There’s nothing like morning’s fleeting stillness for committing thoughts to words. I barely ever get to enjoy that space, but there’s no more perfect time that right now to reflect and appreciate, even for one moment, how much there is to appreciate. The basic act of thanks is what makes this my favorite holiday hands down. Today, there’s no need for gifts, tacky holiday tunes, or Black Friday drama. Let’s just be grateful and share a beautifully, lovingly crafted meal together. That sentiment is simple, profound and universal.
Jessica Comingore posted meaning it for a Friday, but I think it is equally compelling on this very early Monday morning. Also, mmmm. I have a love/hate relationship with coffee, but not today. Today’s all about the lovin.
It really is a week of firsts over here because I’m lucky enough to have in my hot little hands, a signed copy of Farm Anatomy by the one and only Julia Rothman. (Well, okay the PUBLISHER technically has the signed copy for one of you lucky ducks, but that just doesn’t sound as sexy).
And by now there’s enough pictures of this gorgeous book gliding around the internet that I don’t really feel the need to post a gabillion more, though I do love some of the process screen shots & sketches that Grace posted on Design*sponge. Suffice it to say that it’s beautifully composed, all drawn by hand in Julia’s trademark style. Chock-full of lore inspired by Julia’s in-law’s farm it feels like one part reference guide and one part family heirloom.
So instead of pictures, I decided to do something else I’ve never done on this blog: a recipe! I knew as soon as I joined this book tour I wanted to do something extra special and as I was perusing the pages I landed on a recipe for good ol’ Shepard’s Pie. There’s something especially nostalgic about it for me I suppose, brings me back to my church basement days and the age-old Minnesota tradition of cramming casserole dishes with warm and hearty stick-to-your-ribs filings. Mmm, Fall, is that you in my mouth? I thought so.
This particular rendition follows convention almost exactly, with savory base layer of meat & veg with an inch-thick top hat of mashed potato. Instead of lamb I used ground turkey, I added leeks and fresh sage and thyme, and I couldn’t resist including a couple parsnips in with the potatoes because I love me some root vegetables. For a vegetarian spin-off, I think lentils would be a delicious sub for the meat as well. Definitely will try that version next!
Shepard’s Pie Adapted from Farm Anatomy and Epicurious.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
3 cloves of garlic
1 leek, quartered, washed and chopped
2 medium carrot, peeled and chopped
1 pound ground lamb (or substitute half with another ground meat)
1 cup broth, any kind
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Various fresh herbs, 1 tablespoon each
1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley
1 cup frozen peas
2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
splash of cup milk (any)
Salt & pepper to taste
Pecorino Romano/Parmesan/chives for garnish
1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, heat oil, then add the onion, leek, carrot, garlic and meat. Cook until browned, 8 to 10 minutes.
3. Drain the fat and add the broth, tomato paste, herbs, and salt and pepper. 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. Meanwhile, bring the potatoes to a boil in salted water. Cook until tender, about 20 minutes; drain.
6. Mash the potatoes with the butter, milk, greek yogurt if you’re me, and salt and pepper
7. Spread them over the meat mixture, then crosshatch the top with a fork.
8. Bake until golden, 30 to 35 minutes.
9. Cool 10 minutes before plating, sprinkle with chives & Romano cheese for flair.
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Aspic & Other Delights is all about the vintage recipe love. I’d LOVE to go to a dinner party with modern remixes of these dishes. Except for the processed meat-in-a-can-Spam ones. Those I can do without I think.