Thursday, January 24, 2008

Sometimes you just get it right...

This has never been a cooking blog, and I don't intend for it to become one. But I do enjoy cooking, so sometimes I just have to put some in here.

About once a year, I get the bright idea into my head that I want to make a shepherd's pie.

Ok, back the truck up for a minute.

All the purists out there are going to say, "That's not a shepherd's pie, that's a cottage pie! Shepherd's pie is made with lamb!"
So sue me, I'm calling it shepherd's pie. By those rules, it should be called farmer's pie.

Anyway, last week when we were making meal plans for the next two weeks I got this idea into my head again that I'd like to try it. Now, the usual problem with shepherd's pie is that it comes out tasting kind of bland. I was determined not to let that happen. See, I remember the last time I had a good shepherd's pie, and it was when I was about 12, and my mother made it. We all devoured it, and were trying to figure out what had made it so good, when my mom realized she had cooked the ground meat in wine... a lot of wine. No wonder we all liked it!

Anyway, with that as a starting point, I began to construct the pie. Here's my list of ingredients:

For the meat mixture:
1 lb lean ground beef
1 (I think they're 20 oz now) package ground turkey
1 medium onion, sliced into 8 wedges (or minced if you like onion in the final product, but I've never been fond of it, I just like the flavor)
About 15 baby carrots, sliced into 1/8" thick rounds
As much garlic as you like (I used about 3 tablespoons - I like garlic)
About 2 T caraway seeds
Classic Bouquet Garni herbs (savory, rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil, dill, marjoram, sage, and tarragon) - about 2 T of the mix
1 mini-bottle white wine (I think it was about 8 oz)
1 14oz can tomato puree1 small can tomato paste
About 2-3T sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
2/3C peas
2/3C kernel corn
2/3C green beans, cut in 1 inch pieces

Brown the beef and turkey in a large skillet with the wine, onion, carrot, garlic, caraway seeds, and herbs. When the meat is browned, add the tomato puree, paste, and sugar, and lower the heat to simmer. Simmer until the sauce is reduced and quite thick. (I simmered the whole time I was making the potatoes and pie crust - about 15-20 minutes) Add salt and pepper to taste.

Next in the construction is to make the mashed potatoes. Make them however you like - creamy, smooth potatoes tend to work better for this.

Then, because this is called a pie, and for no other good reason, I made a bottom pie crust. Probably not completely necessary, it kind of got lost in the final product, but it is a pie, and therefore must have a crust.

Just before beginning final construction, add the peas, corn, and green beans. These all require relatively little cooking, and if you add them before this point, they will just be overcooked in the final product.

The final construction is kind of obvious - place the pie crust in a 9" pie plate, spoon all the meat mixture in (yes, it will all fit). Then, to reduce leaking and just give it more of a homemade rustic look - instead of trimming the pie crust, just fold it over the top, so it covers the outer 2 inches or so of the filling. Spread the potatoes on top, and bake it in a 400 degree oven for 40 minutes, or until the potatoes are nicely browned on top.

For once, I was extremely pleased with how it came out - hence the blog post. The meat mixture is really flavorful, and after the potatoes and crust pull some of the moisture out during cooking, it comes out less soupy and more, well I don't know what the word should be. Delicious?

Anyway, thought I'd share it with you... I'm going to enjoy these leftovers!

-The Krunchy Krab

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to everyone.

I hope everyone's holidays were better than these guys' who ran the failed Seattle New Year's fireworks. Word is, all their software is custom written in house, so if a "corrupt file" is to blame, it's likely completely their fault.

But on to more important or interesting things. I was browsing today and didn't see anything that I really felt like clicking on, but then noticed one story out of the corner of my eye that caught my attention. Here's an image of today's homepage:

Don't notice anything funny? Let me whip out Microsoft's handy-dandy magnifier:

Help! I've lost 20 pounds but I'm still single! What next?

Maybe I'm a little out of touch with the dating game, but I don't think Dr. Neil Clark Warren founded Weight Watchers. Not that I really believe the 29 dimensions of compatibility work - I know of a couple who were matched through that system that were on opposite ends of the political spectrum. Needless to say, that didn't work out.

I can only assume three things about the person who created that blurb to appear on the MSN front page:

1) They are not, and never have been fans of Sir Mix-a-Lot.
2) They own stock in Hardee's, which has recently rolled out it's hurking breakfast burrito, and want to try to get back some business from young people trying to lose weight to impress the opposite sex.
3) As a kid, they were partial to the Sesame Street sketch where Bert and Ernie are fishing and Ernie just yells and the fish jump in the boat.

On a side note, today I found a component in our database at work that had a note: "NOT EPA APPROVED OR DISAPPROVED".
I changed it to read: "THE EPA DOESN'T GIVE A RIP."

Counting down the days to Presidents' Day,
The Krunchy Krab