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Shepherd’s Pie

October 17, 2009

With a sudden cold (for Hilton Head) spell I yearned for a warming substantial main dish for dinner.  BBC Good Food ( to the rescue with a recipe for a vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie!

Veggie Shepherd's Pie

Cooking some lentils to use in this pie is simple: simmer them in plenty of water with a bay leaf till done to your taste–may take from 20-40 minutes.  Whatever you don’t use in this recipe can be frozen, so I cook more than I will need.  I like the firm texture of French green lentils but ordinary green lentils can be used.

Veggie Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato Mash

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a frying pan; add 1 large onion, halved and sliced and fry until golden.

Add 2 large carrots, peeled and sliced along with about 2 tablespoons of fresh thyme, chopped. If fresh isn’t available use 2 teaspoons dried.

Pour in 3/4  cup red wine (a drinkable one), about 2/3 cup water and a 15-oz can of chopped tomatoes. (I added a scant teaspoon of Better Than Bouillon Vegetable Base.)  Simmer for 10 minutes.

Add 1 1/2 cup cooked green lentils (preferable French Lentilles Verte du Puy) and simmer another 10 minutes or till the carrots still have a bit of bite.

Meanwhile, peel and cut into chunks 2 pounds of sweet potatoes (about 2 large ones).  Boil them till tender, drain, and mash with 2 tablespoons butter. Season to taste.

Pile the lentil mixture into a casserole or large gratin dish, spoon the mash on top and spread it evenly over the lentils.  Sprinkle with about 3 ounces grated cheese. (The recipe called for aged cheddar but I used a smoked cheddar which was very tasty. )  Sprinkle a little more thyme over the top.

At this point the pie can be covered and chilled for 2 days, or frozen for up to a month.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  If cooking straight away, cook for 20 minutes, or for 40 minutes from chilled, until golden and hot all the way through.

Serve with broccoli.

Serves 6-8 (even though the original recipe says serves 4!)


Good-Bye Gourmet

October 6, 2009

What a surprise and shock to read that Gourmet will cease publication with the November issue.  Although I haven’t subscribed regularly for some years it was the first food magazine that I got a subscription for after I was married, when we lived in the apartment on Overlook and Kenilworth.  A college student selling magazine subscriptions had come to the door…

When we moved south (or maybe it was when we moved to Brahenahl Place) I got rid of some of my accumulated issues, but I still have the earliest ones.  My first issue is December 1964: it has a recipe for Dutch Babies–how could I have missed that, though then I probably didn’t know what a delicious puffy pancake  it was.  Many recipes I wouldn’t cook now and probably wouldn’t have cooked then either (Hare Pate’, Snipe in Orange Sauce, Venison, Woodcock;  Shrimp Scampi calling for two pounds of butter).  But I’m going to read Cider Ferment and Cheeses in a Blue Vein, as well as Coconut Caribbean by Shirley Sarvis.  The writing was always so charming, elegant, erudite.

Manca’s Famous Dutch Babies

Break 3 eggs into the bowl of a mixer set at low speed.  When the eggs are well blended gradually add 1/2 cup sifted flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt and continue blending the mixture.  Add 1/2 cup milk and blend thoroughly.  Spread the bottom and sides of a cold No. 8 iron skillet with 3 tablespoons butter or margarine.  Pour in the batter and put the skillet in a very hot oven (450 F.)  Bake the Dutch baby until the crust is brown.  The sides and sometimes the center will puff up unevenly.  This is the normal appearance of the finished product.  Cut the pancake into 2 sections and pour over them melted butter or margarine to taste.  Sprinkle each piece with a few drops of lemon juice, a liberal quantity of maple syrup, and, finally, confectioners’ sugar, for decorative purposes.  Serve with nicely browned bacon and good coffee.

That’s the recipe as it appears in Gourmet, December 1964.  I wouldn’t use margarine nor would I serve it with bacon.  The recipe I’ve used for years, from The Plain Dealer, is similar but calls for just two eggs.  It calls for melting the butter in the pan before adding the batter, and I’ve always sprinkled a little dark brown sugar over the butter; and served it with confectioner’s sugar but never maple syrup.

The September FAB 5

September 7, 2009

1. Vegetables in Thai Red Curry

2. Spinach-Zucchini Soup

3. Tofu Rancheros

4. Parisian-style Sweet Crepes (circonflex on the first e)

5. Grape and Almond Harvest Cake

I’ll try to make all of these this month but not necessarily in order.

FAB 5 July/August: #1 Laotian Eggplant with Tomatoes, Onion, and Mint

August 30, 2009
Mise en place

Mise en place

Laotian Eggplant with Tomatoes, Onion, and Mint

Serves 6

1 T canola oil

1 lb eggplant, trimmed and diced (3 cups)

1 medium red onion, thinly sliced (1 1/2 cups)

4 medium tomatoes, chopped (2 cups) (I used Roma)

3 T dark brown sugar

2 T low-sodium soy sauce (I used Tamari)

2 tsp lime juice

1 1/2 tsp chile-garlic sauce, such as Huy Fong

3 cups bean sprouts

1 8-0z can sliced bamboo shoots, rinsed and drained (I used about half the can)

1/2 cup chopped fresh mint

Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat.  Add eggplant and onion; stir-fry 10 minutes.

Stir-fry eggplant and onions

Stir-fry eggplant and onions

Stir in tomatoes, brown sugar, soy sauce, lime juice, and chile-garlic sauce.  Cook 3 minutes more.  Add bean sprouts and bamboo shoots; stir-fry 2 minutes.  Garnish with mint.

Laotian Eggplant 

This had an intriguing flavor, sweet-salty, and variety of textures.  It was good the next day for lunch too.  I’ll make it again.

FAB 5 July/August: #4 Smoky Baby Portobello Sliders

August 29, 2009

This recipe is a real keeper!  As I said in my first blog, I made these earlier in the month before I started blogging.

FAB 5 July/August: #3 Sweet Zucchini-Ricotta Pancakes with Raisins and Walnuts

August 26, 2009

I reduced the sugar from 1/4 cup to 2 T because I wanted to serve these as a main dish rather than a dessert.  They were still slightly sweet…

Drain grated zucchini

Drain grated zucchini

Cooking on first side

Cooking on first side

After turning

After turning

FAB 5 July/August: #5 Blackberry, Jicama, and Apple Salad

August 13, 2009



The salad was fresh and crunchy and came together quickly.  You could make the dressing ahead and hold it in the refrigerator.

Blackberry, Jicama, and Apple Salad

Serves 3-4


  • 2 T nonfat yogurt
  • 4 t lime juice
  • 4 t olive oil
  • 2 t Sweet Moscatel vinegar (recipe called for rasberry champagne vinegar) 
  • 2 t agave nectar (or honey)
  • 1/2 t poppy seeds

Whisk dressing ingredients together in a bowl.  Set aside or refrigerate. 


  • 2 cups arugula
  • 1 cup blackberries
  • 1/2 jicama, peeled and cut into thin matchsticks (1 cup)
  • 1/2 Granny Smith apple, cut into thin matchsticks (1 cup)

Combine salad ingredients in a separate bowl.  Toss with yogurt dressing, and serve.



Poppy-Yogut Dressing

Poppy-Yogut Dressing




Verdict:  Would I make it again?  Two eaters thought it was a little tart–was it the jicama (I don’t think so) or the Granny Smith apple (could be).  It tasted good to me, but not special.  A suggestion came from M. that adding something creamy, such as soft goat cheese would be a welcome addition.

Serving the salad

Serving the salad