Thursday, January 5, 2012

Shepherd's Pie

Shepherd's pie (or cottage pie if you're using beef - cows don't have shepherds hence the change in name) is a traditional way of using leftovers from a roast dinner. The meat would be shredded, the roast potatoes mashed up and the veggies incorporated into the meat sauce.

I don't often roast lamb or beef so I make my version of shepherd's pie using a pack of mince from the supermarket, however if you do have leftover roast meat then you can use that instead.

Shepherd's Pie
Serves 4

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion, finely diced
1 carrot, finely diced
2 sticks of celery, finely diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
500g lamb or beef mince
2 tbsp plain flour
1/2 cup red wine
1 tspn thyme leaves (try and use fresh, it does make a difference in this dish)
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
1 cup of gravy (I use the Gravox Traditional powder)
1/4 cup Beerenberg pepper steak sauce (optional)
5 large potatoes, peeled and diced
100g butter

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat, add the vegetables and garlic and very gently saute for about 10 minutes until the vegetables begin to feel tender. Add the lamb mince and saute until it had browned through. (If you're using leftover roast meat, you'll only need to heat it through.)

While the meat is browning, preheat the oven to about 200C. (If using a fan-forced oven, turn it to about 180C.)

Add the flour and stir it through well then add the red wine. Bring the mixture to a boil then stir in the thyme, bay leaves, Worcestershire sauce, tomatoes, gravy and (if using) the pepper sauce. Season with salt and let the mixture simmer gently for about 30 minutes. If it begins to look dry then add a little hot water from the kettle however you do want it to have a thick consistency.

Whilst the meat sauce is simmering, boil the potatoes until tender then drain and mash with the butter. Season with a little salt and pepper.

Remove the bay leaves, then spoon the lamb mixture into a large oven-proof dish. Dollop the mashed potato on top so it completely covers the lamb mixture. If the dish is quite full looking then place it on a baking tray as the meat sauce can bubble over the side a little and I find it's easier to clean an extra oven tray than clean the bottom of my oven.

Note: Real chefs will tell you not to put cheese on top because lamb and cheese don't "match" but if adding cheese is what it takes for your kids to eat, then add as much as you like!

Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes until the potato has browned and gone a little crunchy looking.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Sour Fish Curry

It's no secret that I love curry - usually the creamier (and naughtier) the better! But when the weather is hot, I tend to find that too much cream can make me feel a bit queasy and sickly so this fish curry is light and fragrant thanks to coconut milk with a punch of sourness from the tamarind puree. However, if you have kids or a husband who are a bit fussy, then only use half of the tamarind puree.

Sour Fish Curry
Serves 4

3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 brown onions, halved then finely sliced
2-3 chillies (any colour), finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
5cm piece of ginger, grated
1 tspn black mustard seeds
1/2 tspn fenugreek seeds
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tspn ground turmeric
400mL coconut milk
5 roma tomatoes, diced
2 tbsp tamarind puree
4 firm fish fillets (I tend to use John dory or local Pilbara blue spot emperor)
Small bunch of coriander leaves (optional)

Heat the oil in a large pan and gently fry the onions until they begin to turn translucent. Add in the chilli, garlic, ginger and mustard seeds and fry until you can hear the seeds begin to pop. Add the fenugreek seeds, ground coriander and turmeric. Stir the mixture well and fry for another 2 minutes. (If the spice mixture begins to look very dry, feel free to add a touch more oil.)

Add the coconut milk, tomatoes and tamarind puree. Bring the sauce to a rapid simmer for 4-5 minutes then turn the heat down to medium, add in the fish fillets and poach them for 3 minutes. Turn them, then leave them for another 3 minutes or until the fish is cooked through. Season the curry well with salt and add the coriander if you're using it. Serve over steamed basmati rice.

Note: This curry would also work well with prawns.