Monday, March 18, 2013

On My Hearth: Shepherd's Pie

Lindsey, who's now an awesome cook and can make her own mashed potatoes!
My daughter Lindsey was a high-energy, high-spirited little girl. From the time she was born, she was in a constant state of go,go, go! We could barely keep up with her. (not much has changed) She required a minimal amount of sleep, and from the age of three we couldn't let her have naps or she'd never go to sleep at night. Once she finally crashed, though, she was done. Nothing nor nobody could wake that girl up! She was prone to talking in her sleep, though, and one of the funniest Lindsey stories involves such an event.  One evening I went in to check on her and as I tucked the blankets around her sweet little self, she said, clear as day, "I want somebody to make me some mashed potatoes." I could barely contain my laughter, tried to engage her in more conversation but that was it, just a request for spuds.  Did I mention that she's Irish? Twenty years later, I think of that story every time I make mashed taters, which is pretty often because I love them as much as little Lindsey did!

So, I told you that story, why? Well, we had leftover beef-less stew in the fridge, and a bag of spuds in the pantry that were begging to be used up.  I mixed the stew in with about 1/2 a package of Boca veggie crumbles, heated it through and added a tiny bit of flour to thicken it up nicely.  Then I made a batch of mashed potatoes (you all know how to do that, I'm sure. Use your own favorite method/recipe) using about 6 medium tubers, a couple splashes of non-dairy milk and a generous dollop of Earth Balance.  I set those aside and preceded to make some dinner rolls to round out the meal.

Now, I've haven't done much vegan baking, am honestly a little bit intimidated by the whole substitution thing.  I own a box of Egg Replacer but so far it's only been used for very simple recipes - boxed cakes & brownies, no-fail stuff.  Light and fluffy dinner rolls are another thing entirely! I found this recipe on Oh She Glows, though, and she made it look so easy, I figured I'd give it a go.

Vegan Pull-Apart Fluffy White Dinner Rolls

Adapted from Spark People.
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp sea salt (or regular)
  • 2 1/4 tsp Active Dry Yeast
  • 1 cup very warm water
  • 2 tbsp Earth Balance Buttery Stick
  • 1 egg replacer (1 tsp egg replacer + 2 tbsp warm water)
1) Proof your yeast! In a small bowl mix 2 1/4 tsp of Active Dry Yeast with 1/4 cup of very warm water (between 110 and 115 degrees F). Stir and let dissolve. Now add 1 tsp of sugar and stir. Let it sit for a good 5-10 minutes. You will know the yeast is active when it is slightly foamy and smells like bread.

2. In a stand mixer or by hand, add 1 and 1/4 cup of flour, remaining sugar (1 tbsp + 2 tsp), salt, and yeast mixture. Mix briefly for 10 seconds or so. Now, add the remaining very warm water (3/4 cup), slightly melted Earth balance, and egg replacer and mix until smooth. Slowly add in the rest of the flour (1 cup) and mix until smooth.

3. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes. I put my bowl of dough in the oven with the light turned on (but not the oven itself!)

4. Grease a pie pan and set aside. After 30 minutes, remove the dough from the oven and knead with hands for a few seconds. Divide the dough into 12 balls with hands and place the balls into the pie pan (see image below). 

5. Cover pie pan with towel and place back into the oven with light on for another 30 minutes. The rolls will expand and fill the pie pan during this time.

6. After 25 minutes, remove from oven and preheat the oven to 400F. After 5 more minutes, it is time to bake the rolls for 15-18 minutes until golden and fluffy. Makes 12 pull apart rolls.

7. Serve with Earth Balance and enjoy!
I followed the recipe exactly, couldn't resist peeking at the dough every so often to make sure it was rising, and guess what? They were amazing! I am so surprised and relieved, whew!

But, wait, let's not get ahead of ourselves. While the dough was rising, I topped the Shepherds Pie with the mashed potatoes, added a handful of shredded vegan cheddar, and put it into the oven alongside the rolls.  When the bread was done, I took the pan out, lowered the heat to 350, and let the pie cook for a just a few more minutes until the cheese was completely melted and the gravy was bubbling over the side of the casserole. I served it up, put those luscious rolls in a basket and sat down to eat.  

The Verdict: Delicious! What a great way to use up some leftovers and try something new at the same time. I will definitely be making this one again! There's an awful lot left over, though, anybody hungry?


  1. Mmm, yum. I've made Vegan Shepherd's Pie using lentils cooked with stew veggies (onions, carrots, garlic, etc.) Yours looks a little more authentic though! I wish I could come over for dinner!

  2. Aisling, I've made it that way, too! In fact, I think I posted a recipe for lentil shepherds pie a while back. However, the one thing we have discovered during this Chip-becoming-a-veg experiment is that he's not particularly fond of lentils. He tolerates them if they are pureed into another form, but doesn't like the consistency of the whole lentil. So, I'm keeping that in mind and not inundating him with that particular legume. ;)