Shepherds Pie

As I was recovering from being quite ill for a few weeks I started craving shepherds pie – don’t ask me why but it was all I wanted to eat.  Strange but true. Even now as I am pretty much back to normal, I still feel a craving to eat it. Must be a comfort food thing.  Anyway I decided to make a few containers of it so that I could freeze it for when I just had to have it again.

I do put a slight twist on the traditional pie. The secret which makes it very healthy is adding a can of lentils to the ground meat. It adds to the volume and fibre but also the taste. I also added a spice paste called harissa, a middle eastern spice combination that gives a slightly spicy (heat) note to your food. Another addition was about a tablespoon of hoisin for a slight sweet note. Then there is the topping…I added shredded parmesan to the top of the potato before putting in the over to bake.

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Shepherds pie

Ingredients

Olive oil

1 pound ground beef (or ground turkey)

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 large onion, chopped

1 cup frozen mixed vegetables

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1.5 tbsp Harissa paste

1 tbsp Hoisin sauce

1/4 cup low fat yogurt

1 can cooked lentils

Potato – white not yukon – 1 per person

Shredded parmasean cheese

 

Directions

Sauté onion in a large pan till browned (tip – I add a pinch of brown sugar to help it caramelize). Add garlic and sauté till cooked but not burnt.

Add ground beef (or turkey), mix and cook till lightly browned. Add frozen mix veg and cooked lentils, harissa and hoisin. Mix well. Cook on stovetop till well browned and veg is no longer frozen.

Peel potatoes and chop into even pieces. Boil or microwave until soft. Transfer to a large bowl or mixer, add yogurt and mix with a mix master or hand held mixer till light and fluffy and mashed.

Add a punch of salt to taste if you like (I don’t add salt as the cheese on top adds enough salt for my liking).

Put meat mixture into a pan, or glass container (I divided it into four double serving glass containers so I could freeze it). Spread the mash potato on top of each container and sprinkle parmasean over top. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes till slightly browned. Serve warm or let cool, cover and freeze.

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Lobster Dinner

Okay I was at my favourite restaurant the other night – I will let you guess where…Yup Ted and Judy’s! Have I mentioned (7 or 8 times I’m sure) in previous blogs, that the meals I eat there are totally outstanding? Well they are!

Last Friday I had dinner there to do a “family” hang-out as their little dog Duffy passed away after 18 years of being the best family pet. We toasted the “Duffster” with some lovely wine and Ted and Judy made a spectacular meal of a Cantonese style lobster served over rapini and mashed potatoes.

To start, Ted sprinkled a little cornstarch over the lobster which he had broken into pieces. He then sautéed the pieces in a frying pan till they turned red. He then took the pieces out of the pan and added 1 lb of ground turkey (you can use pork too). The ground turkey was stir fried till browned with some chopped garlic, then he added a cup of vegetable stock.  Once cooked Ted added back the lobster and mixed in a finishing sauce of the following:

1 tbsp of corn starch

2 tbsp of soy sauce

1 tbsp Chinese cooking wine

1 tbsp of brown sugar

Mix these ingredients and pour over the lobster/turkey mixture.  Mix and heat in pan. Finish with chopped green onions sprinkled over top.

Judy then made her famous mashed potatoes with only 1 tbsp of butter and some vegetable stock. Soft fluffy and delicious!

The rapini was sautéed with 2 tbsp chopped garlic and 1 tbsp of chopped ginger and some vegetable stock. Judy did the plating of potato, rapini and then the lobster over top.

Outstanding!!!!!

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Fabulous Tuna Dinner

Well it was dinner with Ted and Judy again last night – my favourite “restaurant” ;-). I can’t get over the cooking that these friends do! So last night we had a starter of mussels which where so good I totally forgot to photograph them as we just dove into the bowls. Trust me they were delicious.

The rest of the meal was no exception. Actually I have to backtrack….I was starving when I got to T&J’s place as I had forgotten to eat lunch. Judy had some smoked salmon which she artfully put on top of a tiny dollop of hungarian cream cheese (made with paprika – yes it was awesome) on a  thin slice of left over roast potato. Topped with a couple of capers it was an appetizer fit for any restaurant.

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Later we had the mussels followed by a tuna dinner that was out of this world! Ted got some sushi grade tuna from a local fish monger and covered it in sesame seeds with a bit of black pepper ground on top.

 

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He seared it for 3 minutes per side in a hot cast iron frying pan. Prior to cooking, Ted made a small dish of sauce to go with the tuna. Mix the ingredients below and add to taste. It really does take on a different taste though once you drizzle it over the cooked tuna.

1 tbsp sesame oil

3-4 tbsp soy sauce

½ – 1 tsp wasabi paste to taste

1 tsp rice wine vinegar

Along with the tuna Judy made her secret mashed potatoes – all I can tell you is there is some butter and her secret weapon is a mix master ;-). They are the smoothest creamiest potatoes ever.

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The salad Judy came up with (so creative) was made with the following ingredients:

Red tipped boston lettuce (beautiful looking)

Cubed field tomatoes (from the farmers market that day)

Cubed bocconcini cheese, 4-5 pieces

1 whole diced/cubed avocado

4-5 sun dried tomatoes chopped with a lime infusion (lime juice squeezed over to moisten)

In a bowl, mix all the ingredients (not the lettuce leaves) and pour the juice of one lime over them and mix/stir. Then put into individual boston lettuce “cups”/leaves

The tuna was timed perfectly for when the salad and potatoes were done. Plated, it looked fit for royalty. What an outstanding meal! I of course got to take home the leftovers. Thanks again to my favourite restaurant!

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Summer BBQ with Friends

Had dinner the other night at my favourite spot to eat – my friends Ted and Judy’s house.  Some of you may remember a few blogs I have posted of extraordinary meals I am lucky enough to partake in when I eat at their place.  It is always a gourmet feast. The other night was no exception!

Menu: sirloin beef kabobs, vegetable kabobs, grilled asparagus and a seared/baked potato dish – all tasting amazing.  We had a watermelon salad that I made to go with the meal but will blog that next week. I am including images of each food item with a short description of how they were made.  Not overly fancy  and complicated in prep but a visual feast – just a good use of ingredients that made the meal.

Veg kabobs 1

Vegetable kabobs – marinated in the same sauce as the beef – teriyaki sauce, sesame oil and orange juice.

Beef kabobs 1

Cooked to perfection! Same sauce as the vegetables

asparagus grilled

Grilled with a bit of olive oil and then finished after cooking with a touch of really nice balsamic vinegar.

potato dish

Potatoes – These were melt in your mouth delicious!.  Potatoes were cut into 1 inch rounds, placed in a non stick pan with some olive oil till it completely filled the base.  A small amount of chicken broth was added to the pan so the potatoes fry and steam at the same time. Half way though, garlic cloves still in their skin where added and pushed in between slices until the bottom was cooked and browned.  Then the whole dish was flipped (using a second plate to turn over potatoes keeping them all together). The plate was put in the oven to finish cooking.  Half way though the garlic was soft and taken out and put in a bowl with some olive oil and mashed till pulpy.  Then this slurry was brushed over the potatoes while in the oven to give flavour and help them brown even more.  Sounds like  fair bit of work but it is so worth it!

Outstanding meal once again – for some reason both Ted and Judy didn’t take me seriously when I mentioned renting out my house and coming to live with them – I promised I would only come upstairs for meals 😉

Check out my next blog for the watermelon salad.

Dinner with Friends

Well this is the second or third post I have done about dinner with my friends Ted and Judy (the fabulous cooks who years ago inspired me and my love of cooking).  The other night (the day after Judy’s birthday) I went over for a relaxing evening of amazing food, good wine and great company. Little did I know I was going to get a meal fit for a queen!  My mouth is watering just remembering it.

Here are a couple of pictures of the dinner along with a description that will make your mouth water too!

Dinner T&J

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Now for those of you who don’t eat meat – I understand the meat portion won’t be of interest but for those of you who do – what can I say….. I don’t eat red meat very often but this was outstanding.

Here goes….. Mashed sweet and white potatoes mixed with lobster meat and roasted garlic and a touch of olive oil (instead of butter).

Filet of aged beef  grilled to perfection (although Ted thought it was about 2 minutes too long – both Judy and I disagreed) topped with seared foie gras and au jus.

The beef was placed on a bed of baby kale, spinach and swiss chard sautéed with vegetable broth and garlic.

We all thought the idea of mashed potatoes with lobster was brilliant – I got to take home leftovers 😉 so you know I was a happy camper.