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Thursday, 9 June 2011
WINTER COMFORT FOOD
“The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of a world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found?” - J.B. Priestley
I had a very full and busy day today with many meetings, quite a few loose ends to take care of and many staff members coming to see me. In between everything I was finalising a submission, which thankfully got put in the mail on time. I managed to finish by five o’clock and at that stage felt rather tired, having been in at work since 7:00 am. Everyone, not the least myself, was looking forward to the end of the day as we have the Queen’s Birthday long weekend ahead of us. This is traditionally the opening of the ski season.
Our winter has come early and with bared claws this year so it is no surprise that most of the alpine resorts in Victoria are reporting a good coverage of snow and are expecting crowds of visitors and skiers for the long weekend. Snowmakers have been topping up the natural snow cover and the forecast is for mostly fine conditions throughout the long weekend with a chance of some isolated snow showers. This link will take you to the official Snow Report page of the Victorian ski fields.
I haven’t been skiing for a couple of decades now and don’t feel inclined to go in a hurry! I regard it as one of the follies of my youth, so consequently as I am no longer young, there is no reason for me to resume that particular folly. Snow is delightful to watch as it falls, of course, preferably from inside a warm room where the fireplace is glowing with a bright fire and the hot eggnog is sending its nutmeggy aroma through the room. The last time it snowed in metropolitan Melbourne was about 30 years ago, but there is sightseeing snow within an hour’s drive at Lake Mountain.
This is the time of the year for comfort food. As we had roast lamb a couple of days ago, here is a recipe that will utilise the leftovers in the fridge: SHEPHERD’S PIE Ingredients
For the filling
30 g lard
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
1 cup of frozen peas
450 g leftover roast lamb, minced
1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp tomato purée
300 ml beef stock
2 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1/2 tsp ground mace
For the topping
450 g potatoes
2 tbsp double cream
130 g unsalted butter
2 pinches nutmeg, freshly grated
grated parmesan (optional)
1. For the filling: Melt the lard in a large frying pan and add the onion. Cook for a few minutes until soft but not browned. Add the carrot and peas.
2. Add the minced lamb and fry for 2 minutes, then add the tomato purée, garlic if using it, and flour, mixing well. Add the mace.
3. Add the stock and bring to the boil, then simmer for 10-15 minutes until the stew thickens but does not stick to the pan.
4. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce, parsley and some salt and pepper, and remove from the heat. Put into a pie dish of about 900ml and leave to cool.
5. For the topping: Peel the potatoes then cut them into even pieces and put into cold salted water. Bring to the boil and cook until tender, then drain and return to the pan. Put back on the heat to dry out carefully, stirring all the time.
6. Put the double cream and 90 g of the butter into a clean pan and bring to the boil.
7. Mash the potatoes or pass them through a potato ‘ricer’ and add to the cream mixture. Stir well, season with salt and pepper and add some nutmeg. Allow to cool. Preheat the oven to 180˚C.
8. Put the potato into a piping bag with a 2cm star nozzle and pipe on to the meat mixture in the pie dish. Put the pie dish into the preheated oven for 10 minutes to set the potato topping.
9. Melt the remaining butter and carefully brush over the top of the pie and add the parmesan on top if using. Put back in the oven for a further 20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve immediately.
I have been blogging daily on this platform for several years now. It is surprising that I have persisted as the world is changing and "microblogging" is now the norm. I blog to amuse myself, make comment on current affairs, externalise some of my creativity, keep notes on things that interest me, learn something new and to surprise myself with things that I discover about this wonderful, and sometimes crazy, world we live in.
I sometimes get the impression that I am on a soapbox delivering a monologue, so your comments are welcome.