Tag Archives: potatoes

Shepherd’s Pie (with a kick!)

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Shepherd's Pie (with a kick!)
What happens when we bring the comfort and heartiness of British cooking and the spice and spunk of the Indian cuisine? Well, many good things actually! Dishes like Mulligatawny soup and Chicken Tikka Masala have long been a fixture in most British pubs and homes. Perhaps combining Shepherd’s Pie and Rogan Josh curry is not pioneering a new frontier but it IS creating a delicious and memorable dinner nonetheless. Look at the vibrancy of the colours!
Shepherd's Pie (with a kick!)
Preparing it as easy as 1-2-3 and, even better, I’ve got loads of pictures for you to follow along. ūüôā
Ingredients:

  • Olive Oil- 1 tbsp.
  • Onion, chopped- 1 large
  • Cilantro, chopped- 1/2 bunch
  • Garlic, minced- 2 cloves
  • Extra lean ground beef- 1 lbs (technically Shepherd’s pie is made with ground lamb and Cottage pie is made with beef)
  • Carrots, diced-2 ( I used 1 orange and 1 purple!)
  • Cauliflower, chopped -1/2 head
  • Peas- 1/2 cup
  • Rogan Josh curry sauce or your favourite curry sauce ( I used Patak’s sauce since it’s my favourite)
  • Water- 1/2 cup
  • Potatoes, boiled and mashed- 4 large
  • Butter- 2 tbsp.
  • Salt and pepper

Shepherd's Pie (prep)
Method:

Wash and peel your potatoes and cut them in smaller and equal pieces, cook them in a slightly salted water until soft and mashable.

While your potatoes are cooking chop and dice all the vegetables. Just look at the colours here, all of the goodness of these will go into your meal! I saw purple carrots being sold at our local Sainsbury’s right before Halloween under the name “Witch’s Nose”. LOL I had to buy them! They look gorgeous and are incredibly sweet. My kids loved crunching on them for a snack. ūüôāShepherd's Pie (prep)

Separate cilantro leaves from the stalks, reserve the leaves and chop up the stalks, they carry too much flavour to get rid of them! Cook onions, cilantro stalks and garlic in 1 tbsp. of oil over low heat for 5-7 minutes. Shepherd's Pie (prep)
Add your ground beef and brown until no longer pink with a pinch of salt and pepper. Then add chopped carrots, cauliflower and curry sauce with 1/2 water, bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for 30 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Taste your curry for the seasoning, add more salt if necessary. Shepherd's Pie (prep)
While your curry is cooking prepare your mashed potato topping. When your potatoes are soft drain them and mash with 2 tbsp. of butter and a pinch of salt.
Shepherd's Pie (prep)
When your curry is done stir in frozen peas and chopped cilantro. Preheat your oven to 350F/180C.Shepherd's Pie (prep)
Empty the contents into a baking dish and top with mashed potatoes.
Shepherd's Pie (prep)
Bake at 350F/180C for 20-30 minutes until the filling is starting to bubble up. If you like a slightly crusty top on your potatoes broil it for 2-3 minutes at the end of your cooking time. Serve it with poppadums and mango chutney or a spicy lime chilli pickle. Shepherd's Pie (with a kick!)
Or you can dip your poppadums in the pie filling.Shepherd's Pie (with a kick!)
This shepherd’s pie is truly the best of the two worlds- the East and the West blending together.
Shepherd's Pie (with a kick!)
For more Indian food check out Chickpea and Butternut Squash Curry.
For British food take at look at Ground Beef Wellington and Wild Rabbit and Pheasant Pie.

Spanish Hash {Patatas Bravas+Eggs}

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Spanish Hash (Patatas Bravas and Eggs)
This recipe got created by accident which happens here A LOT. The night before Brad went on his trip we had a tapa night. I guess we were still in Spain in our spirits. ¬†Stay-in dates are great when it’s impossible to get a babysitter plus we can make any food we love for a fraction of the price at a restaurant. I love tapas but what I love even more is that we usually cook them together. ¬†It’s such a great way to start a date! Drinking wine while juggling multiple pots and pans and hot plates tends to infuse an everyday activity like cooking with much hilarity. Try it for yourself if you don’t believe me. ¬†( But be safe. Seriously.)

Patatas Bravas is one of the tapas that is “a must” for us. Fried potatoes served with spicy tomato sauce. Brilliant. “Bravas” means “fierce” in Spanish, apparently. How can you NOT love a dish that is fierce?!!!

Spanish Hash was born out of leftovers but it turned out to be such a  beautiful and satisfying breakfast dish I decided it deserved a life of its own.  I am definitely reserving this for weekend breakfasts and brunches. It would take just a few minutes to throw together if you have potatoes boiled and sauce made the night before.

Ingredients:

( For the bravas sauce)

  • Olive Oil- 1 tbs.
  • Onion (chopped) -1
  • Garlic – 4 cloves, sliced
  • Red Chilli- 1, minced
  • Carrot- 1 medium, finely chopped
  • Fresh thyme- 2-3 sprigs ( you can also use dried thyme)
  • Chopped Tomatoes- 1 tin (400gr)
  • Red Wine Vinegar- 1tbsp.
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Note: The sauce recipe makes about 1 cup but you will only need 1/4 cup for the breakfast hash. Reserve the rest to make “patatas bravas” or serve it with your favourite pasta.¬†

Ingredients for the Hash: (Serves 2 but you can easily double or triple it)

  • Potatoes (boiled and cubed)- 2 medium
  • Olive Oil- 1 tbsp.
  • Eggs- 1-2 ¬†per person ( I used 3 because I eat 1 and Brad eats 2)
  • Goat Cheese (crumbled)- 1 tbs. (or use whatever cheese you like)
  • Parsley- 1-2 sprigs

Method:

As I mentioned earlier you can cook potatoes and the sauce the night before. This way your morning will be much smoother. If you are doing everything in one go here is what you need to do.

Half your potatoes and bring them to a boil in a pot full of water, then cook them for 6-8 minutes longer until soft but not falling apart. Drain and cool the potatoes.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a saucepan and cook your chopped onion and sliced garlic over low heat for 5 minutes, then add minced chilli, chopped carrot and thyme (leaves only) and cook for 5 minutes longer. ¬†Then pour in your canned tomatoes, vinegar and a pinch of salt and pepper, turn the heat up and bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and let the sauce simmer for 10 minutes until it’s thick. ¬†When you are satisfied with the thickness of the sauce take it off the heat, pour it in a food processor or a blender and blend until smooth. Scoop 1/4 cup out and reserve the rest for a later use.

Preheat your oven to 350F/180C

Heat 1 tbsp. of oil in a frying pan and add your cubed potatoes into it, cook them until they are golden brown, then add 1/4 cup of the bravas sauce. Make little wells in the sauce and potatoes and carefully crack your eggs into them and put the pan in the preheated oven for 6-8 minutes depending on how soft or firm you like your egg yolks.  Once the the eggs are set, take them out, sprinkle them with crumbled goat cheese and chopped parsley.

I can’t tell you enough how wonderful the bravas sauce is! It’s like the most flavourful ketchup with a bit of a kick to it. I am absolutely in love with it and am currently adding it to everything. Enjoy!

Spanish Hash {Patatas Bravas+Eggs}
Note: The bravas sauce recipe was adapted from “Jamie Does Spain”.

Spinach and Walnut Pesto Potato Salad

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Spinach Walnut Pesto Potato Salad
In this season of barbecues and outdoor eating you can’t find a more suitable side dish to a grilled steak or a burger than a nicely made potato salad. At least not for me. In my potato loving ways I am Russian through and through. However, I will only eat a potato salad made by me. A potato salad snob? Perhaps. I give no excuses but I do offer recipes. One of my all time favourite potato salads is called Olivier¬†and I often turn to it at my family’s requests but as usual I crave variety.

A couple of weeks I ago a stumbled upon a recipe for a Georgian bean salad in one of my numerous cookbooks. The dressing for it caught my eye as something I vaguely recalled eating as a child while spending a holiday in the country of Georgia with my parents. Georgia’s cuisine is quite famous and loved in Russia for its unusual flavour combinations, their use of fresh herbs and spices and overall deliciousness. Needless to say, I was absolutely thrilled with the result. The dressing had the basic ingredients for Italian pesto but instead of using basil and pine nuts as the base, it called for spinach, cilantro, parsley and walnuts. I made so much of that pesto and literally fell in love with the flavour that for the next two weeks I’ve been putting it in everything-my morning eggs, my sandwich and finally potato salad. This is how a new and now a favourite potato salad was born. I wanted to contrast the creamy texture of new potatoes with something crunchy so I added sliced radishes and fresh shelled peas. Voila!

Spinach Walnut Pesto Potato SaladSpinach Walnut Pesto Potato Salad
Ingredients:

  • New small potatoes- 1 lbs
  • Radishes-10
  • Fresh peas- 1/4 cup (shelled)
  • Baby greens – 2 cups

Ingredients for pesto:

  • Spinach-200gr
  • Walnut pieces- 3/4 cup
  • Garlic cloves- 3
  • Red wine vinegar-3 tbsp.
  • Flat leaf parsley- 1/4 cup
  • Cilantro-1/4 cup
  • Red chilli or dried chilli flakes (optional)-1 small
  • Lemon juice- 1/2 lemon
  • Olive oil-1/3 cup
  • Salt and pepper- a pinch of both

Method:

Cook the potatoes in a large pot until tender but not falling apart, they should be firm. I prefer to cook mine with the skins on. If you are using large potatoes, quarter them after they’ve been cooked. Let them stream dry and set aside.

While the potatoes are cooking prepare the pesto. Combine all the ingredients but olive oil in a food processor and blend until smooth.  With the motor of the food processor still running slowly pour in the olive oil in a thin steady stream until the mixture is well combined.

{The recipe given here will make about 1.5 cups of pesto. Use 1/4-1/3 cup for the potato salad and refrigerate the rest in an air-tight container. It will keep for two weeks in your fridge or a month in a freezer.}

Coat the potatoes with the pesto sauce while they are still warm. That will allow for the flavours to blend properly. Put in the refrigerator for the potatoes to cool. Before serving toss the salad with sliced radishes, shelled peas, and baby greens.

Spinach and Walnut Pesto Potato Salad
As you can seen I had little visitors while I was shooting who were set to pinch sweet peas off any time I wasn’t looking but got caught in the act!

Celebrate like a Russian with Shuba and Olivier or Russian Food Demystified.

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caviar canape

Yesterday was Russian Orthodox Christmas celebrated according to the Gregorian calendar, and as done as I was with all the holidays I couldn’t resist making a special meal. Our festive fare was an exact replica of what my mum would have made- Roasted Chicken and Savoury Buckwheat with Caramelised Onions and Mushroom as the centrepiece but surprisingly that is not what my post is about. Today I will be talking about the sidekicks of Russian holiday meals known as “zakuski”,¬†which if translated into English, would mean “little bites”. Little they might be but their presence is absolutely essential and marks every special meal in every Russian household.¬†Zakuski¬†(pl) serve the same purpose as Italian antipasti-they are meal starters and are meant to whet your appetite and are traditionally offered with a selection of flavoured vodkas, liqueurs and, more commonly nowadays,¬†wines.

Although Zakuski are just there to tease you before the main course arrives, they are so incredibly delicious and oftentimes people can’t resist eating just a little and are usually already stuffed to the brim when it’s time to move to the next course. In Russia there is a vast variety of foods that are known to be served as zakuski-from simple pickled and brined vegetables to cured meats, variety of cheeses, caviar and salads.

I will be sharing two main salads that no Russian holiday goes without- Shuba and Olivier. You are probably wondering if I’ve lost my mind trying to promote salads as some sort of a delicacy. Don’t worry; for Russians holiday salads are something entirely different- no lettuce leaf in view!

Shuba

Shuba- Smoked Salmon under layers of colourful veggies.

Shuba Ingredients:

  • Smoked Salmon -200 gr. ( I prefer cold smoked salmon)
  • Potatoes- 2 medium
  • Onion- 1/2 medium
  • Carrots- 2 medium
  • Eggs-3
  • Beets-3 small

Dressing Ingredients for both Shuba and Olivier:

  • Mayonnaise – 3/4 cup
  • White Wine Vinegar- 1 tbsp
  • Dijon Mustard (no yellow French’s mustard please)-1 1/2 tsp.
  • Milk- 1-2tbsp (to losen the dressing)
  • Pepper -a pinch

Method for Shuba:

Put potatoes, carrots (don’t worry about peeling) ¬†and eggs in the same pot and cook until ¬†tender but not falling apart. Cook beets with the skin on in a different pot as they will take much longer to cook and will colour the water bright purple. Alternatively, you can roast them in the oven at 375F/190C for about 30 min., pierce them with a knife to test for doneness, your knife should easily go all the way through.

Cool the vegetable.

While the vegetables are cooling prepare your dressing. In a medium sized bowl mix together mayonnaise, white wine vinegar, mustard, milk and pepper with a wire whisk until well combined. Add more milk if necessary to ensure your dressing is somewhat runny.

Peel your eggs and vegetables and grate them on a vegetable grater separately without mixing with each other. Set aside in separate small bowls. Dice the onion finely. Set aside.

Chop the smoked salmon and cover the surface of your serving plate with it. This recipe will fit on a regular dinner size plate.

This salad is assembled by layering the ingredients on top of each other. The order of the layers is not as important as long as you start with the salmon and finish with the beets. This is how I usually arrange my layers:

  1. Salmon-a drizzle of dressing all over
  2. Potatoes-a little more of dressing
  3. Onions-still more dressing
  4. Carrots-and a bit more
  5. Eggs-a teensy more
  6. Beets- and the last bit of dressing

You get the idea, right? Each layer of the salad gets covered with the dressing, just drizzle lightly with a spoon and smooth it out.  I recommend using no more than 1 tbsp per layer, otherwise it becomes too stodgy! Reserve the rest of the dressing for Salad Olivier.

This salad is the best enjoyed a few hours after it’s prepared as time allows the dressing to seep through the layers and produce almost magical and very unusual flavours.

Note:¬†Traditionally Shuba is prepared with pickled herring but I started making it with cold smoked salmon for the lack of the right kind of pickled herring I found that I like it even better. I’ve also made it with adding yams/sweet potatoes as another layer, it was simply delicious.

Olivier 

olivier

Salad Olivier is a Russian favourite and as I am discovering quickly becoming a salad of choice for anyone I’ve ever cooked it for. I often bring it to barbecues as it goes ideally with grilled meat. Overtime it became known among my friends as “Russian Potato Salad” and one of the most requested items. The original recipe was invented in 1860s in Moscow by a French chef and a fashionable restaurateur M. Olivier. It was so wildly popular they could never take it off the menu. Many other chefs tried to duplicate it without success as chef Olivier never revealed his secrets and took the dressing recipe to his grave while the salad lived on. The modern day recipe is not exactly the same as in the 19th century and my version will take you even further from the widely accepted one.

Ingredients for Olivier:

  • Potatoes-4 medium
  • Eggs-6
  • Cooked Chicken-(I usually use Rotisserie Chicken from a supermarket) 1/2 of whole chicken
  • Dill Pickles/Gherkins- 4 medium
  • Green Onions- one bunch
  • Apple- 1/2 of a medium
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Method:

Cook potatoes and eggs until potatoes are tender but not too soft and cool both. Cook chicken if not using already prepared, set aside to cool.

Dice all the ingredients into 1/2″ dice and empty into a large bowl. Add the reserved dressing and gently mix everything together making sure not to mash the cooked ingredients. At this point give it a try and add salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate for a couple of hours to allow all the flavours to blend. Don’t skip that step, it does make a big difference.

If you would like to experience a true Russian zakuski table serve some salami, a variety of cheeses, olives, crusty bread with butter and caviar in addition to the lovely salads I shared with you and don’t forget VODKA!

caviar canape

Christmas Dinner {Part 2}-Potatoes a la Russe and a Love Story

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Before I share this recipe with you I would like to warn you that a floodgate of sentimental mush is going to come forth with it. It is not ¬†just a recipe it’s a story of me and my then-boyfriend-now-husband Brad and our journey of bringing two very foreign lives together in order to make sense of our future.

When I moved from Russia to the States I often got asked what kind of food we ate back in the Motherland but if my answers didn’t include cabbage or vodka they only led to disappointment from my college classmates. To put an end to all the confusion I went to Barnes and Nobel one day and purchased a very thick and legit looking Russian cookbook-The Art of Russian Cuisine by Anne Volokh to arm myself with a variety of authentic Russian recipes to share.

Potatoes a la Russe was one of the them although I have to admit it existed in the book under a different name perhaps slightly more prosaic and much less French.

You are probably wondering where exactly love comes into all this food talk. Well, food and love are always connected- you can’t possibly cook great food without putting love into it AND everything tastes so much better when you are in love.

The story takes us to my college days when Brad and I were still dating . We were very young and in love and completely broke. We had no money to go on all the thrilling, mind-blowing dates we often saw in rom coms. We had to get creative! Cooking together in a small student kitchen on our college campus was one of our favourite pastimes. It was so much fun to “play house” with him and also introduce him to some of the dishes I grew up with, then watch his reaction. Thumbs up or thumbs down. Not all ethnic recipes translate well to North American tastes but this particular one I am about to share with you does. I am pretty sure Potatoes a la Russe made Brad fall in love and realize it was unlikely he could live the rest of his life without those potatoes…and me.

So be prepared this dish has magic properties. You can even say it’s a Love Potion of sorts. The most beautiful thing is that it’s dead simple and requires very basic ingredients.

potato bake ingredients

Ingredients:

Potatoes-4-5 medium

Onion-1 medium

Mushrooms- 100gr

Parsley-4-5 sprigs

Creme Fraiche or Sour Cream

Butter-3 tbsp.

Salt and Pepper

Hard and Sharp Tasting Cheese like Parmesan (I used Pecorino as that’s what I had in the fridge)

Method:

sliced potatoes

Preheat your oven to 350F/180C. Butter an oven proof dish and set aside. Heat your non-stick frying pan and melt a tablespoon of butter into it. I can already predict that people will want to substitute butter with oil or margarine and I am going to stop you in your tracks. Don’t do it! Butter is where your flavour comes from. Don’t mess with perfection!

Slice you potatoes (not too thin) and fry them in batches until golden, season with salt and pepper. Take them off the heat once they are nicely coloured even if they are still hard on the inside, we will bake them later till doneness.

sliced mushrooms

Now slice the mushrooms and fry them in the same pan over a medium heat adding more butter and seasoning them with salt and pepper. Chop up your parsley and sprinkle all over mushrooms and cook 2-3 min. longer until all the liquid from the mushrooms evaporates. Set aside.

sliced onions

Slice the onions and fry them as well. Now all of your ingredients are ready for layering.

The layering of this dish is very similar to lasagne, so I am confident you will master it. First arrange your slices of potatoes on the bottom of your dish and scatter onions on top of them. layering 1
Next layer mushrooms.
layering 2
And then repeat all the layers one more time finishing with a thin layer of creme fraiche.
layering 3
Finish it off with sprinkling of grated sharp cheese.
layering 4
Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until heated through and the cheese is golden.
potato bake final
Every beautiful thing is essentially simple but simple doesn’t have to be dull. This potato dish is a proof that a few great quality ingredients put together in a loving way can produce flavours that are far from plain. The mushrooms, potatoes, onions and butter together are so earthy, gratifying and deliciously nostalgic of childhood and simpler days you would want to eat it every time you are faced with the harsh reality of the world. Comfort food indeed!
P.S. In no way this post was promoting or supporting”emotional eating”:-). All the beautiful food should be eaten in moderation and enjoyed with friends and family, they are the “real” mood lifters, not butter!