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  • Nataschia

Everyone's Irish on the 17th

Irish or not, everyone loves to celebrate on the 17th and the next few blog posts will help you with a meal that is so delicious you'll want to eat the entire dish--but so rich that Carolee needed to balance it with a healthy Kale salad.

And if you eat your veggies, you can have dessert!

Carolee is my stylist and assistant on food shoots--and any chance we get, we really just enjoy 'playing' with food. She's also my neighbour which makes this all very convenient and a lot of fun! My family has reaped the benefits of many of her recipes over the years and we are so excited to bring you a new recipe weekly. Most weeks these recipes will be developed by Carolee and some weeks, we will photograph recipes by local chefs, from their books.

So whether you're here just for the pictures or you want to try some of these out for yourselves, we hope you'll enjoy!

When you think of Saint Patrick's Day, you're likely thinking corned beef and cabbage--but Shepherd's Pie is also known to be an Irish delicacy and it features the potato : ) Is there anything more Irish then the potato (well, other than Guinness)?

Just one more thing before we get into it. As we do, Carolee and I chat about the history of food while we're shooting and she told me about bog butter! It's exactly as it sounds--butter buried in peat bogs. Before there were refrigerators, it was the cool temperatures, the lack of oxygen and highly acidic environment in a peat bog that made it a great way to preserve butter. And it is still a regular occurrence for turf cutters to find butter while digging up peat--some of it dating 2000-5000 years ago!

Seafood Shepherd’s Pie (serves 4-6)

Seafood Filling:

1 small leek, white to light green parts only, cleaned and sliced (approx. 1 cup loosely packed) 1 shallot, peeled and sliced

1 medium celery rib, sliced

1 small - medium carrot thinly sliced or diced to approx. 1/ 2 ” pieces

1 / 4 cup salted butter

1 cup fish stock * (see note)

1 / 2 cup heavy (whipping) cream

3 / 4 - 1 lb salmon or trout filet (skinned) and cut into approx. 1” cubes

1 lb combined shrimp and scallops ( 1/ 2 lb each roughly ) peeled, deveined and no shells!

Salt and pepper (pepper mill) for seasoning

Mashed potato topping:

2-3 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/ 2 - 2” chunks

1/ 2 cup salted butter (room temperature)

1/ 2 cup cream cheese (room temperature)

1 1/ 2 cups buttermilk

Salt and pepper (pepper mill)

2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley for garnish

Add potato pieces to a large pot of water and generously salt the water (pasta pot size, 4-6 qrt). Allow about 1/ 2” - 1” of water over potatoes. Bring to boil and cook until potatoes are fork tender (easily break apart with fork). Should take about 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and thoroughly drain the water out. Add butter and cream cheese to potatoes and thoroughly mash. Add one cup of buttermilk to the mixture and continue mashing. Add the remaining buttermilk if the mash seems too heavy (not all potatoes are identical and their moisture absorption can vary). Taste test to see if you would like more salt. Generously add freshly cracked pepper, mix in. Set aside.

In a large (10” - 12”) sauce/sauté pan (not non-stick) on low heat add the butter. Once it has melted add the leek, shallot, celery and carrot. Season with salt and pepper. Sauté until all the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Do not try to hurry this step. It is important to keep the heat low so as not to burn the butter or the vegetables. Once the vegetable mix is soft, sprinkle the flour over the top and stir so that all is evenly coated with the melted butter and flour. Add the stock and increase heat to medium. Season with more salt and pepper. Bring to boil and then lower the heat slightly to maintain a simmer. Stir to prevent sticking to the pan. Once this mixture has thickened add the cream and continue stirring until mixture has thickened again and reduced somewhat (about 10 minutes). It should look like a thick chowder. Taste test for seasoning. If it seems too runny, allow to simmer on the stove top a little longer until the mixture is thickened. Reduce heat to low and add all the fish and seafood. Gently stir to combine. It should only take about 5 minutes for the seafood to cook through. Overcooking at this stage will make the seafood tough. Remove from heat. Salt and pepper to taste. Transfer seafood mixture to an oven proof casserole/baking dish with high sides (typically 1.5 litre dish). Let cool until a “skin” appears on top. This makes it easier to add the mashed potato topping. Set oven to 400F.

In large spoonfuls start scooping the potato topping onto the seafood mixture starting at the edge, following the perimeter of the dish until you can circle back to the center as in a spiral ring. With the back side of the spoon smooth down the mash against the edge of the dish to create a bit of a seal. This will prevent the sauce from escaping too much when it bakes. Now that there is a mashed potato layer you can add more to the top to give your pie some height. If you don’t want too much potato on the pie, set aside and reserve for some other purpose like making gnocchi, mashed potato pancakes or for other dinner sides. At this point you can cover and refrigerate or bake immediately. Bake for 45 minutes. This allows for the inside to heat up nicely and for the mashed potato top to puff and brown. Let cool for about 15minutes to allow for the pie to set a little more.

Sprinkle each serving with fresh chopped parsley. Serve with a crisp green salad.

*Fish stock tip: Fish stock can be home made or purchased. If you don’t have a homemade or store bought fish stock, add a 1/ 2 cup dry white wine after adding the flour and 2-3 bay leaves (do not eat! Remove leaves before serving) and then 1 cup of water or vegetable stock to replace the amount of fish stock required. You also have the option to not use wine at all however this will affect the overall flavour of the dish.

** Insider tip: I used frozen, OceanWise shrimp and scallops. I thawed these together in a colander with a dish underneath. That way the liquid that drains from the thawing seafood is captured. This reserved liquid is seafood flavour gold! I added this to the total stock component of the dish. I also had left over from a previous recipe reserved scallop liquid. I also added this to the fish stock component of this recipe. I never, ever throw away liquid from thawing seafood. It has way too much flavour to go to waste. I guarantee that using this method will take your dishes from regular to elite in the flavour department. Additionally, lobster and crab shells can be reserved to make stocks at a later date. Simply put them in ziplocks and into the freezer. Reserved seafood liquids can be stored in sealable containers and frozen.

Fish Stock: (Warning! This process has a really strong smell so best to attack it on a day when you can open windows)

Large pasta pot filled 3/ 4 full of water bring to a boil.

While you’re waiting for the water to boil, add:

1 cup dry white wine

2 celery stalks, cleaned and cut into 2” pieces

2 large carrots, cut into 2” pieces

2 large onion cut in half, skins and all

5 whole garlic cloves, skins and all

12 peppercorns

3 bay leaves

1 small bunch of thyme

1 small bunch parsley

1 lb assortment of crab shells, shrimp shells, lobster shells, fish heads/tails

Bring all to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 2 hours. You may need to skim foam off the top (discard). Let cool. Sieve the entire mixture into a new large bowl. All the remaining solids can now be discarded - they have been drained of flavour. It’s now in your stock! Decant broth into smaller containers (1 - 2 cup vessels) with sealable lids and refrigerate or freeze.


Baby Kale and Apple Salad with apple cider vinegar dressing & savoury oatmeal crumble (serves 4-6)


4-6 loosely packed cups of baby kale, watercress, sorel or any mixed bitter baby greens ( the idea is to have sturdy greens with a bitter/peppery punch)

1 firm crisp & sweet apple with red skin such as Honeycrisp or pink lady - quartered, seeded and thinly slice (a mandolin works nicely here or a good chef’s knife)

1/ 2 lemon, juice only

1 green onion, green parts only, thinly sliced (about 1/ 4 cup)


1/ 4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/ 4 cup olive oil or vegetable oil

1/ 2 tablespoon dijon or grainy mustard

1/ 2 - 1 tablespoon honey

1/ 4 tsp salt

Fresh cracked pepper

Oatmeal crumble:

1/ 2 cup old fashioned rolled oats, uncooked

2 tbsps butter

1/ 4 tsp dried thyme

Salt and pepper

1/ 3 cup grated Irish sharp white cheddar such as Wexford or Kerrygold

In a small saucepan over medium heat, add the rolled oats. Stir or toss the oats until they start to toast. You will be able to see the edges brown and it will start to smell nutty and toasty. Reduce heat to low and add the butter. Stir until all the flakes are coated. Add the thyme and season with salt and pepper. Add the grated cheese. Turn off the heat and stir until the cheese is melted. Spread it out evenly across the surface of the pan. Leave the pan on the stove and leave the mixture to cool. When it’s cooled you will be able to scrape it up in various chunks and sizes and bits to sprinkle over the salad. Set aside.

In a 1 cup (250 ml) mason jar add all the dressing ingredients and shake vigorously to combine until the mix looks homogenous. If you don’t have a jar, you could use a resealable container. Conversely, you would just use a small bowl and whisk. In which case, combine all the ingredients except the oil. Drizzle in the oil and whisk until combined and the dressing has emulsified. Set aside.

In a medium bowl add the sliced apples and toss with the lemon juice. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl add the greens. Do not add the dressing until you are ready to serve otherwise your greens will become soggy. When ready to serve, add the apples and the sliced green onions to the greens and pour about half the dressing over the greens and toss to combine. Taste test to assess if you want to add more dressing. Sprinkle the oatmeal crumble on last and finish off with some fresh cracked pepper.

You'll want to come back tomorrow for Guinness (Stout) Chocolate Cake Stacks with Whisky Coffee Cream Icing and Caramel!

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