Curried Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd's Pie

Shepherd’s Pie is a staple around here in the colder months, when we eat a lot of one-dish meals. The other night we were feeling lazy and wanting comfort food, but we were low on fresh vegetables. There was a package of ground lamb in the freezer, along with a bag of mixed frozen vegetables, so I thought, why not make a slightly spicier version of the lamb mixture to offset the fact that frozen veg are usually blander and mushier? TheHusband agreed that it sounded like a worthwhile experiment, so we went to work. He made mashed potatoes while I put the curried lamb together.

For curried lamb:

1 lb. ground lamb
3 Tbsp. canola oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. fresh ginger, minced
1 serrano chile, seeded and chopped finely
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 Tbsp cumin seeds
5 whole cloves or 1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 stick cinnamon
2-3 plum tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp garam masala
3 Tbsp flour
2 cups chopped vegetables (carrots, mushrooms, sweet peppers, zucchini, etc.) or 1 bag frozen
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup grated cheese (cheddar, manchego, whatever)

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Mendocino Fish Soup

Mendocino Fish Soup

This is based on a recipe which goes back decades in TheHusband’s family. Well, it’s based on two recipes. The family’s recipe was originally from the New York Times but the clipping was lost long ago. It’s a bit unusual in that it features green peppercorns, but we all like it a lot and it’s become a staple in the winter months.

With the advent of the NYT’s online archive, I decided to try and find the original recipe (I’d found my 1982 Stilton and Cheddar recipe, so why not?). I eventually found it but I couldn’t believe it was the right one, because it was so different. I could see the bones of the original recipe in my mother-in-law’s version, but there were more differences than similarities in the spicing. What follows is a hybrid of the two.

1 lb. cod or other white fish (haddock, tilapia, etc.)
1/4 cup olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1-2 fresh jalapeños, seeded and sliced into quarters lengthwise
1 medium or 1/2 large onion, finely chopped
1 red pepper or a mix of green, red, and/or yellow)
1 bay leaf
3 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped, or 16 oz. tinned tomatoes
1 cup white wine
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth + 1 cup water
1 Tbsp dried basil
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1 Tbsp green peppercorns (see note)
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives
2 Tbsp capers, roughly chopped
2 tbsp butter
8-12 small potatoes, boiled and kept warm (optional)

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