Raystown Lake in Pennsylvania is where water meets woodlands and meadows meet mountain paths. When our friends invited us to their houseboat for a weekend, we gladly accepted. The drive through Amish country, the quaint Americana towns that passed us by with pretty porches, hilly wooded country and clear blue skies sure made the three and a half hour drive from home a very pleasant one. Here’s the entrance to the houseboat that they very aptly named “All You Need is Love”. The weather was absolutely gorgeous, the relaxing weekend was spent with good friends, great food, drinks, boat rides, fishing, and dancing till the boat rocked.
I was in charge of dinner one night, so I decided to make Nigel Slater’s Shepherd’s Pie with Spiced Parsnip Mash. I tweaked it a bit, like I always do with recipes, and as you can see, it did go down very well. However, I did want the top a tad crispier and browner, but was not too familiar with the oven on the boat. For dessert I whipped up an upside down fresh nectarine cake which will be covered in another post. It was definitely a tasty houseboat weekend, with the hosts cooking breakfast, tasty morsels for snacks, and yummy cold cuts for lunch. Here is my contribution for Fiesta Friday #21.
Shepherd’s Pie with spiced parsnip mash – serves 4
Ingredients for the topping
2 lbs large parsnips, peeled and cut into large chunks
2 onions sliced
2 oz butter
large pinch ground cumin
1 tbsp freshly ground coriander seeds
1 tbsp garam masala
2 oz butter (again)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Ingredients for the filling
2 leeks chopped
1 carrot diced
3/4 cup shelled/frozen peas
3 tbsp dripping or butter
4 Italian brown mushrooms, sliced
1 lb cooked roast lamb, minced or raw ground lamb (or ground beef)
1 tbsp flour
1 tbsp tomato puree
9 oz. hot lamb or chicken stock
1 bay leaf
1 sprig thyme
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
chopped turkey bacon for flavor/a handful of shredded cheese
1. Simmer the parsnips in salted water until tender – about 15-20 minutes
2. While they are cooking, fry the onions and turkey bacon in the butter over a moderate heat until soft and translucent.
3. Stir in the spices and continue cooking for a further two minutes, until fragrant.
4. Drain the parsnips. Mash them with a potato masher, stirring in the butter, salt and freshly ground black pepper, then the sliced onions. Set aside.
5. In a large pan, cook the chopped leeks (or onions) and the diced carrot with the dripping or butter until they are soft and golden.
6. Add the sliced mushrooms and cook for a further five minutes, then stir in the ground meat. The meat must brown a little here and there, so do not stir it too often. Leave to cook for 5 minutes or so, breaking it up as necessary.
7. Add the flour and the tomato puree. Continue to cook, stirring regularly for three or four minutes, tomato puree is bitter if not thoroughly cooked.
8. Pour on the hot stock, add a bay leaf and a sprig of thyme and bring to the boil.
9. Turn down the heat and leave to simmer very gently for 25-30 minutes. Add frozen peas.
10. Preheat the oven to 190C/375/Gas5
11. Season the filling with salt, Worcestershire sauce and a few grinds of black pepper – be generous
12. Scoop the mixture into a large baking dish and spoon dollops of mashed parsnip over the top. Add a sprinkling of shredded cheese. Bake for 25 minutes until the topping is golden brown.