Thursday, February 19, 2015

Savory Shepherd's Pie with Shiitake Mushrooms

Who doesn't love comfort food?  Shepherd's Pie is one of my long time favorites.  It's the best for a rainy day.  When I'm looking for better flavors and texture, Olsen's Farms has the best selection at the farmers' market.  I like the Yukon Gold or Yukon for mashing.  I've tried to mash potatoes from baked russet potatoes but they don't seem to get as creamy tasting.  If you want more nutrition and less carbs, add a bit of cauliflower to the steamed potatoes.  The potatoes above were enhanced with sweet potatoes.  If you mash a vegetable with more water with the potatoes, you don't need to add much milk, vegan margarine or butter.

Many of the ingredients can be found at the farmers market.  Look for dried mushrooms, but if you can't find them, you can dehydrate shiitake or any other mushrooms and use those.  The longer you leave the mushrooms out, the more they dry. You could also put them in a dehydrator on low.  One friend left them in her refrigerator and instead of getting old, the mushrooms dried and made a rich mushroom stock.

I must admit, I'm a bit late with this post because I read this book and I've gone a little crazy with this method of tidying-up.  The book has significantly lightened my load.  I love her ideas of peeling stuff in categories and the idea of keeping only the things that bring you joy.

I have donated box after box to Bella's Voice a nonprofit thrift store that supports the Feral Cat Project.  The store offers amazing finds because stores like Goodwill often comb through donations to put them in online auctions, but Bella's Voice puts everything on the floor.  I hope more thrift stores open up as nonprofits supporting animal rescue organizations.

Here's the recipe:

Savory Shepherd's Pie with Shiitake Mushrooms
(Serves 4)
The mashed potatoes transform this Shepherd's Pie into a timeless tradition. First, choose an oven tolerant skillet such as cast iron. Prepare the mushrooms and potatoes ahead of time.  Mash the potatoes with cauliflower or sweet potatoes and you'll feel less guilt over the luxurious carbs. Also feel free to embellish any way you like, add herbs or change vegetables.

2 cups mashed potatoes (or mash a blend of sweet potatoes, cauliflower and potatoes)
1/4 cup salsa
1/8 cup dried shiitake mushrooms
1 cup boiling water
1 1/2 cups shiitake mushrooms, tough stems removed, caps sliced
1 tablespoon oil (canola or extra-virgin olive oil)
1/2 cup diced onion
2 stalks celery, sliced thin
1 carrot, small dice
1/2 red pepper, small diced or white beans
1 cup  seitan or white beans
1 tablespoon arrowroot
1 tablespoon Liquid Braggs Aminos
1 cup cauliflower, cut into small pieces
1 cup green beans, frozen
1 cup corn, frozen or canned
1 teaspoon smoked paprika

Combine the mashed potatoes and salsa.  Set aside.

Pour boiling water over dried mushrooms.  Let allow mushrooms to rehydrate for at least one hour.  The longer the mushrooms are in the water, the more flavorful it becomes. Strain, reserve liquid and finely chop the mushrooms.

Heat a heavy skillet over medium heat. Cast iron is best.  Add mushrooms and dry fry, stirring them until they become limp. Add the oil, onion, celery and carrot.  Stir and cook until vegetables soften.  Stir in the pepper and seitan and continue to stir and cook for 5 minutes. Blend in the chopped, soaked mushrooms, green beans and corn.

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Stir arrowroot into mushroom liquid until well blended. Pour over vegetables, stir and spread the mashed potatoes on top.  Sprinkle paprika over the top.  Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until the mixture is bubbling.

Everybody gets to sample this Shepherd's Pie