Sunday, October 3, 2010

Happy Birthday Dear Old Dad!

My dad's birthday is tomorrow, but tonight was easier for making him a birthday dinner. My Dad's mom (my Grandma, duh) was part English. She was amazing. I'm pretty sure that English blood and marrying my Irish mom, gave my dad some interesting tastes when it comes to food. One of those have parleyed into him being a connoisseur of shepherd's pie. I have never tried the traditional version seeing as how I don't like red meat, so tonight we ventured into a new and healthy version. It needs some work, but otherwise it was a great fall meal and it was a yummy SQUARE meal!

Turkey and Sweet Potato Shepherds Pie

1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion (or any onion that isn't red), chopped
3 large carrots, peeled and chopped
1 pound ground turkey (I used the mixed version, not just ground breast or white)
1 cup vegetable (or chicken) stock
1 TBSP tomato paste
1 TSP fresh rosemary, chopped
1 TBSP fresh parsley, chopped
1 cup frozen peas
2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1 TBSP butter
1/2 cup vegetable stock (or milk if you want)

1) Preheat oven to 375
2) Place potatoes in a pot and cover with water, bring to a boil. Cook until tender, about 20 minutes and then drain. Mash with the butter, stock (or milk), and salt and pepper.
3) Meanwhile, in large pan, saute oil, onion, carrot, turkey, salt and pepper. Cook until browned, about 10 minutes.
4) Add stock, tomato paste, and herbs. Simmer until liquid thickens, about 10 minutes and then stir in peas.
5) Pour mixture into one 1 1/2 quart baking dish or divide into ramekins.
6) Spread the potatoes on top of the meat mixture.
7) Bake until lightly browned, 30-35 minutes.

--The dish ended up being a bit dry. I have a box of turkey gravy from Trader Joe's that I may stir in next time just before adding the peas. I always pictured this dish as being like a stew and it ended up more like meat and veg covered with sweet potatoes. Either way, we polished it all off tonight!

Cranberry-Apple Compote/Sauce
(I just threw this one together, so hopefully my guess of measurements isn't too far off)

1 large apple (I used a fuji)
2 cups fresh cranberries
1 lemon
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 cup of water
1/2 cup sugar (more or less depending on sweetness of apple and tartness of cranberries)

1) Chop apple into chunks with peel still on.
2) Rinse and pick over cranberries
3) Using a vegetable peeler, make about five strips of lemon zest.
4) Put apple, cranberries, lemon zest, juice from half the lemon, cinnamon stick, water, and sugar into a pot. Bring to a boil, then turn down heat and cover.
5) Let simmer about 20 minutes, stirring frequently. Pull out zest and cinnamon stick before serving.

Braised Swiss Chard

1 bunch swiss chard, stems discarded and leaves chopped
1 cup apple cider
1 TSP lemon juice
salt and pepper

1) Heat swiss chard in a frying pan until wilted, about 5 minutes.
2) Stir apple cider, lemon juice, salt and pepper into the greens.
3) Cook over low heat, with a cover, for 20 minutes.
4) Uncover and turn up heat. Continue cooking until liquid turns syrupy.

I enjoyed this meal with Goose Island's Harvest Ale. It was a great fall meal! Desert was my delicious pumpkin bars that I may share the recipe online, but may not. They are one of my secret weapons that I may prefer to be secret.

Until next time...

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