Friday, November 8, 2013

A Savory Autumn Shepherd's Pie...with a 'Curry Twist'...when it's time for the 'plate it or purge it' plan




A rainy week in the Houston skies

It's been raining all week.  Down here we are quite content with this grey and blustery shift in weather.  Rain is welcomed and celebrated as we look towards what many consider the best part of living in this deep southern climate...the winter months.

The humidity has finally mounted her thin but darned reliable broom and she is nothing more than a mere dark and unpleasant outline against the rolling clouds that have been pouring in spite of her piercing cackle.







We take great pleasure in sorting out winter mitts, slipping out warm and fluffy scarves and giving knee high boots a good dusting off.  Baskets are pulled out, items sorted and one would think each item is a brand new undiscovered gift newly purchased.  Down here all of these fun and wintery accessories won't be covered up with thick shapeless coats that demand practicality against northern winter tempests.

We won't experience any wintery nor-Easters, so woven ponchos, wraps, hats, and scarves are mainly donned for style purposes.   Houstonians begin to strut their winter gear with purpose...that purpose being one mainly of style, rather than practicality against bone-chilling frosty weather.







We left town right before the "cold" front swept into Houston (cold fronts down here mean anything below 70˚... as a high).

It seems that every time we travel, I put my kitchen through the "plate it or purge it" routine.  Everything half used, tucked in the back of the refrigerator, or frozen in the freezer, leftovers come out front and center for an inspection as to their potential use or disuse.




The "plate it" or "purge it" results




Containers of soup get warmed for lunches, leftover chicken and cheeses get chopped and tucked into quesadillas and all varieties of frozen vegetables get roasted in the oven for dinner side dishes.  

I love nothing more than to repurpose  as much food in the refrigerator as possible and then return home with a clean blank slate ready for fresh additions and a new start on seasonal dishes.







For this trip, we surveyed the contents of our plate or purge items.  Patrick came up with a terrific idea.  He gathered up potatoes, carrots, onions, ground beef, and spices and began peeling, chopping, dicing, and measuring.

"Yum!  I know where this is headed...your Shepherd's Pie?"  I queried, eyes full of anticipation because that hearty dish of his would certainly use up many of the items hoping to get eaten and not tossed...and it's delicious!


Roasted okra with olive oil, salt and pepper



As I continued to clean out the few things left in the refrigerator and then gathered our hats, scarves, and mitts for the trip...he got to work in the kitchen.  

Patrick's meat pie is a hefty, hearty, work of art.  There is nothing feminine about this dish.  It is not dainty or particularly pretty but it is delicious, filling, and very satisfying.  Not only does it mean days of leftovers for us, but his face beams with pride as he slides the stout and brawny pie onto the table.  We  are sure to provide him with satisfactory and heartfelt  "oooohs" and "aaaaahs" for his achievement.

For me, in particular, it is such a treat because it is delivered right to the table...and I didn't lift a finger to prepare it!






A generous amount of thick pie crust is fitted into a tall spring form pan.  We never know what medley of vegetables, meats, and spices Patrick is going to mix up for the filling.  This time he used a mixture of ground beef and breakfast pork sausage, carrots, roasted onions, roasted garlic, and chopped celery.  

For spices, he added curry powder with a little paprika and chili powder for an added kick.  Not only was the refrigerator emptied for the trip but we were in store for a treat for dinner that night and the next...and the next!







All of the leftover potatoes were roasted, mashed, fluffed and then combined with an entire head of roasted garlic.  He generously spreads a thick layer of the garlic infused potatoes on the very top of the pie.  The kitchen smelled wonderfully meaty and garlicky and the curry spice wafted out the windows; I'm certain it could be smelled down the road.






We chuckled because we have many Indian families that live nearby and we always smell wonderful spices floating along the road when we're out walking.  This time it was our house that smelled like something was cooking from India.  

A hearty Shepherd's Pie... with a "Curry Twist"!



No editing, no coloring...the sky over Houston, exactly as we saw it



The meat pie was happily consumed for lunches as well as carefree dinners throughout the week.  The car was packed with thicker than usual suitcases that were filled with leather boots instead of leather flip flops.  Chester was crazy excited because he realized that a cozy corner of the car was being prepared for him and the kennel wasn't his destination for this trip.

Never have we seen a dog that loves a good road trip than our little Papillon, Chester. It is possible in his doggy thoughts,  he believes the entire trip has been planned with his enjoyment at the forefront of importance.  

Fall is here...kick up some leaves, breathe in this delicious air, and if possible, take off in the car, look out the window, and watch as the world changes outfits and buttons up into an ensemble highlighted by colors of sages, mosses, crimsons, and cocoas.










23 comments:

  1. A wonderfully hearty pie! I love that addition of spices.

    Lovely shots and cute pets!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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    1. He loves to play around with spices, but I must admit, curry works really well with this dish.

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  2. I have enjoyed reading throughout this post, your photos are great as always. I enjoy 'repurposing' food too (great word) and am about to start doing so through my fridge and freezer ready for an Autumn defrost. It's fun to see what new creations can be made form all those little leftovers :)

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    1. Over here, it is amazing how many things end up in quesadillas or soft tacos. Just about any leftovers can be slipped into tortillas I think!

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  3. I'm a huge Shepherd's Pie fan, and I've never seen it done like this, I will give it a try. I love your plate it or purge it concept, my fridge really needs a little of that! The longer I blog, the worse it gets...

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    1. I had not either, Sue...but my husband is NOT a rule follower in the kitchen and one thing leads to another as his creativity takes off. That top is actually not the pie crust. It is the potatoes that he smooths flat and it browns as the pie cooks. It looks like its topped with a layer of crust but it isn't!

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  4. It's a chilly morning here, Sarah, after several days in the high 20s C. As I read your post, I pulled my cardigan around me… beautiful images… your part of the world has some breathtaking skies!

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    1. Indeed, Texas has some wide open dramatic skies. The only other sky that I find so dramatic were in Montana when we visited our Glacier National Park. The sky seemed to go on forever.

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  5. That obviously tasty pie photographed very well indeed and I do like the oomph created by your darling husband. But guess where my eyes have been for an age now? Oh, yes the outdoor shots are fabulous but I just keep on rescrolling to your wonderful animal ones . . . :) ! And laughing at our weather vagaries Down Under . . . Bizzy Lizzy lives all of 2 1/2 hours drive from me and we have been sweltering in 34-35 C temps!!

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    1. Never do we tire of the antics of Chester and Polly. We especially love when completely unsuspecting Chester is whacked from behind by a fiest Polly who wants to start a game of chase. It isn't nice to laugh at that sort of bullying, but it is so funny!

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  6. Your winter sounds a lot like ours. We are expecting storm tomorrow and I can't wait. It's always a pleasure to bring out the woollens.

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    1. I'll bet a storm on your island is magnificent to witness indeed!

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  7. Nice twist on this hearty pie. Wonderful! And the pics are just beautiful!

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    1. Thank you Daniela. Curry was a delicious addition that we will definitely repeat.

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  8. Wow! I've never seen a shepherds pie like this! I love the addition of curry but it's the use of a pie crust that intrigues me. This is the first time I've seen a crust used for shepherds pie. And the addition of dried fruit is new to me, as well! I think I need to try this.

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    1. The top looks like a pie crust but it is actually the potatoes smoothed out. They turn color while baking and the top looks like a crust after baking. It is only the side and bottom that has the crust. I particularly love the addition of the dried fruit bits. I always like beef and fruit mixed together.

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  9. That pie is fantastic! I love hearty dishes like this, especially when the weather is cold. :-) It is dark and stormy today and I'd love a big wedge of this deliciousness. :-)

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    1. This is hearty indeed! Often we have a slice for lunch as leftovers and then no one is even hungary for dinner.

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  10. Looks delicious Sarah...I thought I had cornered the market on okra recipes, it seems not! Your dinner looks delicious...on our menu tonight.. Lemongrass Beef in Betel Leaves from the cookbook.. My Vietnamese Kitchen. We are growing betel leaves and lemongrass in our garden...easy! xx

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    1. Mmmm. Jeanne, I would adapt to Vietnamese food very easily!

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  11. Great post. But loved your comments about Chester's thoughts! Really liked the curry twist recipe, and to think your son made this. Bravo!

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    1. Riley is still working on frying an egg! This is my husband Patrick's creation. He is certainly daring in the kitchen.

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  12. Love your description of your "plate it or purge it". Patrick's shepherd's pie looks and sounds wonderful, warm, and satiating. The perfect meal for fall days and the curry is such a great addition. Have a lovely road trip!

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