Jerk Shepherd’s Pie (Topped with a Potato, Cauliflower and White Bean Mash) (Vegan, Gluten-Free)

Tonight’s dinner — Jerk Shepard’s Pie.  Everything tastes better jerked. 🙂

2015-09-11 21.04.49

The topping here can be modified in a number of ways: for instance, omit the potatoes and use more cauliflower and beans to make it low-glycemic or use sweet potatoes instead of Russet or Yukon Gold.  I personally included the potatoes because 1) I LOVE potatoes and 2) without the potatoes, the cauliflower and beans either taste more granular or taste like a puree (in my.

It’s a little bit of work,  but when you are listening to Bruno Mars reggae covers (like Marry You and It Will Rain) the time passes quite quickly.

Hope you have fun making this.  I know I did!!

Filling

2 cups brown and/or green lentils

1 cup tomato sauce

1/4 cup vegan Worstcheshire sauce

1 tbsp dried thyme

1/4 cup chopped onion (optional)

3 stalks celery (chopped)

1/4 cup (or 3 tbsp) dry Jerk seasoning

2 cups of frozen mixed vegetables (corn, green peas, green beans, carrots — I used PC’s Frozen Vegetable Medley to make things simpler)

“Potato” Mash

1 head of cauliflower

4 -5 Yukon gold potatoes

1 can of white kidney beans, Great Northern beans or white small pearl beans (or 1 1/2 cups cooked)

1/2 cup almond milk (or another non-dairy milk)

2 tbsp vegan butter (optional)

Salt (to taste)

  1. Preheat oven at 350 degrees.
  2. Cook the lentils according to package directions.  This should take around 30-40 mins.  While the lentils are cooking, you can work on cooking the potatoes and cauliflower (see step 4).  Once cooked, stir in all of the other ingredients (if you used the PC frozen vegetables, you may want to break up the green beans and baby carrots into smaller pieces).
  3. In a large baking dish, spread your lentil filling.
  4. Cook your potatoes until tender.  Steam the head of cauliflower until soft.
  5. Combine the cauliflower, Yukon gold potatoes and beans in a bowl.  Add the other ingredients.  Mash them with a potato masher or immersion blender.
  6. Top the lentil filling with the cauliflower, potato, white bean mash.
  7. Bake for 30 mins or under the mash turns crusty and the edges are brown and bubbly. Serve hot.

2015-09-11 21.05.16

DSC01699


Healthy(ish) Home Fries

I love potatoes – mashed, baked and especially fried.  Fried potatoes (chips, French fries, hashbrowns) are my weakness.  I love them all!! They are also vegan and gluten-free (I know that saying this amounts to saying that the tomato sauce on my pizza counts as a serving of vegetables…  Cut me some slack…)

But alas, they are not the healthiest of side dishes.  High on the glycemic index, loaded with sodium and double-fried in beef tallow or peanut oil, regular consumption of these delights may bring us one step closer to our graves.  And, what with the many experiments that have been done on restaurant fries, apparently some fries don’t even rot.  But how do you say no to something that tastes so good?

The answer: you don’t.  You just make fries that work for you.

Thus began my quest to make my favourite food healthier.  I wanted something that I could cook now and freeze for later.  I wanted something that actually tasted like potatoes and, most importantly, tasted good.  I thought that if I switched the oil for a healthier alternative and baked instead of doing a second-fry, I would still get fries that are crispy, without the extra salt.

This recipe uses coconut oil.  Coconut oil has been shown to be used by the body as an energy source and not a fat source.  It is ketogenic, good for your thyroid, raises your metabolism and has a host of other health benefits.  It also has a high heat or smoke point, which makes it great for frying.  However, it is still a saturated fat and it is still oil, so it should still be used sparingly.  Luckily for us, most of the oil will remain, even after frying.  In other words, the fries will not “soak up” all of the oil.

Restaurant fries are typically fried twice.  The first fry is to cook the potato, and the second fry is to make them crispy.  In this recipe, I have fried the potatoes but eliminated the second fry.  Instead, the fries are finished off in the oven, or can be frozen after the first fry and then baked at a later date.

Since I don’t have a deep-fryer (I don’t have space for any more small appliances!) I used a large saucepan/pot instead.

I humbly believe that I have perfected the art of making healthy French fries.  If you know your French fries like I do, you know that there is a difference between restaurant fries and homemade fries, the latter tasting much better and being much better for you.  It can be safely guaranteed that once you make this batch, you will be less inclined to settle for their fattier cousins peddled by fast-food joints.

Ingredients

4 russet potatoes

1 ½ cups coconut oil

Candy thermometer

Strainer scoop or long handled spoon

Paper towel to soak up excess oil

Ketchup, salt and/or black pepper and/or dried herbs mixture (majoram, terragon, basil) to taste (optional)

  1. Wash and slice the potatoes according to desired thickness.  I don’t peel my potatoes.  I just wash them well.  The skin has all of the nutrients, but you can peel your potatoes if you want to.  Put the sliced potatoes in a large bowl and cover with cold water.  Place the bowl in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.  This process removes excess starch from the potatoes.
  2. The next day, drain the water out of the bowl.  Fill a large saucepan or pot with the coconut oil (there should be at least an inch of oil).  Turn the stove on high, and wait until the oil reaches a temperature of 350 degrees F.
  3. Dry the potatoes with paper towel or a cloth towel (this is important.  If the potatoes go into the oil wet, the hot oil will splatter, creating a hazard)
  4. 2014-02-12 17.25.21
  5. Once the oil has reached 350 degrees F, slowly pour the dried sliced potatoes into the hot oil.  The temperature will drop, but that is okay.  As the fries begin to cook, the temperature will rise.  Let the fries cook for 6 to 8 minutes, turning once.
  6. 2014-02-12 16.54.33
  7. Line a bowl with paper towel to drain the excess oil once the fries have been cooked.
  8. When the 8 minutes have elapsed, scoop out the fries and place them in the lined bowl.  The fries should have a golden brown look to them (i.e. they should look cooked/they should look like fries).   Let the fries cool.
  9. 2014-02-12 17.25.11
  10. Let the remainder of the oil in the pot cool before you dispose of it.  You can google ways to dispose of your oil.  You can even reuse it (for additional cooking, for another batch of fries, etc.).  It is not a good idea to pour oil down the drain.
  11. Once the fries have cooled, put individual portions in large freezer bags (trying to have them lie flat in the bag) and freeze for usage at a later date.  If you are hungry and can’t wait and decide to eat them now, you don’t have to wait for the fries to cool, but rather grease a baking sheet or fibre glass grilling sheet and spread the fries out flat.  Bake for 10 mins at 350 degrees F.
  12. DSC00501
  13. Serve with ketchup, season with salt or pepper (to taste), or toss with dried herbs.
  14. DSC00504

There you have it – restaurant style fries in the comfort of your own home. 🙂