Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A cookbook for everyone

I'm sitting here on a cold winter's day, with snow still on the ground and I decided to pop in one of my favorite movies, Julie and Julia. It always inspires me to be creative when I cook. It's also one of the things that inspired me to blog. It got me thinking, Julie fell in love with The Art of French Cooking and blogged about it...what is my favorite cookbook? The Joy of Cooking...the title says it all. 

OK, cooking isn't a joy for everyone but it is for everyone in my family. I come from a long line of great cooks, some classic, some gourmet, but all of us love to cook. This cookbook has been around for decades and is truly a classic. Not only does it give you recipes but it teaches you HOW to cook and WHY certain ingredients should/shouldn't be used. In my family, this has been passed down for several generations. My mom gave me this copy back in 1998 and I've long since lost the cover from extensive use. There are several recipes that the book automatically opens to (apple pie I & banana bread) because I use it so much. She even inscribed a little note inside, which makes it that much more special: 

"This was your great grandmother's (Grandanna's), your grandmother's (Gimmer) and your mother's (me) favorite cookbook. I hope it will bring you as much Joy as it has all your Boone Family. - Love, Momma 7-31-98"
 Case in point, the Hubbie doesn't often have dinner requests so when he does make one, I know it's something I need to make. After all, "a way to a man's heart is through his stomach" and my hubbie is no different. Not long ago, the Hubbie requested (randomly) Shepherd's Pie. This conjured up thoughts of a quaint, little pub in England that I visited 6 years ago on a business trip but I didn't really know what was in a Shepherd's Pie, much less how to make one. That's where the Joy of Cooking came in. Sure enough it was in there and the recipe was delicious! Did you know that true Shepherd's Pie is made with lamb, not beef? If you make it with beef it's called Cottage Pie. 

Classic Shepherd's Pie

1 1/2 lbs all purpose potatoes, peeled & quartered
1 Tbs butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled & chopped (I used 2)
1 celery stick, chopped (I used 2)
1 lb ground lamb (easily found in the meat section of your grocery store)
3/4 cup beef or vegetable stock
1 Tbs all-purpose flour
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried rosemary
pinch of ground nutmbeg
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Boil the potatoes until done. Drain then add the butter and some salt & pepper.   Mash and beat the potatoes until fluffy (with wooden spoon or electric mixer - you can also use a hand masher).  Tip: taste them, if they taste like good mashed potatoes, then they are good. If not, add more salt or pepper. 

While the potatoes are cooking, in a medium skillet, over medium-low heat add 3 Tbsp oil, onion, carrot and celery. Cook until softened, about 15 minutes. Increase the heat to medium and add the lamb. Cook approx 10 more minutes, stirring to brown evenly. Spoon off any fat then add flour. Cook, stirring 2-3 more minutes then add stock, herbs and salt & pepper. Reduce heat and simmer until thick (about 5 min). 

Let cool slightly then transfer to a 9-inch pie dish or baking dish. Spread the mashed potatoes over the top. Scatter over the top 2 Tbs butter, cut into small pieces. Bake until potatoes are browned and the dish is heated all the way through, approx 30-35 minutes. Serve while hot straight from the pie dish. 

While you may think this is an odd dish, it's actually quite good. If you don't have this cookbook, I encourage you to get it ASAP. You'll not only have great recipes but you'll learn so much about cooking by just reading it. 

If you have a particular dish you want me to try and tell you about before you make it, let me know by posting  comment! I love trying new dishes! 

Bon Apetit! 

1 comment:

  1. Matt has decided he wants to concur sauces next but doesn't know where to start. I told him this weekend: pull out Joy of Cooking, and every sauce you could ever want will be there.
    Glad to know I'm not alone in my love for it!