Thursday, March 10, 2011

Two for one

Ok guys, you get two for the price of one today. Lucky you!! I actually started this little journey two nights ago but didn't get it posted so I will let you know how the first TWO recipes went.

I had originally thought about just starting from recipe #1 and following the book by the numbers. But I have really never been a "by the numbers" kind of girl. I like to walk on the wild side so I jumped all the way to recipe #2. Oh I am so daring, right? I know! 

Anyway, the book has several "Master Recipes" and then through out it has little ways you can mix it up to  make a whole new dish. That is how it went with recipe #2. The original recipe was for Smoky Turkey Shepard's Pie, which by the way I am making tonight. I am a little backwards at times but hey I get there. Here is the Master Recipe;

Smoky Turkey Shepherd's Pie


  • 3 large Idaho potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • Coarse salt
  • 2 tablespoons EVOO - extra-virgin olive oil - 2 turns of the pan
  • 1/4 pound smoky bacon or turkey bacon, chopped
  • 1 1/3 pound ground turkey breast
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika, available in small cans on spice aisle of market
  • (You may substitute 1 1/2 teaspoons each sweet paprika and cumin combined)
  • Coarse black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons, 5 or 6 sprigs, fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3 ribs celery from the heart, chopped
  • 1 small red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 cups frozen peas
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 10 to 12 blades fresh chives, chopped or snipped


Bring a medium pot of water to a boil, salt it, and cook the potatoes until tender, 12 to 15 minutes.
Heat a deep, large skillet over medium-high heat. Add EVOO, 2 turns of the pan, to the skillet. Add bacon and brown it up, then add ground turkey to the pan and break it up. Season the turkey with smoked paprika, salt and pepper, and thyme. When turkey browns up, add: onions, carrots, celery. Season the veggies with salt and pepper. Cook 5 minutes, then add red pepper and peas cook another 2 minutes. Stir in flour and cook flour 2 minutes. Whisk in broth and combine. Add 1/2 cup of sour cream and combine.Simmer mixture over low heat.
Preheat your broiler to high.
When potatoes are tender, add a ladle of cooking water to the egg.Drain potatoes and return to the warm pot to dry them out a little. Add remaining 1/2 cup sour cream, butter, half of the chives, and salt and pepper. Smash and mash the potatoes, mashing in the beaten, tempered egg. If the potatoes are too tight, mix in a splash of milk.
Pour turkey mixture into a medium casserole dish. Top turkey with an even layer of smashed potatoes and place casserole 5 inches from hot broiler. Broil the potatoes until golden at edges and remove the casserole from the oven. Garnish the casserole with the remaining chives and a sprinkle of smoked paprika.

4 servings

The twist for recipe #2 was to omit the potatoes, peas, and egg. Then swap 2 pounds ground lamb or sirloin for the turkey and 2 cups beef stock for the chicken stock and add 1/2 pound wide egg noodles and WALA Goulash is born! 

I opted for the sirloin version, although I think the lamb would be better. That is of course if you like lamb, which my entire family does. Which brings to mind the obvious question of why didn't I do lamb? Heck if I know, but I am definitely going to try it. So for the Goulash you just follow the Master Recipe above, swapping the lamb or beef for the turkey and beef stock for the chicken stock. Serve the Goulash over the cooked egg noodles dressed with the butter and chopped chives.

I have to admit that somehow I got my wires crossed and didn't have the red bell pepper on hand and I think that is a important part of the flavors for this recipe. Kevin and I both really enjoyed it. Kevin even had two helpings! But my daughter said it was just so-so, that "it needed spice" and my father also said he felt it was kind of bland. Which if you knew my father you would have had the same look on your face as I did when he said that. This is a man that thinks Hamburger Helper is awesome. All I could think was "really Dad?". However, I can see where they both were coming from. SO the moral of the story.....cook the meat you know your family loves and DON"T FORGET THE RED BELL PEPPER!

Now, on to last nights meal.....

I went for recipe #4 which is a Master Recipe. It is for;

Mac-n-Cheddar with Broccoli


Coarse salt
1 pound elbow macaroni or cavatappi (cork-screw shaped pasta)
2 1/2 cups broccoli florets
1 tablespoon EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
3 cups whole milk
1 cup chicken stock 
3 cups grated sharp yellow cheese
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
freshly ground black pepper


bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt to season the cooking water, then add the pasta. Cook for 5 minutes, then add the broccoli and cook for 3 minutes more or until the pasta is cooked al dente and the florets are just tender. Drain well and return to pot.

While the pasta cooks, heat a medium sauce pan over medium-low heat. Add the onions and cook for 3 to 5 minutes to sweat them out and turn their juices sweet. Raise the heat a bit, then whisk in the flour, cayenne and paprika. Whisk together until the roux bubbles up, then cook for 1 minute more. Whisk in the milk and stock and raise the heat a bit higher to bring the sauce to a quick boil. Once it bubbles, drop the heat back to a simmer and cook until the sauce thickens, 3 to 5 minutes.

Add the cheese to the thickened sauce and stir to melt it, a minute or so. Stir in the mustard and season the sauce with salt and pepper. pour over the broccoli and cooked pasta and toss to combine. Adjust the seasonings, transfer to a large platter, and serve.

4 servings

This recipe was a big hit with everyone. Well, Kevin loved it but the first thing he said when he saw what I was making was "Where's the meat?". He is a true carnivore so he wants meat with every meal. Jessi gave me the two thumbs up, and my son that popped by unexpectedly said it was "grubbin'". On a side note, I did make Kevin a couple of hot dogs to keep his meat cravings calmed. 

One of the things I will say is I think the cayenne pepper is a very important part of this recipe so even if you think you don't like it, TRUST ME you will. It is not enough to make it hot, just enough to give it that little "oomph" to make it taste awesome.

Oh another thing, I don't like my pasta really al dente and the cavatappi pasta I used was a pretty sturdy noodle, so I would possibly cook the pasta a minute or two longer than the recipe states before you put the broccoli in. I put it in when it was called for and due to needing to cook the pasta longer the broccoli was a bit mushy, but it still tasted good.

So stay tuned.......tonight is the Smoky Shepherd's Pie.

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