Crustless Shepherds Pie

This amazingly tasty dish has been making an appearance throughout Europe for hundreds of years. Mutton, lamb, beef and even fish, can easily find it's way into this British pie. 

I was first introduced to an English Shepherds pie early in my college days while on a short one month missions trip to Englend. Previously in my home, we made this with a pastry crust, but recently a British friend of mine told me that they make theirs without a crust all together. So easy to prepare and still just as satisfying! 

This recipe is pretty much allergy friendly and has ingredients that can easily be adapted to fit your dietary needs. Hope you enjoy!!

6 cups Mashed Potatoes (recipe follows)
2 cups Brown Sauce (recipe follows)
2 lbs. Ground Lamb or Beef
½ Onion
Salt and pepper
Butter or margarine
3 cups Dubliner Cheese Grated, I use Kerrygold Dubliner Cheese (*Please see note at the bottom)
3 Carrots cleaned and cut into small squares and cooked till tender.
1 Cup Peas (frozen not canned) cooked
6 Crimini Mushrooms cleaned and sliced

Mashed Potatoes
2-3 pounds russet potatos
3 tablespoons unsalted butter or margarine
3/4 to 1 cup raw milk or *Rice milk 
Salt and white pepper to taste

Peel potatoes and cut into 2-inch pieces. In a large heavy saucepan simmer potatoes in salted water to cover by 1 inch 10 minutes, or until tender, and drain in a colander. In pan or bowl combine potatoes, butter or margarine, and 3/4-cup milk. With a potato masher or blender mash potatoes until just smooth, adding more milk and butter if necessary to make a creamy but not pasty potato. *Over cooking and blending your potatoes will make them too starchy. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Brown Sauce
3 shallots or scallions, finely chopped
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
10-½ -ounces beef broth, canned is fine
1 Tb. Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce (this is gluten free)
1 Tsp. Fresh Tarragon leaves finely chopped
½ Tsp. thyme
Salt, pepper
Gluten Free Beurre Manie (recipe follows)

Sauté chopped shallots or scallions in butter. Gradually add wortsheshire and beef broth. Let it come to a boil and add the seasonings. Cook down for a few minutes. Add Beurre manié to thicken to taste. Let simmer for a few minutes and strain. Set aside.

Ground Lamb or Beef
Finely chop ½ an onion. Sauté in 2 Tbsp. butter. Add ground meat and cook. Drain liquids. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Mix prepared vegetables together.

Beurre Manié


1oz Butter

3/4oz Cornflour
1 Blend the cornflour and butter together in a small dish.
2 Add the Beurre Manié in very small lumps to the sauce that you wish to thicken, a few at a time.
3 A good way to stop the sauce going lumpy is to add a few lumps on the tip of a knife, scraped down the side of the pan.  This melts slowly, ensuring no lumps.
4 Stir into the hot liquid until completely blended.
5 Return pan to the heat and slowly bring to the boil, stirring all the time until the sauce is thickened.

In a lasagna or sheet cake pan, start with mashed potatoes layer your ingredients, always adding cheese and sauce after each layer. Repeat process until you end with mashed potatoes on top. Potatoes can be piped on for a decorative finish but it is not necessary. Bake Shepherds Pie in a pre-heated 375° oven for 20 minutes. If potatoes start to brown too quickly loosely cover with foil.

*Cheese can be omitted for those with a dairy intolerance, or substitute your favorite dairy free cheese.

** Any milk ingredient in this recipe can be substituted with rice, coconut or almond milk to fit your dietary need.


Tomato Pie

This Tomato Pie recipe has been showing up in my dreams for the past few years since I first saw it shared by chef Vivian Howard on PBS’s A Chef’s Life. This recipe is so delicious, with its long roasted onions and two preparations of tomatoes, infused with basil and spice and topped with a creamy cheese sauce. It's so worth the time to roast your tomatoes and cook your onions for the amount of time Chef Vivian suggests. It gives the tastiest flavors.

    For the Filling 
  • 3 cups diced and drained fresh tomatoes 
  • 4 cups diced and roasted tomatoes
  • 1 cup caramelized onions 
  • 1/2 cup picked basil 
  • salt
  • pepper
  • sugar 
  • For the Topping 
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano 
  • 1/3 cup grated Fontina
  • 1/2 cup mayo 
  • 1 pie crust
    1. For the diced and drained tomatoes 
Seed and dice about 3 cups fresh, high-quality tomatoes. Toss them with a little kosher salt and sugar. Set over a colander while you prepare the remaining ingredients if possible. If not, drain for a minimum of an hour. You should be left with about 2 cups of tomato. 
    1. For the roasted tomatoes 
Seed and dice 4 cups fresh, high quality tomatoes. Toss them with olive oil (at C&F we use garlic oil), plenty of kosher salt, and several sprigs of thyme. Spread this mix out on a baking sheet and roast at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. You want the tomatoes to be dry and slightly caramelized, but not burned around the edges. You should be left with about 2 cups of roasted tomato.
    1. For the Onions
Peel and slice (with the grain) 4 medium yellow onions. In a large sauté pan, heat 1/4 cup butter. Add the onions and season them with salt. Let the onions simmer and become juicy. Once the situation becomes a bit drier and much of the onion liquid has cooked out, turn down the heat, to its lowest setting and settle in for a long, slow caramelize. To get these onions where they need to be, it could take about 2 hours. You are looking for a medium brown, sweet caramelization. 
    1. To Assemble the Filling
Combine the onions, fresh tomatoes, roasted tomatoes, basil, salt, pepper, and sugar to taste. Keep in mind, tomatoes take a lot of seasoning to really make them shine in applications like this. 
    1. To Bake and Serve
Spread the filling over the bottom of a blind-baked crust. Flatten the topping between wax paper or use your good ol’ hands to create a 1/3 inch thick round of delicious, cheesy topping that spreads nearly to the edges of the pie. Bake at 375 degrees until the top is nicely browned...20-25 minutes. Serve at just over room temperature.

Chocolate Chip Cookies | Gluten & Grain Free

It’s the afternoon, the kids are all home, and I’m dying for one of these grain free chocolate chip cookies!! 

“Grain Free Chocolate Chip Cookies” 


1-1/2 cups All-Purpose Paleo Flour like @kuwlflour 
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter see notes below, room temperature
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2cups semisweet chocolate chips


1. Preheat the oven to 350°F Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or spray with non-stick spray.
2. In a medium bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together.
3. In another large bowl, using an electric mixer at medium speed, beat together the butter, and sugars about 2 minutes till smooth.
4. Add the egg and vanilla. Mix on low speed till blended.
5. Gradually add in and mix the flour mixture until just incorporated. Do not overmix.
6. Add chocolate chips and stir with a wooden spoon, again no overmixing, just until incorporated.
7. Chill dough for 30 minutes.
8. Drop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, 6 to 8 per pan, depending on size you are making.
9. Bake cookies 9-11 minutes, one sheet at a time, until the bottoms and edges are lightly browned and the tops feel firm when lightly touched
10. Let the cookies cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely.
11. Makes 15 - 30 cookies depending on size.


Napa Cabbage and Bean Soup

Hearty vegetable soups are on the menu almost year round in our home, not necessarily beef or chicken vegetable, but my favorite, Greens and Beans! Cannellini beans have paired well with so many soups in our Italian kitchen.. I use them in fish stew, a puree of cauliflower bean bisque, and here in my "white" version of Greens and Beans.

My mom had always made Greens and Beans, which we call minestre in Italian (or what I had always been more familiar with, Minestre Degli Spinachi) with spinach.  So one day while at my mom's she served this "white" minestre. I have to say, I was kinda surprised that she had been keeping this from me! Although I still make the spinach version, because it's quick, and I can use frozen chopped spinach, this is by far my favorite, and it offers a more fresh and palatable taste.. besides it having a more chunkier consistency!

If you love fresh vegetable soups.. I think you'll love this!
I top mine off with a good sprinkle of freshly grated parmesan, but it's just as good without!

Napa Cabbage and Bean Soup

2 Large Heads Napa Cabbage
Olive Oil
¼ Cup Water
32 oz. cooked Cannellini Beans, or white beans 
1 Fennel Bulb
1 Medium Shallot
2 Cloves Garlic
Red Pepper Flakes
White Pepper
Sea Salt
Parmigiano Reggiano cheese or Romano (optional)

8-9 Quart Dutch oven or Stockpot

Clean cabbage and drain well, then coarsely chop.

Add cabbage to large pot, drizzle with a few tablespoons of olive oil, and ¼ cup of water.
Cook on LOW heat till cabbage begins to wilt and create moisture in the pan. The cabbage will continue releasing water. So important - Strain the water from the pot OFTEN so the cabbage doesn’t become mushy. After you empty the water, drizzle a little bit more olive oil (1 tsp.) to keep cabbage from burning. Keep heat on low.

When cabbage is al dente, still having texture, but soft at the same time, add white beans. *It is ok to substitute with Great Northern White Beans, but cannellini beans are more desirable

Turn heat to medium low, to simmer but not boil. Add 1 tsp. salt, 1 pinch red pepper flakes, and ½ tsp. freshly ground pepper. (white pepper to retain color, but black is good too)

Meanwhile, clean fennel bulb and slice in julienne strips.
Slice shallot, and finely mince garlic.
Heat a sauté pan, add 1/8 cup olive oil, when oil is heated, add garlic and shallot.
Sauté till tender and golden, then add sliced fennel. Cook for 2 minutes.
Add these ingredients to the cabbage and bean mixture.

Let cook for another 15 to 20 minutes, taste and add seasonings as desired.
Serve topped with Parmesan cheese.