Thursday, 9 June 2011


“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:

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.


  1. It's supposed to be late spring/early summer weather here in Holland. But today's rain chilled air makes your shepherd's pie recipe appealing. It's quite easy for me to substitute veggie meat for your lamb and still have something as scrummy as your pie image looks here. Happy eating!