Mobile phone pic – taken during a typical lunch break at work!
Are any of you familiar with the ‘visiting book’ phenomenon (of the modern age)?
You know.. a pile of books appear on a table in a staff room or Admin desk somewhere? You can find these in kindergartens, day care centres, schools and workplaces. They act as ‘fundraiser’ thingy’s. Vans drop them off. The books come with an order-form that tells you the RRP ($value) and the *special-just-for-you* this week price. Example: “Mary had a little lamb shapes and join the dots book”
$17.95 now $10.00 OR “1,000 ways with Bicarbonate of Soda” $19.95 $8.00. Or more recently I saw an actual set of “5 glass bowls with plastic lids” (that fit into one another like Russian Matrioshka dolls) $24.95 $12.00.
So, I’ve been at my new job for 8 weeks and I’ve bought 2 cookbooks already. In my defense, not flippantly. I’ve ‘visited’ the visiting-books at each tea/coffee break and lunch time. That equates to many, browsing minutes. I’ve said “no” to about 8 cookbooks. But two have passed the grade! So I now have a cookbook about cooking from what’s in your pantry..(which has been temporarily misplaced since moving). And last week I bought what I’m declaring to be the ‘Cookbook of the Year’ (so far), being a chunky, softcover ‘Healthy Heart’ cookbook. Sounds boring? Trust me.. I love this book! A picture for every recipe..not essential..but yes ‘tick’. Lovely looking/sounding recipes ‘tick’, healthier versions of old fav’s like Spaghetti Bolognese ‘tick’, yummy desserts like rich chocolate torte and cinnamon banana caramels (like creme caramel) ‘tick’. Dips, snacks, burgers, International food.. all there.
I appreciate details like ‘prep time’ (though have you ever found those estimates to be accurate)? — umm… also ‘serves’ ie. portions and ‘kilojoules’ and ‘saturated fat grams’ (..essential for working out Weight Watchers points. And I did calculate the points values of a number of recipes before purchasing). Umm… sodium, fibre…all have mentions. I also like the ‘Healthy Hints’ and ‘Cooks Tips’. And most of the recipes seem to fit into the WW Satisfaction program of ‘filling foods’ too.
Now.. I found myself in a bit of a ‘predicament’ this weekend just gone by because I needed to prepare my radio recipe of the week.. but I was also on a heavily restricted diet due to a medical procedure I had done on Monday. And by restricted I mean, no solids at all on the day I made the Shepherd’s Pie! But I could never cook anything without tasting it along the way. So.. I tasted.. I swished (ewwwww)..and then I spat out into the kitchen sink.. (double-ewwwww). How different is that from wine tasting? This was how I was able to ‘tweak’ the actual recipe. I have used my new Healthy Heart cookbook as inspiration you could say..and changed a few things here and there to make something good …even better.
(Mobile phone pic of my trolley at the supermarket..shopping for this recipe)
Maria’s new, old fashioned Shepherds Pie!
*500 grams minced lamb
*1 tablespoon of Rice Bran oil (or Canola oil)
*1 large onion, finely chopped
*3 medium carrots, finely chopped
*3 celery stalks, finely chopped
*2 leeks, thinly sliced
*2 tablespoons tomato paste
*3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
*3 tablespoons soy sauce
*600ml beef or lamb stock (reduced salt preferably)
*100 grams red lentils
*3 tablespoons chopped parsley + 1 extra tablespoon chopped for topping
*1 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
*pinch of dried rosemary
*few shakes of white pepper to taste
*800 grams potatoes’
*30grams reduced fat margarine/buttery spread
*salt & white pepper to taste
*Lightly brown mince, stirring occasionally and breaking up chunks
*Put cooked mince in a colander and run hot water over it to wash off any excess fat/oil. Set aside to drain
*Add tablespoon of Canola or Rice Bran oil to a deep, hot pan and add leeks, celery, onions and carrots. Cook, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes
*Add tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, lentils and stock. Stir well. Bring to boil (increasing the heat) – and cover with either a lid or a large sheet of tin foil.. stirring now and again.. for 20 minutes. Taste mixture. Add a little salt if you feel it needs it. I always use ‘Maldon’ salt flakes. This step will depend on how salty your stock is.
*Add lamb mince and chopped parsley to the vegie mixture and stir through well. Turn off heat and cover.
*Preheat your oven to 200 degrees C and prepare Shepherd’s Pie topping (as follows)
*If you have a steamer of any kind, steam chopped up potatoes and parsnip. Alternatively boil in water until tender…and drain, but return to a very low heat, stirring to ‘dry off’ any excess moisture for a minute or two.
*Add margarine/buttery spread to tender potatoes/parsnip and use potato masher to mash together, finishing it off by whisking mixture quickly with a fork. (Don’t be tempted to add milk. If you seek a creamier, more calorific topping, add a couple of tablespoons of thickened cream).
*Add salt and white pepper to your tastes, being careful not to over-salt
*Spoon the meat/veg mixture into an ovenproof dish. Spoon potato mixture over top of meat/veg mixture and smooth-out with the back of a tablespoon.. spreading it as evenly as you can. Topping it with parsley.
*Optional: Sprinkle 60 grams of grated Weight Watchers (or reduced fat) tasty cheese on top, along with the rest of your chopped parsley
*Bake for 20 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven until top is lightly browned/bubbling. Serve with a generous amount of green peas! And keep the tomato sauce bottle handy!
This recipe could be classified as a “Ssshhh, don’t tell ‘em it’s healthy” dish. It has a generous amount of veg and pulses.. all high in soluble fibre. Do give the parsnips a try (in the topping). If you really can’t bear the thought of them… don’t worry, just use potatoes only.
Ok, chopping can be boring. Put your favourite music on. Or radio station! *wink* Or get your older kids to help if you trust their knife skills. My hubby said he would have chopped all of this up if he knew I needed it done. Motor racing had lulled him to sleep on the couch. It wouldn’t be Sunday afternoon without the combined sounds of racing car engines and soft snoring.
Red lentils, so versatile and good for you. Do use these coral pellets now and again! Don’t be put-off by their name or boring reputation.
With double the quantity… I could barely fit it all into my giant pan!
Tomato paste, herbs and sauces.. make this a wonderful, textured vegie emulsion.
So much goodness here. Leeks, carrots, celery, onions and red lentils make the bulk of this..so meat isn’t really the main attraction. But you can definitely taste the lovely lamb when it’s mixed through.I prefer steaming (instead of boiling) toppings for Shepherd’s pies and Fish pies.. You want a topping with ‘body’ not potential watery-slop.I don’t know about you.. (Sshhh!) …but I can’t resist scooping a finger into anything mashed like this.
Be careful smoothing over the topping, so as not to stir-up what lies beneath.. which could potentially turn your white topping a bit orangey.
Double the mixture means we have plenty for dinner on Wednesday night and also some individual meals for the freezer aswell.
Ready for the freezer.
Please excuse (on this occasion), my lack of a ‘Ta-Daaah’ finale-finish photo of the delish Shepherd’s pie scooped onto a serving plate and photographed at beautiful angles with optimal lighting. Since I wasn’t eating.. hubby and girl decided to grab a Shepherds Pie foil container each Sunday night and “fend for themselves”. While I had lemon jelly and miso broth. The main Shepherds Pie (in a big baking dish) is currently refrigerated and will be our dinner come Wednesday night. So what I can show you here is hubby’s plate, as he had it with peas, a dinner roll and some guacomole I made Sunday afternoon! Girl and hubby opted to melt some full-fat tasty cheese on top of their pies. Tuesday night we all happen to have alternative dinner plans.. so I have “Mmmm-Mmmm” thoughts of Wednesday night when I can finally get some of this into my mouth. And belly!