Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Monster Mash! - Potato or Cauliflower Mash

Yes, I know I'm cheesy. Give me a break. It's October, I'm a recovering goth, and Halloween is just over a week away. I'm allowed to have Bobby Pickett stuck in my head when I mention "mash", OK? OK.

Now that that's settled, how about a couple of recipes? OK? OK! So the days are getting shorter, there's less vitamin D around, and your body is searching for mini serotonin highs via carby comfort foods. And that's OK. It happens. As with anything, just don't overdo it! There are ways of making your favorite comfort foods a little better for you, for those times when you want to indulge just a little. So I present, for your reading and eating pleasure: mashed 'taters, and its lower-calorie, lower-carb, nutrient-rich cousin cauliflower mash. Enjoy!


2 lbs Yukon Gold, Russet, or Idaho potatoes, scrubbed, peeled, and cubed [leave the peels on if you like them that way, but only if they're organic]
4-6 cloves of garlic [I usually use about 1 clove per potato, but I love garlic]
1 cup (or less) plain unsweetend rice milk, vegetable broth, or a combination
2 TBSP Earth Balance margarine, melted, or Extra Virgin Olive Oil [optional]
Chopped Chives [optional]
Sea Salt


- Place potatoes and garlic cloves in a large saucepan and add water until it is about 1" over the potatoes. Add a couple of dashes of sea salt. Bring to a boil, the reduce heat and simmer until a knife easily pierces the potatoes, approx. 10 minutes.

- Drain the potatoes and garlic and return to the saucepan. Shake over the burner [which has been turned off, but is still a little warm] for about 30 seconds to get rid of a little more moisture.

- Mash by hand with a masher and some good old-fashioned elbow grease until smooth. (or use a ricer or a stick blender. You cheater.)

- Pour ricemilk or veggie broth or a combination of the two over the potatoes in a steady stream and mix to incorporate. Use as much as you need to achieve your desired consistency, up to 1 cup. Here you can also add some margarine or olive oil to make it a little richer.

- Season to taste, adding chopped chives or other herbs if you wish.


Guess what?? Making Cauliflower mash is pretty much just like making mashed potatoes! Yes it's true!! The only difference, aside from obviously using a chopped head of cauliflower instead of potatoes, is that you're likely to use a little less liquid in the end after you've mashed it. That's it! Otherwise it's all the same. How easy is that? Yum!

For A Chilly Night - Veggie Shepherd's Pie

Disclaimer: I have never eaten a proper Shepherd's Pie. I became a vegetarian long before I discovered the pleasures of this simple, hearty dish. Therefore I have no idea if my version bears any resemblance whatsoever to The Real Deal [sans meat]. All I know is it's tasty and it's a dish I return to quite a few times during the colder months. I also know that, just like the original dish, which has apparently been around for the last 225 years or so, it's a great way to use up lentil, veggie, and potato leftovers. The recipe below outlines how to make one from scratch, but you can see where leftovers could easily come into play. I also offer two ideas for the crust - the traditional mashed 'taters, or the nutrient-rich, lower-calorie, lower-carb substitute that I have to admit has finally weaseled its way into my heart and tummy - mashed cauliflower! (Don't knock it 'till you've tried it, folks. I'm not a cauliflower-lover and yet this I love.) This dish yields great leftovers and can be frozen in individual portions after cooking.


Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 Onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
2-3 stalks celery, chopped
1 portobello cap or 4-6 baby bella mushrooms, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup lentils, soaked
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 TSP vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
2 TBSP tomato paste
1/2 cup frozen peas
sea salt & pepper to taste

Shepherdess Pie, naked!


- Soak your lentils in water while you prep your veggies or for up to 8 hours before you prepare your meal.

- Cook the onion in a drizzle of olive oil until they become translucent, approx. 5 minutes. Add your carrots, celery, mushrooms, and garlic and a pinch of salt and cook until the mushrooms just begin to let go of their juices, approx. another 3 minutes. Sometimes here I add a dash of red wine and stir until the mushrooms soak it all up because the flavors really compliment each other.

- Mix in the drained lentils and add about 2 1/4 cups of the vegetable broth. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes so the lentils cook through.

- By this time the lentils should be cooked and the broth should be mostly gone. I generally turn the stove off but leave the pot on the burner at this point. Now it's time to season - add the Worcestershire sauce and tomato paste and mix them in well. Add the rest of the vegetable broth, or as much as you need to get a consistency you like and create a tiny bit of "gravy" in the mixture. Season with salt and pepper. You can stir in some frozen peas at this point. Don't worry, they'll thaw and cook in the oven in a bit!

- Spread the lentil filling into a baking dish. Top with potato or cauliflower mash (recipes here and you only need about 1/3 of the recipe to top this dish).

- Bake in the oven at 350 for 15 minutes. Broil the top of the mash for a couple of minutes until it is just browned. Be careful not to burn it! Broilers love to wreak havoc the second you've turned your back on anything in there. I'm on to you, broilers!

- Enjoy!

Shepherdess Pie