shepherd’s pie

I first fell in love with shepherd’s pie at this amazing Irish restaurant in Tempe in college called Rula Bula. It doesn’t hurt that they smother their’s in cheese. Yum! But I loved the texture, depth of flavor, and the combination of salty, tangy, sweet, and savory. As in most cases when I taste something delicious, I decided to learn how to make it.

And the result was…. (drumroll)…. DELICIOUS!

David and I were in awe of how easy it was to make, how great it was, and how similar it was to beef pot pie, but with potatoes instead of crust. We do have some changes in mind for the next time, included adding root vegetables and red wine to the mix, topping it with sharp cheddar (a tribute to Rula Bula), and serving it in our individual ramekins.

Be sure to give this recipe a try!

RECIPE

Potatoes:

1 1/2 pounds red potatoes, diced
1/4 cup half-and-half
2 ounces unsalted butter
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 egg yolk

Filling:

2 T canola oil
1 c onion, diced
2 carrots, diced small
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 pounds ground beef (or beef chunks)
1 t kosher salt
1/2 t  ground black pepper
2 T all-purpose flour
2 t tomato paste
1 c chicken broth (or bouillon)
1 t Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup red wine
2 t chopped rosemary leaves
1 t chopped thyme leaves
1/2 cup turnips, diced
1/2 c fresh or frozen corn kernels
1/2 c fresh or frozen English peas
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar

Directions

Boil potatoes in a medium saucepan over high heat until tender and easily crushed with tongs. Place the half-and-half and butter into a microwave-safe container and heat in the microwave until warmed through, about 30 seconds. Drain the potatoes in a colander and then return to the saucepan. Mash the potatoes and then add the half and half, butter, salt and pepper and continue to mash until smooth. Stir in the yolk until well combined.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the filling. Boil turnips over high heat in small saucepan until tender, then drain and set aside. Heat saute pan and oil over medium high heat.  Add the onion and carrots and saute 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and stir to combine. Add the beef, salt and pepper and cook until browned and cooked through. Sprinkle the meat with the flour and toss to coat, continuing to cook for another minute. Add the tomato paste, chicken broth, Worcestershire, red wine, rosemary, thyme, and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer slowly 5 to 10 minutes or until the sauce is thickened slightly.

Add the turnips, corn, and peas to the filling and spread evenly into a baking dish (or individual ramekins). Top with the mashed potatoes, starting around the edges to create a seal to prevent the mixture from bubbling up and smooth with a rubber spatula. Bake for 10-15 minutes, then add cheese and cook an additional 5-10 minutes until melted. Remove from oven and allow to cool 10 minutes before serving.

Garnish with freshly chopped parsley.

(Recipe adapted from Alton Brown)

You may have noticed that my seal didn’t hold too well. Ha! I used left over mashed potatoes and did not have enough to fully cover my dish. No worries! It still tasted amazing! And now I have something to do with leftover mashed potatoes (since neither David or I will eat them).

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pesto linguine

In the spirit of our summer garden, tonight’s cuisine was homemade pesto linguine with fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, and chicken. Though pasta tends to be heavy, this meal felt light.l. And I absolutely loved the color! Isn’t green so vibrant? Though light on ingredients, this dish packed a flavor punch! Between the brightness of the basil, the bite of the garlic, the saltiness of the mozzarella, and the pop of the tomatoes, my mouth was happy. Even if you don’t have all the ingredients on hand, be sure to give this recipe a try. It is so easy to make and definitely a crowd pleaser.

RECIPE:

We picked about a cup of fresh basil from our garden and blended it with salt, pepper, 2 cloves garlic, 1/2 t lemon juice, 1/3 cup walnuts, 1/3 cup parmesan, and 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil. We tossed it over linguine and added pieces of chicken, chunks of mozzarella, and halved jelly bean tomatoes from our garden. For garnish, we threw a few basil leaves on top and called it delicious!!

What are you favorite summer garden treats?

halibut in a lemon and herb white wine sauce

After sadly watching the Netherlands lose to Spain in the World Cup today, David and I were in need of a simple, replenishing meal. His choice was halibut and fresh steamed broccoli and I added parmesan garlic potatoes to the mix.

I pan seared the halibut over medium high heat before adding the sauce and steaming it to perfection. The sauce was absolutely divine and positively simple. I chopped fresh chives and oregano from the garden added it to 2T olive oil, 1 t lemon juice, and 1 clove minced garlic. Once the halibut was seared, I poured the mixture over each piece, added 1/3 white wine to the pan, and put a lid on it to steam. The halibut came out flaky, juicy, and delicious!

For the parmesan garlic mashed potatoes, we made potatoes as per usual but added 1 clove minced garlic, 1/3 cup parmesan, and 3 leafs fresh basil (julienned) to the mix. Yum!

Also, on a whim, my husband surprised me with a beautiful red rose!

It brightens up my day when he offers spontaneous affection! :)

impromptu date: filet

My husband and I regularly go on dates out to nice restaurants in order to pursue each other better and to spoil ourselves with the fine cuisine of seasoned chefs. Sometimes, recognizing that going out isn’t the best option for our budget, we opt to dine in and make something fancy.

For this impromptu date, David suggested filet mignon, fried yukon gold potatoes, and sauteed asparagus. I couldn’t have agreed more.

We seared the filet over medium high heat after seasoning it with 1/2 t salt, 1/2 t pepper, and 1-2 t sugar. Sugar over high heat allows for quick caramelization of the meat to get that nice color without overcooking it, whereas searing the meat allows the moisture to stay in. After it was caramelized, we finished it in the oven at 400F until the inside hit 135F on the meat thermometer, which is a nice medium. Another important step is allowing the meat to rest after cooking it at least 5-10 minutes to let the juices settle. Cutting it too soon may result in dry meat – and nobody wants dry meat!

For the potatoes, we boiled them until soft, then cut them in half. From there, we heat a skillet over medium high heat and fried the potatoes in olive oil until golden. We sauteed the asparagus in the same pan we used to sear the meat until warmed through, but still crisp.

While we waited for this delicious meal, we snacked on brie, strawberries, walnuts, and sourdough toast. Yum!

What is your favorite impromptu date?

a pleasant surprise

Earlier this summer I shared a wonderful recipe: cream of zucchini soup. Today I had the absolute pleasure of coming home after work to my husband preparing said soup for dinner. I was floored!

This soup is so easy to make and so delicious!

David also prepared a lovely salad for us.

I am so incredibly blessed by his thoughtfulness!