Tag Archives: comfort food

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.  The gherkins cut through the rich mince while 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!

American’s Test Kitchen’s Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup

Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup

Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup

Growing up, my mother would often serve Habitant Pea Soup and this was always one of my favourite lunches. Every so often, I have a craving for pea soup so when I found a recipe in my America’s Test Kitchen Slow Cooker Revolution cookbook I was all over recreating my favourite childhood soup.

I picked up a ham hock from the local butcher and had some delicious leftover ham steaks from Thanksgiving. I shredded and cubed the ham a bit thicker than the recipe and the result was everything I dreamed of and more. Chunky salty pieces of ham swimming in a creamy, smoky split pea soup; the perfect comfort food to warm your soul on a chilly fall evening.

American’s Test Kitchen Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 9 hours

Total Time: 9 hours, 15 minutes

Yield: 6-8 servings

American’s Test Kitchen Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 onions, minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoons minced fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon dried
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 pound green split peas (2 cups ), picked over and rinsed
  • 4 carrots, peeled and cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 smoked ham hock, rinsed
  • 8 ounces ham steak cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. In a medium microwave safe bowl, microwave the onions, garlic, oil, thyme and red pepper flakes, stirring occasionally until the onions are softened, about 5 minutes. Transfer to slow cooker.
  2. Stir broth, water, split peas, carrots, and bay leaves into the slow cooker. Place ham hock in slow cooker and cover. Cook 9-11 hours on low or 5-7 hours on high until peas are soft and tender.
  3. Remove ham hock and shred. Discard skin, bone and bay leaves. Allow soup to settle for 5 minutes then skim fat from the surface with a large spoon.
  4. Stir in shredded ham hock and steak, cover and cook on high until heated through for about 15 minutes. Stir in lemon juice, season with salt and pepper to taste.
http://iseehungrypeople.net/2015/10/26/slow-cooker-split-pea-soup/

 

Dead & Pancakes: The Best & Worst B&Bs

Pancakes

My favourite pancake recipe

Pancakes were the first food I ever learned to cook.  Every Sunday, my dad and I were allowed to take over the kitchen and make breakfast.  The recipe was from this nondescript kiddie recipe book, but I’ve been using the same recipe ever since.  I still love making Sunday morning pancakes, but I also bring along this pancake mix whenever I go camping or to a cottage. There is nothing more comforting then waking up to the smell of fresh pancakes.

Classic Pancakes

51

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 3 servings

Calories per serving: 521

Classic Pancakes

Calories include 2 tablespoons of maple syrup

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cup sifted flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/4 cup 2% milk
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Real maple syrup

Instructions

  1. To make the perfect pancake batter, mix all the dry ingredients into a large bowl, and create a little hole in the middle for the egg to sit.
  2. Whisk the egg gently while slowly adding the milk, soon you will have the perfect lump-free pancake batter!
  3. Start with a nice hot skillet and melt the butter, a teaspoon at a time, turning the temperature down before cooking.
  4. Using a ladle pour approx half a ladle full of batter into the hot, buttery skillet.
  5. When the batter begins to bubble, gently flip the pancake with a spatula, monitoring the temperature closely to avoid burning.
  6. Place the cooked pancakes in a toaster oven on low to keep them warm.
  7. Top with real maple syrup.
http://iseehungrypeople.net/2015/03/24/dead-pancakes-the-best-worst-bbs/

Here is my classic pancake recipe, presented in all of it’s worn glory:

Pancake Recipe_DSC0461


Having just watched the line dancing zombie splatterfest Dead & Breakfast, I’m reminiscing about some of the best and worst B&B’s I’ve stayed in during my travels.

Dead & Breakfast

Dead & Breakfast                                                                                        Photo courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment

As my boyfriend can attest to, I love – love  – breakfast buffets.  One of the more unique breakfast buffets that I had the pleasure of devouring was in Japan.  We stayed in this quaint, traditional inn called a ryokan in the town of Hakone.

Washitsu (traditional Japanese room)

Washitsu (traditional Japanese room)

Each room had authentic sliding doors that are called fusuma and we slept on tatami mats that were originally considered an item of luxury (fancy!).  For breakfast we were treated to a complete Japanese breakfast, buffet-style.  I’m not quite sure what I ate, but I do remember the delicious fish, it was so fresh that it melted in my mouth.

Traditional Japanese Breakfast - Hakone, Japan

Traditional Japanese Breakfast – Hakone, Japan

Luckily, I have never been barricaded by a swarm of zombies, but the B&B in Bolivia definitely lacked appeal and stands out as one of the worst places I’ve stayed.  I needed a last minute accommodation in the small town of Sorata, nestled high in the Bolivian mountains.  This was supposed to be one of the nicer B&Bs in the town, full of “European charm”.  Perhaps they meant Eastern European charm as my room was so sketchy that I slept in my sleeping bag and kept my knapsack packed, avoiding all contact with anything in the room.  The security features weren’t exactly reassuring either.

Travel Photos_Bolivia_DSC3931

Lock for my hotel room door – Sorata, Bolivia

Needless to say, I didn’t stay for breakfast.