The kitchen was my domain when I got married. No, I didn't hate it, I actually loved it. It was my laboratory and I was Dr Frakenstein.
Fast forward five years later and the popularity of the food channel and it became my husband's laboratory as well. I'd like to say he burnt an egg, but he's pretty good. He's mastered the art of preparing steak to exact specification and makes dhal (a thick stew prepared from pulses) just like my mom.
So needless to say, I get a bit hot under the collar when he has a different opinion to mine in the kitchen. He's in my or our kitchen and he's good.
So the other day my husband and I had a very civilised discussion, as civilised as I can be when it comes to food, about what goes into a cottage pie. To him it's just minced beef topped with mashed potato. To me it's an explosion of flavour with the caress of the right combination of ingredients on the tongue.
So I do what any person who is right does, I Google it. Cottage Pie, which also became later known as Shepards pie, varies from just minced meat to adding what you want to it. The common denominators being minced or shredded meat and topped with mashed potatoes.
What he doesn't know won't hurt him.
Here's my take on a classic.
Cottage Pie (serves 4 - 5)
2 cinnamon sticks (1cm X 10cm each)
1 medium chopped onion
500g lean mince
1t heaped crushed ginger and garlic
2t fine salt or to taste
1/2t freshly ground pepper
1/2 chopped yellow bell pepper
1 grated medium tomato
1/2c mixed, chopped frozen vegetables
1/2c cooked spaghetti
6 peeled and roughly chopped medium potatoes, boiled till tender
1/4c Luke warm milk (omit milk for a firmer topping)
2t fine salt or to your taste
1/2 nutmeg powder
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
2. Braise onion and cinnamon stick on medium till golden brown.
3. Add salt, pepper, ginger and garlic to mince and mix evenly. Add mince and bell pepper to onions.
4. Braise until mince changes colour and is cooked. Use the back of your spoon to "mash" the mince a 3 or 4 times while it's braising. Add the tomato and cook for a simmer 15 minutes.
5. Remove from the heat. Add the spaghetti and vegetables.
"mash" potato until there are no lumps left.
7. Use a spoon to mix the butter into the potatoes until it's dissolved. Add the milk and mix it in with a spoon (omit this for firmer mash). Lastly add the salt to taste.
8. Spoon the mince mixture into a casserole dish. Evenly spread the mash potatoes over it. Sprinkle nutmeg over the top.
9. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes.
What do you put in your Cottage / Shepherds Pie?