Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Perfect Shepherd's Pie (of the vegetarian variety).

I am not usually in the habit of creating cooking I do, but I prefer to let someone else do the hard work and create fabulous flavours by creating a recipe and then take all the credit by following it!

However, I have cooked a huge number of vegetarian shepherd's pies (gonna drop the word vegetarian from now on - you know I mean 'shepherd's pie with no meat in it, right?')... and I have made them with all kinds of veggie mince (Quorn, Realeat, TSP and supermarket own brands...) and meat substitutes, I have also made them with just vegetables in, I have made them with a lentil base, I have made them spicy, or just mildly seasoned. You get the idea.

Last week though, I perfected my shepherd's pie recipe... I can honestly say it is the very tastiest shepherd's pie I have ever eaten, including those that were meat based in my pre-veggie years. Including homemade ones made by others and including those made in restaurants.....

Best of all, the whole family like it, so it's a winner. Going down as recipe that I created....

Jo's Shepherd's Pie, suitable for vegetarians and meat eaters alike (though not vegan's as it does include Quorn...)

All ingredient amounts are approximate..

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic (crushed)
  • 5 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 300g packet of Quorn mince
  • teaspoon of Marigold vegetable stock powder (or tsp of Marmite works well)
  • 1 400g can of chopped tomatoes
  • a big splash of red wine
  • handful of torn basil leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste

  • Mashed potato (I used whatever old potato is available, and mash it with butter, big handful of grated cheddar and a bit splash of milk, beaten together too make 'cheesy mash'!)

  1. Cook the carrots and then either mash them or use a hand blender to make them smooth. Put to one side.
  2. Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a saucepan and add the onion and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes until softened. Add the tinned tomatoes and Quorn. Add about 200mls of water and cook for 5 minutes. Add the wine, stock and carrot puree. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Season to taste and add the basil.
  3. Pour into a dish (saving any extra - could be used as a bolognaise sauce.. or base of chilli - dependent of what you later add to it....) and top with mashed potato. Cook in the oven for 10 minutes. Longer if either the sauce or potato was cold.

The secret I believe is the pureed carrots and the wine. The carrots seem to make it a lovely consistency (yeah I tried it with chopped carrots, it's NOT the same!) and the wine gives it a fuller flavour.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

(Hoping she will be) Like Mother, Like Daughter

My eldest (age 5 and half) spent all afternoon sat on the work top in the kitchen when I made and cooked various foods for the week ahead. She is 5 and half and seemed really interested. I do hope all my children leave home with a good interest in food and a healthy knowledge of cooking from scratch. Enthusiasm should hopefully spiral from there....

We made a lentil loaf, some popcorn-covered chicken and the Christmas cake....

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Half Term Holidays

I haven't updated for a while as we have been away for the half term holidays to Anglesey, North Wales.

I broke my wheat amnesty while there and enjoyed pasta, bread, cakes, biscuits and a fair bit of processed crap during the week...... but my weight hasn't suffered as a result... hoorah! I had lost 3lb within 10 days before we went from following a wheat-free diet with no exercise and little effort at calorie counting.

Now we are back, I am gradually cutting it back out of my diet (gradually because I have a few things in the cupboard which needs eating first!) over the next few days. I intend to remain wheat-free while increasing physical activity and watching the calories until Christmas. Goal is to be at or just under 9 stone by the 25th December. Have to be realistic about gaining a few lbs over the festive period, so after that the plan is to go back to the diet to get back to goal - hopefully this won't take too long and then I can get back to maintaining AT GOAL WEIGHT!

You remember our one, green, precious pumpkin? I made it into a really rather delicious pumpkin cake, which we ate on holiday. I also made some parkin which was delicious.

We ate out on Anglesey at The White Eagle Inn in Rhoscolyn, which is most definitely worth a mention. All about flavour and home-cooking, we had a couple of delicious meals there and a very memorable cheeseboard, which has now got me seeking out a recipe for home-made digestive biscuits to go with my festive cheeseboard......