Posts Tagged ‘balsamic’

Creamy Shepherd’s Pie Bowls

Saturday, May 16th, 2009

I have always liked the idea of shepherd’s pie.

I really like ground beef, and casseroles of any kind tend to appeal to me (even though that’s the opposite of how I was raised–very few casseroles show up in my parents’ kitchen). I also like mashed potatoes, and can’t seem to make them without having a bunch of leftovers.

Leftover potatoes is what lead me to shepherd’s pie this time. I read through a bunch of different shepherd’s pie recipes, before deciding how I would make mine.

I really liked the flavor of the dish, but I’ve got to say–the pictures leave something to be desired. Once it came out of the baking dish, it did not look like something you would want to eat, which is why I have no plans to post pictures. If everyone really wants to see, and leaves comments to that effect, I might be persuaded.

That being said, even though it wasn’t pretty, it was very, very tasty.

Creamy Shepherd’s Pie Bowls

For filling:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 can beef consumme
  • 1 can mixed vegetables, drained
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon mild curry powder

For potato topping:

    • about 4 potatoes, mashed (I used leftovers)
    • 1 cup shredded cheese (we had Gouda on hand, but Parmesan would be good, or anything you like, really)
    • 1/2 cup sour cream

    1. Brown ground beef in a large skillet, with garlic powder, salt & pepper, and curry powder. Do not drain the drippings (they will be used to build the sauce).

    2. When the meat is cooked through, add the can of vegetables.  Sprinkle with the flour and stir until everything is evenly coated. Continue cooking for one or two minutes so that the flour is browned, to remove that chalky raw-flour taste.

    3. Add the can of consumme, Worcestershire sauce, and balsamic vinegar. Continue to cook over medium-high heat until sauce thickens. Pour into a baking dish. (I used a Corningware casserole dish, 2 1/2 quarts. Pyrex would probably work fine here as well.)

    4. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees while you prepare the potato topping.

    5. In a medium mixing bowl, combine mashed potatoes, 3/4 cup of the shredded cheese, and sour cream.

    6. Carefully spread the mashed potato mixture over the top of the meat filling. Spread to the edge of the dish to avoid the sauce leaking out of the dish. Use a fork to add texture to the top of the mashed potatoes. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup of cheese. Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 25 minutes, until heated all the way through. The mashed potatoes should be brown and crispy at the top and edges.

    Note: I’m calling this a shepherd’s pie bowl (and this is part of the problem with the pictures) because the mashed potatoes kind of ran together with the filling once you scooped it out of the pan. It was delicious, but not really the two separate textures that you expect from a true Shepherd’s Pie. I do have some ideas to correct that, and will try them next time. One is simply more mashed potatoes. A thicker layer of potatoes would have browned better and held up more easily I think. My other idea was to treat the mashed potatoes like a potato pancake batter, adding an egg and a little bit of flour along with the cheese and sour cream. I actually would have done that this time, but we were out of eggs. I’ll definitely be making this again, but I do hope to get the potato crust better next time.

    Bruschetta

    Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

    One of my favorite things about summer is the abundance of fresh, ripe tomatoes. While summer isn’t quite here just yet, the tomatoes at our local supermarket have been showing some promise–enough that I took a chance on them and went ahead and made some Bruschetta.

    Bruschetta is actually one of the very first things that David and I started to make when he moved into his first apartment and we started cooking. The tricky part is that our Bruschetta is one of those “a little of this, a little of that” kind of recipes. I’m going to do my best to capture it below.

    Fresh Tomato Bruschetta with Pannetini

    Ingredients

    • Tomatoes (Roma tomatoes, if available)
    • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    • Balsamic Vinegar
    • Minced Garlic
    • Fresh Basil
    • Salt & Pepper
    • Parmesan Cheese
    • Sun-Dried Tomatoes (optional – can be dry-packed or oil-packed, diced)
    • Garlic Bread, thinly-sliced & toasted (other options include crackers, toasted Italian or French bread, or Panetini. The Panetini can be found at your grocery store, near the Bakery, with the bagel chips).

    Directions

    1. Seed and dice the tomatoes and put into a bowl with Olive Oil & Balsamic Vinegar. The exact amounts depend on how many tomatoes you use, but for about 10 servings, I use about 10 full size tomatoes, with ½ Cup of Olive Oil & 3 or 4 Tablespoons of Balsamic.
    2. Add sun-dried tomatoes.
    3. Add approximately 3 cloves of garlic, minced.
    4. The basil needs to be chopped very finely or minced in a food processor (I have also used what we call “Basil Paste,” which you can find in your produce department with the little clamshell packages of fresh herbs).
    5. Add the parmesan cheese…about ½ Cup to ¾ Cup.
    6. Then, just mix together and add salt and cracked black pepper to taste.
    7. Serve with the bread, crackers, or Panetini for dipping.

    I don’t really measure as much as I mix and taste, until it comes out right. If your tomatoes are very acidic, a Tablespoon of regular table sugar added to the mix (strange as it sounds) will go a long way. You can add more or less balsamic vinegar, depending on your taste. The ingredients themselves can be very forgiving…the Parmesan can be anything from imported Parmigiano-Reggiano to the stuff in the green can for this, though I prefer the real stuff. Same with the basil…if you want to use dried basil, you can. It won’t taste quite as bright, but it will work. You need much less dry basil than fresh.  The bruschetta gets better the longer it gets to hang out, so making it the night before is best, but give it at least 30 minutes to an hour before eating, if you can.

    Leftovers can be mixed with canned chicken to make an Italian Chicken Salad, put over
    lettuce for a Bruschetta Salad, or put over cooked pasta to make a pasta sauce. You can also add diced fresh mozzarella if you want. (Like I did for this batch).

    Chicken & Balsamic Vinegar Sauce

    Friday, January 23rd, 2009

    This recipe is another one from Cooking Light magazine’s Dinner Tonight series. I tend to like these recipes, because they’re just simple enough to be weeknight meals, but they’re still complicated enough that I enjoy cooking them. If that makes any sense at all. The original recipe called for sherry vinegar, but I used balsamic, because it’s what we have on hand, and what we like the best.

    img_1508

    Chicken & Balsamic Vinegar Sauce
    Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine

    • 4 (4-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
    • 1 teaspoon butter
    • 1 teaspoon olive oil
    • 1/2 cup minced shallots
    • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
    • 3/4 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
    • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (can also use Sherry Vinegar)2 tablespoons whipping cream
    • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

    Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Heat the butter and oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 4 minutes on each side. Remove from pan; keep warm. Add shallots & garlic to pan; sauté 1 minute. Stir in chicken broth and vinegar, and cook 2 minutes. Add whipping cream; cook 1 minute. Serve sauce with the chicken. Sprinkle with parsley.

    Note: I liked this a lot. The small amount of cream and butter is just enough to develop a rich, creamy sauce, but not enough to cause too much damage to your waistline/diet/healthy lifestyle. I served this with mashed potatoes–and the sauce was great on the potatoes too!

    I used fresh parsley, and I think it was worth it. It really brightened the flavors of the sauce, but if you don’t have fresh parsley on hand, I’m sure other fresh herbs would work, and of course, dry herbs will work in a pinch. Remember, if you’re making substitutions:  you don’t need anywhere near as much of a dried herb as you do a fresh one.

    I know I say this about a lot of things, but I’m sure we’ll have this again. Everyone was pleased.