Archive | March, 2012

Simple Shepherd’s Pie

17 Mar

I have been making this recipe for so long that I can’t tell you how or why I started making it this way!

I have seen more elegant and complicated versions of shepherd’s pie, but this is my go-to version for an easy recipe and comfort food, especially in cold weather.

This is not an authentic Irish recipe, but I am posting it today because everybody is Irish on March 17th.

Here it is:

Simple Shepherd’s Pie

Prepare mashed potatoes: boil 4-5 potatoes (peeled or not, as you prefer.)  The potatoes cook faster if you cut them into quarters. When they are tender, drain them and mash.  Season with salt, pepper, and a little olive oil and garlic if you like it.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a casserole, fry one chopped onion with 1 lb ground beef* until both are brown. Season with salt and pepper. Drain one can of green beans and add. Add about 1/4 cup ketchup. Mix well. Cover with a layer of mashed potatoes, about 1-2 inches thick.

Place the casserole (uncovered) in preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until the potatoes are just slightly browned, and the sauce is beginning to bubble up around the edges.

It is easy to make a double recipe, and I usually do because folks like it and it tastes great the next day, too.

*If ground beef is not for you, you can substitute ground turkey, ground lamb, or even use soy crumbles (Morningstar Farms) for a vegetarian version.

By Randa Dubnick

Image is “Simple Shepherd’s Pie,” mixed media drawing by Randa Dubnick

All rights reserved

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Happy Hamentoshen

4 Mar

ImageIt is almost time for Purim, which means it is time for Hamentashen, filled triangular cookies made to resemble the three-cornered hat worn by Hamen, the major villain whose evil plans were thwarted by Queen Esther.  (And the Purim song goes, “So today we’ll merry merry be/ and nosh some hamentoshen.”)

I used Leah Leonard’s Jewish Cookery (1948) as a starting point and reference for method, and added my own take on things.  This is a light short-bread type of cookie flavored with almond and orange flavors, and with a jam filling. My goal was to create one recipe that could be adapted for sugar-free and gluten-free versions.

So here it is.

Cream 2/3 c. shortening (butter or margarine) with 1/2 c. sugar [OR Splenda].  Add 2 c. sifted flour [OR all-purpose gluten free flour. I used King Arthur’s.]

Add 1 egg, 1/4 c. orange juice, 2 tsp orange rind, and 1 tsp almond extract.  Mix well until the dough begins to hold together. [NOTE FOR THE GLUTEN-FREE and/or SUGAR-FREE VERSIONS: If you are making this with Splenda and/or gluten-free flour, you will probably need to add a second egg to get the dough to come together.  Don’t panic. This will work.] Form the dough into a ball, put it in a bowl, cover and refrigerate for an hour or so.

Take the dough out of the fridge about 20 minutes before you are ready to roll, because the dough will be stiff. You may want to divide the dough into four batches to roll it out. Work with a rolling pin on a lightly floured board. The gluten-free version is a little challenging to roll out, but don’t give up. Keep going, working in smaller batches. It’s okay if you have to combine and re-roll the dough. Roll out to a thickness of 1/4 inch and use a small glass or cup to cut circles that are around two and a half inches in diameter.  Stack ’em up; you should be able to make about 30 circles.

Grease two cookie sheets, and pre-heat the over to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Prepare the filling: Grind 1/4 c. slivered almonds in the food processor. (If nuts are a problem for you, substitute ground ginger snaps or vanilla wafers.)  Put 3/4 c. jam in a small bowl. (For the sugar-free version, I like Polaner all fruit spread.) I think apricot is the best flavor for this recipe but raspberry or cherry would work too. Add the ground almonds and a 1/2 tsp orange rind if you like.  Mix well.

For each cookie, put 1/2 tsp filling in the center.  Pinch the edges together to form a triangle.  Don’t overfill!  Put the cookies on a cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees. NOTE: Sugar-free version may not brown, so watch the time carefully.

By Randa Dubnick

Image is “Happy Hamentashen”, digital image by Randa Dubnick. All rights reserved.