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January '08 Cooking Club Challenge Results: Part I


Posted by : Guest Blogger, Mon, Feb 18 2008

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All the entries are in for January Cooking Club Challenge. Year 2008 is off to a great start. I had over 30 submissions for Anthony Sedlak's Cottage Pie recipe challenge. Most of you liked it, but others ( including myself) found it a bit busy. Without further ado, here's the first batch of submissions.

From Robert M. who sent these helpful tips: It went pretty well, but I think my casserole dish was too big. This caused my mashed potatoes to be too thin of a layer, and the meat and vegetable mixture soaked through in some areas. As a result, I have attached a "before" picture instead of an "after" picture. In the end, it tasted fine, but here are a few things I would do differently the next time.

  • 1 kg of minced beef, instead of 500 g
  • Add 25% more potatoes to ensure the potato layer is think enough
  • Double the carrots and celery, but keep the onion the same
  • Use Alley Kat's seasonal Coffee Porter instead of wine; I think the dark flavours of the porter would be better than a red wine, but that is just my opinion.

From Farah A. who kicked it up several notches with lots of garlic, green chili and Worcestershire sauce (Unfortunately she lost her memory stick so couldn't send a photo): It's a great potluck item and it freezes well. Instead of two garlic cloves in the recipe, I used around six (it sounds like a lot but trust me it is fabulous!). I love a lot of heat in my food, so I went in with a green chili. I also pureed two onions WITH the rosemary and thyme for an immensely flavourful concoction. Also, I added a splash of Worcestershire sauce to the beef. For the topping, it was sweet roasted garlic for me instead of fresh, and I added just a pinch of smoked paprika. The final product was a fabulously rich, rustic and very flavorful pie. There's no doubt that I will make this again and again! Cheers!

 From Natalie H. who had a lot of fun cooking with a baby in tow: This is my first challenge with a 15 months old baby running around. It was so much fun. I started by reading the recipe and thought, OK, I can do this and I followed it to a T but my result wasn't the same as the picture. The meat was a little runny but the rest was real good. I roasted some bread with oil and salt to make bread crumbs and added tomatoes since (they're my favourite) to add colour and bring the pie alive. I also added some milk to the potatoes just to fluff them up.

From Jenny G. who thought it was a wonderful dish: I will be making this for family and guests alike for a long time to come. Very hearty. I added sliced cremini mushrooms to the vegetables and used sour cream instead of 35 per cent cream in the potatoes. I also topped it with crumbled bacon as well as the cheese.  The bacon bits also enhanced the flavour of the peas and cabbage side dish. I have made Sheppard's pie for years but never used tomato paste.  Cottage pie makes a great showy dinner dish, but is relatively inexpensive and filling.

From Sherrie K. who got the thumbs up from the entire family: I prepared the cottage pie tonight for my family's supper. I found it somewhat labour intensive and used three different pots. It took 90 minutes. I kept thinking, my five and seven year olds were going to turn their noses up at this. When it was served at the table, I got thumbs up from everyone. It's the best "shepherds pie" I've ever made, and will now change my recipe card in the box to include this favourite. I accidentally added marjoram leaves instead of the rosemary, and it was very tasty.

From Irene B. who enjoyed it despite finding it too busy: I found it to be much too "busy." I have three growing boys and we're out 4-5 times a week for hockey so I need to have recipes that are healthy and simple to put together. It called for one too many pots so I improvised and skipped the extra pot. On the bright side, the whole family enjoyed it and I made a double batch so that we have enough for a second meal.

From Pilar A. who had nothing but good things to say about the recipe: This month's recipe challenge fit quite nicely with my usual meal selections for the weekend. I make this recipe a lot as it's often better the next day for leftovers. The only difference between this recipe and the one I usually prepare is the Parmesan cheese that's added in the potatoes. This recipe is packed full of flavour and is easy to make. It's a great "comfort food" recipe that can be made any time of the year, but is especially nice on a cold winter's night. This is a recipe that will have people coming back for seconds, maybe even thirds.  

From Lorie B. who liked the recipe despite it being a bit time consuming: It was fairly easy to make but a little time-consuming. Also, the directions were a little confusing (i.e. size of pan, where do you use the butter in the filling?). I used the butter for the veggies. My husband found the dish a little salty but overall liked it. I will definitely make it again. 

From Nicole D. who sent this hilarious blurb (There was a photo attached but I wasn't able to open it. Sorry Nicole): I have to say, our attempt at this was a comedy of errors. First my husband and I thought we would do this together. Big mistake! A classic case of too many cooks in the kitchen. Then there was the part where my husband poured in the entire can of tomato paste into the recipe instead of 1 tbsp. Yikes! In any case, the end result which took us two hours (did anyone else take this long?) was actually pretty good despite us, to be sure. If anything is to be learned here, it's that a truly good recipe can withstand darn near anything--even two Cooking Club virgins. Looking forward to next month!

From Kristel P. who suggests making extra to put in the freezer: This is a perfect recipe for a cold January night! I baked it in individual dishes so I wouldn't have to fight over the yummy topping with my husband. I also used a combination of ground beef and pork to add more flavour. This recipe is certainly tasty, an upgrade from my usual shepherd's pie. I would definitely make it again but I would double the recipe so I can pop one in the freezer for a busy weeknight.

From Robyn C. who was thankful for the recipe: The recipe turned out really well.  Other than leaving out the rosemary and thyme (I didn't have them), I tried to follow the recipe as closely as possible. I really love the mini-recipe for the mashed potatoes! Adding parmesan to them made them so good. My Dad is on a low-carb diet so he didn't get to try the Cottage Pie but my Mom did and she said it was good too. 


Posted: Mon, Feb 18 2008 by Guest Blogger

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