Monday, April 20, 2009

A shepherd's pie for fussy eaters

Everyone lets out a sigh of relieve! It's meat night!!!! You'd think I was torturing them. You'd think I only feed them once a week and the other 6 days and 18 meals its only water and stale bread. SERIOUSLY!

But I am glad they are looking forward to tonight's meal. That always makes me happy.

The recipe is from Annabel Karmel's book "the fussy eaters' recipe book". There is nothing special about this book, no quick and easy tricks to get your fussy eater to eat his vegetables. For that you'd need some serious witchcraft. In my opinion, no tricks or deceptions work to make a child eat something he simple does not want to eat. We all know someone who can hide the most vegetables in a muffin. Pureed, minced or chopped. Or some super patient mum who walks after her toddler with the dinnerbowl, feeding him/her while she/he plays and is probably not even aware of being fed. Or, the best one, hiding a piece of fish under a spoonful of fruit yoghurt....

I like to see my veggies and with the exception of pumpkin soup and mashed potatoes, I don't tend to puree things. G, who is/was our fussiest eater, would simply go to bed hungry. End of story. It wasn't easy, as he threw impressive tantrums if what was on his plate was not what he expected. Every night for about one year. I was ready to cook him plain pasta every night for the sake of some dinner table harmony.

The first steps to normality came when we got him to at least 'try' something new, with the promise that he did not have to eat it, if he didn't like it. We drizzled olive oil on broccoli, beans, cauliflowers. Made carrot salad, frittata instead of scrambled eggs (he still does not eat eggs), and recently I got him to try hummus and it is now his favorite dip. And the old favorite of 'no dessert if you don't finish your dinner' is right up there on the hit list.

Anyway, back to the cookbook. I love her other baby cook book. The recipes are simple and tasty and easily adapted for grownups. I simply got this book because again the dishes looked like something I would love to prepare and eat. And while I still don't put faces on cannelloni to make them more appealing, everybody has liked the dishes I prepared out of this book.
Shepherd's Pie
7oo g potatoes, peeled (I used Dutch Creams)
40 g unsalted butter
6 tbs hot milk
1 large onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, finely diced
1 large zucchini, diced
1/2 red capsicum, diced
1 cup frozen peas (optional)
1 tbs olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
500 g lamb mince (I used free-range from Fernleigh Farm)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp dried mixed herbs (or fresh ones if you are so lucky)
1 tsp caster sugar (optional in my opinion)
freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp plain flour
300 ml hot stock (veg, beef or chicken)
1 tbsp tomato puree
50 g mild cheddar cheese, or any tasty cheese you have handy
Heat the olive oil in a large pan. Gently fry your onion, carrot, zucchini and capsicum for about 4 minutes until soft but not browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the lamb mince and turn up the heat. When the meat is browned, add the cinnamon, herbs, sugar if using, a little freshly ground black pepper and flour and stir well. Add the tomato puree to the hot stock and add to the pan. Stir well and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add frozen peas if using.
Boil the potatoes until soft and floury (about 15 minutes) and then drain. Mash with the butter and hot milk and set aside. I tend to season my mash with salt, pepper and some nutmeg.
Heat the oven to about 180C. Spoon the meat into a large pie dish or a clear Pyrex. Top the meat mixture with the mashed potatoes and fork over until it is smooth. Sprinkle over the cheese and bake for about 30 minutes in the centre of the oven until the top is brown, and the beat is bubbling.

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