“Wild Mushroom Shepherd’s Pie” from “Smitten Kitchen Every Day”

Andrew (18): Is there meat in this?

Maureen [Sarcastically, but above all, loving]: I dunno. What day is it? Is the clue in the name.

{Editor’s note: The day, in fact, is Monday. And Andrew will know that means Meat Free Monday.}

Andrew: It’s Monday. So, no.

Maureen: What do you think?

Andrew: It would be better with some bacon in it.

Maureen: Nearly everything could be improved with the addition of bacon. But that would defeat the purpose of a meat-free dish on a meat-free Monday.

Nicholas (14): I don’t like it. I’m not a fan of the mushrooms.

Tim: I think it’s nice.

Maureen: I agree.

Andrew: Can you even call it Shepherd’s Pie if there’s no meat in it?

Maureen: I refuse to get my phone out at the table to answer that question. I will find out later.

[Editor’s Note: According to Wikipedia, Andrew is right. It’s not a Shepherd’s Pie if there’s no meat in it. It is called, in fact, a “Shepherdess Pie.” There’s no explanation as to why a meatless pie would be feminine, but there we are.]

Maureen: Would you like me to make it again?

Tim: Sure, I liked it.

Andrew and Nicholas: No thanks. A regular Shepherd’s Pie is fine, but we’d rather have some meat.

“Wild Mushroom Shepherd’s Pie” from “Smitten Kitchen Every Day”

“Pork Chops with Mushrooms” from “A Year of Good Eating”


So it turns out that when you’re choosing a recipe to cook from this book, there are these extra colour insert sections that you also need to have a look at before making your decision. This particular recipe was chosen from the Autumn Eats section. I rather like these sections as the pictures are all in glossy colour and there is less rambling about the recipe, and more getting straight to the details.
Anyway, let me get back to the recipe. I made this on a cold night, just for me. Frying the pork chop in butter gave it a wonderful slightly nutty taste. And the mushrooms and shallots were delicious (I’d use less anchovies than he said to be honest though). I used thyme instead of flat leaf parsley because I’m a rebel like that. And I opened a bottle of red wine because it would have been rude not to have a glass to go with the food. Perfect cold weather fare. Cheers Nigel!

“Pork Chops with Mushrooms” from “A Year of Good Eating”

“Mushroom Bourguignon” from “Food52 Genius Recipes”

IMG_6845Maureen: Meat Free Monday!

Nicholas (11): What are we having?

Maureen: Mushroom Bourguignon!

Nicholas: There’s only one problem.

Maureen: What is it?

Nicholas: I don’t like mushrooms.

Maureen: Well, that IS a problem. What do you think, Tim?

Tim: It’s delicious.

Maureen: I agree. As you know, beef bourguignon is on my Do Not Want To Eat list. But I would eat this. This is actually from the “Smitten Kitchen” cookbook, which we reviewed on this blog in September 2013. It’s nice to know that we picked some cookbooks that are worthy of the moniker, “Genius Recipes.”

Tim: The flavours are really rich, too. I’ll bet it was easy to make.

Maureen: I wouldn’t say easy. Like many vegetarian recipes, the most laborious part of the process is chopping all of the vegetables. This is no different.

Tim: I love the polenta, too.

Maureen: Although the book had a recipe for easy polenta, I used the nice instant Italian polenta that we got at Waitrose. The “easy” polenta took an hour and a half. Life is too short. This instant Italian stuff is great.


Tim: I’m not so sure about the onions, though.

Maureen: I think that’s a problem with sourcing. Since this is an American cookbook, I know you can get frozen pearl onions there. But they don’t exist over here. So I got pickled pearl onions, which seem OK to me, but maybe not to you. Would you like me to make it again?

Tim: Yes, please.

Nicholas: Obviously not.

Maureen: Maybe I’ll make it again just for the adults next time. This was a winner.

Celebrating Meat Free Monday or just love mushrooms and you’d like to make this for yourself? Click through this paragraph to find the recipe on Food52.

“Mushroom Bourguignon” from “Food52 Genius Recipes”

“Mushroom and Parsnip Rosti Pie” from “A Modern Way to Eat”



Andrew (14): Another good meal from the September cookbook!

Maureen: I’m impressed. You’re really getting into this vegetarian thing, aren’t you?

Andrew: It’s just really good.

Tim: I agree. It’s delicious.

Nicholas (11): There’s only one problem: I don’t like mushrooms.

Maureen: Well, that’s an issue, given that it’s full of mushrooms. The list of vegetables you don’t like is getting longer by the day. You’ve never had a problem with mushrooms before.

Nicholas: Well I do now.

Maureen: Well, that’s too bad. Because I think this is fantastic.

Tim: What’s in it?

Maureen: Loads of good stuff. Obviously there’s mushrooms, but also garlic, swede, red onions, parsley, creme fraiche, potatoes and parsnips. I do love eating vegetarian, but all the chopping and prep is going to be the death of me. Even when I used the food processor, like I did today.

Tim: This is a real winner. We should have it again.

Maureen: I agree.

“Mushroom and Parsnip Rosti Pie” from “A Modern Way to Eat”

“Rich Beef and Mushroom Stew” from “Mary Berry Cooks”

Anna: Dinner time!

Louis: Mummy has beef stew, Daddy and Louis have beef stew… what is Isabella eating?

Anna: Beef stew, all whizzed up! I think the porcini mushrooms are a bit lost….

Louis: More mushrooms Mummy!

Anna: Here, have some of mine.

Peter: Isabella can’t get enough of this.

Anna: It’s the first time she’s had beef and she’s clearly loving it. Must have been all those burgers I ate while I was pregnant.

Peter: I think I can guess who is going to get the leftovers.


“Rich Beef and Mushroom Stew” from “Mary Berry Cooks”

“The Best Roast Chicken Ever” from “The Skinny French Kitchen”

Maureen: The best roast chicken ever is a pretty bold claim. What do you think?

Tim: It’s good.

Andrew (13): I agree.

Maureen: Sure, it’s good. But is it THE BEST?


Nicholas (10): That’s hard to say. Roast chicken is always good.

Maureen: That’s true. Maybe we could say that it’s ONE of the best. We couldn’t say it was the best.

Andrew: That makes sense.

Maureen: Was it a faff to make, Tim, since you had to fry up the mushrooms and herbs and then stuff them under the skin?

Tim: No, it wasn’t too bad. It’s Sunday lunch– it’s worth the effort.

Maureen: I have to point out is her “skinny tip” for this recipe is to just get a smaller chicken so that everyone will have smaller portions. That’s just silly, if you ask me. So I got a bigger chicken and now we can have chicken pot pie later this week with the leftovers.

Tim: Yum. Chicken pot pie.

Maureen: Indeed. So maybe this wasn’t the best roast chicken ever, but it might be the best chicken pot pie ever, with the added mushrooms and whatnot. Watch this space.

“The Best Roast Chicken Ever” from “The Skinny French Kitchen”

“Goulash with Gnocchi and Soured Cream” from “Easy”

Anna: Mmm. Goulash. I haven’t had goulash since I was working in Prague nearly 2 years ago. And I ate it about five times in 9 days. This actually tastes relatively authentic.

Peter: Is it unusual to have gnocchi with it? You know me, I love a gnocchi.

Anna: Well I think it’s Bill’s nod towards dumplings which goulash would traditionally be served with. And I really think it works.

Peter: This was a very easy second day supper. And there’s more in the freezer too isn’t there?

Anna: Yes. That’s my only criticism of the recipe. The book says it serves 4, but with 1.5kg of beef even four giants would have leftovers. A proof-reading error there I think.

Peter: I don’t mind. I like leftovers.

Anna: And leftovers ye shall have.

“Goulash with Gnocchi and Soured Cream” from “Easy”

“Risotto with Mushroom and Asparagus” from “Recipes from my Mother for my Daughter”

Maureen: I like this. It’s pretty good.

Andrew (12): This is just OK. I’ve had other risottos that I’ve liked better.

Maureen: I like that there are so many vegetables in it. I usually only have one additional vegetable in a risotto, not three.

Tim: This is nice. I like it.

Maureen: I’d make it again, but I wouldn’t follow her method.

Tim: How so?

Maureen: Well, she asks you to add the asparagus at the end and just cook it in the final minutes, with everything else. The way I usually cook asparagus for risotto is I add it to the stock and let it cook in that until I need it. She also wants you to fry the mushrooms first and then get started on the risotto. I just did them in a separate pan to speed everything up.

Tim: That makes sense.

Maureen: Also, there’s not nearly enough rice in the original recipe. As you know, I added another 100g to it, and it’s still not enough for the four of us. I thought with all of the other vegetables, it would be enough, but it’s not.

Tim: How in the world did you get asparagus in July?

Maureen: Well, it’s from Peru. So we all need to take a moment to feel really guilty about that.

“Risotto with Mushroom and Asparagus” from “Recipes from my Mother for my Daughter”

“Roasted slashed fillet of seabass stuffed with herbs, baked on mushroom potatoes with salsa verde – a la Tony Blair” from “The Return of the Naked Chef”

Anna: I’m feeling very nostalgic, eating a dish named after Tony Blair. I’m sure you are too. Don’t give me that withering look.

Peter: Did Jamie’s next book have a recipe for T-bone steak?

Anna: New Labour, those were the days.  I thought this was going to be too much hassle for a mid-week meal, what with having to make the salsa verde and all. But it really wasn’t, and it tasted yum. It was a taste of the past.

Peter: It certainly was.

Anna: Do you remember, I made this at your flat in Balham for someone or other who came to dinner years and years and years ago? So long ago, I can’t even remember who we cooked it for! Was it Miff’s birthday?

Peter: I don’t think we’ll ever remember. We haven’t had bass in a while, I enjoyed this.

Anna: Me too. It was a bit decadent for a weeknight, but I will remember this recipe for when we’re having people to dinner.

Peter: It’s obviously a classic.

Anna: I’ve been so transported back to the early noughties that I’ve drunk far too much wine tonight. All I’m missing are the Marlboro Lights.

“Roasted slashed fillet of seabass stuffed with herbs, baked on mushroom potatoes with salsa verde – a la Tony Blair” from “The Return of the Naked Chef”

“Sausages with Mushrooms” from “The Family Meal”

Tim: Yum!

Andrew (12): This smells great.

Maureen: This is really good, but it’s got to have one of the least inspiring names for a dinner. Sausages with mushrooms? While it is accurate, it’s hardly the sort of name that’s going to get you inspired to get the pans out.

Nicholas (8): I like the name I came up with: Sausage meatballs!

Maureen: Yes, that’s a much better name.

Continue reading ““Sausages with Mushrooms” from “The Family Meal””

“Sausages with Mushrooms” from “The Family Meal”