Back to the Kitchen: Recipes from a Friend's Cookbooks

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As I journey through this wonderful life that is such a culinary adventure, I am so blessed to meet others who are on their own creative cooking path. I first met Nancy Mehagian at a dear friend’s birthday celebration. I had heard many wonderful things about her, and had an awesome conversation about food, love, food, life and more food! I was thrilled to be invited to the book launching party for Siren’s Feast: An Edible Odyssey, I could not wait for my daughter to go to bed so that I could read more! What a well-written and wonderful story! I was so sad when I finished the book I just wanted more! It was months later that I actually tried some of the recipes. I love tapas so I made the Tortilla Espanol, which is a potato and onion omelet! What ‘pie girl’ can resist a peach and hazelnut tart—and Nancy’s is amazing! Here I share with you the Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie because it is such a taste treat!

I got word that she was doing another book and was only for a second sad that it was not part 2 of Siren’s Feast, but a revised version of a healthy children’s cookbook that she did in the 1970’s! Don’t be fooled that the title is The Super Natural Kids Cookbook- 2011 by Nancy Mehagian and Hukua Press. The recipes are tasty and inspiring for kids and chefs of all ages. I share with you some of Nancy’s beautiful recipes and if you are like me and just want more you can go to

Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie

Since mushrooms can often resemble meat, I experimented and came up with this version of a classic English dish. It is full of flavor and no one will ask where the beef is.

1 ½ pounds mushrooms

2 tablespoons olive oil or butter. Or combination of both

2 medium onions, minced

2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped

¼ cup finely chopped parsley

½ teaspoon garlic powder

2 tablespoons tamari soy sauce

½ teaspoon dried thyme

¼ teaspoon dried rosemary

1 teaspoon dried sage

Salt/pepper to taste

1 egg, beaten

For mashed potato topping:

4 large russet potatoes, peeled and quartered

3 tablespoons butter

½ cup milk

Salt/pepper to taste

1 cup grated cheese (white cheddar, gruyere, etc.)

Begin by making a mushroom duxelles. Chop the mushrooms very finely in a food processor or by hand. Place chopped mushrooms into a cheesecloth and squeeze as much moisture as possible from them. Set aside.

Next, in a heavy skillet, sauté onions in oil or butter until softened. Stir in the mushrooms and continue sautéing until mushrooms are well cooked. Stir in tomatoes and all seasonings and continue to sauté. Allow to cool slightly and stir in beaten egg until well blended. Set aside.

Next, boil potatoes in salted water until tender. Drain and mash them with butter, milk until fluffy, then add salt and pepper to taste.

Place mushroom duxelles into the bottom of a greased casserole dish. Spoon mashed potatoes on the top and generously with grated cheese. Place in preheated 375 degree oven and baked for 30 minutes, until pie is thoroughly hot and cheese is melted and slightly brown.

Serves 6

Sweet Potato Chips

Did you know that sweet potatoes are one of the most nutritious vegetables around? They are one of my favorites and I love preparing them this way. In fact, it is hard to stop eating these sweet potato chips.

4 medium size sweet potatoes

2 tablespoons olive oil

½ teaspoon salt

Cut off the ends of each sweet potato and then peel them. Slice carefully into rounds about ¼ of an inch thick. Place slices in a bowl and pour the olive oil over them. Then add the salt. Mix them up with your hands (you remembered to wash your hands before you got started, right?) so the slices are all covered with the oil.

Spread the slices out on a baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes until crispy. Use a spatula to remove from the baking sheet and let them cool a bit before eating.

Very Berry Clafouti

Clafouti (pronounced like claw-foodie) is a French dessert usually made with cherries, but it is so easy and tasty I make it often with whatever fresh fruit that strikes my fancy or happenes to be in season. like plums. And it is pretty easy for such a fancy dessert. You’ll feel like a Parisian chef when you serve this to your family and friends. Ooh la la!

You will need an oven proof cast iron skillet I think any good cook should have a 10-inch cast iron skillet in their kitchen. They don’t cost much and they last forever.

Pre-heat oven to 400.

2 tablespoons butter

1 cup mixed berries

½ cup whole-wheat flour

½ cup raw sugar

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon salt

4 eggs

1-cup milk

1-teaspoon vanilla extract

First melt butter in the skillet and make sure all the surfaces are buttered. Then spread all the berries evenly over the bottom.

Next mix the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt.) in a mixing bowl. In another bowl or even in an enteric mixer, beat together the eggs, milk, and vanilla extract. Slowly blend the egg and milk mixture into the dry mixture, a bit at a time. Mix well until you have a smooth batter (no lumps!) Pour this batter over the fruit in the skillet and place in the oven.

Bake for about 20 minutes. When done the edges will looked puffed up and golden brown. You can serve this warm from the oven with vanilla ice cream or a little bit of whipped cream.

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About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.

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