[a medicinal cooking blog: using food as medicine to treat whatever may ail you]

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Babies and Pies

Ever wonder what a good alternative present would be to give someone who just gave birth? It's been a while since I posted a proper full on recipe and so I thought I'd share a recent dish I made for two women who just had beautiful babies. Often I am asked to share, prescribe, or cook medicinal foods for specific conditions or situations. Having had a baby is not a 'condition' per se, but it is a situation in which you would ideally eat foods to build up your blood and energy again as having a baby is no joke - it is taxing to the body. The focus for post partum women would be on those two things in general: blood and energy. Of course there can be other factors coming into play as every individual can have extra things to address: diabetes, or constipation, or a whole milieu of things. But for these purposes I'm going to keep it simple, and delicious. No one in my house had a baby and we ate the same Goji Berry, Red Date, and Lamb Shepard's Pie that I cooked up for these two lovely new moms. On the other hand, if you just want to cook it because it is quite simply going to feed your soul happiness (and it will keep for 3-4 days), then this is a great casserole to have when you're working hard and all you really want to do is come home, slice it up, put it on a plate, heat and eat it!


1 lb ground lamb
0.5 lb ground beef
3 fresh garlic cloves
1 large vidalia onion
3 large carrots
1 large tomato
2 cups green peas
2 cups chopped baby bella mushrooms
6 Idaho russet (medium sized) potatoes
whole milk
grey coarse sea salt
fresh cracked black pepper
beef stock
7 oz. aged cheddar cheese
1-3 thai bird chile
Gou Qi Zi (goji berries) – ½ cup
Da Zao (red dates) – ¼ cup
*you can get goji berries at Whole Foods or you can get both the goji and the red dates at a Chinese Herbal pharmacy

(lamb on the left and beef on the right)


1. Prep Work : Peel potatoes and chop into large chunks (meanwhile boil salted water to put them in). Mince 3 garlic cloves (more if you want!), chop onion coarsely, chop green pepper into 1 cm cubes, chop tomato into small squares (it will cook away), peel carrots and chop into little squares (if you want larger chunks go for it). Pre-boil green peas for 10 mins – strain and set to side.

2. If the Gou Qi Zi and the Da Zao are dried as you will likely find in the U.S., then rehydrate them in water for at least one hour, then strain and drain out the water. Chop up finely both the Gou Qi Zi (Goji Berries) and the Da Zao (Red Dates). You will need to cut the red dates in half and de – pit them before mincing.

(red dates on the left and goji berries on the right)

(you will need to make sure the red dates are properly de-pitted)

3. Put 1-2 tbspns of olive oil or other cooking oil in a pan, put it on medium heat, place garlic in first and saute until it starts to cook, add the onions, put on a low heat and let both cook until the onions begin to become translucent. Add in 1-2 chopped Thai bird chiles or other spice if desired. Add in the goji berries and the red dates and continue cooking for a few more minutes as the onions soften more and the dates and goji berries begin to meld into them. Add the chopped carrots and the green peas, keep cooking (add oil if it is beginning to stick at this point). Add the chopped green pepper. Once everything has begun to meld together more, add salt and pepper to taste (rec’d: 2 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper to start).

4. At this point your pan should contain a very nicely melded and cooked base, keep stirring (don’t let it stick), add the beef & lamb, mince it with the spatula and keep stirring! Once the beef and the lamb are nicely minced and cooking with everything, add one chopped tomato. Stir it up. Add 1 cup beef stock. Keep stirring and cooking (you will be cooking this on the pan from start to finish for 25 mins). Let the liquid cook down a little bit, add more if there isn’t enough (you want it to look moist with some juice but not soupy). Add more salt and pepper to taste (TASTE at this point).

5. Meanwhile your potatoes have cooked in boiling water, strain them, leave a little cooking liquid, add butter, salt, pepper, milk and MASH. Set to the side.

6. Your base should have continued cooking, you should have tasted it by now to make sure it’s salty and savory enough. Add mushrooms at this point. Stir them in until they are just cooked. Turn off heat and let it cool.

7. Place base in two medium sized pirex baking pans or one large one. Add the potatoes, smooth over with a fork.

8. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.

9. Grate cheddar cheese on the potatoes into a thin layer.

10. Put in oven and cook for 20 mins. Broil the last 3-5 mins to brown the cheese on top but make SURE you watch so that it does not burn, remove once it is browned (this could take less than 5 mins).

11. Let it cool 10 mins and ENJOY!

(all those dark spots are where the juiciness has seeped through the potato layer and come out on top to entice you to slice in and enjoy..)

(another version - I made about 4 casseroles of this a week ago!)

Servings: makes two medium size casseroles or one large and will feed 2-3 people for 2-3 meals, depending on appetite. Or, 4 people for one meal.

No comments: