The Best Shepherd’s Pie Ever! (Gluten Free)

Ok, so “best ever” is a pretty big claim to make, but I feel pretty secure in making the statement.

As an Irish Canadian, I’ve eaten my fair share of Shepherd’s (Cottage, to be more accurate) Pie. As a chef, I’ve tinkered with the recipe many, many times. I’ve done a “Thanksgiving Leftovers” version. I’ve made a cottage pie with moose meat, partridgeberries, and wine. Boeuf bourguignon hybrid pie, cottage pie with caribou meat… yeah, you could call me a connoisseur!

So, when I say that this is the best ever – know that there’s a lot of experience behind the claim!

First, a quick distinction: The vast majority of what people call “Shepherd’s Pie” is actually “Cottage Pie”. Cottage pie that uses lamb for the meat is “shepherd’s pie”. Sheep, shepherd… you know. This recipe was developed to be a shepherd’s pie, but was changed to a cottage pie at the last minute. After a morning of shopping for ingredients, I chose convenience over nomenclature 🙂

Anyway, that little bit of pedantry aside…

I created this cottage pie for our recent “St Pi-trick’s Day” party. As every food had to be Irish themed and round, I sized this recipe around a 12″ round cake pan, big enough to serve our party. Should you want to be a bit more traditional with it, and make it up in two 9 x 13″ pans.

In keeping with the Irish theme, I didn’t make this “American Style” – you’ll notice there is no creamed corn, and no cheese. Instead of the more common choices of corn and frozen peas, I decided to go more “Irish Canadian” with it, using carrots, parsnips, and turnips – a very popular set of veggies on the East Coast of Canada, which is heavily Irish. For many/most people out that way, those root vegetables are served at least weekly, as part of “Sunday Dinner” – very traditional. If you have a food processor with a grating attachment, getting these veggies ready will be a snap. If you have to grate them by hand – trust me, it’s worth the effort in the end!

As an additional nod to the Irish-Canadianness of it, you’ll notice the use of savory. Savoury, as we spell it back home, is an extremely popular herb in east coast Canadian kitchens… for good reason. The savoury that grows in the hills of Newfoundland is the best savory I’ve ever had. It’s commonly used in soups, on poultry, in stuffing/dressing, on pork… yum. If you’re a foodie and have a chance to get your hands on some Mt. Scio brand savoury… send me some, too!

While shepherd’s pie really isn’t anything elegant to look at, no matter what the ingredients, this one has an elegant taste to it. The use of the root vegetables in combination with these seasonings provides an awesome merge of flavors… truly, I think I’ve come up with the ideal cottage pie here!


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Best Shepherd’s Pie Ever

Best Shepherd’s Pie Ever

With 2017 being Canada’s 150th birthday, it’s about time I wrote the Canadian cookbook I’ve been planning for YEARS.

“More than Poutine” will be a Canadian cookbook like no other – written by a Canadian living away, it includes both traditional homecooking recipes, as well as homemade versions of many of the snacks, sauces, convenience foods, and other food items that are hard to come by outside of Canada!

High quality gluten-free versions of most recipes will be included.

The Kickstarter for “More Than Poutine is live, here. Please consider backing, and sharing the campaign with your friends!

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

St Patrick’s Day Pizza

St Patrick’s Day Pizza

Whoa! I’ve really neglected the blog recently… sorry about that! Racing to get the main areas of the house organized and cleaned up. No small task, considering that the dining room was still being used as temporary storage for everything that belonged in the kitchen. As we have enough of the shelves done to move forward, I’m re-populating them with everything that’s been in the dining room. It may not sound like much, but it’s a lot of fussy decision making, as much as anything. The new cabinetry layout is completely different from the old one, so I need to figure out where I want everything to be.

Anyway, the big cleaning rush is on account of our “St Pi-trick’s Day” party this weekend. Just finished the menu up last night – it’s going to be GOOD! For the uninitiated: My husband’s favorite “holiday” is Pi Day (He’s a major math nerd), while my favorite is St Patrick’s Day (Irish Canadian, here!). Usually, we celebrate the two together, ON Pi day. Loads of pi trivia, round foods, etc… with a heavy Irish theme running on top of it. Just finished our menu last night – it’ll be awesome!

If you’re looking for something unique to serve for your own celebrations this time of year – I’ve got the recipe for you! Behold: St Patrick’s Day Pizza!

I created this St Patrick’s Day Pizza recipe for our pi day celebrations a few years ago, and it’s been a March staple for us ever since. It’s basically the result of wondering “What’s the best way to combine the two themes, in one epic main dish?”. Well… now you know!

This recipe starts with a flavorful, tender beer based rye crust, and continues with (Canadian style) colcannon, one of our favorite things ever. Top with some corned beef, cabbage, and Irish cheddar… there you have it. St Pi-trick’s Day perfection!


St Patrick's Day Pizza

St Patrick's Day Pizza

Pi Day Pinata!

This article was posted in 2009. For an update – with more ideas on how to celebrate Pi Day, check out 2010’s entry, here.

If you are looking for our epic, “internet famous” Pi Backsplash, check it out here.

With Pi Day (March 14) coming up, my husband and I decided to just go crazy with it. We’ll blog about the festivities later, but for now… I want to blog about the piece de resistance.. our PInata! Neither of us had ever been involved with making a pinata before, and it sounded like a fun – and wholly appropriate – challenge!

This would be a fun project for any couple or family to do together. Or, hey, any pi-obsessed individual… but I will say that two sets of hands REALLY helped it go faster, and there were many times where the extra set of hands helped with handling.

Of course, the principles of design that we utilized in the creation of our PInata could be applied to many different themes and shapes of pinatas, so go nuts with it. If it’s not in the cards for you to make one for this year’s Pi day, consider other occasions that would/could call for a Pinata.

Traditionally, it seems that you’re supposed to paper mache a balloon, and use that as your base. We couldn’t think of any possible way that would fit with our ideas, so we had to Macguyver a solution. Here is what we came up with. (Warning, this will be a fairly photo-heavy blog entry!) (more…)