Saturday 27 October 2007

Saturday is Market Day

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Well, in the town where I live it's actually market day on Wednesdays and Fridays as well, but I think the market is best on Saturdays. I love walking down if I have nothing else on and have a look around all the stalls. You can buy everything, from cheap tat to fresh flowers and of course food. There are a number of butchers, fishmongers, green grocers, an egg and cheese stall, a Delicatessen stall and if it tickles your fancy a stall selling tripe.

My favourite butcher had minced lamb on offer and as it's definitely feeling very autumnal today Shepherd's Pie came to my mind straight away.

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I was born and grew up in Germany, so I had never eaten Shepherd's Pie until I came to live in England nine years ago. I think I've probably been hooked since I first ate it. It's one of my favourite autumn and winter comfort foods. When I first started making my own I have to admit to often using one of the ready-made dry mixes for the sauce, but trying to avoid using shop bought mixes, because you never quite know what's in them, I started experimenting with different recipes to make it from scratch. This is what I have finally settled on, it is a combination of various recipes, making a tasty Shepherd's Pie, which'll warm you up on a cold, dark night. You can use minced beef instead of the lamb, but that'll turn it into a Cottage Pie. This recipe is scaled down to serve just two people, but you can easily double all the amounts to serve four.

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Shepherd’s Pie for two

1lb potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 knob of butter
4 tbsp milk
salt, to taste
½ tsp nutmeg, freshly grated

Meat Filling:
vegetable oil
½ onion, chopped
1 smallish carrot, chopped
1/2lb minced lamb (you can use finely cubed left-over roast)
1/2tbsp flour
125-150ml beef, lamb or chicken broth
¾ tsp fresh thyme, chopped
¾ tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 splashes of Worcester sauce
1tsp tomato puree

To make the topping, bring a pan of slightly salted water to the boil. Add the potatoes and cook until tender, which should be about 12-15 minutes, depending on the size of your cubes. Drain.

Heat the milk and the butter in a saucepan, remove from heat and add the potatoes. Sprinkle with nutmeg and mash until smooth. Season to taste with salt. Set aside.

Preheat your oven to 200C or Gas Mark 6.

Heat a little vegetable oil in a heavy bottom frying pan. Add the chopped onion and carrot and cook over a low heat until softened, but not brown, stirring occasionally. This should take 10-15 minutes. If you like celery you van also add a small chopped rib of celery at this stage.

Once your vegetables are soft, add the minced lamb, making sure you break it up with your wooden spoon. Cook until most of the lamb has browned. (If you’re using left over lamb roast, cook the pieces until they are no longer pink.). Drain off the excess fat.

Stir in the flour and continue to cook, whilst stirring continuously for another 2 minutes.

Now add the broth, herbs and Worcester Sauce if using. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Turn the heat to low and simmer until the sauce has thickened. This should take about 5 minutes. Don’t forget to stir occasionally. (You can also add some frozen peas at this stage if you like.)

Pour the meat and vegetable mixture into a small oven-proof dish and top with the mashed potatoes. Use a fork to ‘rough up’ the top of the potatoes. Alternatively you can pipe the potatoes onto the meat mix, creating little peaks.

Place the dish in the pre-heated oven and bake for 30-35 minutes until the tops of the mashed potatoes have turned golden brown.

Serve with your favourite winter vegetables.


Tulip said...

Great photo!
This dish is my youngest daughters favourite meal of all time. I put tomatoes into it instead of the carrot and serve glazed carrots instead...there is so many variations of this dish it makes it very exciting!

Carolyn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carolyn said...

just wandering around foodie blogs and thought I would say Hi to you and your new blog :)

Jules said...

I love cottage pie at this time of year. Pure comfort food. Your's looks delicious.

Sylvie said...

Thanks for all the lovely comments. It's really appreciated as I'm completely new to this blogging thing!

Marie Rayner said...

Oh Yum! I love the picture of your cottage pie Sylvie! I hated cottage pie as a child, and have only really come to appreciate it as an adult! Now that's what I call true comfort food!

Marie Rayner said...

OOOps I meant Shepherds Pie.

Unknown said...

Sylvie, I love your blog! I especially like how you pared that shepherd's pie down to serve 2! I love the looks of the pumpkin bread too! I've got to figure out how to do a blog! I admire you for all your running! Way to go! I've got to do something about exercise as soon as my foot heals. I'm really worried about getting old and faaaaater!