled all my thoughts and notes from diaries and photo logs. Many posts from this series did well throughout the year, though it made me sad to reminisce about this amazing trip with all the political turmoil this country has been through recently. I feel lucky we were able to travel to Turkey when we did, as we probably wouldn’t be advised to go there during these unstable times.

2016 Top Food, Travel and Horror Movie Posts Turkey in Two Weeks

How We Toured Turkey in Two Weeks

Speaking of Turkey, my top horror movie post was also Turkish, a hellishly creepy movie called “Baskin”.  I loved the surreal imagery in this film and the political analogies that are implied in regards to police brutality in Turkey. If you like H.P Lovecraft mixed with Dario Argento then this movie is for you!

2016 Top Food, Travel and Horror Movie Posts "Baskin" Property of Film Colony, Mo Film, XYZ Films

“Baskin” Property of Film Colony, Mo Film, XYZ Films

I reviewed this film as part of my “Dinner and A Movie” category and paired this movie with a Turkish breakfast. My boyfriend and I still have a Turkish breakfast every weekend; a little part of Turkey that we brought home with us.

2016 Top Food, Travel and Horror Movie Posts Homemade Turkish breakfast

Homemade Turkish breakfast

So there they are!  My 2016 top food, travel and horror movie posts.  Thank you for visiting and hope to see you in 2017!

What were your top posts of 2016?  Did you accomplish your blogging goals?

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

I have been making this Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce every holiday season, for many years now.  I like to make this before or after Christmas and keep it stocked in the fridge for a quick lunch or dinner.  This deliciously rich and meaty pasta keeps me going throughout the busy holiday season.  All the baking and cooking burns a lot of calories!  (Or, at least I’d like to thinks so…).  This dish is definitely an indulgence, which is why I only make it for special occasions.

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

I like to use rigatoni for this recipe because this type of pasta soaks up a lot of sauce, so you can really pile on the bolognese!  Packed with five types of meat, this recipe is dedicated to the carnivore lover.  Cooking the sweet Italian sausage in the rendered pancetta fat is simply divine, and is the heavenly base for this sauce.  Resist the urge to snack on all the crispy bits while cooking this recipe!  The sweetness from the balsamic, sausage, nutmeg and fennel helps to balance out the salty meats.  I really love adding balsamic vinegar to this dish, because the acidity adds another level of richness to the sauce.

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

I also like to the opportunity to use homemade ingredients when I make this recipe.  Earlier this year I canned tomatoes for the first time.  I love to use them in sauces and they taste so much better than store bought ones.  Fresh tomatoes are really the key to a tasty, light sauce.  I also started to make my own stock in my slow cooker after reading a lot about the health benefits of bone broth.  Making your own stock is so easy and I freeze them in 250 ml freezer containers for easy use.

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

When I need to refuel over the holidays, I rely on this protein packed pasta dish.  This Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce is sinfully delicious and is packed full of salty meats balanced with a bit of sweetness.  Another rich indulgence for the holiday season!

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

51

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 4 large servings

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

Ingredients

  • sea salt
  • 1 pound (500g) rigatoni
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 pound pancetta, diced
  • 2 sweet Italian sausages, links split open, casing removed
  • 1/3 pound ground pork
  • 1/3 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/3 pound ground veal
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • coarse black pepper
  • 2 medium carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1/2 a fennel bulb, peeled and finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1 cup beef stock*
  • 1 quart canned tomatoes*
  • 5 tablespoons (or half a 156ml can) tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 good balsamic vinegar*
  • 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water to taste and add the pasta, cooking until al dente. Drain pasta and return to pot to keep warm. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil to prevent pasta from sticking together.
  2. While the pasta cooks, heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of oil.
  3. Add the pancetta to one half of the pan, and the sausage to the other. Break up the sausage with a wooden spoon and brown while the pancetta renders, then combine and toss together for another minute.
  4. Remove sausage and pancetta with a slotted spoon. Add the pork, beef and veal. Brown and break up the meat with a wooden spoon. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Add the carrots, fennel, and garlic and cook another 5 to 6 minutes until soft.
  6. Add sausage and pancetta back to the pan. Deglaze the pan with the wine, scraping up all the good bits with a wooden spoon.
  7. Stir in the stock, then the tomatoes, breaking up the tomatoes into smaller pieces.
  8. Add tomato paste, oregano, thyme and red pepper flakes to taste.
  9. Simmer over medium low heat until the sauce has thickened, 10-15 minutes.
  10. Finish with balsamic vinegar, and check seasoning. Simmer for a few minutes more.
  11. Divide pasta into four large bowls and generously top with sauce. Mix the sauce with the pasta to coat evenly.
  12. Top with freshly ground pepper, parsely and parmesan cheese.

Notes

*I use my own homemade beef broth

*or one 28 ounce can of whole or diced tomatoes. I can my own tomatoes so I use the whole quart. I like my sauce on the chunky side so I find the whole tomatoes break down in the sauce and there's no need to dice them, but with your preference!

*the thicker (more expensive) balsamic vinegar, the richer your sauce will be!

http://iseehungrypeople.net/2016/12/12/rigatoni-balsamic-bolognese-sauce/

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

What is your favourite pasta sauce to serve over rigatoni?  Did you like the addition of balsamic vinegar in this bolognese sauce?