Shepherd’s Pie and Meals on Wheels

 

IMG_4866

What is a picture of Shepherd’s Pie doing on a post entitled “Meals on Wheels – I Love the Grub?”  Well, I’ve been volunteering at Meals on Wheels for the past six months and Shepherd’s Pie is often served on the MOW menu- food that is tasty, gives you an ‘all-in-one’ meal with veggies and meat, and, of course, is easy on the teeth.

When volunteering, we meet at the MOW headquarters in Glenelg, South Australia and pick up the hot meals, all packed in warming containers, double-counting our meals to make sure we haven’t forgotten anyone. Then we’re off to deliver around 15 meals to people (mostly elderly) who find it difficult to shop and cook for themselves. We normally don’t have enough time to stop and chat with our customers, however once in awhile we hear their stories that are sometimes moving and sometimes funny. My favourite story is the one told by a woman who was once stopped for routine breath-testing. When she blew into the ‘breathalyser,’ her false teeth flew out of her mouth onto the floor. (She tested negative, of course!)

The one thing that strikes me is how good the food smells as we make our deliveries. The aroma from the meals, packed in the back of our station wagon, travels forward towards the driver’s seat and makes me yearn to have a taste. However, my delivery partner must know what’s on my mind; as I give him a knowing look, he says, “Don’t even think about it!”

Preparing MOW- I wish my kitchen was this big!

Preparing MOW- I wish my kitchen were this big!

Delivering my Meals on Wheels

Delivering my Meals on Wheels

A Happy MOW client

A Happy MOW client

Meals on Wheels started in Britain during WW II, when meals were delivered to returning soldiers whose homes had been destroyed during the war. In South Australia, Doris Taylor founded MOW in 1953, the first MOW to be incorporated in Australia.

So, in honor of Meals on Wheels, here is my recipe for Shepherd’s Pie. To make the meat more flavorful, I use a combination of beef and lamb mince, but you could use all beef if you wish. I’ve added two egg yolks to the whipped potatoes to give them a more solid consistency.

Shepherd’s Pie
 
Recipe Type: Main Meal
Author: Fran Flint
In dedication to Meals on Wheels, this is a dish that will warm anyone’s heart!
Ingredients
  • 500 g minced beef
  • 500 g minced lamb
  • 1/2 onion- diced
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tomatoes- diced
  • 190 ml (3/4 cup) beef stock
  • Splash of red wine
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt/pepper to taste
  • [b]For the Potato Topping[/b]
  • 4 large potatoes, cooked
  • 190 ml (3/4 cup) milk
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • salt/pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 C or 360 F.
  2. Brown the beef and lamb in olive oil; remove from pan and let drain on a paper towel.
  3. ‘Sweat’ the chopped onion and garlic in oil until translucent in color. Drain any excess fat and then add back the meat to the fry pan.
  4. Add the tomato paste to the pan, along with the diced tomatoes, beef stock, red wine, Worcestershire sauce and seasoning. Let simmer for at least 10 minutes.
  5. For the potato topping, peel the potatoes, slice roughly into cubes and cook in boiling salted-water until cooked through. Drain the water.
  6. Add the milk, butter, egg yolks and seasonings to the potatoes and then beat together all ingredients with an electric beater until smooth.
  7. Place the meat mixture in a large casserole dish or Dutch oven and then spread the potato mixture on top, using a spatula or knife edge.
  8. Place a cover on the casserole and bake in the oven for 20 – 30 minutes. Remove the cover during the last 5 minutes to brown the potato topping.
Serving size: 6 – 8
Notes
You can use all beef or all lamb mince with this recipe, instead of combining the two.

 

 

 

 

Duck Leg with Pomegranate Molasses and Baked Semolina

IMG_4791

“What the heck is Pomegranate Molasses?” I said to myself, after scanning the recipe for ‘Duck and Pomegranate Ragu’ in the latest edition of Donna Hay magazine. That sounds interesting, maybe I’ll give it a try, but where will I be able to buy Pomegranate Molasses in Adelaide?

It turns out that finding the molasses was easy- a quick trip to ‘Goodies and Grains’ at the Adelaide Central Market was all I needed to put my hands on this little bottle of deliciousness. The next hurdle was to make a sauce with it to go with some duck legs I had bought- something good enough to make us want to go back for more.

This was the first time I had used Pomegranate Molasses in a recipe and it turned out very good. The molasses added a slightly tart taste to the sauce, while retaining some sweetness (maybe I’m trying to say ‘sweet and sour’?)- my hubby gave this recipe the ‘thumbs up’ and I snuck back into the kitchen for seconds.

Despite leaving several stains on my cutting board from using some real Pomegranates for the garnish, I’ll definitely place this recipe in my regular repertory- it is a good alternative to the ‘Duck Breast in Orange Sauce’ recipe that I did in one of my first posts.

This dish is not too difficult and the prep time is 40 minutes max- and then there’s the 1 hour 15 minute cook time to ensure the duck meat falls off the bone before final plating.

I tried two ways of plating this dish; one with the duck served on top of the baked semolina (see top photo) and the second plating with a slice of semolina on the side (see below); which way do you prefer?

IMG_4805

 

Duck Leg with Pomegranate Molasses and Baked Semolina
 
Recipe Type: Main course for lunch or dinner
Author: Adapted from Donna Hay Magazine
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4
Duck leg cooked so that it falls off the bone, accompanied by a sweet, slightly tart sauce, making you want to go back for more!
Ingredients
  • 4 duck thighs (duck marylands)
  • 4 shallots, coarsely sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped finely
  • 3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup (250 ml) red wine
  • 3 cups (750 ml) chicken stock
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • For the Baked Semolina:
  • 750 ml milk
  • 30 g butter
  • 1 cup (160 g) fine semolina
  • 1 cup (80 g) grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 egg yolks
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • More parmesan to garnish top of the semolina
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 ° C (360 ° F)
  2. To make the baked semolina, combine the milk and butter together in a saucepan and bring to a gentle boil- careful not to scald the milk.
  3. Reduce the heat and whisk in the semolina until the mixture thickens. Remove the pan from the heat and add the egg yolks, parmesan cheese and salt and pepper.
  4. Pour the batter into a lightly greased pan (20 cm x 30 cm), smooth the top of the mixture with a spatula and place in the fridge until set, approximately 1 -2 hours.
  5. In the meantime, heat a small amount of olive oil in a dutch oven on the stovetop. Over medium-high heat, brown the duck legs on both sides for several minutes, leaving the skin on. Remove the legs from pan and let drain on baking paper.
  6. Retain a small amount of the duck fat in the pan and drain the remainder. Sweat the shallots and garlic in the pan until translucent in color. Now add the tomato paste, wine, chicken stock and pomegranate molasses together and stir.
  7. Add the duck legs back into the pan, cover with a lid and cook in the oven for 1 hour 15 minutes or until the meat falls off the bone.
  8. Remove duck from the oven and shred the meat from the bone. Thicken the sauce if required, using a paste made of a small amount of corn flour mixed with water. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Preheat the broiler oven to high; remove the semolina from the fridge and cut into round shapes using a pastry ring (or cut into other shapes as desired).
  10. Place semolina shapes into a lightly greased tray, sprinkle with parmesan cheese and bake for several minutes until golden crust forms on top.
  11. Place the baked semolina on a plate, cover with shredded duck pieces and then add sauce on top.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Strawberry Meringue Whip with Macarons

 

IMG_4653 With Mother’s Day right around the corner, I would like to dedicate this dessert, Strawberry Meringue Whip with Macarons, to my Grandmother and Mother. I  never knew my Grandmother, Eleanor, but she was born in the 1870’s in the United States and after awhile, she had to raise three boys on her own.

Grandmother Eleanor

Grandmother Eleanor

I often wonder what sort of sweets my Grandmother would have eaten in the late 1800’s as she was growing up. Did she have access to les Macarons? What about chocolate candy bars such as the Mars Bar or Kit Kat- sweet things that I (unfortunately) feasted on when I was a child?

Doing a little research, I found that with the industrialization of western society in the 1800’s, came the mass production of cakes, biscuits and jelly candies and people started to eat birthday cakes. Chocolate fudge was invented in the 1880’s and in 1903 came the ice cream cone.

Although some sources say that the macaron was invented in France in 1791, it appears that the modern version came about in the early 1900’s. So, I imagine my Grandmother would probably have eaten cakes and some sweet biscuits (cookies), noshed on some fudge, but probably wouldn’t have had a clue what macarons were. After all, I myself hadn’t heard of les macs until two years ago.

In any case, my Grandmother would have been subject to the rather rigid etiquette rules of the day. Here is a snippet taken from an etiquette book in the 1890’s, giving advice on how a hostess should treat her dinner guests:

Charicature 1890

“Do not leave the room during the evening. To see a hostess fidgeting, constantly going in and out, argues ill for her tact in arranging the house for company.” (To me that is sound advice even today!)

What sweets did my Mother eat in her day?

Mother, Mildred

Mother, Mildred

My Mother, Mildred, was born in 1904 and had the ‘flapper’ look in the 1920’s. She probably would have eaten lots of ice cream; in 1922 ice cream was sold in the street for the first time using tricycles outfitted with a box in the front and ice cream boomed in the 1930’s.Then she would have swooned over all the candy bars that started to be invented: the Milky Way in 1923, the Mars Bar in 1932 and the Kit Kat in 1935. But, no, she too would probably not have eaten a macaron or had my Strawberry Meringue Whip dessert. So that’s why I have dedicated this dessert to her and my Grandmother.

Non- Bake Strawberry Meringue Whip

IMG_4677

Strawberry Meringue Whip- strawberries presented in the middle with coulis garnish

This dessert uses a thick curd made with lemon juice, cream and egg yolks. You then make up an Italian meringue, beating egg whites until stiff and then gradually adding a hot sugar syrup to the egg whites.

This recipe is quite simple and does not require any oven baking. I’ve presented the dish two ways; one placing sliced strawberries around the inside of a pastry ring and then placing the filling in the middle of the ring (see photo at top of post). With the second presentation, the strawberries are placed in the middle of the batter, with  strawberry coulis garnish surrounding the dessert.

I made the macarons that appear in the top photo, but I decided not to include the recipe this time; I’ll save that for another post.

Strawberry Meringue Whip with Macarons
Serves 4
A creamy non-bake recipe perfect for Mother's Day
Write a review
Print
Total Time
40 min
Total Time
40 min
For the Base
  1. 100 ml lemon juice (juice from about 2 lemons)
  2. 125 grams caster sugar
  3. 6 egg yolks
  4. 125 grams thick cream
  5. 30 grams flour
  6. 3 gelatin leaves (6 grams) soaked in water
For the Meringue
  1. 6 egg whites
  2. 125 grams caster sugar
To Finish
  1. 1 punnet fresh strawberries
For the Base
  1. Heat the lemon juice and sugar together in a saucepan and bring to a boil, then set aside.
  2. In separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the cream together then add the flour. Combine until smooth.
  3. Now add the egg yolk/cream mixture to the lemon juice/sugar mixture in the saucepan. Place over medium heat and whisk until the mixture thickens.
  4. Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water then heat in a pan until they dissolve.
For the Italian Meringue
  1. Place 125 grams of sugar in a saucepan and add a little cold water to form a paste. Heat until the mixture just starts to boil and becomes like a syrup.
  2. Now beat 6 egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gradually add the hot sugar syrup to the egg whites as you continue to beat.
  3. In a separate bowl, first add the Italian Meringue then gradually fold in the creamy Base Mixture. Be careful to not over-stir, the mixture should remain fluffy.
  4. Now add the dissolved gelatine leaves to the mixture and combine until smooth.
To finish
  1. Slice the strawberries into thin pieces. Place a pastry ring on a plate and line the inside of the ring with a single layer of the strawberry pieces. Pour the creamy batter into the pastry ring until it reaches the rim of the ring. Place in the fridge for at least two hours until the moulds are set.
  2. Remove from fridge and remove the pastry ring. Add several macarons on the side if you wish.
Notes
  1. For a different presentation, you can also fill the pastry ring half-way with the creamy batter, then add several layers of strawberries, then continue to fill the ring with the remaining batter. Garnish the plate with some strawberry coulis.
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/

 

 

 

 

 

Lamb Tian – layers of ecstacy!

IMG_4495

The word ‘tian’ refers to an oval cooking dish used in Provence, France- however it also refers to layered cooking. Lamb Tian is a dish we learned to make at the Cordon Bleu school in Paris and it consists of spinach layered with tomato concasse’, topped with slices of tender lamb fillet pieces and then ‘swathed’ in a delicious mint sauce. And, oh, if you’re wondering what those fluffy-looking white balls are, they are Noisette potatoes: potato pieces cut out with a mellon baller and then sauteed in butter and oil.

This dish is perfect to impress your friends at a dinner party. It does take a bit of time to prepare due to the number of elements involved. But, as the saying goes, “No pain, no gain!”

At the Cordon Bleu school, we had to do some butchering techniques on the rack of lamb in order to source the lamb tenderloin (back strap). However, let’s not go into that- simply ask your butcher for the lamb tenderloin and also give you some lamb bones to make the mint sauce.

5 Tips for a Scrumptious Lamb Tian

1. Make Sure you use the Lamb Tenderloin cut (or backstrap) for your meat. The tenderloin cut of lamb (or ‘backstrap’) is the most tender part of the lamb. It is the portion of meat you find at the bottom of your rack of lamb and is tubular-shaped when released in one piece from the ribs. If you can’t find this cut of meat, you could try using leg of lamb pieces or another cut of meat.

IMG_4458

Rack of Lamb- tenderloin (backstrap) located at end of ribs

IMG_4465

Tenderloin (backstrap) before being trimmed

2 Use the lamb bones and any meat trimmings to make a great sauce. I used to think the answer to making a good sauce was to pop a bouillon cube in a cup of hot water and add some seasonings- WRONG! To make a sauce with real flavor, you will heat the lamb bones and any meat trimmings in a fry pan along with the stock and wine (see recipe below). This allows the real lamb flavor to come through.

For my lamb bones, I used the ribs leftover from the rack of lamb- you could also use other lamb bones or ask your butcher to give you some.

Lamb bones (from ribs) used for a great sauce

Lamb bones (from ribs) used for a great sauce

3. For the Tomato Concasse’, use fresh tomatoes with the skin removed and then finely diced.Tomato Concasse’ means finely chopped tomatoes in French cooking- this provides one of the layers for the Lamb Tian. You will combine the chopped tomatoes with diced onions and then let simmer until all veggies are softened together:

IMG_4484

Tomato Concasse’ using diced tomatoes and onions

4. Use a medium or large pastry ring or veggie stacker to layer your Lamb Tian. I used a medium sized pastry ring. First, I placed a layer of spinach, then a layer of tomato concasse’, followed by another layer of spinach. Finally, the lamb pieces will go on top.

IMG_4492

5. Use ‘mellon baller’ to create your Noisette potato balls for a crowning touch.

Mellon baller to make Noisette potatoes

Mellon baller to make Noisette potatoes

 

IMG_4516And now for putting it all together. Here is the recipe for Lamb Tian:

Lamb Tian – layers of ecstacy!
 
Recipe Type: Main Course
Cuisine: Lamb
Author: Adapted from Le Cordon Bleu recipe
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • Principal Ingredients
  • 1 Lamb Tenderloin (backstrap)
  • Olive Oil
  • Mint Leaves
  • Lamb bones
  • 200 ml beef stock (3/4 cup)
  • 125 ml red wine (1/2 cup)
  • Mint leaf stems
  • 500 grams tomatoes (2 cups)
  • 220 grams onions (1 cup)
  • Olive oil
  • Pinch salt and sugar
  • 1 kg spinach (2.2 pounds)
  • Oil/butter
  • Noisette Potatoes
  • 2 large potatoes
  • 50 grams each oil and butter (1/4 cup each)
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 C or 360 F.
  2. Trim tenderloin of any fat and sinew. Tie the lamb piece in three places with kitchen string to hold its shape. Brush with olive oil and cover the meat with mint leaves. Place in fridge while preparing rest of recipe (at least 1/2 hour).
  3. Prepare the Mint Sauce: Heat lamb bones and any meat trimmings in fry pan with oil- color gently then drain fat from pan.
  4. De-glaze the pan with the red wine, then add the beef stock and mint stems. Simmer for at least 20 minutes while preparing the rest of the dish- occassionally skim fat from the sauce.
  5. Prepare the Tomato Concasse’- remove skins from the tomatoes. First, remove top part of the tomato core and then place an ‘X’ on bottom of each tomato. Dip each tomato in pan of boiling water for about 30 seconds to loosen the skin. Remove skin and seeds, then chop each tomato finely.
  6. Chop onions finely then ‘sweat’ them in fry pan with a pinch of salt and sugar. Add the tomatoes and cover pan with baking paper. Let simmer for about 10 – 15 minutes until all veggies are softened and most of the liquid has evaporated.
  7. Prepare the spinach- wash spinach leaves and remove stems. Roughly chop the spinach and then cook in fry pan with some butter and oil until softened.
  8. Prepare the Noisette Potatoes- peel the potatoes then ‘gouge’ out small potato balls using a melon baller.
  9. Heat pan of boiling water then blanche the potato balls in the hot water for several minutes until they start to soften.
  10. Heat oil and butter in fry pan. Over high heat, saute’ the potato balls until they are cooked through and lightly golden in color. Set aside until final plating.
  11. Cook the Lamb Tenderloin (backstrap)- remove the meat from the fridge. Heat oil in fry pan and brown the meat on both sides- about 6 -7 minutes total.
  12. Cover the meat in foil and heat in oven until meat is pink (or rose’) in colour on the inside- at least 10 minutes. In order to help the interior of the meat cook faster, I placed several ‘cuts’ in the meat about 2 cms deep so the heat can reach the inside easier.
  13. Remove from oven and let rest for at least 15 minutes before final plating.
  14. Finish off the mint sauce- reduce sauce until medium thick in consistency and then add salt to taste. If sauce has reduced too much, add some more stock or water. Remove mint stems from the sauce then add some finely chopped mint leaves.
  15. Final Plating- make sure all ingredients are warm before final plating.
  16. Place medium or large pastry ring in middle of plate. First add a layer of spinach to the bottom of the ring, followed by a layer of the tomato concasse’ then another layer of the spinach. Add finely sliced pieces of lamb on top and then crown with several mint leaves.
  17. Add the mint sauce around side of the dish then place the noisette potato balls around the side. Phew!! You are now finished!