Monday, 8 June 2009

Shepherds Pie

Every second week the gorgeous Nikolas comes to hang out with his Dad. I enjoy spoiling him and introducing new things into his little world. Nik hadn't had crumpets for example and they are now his favourite.

Dinner is a little tough, he's a fussy eater so I am always searching for inspiration of what to cook. Shepherds Pie never fails however. Nik and his Dad love it. The crispy comforting mash potato and the meat filling served piping hot is such a wonderful winter meal. This recipe from is easy and perfect if you ask the three of us!

1 tbs olive oil
1 brown onion, halved, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled, finely chopped
2 celery sticks, trimmed, finely chopped
500g lamb mince
2 tbs plain flour or gravy powder
500ml (2 cups) beef stock
1 dried bay leaf
1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 tbs tomato paste
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
8 desiree potatoes, peeled, chopped
40g butter
125ml (1/2 cup) milk
Melted butter, to brush

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrot and celery and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until soft. Add beef mince and cook, stirring to break up any lumps, for 5 minutes or until lamb changes colour.

Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until combined. Add stock, bay leaf, Worcestershire sauce and tomato paste. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes or until sauce thickens. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile: cook potato in a saucepan of salted boiling water for 15 minutes or until tender. Drain well. Return to the pan with the butter. Use a potato masher or fork to mash until smooth. Add milk and use a wooden spoon to stir until combined. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 200°C. Spoon meat mixture into a 2L (8-cup) capacity ovenproof baking dish. Top with mashed potato and use a fork to spread over meat mixture. Brush with butter. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until mashed potato is golden brown. Serve immediately

Sathya-rating ****

Monday, 1 June 2009

Lucious Lemon Cake

I stumbled across this gorgeous coconut cake and decided to make it for an after dinner treat with the lovely Liz. I've been getting a little bored at home and enjoying being back in the kitchen so was excited to see how this cake would turn out, because Julie over at 'Dinner with Julie' made it look and sound delicious.

A few minutes into the process I realised I was screwed. I didn't have coconut extract. I did however have a few lemons in the fruit bowl so I mixed things up and used lemon zest and juice as the flavor for the cake and frosting. I'm glad I did, and so was Liz, cos it was perfect. Everything came together nicely and a delicious cake was enjoyed. Liz took a few pieces home for her and her new man and ate both of them, so it must have been good!

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
juice and zest of 1 lemon
1 1/4 cups milk

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Spray two 8” or 9” round cake pans or one 9”x 13” pan with nonstick spray.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a larger bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer for about half a minute, until it’s pale and creamy. Pour in the sugar and continue to beat for 3-4 minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each, and adding the lemon juice and zest along the way. Scrape down the sides of the bowl whenever it needs it.

Add about one-third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir it in by hand or with the electric mixer on low speed, just until it’s combined. Add about half the milk in the same manner, then another third of the flour, the rest of the milk, and the rest of the flour, mixing just until the batter is blended.

Divide the batter between the greased cake pans and tap the bottoms a few times on the countertop to remove any air bubbles. To prevent a domed top, spread the top of the batter with a spatula, creating a slight dent in the middle and a raised edge. This compensates for the way a cake tends to rise higher in the middle.

Bake for 30-35 minutes for round layers or 40-45 minutes for a 9-x 13-inch cake, until golden, the edges are pulling away from the sides of the pan, and the tops are springy to the touch. Let them cool for about 10 minutes before running a knife around the edge of the pans and inverting them onto a wire rack. Cool completely before you frost them.

Lemon Frosting:
1/2 cup butter, softened
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
3 cups icing sugar

In a medium bowl, beat the butter and extract with an electric mixer until creamy. Add about a third each of the icing sugar and milk; beat and continue to add each until you have a spreadable frosting. Makes enough for 1 cake or a batch of cupcakes.

Sathya-rating ****