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Lamb and Eggplant Shepherd's Pie Recipe

Lamb and Eggplant Shepherd's Pie Recipe


Ingredients

Filling

  • 1 1-1/2-pound eggplant, unpeeled, cut into 3/4- to 1-inch cubes
  • 7 tablespoons (or more) extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 pounds well-trimmed boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 3 cups beef broth (preferably organic)
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano

Topping

  • 2 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/4 cups (packed) coarsely grated kasseri cheese* (5 to 6 ounces)

Recipe Preparation

Filling

  • Scatter eggplant on rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with coarse salt; let stand 1 hour, tossing occasionally. Rinse eggplant and pat very dry.

  • Heat 3 tablespoons oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add eggplant and sauté until tender, about 12 minutes. Transfer to medium bowl.

  • Sprinkle lamb generously with coarse salt and pepper, then dust with flour to coat. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in same pot over medium-high heat. Add half of lamb. Sauté until browned, about 8 minutes. Transfer lamb to large bowl. Repeat with 2 tablespoons oil and remaining lamb.

  • Add 1 additional tablespoon oil to same pot, if needed. Add onions. Cover and cook over medium-low heat until very tender, about 10 minutes (bottom of pot will be very dark). Add wine to pot. Increase heat and boil until wine evaporates, scraping up browned bits, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes with juice, broth, garlic, and oregano and bring to boil. Add lamb with any accumulated juices. Cover; reduce heat to low and simmer 1 hour. Uncover and continue to simmer until lamb is very tender and gravy thickens slightly, about 45 minutes. Stir in eggplant. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. DO AHEAD Can be made 3 days ahead. Cool slightly. Cover and chill.

Topping

  • Preheat oven to 375°F. Cook potatoes in large pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 14 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, melt butter with oil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic. Sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add milk and bring to simmer.

  • Drain potatoes. Return to pot. Stir over medium heat until excess moisture evaporates. Add milk mixture and mash potatoes until just smooth. Stir in cheese. Season with coarse salt and pepper. Drop potatoes over filling by heaping tablespoonfuls, covering completely.

  • Bake pie until filling is heated through and topping is golden, about 45 minutes.

Recipe by Jeanne Thiel Kelley,Reviews Section

What's for Dinner

Sometimes, as I am cooking a meal, I am cursing under my breath. I must admit, stages of this dish, I was at least complaining, if not quite cursing. I kept thinking, "This dish better be good. It better be worth all the time."

Thankfully, it measured up. The flavor was incredible. It wasn't overly seasoned, but it was rich in flavor. Curtis and I both loved it. M wouldn't try much of the stew--she immediately recognized the eggplant. She loved the mashed potatoes though. When we told her she had to eat some of the stew (eggplants included) to get dessert, she ate it without complaint or drama and didn't seem to mind it at all. J didn't eat much, we ate too late and he had snacked that afternoon. I couldn't seem to stop eating it and am looking forward to eating it as leftovers today.

This is basically a lamb and eggplant stew covered with mashed potatoes. The recipe called for boneless lamb shoulder. I couldn't find boneless lamb shoulder (just bone-in), so I spent some time removing the lamb from the bone and trimming off the fat (which tends to give lamb it's very distinct, sometimes overpowering flavor). As I tasted the stew part, I realized I cut down on some of the time and a lot of the cost by substituting beef stew meat instead. I think may do just that next time because I am not in love with the taste of lamb. A lot of the time involved with this is hands-off, simmering time or standing time. This is not a meal to make in a hurry. This is a meal to make on a cool, lazy day at home. I made this over 2 days. The first day I made the stew, the second day I made the mashed potatoes and baked it.

This recipe is half of a recipe (the original served 8 - 10, this yields only 4 -5 servings which is plenty for our family, especially for a new recipe). The original also said to make it in a 9 x 13" pan. I think it would just be a lot thicker layers for the original proportions. If you want it thicker, just bake in a 9 x 9 pan or a casserole dish and increase the bake time a little.

Lamb and Eggplant Shepherd's Pie
slightly adapted from Bon Appetit

Lamb and Eggplant Stew
3/4 - 1 lb eggplants, unpeeled, cut into 3/4 - 1" cubes
coarse kosher salt
extra virgin olive oil
1 lb well-trimmed boneless lamb shoulder or beef stew meat, cut into 1" cubes
all purpose flour
1 1/2 c onions, chopped
1/2 c dry white wine
1 (14-oz) can diced tomatoes (with juice)
1 1/2 c beef or chicken broth
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 T dried oregano

Mashed Potatoes
1 1/2 lb potatoes, peeled and cut into 1" cubes
1 T butter
1 T extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
scant 1/2 c whole milk
3/4 c (packed) kasseri or Pecorino Romano cheese, coarsely grated

Scatter the eggplant on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle with coarse salt and let stand for an hour (or longer), tossing occasionally. Rinse and gently squeeze out extra liquid with a dish towel. Heat 3 T oil in a large stock/soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the eggplant and saute until tender, about 12 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and set aside for awhile.

Sprinkle the lamb generously with coarse salt and pepper. Dust with flour to coast. Heat 2 T oil in same pot used for eggplant and brown the lamb in batches--being careful not to overcrowd. Saute for about 8 minutes a batch or until lamb is browned. Transfer to a bowl as finished. Once all the lamb is browned, add additional T of oil to pot if needed. Add onions, cover, and cook over medium low heat until onions are very tender, about 10 minutes. Add wine to pot to deglaze. Increase the heat and boil until wine evaporates, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pot, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes with juice, broth, garlic, and oregano and bring to a boil. Add browned lamb and any accumulated juices. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for an hour. Uncover and simmer another 45 minutes or longer, until lamb is very tender and gravy thickens a bit. Stir in eggplant. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a 9 x 13" baking pan. (If doing this ahead of time, stop here and refrigerate until you are ready to finish the recipe).

Cook the potatoes in a pot of boiling salted water until very tender. Meanwhile melt butter with oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and saute until fragrant, only about a minute. Add milk and simmer. Drain potatoes and transfer to a mixing bowl (I like to use my electric mixer, but you can do this by hand). Add milk mixture and mash potatoes until smooth. Stir in cheese. Taste and season with coarse salt and pepper if necessary. Spread over top filling, covering completely. Bake in preheated 375 degrees oven for 45 minutes or until topping is golden and the filling is heated through.


Shortcut Moussaka Shepherd’s Pie

Hello. I just smashed together two of my favourite comfort food meals into something revolutionary – Moussaka Shepherd’s Pie.

I adore classic Greek moussaka, but making it is tedious task – peeling, slicing potatoes making béchamel sauce AND meat sauce broiling eggplant and zucchini making pretty layers in a baking dish… it’s worth the effort and dishes sometimes. But definitely not on a weeknight.

My creation retains all the delicious elements of the original – rich meat sauce nuanced with cinnamon, creamy potatoes, tender zucchini and eggplant – but it takes a tiny fraction of the time, and only requires two dishes.

Ground lamb is browned then simmered in a rich tomato-red wine sauce along with zucchini and eggplant. I swapped the traditional sliced potato topping for mashed (I don’t even bother to peel them!) and stirred in butter, milk and parmesan to riff on a white sauce. The fluffy potatoes are piled on top of the meat filling, then the whole thing is baked until the sauce bubbles up seductively around the edges and the potatoes bear a beautiful golden crust.


About the Mashed Potatoes:

The recipe might seem a bit complicated and I don’t want to scare you away. So, feel free to make them thicker from the beginning. Let me explain. At first, I was contemplating creating a bechamel layer instead of the mashed potatoes. Then, I thought, why not create potato bechamel sauce? Both would not create the classic flavor that I was going for.

Instead, I opted for a thinner, creamier mashed potato topping. In order to do this, I added more milk to the potatoes and then cooked them down. Like I said before, this step can be skipped and just add less milk until the desired mashed potato consistency is achieved. However, if you have a few extra minutes, give it a try and let me know what you think.


Lamb Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd’s Pie is traditionally made with ground lamb. Here’s a classic recipe with a refreshing twist.

  • Author: Christine Pittman
  • Prep Time: 35 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients

FOR THE FILLING

  • 1 Tbsp . oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbsp . chopped rosemary, divided
  • 1 and 1/2 lbs. ground lamb
  • 1 tsp . salt
  • 1/4 tsp . pepper
  • 2 Tbsp . flour
  • 1 cup beef broth (low sodium)
  • 2 tsp . Worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 cup frozen peas, defrosted

FOR THE LEMON MASHED POTATO TOPPING

  • 2 and 1/2 lbs. Russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 – 3/4 inch dice
  • 1 Tbsp . salt
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup milk, heated
  • 1 tsp . lemon zest

Instructions

FOR THE FILLING

  1. Heat the oil in a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until soft, about 5-6 minutes. Add garlic and 2 tablespoons of chopped rosemary and stir. Immediately add in the ground lamb, salt and pepper. Stir occasionally until meat is cooked through, about 8-9 minutes. Drain away any excess fat.
  2. To meat, add flour. Stir until incorporated and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add in beef broth and Worcestershire sauce.
  3. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer, stirring occasionally until very thick, 2-3 minutes. Stir in remaining 1 tablespoon of rosemary.
  4. Add defrosted peas. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

FOR THE MASHED POTATO TOPPING

  1. Place cut potatoes in pot filled with cold water. Add salt. Turn heat to high and cover slightly. Once boiling uncover and drop heat to medium-high. Cook until you can pierce potatoes easily with a fork, about 10-15 minutes.
  2. Strain potatoes and place back into the pot. Cook over medium heat until the potatoes are dry, about 1-2 minutes. Take off heat.
  3. Add butter and mash. Once mashed stir in heated milk. Stir in lemon zest. Taste and season with salt to taste.

ASSEMBLY

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F
  2. In 11 x 7 pan add meat mixture and spread evenly. Top with mashed potatoes starting at the corners working around the edge. This should seal in the meat for better chance of avoiding boil-overs.
  3. Use a fork and create fast swirly motions to fluff up potatoes. Bake until potatoes are slightly browned, around 25 minutes.

Did you make this recipe?

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This post originally appeared in March, 2016 and was revised and republished in March, 2018.

Christine Pittman

Christine is the Senior Editor and Owner of The Cookful and of COOKtheSTORY and of the podcast Time Management Insider. Her sites reach over 2 million readers per month, which means that things can get a bit crazy. She's constantly writing, taking pictures, editing, recording, interviewing, managing contributors, and, oh yeah, cooking. To say that she wears many hats is an understatement - there are many hats, and also many shirts, shoes, pants, and even the odd cape!

Disclosure: This article may contain affiliate links meaning that if you click on them and buy something we get a teensy commission, at no extra cost to you. All opinions are those of The Cookful editorial team.

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2 comments on &ldquo Traditional Lamb Shepherd’s Pie &rdquo

Goin to Piggly Wiggly now! Gotta grab some lamb and yukon golds. This should be awesome. I’ll try a layer of avacado as well! Mmmmm. Thanks

hullo Christine,, I would love you to please make it clear that Shepherds Pie is made with “ground cooked Lamb”. Your recipe is great, but i hope people dont presume to use mince meat from the butcher . there are si many recipes just stating ground lamb,, which does presume mince meat,, i hope this helps,

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Classic Beef Shepherd’s Pie Recipe

Traditional Lamb Shepherd’s Pie

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Lamb and Eggplant Shepherd's Pie Recipe - Recipes

Serves 4 to 6

1 large eggplant
Kosher salt

Tahini Sauce:
3/4 cup tahini
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup water
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon kosher salt

5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 large tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground lamb
2 teaspoons Baharat (recipe below)
2 teaspoons sweet Hungarian paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon toasted pine nuts
1 loaf crusty bread

Cut the eggplant into ¼ inch-thick slices and sprinkle with salt. Let it sit for 1 hour to allow the excess moisture to drip off.

Combine all the ingredients for the tahini sauce in a food processor and blend until smooth and creamy. Set aside until ready to use.

Place the eggplant slices in a large baking dish and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and place the tomato slices on top of the eggplant. Set the baking dish aside but keep the oven on.

Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add the onion. Sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and tomato paste and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the ground beef and lamb and season with the baharat, paprika, cumin, 2 teaspoons salt, and the pepper. Cook for another 20 minutes.

Remove from the heat and stir in the parsley. Drain off the excess liquid and transfer the ground meat to the baking dish with the eggplant and tomato slices.

Spread a generous layer of tahini sauce on the top, about ¼ inch thick. Bake in the oven until golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Garnish with the pine nuts and serve with a side of crusty bread.

Baharat
Makes about 1 1/3 cups

2 tablespoons ground black pepper
3 tablespoons allspice
3 tablespoons ground coriander
5 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground cloves
3 tablespoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
4 teaspoons ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons sweet Hungarian paprika
1 tablespoon dried lemon zest (optional)
4 teaspoons dried ginger (optional)

Combine all the ingredients together until well mixed. Store in an airtight jar and keep away from direct sunlight.


Lamb Eggplant Shepherd’s Pie

recipe by Michele Humlan, The Good Eats Company

ingredients

1 generous cup finely chopped sweet onion
kosher salt
finely ground white pepper
extra virgin olive oil
1 pound ground lamb, preferably pasture raised
2 large garlic cloves, zested or finely minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano
1 14.5 ounce can petite dice tomato, undrained
¼ cup water
1 medium eggplant, unpeeled and cut into ¾ inch dice
2 pounds yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut in large chunks
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
fine sea salt
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons milk


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Here are the tastingspoons players. I’m in the middle (Carolyn). Daughter Sara on the right, and daughter-in-law Karen on the left. I started the blog in 2007, as a way to share recipes with my family. Now in 2021, I’ll still participate, but the two daughters are going to do more posting from here on out.

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No question, the most quirky book I’ve read of late, a recommendation from my friend Karen, West with Giraffes: A Novel by Lynda Rutledge. The book IS a novel, but the event is true. Back in the 1930s a small group of giraffes were brought across the Atlantic from Africa to New York, destined for the then-growing San Diego Zoo. On the voyage the ship encounters a hurricane and several giraffes are lost, but two young ones survive. The story is of their journey across the United States in the care of two oh-so-different people, both with a mission. A young boy (barely an adult) becomes the driver (his only goal is his desire to go to California), with the zoo’s delegate (a middle-aged man with a past), and it’s the story about these two misfits and their caring for the giraffes, feeding them (that’s a laugh – onions play a big part). No freeways existed back then, and the mental picture of the vehicle they used (basically a small truck) with the two giraffes confined within two tall boxes precariously strapped to the truck, and their driving and carrying-on getting under bridges and over rivers is just a hoot. I so wanted this story to be true – parts of it ARE true. Worth reading if you enjoy such animal stories. The giraffes survive, thankfully, and they both lived to a ripe old age at the zoo!

Also a kind of quirky book by Beth Miller, The Missing Letters of Mrs. Bright. Picture a middle-aged woman, slogging through life with a not-very-attentive husband, grown children, and one day she decides to leave. Completely. Maybe she had a bucket list of sorts, and she knew none of those places would ever happen in her life if she stayed put. She sets off to find a long-lost girlfriend. The book is about her journey. Her travels. Friendships, and lost friendships. Everyone can probably empathize with Kay Bright as she examines her life. And yes, there are letters and chapters with her daughter, Stella. Cute book.

Katherine Center’s book, Things You Save in a Fire: A Novel is certainly vivid. There aren’t very many women firefighters out there in the world – this is about one. A novel, however. About her work life and the harrassment she endures (some of it’s with love, some not) and about her relationships. The pros and cons of transferring to a different fire station (just like any job move, not always smooth). Good read.

Riveting story of post-WWII- Japan in Ana Johns novel, The Woman in the White Kimono: A Novel. About a young Japanese girl who falls in love with an American serviceman. Such relationships were fraught with problems from the very strict Japanese families who resented the American presence in their country, to the American military higher-ups who made it impossible for the servicemen to marry Japanese nationals. Could hardly put it down. Yes, it’s a romance of sorts, but not in the typical sense of today’s novel-romance-writing. There aren’t always happy beginnings, middles or endings, but the in between made for very interesting reading.

Also read Rishi Reddi’s novel, Passage West: A Novel with a very different take on the migration of Indians (East India) to the California agricultural lands east of San Diego during the 1920s and 30s. Wow. What an eye-opener. Of their small but loyal family enclaves, the hard-scrabble lives they led, the near poverty level of farming. I’d never heard that any Indian migrants were a part of farming here in California. Obviously they made up a very small percentage of the immigrants who settled there.

Maybe not everyone’s cup of tea, but the Mary Morris book, A Very Private Diary: A Nurse in Wartime tells the true day to day life of a young Irish girl who becomes a nurse, in England, France and Belgium in the midst of WWII and immediately after the war. Fascinating glimpse into the hardships not only for patients (the war-wounded) but for the underappreciated and hardworking staff at various hospitals (even a tent one in Normandy where she worked for many months after D-Day). She meets her to-be husband and even that is fraught with difficulty from many angles.

Could hardly put down Krueger’s book, This Tender Land: A Novel. My friend Ann recommended it. I was gripped with the story within the first paragraph, and it never stopped until I turned the last page. Tells the harrowing story of a young boy, Odie, (and his brother Albert) who became orphans back in the 30s. At first there is a boarding school, part of an Indian (Native American) agreement, though they are not Indian. Some very ugly things happen at that school. Eventually they escape, and they are “on the run.” With a few others with them. If you loved Huckleberry Finn, you’ll have a great appreciation for this story as they use a canoe to get themselves down river. Never having very much to eat and getting into trouble way too often, and authorities on their tail. Well, you just have to read the book to find out what happens.

Just finished Kristin Hannah’s latest book, The Four Winds: A Novel. What a story. One I’ve never read about, although I certainly have heard about the “dust bowl” years when there was a steady migration of down-and-out farmers from the Midwest, to California, for what they hoped to be the American Dream. It tells the story of one particular family, the Martinellis, the grandparents, their son, his wife, and their two children. The book is heartbreaking, but one of those that everyone should read. The hardship, the hunger, the dirt and dust, the failed crops, the lack of rain, then the story picks up again in central California, back in the day when the wealthy growers just used up the migrants. I don’t want to spoil the story. So worth reading. Hannah really knows how to weave a story.

Brit Bennett has written quite a book, The Vanishing Half: A Novel. It’s a novel, yet I’m sure there are such real-life situations. Twin girls are born to a young woman in the South. Into a town (that probably doesn’t exist) that prides itself on being light-skinned blacks. The father was very dark, but he plays no part, really, in this story. Growing up, the girls leave home at 18 to find their way in New Orleans. Suddenly, one twin disappears (her clothes and suitcase all gone in the wink of an eye). Her twin left behind has no idea what’s happened to her. As the story reveals, with divided paths, one twin continues her life as a black woman, and the other twin, the one who left, is able to pass as a white woman. She marries well, has a daughter. Well, let’s just say that there are lots of wicked webs woven throughout the story, starting from the girls’ mother who never wants to speak again of her lost daughter. But you know where this is going, don’t you? Things are found out. The author does a great job of weaving the story apart and then back together.

What a book. The Only Woman in the Room: A Novel by Marie Benedict. A novelized biography of Hedy Lamarr, the famous actress. She was a brilliant mind, and a beautiful woman. It tells the story of her coming of age, how she navigated the world of acting back in that time period (she was Austrian, and Hitler was in power). The writing was very well done – to tell Hedy’s story with detail and poignancy. Eventually Hedy made it to the U.S. and her life story changed, but still had its difficulties. I loved the book, beginning to end. She should have become an engineer as she invented several war related bomb tools. Very much worth reading.

Also read The Secret of the Chateau: Gripping and heartbreaking historical fiction with a mystery at its heart by Kathleen McGurl. There are two stories here. The historical part is just prior to and up to the French Revolution, when aristocrats were chased and killed, guillotined in many cases. There is a young couple (part of the royal court) who escape to a remote small castle owned by his family, located on the edge of France and Italy, hoping to wait out the revolution and hoping the villagers love and care about them. Then jump to current day as a small English group of close friends decide to retire somewhere on the continent, and settle on a small abandoned castle in the remote hills of France along the Italian border. Got the picture? The historian in the group is quite interested in the history of the home, and clues are revealed (in the tower) that lead her and the group on a quest to discover what happened to the couple who used to live there. There was a fire once upon a time. There’s an pesky ghost. There’s also a very old child’s doll/playhouse on the grounds. Plus there’s a small graveyard. It is VERY intriguing. Very interesting. I love historical novels like this, and this one in particular does have quite a mystery involved, too.

Also finished reading Sue Monk Kidd’s recent book, The Book of Longings: A Novel. It is a book that might challenge some Christian readers, as it tells the tale of Jesus marrying a woman named Mary. The story is all about Mary, her growing up, her scholarly pursuits, and then from the moment she meets Jesus as a young man. The story follows along to and beyond his death on the cross. In the time of Christ it was extremely uncommon for a man not to marry. It was almost unseemly. Fraught with suspicions, I’d suppose. Although scripture, as scripture, does not play a very strong part here, if you’ve read the Bible you’ll see many of the stories of Jesus’ life through Mary’s eyes. I loved the book from the first word to the last one. The book is believable to me, even though the Bible never says one way or the other that Jesus ever married. It’s been presumed he never did. But maybe he did?

Jeanine Cummins has written an eye-opener, American Dirt. A must read. Oh my goodness. I will never, ever, ever look at Mexican (and further southern) migrants, particularly those who are victims of the vicious cartels, without sympathy. It tells the story of a woman and her young son, who were lucky enough to hide when the cartel murdered every member of her family – her husband, her mother, and many others. Her husband was a journalist, and his life was always in danger because he wrote the truth, and that was taking a risk. The story is about her escape, with harrowing chapters as she makes her way north from Acapulco, with various major detours, one step, or sometimes nothing more than a hair’s width ahead of the cartel minions trying to find her. I could NOT put this book down. The author is not Hispanic, and some have criticized her for that, but she did her research, and many authors write about places and people they are not. I have nothing but respect for her having told this story. You need to read this.

Also read JoJo Moyes’ book, The Giver of Stars. Oh gosh, what a GREAT book. Alice, living in an English home which lacks much, leaps to agree to marry a visiting American. It was an escape for her. He is a man of some family wealth, and she travels from England to Kentucky, during the 1920s. Once settled into the family home, she discovers married life is not what she had expected. Affection is lacking, and she must share the home with her tyrannical father-in-law, the owner of mines in the deep mountains. And with the ghost of the deceased mother-in-law. The family cook won’t tolerate Alice’s help in the kitchen. Alice is terribly lonely and unhappy. The town doesn’t much like this English woman with her funny way of speaking. But then, she meets a woman who encourages her to join the Horseback Librarians. With trepidation, she begins traversing the remote hills, through unbelievable weather, to deliver old, battered and tattered books to the remote inhabitants of the area. She makes friends, wonderful, loving people from all walks of life. There is tremendous tension from the danger of the mines, the unions trying to get a foothold, plus the unraveling of her marriage, including the dreaded father-in-law who feels she should answer to him, behave as he wants. Uh, no. Alice goes her own route. Her new friends become her family, and, oh, what love. There has been much criticism of Moyes’ possible plagiarism of another book regarding the Horseback Librarians. I read the other book – but I didn’t feel remotely as intrigued by that story as I was by Moyes’ version. A feel good story, but it takes some while getting to that “feel good” part, nearly to the end.

Frances Liardet has written a blockbuster tale, We Must Be Brave. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Although the scene is WWII England, this book is not really about the war. It’s about the people at home, waiting it out, struggling with enough food, clothing and enough heat. It’s about Ellen. Her early years, under much hardship. About her teens, some of it as an orphan. Then a young adult, which includes marriage, a marriage blanc, which I didn’t understand until you learn the meaning. Then a child enters the picture, a child that will become a focus for the remainder of the book. Through the war, and beyond. I cried several times, as will you, I suspect. What’s a constant is the descriptions of the place, a town called Upton, near Southampton. About the hills and dales, the flora and fauna, the rain, the mud sometimes, the flooding sometimes. But throughout, it’s about neighbors caring for neighbors, and about love. A must read. Would make a really good book club read.

William Kent Krueger wrote Ordinary Grace. From amazon: a brilliantly moving account of a boy standing at the door of his young manhood, trying to understand a world that seems to be falling apart around him. It is an unforgettable novel about discovering the terrible price of wisdom and the enduring grace of God. It’s a coming of age story.

Best book I’ve read recently. Not new. Called Follow the River: A Novel by James Alexander Thom. This one is also based on the history of a woman (married, pregnant) who was captured by the Shawnee, during the early settlement days east of the Ohio River, about 1755. And her eventual escape. I stayed up all hours to keep reading. The book was written from the many journals and writing compiled by her children. Her name: Mary Ingles. And it chronicles her 1000-mile trek in treacherous weather and over uncharted ground. What an amazing woman, and what a story.

A Column of Fire: A Novel by Ken Follett. It takes place in the 1500s, in England, and has everything to do with the war between the Catholics and the Protestants, that raged throughout Europe during that time, culminating in the Spanish Inquisition.

My Name Is Resolute by Nancy Turner. She’s the author of another book of some renown, These is my Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901 (P.S.). Resolute is what I’m discussing here. It’s fiction, but based some on a true story. Resolute, as a young girl from a privileged life on a plantation in Jamaica, was taken captive by slavers, eventually ended up in Colonial America. This book is the story of her life. The people she met, the men in her life, her children, and always about her indefatigable energy for life. Always hoping to return to Jamaica.

The Shepherd’s Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape by James Rebanks. This is a memoir, so a true story, of a young man growing up in the Lake District of Northern England, the son of a farming family, who sabotages everything in his being regarding going to school and leaves as soon as he is able (probably about 8th grade, I’d guess). And becomes a shepherd. And at night, he read literature that he accumulated from his grandfather. And then what happens to him as he grows up. Riveting.


INSTRUCTIONS

Lightly grease a 6-cup casserole or fluted deep-dish pie plate with nonstick cooking oil spray.

For the topping: Combine the potatoes, sweet potatoes and whole garlic cloves in a large pot cover with salted water. Cook over medium-high heat until the potatoes are fork-tender. Drain and put the potatoes and garlic through a ricer into a large bowl. Add the oil and the broth and/or heavy cream, stirring until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat cover loosely.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

For the filling: Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large nonstick saute pan over medium-high heat until the oil shimmers. Add the eggplant and cook for about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring often, until it is lightly browned and soft. Season with salt and pepper to taste transfer to a bowl.

Return the pan to medium-high heat add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Once the oil starts to shimmer, add the mushrooms and onion cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms have exuded their juices and have browned. Add the lamb, breaking it up with a spoon but not crumbling it completely. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, or until no traces of pink remain.

Drain all but a thin coating of fat from the pan (either first removing the lamb mixture and then returning it to the pan or by holding the mixture on one side of the pan as your drain). Add the chopped garlic, thyme, oregano, onion powder, garlic powder, cinnamon, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Stir in the tomato sauce. Cook for 1 minute, then fold in the cooked eggplant.

Spoon the lamb-eggplant mixture into the bottom of the prepared dish. Spread the mashed potato mixture over the lamb, covering it completely.

For the assembly: Top with crumbled feta or grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and bake for 45 mintues, until lightly browned. Garnish with chopped chives and a drizzle of the extra-virgin olive oil.


Unemployed Shepherd’s Pie

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Straying from meat replacements, Janet DeGras, second-place winner in VT’s 2008 Reader Recipe Contest, re-created this typically lamb-filled classic with eggplant as the featured ingredient. “The density of eggplant makes it a good substitute for meat, and its creaminess goes really well with mashed potatoes,” DeGras notes. The inside-out technique of putting the green vegetables on top of the casserole instead of inside adds color to the dish and pick up crunchiness as they bake.

Ingredients

  • 6 cups peeled, cubed potatoes
  • 1/4 cup low-fat milk
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped (1 cup)
  • 2 15-oz. cans diced organic tomatoes with liquid
  • 2 large eggplants, peeled and chopped (1 & 1/2 lb.)
  • 1 Tbs. Simply Organic Parsley
  • 1 tsp. Simply Organic Basil
  • 1 tsp. Simply Organic Garlic Flakes
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup dried breadcrumbs
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced very thin
  • 1 small zucchini, sliced very thin
  • 1/8 tsp. ground black pepper, optional

Preparation

1. Place potatoes in large pot, cover with water, bring to a boil, and cook 10 to 15 minutes, or until soft. Drain, and mash with milk and butter. Season with salt and pepper, and set aside.

2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, and sauté 5 minutes, or until beginning to soften. Stir in tomatoes, eggplants, parsley, basil, garlic flakes, and sea salt season with pepper. Simmer 20 minutes, or until vegetables are soft. Remove from heat, and stir in Parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, and eggs. Spread potato mixture over top, banking up sides a bit.

3. Heat remaining 2 Tbs. oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add green bell pepper and zucchini, and sauté 7 to 10 minutes, or until just tender.

4. Fill center of mashed potatoes with sautéed bell pepper and zucchini, and sprinkle with black pepper, if desired. Bake 20 minutes, or until heated through. (Baking will take less time if mashed potatoes are hot at time of assembly.)