Wine Wednesday!

Again there is a lack of picture this week… apparently my camera ate the pics of this bottle and the one from last week. Oh well, c’est la vie!

This week’s selection is one I had a “meh” reaction to.  I just didn’t think it was that great.  But I wanted to put it up anyway just in case others might want to try it, or steer clear, ha!

The selection is a Cabernet Sauvignon from Five Rivers (California, central coast).  It was a 2007 vintage.

My notes: (on the aerated version)

  • dark cherry color
  • diminished aroma when aerated, rather pungent straight from the bottle
  • woody scent and taste
  • some plum flavor
  • muted spices
  • not light in texture

And from the experts: “…deep, dense, and rich.  This wine emphasizes aromas of hazelnut, currant, and black plum, with evident toasty oak… flavors of plum with a tobacco finish.”  — from the winemaker’s website

*Note, if you google the wine, you’ll find plenty of rave reviews (especially given its under-$12 price point) so don’t let my lack of enthusiasm for this one keep you from trying it!

Recipe Files: Shepherd’s Pie

not the best pic... but it tastes good!

Yeah, so the pic isn’t exactly phenomenal, but this is the shepherd’s pie that I made last week and I promise it actually tastes really good!  😉  It’s based on a traditional Irish recipe out of a new cookbook I received for Christmas from my brother- and sister-in-law.  It was actually pretty darn close in taste to the ones we had in Ireland, so I was impressed!  It’s a pretty simple recipe for the actual pie.  My one caveat is in regards to the potatoes.  Since the recipe in the book specified the mashed potato recipe also found in the same cookbook, I decided to give that recipe a try.  And… I don’t think I’ll be using that one again, ha!  It didn’t cook the potatoes nearly enough.  I had a huge problem trying to get those suckers mashed and ended up taking a lot of extra time remaking them and wasting potatoes.  So lesson learned, just use your own basic mashed potato recipe for your potatoes with this dish! I will say that since I did not have any ground lamb on hand, I did sub in regular ground beef so it’s not completely authentic, but still very tasty.  Also, original recipe says it serves 6, for us— probably closer to 4, maybe 5.  Time to make from start to finish: should be around an hour and a half, but like I said, I had potato issues so it ended up being over two hours for me.  Now for the recipe:

To begin, you’ll need:

  • about 2 T. olive oil
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 2 carrots, minced
  • about 1 c. frozen peas (not in the original recipe)
  • 1 and 1/2 pounds beef or lamb, ground
  • 1 T. tomato paste
  • 1 t. dijon mustard
  • 1 c. hot stock (beef, lamb, or chicken will work)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • about 4 c. mashed potatoes (recipe to follow)
  • 2 T. butter, melted
  • about 1/2 c. cheddar cheese, shredded (not in original recipe)

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees.  Then over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the carrots and onions, cooking for about 10 minutes until both are soft.   Raise the heat to medium-high and add your beef (or lamb), cooking until browned.  Stir constantly to break down the meat.  Add in the peas.  Next add the tomato paste and dijon mustard, stirring to combine.   Pour in the heated stock and add salt and pepper.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 20 minutes.  You’ll want to stock to reduce until it’s almost gone. 

Once ready, pour the mixture into a large ovenproof dish.  Spread your mashed potatoes on top of the meat mixture until the entire dish is covered.  Brush the top with melted butter and sprinkle with cheese, if desired.  Bake for 50 minutes and enjoy!

*recipe based on The Best Shepherd’s Pie from The Country Cooking of Ireland by Colman Andrews. 

And now for the mashed potatoes… since I didn’t care for the cookbook recipe, I’ll just give you my standard potato recipe instead.

To begin, you’ll need:

  • about 4 or 5 large potatoes, 2 to 2 and 1/2 pounds total
  • about 2/3 c. heavy cream
  • about 6 T. butter
  • salt and pepper to taste

Begin by peeling your potatoes and then placing them in a large stock pot.  Fill the pot with water until it just covers the potatoes.  Add some salt and bring to a boil on the stove.  Cover and let cook for 30 minutes.  Check for doneness by pricking a potato with a fork– as long as it goes in easily, you’re good to go.  Drain the potatoes and then mash with a potato masher or put through a potato ricer.  Return them to the pot, if necessary, and over low heat, add the cream and butter.  Mix thoroughly and continue to beat until the potatoes are light and fluffy.  Add extra cream and butter if necessary.  Season with a little salt and pepper to finish. 

*a basic recipe: Mashed Potatoes from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything