March 3rd – 3.14 – Pi Day

Yesterday was Pi Day. If you have no knowledge of math this may make no sense. But Pi or π is a mathematical constant. Originally defined as the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, it appears in many formulas in all areas of mathematics and physics. Pi is 3.14159265359 or briefly 3.14. Get it?

But how to celebrate Pi Day, well of course, with Pie!

At the beginning of the week I informed my Sweetie ( the head chef in our house) that I wanted to make dinner on Wednesday.

“Okay,” he said. “What are you making?” “Never you mind,” I said.
“Do you need anything from the store?” He said. “No.” I said. “It’s a surprise and that would just give it away.”
“Does it have something to do with St. Patrick’s Day? Or, with the Ides of March? Sure, that’s it, something Roman, Italian.”  “No, no, and NO,” I said. “Just relax.”

Luckily he hadn’t thought of Pi Day. But geez, what a third degree. He really gets weirded out when I want to take over the (his) kitchen. Anyway I was making PIE. Chicken Pot Pie to be exact. And fruit pie for dessert. My pot pie was pretty basic except instead of pie crust I was using puff pastry which I think turned out way better. Here’s the recipe. I found it on the internet but did a few change-ups so this now my recipe.

Chicken Pot Pie with Puff Pastry
serves 4

1 sheet of puff pastry ( I used Pepperidge Farm)
1 Tbls olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup carrots, cut into bite sized chunks.
1 cup diced celery
1 large potato, diced or just largish chunks
1 tsp fresh Thyme
2 cups chicken broth
4 Tbls butter
4 Tbls flour
3/4 lb cooked chicken, cut into 1 inch pieces
salt and freshly grd pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Butter your casserole dishes. I used two 5×7 pyrex dishes. Make sure your puff pastry is thawed enough to unfold. It should still be cold.
3. Heat olive oil in medium saucepan and add the onion, cook and stir 2-3 minutes until softened. Add carrots, celery, potato (if raw), and 1 cup broth. Add thyme. Bring to boil and then reduce heat and simmer till vegetables are nearly tender. ( I think green beans, mushrooms, or peas would work well too).

My potato was cooked so I added it later.

4. Meanwhile heat a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the butter and once melted, add the flour all at once. Whisk until combined. Then add in the other cup of broth and whisk till smooth. Cook and stir till the mixture thickens.
5. By now your vegetables should be tender so pour the sauce in with the vegetables and stir. Season with salt and pepper. If sauce doesn’t seem thick enough cook for a while longer, continuing to stir. At this point I added in my pre-boiled potato and my pre-cooked chicken. Stir to combine.
6. Pour the mixture into your prepared baking dishes ( four 1 1/2 C dishes or in my case, two 3 C dishes).

7. Cut your puff pastry sheet to fit. A pizza cutter works really well. And you can piece your pastry if it won’t fit your pans exactly.  At this point folks, my Sweetie certainly knew what was happening and of course, couldn’t help but insert himself into the kitchen. The ruler and the pizza cutter were his ideas so I didn’t complain…too much.

8. Top each dish with puff pastry. Note the extra piece on the right dish. It is just lying on top, no wetting the pastry underneath to make it stick.

9. Put the dishes on a cookie sheet to catch spills. Transfer to oven and bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until pastry is puffy and golden brown. Once done. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

It turned out really good and we had one whole dish leftover for the next day. Also if you have any scraps of pastry left once you cover your dishes, bake them too. My Sweetie tied one strip in a knot and the other piece he sprinkled with coconut sugar. They baked for the same time.

pastry scraps

And for dessert…store bought fruit half pies. Choice of blackberry or strawberry rhubarb. I went with the strawberry rhubarb, had the blackberry for breakfast.

Happy Pi(e) Day!


Still Got the Sourdough Starter?

Well here is another really good recipe using sourdough starter. Which reminds me, I haven’t fed my sourdough in a while, it might be dead. Not good.

This particular recipe is Apple Cinnamon Flatbread but if you are a savory rather than sweet person it could be cheese and sausage bread, or onion and mushroom bread. Just make sure you put your toppings on in chunks rather than slices. You can do a lot with this flatbread because it isn’t sweet. The toppings are what makes this bread versatile. Because you use some yeast along with the sourdough starter this is a one afternoon bread and not an overnight creation.

It is not an original recipe just another from SIFT Magazine, but you can easily make it your own. Also this is the full recipe. I cut it in half and still had a lot of bread.

APPLE CINNAMON FLATBREAD (with all the rising time this will take you about 4 hours, plan accordingly)

1 C. sourdough starter (If you don’t have sourdough starter substitute 1/2 C.each lukewarm water and all-purpose flour)
3/4 C. lukewarm water
2 tsp instant yeast
3 C. Unbleached All-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbls nonfat dry milk
3 Tbls Olive oil

4 very large firm apples
1/4 C. boiled cider (substitute thawed frozen apple juice concentrate)
1/4 C. maple syrup

Boiled cider

1/4 C. cinnamon sugar
1/4 C. syrup, reserved from the cooked apples
2-3 Tbls coarse sparkling sugar (optional)

1. Combine all of the dough ingredients and mix and knead them to make a very soft dough. (by hand or with a mixer)

2. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl and let rise for one hour. Gently deflate it and allow to rise for another hour. It should at least to have doubled in size or come close to it.

3. While dough is rising, prepare topping. Core the unpeeled apples and cut into wedges and then cut the wedges into three pieces. You should have about 7 cups of apple chunks.

4. Put the chunks in a microwave safe bowl, drizzle with boiled cider and maple syrup (or substitute 1/3 C honey). Microwave till soft but still hold their shape, approx. 8 minutes.5. Drain apples. Reserve the juice.

6. Lightly grease an 18″x13″ rimmed baking sheet or 2 / 9″x13″ pans. (For half recipe one 9×13 worked fine). Drizzle the pan with some olive oil, this will give bottom of crust a nice crunch.

7. Deflate the risen dough, then pull and shape it into a rectangle that fits your pan. The dough will shrink back, as soon as it does, cover and leave it for about 10 minutes. Return and pat it toward the edges again. You may have to do this more than once until it covers the bottom.

8. Arrange the apple chunks on top. Mix 1/4 C of the reserved syrup with 1/4 C of the cinnamon sugar and drizzle over the apples.9. Cover the bread and Yes, let it rise again for about an hour, till nice and puffy. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Remove cover, sprinkle with sugar if desired, and bake 25 – 30 minutes till crust is golden brown around edges but feels set in center.

10. Remove from oven, cool a bit on a rack but serve warm, maybe with a nice piece of aged cheddar. Full recipe, 18 servings.

Just out of the oven.

This would be a fun Superbowl snack if you cared about any of the teams.




Super Easy, Last Minute Cookies

I made a batch of these the other day and noticed that the samplings by my husband ,as he strolled through the kitchen, was increasing, thus decreasing my cookie supply. So this afternoon I whipped up another batch. What are they? Coco-Almond Thumbprints.

Once again I have found some wonderful recipes in a cookbook my son gave me last Christmas, Dorie’s Cookies by Dorie Greenspan. After I first received the book I made a couple of batches of savory cookies which turned out great. After that I tried one or two others but I really don’t get into a cookie mood till Christmastime. So last week I dug out Dorie and made her, “My Newest Chocolate Chip Cookies.” I always make Toll House so this was a big change for me. They were good, with a subtle flavor. A mixture of whole wheat and white flour spiced with nutmeg and coriander. But they took some time as this dough is typically stiff and you have to work it. The other cookies I decided to make were the star of the show, “Coco-Almond Thumbprints” because 1) I love coconut and 2) they were sooo easy.

Batch 1: Chocolate and Raspberry

These cookies are basically Macaroons so if you are familiar with making those, you will have no problems. Here goes:

In a food processor add 2 cups sliced or slivered almonds, 1 cup shredded sweetened coconut, 1/2 cup sugar.

Pulse until the nuts are ground but leave a few larger pieces for texture. Don’t make dust.

Pour two egg whites in a bowl and break them up with a fork. Add a bit of the whites to the nut mixture and pulse till incorporated. Keep doing this till you have a dough that holds together when you squeeze it. Whole process takes a minute, tops.

Remove the bowl from the machine and take out the blade. Then measure out a tablespoon of dough and roll into a ball. (Dorie does teaspoons…TOO SMALL)  Press an indentation into the ball with your thumb, your knuckle or the end of a wooden spoon. ( I used the latter). Steady the cookie when you do this so it doesn’t crack too much. You’ll get some cracks no matter what.

Bake for 14-16 minutes, turning pan half way through the time. Cookies won’t color much  except for golden brown on bottom, but should be firm to touch.

Now Dorie goes on to make a chocolate Ganache that she puts into the indentations. Frankly that is too fussy for me. I just took a chocolate chunk ( or a chocolate chip if you like) and dropped one or two into the indentation right after the cookies came out of the oven. They melt nicely.

These chocolate cuties taste like an Almond Joy! Yum. But you can fill the dent with peanut butter, nutella, raspberry jam…use your imagination. Add the other fillings after the cookies cool. I did some with raspberry jam and some with apricot jam.

Batch 2: Chocolate and Apricot

Now I just have to hide some from Curt so I can send a cookie care package to my son.

Sourdough: No longer a Mystery

I’ve never made bread, and I definitely have never made sourdough starter but that is exactly what I accomplished this past week. My husband is the bread maker in this house and he makes wonderful bread. He has even taught some friends how to make bread. So I really never had an incentive. Why take on such a task when I can just eat his beautiful creations? But then while browsing in a local bookstore I found a gorgeous magazine called Sift. The photographs were beautiful and it promised 65+ Fall Recipes, Prize-winning Breads and Baking with Cider. I was hooked and paid the $12.95 and happily took it home. However once I really started looking through it I found most of the recipes I was interested in called for sourdough starter.  Oh yeah, I should have noticed that other line on the cover, 10 Sourdough Recipes to Try Now. Sourdough starter? Where do I get that? Well the short answer is you can buy it but you still have to feed it and keep it going and you are out $9.00 plus postage so I researched making my own. Basically your biggest investment is time, and a bag of flour, so I thought ,”What can I lose?”  After consulting the internet for some recipes, I settled on the one from King Arthur Flour and dove in. And even though we live in a fairly cool house (one of the many warnings) I had success.

left: Day 1 right: Day 4

After numerous feedings of flour and water it was doing really well by Day 4. And since when you feed it you discard half of the mixture I decide to save a cup and try one of the recipes from the magazine. (A side note, by Day 6 my starter was all it could be and I refrigerated it for later recipes.) The bread I decided to try first was Nutty-Fruity Sourdough because it was a one day bread, that is, no overnight rising.

One cup sourdough starter, a real sticky blob

In a large bowl combine 1 cup sourdough starter, 1 cup lukewarm water, 3/4 cup whole wheat flour (or pumpernickel), 2.5 cups all-purpose flour, 1.5 tsp salt and 1 tsp active dry yeast. Mix until the dough comes together, adding more water or flour depending on if your mixture is too dry or too wet.

Knead by hand for 10 minutes. Halfway through the kneading add in the 1.5 cups of dry mixed fruit and 1 cup chopped nuts. I used currants, cherries, raisins, apricots and walnuts. This was pretty difficult since the dough is really firm. Next time I will mix them in during the first step. As it was I resorted to flattening out the dough, adding some of the fruit mixture and then rolling and kneading it in.

Flatten, add some fruit, knead, repeat.

I did this about 4 times till it was all incorporated. Put the dough in a greased bowl, cover and let rise about 1.5 hours. It gets puffy but doesn’t double in size.Once the first rise is complete shape the dough into a boule or a log and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. You can also divide it into two loaves. Cover with greased plastic and let rise another hour. After second rise, slash the top (dust with flour or brush with an egg wash) and bake for 45 minutes until the bread is golden brown. Note: recipe said 30-34 min. but 45 worked for me. (internal temp should be about 190° F.)

And then it came out. I was really excited and could hardly wait till it cooled so I could cut it. I am happy to say it was a success. It is a pale bread but that is what the recipe said. No sugar but the fruit lends a subtle sweetness. I think it is good just plain but Curt says toasted with butter is the way to go. So if you happen to have sourdough starter around or get ambitious to make some, this is a good first bread to try, especially if you are a beginner like me.

What did you do Today?

Or what did you do all day? This was a question that we got a lot when we first retired. Usually when asked this I go blank. I know I didn’t just sit around (though that occurs), or take a nap (Curt does like to nap) or read ( yep, everyday), but what exactly did I do with the rest of the time? Well here goes, not a typical day but close.

I am not an early riser but I did want to go to the Farmer’s Market yesterday morning and Curt promised he wasn’t planning on being out the door at 7am. So we were up at 8 am and out the door by 8:20 am. We found a good parking space (yes, it is much more crowded when you get there a bit later) and hit the market. Four bags later we had mushrooms, zucchini, butternut squash, eggs, raddichio, peppers, cilantro, Spartan apples, carrots, eggplant, baby pattypan squashes, blueberry kringle (our breakfast) and apricots. Home by 9:30 where we made coffee and ate the kringle.

Apples, squash and apricots from Farmer’s Market

Once home I got the first of two loads of laundry in the washer. Curt started working on his chicken which was to be smoked. I got the miscellaneous dishes cleaned up and loaded the rest in the dishwasher. By now it is close to lunchtime. After lunch I got the last load into the dryer and went off to printmaking workshop over at the university. Last weekend we were part of a huge printing project ( 26 artists, each doing a 7″x7″ woodblock of a letter of the alphabet. These were put together into one huge print.) This week the print studio was open to anyone who wanted to do shorter individual prints using the same letters. I did three prints. You may notice I made a rookie mistake on one of the prints. Yes, the word DRIB was supposed to be BIRD. Whoops!  Later I’m cutting the letters apart.

Top: HEUER (read vertically). Middle: Individual letters/symbol RX@X Bottom: DRIB (Bird backwards)

Once home again, I saw Curt had potatoes on to boil and he had already smoked a pile of chicken breasts. One breast for dinner, the others to be frozen for meals later in the fall or winter.

I had muffins planned for the zucchini I had bought in the morning so I got those mixed and into the oven. While they baked I folded and sorted the laundry.

The potatoes for our dinner were done and cooling. The chicken was done. So Curt worked on a batch of cherry tomatoes (blanched and skinned) to put in the smoker. These get frozen in small batches and are great additions to soup, stew or sauce.

Smoked tomatoes

The tomatoes and chicken got packed and put into the freezer. We had a great dinner of potato/smoked chicken salad and finished out the day cleaning up the kitchen which looked pretty trashed after all the cooking and smoking and baking. Time to collapse into those comfy front room chairs.

What’s on for today? I think some reading, napping, a little football (Go Pack!). Afterall, Sunday is the day of rest. Ha! Oh wait, I was going to do something with those apples.

Cookie Book Cookies: Savory

img_0014For Christmas my son gave me Dorie’s Cookies by Doris Greenspan. It is a cookie recipe book. It was an especially nice gift because he had heard about it while listening to a podcast on Public Radio. Yes! I knew I had raised him right. The book itself is quite beautiful, great cover, lots of pictures ( my kind of recipe book!) and it weighs a ton.

bookThat poundage is because there are 160 cookie recipes in this book. While my son was home he mentioned that he was interested in the savory cookies and sure enough Dorie has a section called Cocktail Cookies that looked pretty interesting. So since the weather outside for the last week or so has certainly been nasty I decided it was time to try two of the savory selections. Half for us and half to be mailed to Nathan.


My first choice was Cranberry Five Spice Cookies. Chinese five-spice powder is a blend that includes star anise, Sichuan peppercorns, cinnamon, cloves and fennel. Dorie loves this spice and says it is equally good in sweet or savory dishes. She likes it best when paired with something tart or tangy so that’s why she has put cranberries into the mix. Here’s the recipe:

Makes about 50 cookies

5 Tbls sugar
1/2 C fresh or frozen cranberries, coarsely chopped
1 3/4 C flour
1 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cut in chunks, room temperature
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 large egg
1/2 C salted peanuts ,coarsely chopped

Coarsely chopped cranberries and nuts

Coarsely chopped cranberries and nuts

Mix 1 Tbls sugar and cranberries in a bowl, set aside.

Whisk flour and five-spice powder together.

In another large bowl with a mixer or by hand, beat the butter, remaining sugar and salt together till smooth and creamy. Add the egg and beat for one minute. (The mixture will look curdled, that’s ok.) Add flour mixture all at once and mix till it becomes a dough. Spoon the cranberries (drain off any liquid first) and the nuts into the dough and mix just to incorporate. You can do this with a spatula or with your hand. I found my hand worked great. Turn dough out onto counter and knead gently. Divide in half and pat each into a disk.

Put disks between parchment paper and roll to about 1/4 inch thickness. She says then freeze for about an hour. I found this too long. You need the dough firm to cut out cookies but if it is frozen you have to wait till it softens enough to get your cutter through it. Use your judgement.

Preheat oven, 350°, line cookie sheet with parchment paper. Using approx. 1 1/2″ cookie cutter, cut and place cookies on sheet. Bake 12 -14 minutes, rotating sheet half way. Cookies should be lightly brown on edges and just firm to touch. Mine needed about 18 minutes.

Cutting out Cranberry Five-spice dough

Cutting out Cranberry Five-spice dough

Repeat with remaining dough and don’t forget to use the scraps as well.

Recipe #2 was Smoky, Cheesy Cookies.

Makes about 45 cookies.

1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces
4 ounces cold smoked Gouda, cut into tiny cubes
2 ounces shredded sharp cheddar
3/4 tsp fine sea salt
1/4 tsp freshly grd black pepper
pinch of cayenne
1 1/4 C all purpose flour

Put the cold butter, Gouda, Cheddar, salt, black pepper and cayenne in a food processor and pulse until butter is in bits and mixture forms small curds. Add the flour and with long pulses mix until dough is moist and forms large popcorn-like curds. (Should be noted, mine took forever to get large popcorn-like curds. They never really were large but the dough finally started to combine and it felt moist so I just turned it out and scrunched it together and then kneaded it.)

Shape into ball, divide in half and do the same rolling, freezing and cutting as above with the Cranberry Five-spice cookies. Put on parchment paper or silicone sheet.

Almost ready for oven

Almost ready for oven

Bake 350 degrees. Bake 16 -18 minutes, rotating half way through. Mine went a little longer here too.

The verdict?

In the Cranberry Five-Spice, I couldn’t detect the five-spice flavoring that Dorie gets all excited about but the nuts and cranberries come through nicely, especially the nuts. She suggested sprinkling salt on the tops before baking and I did this for half. Both are good but my husband prefers the ones with salt. I also think they were better on the second day.

Left: Smokey-Cheesy Right: Cranberry 5-Spice

Left: Smokey-Cheesy
Right: Cranberry 5-Spice

On his initial taste of the Smoky, Cheesy ones my husband said, Cheez-its. Oh no! I went to all this trouble and they taste like Cheez-its. But not really. Yes, they may give you that at first bite but then the smokiness of the gouda comes through. These are quite nice with a little sausage and a glass of red wine or with eggs and bacon for breakfast.

I will definitely be trying more of Dorie’s recipes.

My son’s share went into the mail today. Hope I packed well.

The Basic Batard

No, not bastard; batard.

detail of bread crust

A batard is basically a loaf of bread lacking the confidence to be a baguette, that classic bread of France. The classic baguette is around 24″ long and around 2-1/2″ in diameter. The batard is shorter – around 12″ but sometimes as little as 6″.

I like baguettes/batards for several reasons. The crust to crumb ratio is pretty high so you get lots of nice crispy/chewy crust (my favorite). You don’t need to slice it because its small diameter allows for the primal pleasure of just tearing a piece off to dip into your soup. And, lastly, the baguette/batard is the prefect bread for making pain perdu, French toast.

While I have made bread for many years, I’ve avoided trying to make batards.  When I have tried in the past, they came out pasty, with poor crust and just plain boring.  The problem was not enough temperature and humidity.

But, I have solved those issues.  I haven’t done anything that most good bread cookbooks don’t tell you.  It’s just that I actually followed directions this time and it worked.

Basically this is the same dough I use for my basic bread using the well-known recipe for no-knead bread from Jim Lahey and popularized by Mark Bittman in a video in the New York Times.  The difference for batards is in the final rise and baking.

Batards rising. Note generous coating of flour to keep the dough from sticking to the towel.

Batards rising. Note generous coating of flour to keep the dough from sticking to the towel.

Prepare the dough as directed in the recipe.  After the dough has fermented over night, divide it into 2 or 3 pieces, handling it carefully so as to not deflate it.  Shape (stretch) each piece into a 12″, or so, long form and place on a floured tea towel to rise.  You can bunch up the towel along the loaf to help keep it from spreading too much.  Use a separate towel for each loaf because you will use the towel to roll the loaf onto your baking sheet.

While the loaves are rising, pre-heat the oven to 500˚ F. Put a large roasting pan on the lower rack of the over with 1″ hot water in it.

Slashed loaves on baking sheet ready for the oven.

Slashed loaves on baking sheet ready for the oven.

Roll the risen loaves onto a dry baking sheet.  Using a very sharp knife or single edged razor blade, slash each loaf (classically with 3 long diagonals) about 1/4″ deep.  Put the sheet into the hot and humid oven and bake for 25 minutes.

Finished loaves fresh from the oven.

Finished loaves fresh from the oven.

Allow the batards to cook on a wire rack and store at room temperature. Bon appétit!

The "Taster" waiting for his sample of the fresh batards.

The “Taster” waiting for his sample of the fresh batards.

The “Taster” is a small sculpture that hangs on our kitchen wall.  It was made by Andrew Lonnquist of Olander Earthworks.  We bought ours at the Saturday Market in Portland, Oregon but is also available (along with a number of other characters) at his Etsy site.

Dessert Baby!

While browsing through the seemingly millions of posts on my Facebook since the day before, I happened upon a picture of a Dutch Baby. No, not an infant from the Netherlands but a really wonderful looking pastry. It reminded me of a savory dish called a sausage puff that one of the cooks in our original eating group served us.

The caption under the picture said this was essentially a sweet popover. After a little research I found a few other facts about a Dutch Baby. It was sometimes called a German Pancake, a Bismarck or a Dutch Puff, derived from the German pfannkuchen. The “Dutch” part is not so much a reference to the Netherlands but a corruption of the word for German, ‘Deutsch”, as in Pennsylvania Dutch, who were German/American immigrants.

Well we were having a friend over for dinner the next night and I thought this would make a fine dessert, even though it is usually considered a breakfast or brunch treat. The original recipe (from Williams-Sonoma Taste) served 4 but since there were only going to be three of us and this was going to be served after dinner, I felt it needed to be cut down so in my recipe the measurements in parenthesis are what I used. So here is my version of a:

Dutch Baby with Fresh Berries

5 Tbls unsalted butter (3 Tbls)
3/4 C flour (1/2 C)3 eggs (2)
3/4 C milk (1/2 C)
1 tsp vanilla (2/3 tsp)
2 Tbls sugar (4 tsp)
1/2 tsp salt ( a big pinch)
Confectioner’s sugar
Assorted berries

Preheat oven to 450 degrees
Put the butter in an ovenproof 12 inch fry pan. I used a 9 inch cast iron pan. Place in oven for 5 minutes to melt the butter. (Don’t put in too early because you don’t want to burn the butter but just get it melted and hot).

While the butter melts, combine the flour, milk, eggs, vanilla, sugar and salt. (This recipe uses a blender but I used a whisk. Just blend or whisk till all lumps are gone.)

Remove the pan from oven and CAREFULLY pour the batter into the pan. Return to oven and bake until sides are puffed and dark golden brown, 15 -20 minutes. I went the full 20 minutes plus some since it seemed the center wasn’t done. However that was just some residual butter floating around. It was done! So don’t be fooled.

Be sure to have your guests gathered in the kitchen when you take it out of the oven because it is an amazing sight but will deflate fairly quickly.

A Dutch Baby, hot out of the oven

A Dutch Baby, hot out of the oven

Done and ready to cut.

Done and ready to cut.

Williams-Sonoma would have you put a dollop of crème fraiche in the middle, sprinkle with berries and dust with confectioners sugar before you cut. I, instead, divided it into serving sections, and added the berries and sugar once it was on the plates. Tasted great, looked great. And that browned crust may look stiff but was surprisingly soft.


My Actual Pi Day Pie

pi on pieA couple of days ago I told you about a pie I made and I tied my story to Pi Day however TODAY is the actual Pi Day.
So in honor of The Pi Day I made a Shepherd’s Pie.

pie7I don’t know why I decided to make a Shepherd’s Pie, maybe because it has a good name. It originally was called Cottage Pie referring to a rural dwelling. And lamb is traditionally used because shepherds herd sheep not cows or chickens. Whatever, once I made that decision I had to locate a recipe. I tried some of my own cookbooks but Martha was putting a rutabaga mash on top of hers and Jamie Oliver and Julia didn’t even list it in their books. So next up, the internet. Of course there are a bazillion recipes to choose from so I went to a few of my standby sites and settled on Epicurious because  1) traditional mashed potatoes on top and  2) ground lamb, which I already had in the freezer (some recipes called for ground beef). Being super easy was a third benefit. Frankly, most Shepherd’s Pie recipes are pretty easy.

The Sheep Herder’s Dinner



1 Tbls vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
1 pound ground lamb
1 cup beef broth (or chicken)
1 Tbls tomato paste
1 tsp rosemary
1 Tbls chopped Italian parsley
1 cup frozen peas
2 lbs russet potatoes (peeled and cut into chunks)
6 Tbls unsalted butter
1/2 cup milk (any fat content)
salt to taste

Preheat  oven to 375.
1. Bring the potatoes to a boil in salted water. Cook until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain.
2. While potatoes are cooking, heat the oil in a large saute pan, then add the onion, carrot and meat. Cook until browned, about 8 – 10 minutes.
3. Drain the fat and add the broth, the tomato paste and the herbs. Simmer until the juices thicken, about 10 minutes, then add the peas.
4. Pour the mixture into a 1 1/2 quart baking dish. Set aside.

5. Mash the cooked potatoes with butter, milk and salt. Spread them over the meat mixture, then rake a fork over the top so it looks like a plowed field.


6. Bake until golden, 30 -35 minutes. Need it to be more golden? Put it under the broiler for a minute or two, keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn.


And that’s Shepherd’s Pie. Pretty easy and pretty tasty.

Plated serving.

Plated serving.

This recipe serves 6 statistically average people or 3.14 hungry shepherds so the two of us have a lot leftover. I’m guessing it will reheat well but it won’t look as pretty since it has to be repackaged to go in the freezer. But I was cook tonight so Curt is in charge of cleanup. I’m sure he will think of something.

Hope you had a Happy Pi Day. Did you make pie?