Monday, February 25, 2013

Shepherd's Pie with Amazing Mashed Potatoes

Three Cheers for Potatoes

Potatoes get a bad rap.  Some people have even called them the number one health threat, never mind GMOs, high fructose corn syrup and sugar. And don't get started on the glycemic index, if you want to enjoy your potatoes in peace.

Times are not so politically correct when it comes to enjoying the lowly potato. 

But some of us are still fans.

Are they good or bad?

Potatoes are members of the nightshade family (as are tomatoes, peppers and eggplants) and these vegetables have been known to cause reactions in some people. Potatoes have been linked to arhtritis and may trigger pain in joints, but for the majority of people who aren't affected, potatoes can be an essential part of a healthy diet.  

Potatoes contain a wide variety of phytonutrients.  A few the good things about potatoes is they are budget friendly, you can keep them in the pantry for a few weeks, and they can go with just about any meal.  And as for the glycemic index, most people eat potatoes with other foods like beans, which can lower the glycemic index of potatoes.   

The best part (at least for me) is you can do lots of things with potatoes.  They go great in roll-up on-the-go meals, make great layers and are great meal extenders when company is coming.

Olson Farms at the farmers' market sells a wide variety of potatoes 

I love mashed potatoes, but they can be rich and I hate it when people add cream. They don't need it for one thing. Also, I don't buy milk and I rarely have soy, rice or almond milk around, so I decided I'd skip it and mash the potatoes with a sweet potato. A sweet potato gives mashed potatoes a rich flavor and adds moisture, and you don't have to add as much butter or oil.  If the potatoes still need moisture to mash add salsa.

I had a big bowlful of potatoes to use for the week.  They're so good my Cooking Assistant couldn't help himself.  I must learn to snap the picture faster.

I got ideas for what to do with mashed potatoes from this book (my first cookbook).  

FYI: Amazon sellers sometimes ask outrageous prices. Especially if it seems like not enough of some things exist. I recently saw my first book advertised for $133.00. "New hardbound copy," the blub said.  Don't be fooled by Amazon sellers and pay outrageous prices.  This book was never in hardbound, and it's not worth more than $12.00 which is a little over half the original price.  

So if you really want a book that is out of print and the price is too high on Amazon it's best to contact the publisher or the author and find out if they have any copies to sell.  

If you are interested in a book that is out of print, contact the author before purchasing used copies for more than the value of the book.
I digress.  Here is my nondairy recipe:  

Amazing Mashed Potatoes
(Makes about 4 cups)

3 large baking potatoes
1 large sweet potato
1/4 cup Earth Balance
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 to 4 tablespoons salsa

1. Wash and poke potatoes and sweet potato with a fork.  Bake at 350F. until very tender. Scoop potatoes and sweet potato from their skins into a bowl.  

2. Add Earth Balance and garlic powder.  Mash until smooth and creamy.  Add salsa to taste.  Mash in until salsa is well combined. 

Of course I could use these as a side dish, but more than that I love adding them to one-pot meals.

Shepherd's Pie came to mind since I'm working on a savory chocolate article and I wanted to try chocolate in the recipe.

Also I'm into using shiitake mushrooms in just about everything now because they are so beneficial for your immune system.  I get them from Cascadia Mushrooms at the U-District Farmers Market.  These mushroom cultivators are from Bellingham.  They also sell Lion's Main mushrooms, another immune system booster.  Maybe I'll work those into a dish next week.

From side to main dish

The best thing about Shepherd's Pie is you can add whatever vegetables and flavors you want.  The potatoes are the frosting on the cake.

I wanted green beans but I didn't freeze or can any, so I bought a small bag of organic green beans at the local co-op.  Sure I could substitute kale, spinach or try parsnips instead, but this time of year, I'm tired of the same old offerings.   Carrots, too, can hard to find and expensive at the farmers' market these days.  

There were small bunches of carrots at Willie Green's, but Nash's Organic Produce is done for the season and won't have carrots again until summer.  

You won't find carrots this big at any Northwest market right now.

 Think about color but keep in mind when you add a bit of chocolate to the gravy, it will turn everything dark and delicious. 

Shepherd's Pie Infused with Chocolate
(Serves 4)

2 tablespoons canola or olive oil
1 onion, medium dice
2 cups shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced
1 carrot, sliced
1 small cauliflower, cut into bite-size pieces
1 tabespoon chile powder 
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder or 1 clove garlic, pressed
3 or 4 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon dark chocolate sauce or cocoa powder
2 cups green beans, frozen
1 cup peas or corn, frozen
15-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 or 3 tablespoons whole wheat or spelt flour
3/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups mashed potatoes
Smoked paprika

1. Heat a heavy skillet over medium heat.  (Use a skillet that can also be baked.) Add onion and shiitake mushrooms.  Stir and cook until onions are translucent and mushrooms are soft.

2. Preheat oven to 350F.   Add carrots and  cauliflower.  Stir for a few minutes, then add chile powder, garlic powder, tomato paste and chocolate.  Stir and add green beans, peas, kidney beans, and 2 tablespoons flour.  Mix well before stirring in water.  Simmer for a five minutes.

3. Remove from heat.  Sprinkle with sea salt.  Spread mashed potatoes over the top and sprinkle with smoked paprika.  Bake for 45 minutes or until sauce bubbles.


Miz Helen said...

Hi Debra,
Thanks so much for telling us about the out of print books and how to purchase them, we all need to have that information.

Your Shepherd's Pie looks awesome, I love those potatoes. Hope you are having a fabulous weekend and thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday.
Max says "Woof" to Finn
Come Back Soon!
Miz Helen

Debra Daniels-Zeller said...

Thanks a lot for stopping by Miz Helen. Hugs to little Max, what a cutie!