“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” – Virginia Woolf
As entrepreneurs, if you want to balance work and a hobby, my advice is to pick something where you have to concentrate fully. Find a hobby that will completely take your mind off your business pressures.
One such hobby is cooking. Cooking demands attention to detail. If you don’t focus on the recipe, the dish will be a disaster.
I love to cook! When our three kids were young and still lived at home, nothing gave me greater pleasure than cooking up a storm for the family. Even now, one of the greatest pleasures I have is when the entire family visits for a weekend, holiday, or special occasion.
So, I’ve decided to share with you some of my family’s favorite recipes. As an English expat, I’ve adapted some familiar British recipes for the US.
Let’s start with something easy to make: Shepherd’s Pie. Sometimes called ‘Cottage Pie’, the difference is that Shepherd’s Pie is made from ground lamb and Cottage Pie is made with ground beef. For the sake of being simplistic, I call them both ‘Shepherd’s Pie’. That’s the way you will likely see this dish described regardless of the meat used in the recipe.
Shepherd’s Pie is a comforting dish, easy to prepare and a tasty treat on a cold, wintry evening. Serve it with a green vegetable such as Kale, Cabbage, or Brussel Sprouts together with steamed carrots and a tasty gravy.
- Olive Oil – about 2 tablespoons
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 1lb or more of ground beef
- 1 tbsp. plain flour or Wondra
- 1 Teaspoon of fresh or dried herbs, such as Herbs d’Provence
- 1 big dollop (Tablespoon) of Marmite
- 1 cup or more of beef stock
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the topping
- 1½ lb potatoes or more, peeled and cut into halves or quarters
- 55ml / 2oz. of half and half, or better still, heavy cream
- Unsalted butter such as Plugra or Kerrygold – about half the packet
- Preheat the oven to 350°F
- In a large skillet, heat the oil. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes until translucent.
- Add the ground beef, stirring, until browned all over. Break up any lumps with the back of the wooden spoon.
- Stir the mixture, adding the Marmite and herbs.
- Add the flour (this helps thicken the juices) and stir. Mix well and add the beef stock, salt, and pepper. The mixture should be nicely bound together.
- Pour the cooked ground beef and onion mixture into an ovenproof dish.
- For the topping, boil the potatoes in water with 1 teaspoon of sea salt until tender. When cooked, drain the stock from the potatoes, reserving some for the gravy to be made later. Add the half and half/heavy cream, and butter. Mash until smooth. Add additional half and half/heavy cream until the mash is firm, but not runny.
- Season to taste with white pepper.
- Spread the mashed potatoes on top of the ground beef mixture. Smooth over and rough up the surface with a fork. Put the dish into the oven and cook until the surface is golden-brown, about 40 minutes. Turn the oven down to 300°F if the pie is getting too brown, or, when golden-brown, cover the top of the dish with foil to prevent burning.