New Traditions and Lentil Shepherd’s Pie

When the New Year came around this time, David and I decided to make a few resolutions. We came up with a few of our own and a few as a couple. One of those resolutions was to start cooking together. As many of you can tell I am the cook in the family. I breathe, sweat, and dream about cooking. I like to believe that my passion has peaked some interest in cooking for my husband. Just as some of his interests have gotten me exploring. The wonders of marriage.

So, starting the beginning of the year we started to cook Sunday dinner together. Sunday dinner is something that I have always wanted to institute into our family and what better time than the present to start the tradition. So far, I have been planning what we make together but I keep in mind what David is interested in and what he would like to cook.

davidcooking

I will admit it hasn’t been the easiest for his controlling wife, but it is a great learning experience. Just because he didn’t cut something the same way, he is not moving at the same pace as me, or he is doing something wrong in my eyes doesn’t mean he isn’t learning or that he is doing it wrong. I have learned patience and I am sure I will learn more as we keep up with this tradition.

sprained ankleI was thankful last week when I had a pretty painful sprained ankle. David was able to make us Carrot Ginger Soup while I helped coach from the couch. It was the best carrot soup I have ever had.

Last night, we cooked together making Lentil Shepherd’s Pie. I have made it before and I have come up with my own recipe. It is a great Meatless Monday, vegetarian, or upcoming Lent meal. David and I only eat meat about twice a week for budgetary reasons. We have decided to give up meat for Lent. We plan on only eating meat on Sundays during the Lenten season, so I am sure this recipe with come in handy. Lentils are a great bulk-er for vegetarian dishes. I just made this Lentil Curry and it was AMAZING! The recipe made it into my binder.

lentilshepherdspie

Lentil Shepherd’s Pie (Serves about 8)

1 tbsp butter
2 leeks, cut into 1/4 inch half moons, wash throughly
2 carrots, 1/4 inch half moons
2 celery stalks, 1/4 inch chop
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pkg mushrooms, quartered
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup lentils (brown, green, puy all work), rinsed and check for stones
1/2 cup red wine
1 bouillon cube with 3 cups water or 3 cups stock (vegetable or beef work great)
3 cups mashed potatoes (recipe follows)

1. In a large pot melt the butter over medium low heat. Add leeks and saute until translucent.
2. Add celery, carrots, and garlic. Saute for 2 minutes.
3. Turn heat up to medium high, add mushrooms, stir well. Stir every minute or so the mushrooms are able to cook and release their liquid.
4. Add thyme, bay leaf, pepper, and tomato paste. Let the tomato paste cook for 2 minutes.
5. Add lentils and stir well.
6. Deglaze the pan with the red wine. Making sure to scrap up all of the brown bits on the bottom of the pan.
7. Add stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Check to see if the lentils are fully cooked and if it needs seasoning with salt and pepper. If they are not let them cook for another 5-10 minutes. If the lentils are cooked turn the heat off.
8. In a casserole dish, spread lentil mixture evenly in the dish. Top with mashed potatoes. Bake 375F/190C for 20 minutes.

Mashed potatoes are different for everyone. Skin removed or not. Lumpy or smooth. Thick or creamy. Everyone is different. So, here is the basics.

My Basic Mashed Potatoes (Makes about 3 cups)
3 med-lg baking potatoes, peel removed if desired (I personally leave mine on.)
1 tbsp butter
1/4 cup creme fraiche or sour cream
lots of salt and pepper

1. Cut potatoes into strawberry sized pieces. The key to timing potatoes is the smaller you cut them the faster they will cook.
2. Add potatoes to a saucepan and add cold water so the potatoes are covered with water. I cover my pan to prevent water going everywhere.
3. Put the pan on high heat, bring to a boil and turn down the heat to medium. Potatoes will take about 10 minutes. If a fork goes through the potato without a lot of force they are done.
4. Drain the water but keep a little bit on the side to loosen your mashed potatoes.
5. I use a hand mixer(egg beater) to mash my potatoes. Mash for a minute, add butter, mix well, add creme fraiche/sour cream, lots of salt and pepper, mix well.
6. Taste and season accordingly. If you mash is too thick add some potato water to thin it out.

Also, I bought myself flowers for £2 and I really wanted to share them. They are beautiful roses and are still going strong after being in the clearance bucket and are now 4 days old. Go me!
flowersflowers1
Well, I hope you enjoy your week!

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