Mack's Corner

This Week

Cooking 220 - 2 pans, 2 burners, 20 minutes - Living Well - Mediterranean Diet:

One of my favorite things is a good pot pie. I used to have a friend who made the best I've ever had. She hasn't made me one in a while (Hint!!!). The beefy are super beefy, with a touch of sweetness and salt and lot of earthy veggies. You can make pot pies out of almost anything that you can cook in an iron skillet. All you have to do is put a sheet of puff pastry over the top and put it in the oven. I love that!! here's a few.

Steak & Mushroom Pot Pies
By Alida Ryder  Posted  In Dinner/Supper, Meat

1.5kg stewing beef (I used chuck steak cut into chunks, bone removed)

1 large onion, diced

3 carrots, diced

2 celery sticks, diced

250g mushrooms, sliced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

2 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp each dried thyme, dried rosemary and dried oregano (I like the earthiness of the dried herbs)

2 bay leaves

500ml (2 cups) strong beef stock 

1 tbsp cornflour mixed with 50ml milk

salt & pepper to taste

1 roll ready-made puff pastry, rolled out slightly

1 egg, beaten

For the filling, brown the beef in an Iron skillet. (((This is the most important thing you do!!! Be sure to get your skillet really hot before you add the meat and brown it may need to brown the meat in batches))) Remove and set aside on a plate.

In the same skillet, fry the onion, carrots and celery sticks until soft and fragrant (about 10 minutes).

Add the mushrooms and garlic and fry for 5 minutes before adding the paprika and herbs.

Pour in the stock and add the browned beef back into the pot. Stir to combine everything and reduce the heat and allow the stew to simmer gently (((small bubble)))  for 1  – 1 1/2 hours. Add more stock if it cooks down too much. Don't cover it!! you can't see it if you cover it. If it boils your meat will be dry = yuk!

When the meat is really tender (when you press a piece with a spoon it should break apart), turn the heat up and pour in the cornflour mixture. Allow the sauce to simmer rapidly and thicken for about 10 minutes. (((Really only 10 min, this is quick. You don't want your meat in boiling water any longer than you have to. ((When meat gets past 150 degrees the cells start popping and you are making stock and drying out your meat. Don't do it)) 

Pre-heat the oven to 350

Cut the pastry to fit over the skillet, either a big square or use another skillet the same size to trace a circle, it doesn’t have to be perfect. Place the pastry on top and pinch the pastry onto the rim.

Cut 4 slits into the top to allow the steam to escape and brush the top with the rest of the beaten egg. This makes it pretty.

Place in the oven on a baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes until the pastry is cooked through and golden brown. Read the directions on the puff pastry box.

Remove and serve with vegetables of your choice straight out of the skillet.


Beef, Beer and Blue Cheese Pot Pies

This is from Edible- Ireland

Serves 4

olive oil

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

2 stalks of celery, chopped

1 large red onion, chopped

1 leek, white and light green part only, cut in half lengthwise and sliced

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 kg (2 lb) stewing beef, cut into bite-sized pieces

2 tablespoons flour

500 ml (2 cups) ale

150 g (1 cup) crumbled blue cheese

2 sheets ready-rolled puff pastry

1 large egg, beaten

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Heat a large Iron Skillet. Add a good splash of olive oil, then add the beef and brown it.(((This is the most important thing you do!!! Be sure to get your skillet really hot before you add the meat and brown it may need to brown the meat in batches))). Remove and set aside on a plate.   

Heat a good splash of olive oil on a medium heat. Add the carrots, celery, onion and leek along with a pinch of salt so the onions don’t brown. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft.

Add the garlic, thyme and a generous seasoning of salt and pepper and cook for 1 or 2 minutes more. Stir in the beef, then add in the flour. Stir well to coat the beef and vegetables with the flour and cook for 2 or 3 minutes. Pour in the ale, give everything a stir and bring to a boil. (((Boiling make the flour or any thickener get the sauce to it's thickest state. You don't have to do it long, just a couple of minutes. After that it's as thick as it's going to get.)))

Cover the skillet with a lid or foil and place in the preheated oven for 2 1/2 hours, giving it a stir now and then, until the meat is tender. If the stew looks too liquid, put the pot on the stovetop, uncovered, and simmer (((Small bubble))) it until it reduces to a consistency you like. Once it’s ready, either straight from the oven or after reducing, take it off the heat and stir in the cheese, then taste it and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Cut the ready-rolled sheet of pastry to fit the top of the skillet, rolling it out a little on a lightly floured countertop with a rolling pin if you need to in order for it to cover your dish. Carefully place the pastry lid on top. Brush the pastry with the beaten egg, put the skillet on a baking sheet ((less mess)) then bake in the oven for 30 minutes, or until the pastry has risen and is golden. Allow to stand for 10 minutes before serving.


Butternut Squash and Beefy Mushroom Pot Pies w/Flakey Taleggio Crust.

This is from Half Backed Harvest


4 slices thick cut bacon, chopped (optional)*

2 1/2 pounds stew meat or short ribs, cubed into bite size pieces (optional)*

2 carrots, chopped

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced or grated

8 ounces of mushrooms, sliced (use 12 ounces if using no meat)

1 1/2-2 cups butternut squash, cubed (about 1/2 a small squash)

3 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons flour

1/2 teaspoon salt + pepper

1 (12 ounce) beer or stock 

2 cups beef broth, plus as needed

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

1 teaspoon dried thyme + fresh thyme for stewing

1 teaspoon dried rosemary + fresh rosemary for stewing

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 bay leaf

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed

6 ounces taleggio cheese, cubed

1 large egg, beaten


Heat a large Iron Skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the bacon and cook until crisp. Remove from the pot and drain on a paper towel lined plate. To the same hot pot add the cubed beef and brown all over. (((This is the most important thing you do!!! Be sure to get your skillet really hot before you add the meat and brown it may need to brown the meat in batches))) Once the meat is browned, remove it from the skillet.

If needed, add a drizzle of olive oil to the same pot you browned the meat in. Once hot, add the carrots, onions and garlic. Cook for 3-5 minutes or until soft. Toss in the mushrooms + butternut squash and continue to cook for 5 minutes. Add the beef back to the pot with veggies. Add the butter and flour, tossing well to coat all the veggies + meat. Season with salt and pepper. Cook one minute and then deglaze the pot with the beer/stock, scrapping up any browned bits off the bottom of the pot.

Add the beef broth, smoked paprika, thyme, rosemary, oregano, crushed red pepper and bay leaf. Bring the stew to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer (((Small bubble))). If desired you can add 2 sprigs of fresh thyme and rosemary. Stir in the reserved bacon. Simmer(((Small bubble))) for 2 1/2-4 hours, the longer the better. If it gets too reduced, add more stock or water. If you can, simmer the stew all day, it can be cooked up to six hours over low heat. Watch it!! Very small bubble simmer.

When the stew is ready, remove from the heat and stir in the fresh parsley. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Leave the stew in the skillet you cooked it in.  Sprinkle a little of the cheese over the top of the stew.

Cut the ready-rolled sheet of pastry to fit the top of the skillet, rolling it out a little on a lightly floured countertop with a rolling pin if you need to in order for it to cover your dish. Carefully place the pastry lid on top. Tuck the sides of the pastry down into the skillet.

Brush the top of the pastry with the beaten egg and then sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Place the skillet on a baking sheet and bake for 35-45 minutes or until the pastry is puffed and golden brown. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with fresh parsley and salt. Enjoy warm!


Parking with no pants

I walked in the shower one day and noticed that the walls were moving. You could hit it with your hand and it would ripple like a curtain. The only thing holding it together was the grout between he tiles. So my wife got a friend who does tile work to come fix it. He replaced the sheet rock, studs, tile, everything. It looked great, but no showers in there for 3 days. Got to let stuff dry.  After you've lived in the same house for 19 years that can be a problem. I was adding it up, that's 6935 showers, you can see how I might be in a rut. I can get up in the pitch black dark, walk to the sink, get a towel, walk to the shower, turn on the water, wash my hair, dry off, brush my teeth, get dressed, go to the kitchen, make coffee, get in my Lazy Boy and go back to sleep, wake up and have no idea how I got there or who made coffee.. I've done it 6900 times. But now I had to think about it!!! I had to go to the other bathroom to take a shower. Plus, it's not a real shower, it's a bath tub with a shower head. It's like taking a shower in a hotel. First you have to get the water temp right out of the bath tub faucet, then you pull that little thing up that makes the water go through the shower head, which is always full of cold water, then the water hits you in the chest, which means you have to bend over to get your hair wet, and of course there's no water pressure so it takes forever to get the soap out..  it's just a problem..  Then there's the whole thing of walking through the house with no clothes on. Even at 5am I end up looking around in the living room to see if anybody is in there, like my wife has invited company over to watch "I love Lucy" re-runs. Maybe the paper boy is staring through the front window? ..  I have to find my way back to the bed room and somehow start the process at the point where I get out of the shower.. I've got to get back in that same routine or I might end up at work with no pants on .. After that everything is out of sync .. I was messed up for 3 days.. I told my wife it had to be ready by that Sunday because that's a 3:30am wake up and I couldn't be expected to be awake enough to figure out 2 bathrooms and still get to church.. People would point at me if I was parking cars with no pants.

God's like that:  He wants us to be alert, wants us to pay attention. He's got stuff to show us. I was telling somebody this week: Every time something that I think of as "bad" happens (get a ticket, go to the hospital, miss a flight .. etc), I start watching. Because I know that God is getting ready to use me and I want to see what he does.  Sometimes I see it, Sometimes I don't .. But, you have to watch.. you'll change somebody's life and never know how it happened ..

I wonder if God ever thought about Tivo? .. Then if somebody came up and said you were a big part of their life, you could go back and see what you did.. Don't you wonder who you've influenced over the years and never known about it..


Posted by Mack Oates at 12:00 AM