Tuesday, February 23, 2010

cottage pie

Florida girl that I am, I never knew that shepherd's pie was actually made with lamb and cottage pie with beef--until I spent some time in the UK studying and then married a Brit whose mum is a wonderful cook.

I first had cottage pie with baked beans at my in-laws' home (in Buckinghamshire) and haven't looked back. Yum. My mother-in-law usually adds crushed potato chips (crisps) on top with dabs of butter so that it gets all brown and crunchy. Double yum.

This post is dedicated to my little sis who asked me today to post my "recipe" for cottage pie--I use the term loosely because I change it a little every time I make it.

Here's today's version for your delectation.

You'll need:

  • 1 lb. organic ground beef
  • 3 carrots, grated (they'll cook faster that way)
  • one onion, diced
  • 5 or 6 cloves garlic, diced finely
  • 4 sticks celery, diced
  • a blob of tomato paste
  • a few splashes Worcestershire sauce
  • a spoonful of ketchup
  • vegetarian baked beans (about 16 oz. or so)
  • Nature's Seasons seasoning salt
  • ground black pepper
  • about 6 or 7 potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • whole milk or half and half
  • butter
  • shredded cheese
  • more Nature's Seasons
Do this:

Saute the ground beef with the veggies and garlic, then add the ketchup, tomato paste (about 4 T.), Worcestershire sauce, baked beans, seasoning salt, and pepper. Let simmer a bit and in the meanwhile, boil the potatoes till tender, drain, mash, and add heated milk, butter, cheese, and seasonings.

In a casserole dish, plop the meat mixture on bottom and then spread the mashed taters over the top, adding crushed potato chips if you've got them. Bake at about 350 F/180 C for 15 minutes or so, till bubbly on bottom and a bit browned on top.

Grab a spoon and dig in! Itadakimasu!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

mayan hot chocolate

Got this little gem of a recipe off the chocolate soy milk carton.

Mix one cup of chocolate soy milk (or, I presume, any kind of chocolate milk), one teaspoon cocoa powder, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Heat and serve with a cinnamon stick.

I made my mom and hubby taste this and we all rolled our eyes and said, "That's good!"

Honestly, I've never had such gorgeous hot chocolate. Ever.

chinese green smoothie

One of my friends in Japan, Noriko, took me to a Chinese restaurant one day for lunch--I think I was pregnant at the time and craving fruit and veggies like there's no tomorrow. The restaurant was upscale and absolutely beautiful with a dark wood, minimalist kind of decor, and the menu was unlike any Chinese food I'd ever had.

When I saw this smoothie, I had to try it--full of fresh cabbage, kiwi, grapefruit, pineapple, and ice, it's overflowing with goodness and good taste.

I tried to replicate it at home today and threw in one quarter of a cabbage, half a grapefruit, two kiwi, one quarter of a pineapple, plenty of ice, and some honey.

Delicious? Absolutely.

fasoulia khadra

The hubster and I rarely get to have dates, but on a recent one we visited a Syrian restaurant called The Shish Cafe (here in the Madison area). It was a Friday night, hopping, and we were glad we had reservations. They were short one waiter and our poor waitress was run off her feet, but the owner/chef and the waitress were very gracious in spite of that.

We started off with baba ghanouj, hummus, tabouleh (all three the best I've ever had!), and warm pita to scoop it all up. Stephen ordered the "lamb fasoulieh" (lamb and green bean stew), and I had the "lamb borek" (small savoury pies with ground lamb, toasted pine nuts, parsley, onions, and garlic). Both fabulous choices, but we both ended up oohing and ahhing the most over Stephen's stew.

I had to find out how to make it!

The fasoulia khadra recipe I found and made yesterday came very close and we do recommend it. Even if you can't get to The Shish Cafe, at least you can do this yourself at home and ooh and ahh with your family at your own dinner table. I served it with couscous (I make mine with chicken bouillon and olive oil), paprika, toasted slivered almonds, and some parsley on top like they did at the restaurant. I made the stew in the crock pot and the lamb was extremely tender.

The whole thing is so more-ish I might have to have some leftovers as a midnight snack tonight. Mmmmmmmmm...

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

tym's cranberry curd

I've been aching to make Tribeca Yummy Mummy's cranberry curd ever since she posted it a year ago. We didn't have access to fresh cranberries in Japan so I just had to bite my empty spoon and hold my breath until we moved to the States and got ourselves a big industrial-sized bag of the little red tart fruits from Costco.

And away I went! The only thing I didn't have on hand was orange blossom water, so I just added some grated orange peel instead.

It's great on everything, including organic flaxseed waffles.

Just make sure you don't spill half your just-made curd all over your jeans, sweater, slippers, and socks--you want as much of this stuff as possible to spill into your gob.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


My love of food is nothing new, apparently. My aunt is helping my grandparents go through their stacks of paperwork and found a notebook that my grandma wrote in on a motorhome trip in 1985 that my sister and I took with my grandparents. My grandma had written funny quotes that my sister and I made every day.

One day there was going to be a BBQ in an RV park where we were staying. My sister said she was not going to go to that "pigout"!

My answer? "I'm definitely going--it's the opportunity of a lifetime!"

Amen, sister.