Tasty Thursdays: Shepherd’s Pie

After my first visit to London, I returned home and cooked Shepherd’s Pie almost every week! I couldn’t get enough of it. It’s quite simple to make and very tasty.

Shepherd's pie















Here’s a recipe I found on epicurious.com


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 pound ground lamb (or substitute half with another ground meat)
  • 1 cup beef or chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh or dry rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup milk (any fat content)
  • Kosher salt to taste


1. Preheat oven to 375°F.

2. In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, heat the oil, then add the onion, carrot, and meat. Cook until browned, 8 to 10 minutes.

3. Drain the fat and add the broth, tomato paste, and herbs. Simmer until the juices thicken, about 10 minutes, then add the peas.

4. Pour the mixture into a 1 1/2-quart baking dish; set aside.

5. Meanwhile, bring the potatoes to a boil in salted water. Cook until tender, about 20 minutes; drain.

6. Mash the potatoes with the butter, milk, and salt.

7. Spread them over the meat mixture, then crosshatch the top with a fork.

8. Bake until golden, 30 to 35 minutes.

Tasty Thursdays: Steak and Ale Pie

As I might have mentioned in previous posts, I’ll try anything. My tour of Stonehenge came with lunch so we stopped at the George Inn in Lacock. Even though I’d never had it before, I selected the steak and ale pie. It seemed pretty straight forward and most importantly, hearty. It was an all day tour and I had no idea when my next meal would be.

George's Inn Steak and Ale Pie
Steak and Ale Pie

Since we’d pre-ordered lunch, we were served as soon as we found our tables. The steak and ale pie was delicious!

I wasn’t sure how it was made but an Australian couple at the adjoining table explained that the meat was cooked first in ale — at least, that’s how it’s done in Australia — then baked.

A Little About The George Inn

The George Inn has been used as a pub since 1361. Though it’s been renovated and modernized, the George still maintains some of the vestiges from its past, such as the large open fireplace with a dog-wheel that once used for spit roasting.

I forgot to ask for a recipe but found this one on Allrecipes.com. If you try it, let me know what you think.


  • 1/2 (17.5 ounce) package frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 tablespoon lard
  • 1/2 pound cubed beef
  • 1/4 pound carrots, diced
  • 1/4 pound turnips, diced
  • 1/2 pound peeled and cubed potatoes
  • 1/4 pound onions, diced
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup bitter ale
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  2. Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add lard, then meat. Toss to coat meat, and saute just long enough to brown meat on all sides. Remove from heat. Place meat in a 1 quart baking dish. Add carrots, turnip, potatoes, and onion. Mix well.
  3. Place 1 cup water and ale in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer. Mix cornstarch with 1/4 cup cold water until smooth. Slowly pour cornstarch mixture into simmering ale mixture, whisking constantly. Continue to simmer until mixture has thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour mixture over meat and vegetables. Trim puff pastry to fit over top of filling.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 45 to 50 minutes, until pastry is deep golden brown.

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Tasty Thursdays: Steak and Fries

I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve had steak. Once when I saw Ella Fitzgerald in concert in Toronto, and the other at Le Relais de l’Entrecôte in Paris.

I wouldn’t have known about Le Relais de l’Entrecôte but for my friend, Karen, who’d been working in Paris for a few months before I arrived. Karen and I had tried to meet for dinner in New York but couldn’t seem to synchronize our schedules. Then we found out we were going to be in Paris at the same time, we knew we had to meet.

When Karen mentioned Le Relais, admittedly, I was hesitant. Steak is never my first choice for a meal and the idea of having steak in a country that is known for its delectable cuisine seemed, well, pedestrian. But she sold me and since I’m always ready to try something different – who wouldn’t want to try steak and fries in Paris? – I relented.

At Le Relais de l’Entrecôte, steak and fries are the only things on the menu. I guess the only difference in each order is how the steak is prepared – rare, medium or done.

Steak & Fries from Le Relais de l'Entrecôte
Steak and Fries

We decided on 7 p.m., an early dinner, by Parisian standards, and there was still a short wait for a table.

Each plate arrived with steak doused in a lovely greenish gravy backed up by a side of fries. I wish I had the recipe to share but believe me when I tell you, it was good. When I finished, the only thing left was the plate. Yes, and the flatware. Neither Karen nor I even looked at dessert.

Our server was pleasant and efficient. Although I speak enough French, it was great to know that our server spoke some English.  There was constant turnover during the time we were there and a line outside when we left.

Although I’m a steak novice, I’d give the steak and fries at Le Relais de l’Entrecôte a thumbs up.

If you ever make it to Paris, be sure to check them out. You’ll not be disappointed.

Le Relais de l’Entrecôte
20 Bis Rue Saint-Benoît
Metro:  Saint-Germain-des-Prés

Tasty Thursdays: Fish and Chips

I love fish and every now and then, I’ll make fish and chips. But on my third trip to London, I realized I’d never had fish and chips there. I decided to remedy that.

After browsing books and talking with authors and sellers at the London Book Fair at Earls Court, I decided to head upstairs for lunch. I was pleased to see fish and chips on the menu and placed my order.

Fish and Chips for lunch in London
Fish and chips

How to Make Fish and Chips

Here’s what you’ll need:

2 Cod fillets

1 3/4 cup All-Purpose flour

1 cup Guinness

1 egg, beaten

1/3 tbsp. salt

2 tbsp. milk

1 large russet potato

Vinegar or Tartar sauce

6 cups vegetable oil

The Chips

Rinse and peel potato. Cut up thickly, like steak fries.

Heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat in large skillet or a deep fryer.

Season potato with salt and pepper to your liking.

Cook potatoes in skillet 4-5 minutes or until crispy and golden brown, turning over to ensure that they cook evenly.

Remove potatoes from oil and allow them to drain on a paper towel to remove excess oil. Place potatoes in baking dish and keep warm in the oven.

The Fish

Combine 1 cup of flour, egg, milk, seasoning, baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and Guiness in a large mixing bowl.

Whisk ingredients together until the mixture is creamy and without lumps.  You can add more Guinness to thin out the batter, if necessary.

Place remaining flour and salt in a shallow.

Season cod fillets with salt and pepper.

Dip cod into shallow flour dish, making sure to fully coat each fillet.

Dredge cod through batter mixture and back through shallow flour dish.

Fry fish in the same oil you used for the chips for 4-5 minutes or until crispy and brown.

Remove fish from oil and drain on paper towels.

Serve immediately with chips and tartar sauce or vinegar.


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Tasty Thursdays: Easter Bun (and Cheese)

When I was growing up in Jamaica, certain foods were associated with certain religious holidays, days of the week, etc. For example, rice and peas were reserved for Sundays and special occasions, like weddings, parties, etc., rum cake at Christmas, and Easter bun for, you guessed it, Easter. Now, the Easter bun can be found in most grocery stores at any time during the year, rice and peas has become an everyday and rum cake can be bought at any time.

I didn’t always like Easter bun. learned to like it when I was away at university. And I started making it myself a few years ago. It’s not particularly difficult to make. I found two recipes that I liked in The Real Taste of Jamaica, by Enid Donaldson, and combined the ingredients I wanted in my bun.

So here’s my recipe for a popular favorite – our answer to the Hot Crossed Bun.

How to Make Easter Bun


3 cups flour
4 tsps. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. lime juice
¼ tsp. salt
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup cherries (you can also use mixed fruits)
1 cup Guinness  stout


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 Degrees
  2. Over low heat, dissolve sugar, butter, spices in stout.
  3. Mix flour and baking powder.
  4. Beat egg and mix all the ingredients together
  5. Pour into a greased loaf tin and bake for 1 hour.
  6. Remove and allow to cool.

Easter bun’s usually accompanied by a processed cheese that’s close in taste to Chedder but use the cheese you like. It also works with American cheese. Some people substitute butter for cheese.

Hope you can try this out and let me know what you think.


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Escoveitched Fish: Caught in a Pickle in Jamaica

I love food and I love to eat. But I’m very particular about what I like. I nearly ditched my last year of

Scotch bonnet peppers, essential to Jamaican cooking

university so that I could stay in Barcelona. For the food.

In terms of spices and richness, the food in Spain comes pretty close to what I grew up eating and what my body responds to.

When I’m in Jamaica, one meal I enjoy thoroughly is escoveitched fish – not just any fish. For me, it has to be red snapper. I can eat it by itself, right down to the head and bones, no accompanying dish required.

When I was growing up, I’d watch my grandmother and mother prepare typical Jamaican dishes and though I couldn’t cook then, some of those recipes stuck and I replicated them when I began cooking for myself. But escoveitch I wanted to do just like my mother did – fried crispy (so that it crumbles when you bite it) then marinated, for at least 4 hours, in a mixture of vinegar, onions and pepper. Frying it until it’s crisp keeps the fish firm after it’s soaked in the vinegar mixture and when you bite into it, it  creates an explosion of flavor as tangy vinegar, biting Scotch Bonnet and sweet onions awaken the taste buds. Is the only dish I asked her to show me how to make.

Pimento, another key ingredient in Jamaican cooking

Escoveitch, derived from the Spanish word escabeche, meaning pickled, was brought to Jamaica by the descendants of Christopher Columbus, who claimed the island for the King and Queen of Spain in 1494. Jamaica remained a Spanish colony until the British grabbed it in 1655.

Evidence of Spanish presence is still to be found in place names like Ocho Rios, Savanna la Mar, Rio Cobre, etc., and in some of our foods.

The popular escoveitched fish is a tasty reminder of our Spanish heritage.

Here’s my mother’s recipe for this crowd pleaser.

Escoveitched Fish

3 lbs. fish

4 tsp. black pepper and 3 tsp salt, combined

2 or 3 limes (or lemons)

1 Scotch Bonnet or other hot pepper, cut in strips

1/2 cup oil for frying

2 cups vinegar

1 tsp. pimento seeds

2 large onions, sliced

1/2 tsp. of whole black pepper grains

Wash fish thoroughly in water to which juice of limes have been added. Dry thoroughly. When dry,

Escoveitched Fish

coat the fish on both sides and on inside with combined salt and black pepper. Set aside on paper towels. (Note: Paper towels keep the fish dry so the hot oil doesn’t pop and splash when you put it in.)

Heat oil in frying pan to boiling and fry fish on both sides until nice and crisp. Set fish aside in a glass dish.

In a saucepan, combine vinegar, sliced onions, peppers, pimento seeds, whole black pepper grains and bring to a boil. Simmer until onions are tender. Remove from fire and cool.

Pour over fish and leave steeping overnight (or for at least 4 hours).

Serve with festival (flour and cornmeal dumplings), bammie (made from cassava) or even rice and peas. Escoveitched fish can be eaten at any meal. I could get caught in that pickle any time.