Thursday, December 4, 2008


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I'm home with a cold-- at least one that is trying to take hold and I'm fighting it. So, I thought I'd share a recipe I made recently that is yummy and comforting on a miserable December day.

The recipe is adapted from one in Cook's Illustrated magazine (and you'll see the original recipe reproduced-- un-attributed, unfortunately-- around the 'Net). I veganized it, used more asparagu, fewer mushrooms, and far less fat. I compensated for all the missing fat by using a tiny bit of tasty dark Chinese sesame oil, and adding some dried porcini mushrooms and their soaking water. Very delicious and comforting, indeed, and about as elegant as a Shepherd's Pie can be.

Printable Recipe

Servings: 5

Mashed Potatoes:
3 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes
3/4 cup plain (original) nondairy milk
salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste.
1/4 cup dried porcini mushroom slices
1 lb asparagus, trimmed, cut into 1" pieces
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
1 lbs + 6 oz. (22 oz.) mushrooms of your choice (I used cremini-- you can use a mixture, if you like), cleaned, stemmed, if necessary, and cut into 1/2" chunks
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup sliced veggie "ham" or "bacon" (optional)
1/2 a small onion, chopped
1/4 cup green onions, thinly sliced
5/8 cup medium dry sherry
1 cup porcini mushroom soaking water
1/2 cup hot water
1 mushroom bouillon cube, or 1 teaspoon mushroom broth powder or paste (enough for for 1 cup broth), crumbled (see here)
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon potato starch dissolved in 1 tablespoon cold water
freshly-ground black pepper
paprika or smoked paprika (smoked pimenton)

Make the mashed potatoes as follows, or, for the best, fluffy "butter-y" low-fat mashed potatoes, see the recipe here.

Peel the potatoes and cut into equal-sized chunks. Steam them or cook in simmering water to cover until tender but not mushy. MICROWAVE OPTION: Place potato cubes in a large Pyrex casserole, cover and cook on 100% power (no need to add water) for about 6 minutes; stir the cubes and cook about 4 minutes longer, or until the cubes are soft enough to mash.  (This option saves not only time, but alot of energy, and you lose no nutrients in water.)

Drain and mash the potatoes well with a potato masher or ricer. Add the nondairy milk and beat well with a wooden spoon. Season to taste with salt (do not omit the salt!) and freshly ground black pepper. Cover and set aside.

To make the Filling:
Soak the dried porcini mushrooms in about 1 1/2 cups of boiling water, covered, while you proceed with the next few steps.

Steam the asparagus until bright green and crisp-tender. Spray with cold water from the tap, drain and set aside.

Add the sesame oil to a large, non-stick, hard-anodized, or cast iron skillet over high heat. Add the mushrooms, onions, and garlic. Stir-cook over until browned mushroom have released their juice. Add splashes of hot water as needed to keep from sticking or drying out, but don't use much. Add the veggie "ham", if using, and the green onions, and stir-cook until the mushrooms start to brown. Transfer them to a bowl and reserve.

Strain the porcini mushrooms and save 1 cup of the soaking water. Stir the porcini mushrooms into the cooked mushroom mixture. Mix with the hot water and mushroom bouillon cube until it dissolves. Whisk in the tomato paste.

Reduce the heat to medium-high. Add the sherry and deglaze the pan by scraping up any browned juices with a wooden spoon. Boil until the liquid is reduced to a syrupy glaze. Add the mushroom soaking water/broth /tomato paste mixture, salt and thyme. Simmer for a few minutes, and then whisk in the potato starch mixture. The sauce will thicken quickly, as potato starch only needs to heat up, not cook, in order to thicken. Add the cooked asparagus and mushroom mixture to the sauce. Taste for seasoning. Pour into a 2 qt. baking dish or gratin dish.

Heat the oven to 375°F.

Drop spoonfuls of the mashed potatoes on top of the mushroom filling and spread them gently to form an even (but not too smooth) layer.

Spray the potatoes with oil from a pump-sprayer and sprinkle with paprika or smoked paprika (pimenton). Bake in the hot oven until the potatoes are golden on top and the filling is bubbling, 25 to 35 minutes.

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving):
428.9 calories; 3% calories from fat; 1.7g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 374.1mg sodium; 2921.7mg potassium; 84.1g carbohydrates; 8.4g fiber; 6.2g sugar; 75.7g net carbs; 18.2g protein; 7.9 points.



Jenn said...

I love shepherd's pie - I think this is the season for it since I have seen a few recipes for it!

Do you use toasted or untoasted sesame oil?

I got a ricer like my grandmother's -- it's basically like a 3 cup container that you press the handle down to force the potato out the tiny holes (as opposed to the spinny handle). It makes the FLOOFIEST potatoes ever.

I might try a shot of "vegetarian oyster sauce" instead of the boullion - I got a bottle at an Asian grocery and the stuff is pure concentrated mushroomy goodness.

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

Hi, jenn! Chinese or Asian sesame oil is always the dark, toasted kind. It has alot more flavor than the untoasted kind, so it can be used in lowfat dishes to add flavor.

I think the vegetarian oyster sauce, much as I love it, might be too sweet for this dish, but that's just my opinion.

Binx said...

I can't wait to try this! And I will. Shepherd's pie was my favorite dish before I became veg (at the age of 8) so my omni mom used to make a veggie one for me growing up. To this day it's my ultimate comfort meal. This sounds like an interesting variation!

melissa said...

This looks delicious!

I made the "angel torte" today with a cream cheese frosting and some strawberries and it was a HUGE hit. It is probably the most delicious thing I have ever baked (and I bake A LOT). Thank you!

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed it, Melissa! Thanks for posting!