Shepherd’s Pie eli jauhelihaperunasoselaatikko

Dear readers, England is not only London as I try to tell myself every time when I find the streets full of people and I get anxious of this busy city. Oxford Street at Christmas time is a hell on earth I can tell. You feel like an ant climing the massive anthill that never ends.

London is full of contrasts. I think it is the city you hate and love at the same time. Nothing works, everything is broken all the time, but at the same time the city is vivid, it is always full of life, the exciting events never run out, there are always people keen for going out and party. I think the pubs capture the essence of London. There are multiple pubs, small and big, old fashioned, modern, oldemen pubs, yougsters’ pubs, fancy pubs, cozy pubs… We have been testing as many pubs as we have been able to. One dish you (almost) always find on the pub menus is the Shepherd’s Pie. English people love their pies, but for me this pie was a mystery. I haven’t ever actually ordered it because I wasn’t sure what kind of pie would be brought to my plate.

By googling the name, I finally found that Shepherd’s pie wasn’t actually a pie at all in the sense of an ordinary English pie. Shpeherd’s pie is what we Finnish people know as ”jauhelihaperunasoselaatikko” (a long word I know), which can be translated as ”mince meat potato mash pie”. This is a famous or should I say notorious Finnish school cantine dish. Every Finn has eaten this dish at school cantines. I have to admit that for me these memories are not the most pleasant ones. As much as Finnish school food is appreciated, the picture of this dish in my mind is some gluey potatomash floating with some greasy mince meat whilst having very watery consistency which means that the spoonful falls off from your fork and it never ends up to your mouth..

To face my bad memories of this dish I decided to cook it myself. I thought it must be even a little bit tasty if English people love it so much..or is the love of it simply explained by the bad British kitchen? To play a good and sweet English housewife, I wanted to test the recipe.

As Australians owe their cuisine mainly to British, my dear Aussie man knew immediately Shepherd’s Pie  and he almost smelled it from the corridor when entering home. He loved this dish and I have to say so did I. The home made Shepherd’s Pie was a totally different experience from the ones served in the school cantines back in the 90s. This is a cheap, good and healthy home food.

For the sauce

2 large onions finely chopped

2 tnsp olive oil

500g minced lamb or beef

2 tbsp plain flour

2-3 bay leaves (crushed)

1 tsp thyme

2 small slices of anchovy

1 big tin of chopped tomatoes

3tsp BBQ sauce

300-400ml beef or lamb stock

salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the pie:

6-8 potatoes

20-30g butter

1/2 dl milk

1 egg yolk

For the top:

cheese

1.Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

2. Cut the onions. Cook the onions in the frying pan until they turn to golden.  Add the mince meat. Cook until the meat is brown. Add teh flour and the spices. Add the stock, BBQ sauce and the chopped tomatoes. Cook it in a low heat for 1h so that the sauce gets lovely sweet flavour. The secret is slow cooking!

3. Peel the potatoes and cut them into halves if they are big. Cook them under the water for 15min until tender. Make the mash with the smoother stick or electric whisker. Add the butter and milk, egg yolk and a pinch of salt if needed.

4. Build the pie. Set the sauce in the bottom of the baking dish. Set the mashed potatoes on the top of the sauce. Grate some cheese (Extra mature Cheddar or Parmesan) on the top. Cook in the oven for 20 min so that the top turns to nicely golden brown.

Mainokset

Fawlty Towers Walfdorf Salad

Anyone who has ever watched a lovely British TV-series called Fawlty Towers will remember the episode called Waldorf Salad. In this episode a fancy American comes to stay in the hotel and Basil seems to blow everything -like usually-. When eating in the hotel restaurant this American snob wants to have Waldorf salad, nothing else suits for him than this particular salad. He comes from New York and there ”one can find it anywhere”. But Basil is silly and not aware of this American side dish and keeps on asking: ”What is a Waldorf anyway, a walnut that’s gone off?”

Whilst being only an entertaining British sitcom this Fawlty Towers episode includes a small piece of history anyway. Waldorf salad is a legendary salad created between 1893 and 1896 at the Waldorf Hotel in New York City. The American is right, in New York you can find it anywhere since the end of 19th century. It landed a bit later in Europe.

Encouraged by this hilarious Fawlty Towers episode I had to try this famous salad. I made it last summer when our American friend was visiting us from New York. I thought it would be a funny thing to do. There are different variations of this salad, but the main ingerdients stay the same. I searched for the recipes and one that seemed to look good to me I tested. This salad is an extremely nice side dish for BBQ. We ate it at the summer cottage and liked it. It tastes quite mayonnaisy, even though it isn’t. Actually it is a very refreshing salad because of pineapples and youghurt. Maybe try it next time when having some BBQ?

Four portions:

1 celeriac ( in some recipes you find sliced celeri sticks)

2 apples

4 tbs cream

3 tbs mayonnaise

4 tbs youghurt

2 tbs lemon juice

4 tbs walnuts

1 dl pineapple slices

salt, white pepper, sugar

1. Combine cream, mayonnaise, yoghurt and lemon juice.

2. Cut the apple into small cubes and grate the celeriac.

3. Mix apple, grated celeri, pineapples and walnuts together. Add the mayonnaise mixture in it. Spice the salad with salt and pepper. Finish the taste with some sugar.

Serve it with a good steak!  You can get some variation in flavour by using celeri instead of celeriac!

Uncle Tet’s Tonkatsu Curry

Japanese kitchen is not just the commercial world of sushi! In Finland Japanese kitchen is too often considered so.

When my aussie man wanted to surprise me with some Japanese Tonkatsu Curry, I had no idea what to expect. I had only heard some stories about his auntie’s japanese husband and his tonkatsu curry, but that was all. After finishing the dinner, I hardly found any adjectives to decribe how enjoyable flavours I just experienced. Surprisingly, this dish consists of the most common and simple ingredients and still its taste is addictive and incredibly delicious. Douzo meshiagare!

For steaks:

4 pork fillets

eggs

flour, breadcrumbs

For sauce:

3 onions

3 garlic cloves

1 big sweet potato

3-4 carrots

1 curry cube ( 75-100g Golden Curry or House Vermont Curry, medium or medium hot)

1 apple (cruhed)

1 tbsp yellow curry powder

Cut the veggies into uneven cubes. Cook the onions and crushed garlic cloves in a sauce pan. Place the veggies in a sauce pan and add some water to cover them. Start cooking them. Let it boil in a low temperature. Add some curry powder. When the veggies are softer, add the curry cube, mix so that the cube melts and incorporates into water. Let it cook for a while. Add the cruhed apple in the end.

Take few egg yolks and mix them in a plate. Roll the fillets in it so that the flours and breadcrumbs stick on them. Cook them on a frying pan. Add so much vegetable oil that they are almost fried but not totally under the oil. Cut the fillets into small slices before serving so that one is able to enjoy the meal by using chopsticks.

Serve fillets, with jasmin rice and home-made tonkatsu sauce.

This dish is perfect when you wanna serve something special for your guests!