Archive for the ‘Cooking’ Category

Leslie's New Zealand spice gem cakes, made in a Griswold cast iron Aebleskiver pan.

Leslie K from California has purchased some wonderful cast iron pans including an aebleskiver pan from The Pan Handler LLC. She was kind enough to send in some photos of her Aebleskiver pan in action! I asked her for the recipe, so that I could share it with you.

Leslie made New Zealand gem cakes in her Griswold Aebleskiver pan. She explained that New Zealand gem cakes are like little spice cakes, traditionally made in a French roll gem pan. Her recipe turned out 7 Aebleskivers and 1 muffin.

Leslie found the recipe here. It is reprinted with just a few variations for brevity and Leslie’s substitutions, below.

Leslie K’s New Zealand Gem Cakes

Takes about 30 minutes total to prep and cook.

Serve warm with butter, or jam and cream, or lemon curd.

Ginger flavored ones are classic; apple spice is also popular.

There are special baking pans for Gem Cakes. Older baking pans for Gem Cakes are made of cast iron; newer ones are aluminium. The classic pan consists of small rectangular moulds, with convex (rounded) bottoms, all joined together as a tray (e.g. the Griswold French roll pan). The cast iron pans are also referred to as “gem irons.”

You heat the pan first in the oven, then put a bit of butter in to melt, then put your batter in. Gem Cakes cooked in cast iron molds cook particularly fast, as the pre-heated cast iron holds its heat.

Leslie’s New Zealand spice gem cakes, made in a Griswold cast iron Aebleskiver pan.

(makes 12 in a French roll pan, or 6 aebleskivers and 1 muffin)

Ingredients:

1 c. flour 1 t. baking soda 1 t. ground dried ginger (Leslie used 1 t. apple pie spice instead of ginger) pinch of salt 4 T. brown sugar 2 T. butter 2 T.  golden syrup or corn syrup (Leslie used 2 T. maple syrup) 1/2 c. milk 1 egg 12 mold gem pan, or Aebleskiver and muffin pan.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Put the gem pan (ungreased) in the oven right away so that it heats, too. Sift into a large mixing bowl the flour, baking soda, ginger and salt. Stir in the brown sugar. Set aside. Put the butter and syrup into a small mixing bowl, and zap in microwave just until the butter is melted — about a minute. Take out of microwave, stir to mix with a fork. Add the milk; beat the egg in a separate cup, then add it to the milk and syrup mixture. Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture, and mix well. Carefully take the hot gem pan out of the oven. Put a dab of butter into each mold where it will quickly melt (some people spread it around with a pastry brush; others say they never bother.) Divide the batter up amongst the moulds. Put the pan back in the oven, bake for about 12 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove pan from oven, let stand for 5 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack.

Leslie said they were tasty!

Leslie K’s Japanese Aebleskiver Cakes with Red Bean Paste

Ingredients

2 c flour 1/4 c sugar 1 egg, beaten 1 c milk 1 t baking powder 1/2 t salt 1/2 t vanilla Sweet red bean paste (available at Asian groceries in cans and plastic pouches, or you can make your own. Here is a recipe from the web for red bean paste).

Directions

Heat the aebelskiver pan over medium to medium low heat on your cooktop.  It will probably take about 10 minutes (Leslie says that you should not be impatient, like she is!) Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together. Add the egg, milk and vanilla and mix into a batter.  It should be like pancake batter.  If it’s too thick, feel free to add a little milk. Once the iron is hot, turn the heat down to low and grease the wells with butter. Fill half the wells with the batter, add about a teaspoon or more of red bean paste (it tastes better with more red bean paste — I didn’t measure the amount I put in, I just plopped it in with two spoons because it’s kind of sticky), then pour batter over the red bean paste to fill the wells. Cook on stovetop. Flip when tiny bubbles start to appear.  Cook until done.Note: You may have to let the little balls sit in the iron a little longer after they seem finished, to make sure they are done.  The little aebelskivers are fat so it takes a while for the center to cook.  I found that the center well got the hottest on my iron, so once they seemed cooked, I rotated them in and out of the center well to make sure they were done.

Leslie’s Japanese with red bean paste gem cakes made in an Aebleskiver pan. Here, half of the cakes have been turned and half have not.

Leslie hopes that you will give these a try. She tells me that they taste the best warm, right out of the iron.  They sell a larger, flatter version of this in Little Tokyo in downtown LA, and there is always a line!

Thank you so much for sharing with us, Leslie!

And just for fun, here is a photo of some blondies that Leslie made in her Wagner style A gem pan. Yum!

Leslie’s blondies.

Thank you for sharing, Leslie. I am so glad you are enjoying your new old pans! Keep those photos and recipes coming!

Parsnip Risotto14

I have been trying the Blue Apron cooking and food / meal / ingredient / recipe delivery, and so far I am really pleased and having fun with it. I am trying all kinds of new vegetables and cheeses, in particular. But of course I am cooking in my cast iron, as opposed to the non-stick pans (!! non-stick? yikes!!) that are suggested by Blue Apron.

Today I made a spinach, parsnip, and parmesan risotto with sage and crispy parsnip chips. If you had ever told me that I would enjoying eating crispy parsnip chips, I would have laughed out loud. But eat – and enjoy – I did.

Here’s how (original Blue Apron recipe can be found here):

Spinach, Parsnip, and Parmesan Risotto with Sage and Crispy Parsnip Chips

Serves 2 (I found it really serves about 3 – the servings are very hearty). Calories, about 640 per serving (if 2 servings).

Prep time: about 20 min. Cook time: about 40 min.

Pans used: #8 Griswold cast iron skillet (a larger size, up to 12, would have worked equally well if not better), Iron Mountain chicken pan for crisping parsnip chips.

Ingredients

1 c. Arborio rice 7 oz. parsnip (2 decent-sized parsnips) 6 oz. baby spinach 3 cloves garlic 1 medium yellow onion 1 small bunch sage (about 10 leaves) (Note: I would use less next time; I felt the sage taste was a little too bold) 2 T Mascarpone cheese 1?3 c grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Prepare the ingredients:

Wash and dry spinach (if not purchased pre-washed) and sage. Dry. Peel parsnip. Shave 1/2 of the parsnip into thin ribbons using the peeler. Grate the other half using a box grater or food processor. Note: Peel, halve and small dice the onion. Peel and mince the garlic. Pick the sage leaves off the stems; thinly slice the leaves.

Garlic, onion, peels of parsnip, grated parsnip. Sage in the center. I would use less sage unless you really love sage.

Cook & drain the spinach:

In a number 8 (or larger) cast iron skillet, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the spinach; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 1 to 3 minutes, or until wilted. Transfer to a strainer; hold or rest the strainer over a bowl or sink. Using a spoon, press down on the cooked spinach to release as much liquid as possible; discard the liquid. Transfer the spinach to a cutting board; chop. Set aside. Wipe out the pan.

Spinach at the start of cooking.

Spinach at the end of cooking, after squeezing out as much liquid as I could in my small colander.

Start the risotto:

In the same number 8 (or larger) cast iron skillet, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the onion and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, or until softened and fragrant.

Onion and garlic a’cooking.

Add the rice and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequenly, 2 to 3 minutes, or until lightly toasted. Note: I pretty much stirred the entire time. Remember that cast iron retains heat very well, so you need to watch the rice to avoid over-toasting.

Add the grated parsnip & liquid:

Add the grated parsnip and 3-1/2 cups of water to the pot; season with salt and pepper. Heat to boiling on high. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring frequently, 14 to 16 minutes, or until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is al dente (still slightly firm to the bite). Note: remember that the iron holds its heat. While Blue Apron recommends cooking over medium high, if you do that you will have a continual boil. I found that the heat needed to be turned down. If the mixture seems dry, you may add up to 1/4 c. water to achieve your desired consistency. Note: I did not need to do so.

Starting to cook the risotto in liquid. If the mixture seems dry, you may add up to an additional 1?4 cup of water to achieve your desired consistency. Note: I did not need to do so.

Mid-cooking

Almost ready!

Remove from heat.

Make the parsnip chips:

While the risotto cooks, in a cast iron chicken pan – if you have one – heat a thin layer of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the parsnip ribbons. Cook, stirring frequently, 3 to 5 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate; immediately season with salt and pepper to taste. Note: I used tongs to turn the chips as they cooked.

Parsnip peels in pre-heated chicken pan.

Parsnip peels and risotto cooking away!

Just about done.

Finish the risotto & plate your dish:

Add the spinach, sage, Parmesan cheese and mascarpone cheese to the pan of risotto and  thoroughly combine and season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide the nished risotto between 2 bowls. Garnish with the parsnip chips. Enjoy! Note: I had about 1/4 of this dish for a lunch meal, and it was plenty. This will easily feed 3 hungry adults.

Ready: just prior to adding the cheeses and spinach.

Delicious!

SkilletXmas09

When visiting my nephew Bill and his lovely family around Thanksgiving, 8-year-old Lucy talked to me about how much she loved cooking. She had made the cupcake dessert we had that day, and I saw that her face just lit up when she talked about cooking with her Grandmother.

It got me to thinking about what I could get Lucy for Christmas that she would really enjoy, that centered around her love of cooking. I knew that we would be celebrating the holidays in mid-December with both Bill’s and my darling niece Rhonda’s families, so I asked Rhonda whether her 6-year-old daughter Kylie also enjoyed cooking. Rhonda said she did. Bill’s wife Beth had given me a #3 Wagner cast iron skillet and asked me if I would clean and season it for her. I kept looking at it…voila! An excellent Christmas gift idea was born!

Off  I went to the grocery store; heading straight for the baking aisle. There I found a wide array of mixes suited perfectly for baking in a cast iron skillet. I picked up chocolate chip muffin mix, Jiffy corn bread mix, chocolate chip cookie mix, and peanut butter cookie mix. Some of the mixes called for eggs, so I picked up two cartons of egg beaters.

When I got home, I split the mixes in two, placing each half in a labeled zip lock bag. Using the instructions on the mixes, I prepared a document that set out the instructions for making the dish in a #3 cast iron skillet. Basically, I halved any additional ingredients required by the mix, and guesstimated the cooking time. I also had the ingredients at home for Steve’s Artisanal Bread made in a #8 cast iron skillet, so I halved that recipe and put the ingredients in zip lock bags.

Before I went to celebrate our family Christmas, I emailed both families to make sure that they had other necessary staples on hand – butter, spray vegetable oil, and regular vegetable oil.

I made two gift bags – one for Lucy, and one for Kylie. Each contained a #3 cast iron skillet with Nepalese panhandler, along with a round cork trivet. They also contained the ingredients and instructions for making: (1) Jiffy corn bread with honey (I put some honey in a little container and included it with the ingredients); (2) chocolate chip skillet muffin; (3) chocolate chip skillet cookie; (4) peanut butter skillet cookie; and a (5) mini artisanal bread with agave nectar and chia seeds. I enclosed the directions for all of them (I have reprinted them below).

It is so much fun when you give a child a gift and they really love it, isn’t it? We were in the middle of gift opening; Kylie stopped short when she opened the skillet gift bag, marched straight to the kitchen, and insisted on immediately making the chocolate chip muffin. And so we did, and it was delicious!

And a chocolate chip muffin in a #3 skillet was born. :)

Over the next few days, I received photos of both Lucy and Kylie baking in their #3 cast iron skillets. It is so sweet to see! And it is fun for me to get to share my love of vintage cast iron cookware with my family.

Lucy at work!

Kylie’s corn bread.

Kylie’s corn bread batter.

A warm and fuzzy Christmas for me!

Happy holidays, all!

~Mary

********

Chocolate Chip #3 Skillet Cookie Cake

Note: for both the Chocolate Chip and Peanut Butter cookie mixes, I split Betty Crocker 17.5 ounce cookie mixes in half, placing them in a labeled zip lock bag. Be sure to watch the baking time carefully, as the time will vary because of the size of the cookies.

Ingredients

Chocolate chip cookie mix 2 T eggbeaters ¼ c (1/2 stick) softened (but not melted) butter or margarine Optional: Vanilla ice cream to scoop on top!

Directions

Heat oven to 350°F. Spray your #3 cast iron skillet with cooking spray. In medium bowl, stir cookie mix, butter and egg until soft dough forms. Spread dough evenly in skillet, pressing to flatten and cover bottom. Bake about 25 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Do not overbake; cookie will continue to cook once out of oven. Use a heavy potholder to remove pan from oven. Cool 5 minutes on cooling rack; cut into wedges. Serve warm; put a scoop of ice cream on top if you want!

Peanut Butter Skillet Cookie Cake

Ingredients

Peanut butter cookie mix 1.5 T vegetable oil 1 t water 2 T eggbeaters Optional: Ice cream!

Directions

Heat oven to 350°F. Spray your #3 cast iron skillet with cooking spray. In medium bowl, stir cookie mix, butter and egg until soft dough forms. Spread dough evenly in skillet, pressing to flatten and cover bottom. Bake about 25 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Do not overbake; cookie will continue to cook once out of oven. Use a heavy potholder to remove pan from oven. Cool 5 minutes on cooling rack; cut into wedges. Serve warm; put a scoop of ice cream on top if you want!

Chocolate Chip Skillet Muffin

Note: I used Betty Crocker Chocolate Chip Muffin Mix in a pouch, splitting it between two zip lock plastic bags.

Ingredients

Chocolate chip muffin mix ¼ water or milk Optional: Ice cream!

Directions

Heat oven to 375°F. Spray the bottom of your #3 cast iron skillet with cooking spray. In medium bowl, stir muffin mix and water or milk until just blended. Spoon into skillet. Bake about 25 minutes or until it is light golden brown (watch it carefully to avoid overbaking). Do not overbake; muffin will continue to cook once out of oven. Use a heavy potholder to remove pan from oven. Cool 5 minutes on cooling rack; cut into wedges. Serve warm; put a scoop of ice cream on top if you want!

Skillet Corn Bread

Ingredients

½ package Jiffy corn muffin mix (equals ¾ cup) 2 T eggbeaters 2 T + 1 t milk Optional: Butter or honey (I enclosed a small amount of honey in a little container with the packaging mix)

Directions

Heat oven to 375°F. Spray the bottom of your #3 cast iron skillet with cooking spray. In medium bowl, stir muffin mix and water or milk until just blended. Batter will be slightly lumpy; that is okay. Let batter rest 3-4 minutes. Spoon batter into skillet. Bake about 15 minutes or until it is golden brown (watch it carefully to avoid overbaking). Use a heavy potholder to remove pan from oven. Cool and cut into wedges. Serve warm; top with honey or butter.

Artisanal Bread in #3 Cast Iron Skillet

Note: I used the recipe and methodology for Steve’s Turbo Bread in a Cast Iron Skillet, which I have previously blogged about. It was easy and did not require a lot of ingredients; I had them on hand.

Ingredients:

Scant 6 oz warm tap water 2 T Agave nectar Zip lock bag containing 1-3/4 c. bread flour and 1/8 t. salt 2/3 t. active yeast About 1-2 T chia seeds for dusting

Directions:

Preheat medium glass bowl for 20 seconds in microwave. Pour 6 oz. warm water and 2T agave nectar into bowl. Add yeast and stir. Add 1-3/4 c. bread flour and salt. Stir until mixture forms a shaggy ball. Place dough ball in a warm draft-free area, cover, and let rest and rise for 1.5 hours. Pull and stretch dough using the handle of a wood spoon for about 2 minutes. Cover with a lint free cloth and let rest for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray number 3 cast iron skillet with Pam. Sprinkle ball with chia seeds and dust lightly with flour. Roll dough ball into skillet. Bake about 40 minutes at 400 degrees. Let cool, remove from pan, slice, and ENJOY!
Rob&Anoushka22

All photos courtesy the talented Sarah Lamb of S.Lamb Photography, (c) 2015. As you can see, Sarah was entranced by those crab legs!

Rob and Anna took second place at The Pan Handler LLC’s November 2015 cast iron cooking competition. Linda loved these crab sticks! I do not eat crab, so Linda’s score on taste for this dish was doubled to come up with the total score for the crab sticks.

Rob and Anna were assigned an appetizer course, and had two Wagner E bread stick pans in which to create their masterpiece. I think they had the hardest pan with which to work; they were very creative in coming up with a great appetizer!

Rob and Anna’s Crab Sticks with Lemon Aioli Sauce

Serves 6.

Crab Sticks Ingredients: ¼ c. mayonnaise 2 scallions, peeled and thinly sliced 1 lg. egg, lightly beaten 1 T. Dijon mustard 2 t. fresh lemon juice, plus additional wedges for garnish 1-1/2 t. Old Bay seasoning ½ jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped 1 lb. fresh crab legs, cooked and shredded (or 1 lb lump crabmeat, picked over) 1-1/4 c. panko (Japanese breadcrumbs), divided 1 T thinly sliced chives ¼ t kosher salt 1/8 t freshly ground black pepper 1 head Bibb lettuce, rinsed well and drained 2 T vegetable oil Spray can of olive oil Preparation: Cook the crab legs in a large pot of bot of boiling water. Drain and rinse with cold water. Prepare the lemon-dill aioli sauce (ingredients and directions below). Cover and refrigerate. Whisk first ingredients in a medium bowl. Add crab; fold to blend. Stir in ¾ c. panko, chives, salt, and pepper. Divide into eleven equal portions. Form each portion into sticks to fit into the cast iron pan. Refrigerate for at least 10 minutes. Line a platter with lettuce leaves. Brush cast iron pan with vegetable oil. Place remaining ½ c panko onto a plate. Coat each crab stick with panko. Place each crab stick into the bread stick pan. Spray the top of the crab sticks with olive oil. Cook in a preheated oven at 400 degrees for approximately 30 minutes or until golden brown and crisp on top. Plate the crab sticks onto the lettuce leaves, garnish with lemon wedges. Top each stick with a dollop of lemon-dill aioli sauce. Lemon-Dill Aioli Sauce Ingredients 2 medium garlic cloves, peeled. 1 t Dijon mustard 2 large egg yolks 2 T chopped dill 1 c olive oil 1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice Salt to taste Preparation Place the garlic, mustard, egg yolks and dill in the bowl of a small food processor or blender. Process until evenly combined; about 10 seconds. With the motor running, slowly add the olive oil in a thin stream until completely combined; about 2 minutes. Stop the processor, add the lemon juice, season with salt, and pulse until thoroughly mixed and with a thick consistency. Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, then pulse until all ingredients are evenly incorporated. Let sit for at least 30 minutes before using. Cover with a tightly fitting lid and refrigerate. May prepare sauce up to one week in advance.

In the heat of judging.

Anna and Rob presenting their crab sticks for judging.

Crab sticks in the Wagner E Bread Stick Pan!

Nice presentation!

D&JCICComp28

Photos courtesy of the talented Sarah Lamb, of S.Lamb Photography (c) 2015.

Debra and Jerome offered the use of their big beautiful kitchen for our cast iron cooking competition. Debra and Jerry love entertaining and cooking – they often host big parties and celebrations with friends and family. They are good friends, expert cooks, and gracious hosts. Their kitchen is very well-equipped. At one point during the cooking, Anoushka asked Jerry if they had a food processor. Jerry told Anoushka where they were. Anoushka was surprised to see that they had three different food processors, in different sizes. But of course they do! They have pretty much anything you need to create a masterpiece dish.

They are also fierce competitors. I know that they spent time before the competition examining the rules, discussing options, and asking questions. They dressed in complete cooking gear – chef’s hats (Debra’s said “She Who Must Be Obeyed”), chef’s coats, and cooking pants (Jerry’s had chili peppers and Debra’s had wine and glasses). They even had matching meat thermometers in the pocket on the sleeve of their chef’s coats, for the intimidation factor. I love it that Debra and Jerry wore their chef’s outfits when they went grocery shopping. I imagine that they drew a few stares and questions.

Jerry, with meat thermometer in pocket.

Debra and Jerry knew that one of the judging criteria was appeal to users of cast iron cookware, and they know I have a large customer base in the Southern United States. They took that into consideration when selecting a dish. Debra is a Southern girl at heart; she was born and lived in Texas until she was 13.

Debra drawing for the course.

Debra and Jerry were assigned main course, and had 6 Griswold Patty Mold bowls with which to create a masterpiece. From Debra’s big beaming beautiful smile, I could see that she was happy to have pulled the Patty Mold bowls. And really, who wouldn’t be? The Patty Mold bowls are a great size for single-size servings of just about anything!

Jerry and Benny the Standard Poodle, drawing for the pan assignment. You can see John in the background staring at his Griswold French Roll pan. I can almost see the thought bubble over John’s head: “How in the world am I going to make a main course in this pan?”

Debra and Jerry prepared a spectacular Shepherd’s Pie, and served it alongside biscuits. It was delicious! I particularly liked the flavor of the beef/lamb mixture. Debra and Jerome’s Down-Home Shepherd’s Pie with Biscuits, made and served in Griswold Patty Mold Bowls

Serves 8

Ingredients

The dish has three main layers. The bottom layer is the meat mixture. The middle layer is the vegetable mix, and the top layer is the mashed sweet and white potatoes. Debra and Jerry topped the Shepherd’s pie with toasted pecans, and garnished with thinly-sliced jalapeño pepper.

Bottom Layer:

1-1/2 lb ground beef 1-1/2 lb ground lamb 2 eggs, lightly beaten (Debra and Jerry used eggbeaters) ½ c. Panko bread crumbs 3 T unsalted butter ½ c red wine ¾ c finely chopped onions ¾ c finely chopped celery ½ c finely chopped green bell peppers 1 T + 1tsp. minced garlic 1 T Worcestershire sauce 1 tsp Tabasco sauce if desired; more may be added when serving ¼ c 1% milk

Meat seasoning mix:

¼ tsp. onion powder ¼ tsp. garlic powder ¼ tsp. white pepper ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper

Middle Layer:

2½ T drippings from meat layer ½ c red wine 1-1/2 c julienned carrots 1 c julienned onions 1-1/2 c julienned zucchini 1 c julienned yellow bell pepper 1 c julienned red bell pepper  

Vegetable Seasoning Mix:

¼ tsp. onion powder ¼ tsp. garlic powder ¼ tsp. white pepper ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper

Top Layer:

1 lb white potatoes, peeled and quartered 2 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and quartered ½ c 1% milk 1 stick unsalted butter 1 tsp. salt 1 tsp. white pepper

 

Optional toppings:

1 cup toasted and chopped pecans, for garnish 2 thinly sliced jalapeno peppers, for garnish

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine the beef and lamb. Add in the eggs and bread crumbs; mix by hand until thoroughly combined. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

In a cast iron skillet, combine 3T butter, onions, celery, bell pepper, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, and meat seasoning mix (onion powder, garlic powder, white pepper, and cayenne pepper). Cook over high heat, stirring frequently and scraping the pan bottom well, for about 5 minutes.

Remove from heat, cool, and add to the meat mixture along with ¼ c of the milk. Mix well by hand and place patties of the beef mixture onto the bottom of the patty bowls. Extra may be placed into a separate cast iron skillet (the Abrams used a #6 cast iron skillet for the extra shepherd’s pie).

Bake the patties until brown on top, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and pour off drippings, reserving 2½ T for the vegetables. Set aside any extra drippings for cooking the biscuits. 

In a large cast iron skillet, combine the reserved drippings with vegetable seasoning blend and sauté over high heat, stirring frequently, for 1-1/2 minutes. Add the red wine and julienned vegetables; continue cooking until the vegetables soften and become noticeably bright, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat.

Raise the oven temperature to 525 degrees.

Mound the undrained vegetables over the meat patties in the patty bowls, away from the edges.

Boil the potatoes until fork tender. Drain, reserving 1 c cooking water.

Place hot potatoes into a large mixing bowl with the remaining 1 stick butter, the remaining milk, and salt and pepper. Stir with a wooden spoon until broken up, then beat with a whisk (or electric mixer with a paddle) until creamy and velvety smooth. Mix in a little of the reserved water if necessary, until desired creaminess.

Layer the mashed potatoes evenly over the top of the vegetable layer and top edges of the meat. Bake until brown on top, about 8-10 minutes.

Toast chopped pecans in a small cast iron skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently.

Slice and seed jalapenos.

When the pies are fully cooked, remove from heat. Top with toasted pecans and (optional) jalapenos and serve immediately, with (optional) side of biscuits, Tabasco sauce, ketchup or gravy as desired.

Debra and Jerry’s Shepherd’s pies presented for serving, on cork trivets. Some pies had jalapeños and others did not; they wanted their dish to appeal to as many people as possible.

Optional Side: Pillsbury Grand Buttermilk biscuits. 

To make the biscuits, pour any remaining drippings from the meat layer into a cast iron pan (you may need to add some additional olive oil if meat was very lean.) Remove Pillsbury Grand Buttermilk Biscuits from can and coat with drippings, arranging in single layer in pan. Bake in oven at 350 degrees for 12-16 minutes until golden brown.