Winterfood in summertimes

Winterfood in summertimes

After spending some (by far not enough!) lovely days in sunny France, it’s been quite harsh getting used to the dutch equivalent of summer. I’ve just grown accustomed to waking up from sunlight, throwing on whatever sundress was nearest by and dashing off, out into the warmth that is the south of France (okay.. that’s not true. I had an amazingly extensive amount of wardrobe choice crammed into my suitcase), spending the entire day just strolling, sightseeing, eating and drinking.. Something I could never tire of!

But alas, I’m back in Holland, and it’s like the weather is taunting me with a reality check: grey, clouded, drizzly weather. This instantly awoke my winterfood-needs (hotchpotch,stews, pot roasts..), but since I had not yet found the time to properly restock my fridge, I was limited in my options. However, I was lucky enough to have some potatoes, onions, carrots, cheese, dried herbs, and ground meat in my kitchen/fridge/freezer.

After contemplating it just wasn’t cold enough to make ‘hutspot’ I decided to go with shepherd’s pie: something I’ve never cooked before, but it always seemed so.. wholesome. Plus, fairly easy. Just what I needed! After IM’ing about this with the bf (of course he was pro shepherd’s pie, he’s always pro whatever food I cook), he remarked that it was like a British version of moussaka. I figured he wasn’t wrong, and maybe this dish could benefit with some cinnamon as well..? I was definitely going to try.

For the potato mash:

  • 1 kg (35 oz) floury potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 medium onion, peeled, halved and sliced
  • 200 mL (6.8 oz) milk
  • 2 large handfulls of grated cheese, preferably aged
  • a knob of butter
For the meat filling
  • 400 gram (14 oz) minced meat, whatever you prefer, I used beef, but it is originally made with lamb..
  • 1 medium onions, peeled and chopped
  • 4 or 5 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 can of 400 grams (14 oz.) plum tomatoes
  • 150 mL (2/3 cup) chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 teaspoons of dried thyme (honestly, I never measure this, so it’s a rough guess)
  • 1 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon

I stumbled upon some red pesto that was about to go bad, so I decided to throw it in as well, what the heck. Must’ve been about 2 teaspoons. I’m sure you can acquire this taste difference by adding some parmesan, if you so wish.

Anyway, in a large saute pan (incidentally, a birthday present from the bf), heat up some butter or olive oil and add the onions meant for the mash. On a low simmer, slowly fry them until they are translucent, then remove from the pan. Heat up a little more oil (if needed), and add the remaining onion (meant for the filling) and the carrot. Put the lid on the pan and let them sweat on a low simmer, until both the onion and the carrot has gone soft. Remove the lid, add the garlic and the herbs (sneak in a crumbled up pepperoncini if you’d like to spice it up) and turn up the heat.After the garlic has slightly colored, add the meat and fry until browned all over. Add the tomatoes (break them up with a wooden ladle), optionally the pesto, and stir well. Once heated properly, add the stock, and stir again. Taste the filling, add salt and pepper to your liking, turn down the heat and let it simmer until it has reached the consistency of your liking.

Look at my lovely new pan, simmering away!

Preheat your oven to 180 °C (356 °F). Meanwhile, boil the potatoes for about 20 minutes in plenty boiling water with en equal plenty amount of salt.
Mash them, then add the onions, butter, milk and stir well until a smooth mash arises. Stir in the cheese, some more salt and pepper if needed (taste it first, obviously) and perhaps some nutmeg. You could stir in an egg or 2 if you prefer the mash to be more solid. Besides the fact that I didn’t have any eggs around, I like my mash creamy and soft.

Pour the filling into an oven dish, spread the mash on top of it, smoothing it out nicely. You could sprinkle some more cheese on top of the mash, but it really isn’t necessary. Place in the oven for about 15-20 minutes until the mash (and possibly cheese) has gained a nice golden colour. Enjoy!


Delicious and easy: just my kind of food!

Stay tuned for my next posts, as I have been inspired by the french cuisine -who wouldn’t be- to try some new things (well, new to me) as well as recreating some golden oldies. Let me tell you, making coq au vin in a french country-house’s kitchen (in the languedoc region!) really heightens the flavor. Though it could just be the wine..

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