Swiss Chard Aloo “Saag”

6 leaves Swiss Chard, roughly chopped
6 stems Swiss Chard, diced
2 tbsp butter or ghee
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp pepper
1 tspn ginger root, minced or grated
2 tspn toasted coriander, ground
2 tspn toasted cumin, ground
1/2 tspn cayenne pepper, ground
1 toasted cardamom pod, ground
1 dash of ground nutmeg
2 yukon gold potatos, skinned and cut into medium sized cubes
4oz cup chicken stock
4 oz coconut milk

4 servings 

I was having one of those “I have nothing to cook” mornings and couldn’t inspire myself to go to the grocery store. But after scanning around my pantry and fridge I found onion, swiss chard, garlic, and potatoes and I had just gone to Kalystians so I had really good coriander seeds. Next thing you know I’m making a mock-curry. I LOVE Indian aloo saag, a rich and spiced blend of spinach and potatoes. But Indian food is expensive and I can never order just one curry – so I figured let’s give it a try with chard instead of spinach. The result: Heavenly homemade curry. Make a bunch, it keeps well as leftovers.

In a medium-large pot, add butter over medium heat. Add onions, chopped chard stems, salt, pepper, cook for 5 min.

Meanwhile, toast spices in a small dry pan, then blend in a spice grinder or mini-food processor (or mortar and pestle but why? Get a mini food processor or spice grinder)

Add garlic, ginger and ground spices to onion base. Stir and cook on medium low for another 5 min, until stem-onion base is tender and fragrant.

Add chard leaves and cook on medium for about 3 minutes

Add coconut milk and chicken stock a and stir. Bring to boil then reduce to simmer

Add potatoes, stir, cover. slow cook for about an hour on low heat setting, stirring occasionally.

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Steak and mushroom pie

This British pub fare doesn’t have to take two days to make. This recipe is full of short cuts, but packs in major savory flavor. The crust is heartier than most pastry (thanks to the egg and the sour cream) so it won’t melt when you put it over the hot filling to bake. The fish sauce and dried porcini ups the umami – and gets rid of the need to brown for your Millard reaction. If you live alone, make it on a weekend and enjoy leftovers all week. If you live with people, make it and enjoy the compliments.

Filling
2.5 lbs quality beef chuck, trimmed into 1-2 inch cubes (grass fed if possible, around 2 lbs total after trimming)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp pepper
1 tbsp fish or Worcestershire sauce
2 slices bacon, cut to lardons
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
fresh thyme, 2 tsp
1 lb of mushrooms, cut
2 dried mushrooms, powdered (optional)
1/4 cup flour
1 cup brown or pale ale
1.5 cups beef broth (go easy on salt if you’re using bullion)
1 teaspoon cornstarch + water (slurry)
1-2 tablespoons Parsley or chives, minced

Crust
1 cup flour
tsp salt
5 tbsp cubed, cold lard, butter or a mix of the two
1/4 cup sour cream, chilled
1 egg, beaten (separated in halves)
1 large pinch of caraway seeds

Six servings

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

You can make the filling and crust on different days, then bake it another time… or knock it out all at once. Your call. But I’m going to break it down as if you were doing it all in one go.

Cube beef (around 1 inch), toss with salt, pepper and mix of water and baking soda. Reserve.

Using a food processor, finely chop garlic (5-7 pulses). Add roughly quartered onion and thyme, pulse until garlic is minced, onion is diced and herbs are well mixed (usually about 8-12 pulses). Reserve in a bowl. *Time saver* – instead of mincing garlic, then chopping onions, then finely chopping herbs, I use my food processor to get ‘er done quick saving myself about 10 minutes or so of chopping. You can always use a knife instead.

Wipe out food processor until dry, then add flour and salt, pulse about 10 times. Add cold butter/lard. Pulse until about dough begins to form pea sized pieces. Add half the sour cream and egg mixture, pulse about 3-5 more times. Then add remaining mixture and pulse another 3 times or so. On a floured surface, fold the dough a few times and create a disk. Cover with cling wrap and reserve in the fridge.

Add bacon to a hot dutch oven. Wipe or wash mushrooms clean of dirt and quarter or slice them. Add mushrooms to semi cooked bacon and a little beef broth to scrape up any brown bits. Cook for about 5 minutes.  Add onion, garlic and herbs cook for about 5 more minutes. Add 1/4 cup flour, mix and cook for another few minutes.  Add broth and beer. Mix well, then add beef, mix and bring to boil, then reduce to simmer.

Cover and bake filling in oven at 350 degrees F for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, roll pastry into a 9″ pie crust, then return to fridge.

Remove Dutch oven and add slurry if the filling needs thickening. Return filling to oven for another 15-30 minutes until finished.

Up the oven to 400 degrees

Add filling to pie pan and add fresh parsley/chives on top, then cover filling with pastry.
Egg wash the pastry. Using a biscuit cutter or a knife make a hole in the middle for ventilation. Dust crust with caraway seed. Push the sides down all around. Bake at 400 for 25 minutes> Allow pie to cool 20-30 minutes before serving.

Serve with fresh salad.