So sorry for being MIA lately. I’ve been working on a huge project for my wonderful goddaughter, Sarah Goff’s wedding to Luke Eldridge. Check out her Instagram to see. I’ll be posting on mine after the nuptials next week.
Brian has taken a break from globetrotting to set up housekeeping with his wonderful friends here in Warwick. We are beyond ecstatic to have him nearby, and back to work and the gym after months healing from surgery for a displaced humerus fracture. He’s getting in shape by eating low carb, so when we have our weekly dinner together, recipes are modified accordingly.
Last night, we “celebrated” what would have been my brother’s 59th birthday. Steven loved to make a traditional Shepherd’s Pie, a natural choice for our yearly observance. I usually do my turkey variation, Potter’s Pie, because I don’t love lamb. Since I have wonderful ground pork (and rendered pork fat) from our share from our beloved Ardent Homesteader (#thankyouarlet), I subbed that for this variation. I wanted to extend the meat a bit; mushrooms were a natural option. But my son is mushroom-averse, hence the eggplant. A winner! And, to make it low carb, the cauliflower topping is a delicious substitute for mashed potatoes. Seriously velvety and savory. I promise, you won’t miss the spuds!
Mouse in the House
1 large onion
1.5 lbs ground pork
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tbs tomato paste
1/3 cup white wine
1 large eggplant, peeled, small dice
1 medium head cauliflower, trimmed
3 cloves garlic
1 tbs. pork or duck fat, butter, or creme fraiche
1/3 cup grated parm
2 tbs olive oil, divided
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 375. Place the eggplant on a parchment lined sheet pan and toss with 1 tbs. of oil, and plenty of salt and pepper. Roast for 30 minutes or until browned and soft.
Heat remaining tbs. of oil in a 12 inch skillet until just smoking, and cook onion for 3 minutes, seasoning with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the pork with the baking soda, and add it to the pan with the tomato paste and cook over high heat, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon. When the paste has stuck to the bottom of the pan and turned dark brown in spots, add the wine.
Bring to boil, scraping the fond off the bottom of the pot. Turn off the heat until the eggplant is ready and then add it to the skillet. Cook over low heat for 5 minutes or until the pork is cooked through.
Break or cut the cauliflower into 2 inch pieces and place in a saucepan with the garlic, pork fat or butter, salt and pepper, and 1/4 cup water. Cook over high heat, covered, until the cauli is very soft.
Using a spider, lift the cauli and garlic out of the pot (reserving the cooking liquid) and place in the bowl of a food processor fitted with steel blade. Add the parm, salt and pepper, and process until completely pureed. Add cooking liquid if needed to achieve a smooth, silky consistency.
Place the meat mixture in a 9 inch baking dish, and top with the cauli mixture. Bake for 15-20 minutes until bubbly and browned. Let set for 5 minutes before devouring.
*I knew the men would be ravenous, so I took the photos before I baked the pie. After it was baked, it was gorgeously browned, but in this instance, #thecameradidnoteatfirst #sorrynotsorry
*Try not to use much of the cooking liquid to puree the cauliflower. You really want it to be mashed potatoey and not too loose. Plus, that liquid is a delicious little treat for the cook. Hey, there are perks to being Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant!
*Make swirly designs in the topping with a fork if you are a potter. Or you like swirls.
Green Bean Salad
Blanch green beans, toss with good olive oil, salt and pepper. Top with minced preserved lemon. pretty little tomato halves, and gorgonzola dolce (or your favorite blue).