Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Shepherdess Pie

After reading more magazine articles than I care to admit about utilizing Thanksgiving leftovers, I thought I'd break out of the sandwich mold and get a little creative. Don't get me wrong, I had a delicious sandwich yesterday too, but I wanted to branch out with the sides. Cue the truffled mashed potatoes! I used these beauties to glam up a comfort food favorite - Shepherd's Pie. I had some extra veggies sitting around leftover from making a stock, so all I had to grab really was so ground meat.

If you don't have truffle oil to add to your potatoes, you could try a teaspoon of truffle salt as well.

Truffled mashed potatoes

2 pounds russet potatoes
3 tablespoons butter
~ 1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon truffle oil
Salt and pepper to taste
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped (optional)

Peel potatoes and cut into 2 inch pieces. Place in a large pot of cold, salted water (that covers the potatoes) and bring to a boil. Cook until potatoes are soft, about 20 minutes. Drain and replace in warm pot. Add butter and milk and blend until smooth, adding more milk or butter to taste. Stir in truffle oil, salt and pepper and thyme if using.

Shepherdess Pie

1 pound ground lean lamb
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
3-4 carrots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
4 ounces fresh spinach
Truffled mashed potatoes
1 cup white cheddar (such as Seaside), grated

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large skillet, cook the lamb until browned over medium heat, about 7 to 8 minutes. Drain the fat and set aside in a bowl. Add the oil to the skillet then throw in the onion, carrots and galic and saute about 5 minutes on medium, until soft. Season with salt and pepper to taste and stir in rosemary. Add spinach and stir until just beginning to wilt, about 1 minute.

Add lamb mixture to a 2 quart baking dish and top with an even layer of mashed potatoes. Sprinkle with cheese and bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Snuggle up and enjoy!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Noble Pig Charcuterie

I don't think I've ever been to a charcuterie before. I certainly didn't know what exactly it meant until I looked it up on Wikipedia. Basically a charcuterie is a specialty shop that sells preserved meats, especially pork based ones.

I had also never been to Noble Pig, although it's been on our list of places to visit for a while. When Noble Pig invited us to come sample some of the new items they will be serving from their about-to-open charcuterie, we found it hard to refuse.

Like I said, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I think I was expecting something more like a very fine deli. I was pleasantly surprised to find quite an assortment of imaginatively prepared and preserved meats. Of course sausages and pastramis were available, but also on the list was prosciutto, terrine (both linguisa and pork), duck pate, and finally spiced pork rillettes.

All of the meats were delicious, but the toppings and garnishes were also a large part of the flavors. On the menu were compotes, 2 different kinds of pickles (each equally attractive), and apricot mustarda. All the different flavors were light and crisp enough that both Lindsay and I went back for seconds!

I'll certainly be back to Noble Pig for some sandwiches next time I get a craving (although check their website, currently they are mostly open for breakfast and lunch), and I'll also be keeping TNP Charcuterie in mind for party plates of pate or terrine.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Mrs. Apron Tackles Thanksgiving - TWICE!

Greetings from the new Mrs.! The wedding was such a wonderful blur of happiness, fun and love. Luke and I had such an amazing time celebrating with our friends and family. We then quickly jetted off to the Dominican Republic to experience our first all inclusive resort. The food was not the best part, but the resort was lovely and we had a blast!

Coming back to the states immediately thrust me into the holiday spirit. I absolutely LOVE Thanksgiving (a holiday celebrating food? Yes please!!) I'm thrilled to get to celebrate TWICE this year - once with the Robisons and again with the Lehfelds. My sister and I host Thanksgiving at her house and start planning several weeks in advance, complete with a multi-page itinerary to keep us on track. These are our usual suspects:

- Brined and roasted turkey (this year we're letting my brother in law fry it!)
- Truffled Pommes Anna (We ALWAYS Make mashed potatoes, so this is pretty daring for the Lehfelds. But with such a high recommendation from Cooking Inside the Lines, we're going for it!)
- Homemade green bean casserole with a fontina cream sauce
- Cornbread stuffing with prosciutto (This is a DELIGHTFUL recipe from Eddie V's that we've slightly adapted. It's not online that I'm aware of, so I posted it below)
- Sweet Potatoe Casserole (this is, surprisingly, a new one for us. My sister is making, and I'll be sure to share her recipe!)
- Honey baked ham (I know Thanksgiving should be all about the turkey, but we just LOVE ham (and especially the leftovers!) )
- Pumpkin pie courtesy of my mom :)
- Plenty of wine

For the Robisons, I'm bringing in some Brussels sprouts. Like my family, they're a little skeptical, but little do they know that when you cook them in rendered bacon fat, they're IRRESISTABLE. Coupled with that I'll be making my to-die-for apple crumble pie and creamy pumpkin pie.

What are your Thanksgiving traditions? Do you stick strictly to the rulebook or adventure out every year?

Cornbread and Prosciutto StuffingSlightly adapted from a recipe provided by Eddie V’s

3 ribs of celery, finely chopped
1 medium white onion, finely chopped
4 sprigs of fresh sage, chopped
1/3 lb. prosciutto
3 boxes Jiffy cornbread, prepared
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons of whole salted butter
1 pint of chicken stock, plus extra as needed
2 teaspoons of poultry seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Combine oil and butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add celery, onions, poultry seasonings, salt and pepper and saute until tender. Next add prosciutto and herbs, stir to combine.

Crumble cornbread into mixture leaving sizable chunks, then gently combine. 6. Gently fold to combine. Add enough chicken stock to moisten, and allow to heat through.

Cook in oven for 10 minutes, then enjoy!

My sister and I hosting our first Thanksgiving together in 2009!