Saturday, March 16, 2019

Anna Sultana’s Cottage Pie #3

It’s been one of those winters - there was always something else that had to be done.
So, I'm really very sorry, but it’s been a while since I posted anything.
Here we are, halfway through March, and it’s time to get ready for St. Patrick’s Day.
It’s time to make something a bit Irish.

Making corned beef and cabbage was not one of Ma's favourite things to do.
She would usually serve us Cottage Pie, and, somehow, each year it was always a bit different.
Here’s another one of her variations.

Cottage Pie is not the same as Shepherd’s Pie. 
Both are made the same way – a ground meat filling that is topped with mashed potatoes, then baked until the top is nice and crusty. 
The difference is that Shepherd’s Pie is made with lamb instead of beef.

I've never found ground lamb in my local grocer's meat department.
I don't think Ma ever found it, either.
I don't know if I'll ever have Shepherd's Pie.
No matter - Cottage Pie will always mean St. Patrick's Day to me.

Looking for a few more Irish dishes for your family’s dinner? Try

Don’t forget to top off your meal with a glass of Irish Coffee!


Make sure the filling is reduced down so that you don’t end up with a watery filling.
Since no steam will escape, the meat sauce will not thicken while it is baking. 
So be sure to allow the sauce to simmer long enough, and to cool completely.

If you’re in a rush to cool the filling you can pop it into the fridge or freezer while you prepare the potatoes.
If the filling is not cooled, the mashed potatoes will sink down into the mixture.
Still edible, but not quite the effect we’re going for here.
Also don't skip drying the potatoes, otherwise the excess liquid will drip into the filling.

If you feel the need for cheese, you can add about a cup of shredded cheddar cheese to the mashed potatoes.

Don't prepare the potatoes too far before you need them for the recipe.
The mashed potatoes should be hot so that they’ll spread easily.

This recipe refrigerates and freezes well. Just don't bake it before storing it. 
Allow the potato topping to cool, then cover or wrap before refrigerating or freezing. 
If frozen, thaw and bake as per recipe.

                        Cottage Pie

Serves 5 - 6 

Meat Filling

1 onion
3 carrots
1 rib celery

Heat in a large skillet over medium heat
2 Tablespoons oil

Crumble in 
1 pound lean ground beef
Sauté 1 minute.
Add the diced vegetables.
Continue to sauté until the meat is no longer pink and the onion begins to brown, about 5 minutes.
Stir in
2 Tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 Tablespoons dried parsley

1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 Cups beef broth
Combine well. Lower heat and simmer mixture for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until almost all of the liquid has been absorbed. 
Spoon the mixture into an 8 inch square pan or a deep 9 inch pie pan. 
Allow the filling to cool. 

Potato Topping

After the filling has cooled a bit, peel and dice
2 pounds potatoes
Place potatoes in a medium saucepan, cover with water and place over high heat. 
Allow to come to a boil. Boil for 15 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. 
Drain then return to pot on turned off stove. 
Shake briefly and allow to steam dry for about 30 seconds. 
Mash potatoes until smooth, then add
2 Tablespoons butter
1 Cup milk
Whip until fluffy. 
Add salt and pepper to taste. 

Preheat oven to 400º F

Spread the hot whipped potatoes over the beef filling, using a fork to rough up the surface.  
Sprinkle over the potatoes
a few dabs of butter
2 Tablespoons fine bread crumbs
a dash of nutmeg (optional)
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is nicely browned. 

Remove from oven and sprinkle over top
2 Tablespoons dried parsley
Let stand for 5 minutes.

Serve with peas, or, if you’ve invited company, you can get fancy by serving it with glazed roasted carrots and sautéed garlic spinach.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Anna Sultana’s Ross il-Forn #2 (Baked Rice, Maltese Style)

Hope you've been keeping warm and well.
The weather here on the North American prairies has been setting records.
Not very nice records.
Today here in Winnipeg we're at -39º C, but, with the wind chill, it feels like -51º C.
The worst should be over by tomorrow.
Sure looking forward to tomorrow. 

Weather like this calls for a nice plate of solid comfort food.
It’s time to bring on the carbs.
A salad or a plate heavy on presentation but light in food is just not going to be enough.

Malta doesn’t get this cold but it has perfect meals for times like this.
In 2011 I posted the recipe for Ma’s Ross il-Forn.
That’s Baked Rice, Maltese Style.
Ross il-Forn is Maltese cooking at its best.
It's our version of Kraft's macaroni and cheese, and has always been one of the most popular recipes of this blog.
Its total is so much greater than the sum of its ingredients.

Ma’s original recipe uses ground beef or a combination of ground beef and pork.
Well, it was created long before people even knew cholesterol existed.

In her later years Ma made a few adjustments to her recipes for health reasons.
She had tried a veggie burger and thought it was pretty good.
Good enough to use in a few of her recipes. 

Simulated ground beef is a handy item to have in the freezer, especially in winter.
It can replace ground beef in most recipes, and is a low-fat source of protein.
Soy protein, disguised as ground beef, helps to lower cholesterol.
If you worry about allergies, it also contains mustard and barley, and is also not good for people allergic to wheat.
Well, nothing's perfect.

Here’s Ma's healthier version of Ross il-Forn.
Why not give it a try.

                        Ross il-Forn
Preheat oven to 350º        

Finely chop
1 onion                             
3 slices bacon  

In a large oven proof pot heat over medium heat
4 Tablespoons vegetable oil
Fry the chopped onion and bacon until the bacon is cooked but not overdone.
156 mL (5 1/2 ounce) can tomato paste
796 mL (28 ounce) canned tomatoes 
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 Cup water  
Stir to combine.                       

2 Cups uncooked rice
340 grams ( 3/4 pound) veggie ground round
3 Cups of water
4 eggs, beaten
1/2 Cup grated Parmesan cheese 
Stir well.
Cover and bake 1 hour.  

Take the pot out of the oven, and stir the rice mixture thoroughly.
Sprinkle on top
1/2 Cup grated Parmesan cheese 
Cover and continue baking for 30-45 minutes, until it's a rich brown.

Serve with a salad or cooked vegetable and feel comforted.

Monday, December 31, 2018

Happy New Year!! Welcome 2019!

Happy Holidays, everyone.
Sending you and yours wishes for a happy year filled
with health, prosperity, love and loads of fun!

Thank you for visiting!
Hope to see you throughout 2019 ~