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Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie

Can I have a car air freshener in Shepherd’s Pie??  For Shirley’s birthday, my boss decided we’d all make an ethnic food and share during lunch.  There was everything from Thai food to Polish to my Irish Sheppard’s Pie (mutilated, as Brandon says, because I made it vegetarian and it is usually rich with meat).

You should buy:

  • 1 1/2 cups low-sodium cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/3 cup dry red wine
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 ounce portabella mushrooms
  • 3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, and cut into large dice
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 2 pounds cremini mushrooms, stemmed and quartered
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 Tbsp. sage leaves
  • 1 Tbsp. thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp. cayenne
  • 1 Tbsp. black pepper
  • 2/3 cup heavy whipping cream

With a whisk, whip together the cream of mushroom soup, your choice of dry red wine (I used a cheap brand, but the addition of wine really perked up the adult taste buds), tomato paste and flour. When the liquid is creamy and smooth, set aside for some time to let the flavors meld.

Chop up your potatoes and place in a large, covered, boiling pot of water.  Cook until they almost fall of a fork when poked, about 20-30 minutes.

In a frying pan, melt a tablespoon of butter. Add in a handful of mushrooms (don’t overcrowd them, just enough to evenly cover the bottom of the pan) and cook over medium-high heat until the mushrooms are browned on both sides.  Place in a separate bowl, and then repeat until all of the mushrooms are completely browned.

Melt another tablespoon of butter in the now empty pan and toss in your onion, celery, garlic, carrots and seasonings. 

 Cook until the vegetables are soft and the onions become translucent, about 6-8 minutes.

Add the wine, mushroom broth mix to the pan making sure to scrape the sides of the pan and bottom to keep from burning. Simmer for 3 minutes.  Plop in the mushrooms and cook at a simmering stage until thick and darker maroon in color, approximately 8 minutes.

Strain the liquid from the potatoes and return to the pot.  

Mash together the potato chunks, 2 Tbsp. butter and cream with an electric hand mixer for about 5 minutes or until smooth and whipped. Season with salt and pepper.

In a pie dish, 9″ x 9″ baking dish or mini bread loaf pans, spread the vegetable mixture over the bottom.

On top, dot the potatoes all the way across to the edges.  Take your fork and sporadically dip in and out of the top of the potatoes to create little peaks and valleys. These will become a crunchy texture in the oven.

Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20-30 minutes. The vegetable mixture may bubble, breaking the potatoes away from the sides.  If you like the top more crunchy and browned, turn on the broiler and heat for 5 more minutes.

I chose to cook this in disposable mini bread tins for the sole purpose of reheating them at lunch in the toaster oven. They fit perfectly.  I tossed them in the oven to cook before leaving for work and by lunch, they only needed about 5 minutes of reheating.  I drove all the way to work (just under an hour) to work smelling this deliciousness and somehow managed to dispel the urge to pop open a pie and dig in.  The mix made about 7 minis: one for my mom, two and a half for lunch, and three for people to take home.

 

Just the smell was enough to make someone do a happy dance.  The mushrooms (could have been chopped smaller) mixed with cream of mushroom soup helped to make a hearty, thick vegetarian version of this hodgepodge of a dish.  The potatoes fill your stomach right up, as Irish food is known for, and the butter and cream helped to flavor the bland starch some.  I used Lucky Duck Shiraz, a cheap wine, but it supplied the distinct, incomparable oomph necessary to make a meat dish turned vegetarian work.  The potatoes just melt in your mouth, and dissipate some of the saltiness of the cream of mushroom soup.

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Choco-coco Nut Fondue

Eileen mentioned her favorite dessert was anything chocolate, so I thought wedding, fondue, less time in the kitchen.  This is another E recipe rated very high, and I found out why. 

To make this I suggest the following ingredients:

1 12 oz. bag of semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
1 15 oz. can sweetened cream of coconut (which can be found at any store with international specialties such as Valley Produce, Caputo’s or Woodman’s if you are in the Northwest suburbs of IL)
1/4 tsp. of coconut extract
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

In a pot combine the chocolate chips and cream of coconut.  I have never even heard of cream of coconut, but found it near the other Goya juice products.  It looked to be pureed coconut in a thick, clear, sweet liquid.  image

Stir the two together on low heat until the chocolate is fully melted.  Make sure to keep stirring or the bottom will burn and ruin the taste of the fondue.  When everything is liquefied, add in the whipping cream and coconut extract.  Here you can either refrigerate the mix for up to eight hours, or serve immediately in a fondue pot. image

  I made both a cheese and chocolate fondue, using the actual fondue pot for the cheese.  The coconut chocolate fondue stayed in the glass pan I cooked it in and was set atop a Smore’s maker set.  The sterno was a little hot, and was lit and unlit intermittently to keep from burning the chocolate.  I served my sweet, island-like fondue  with vanilla wafers, strawberries, apples, pineapple, bananas and pears.  To keep the bananas, apples, and pears from browning too quickly I recommend soaking them in lemon juice.  You can mix and match the dipping additives.  My favorite was definitely the wafers because they were a bland, crunchy cookie which allowed your tongue to taste each distinct factor of the fondue.  The coconut was a nice pair with the pineapple and it wasn’t overpowering like you were eating banana boat sunscreen, and was similar to Starbuck’s Mocha coconut frappacino minus the coffee flavor (which would be a nice addition).  The best part about having fondue at a party is it is easy to make, there is something for everyone in the dipping pieces and you aren’t standing in the kitchen cooking the whole party.

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Filed under Appetizers, Dessert, Food, Gluten-Free