Mrs. Maggot’s cottage pie

Adapted from Middle-earth Recipes linked from NPR

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, cubed
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 carrots, diced
  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 1 lb. cubed meat
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • salt and pepper
  • ¾ cup of stock (Better Than Bouillon)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • some fresh marjoram and thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 1.5 lb. potatoes, quartered (we used red potatoes, skin on)
  • 2-3 tbsp. butter
  • some milk

Directions:

  1. Slice a large onion and 2 carrots (we used 1 carrot and 1 leek) and sauté in bacon fat until the onions are limp.
  2. Add 1 pound of cubed meat, 1 tablespoon of flour, and salt and pepper to taste. Saute for several minutes, and then add the stock and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes.
  3. Peel and quarter 1 pound of potatoes and boil until soft. Mash with 2 to 3 tablespoons of butter and enough milk to make a soft mash. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Put the meat in a pie dish, cover with the mashed potatoes, and bake in a 375 degree oven for 30 minutes.
  5. Before serving, run the dish quickly under the broiler to brown the potato crust.

I wish we had had bacon fat for flavoring. I accidentally thought we needed ground meat instead of stew meat, so I wonder if there would have been more fat. We underseasoned a little bit (pinch more salt on the meat and potatoes next time), but added in the herbs and paprika for a little more oomph. I can see why the recipe called from peeled potatoes, because the skin detracts a little from that shepherd’s pie look, but it was less work.

~Jessie

LotR taters boulangère

Adapted from Middle-earth Recipes

Ingredients:

  • ~1.5 lbs of potatoes, sliced 1/4″ thick
  • a sliced onion
  • some rosemary
  • butter
  • 1 cup of chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup of milk

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 deg. F.
  2. Peel and slice the potatoes. Slice the onion. Mix the stock and milk (we used hot stock, so poured one then the other separately in step 5).
  3. Take an oven-proof dish and wipe it with butter, so nothing sticks. Put in a layer of potatoes, a layer of onion, sprinkle over some bruised rosemary. Repeat until ingredients used up.
  4. Top off with a layer of potato.
  5. Pour over the milk-stock mixture (may not need all of it) and then top off the dish with dots of butter and some rosemary sprigs (or other available herbs — we had marjoram, thyme, and fresh rosemary).
  6. Cook uncovered in the oven for 50-60 minutes until the potatoes are soft in the middle and brown/crisp on top.

For 3-4 people. We bought 3 big Yukon gold potatoes at the local farmer’s market to make this dish. “It will scale quite nicely for larger/smaller dinners… The original recipe suggested checking the dish and adding more liquid if it looked dry” but we found that draining off the liquid after the one hour of cooking, and then cooking it for another 10 more minutes, finished cooking through the thickest top potato slices that weren’t immersed in liquid!

~Jessica

Rosie’s Shire pie

Adapted from Middle-Earth Recipes. Serving size: “4 – 6 hungry little hobbits”

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound whole mushrooms
  • 1 pound ground sausage
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, diced (we used 1 leek)
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 1/4 Cup dry white wine
  • 1 1/2 Cups chicken stock
  • 1 Tbsp. thyme
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 teaspoon sage (we subbed with 2 bay leaves)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 pie crust (if not using cornmeal crust)

Directions:

  1. Clean mushrooms and cut into quarters. 
  2. Crumble the sausage & place in a large, deep pan.  Cook over medium heat. 
  3. Add onions, garlic, then celery and carrot, and cook about 5 minutes. 
  4. Add mushrooms and cook 5 minutes more until vegetables are tender. 
  5. Stir in flour and cook a couple of minutes, still stirring. 
  6. Add wine and half of the stock, stirring and working out any lumps.  Add remaining stock and bring to a boil. 
  7. Turn heat to low, add herbs, salt and pepper and cook 10 minutes. 
  8. Pour into deep pie dish or 8×8 baking dish and set aside.
  9. Place pie dough over top of filling in pie dish. Bake pie at 375 degrees for 30 minutes or so, until crust is lightly browned and filling is bubbly.

Cornmeal Crust (makes enough for two pies)
1 3/4 Cups flour, 3/4 C. yellow cornmeal, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 pound cold butter, 1/4 Cup shortening, 1/3 – 1/4 Cup ice water. Mix flour, cornmeal, and salt in a large bowl. Cut in butter. Add shortening and continue to work dough until texture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle water over dough and knead with hands. Refrigerate dough 30 minutes to 24 hours (can also be frozen). Roll dough on a floured surface to 1/4 inch thickness.

I am not a baker, so I usually prefer to buy pre-made pie crust. “Along with a green salad and warm bread, this pie feeds a family of 4 – 6 hungry little hobbits.” We currently have a crop of fresh marjoram, rosemary, thyme — so a sprinkling of those we added to the stew because we didn’t have a bottle of dry white. Substitutions are fun.

~Jessica

LotR mushroom soup

Adapted from Middle-Earth Recipes and The Hungry Hobbit

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of mushrooms, divided in half
  • 4 + 2 + 2 tbsp of butter
  • 1 tbsp of chopped onion
  • 2 cups of finely chopped carrots
  • 2 cups of finely chopped celery (we used leeks)
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 2 1/2 cups of broth / bouillon
  • 1 small can of tomato paste (~6-7 tbsp; we used 1-2 tbsp)
  • 1/4 tsp of salt
  • pinch of black pepper
  • 1/4 cup of dry sherry (we used a dry red wine)
  • Garnish: sour cream, herbs (optional)

Directions:

  1. Chop 1/2 pound of mushrooms very fine.
  2. In a large saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons of butter.
  3. Add 1 tablespoon of chopped onion, 2 cups of finely chopped carrots, 2 cups of finely chopped celery, and 1 clove of garlic, minced. If you have wine, you can use it now to deglaze the pot. Stir, scraping the bottom bits.
  4. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a skillet, add the 1/2 pound of finely chopped mushrooms, and sauté for 5 minutes. Add to the soup.
  5. Stir in 2 1/2 cups of broth, 3 1/2 cups of water, 1 small can of tomato paste, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and 1/16 teaspoon of pepper.
  6. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat. Simmer 1 hour (30 minutes minimum).
  7. Purée the soup with an immersion blender. Season and taste.
  8. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a skillet, add the 1/2 pound of reserved sliced mushrooms, and sauté for 5 minutes. Add to the soup.
  9. Add 1/4 cup of dry sherry. Heat thoroughly and serve.
  10. Garnish with sour cream or herbs.

Titled “Mushroom Soup from the Inn at Bree”, there is only one main inn in Bree, however: the Inn of the Prancing Pony. We didn’t have a bundle of celery, so we subbed with a leek instead. Next time I would use 2 leeks! I would also had herbs like thyme. Instead of beef broth, we used Better Than Bouillon chicken base. Feel free to use more tomato paste if you prefer a more reddish product, but this was grand — I would also like to try a medley of mushrooms in season. Instead of dry sherry, we used a red wine, but I would also try a white wine next time.

~Jessica

Gordon Ramsay’s scrambled eggs and smoked salmon

Adapted from Gordon Ramsey and Goodto

Ingredients:

  • 4 butter croissants
  • 300g smoked salmon slices
  • 12 eggs (3 per person)
  • 4 tbsp double cream
  • 50g cold unsalted butter, diced
  • salt and pepper
  • 1–2 tbsp snipped chives (or scallions in a pinch)

Directions:

  1. Trim off the ends of the croissants, then slice each one into 4 or 6 thick rounds and season lightly with salt and pepper.
  2. Break the eggs into a cold heavy-based non-stick saucepan; do not season. Place the pan over a low heat and add a few knobs of butter. Using a wooden spoon, stir the eggs frequently but not constantly, just to combine the yolks and whites.
  3. As the eggs start to scramble, take the pan off the heat and use a spatula to scrape the egg from the sides and base of the pan. Return to the heat and keep stirring and scraping the pan until the overall texture of the eggs is like soft curds. This should take 5–6 minutes. Don’t overcook the mixture – it should be moist and soft.
  4. Meanwhile, heat a dry frying pan over a medium heat and toast the croissants on each side for 1–2 minutes until golden. Place the toasted slices on individual plates.
  5. When the eggs are nearing the end of cooking, take the pan off the heat, add another knob of butter and then season well. Return to the heat and stir in the cream. Once the butter has melted, remove from the heat and fold through the chives.
  6. Drape the slices of smoked salmon on top of the toasted croissants, spoon the scrambled eggs over, and serve immediately.

I had some extra lox in the fridge, and a fresh carton of eggs. After practicing it all week, I felt ready to make it for a larger audience (Jesse’s family). It was a success. I could not find chives (not the season?), so subbed with scallions chopped extra fine.

~Jessica

Purée of spring vegetable soup

Adapted from Lisa KleypasDevil’s Daughter

Ingredients:

  • 2 small zucchinis
  • 2 small summer squash
  • 2 carrots (I had not)
  • 1 red / yellow bell pepper (green was cheaper)
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tsp. garlic, minced
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 cups (chicken) broth
  • 4 tbsp tomato paste
  • 14 oz. can of white beans, rinsed and drained
  • pinch (tsp.) of salt
  • pinch of ground black pepper
  • pinch of thyme
  • pinch of oregano
  • ½ cup of heavy cream (or half and half)

Directions:

  1. Chop vegetables into ½ inch pieces, to cook evenly.
  2. Melt the butter in large pot, on medium-high. Add the garlic, onions, then vegetables. Sauté 10-15 minutes.
  3. Add broth, tomato paste, beans, seasonings, and herbs. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 30 minutes until tender.
  4. Blend with a hand immersion blender (I have not, so I did it in batches).
  5. Add the cream. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Serve with buttered croutons, or a grilled cheese.

I had not carrots, but not a big enough pot anyhow. I had 3 on-the-vine tomatoes, so I used that instead of the tomato paste. I ran out of thyme! One of my favorite herbs! I think this is my favorite in the Ravenels series, but this recipe was extra sumptuous, and I had just collected the ingredients for ratatouille, thinking to make a pan satué version (baking is so hot in my apartment, and I haven’t a real baking dish in fact). I loved the description in the book where this dish was served. Can you imagine a 12 course meal? Now if I only had the makings for a grilled cheese…

I’ve gone back to this recipe multiple times, and every time it has been a hit. This is possibly the best vegetable soup, full stop. And if you pair it with the grilled cheese, it really does fill you up.

~Jessie

British macaroni cheese

Adapted from Great British Chefs and British Food History

Ingredients:

  • 30 g plain flour 
  • 30 g butter 
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 400 ml hot full-fat milk 
  • 6g of thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 200-250 g macaroni 
  • 1 slice stale bread 
  • ½ tsp chopped fresh rosemary leaves, or ¼ tsp fried rosemary (optional) 
  • 225 g Stilton cheese, grated 
  • 200 g Gruyere or Cheddar cheese, grated
  • 30g of Parmesan
  • Pinch of Cayenne pepper or 20g of Dijon mustard
  • Salt and freshly-milled black pepper
  • 15 basil leaves

Directions:

  1. Start by cooking some pasta of your choice in a pan of boiling water. Once cooked, strain the pasta and set aside
  2. Place 50 mL milk into a pan over a low-medium heat and add the thyme and bay. Bring up to a warm heat and leave to infuse for 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, place a separate pan over a low heat and add the 4 tbsp. butter and 4 cloves of garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes then add the flour. Heat for for 2-3 minutes and stir constantly so the mixture comes together. –> Béchamel sauce
  4. Strain the milk, thyme and bay mixture so that you are just left with the infused milk. Gradually (over 5 minutes) add the infused milk to the other pan and stir with a wooden spoon. Bring to a simmer
  5. Take the pan off the heat and season with salt and pepper. Add the cheese, mustard, basil and pasta to the pan and then pour the contents of the pan into a casserole dish. Cover with some extra cheese and place in the oven at 180°C for 20 minutes (I prefer stovetop because I haven’t a baking dish currently).
  6. Remove the dish from the oven, divide the macaroni cheese into 4 portions and serve immediately.

My grandmother gave me a box of instant mac and cheese from her senior citizen community center (before the pandemic lockdown). Of course I didn’t want to eat that stuff straight, so I thought I would try to dress it up with some caramelized onions, garlic, herbs, and whatever else I might find in the pantry.

~Jessica

Pi Day Special – Shepherd’s Pie

3/14, that most special of days! For those who aren’t quite as nerdy, it’s Pi Day, celebrating π, that mathematical constant usually used for calculating areas and volumes of circles – 3.1415926535… Okay, fine, it’s basically just an excuse to celebrate pies in all shapes and forms! So in honor of this day, I’m crashing Jessie’s blog to share a recipe that I prepared myself for Pi Day!

Since we are in the middle of Winter Storm Stella (STELLLLAAAA!) here in New York, I thought rather than a sweet or dessert pie I’d prefer something a little more hearty, to get me revved up for all the snow removal we would be doing later on. Shepherd’s pie, with its fluffy mashed potatoes atop savory ground beef filling, was the perfect solution.

DSC07758

Shepherd’s Pie

Adapted from allrecipes

Ingredients

  • 4 large potatoes, cubed and peeled
  • 1 tablespoon butter (alright… I used 1.5, cuz more butter makes mashed potatoes so good!)
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheese (I used provolone, which I had on hand)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 cups frozen mixed vegetables (peas, corn, carrots, beans mix)
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • Melted butter to brush on top of mashed potatoes

Directions

  1. Bring a pot of salted water to boil and add the potatoes. Cook until tender and easily pierced by fork, around 15 minutes. Drain in colander and mash in large bowl with butter and shredded cheese until smooth. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a large frying pan. Add onion and cook until starting to turn transparent, around 3 minutes. Add celery and continue cooking for 3 more minutes. Add mixed vegetables and cook 5 more minutes. I cooked until the water from the frozen vegetables had evaporated. Set aside vegetables and clean pan.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In the clean frying pan, add a small amount of oil. Add ground beef and brown, around 8-10 minutes. Drain of excess fat and reintroduce the vegetable mixture. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute.
  4. Add ketchup and beef broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  5. Spread the ground beef mixture in an even layer in a 2 quart casserole dish. Top with mashed potatoes and spread in an even layer. Brush melted butter on top of mashed potatoes.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. If the potatoes aren’t golden brown, you can put them under the broiler for 5 minutes or until they are browned, I like to watch it to make sure it doesn’t get burnt!
  7. Enjoy the delicious fruits of your labor! I hope you enjoyed this recipe, and if you would like to visit my blog please feel free (shameless plug over).

DSC07763

a messy plate of shepherd’s pie, living life on the edge… of the table.

~Peggy

Tarka baked beans curry

Adapted from Give Me Some Spice and Kitchen Treaty

Fry on medium heat
50 g butter
1 red onion, chopped
3 clove of garlic, crushed
thumb-size ginger, grated

Add
1 spoon of curry powder (turmeric, garam masala, cumin)
a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (optional if you can’t handle heat)
a pinch of salt
a pinch of paprika
400 g chopped tomatoes, canned

Wait 5-7 min, then add
415 g Heinz Beanz
1 tbs lemon juice
2 pinches of brown sugar
400 mL can coconut milk (optional)

If you have… 
2-3 green chilies (I didn’t have any)
mustard seed
cumin seeds
Fry these in the beginning

cilantro, chopped (as garnish at the end)

IMAG5154.jpg

I served on broken lasagna pasta

~Jessica