• Leyla Hur, as featured in Munaty Cooking

    Leyla Hur, as featured in Munaty Cooking

    "In Hong Kong, everything revolves around food, and it was not different in my family. In my family, each meal was truly an event and that is something I still hold close. Right after we finished one meal, Dad would discuss with us what we would have for our next meal..."

  • About Leyla

    About Leyla

    "Even from my earliest years, I liked to feed people and share my food with others. I have been privileged enough to grow up in Hong Kong, live in Malaysia, Australia, Canada, and now the United States; and I have travelled extensively throughout the world, sampling the delicacies of..."

  • Asian Beef Lettuce Cups (with Vegetarian Alternative)

    Asian Beef Lettuce Cups (with Vegetarian Alternative)

    "In Hong Kong, this is very famous and usually comes when you order Peking Duck. The restaurant will then make three dishes from the duck. You will usually get the skin (Peking Duck) which is served with..."

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Shepherd's Pie (with Vegetarian Alternative)

As I sat pondering what to make for dinner looking at photos of friends frolicking in the snow back East, my heart was turned to wanting comfort food. While we may not be covered in snow here in the Southwest, it is still cooler, and tonight we are heading in for a "cold-front". Can you imagine, we're only going up to 55*F tomorrow! Brrrrrr! Yes, I know my friends and family elsewhere are laughing at me now.

Looking in the fridge, I collected a mishmash of ingredients in my head and my mind immediately went to Shepherd's Pie.

Memories of this yummy dish came flooding back as I remembered being a little girl and loving the thick meaty filling topped by creamy, buttery mashed potatoes, and a crispy topping. Some places enabled the crispness of the topping with bread crumbs, while others added to the flavour by making the top au gratin. Either way, I loved it.

It was not until cooking classes in high school that I made my first shepherd's pie. As I grew up in a mixed-race home in Hong Kong, and "English" food did not make too much of an appearance, even with a mother who was part English; it was not something that was made or served at home.

Over the years since I first made Shepherd's Pie, I have created my own version. Historically, it is made from left over lamb, and is pretty much a chop suey of what is in the fridge/pantry.

As it is traditionally made with lamb, when it is made with beef, it is considered to be Cottage Pie. I have only ever made it with beef, but adding chunks of lamb or ground lamb does intrigue me, and next time I make a trip to my halal butcher, I'll pick some up to try it out.

In the UK, many will make a Sunday night roast leg of lamb. The left overs will be cut up into chunks and mixed with the left over veg (and some fresh added), then popped into a pan and covered with a thick layer of mashed potatoes. This truly is a perfect left-over dish. 

I love this dish because not only does it grab nicely to your belly and comforts the soul, but there is always enough left over for lunch the next day, and left overs are always best the following day, in my opinion anyway.

1 - 1 1/2 lbs ground beef (or mix ground and cubed lamb)
1 lb potatoes, washed, peeled and quartered.
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup carrots, diced
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 packet brown gravy mix, mixed according to directions
Pepper to taste
Salt (optional)
1 tsp Worchester Sauce
1 stick butter, softened
1/2 cup milk or heavy cream
1 tsp salt

1. In a heavy saucepan, fry meat until cooked through thoroughly. Drain but do not rinse.
2. Fry onions in the heavy sauce pan until cooked, add garlic. Once the aroma of the garlic wafts up, add the meat back to the pan and stir together well. Add carrots and peas. Add the gravy mix, pepper, and Worchester Sauce, and salt (if using). Stir well to combine everything and then remove to an oven proof dish and set aside.
3. In a separate pot, boil the potatoes until cooked right through (inserting a fork will go in smoothly). Drain and mash potatoes with butter and milk (or cream). Add salt and whip well. Carefully spoon half the potatoes over the meat mixture and smooth out. "Dollop" the remaining half on top and spread unevenly, leaving the top looking rustic. (Alternatively, add the entire amount of potatoes and spread using a fork and then decorate making swirls on top of the potatoes)

NB At this point, you can sprinkle bread crumbs or grated cheese over top.

Put pie into a preheated 350*F oven for 30 - 45 minutes. The top should be browned nicely.

You can serve with a side salad.

Vegetarian Option

I have several friends who are vegetarian, and who often ask me how they can create the same dish in a vegetarian manner. With that in mind, I'd like to offer an alternative for all of my readers who are vegetarian.

1 lb beans  ~ when I have made this, I have done it with a mix of canned kidney beans and garbanzo beans [chickpeas]. I rinse them in a colander to remove the thick starchy liquid.
1 cup lentils, boiled and drained
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cube vegetable stock
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup carrots, diced
1 cup chopped spinach
Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 lb potatoes, washed, peeled, and quartered
1/2 lb sweet potatoes, washed, peeled, and cut into chunks
1/2 cup soy milk (or regular milk)
1/2 cup vegetable ghee (or regular butter)
1 tsp salt

1. Fry onions until golden brown. Add garlic and when the aroma wafts up, add the vegetables. Crumble the vegetable cube over and cook through.
2. Boil the lentils until cooked through, add the drained and rinsed beans and mash together. Add this to the vegetable mix and mix together well, add salt and pepper to taste. Place in a oven safe dish smooth out and set aside.
3. Boil the potatoes until cooked through. Drain and mash together with soy milk and softened vegetable ghee. Add salt to taste. Spread over the bean and vegetable mix in the same way as the regular pie.


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