Giant Crinkled Chocolate Chip Cookies

Once upon a time in the quaint coastal town of Santa Barbara, there lived a beautiful, kind, and very talented baker named Gwen.  This baker was known throughout the land to create scrumptious treats that would wow even the most doubtful taster.

I start this morning’s blog this way because my niece, Gwen, is truly a magical baker.  One day not long ago, she stopped me cold in my tracks when she made these cookies.

She had me at, “chocolate chip cookies.”  I was inspired!

Gwen’s cookies were quite literally the best chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever had.  And trust me, I speak from a lot of experience in this matter.  I kinda love trying different chocolate chip cookies.  It’s devilishly and decadently fun!

Anyway, my cookies did not turn out as well as Gwen’s.  Her’s were elegant, refined yet warm and homey.  Mine were good, but just not as crazy good as Gwen’s.  And thus, this is why Gwen is known as the most beautiful, kind, and talented baker in all of Santa Barbara.

Notes:  I couldn’t find chocolate that I could chop up so I just used chips and ran my knife through them.  That way there would be shards of chocolate and chunks that would spread out throughout the batter.  I also used semisweet chocolate, but bittersweet would be better. Semisweet is just a touch too sweet with the batter.

Giant Crinkled Chocolate Chip Cookies (recipe care of cooking.nytimes.com)

IMG_3339 copy

INGREDIENTS:  2 cups or 256 grams all-purpose flour, ½ teaspoon baking soda, ¾ teaspoon salt, ½ pound or 227 grams unsalted butter (2 sticks at room temperature), 1 ½ cups or 302 grams granulated sugar, ¼ cup or 55 grams packed light or dark brown sugar, 1 egg, 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract, 6 ounces or 170 grams bittersweet chocolate (chopped into coarse pieces, bits and shards)

DIRECTIONS:  Adjust an oven rack to the middle position. Line 2 baking sheets with aluminum foil, parchment paper or nonstick baking mats. In a small bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter on medium until creamy. Add the granulated and brown sugars and beat on medium until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the egg, vanilla and 2 tablespoons water, and mix on low to combine. Add the flour mixture, and mix on low until combined. Add the chocolate and mix on low into the batter. (At this point, the dough can be refrigerated for several hours or overnight.) Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Form the dough into 3 1/2-ounce (100-gram) balls (a heaping 1/3 cup each). Place 4 balls an equal distance apart on a prepared pan, and transfer to the freezer for 15 minutes before baking. After you put the first baking sheet in the oven, put the second one in the freezer. Place the chilled baking sheet in the oven and bake 10 minutes, until the cookies are puffed slightly in the center. Lift the baking sheet and let it drop down against the oven rack, so the edges of the cookies set and the inside falls back down. (This will feel wrong, but trust me.) Bang it down, if necessary, to make the center fall. After the cookies puff up again, 2 to 3 minutes later, repeat lifting and dropping the pan. Repeat a few more times, every 3 minutes, to create ridges around the edge of the cookie. Bake 16 to 18 minutes total, until the cookies have spread out, and the edges are golden brown, but the centers are much lighter and not fully cooked. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack; let cool before removing the cookies from the pan. Repeat with remaining cookies, using the first sheet pan for the third batch of cookies.

Bacon & Blue Cheese Biscuits

“Her’s look a lot prettier than mine.”  That was my slightly sarcastic, slightly realistic  response to looking at my biscuits and the magnificent, perfectly staged, professional photograph included in the People magazine from which I tore this recipe.

Okay, so if you’re at all like me, I don’t really try that hard to make an exact replica of the beautiful pictures that come with recipes.  It doesn’t matter if the recipes come from Martha Stewart, Sunset, Real Simple, etc., I just don’t put that pressure on myself.  As long as the flavors are on point, I’m happy.

Just an FYI… I didn’t use to be like that.  I was neurotic about perfection.  But age and maturity have softened my self expectations. Thank God!

These biscuits are crazy delicious!!! Paul liked that the strong flavors complimented each other well.  They are so yummy and easy to make.

I would serve these as a savory breakfast biscuit or alongside a homemade bowl of tomato soup or as a side to a packed salad.  They’re hearty, aromatic, and flavorful.  Enjoy!

Side notes:

  • My first batch baked for a bit too long; my oven must be hotter than hers.  With the second batch, I cut the second baking down to 10 minutes.
  • I froze the butter overnight, then cut it into small pieces.
  • I placed the bacon crumbles in the freezer for a few minutes before adding them to the batter. With biscuits, you want cold ingredients.
  • I found that this recipe made about 12-14 biscuits, so in between batches I kept the dough in the refrigerator.

Pauley Perrette’s Bacon & Blue Cheese Biscuits (recipe care of people.com)

IMG_2398 copy

INGREDIENTS:  3 cups all-purpose flour, 1 tbsp. baking powder, 2 tsp. baking soda, 2 tsp. kosher salt, 4 tsp. granulated sugar, 1 stick cold unsalted butter (cut into small pieces), 1 cup (6 oz.) crumbled crispy bacon, ½ cup crumbled dry blue cheese or Gorgonzola, ¼ cup finely chopped parsley, 1½ cups buttermilk

DIRECTIONS:  Preheat the oven to 400°. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar. Add the cold butter pieces to the flour mixture, and roughly mix with a wooden spoon, making sure not to break up or soften the butter. Add the bacon, blue cheese and parsley, and toss until evenly mixed.  Pour 1 cup buttermilk into the flour mixture, and gently stir with the wooden spoon. Stir in the remaining ½ cup buttermilk until the dough comes together. Do not overmix. With a large ice-cream scoop, spoon 10 heaping mounds of dough onto the prepared baking sheet, gently pressing down with the scoop while releasing the dough onto the baking sheet. Bake for 7 minutes. Turn the oven temperature down to 325°, and bake until the biscuitsare golden brown, about 18 additional minutes. Let cool on the pan for 5 minutes before serving.

 

Thyme, Cheddar Cheese Cookies

In an effort to stay true to this blog, this was not an easy recipe!  Well, let me correct that.  The way I made it was easy.  The baker’s instructions led me in a direction that was way off base.

I knew I was in trouble when I began mixing the cheesy, butter mixture with the flour.  She said to mix, “…until the flour forms wet clumps (and there are no dry spots in the dough.”  Yeah, that didn’t happen.  

My dough had small clumps of buttery goodness wrapped up in very dry flour, and when I transferred it from the bowl to the cutting board there was a pile of dried mess.  Kneading the dough into a log shape was not gonna happen.

I have absolutely no clue how she had such a wet dough, and one that allowed her to roll it into a sausage shape wrapped in plastic wrap.

Usually when I go rogue from a recipe, I fail and I fail really well!  I knew there was absolutely no way to correct whatever I had done wrong, but I also knew that I had a really yummy shortbread dough.  So I grabbed a 8×8″ baking dish, poured the crumbly mess in, and patted it down to create a flat surface.  I poked it with a fork a few times to release the air, and popped it in the oven.  Came out like a champ!  These are seriously delicious!!!

My square cookies are not nearly as charming as her perfectly round ones, but their flavors are divine!  I would serve these by themselves or they would be beautiful on a charcuterie board.  Be careful though, they’re delicate.

One note:  Once I pulled all of the thyme leaves off of the stems, I ran a knife through them.  In chopping them up (jut a bit), the flavor of thyme becomes stronger.

Thyme, Cheddar Cheese Cookies (recipe care of theflavorblender.com)

IMG_2242 copy

INGREDIENTS:  6 oz good quality white cheddar cheese from a block (not pre-shredded), 4 oz unsalted butter ½ cup (softened), 2 tsp cracked black pepper coarsely ground black pepper, 1 ½ tbsp fresh thyme leaves or 1 heaped tsp of dried thyme, ½ tsp sea salt (cheddar cheese is salty too, so add more salt only if you’re using a different cheese), 5.3 oz AP flour about 1 ¼ cup AP flour (spooned and leveled)

DIRECTIONS:  Shred the cheddar cheese using a grater (large grater holes are ideal). Place the butter, shredded cheese, black pepper, salt and thyme in a bowl and mix with a hand-held beater on medium speed. Mix for a few minutes until the butter is creamy and the cheese gets mixed in with the butter. Add the flour, and mix on low speed until the flour forms wet clumps (and there are no dry spots in the dough). Bring the dough together to form a dough ball. Knead it a little if needed (to bring it together). But don’t knead too much. Form an evenly shaped dough log that’s about 6-7 inches long. Wrap it in plastic wrap. Knot the two ends to form a tightly wrapped dough “sausage”. Refrigerate until the dough has chilled – about 30 min to 1 hour. You can also let it chill for up to 5 days in the fridge, or in the freezer for up to 2 months. When you’re ready to bake – remove the log from the fridge (or freezer). If the dough is too hard to cut through, let it thaw a little (so that it’s still chilled, but easier to cut). Unwrap the dough when you’re ready to slice it. With a sharp knife, cut ¼ inch thick discs from the dough log. Use your fingers to shape the cookies into nice round shapes, if they lose their shape a bit. Place the sliced cookies on a parchment paper-lined baking tray and let the tray chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper. Place the chilled cheese cookies on the parchment paper-lined half sheet pan, with about an inch of space between each cookie. Bake in preheated oven for 10 – 12 minutes for a soft cheese cookie – remove the cookies from the oven when the bottom edges of the cookie are starting to color. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes for a crispy cheese cookie – remove from the oven when the cookies start turning golden in color on top. Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool for a few minutes. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and let them cool completely. Repeat with the remaining sliced cookies (make sure the half sheet pan is at room temperature for this second batch of cookies – so either use a new half sheet pan, or cool down the previous one to room temp. first). Place the cooled cookies in an air-tight container for up to 4 days. OR wrap them in plastic wrap, and then in foil, and store in a freezer bag in the freezer for up to 1 month. Serve at room temperature.

Chocolate Chocolate Nut Cookies

I was deeply skeptical of this recipe.  The main reason was because of the amounts of the dry ingredients.

The second reason for skepticism was the source of the recipe.  Ralph Lauren?!?!  Really?!?!  Ralph Lauren is a clothing line.  Why would I ever pay attention to a recipe advertised on his website???

With all that said, I was scrolling through Instragram and stumbled upon this delicious sounding recipe on a surprisingly uncharacteristic site.  Who would’ve thought that the Ralph Lauren would’ve advertised this recipe?  Turns out Ralph shared his wife’s lovely recipe.

Now.  In reading this recipe, I was arrogant and presumptuous of the result.  However, the dry ingredient ratio to the wet ingredient made me confused (which in truth is not that shocking).  Just seemed like a weird combination.

Have faith and make this crinkle cookie.  It’s delightful!  Trust in the recipe quantities.

Here are a few tips:  Roast the walnuts ahead of time, but pay attention (I forgot that I was roasting them and burnt a few).  The funny thing is in all of the nut roasting, I had preheated the oven and placed the broken walnuts in the tray then said, “Don’t let me forget the walnuts.”  If you know me at all, of course I was distracted and forgot the walnuts.   I burnt the perimeter of the pan, thus many nuts.  The smell of roasted walnuts was enticing but the taste was both pungent and questionable.  Don’t forget you’re roasting nuts when you’re roasting nuts!

I love walnuts.  If you’d prefer to incorporate other nuts, go for it!  Just be sure that the batter is cooled sufficiently and your audience are nut fans!

Chocolate Chocolate Nut Cookies (recipe care of ralphlauren.com)Cookies

 

INGREDIENTS:  1 pound semisweet chocolate (chopped), 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) salted butter, 3/4 cup brown sugar (firmly packed), 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, 1/4 teaspoon baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 2 cups walnuts or almonds (toasted and chopped)

DIRECTIONS:  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Melt half of the chopped chocolate with the butter in the top of the double broiler over simmering water.  Let cool.  Mix in the sugar, eggs, vanilla.  In a separate bowl mix the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Stir in the dry ingredients into the melted chocolate mixture.  Stir in the remaining chopped chocolate and nuts.  Cover the mixture and refrigerate for one hour.  Lightly butter two large baking sheets.  Drop the batter in 2-tablespoon measures per cookie to make two dozen.  Press down gently on each cookie. Bake until they start to crack, 12 to 13 minutes.  Let the cookies cool completely on the sheet.

Yellow Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Happy birthday Paul, a.k.a. PDiddy!!! My husband’s 48th birthday was today.  And even though we’re in this whole pandemic situation, we made the best of it and he had a wonderful day!

Paul’s favorite flavoring is vanilla (not sure how we grew to love each other considering I have an intense addiction to chocolate).  So when I asked him what kind of cake he wanted, he promptly and without much thought said, “Vanilla.”  Frosting of choice was chocolate to which I promptly and without much thought said, “Perfect!”

Now should I be at all concerned with the fact that my husband asked for the exact same cake that my father asks for his birthday every year?  Hmmm???

Sorry, I digress.  This is a fantastic recipe… so easy, so tasty, so devilishly fattening.  If you’re not a big fan of butter and sugar, this is not for you.  If you don’t mind adding the butter and sugar directly to your thighs, bake away!

My notes:  Um, do ya think I read the entire recipe before baking today? No, of course not! So when it called for cake flour and I stood in the aisle of Vons trying to find cake flour in a completely wiped out section, it was funny.  Conveniently enough, there’s this thing called the internet.  I looked up substitutions for cake flour and learned that for one cup of all-purpose flour minus two tablespoons, you can add two tablespoons of corn starch.  Huh. Who knew?  This recipe says to take away tablespoons of flour, add three tablespoons of cornstarch. Choose whichever tickles your fancy.

I asked PDiddy what sized cupcake he wanted and he chose the mini (thank goodness because I would absolutely eat a regular sized cupcake, and would just have to lather the buttercream to my arse).  The recipe filled an entire mini-cupcake tray plus four regular sized cupcakes.  The amount of frosting was plenty for all of them.

Yellow Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting (recipe care of marshasbakingaddiction.com)

Birthday CupcakesINGREDIENTS:

For the Cupcakes:  1 and 1/2 cups (150g) cake flour*, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 2 large eggs + 1 egg yolk (room temperature), 3/4 cup (150g) caster/granulated sugar, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter (melted), 1/2 cup (120g) Greek style yogurt

For the Frosting:  4 cups (500g) icing/powdered sugar, 1 cup (226g) unsalted butter, softened, 1/2 cup (50g) cocoa powder, 2 – 3 tablespoons milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:
For the Cupcakes:  Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with muffin cases, and set aside. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. Whisk together the eggs and egg yolk. Add the sugar, and whisk until combined. Add the vanilla extract, butter, and yogurt, and whisk until combined. Fold in the dry ingredients. Divide the batter evenly between the muffin cases, filling only 2/3 full. Bake for 14 – 16 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Allow to cool for 5 minutes in the pan, before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
For the Frosting:  Using a handheld or stand mixer, beat the butter until light and creamy. Add half the icing sugar, and beat until smooth. Add the cocoa powder, vanilla, and 1 – 2 tablespoons of milk, and beat until smooth. Add the remaining icing sugar, and beat until smooth. Add more milk to reach desired consistency. Transfer the frosting to a piping bag, and frost the cooled cupcakes.
Notes:

*Make your own cake flour! Measure out 1 and 1/2 cups (190g) of plain/all-purpose flour, remove 3 tablespoons, and replace with 3 tablespoons of cornflour/cornstarch. Sift well.

Leftover cupcakes can be stored, covered tightly, in the fridge for up to 3 days. Frosted or unfrosted cupcakes can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge. Cupcakes can be made 1 day in advance, covered, and stored at room temperature. Cover the frosting, and store in the fridge until ready to use.

Homemade Cinnamon Roll Cake

Now, y’all know I’m scared of yeast.  I have no idea what I do wrong every time I try to use yeast, but without fail I destroy it.  So when I saw this recipe I was stoked on the fact that I could create something resembling cinnamon rolls and not have to be bothered with pesky yeast.

This is such a yummy cake! It’s moist, buttery, sweet, and cinnamony.  That’s right, I said cinnamony.  I make up words all of the time.

Anywho, my darling nieces and nephew came over this morning to bake with us (don’t worry, we’ve been together multiple times during the social distancing era and we’re all quite safe).  It was so much fun to see that although they’re older, they still like hanging with Auntie Anne and Uncle Paul.

When we pulled the cake out of the oven, it didn’t look remotely like the recipe picture.  Not even close.  Our’s looked more like monkey bread.  The cinnamon filling kind of sat on top, rather than swirling into the cake.  Gwen had an excellent idea… we should’ve divided the cake batter in half so that we could drop the filling in between the two layers.

Oh well, next time.  Have fun with this one.  It’s a keeper!

Homemade Cinnamon Roll Cake (recipe care of thecountrycook.net)

Cinnamon Roll Cake

INGREDIENTS:

For the cake:  3 cups all-purpose flour, 1 cup white granulated sugar, 4 tsp. baking powder, 2 large eggs, 2 tsp. vanilla extract, 1 1/2 cups milk, 1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter (melted)

For the cinnamon filling:  3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) salted butter (softened to room temp.), 1 cup packed light brown sugar, 2 tbsp. flour, 1 tbsp. ground cinnamon

For the glaze:  2 cups powdered sugar, 5 tbsp. milk, 1 tsp. vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:

For the cake:  Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Spray 9 x 13 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray (I like the kind that has flour in it). In a large bowl (or the bowl of your stand mixer), combine ingredients for cake (except melted butter). Don’t overmix, just stir until combined. While your mixer is running, slowly add the 1/2 cup melted butter. Mix just until combined (overmixing flour in baked goods can make it tough and rubbery.) Spread this batter evenly into your baking dish.

For the filling:  In a small bowl, combine all your filling ingredients: softened butter, brown sugar, flour and cinnamon. Stir until combined well. Drop the cinnamon filling by spoonfuls onto the cake batter. Take a butter knife and make swirly, marble-effect patterns all around the cake. Drag the knife through both the cinnamon and cake batter. Bake the cake for about 35-40 minutes (it took about 40 minutes in my oven), until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

For the glaze:  Whisk together powdered sugar, milk and vanilla extract in small bowl. Pour the glaze over the warm cake.

Easter Brunch

Happy Easter to everyone! Because of the pandemic of Covid19 and social distancing, this year’s celebration was a tad different than in the past.

Paul and I decided to invite his mom and my parents (who are so bored being isolated like this) over for a social distancing Easter brunch. They jumped at the chance!

In planning for this, Paul and I thought it would be good to support a local business to help us throw this shin dig. It turns out that Anderson’s (best hot chocolate EVER) is open and just so happens to be owned by our neighbors up the street (learned that little fact last weekend). They have an amazing danish bakery and restaurant. We went a little crazy and ordered a TON of food. They were incredibly grateful and so were our tummies

If at all possible, during this time, support local businesses. They need our help!

Chocolate Olive Oil Brownies

Wow.  Just wow!

Imagine the moistest, most chocolatey, rich brownie you have ever tasted and multiply that by a thousand.

These are decadent, indulgent, and crazy delicious!  Next time that I make these (and yes, there will be a next time for sure) I might add a teaspoon of cinnamon just for fun.

Regardless of what you add and/or how you serve them, they are wonderful and so easy to make.  Go for it!!!

By the way, this photo does not show the reality of my attempt to flip the brownies onto a tray.  One third of the brownie batch landed on the tray while two thirds stuck to the pan.  I managed to make it look like they held together in this picture but alas, nope.  Total mess, utter failure, but tasted great!

Olive Oil Brownies (recipe care of sweetestmenu.com)

IMG_1963 copy

INGREDIENTS:  120 ml (1/2 cup) olive oil, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, 150 grams (3/4 cup) granulated sugar, 90 grams (1/2 cup) brown sugar, 3 large eggs, 40 grams (1/2 cup) cocoa powder, 70 grams (1/2 cup) plain flour, 75 grams (1/2 cup) chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS:  Preheat oven to 180 C (350 F) standard / 160 C (320 F) fan-forced. Line an 8-inch square baking tin with baking or parchment paper.  In a large mixing bowl, add olive oil, vanilla and sugars and mix briefly.  In a separate bowl, add eggs and whisk with a fork for approximately 30 seconds or until combined.  Add eggs to sugar mixture, along with cocoa powder, flour and chocolate chips. Gently mix with a spoon or spatula to combine. Pour into prepared tin.  Bake for approximately 28-30 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Leave to cool slightly before removing from pan. They will firm up as they cool. Serve with ice cream or cream.

Rosemary Garlic Buttermilk Biscuits

“One!  One buttermilk biscuit!  Ha ha ha!  Two!  Two buttermilk biscuits!”  After asking Paul to choose the size of the biscuit cutter he wanted me to use, he decided to count out each biscuit as I cut them like Count from Sesame Street.  He seriously cracks me up!

My friend from high school, Darrin, is a big supporter of my cooking adventures.  Every once in a while he’ll send me recipes to inspire me.  The other day he shared an article about how baking can lift your spirits.  It was well written and so true!

Paul and I are not struggling in these very strange times; we can easily find fun activities to pass the time mainly because we’re outdoorsy goofballs.  But there are a lot of people who are having a tough time navigating through all of this.  To all of those people… go forth and bake!

Pick a tempting recipe, turn on your favorite music, pour yourself a cup of coffee or tea or hot lemon water or mimosa or whatever your fancy, dance around the kitchen, and bake your anxiety away.

Notes:

This recipe does not call for garlic but we are garlic lovers (that’s an understatement) so I added in about 1 1/2 or 2 teaspoons of finely minced garlic.  I also added in extra rosemary.

Paul was playing with the excess dough and created a thin circle biscuit.  After baking, it had the consistency of a cracker.  He came up with a fun alternative to a biscuit.

Rosemary Buttermilk Biscuits (recipe care of oliveandartisan.com)

IMG_1923 copy

INGREDIENTS:  2 ½ cups flour, ½ teaspoon salt, 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder, ½ cup butter (chilled), 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary chopped, 1 cup cold buttermilk, 2 tablespoons butter for the pan and for finishing

DIRECTIONS:  Preheat oven to 475 degrees.  Sift flour, salt, baking powder into a bowl.  Grate chilled butter with a box grater and incorporate it into the dry ingredients.  Chop fresh rosemary and put it directly into the buttermilk.  Pour rosemary buttermilk into a crater made in the flour butter mixture and stir until it forms a ball.  Turn out on a floured surface. With a rolling pin, roll into a 3/4-inch thick rectangle. Fold into a smaller rectangle and repeat about 4 more times. This will give your biscuits the layered consistency we love. The goal is to have butter speckled dough, so keep it cool by not using your warm hands too much.  When ready, roll the dough until 3/4 –inch think and cut with a biscuit cutter (the top of a water glass will work too). Use the scraps to roll out and repeat until most, if not all, the dough is used. It should yield 10 biscuits when using a 2 inch biscuit cutter.  Place onto a buttered glass pan and bake about 15 minutes until just turning golden brown. Do not over bake. Brush the top of the hot biscuits with butter and sprinkle with sea salt.

Shepherd’s Pie

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  Many moons ago (many, many moons ago), I flew to Ireland to attend a semester abroad at University College Cork.  It was one of the best experiences of my life.

In addition to meeting the most wonderfully lovely people and learning about a fascinatingly beautiful culture and attempting (and totally failing) to learn Irish, I had a blast trying different Irish dishes.

One of these dishes was traditional shepherd’s pie.  My Irish roommate made this fabulously simple yet delicious and hearty dinner for my Polish and Italian roommates and luckily, me.

This was my first attempt at making a shepherd’s pie and although there was a ton of chopping of ingredients, it’s a really easy recipe.  I should’ve let the liquid reduce more; the meat was a touch runny.  And the potatoes were a bit chunkier than I would’ve preferred.  But the flavors were on point.

Notes:  1.  I used WAY more butter than called for by “accident” (keeping to my Irish roots).  2.  I used WAY more garlic than called for, not by “accident” (breaking from my Irish roots).  3.  In an attempt to make this a touch healthier, I used ground chicken instead of lamb and beef.

Shepherd’s Pie (recipe care of rachelraymag.com)

IMG_1845 copy

INGREDIENTS:  4 large russet potatoes (peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes), Salt, 1 tbsp. olive oil, 3 tbsp. butter, 1 lb. ground sirloin, 1 lb. ground lamb, Pepper, 1 small onion (finely chopped), 1 carrot (chopped), 1 stalk celery (finely chopped), 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce, 2 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves (chopped), 2 cloves garlic (chopped), 1 tsp. ground caraway or whole caraway seeds, 1 tsp. ground cumin, 2 tbsp. flour, 1/2 cup white wine or dry sherry, 1 can (10.5 oz.) beef consommé or 1 1/2 cups beef or chicken stock, 3/4 cup sour cream, 1/4 cup fresh chives (chopped), 1 large egg yolk, About 8 oz. shredded Gruyère or white cheddar, 1/3 cup (a handful) fresh flatleaf parsley (finely chopped)

DIRECTIONS:  In a medium pot, cover the potatoes with cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Salt the water and reduce heat a bit to keep the water at a gentle boil. Cook the potatoes until tender when pierced with a knife, about 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, heat a large castiron skillet over medium-high. Add the oil, one turn of the pan, then add 1 tbsp. butter. When the butter melts, add the ground meat; cook, stirring often and breaking up the meat with a spoon, until browned, about 8 minutes. Season the meat with salt and pepper. Add the onion, carrot, celery, Worcestershire, thyme, garlic, caraway, and cumin. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables soften, about 8 minutes. Stir in the flour. Add the wine and consommé and stir until thickened, about a minute. Reduce heat enough to maintain a simmer.  Turn on the broiler.  Drain the potatoes. Using a potato ricer or food mill, puree the potatoes back into the hot pot. Mix in the remaining 2 tbsp. butter, the sour cream, chives, and egg yolk; season.  Spread the potatoes over the meat and veggies in the skillet. Top with the cheese. Broil until the top is browned and the edges bubble, about 4 minutes. Top with the parsley. Serve the pie directly from the skillet.