Hey there chickadees!
I hope by now, everyone’s settling into the week.
Last Saturday, Ky and I decided to spend an afternoon at the movies (because my LA pals, it’s cold here in Chicago), and afterwards, we grabbed lunch and brainstormed What To Cook Next.
After discussing our options (stir fries are for babies, we decided quickly), we tried to land on something healthy-ish.
Since we were eating chips & guacamole during this brainstorming session.
Eventually, we remembered that we’d seen a recipe for vegetarian shepherd pie in Bon Appetit.
After confirming with Ky’s iPhone (you guys, my phone barely even turns on these days), we put together a list of what we’d need on a paper napkin (we’re resourceful Chicagoans, you see), and headed to Whole Foods.
Everything was going perfectly.
And then, after hauling our bounty home and pulling up the recipe, it happened.
I love to cook. And I love nothing more than winging it.
But for some reason, when someone puts a recipe in front of me, all my creative juices are sapped, and I panic.
There are directions and I must follow them, I think.
This is when Ky usually gives me a stern talking-to while waving some kind of kitchen utensil at me.
Or smashes a potato in my face.
But we’re not there yet.
Anyway, in case you are the kind of person who can look at a recipe and still get creative, we used this one.
Here are a couple things we did differently (I admit, there may be more- but that’s the point, right? Mix it up!):
We used 2% milk, because that’s what we had (and we’re really into using what we have) and also sea salt, because again, it’s in my pantry.
I don’t believe in bay leaves (I don’t like to cook with anything I have to fish out of my food later), so those were out, and we saw no reason to specialize our soy sauce, so we used what was in my fridge.
As far as some of our riskier moves, we went without the dried porcinis, because you can only get them around here at Whole Foods and they’re something like $6 for a couple ounces.
We figured there must be a cheaper, just-as-efficient way to do this.
Which meant we also eliminated the white wine in favor of red, which has more flavor.
And which we were already drinking anyway.
We also ditched some of the cubed vegetables for a head of bite-sized chopped kale, because we just really dig kale.
But aside from that, we kept it on track.
The point is, you guys, it’s okay to deviate from the plan.
Make your own plan!
I should follow my own instructions.
We started by chopping up everything, because honestly, there was a lot to chop and we wanted to get it over with as soon as possible.
We slid the potatoes into a hot oven, and left them to roast while we continued what felt like the indentured servitude of chopping.
Next to hit the oven were the cubed root vegetables (we chose carrots, turnips, and a butternut squash).
Next, while Ky tried to deal with her butternut squash-deformed hand, I threw some lentils, water, and garlic into a pot.
We kept chopping.
I kept feeling like we were off-path.
Ky kept calling me a sissy.
She was right.
Since I obviously couldn’t handle work on the fly, Ky figured out how to build a mushroom-y sauce without porcini-broth while I re-read directions and panicked.
Onions, extra mushrooms, and lots of red wine seemed to help.
At this point, the potatoes were ready to come out of the oven.
Said the recipe.
Things to note: I may not have been keeping time appropriately, and also, I may not have been accounting for the fact that the potatoes were sharing an oven with other vegetables.
In other words, it is not easy to mash raw potatoes.
Which is what it turned out I was doing.
When I cited the recipe as being the reason I had taken them out and tried to pretend like maybe the potatoes weren’t actually raw, Ky removed one from my bowl and shoved it in my mouth.
Which was crazy thing to do.
But, I admit, she was right.
And that’s what’s important.
I learned something.
Learning something, however, didn’t deter me from mashing still-raw potatoes, since I’d already added butter and milk.
And here is an embarrassing clip of the state in which I found myself:
At least, chicks, I amuse myself.
Eventually, after my spud-induced breakdown, we took all of our components, and layered them together like this: lentils, squash, peas (also an addition), kale, mushroom sauce, and then, the massive pile of sort-of-done potatoes.
After exhaling a big sigh of relief that everything managed to fit in one pot, we were finished with the assembly.
We tucked the pie in the oven, turned on Breaking Bad, and drank the rest of our wine.
45 minutes later, we were greeted with this:
And after digging in (let it rest awhile, it’s molten, as Ky would say), we had a delicious, nutritious twist on classic comfort food.
And no, I don’t know why I took this picture on a dirty stove top.
Maybe I was trying to be real.
Or maybe the combination of wine and anxiety was too much for me.
I’ll let you decide.
In any case, if you have a friend (or two), sharp knives, a good playlist, and some patience, this is a delicious meal for a weekend evening.
And it yields more leftovers than you could ever imagine.
Just maybe check those potatoes before you start adding the butter to the bowl.