Friday, 6 January 2012

Bubbie Gertie's Meat Pie - with a Naomi tweak or two

What a week it's been!  I am so glad it's Friday, and I cannot wait to settle in and read a good book tonight...I've just started reading The Help and, even though I am only 5 pages in, I am already hooked!  But before I can cozy up and return to 1950s Mississippi, the Mishpucha must be fed!


It's funny how these posts come into being - I find my mind wandering in so many directions as I prepare our meals, and often I talk to myself (usually in my head, otherwise the girls start laughing at me!).  Donna, a facebook friend put it so well: "I cook with my mother's hand on my shoulder" - and that is exactly how I feel!!!  Only, I have the hands of so many matriarchs.  Their written words are waiting to guide me into a world filled with happy memories that envelope me with the same feeling of pure and utter comfort I felt every time I walked into my mother's kitchen.  When I cook, she is with me again, there is no loss, no Alzheimer's.  The dull ache and longing for "what was" dissipate and I am at peace again.

Tonight, I had a plan - Shepherd's Pie.  I know the recipe by heart, and have tweaked it to satisfy my family's tastes, but I still wanted to "consult" a matriarch.  Turns out that Bubbie Gertie made this dish, and called it Meat Pie. 

As I read Bubbie Lou's hand-written recipe for Bubbie Gertie's Meat Pie, I started thinking about the shitarein recipe.  I first heard about this form of recipe a couple of weeks ago, when a family friend, Bob, popped in the office and we started sharing stories about his childhood in Toronto, his mother's home-cooking, and the "shit" recipe.  Please excuse what appears to be profanity - because it is not.  This is an accepted short-form of the Yiddish term "shitarein".  Thank you to Aaron B. from Norene's Kitchen for sharing the following explanation of the shitarein recipe.  The topic was raised in Norene's Kitchen just yesterday, and I was thrilled to actually know what it was!

Anyways, Bob is close to Mom's age, and his stories intrigued me.  My mother and mother-in-love both cook(ed) using the shitarein method - a bissel (little bit) of this and a bissel of that.  When I first try a recipe I tend to prepare it exactly how it is written.  Over time, I tend to lighten up and use loose measurements, applying the shitarein method myself.  In the same way Becca's hands have a direct connection to her heart when she plays the piano, my connection appears when I cook.  And, by looking at the recipe for Bubbie Gertie's Meat Pie, so did my matriarchs. 

I have to bid you farewell in a moment, so I can make the The Shiksa in the Kitchen's Israeli Salad , but leave you with a step-by-step pictorial of my tweaked Shepherd's Pie recipe.

Peel and dice potatoes (approx 10), then boil until soft (approx 15 minutes)

Dice 1 onion, sautee in 1-2 tbsp canola oil, until translucent

Add ground beef to onions, brown, then drain excess fat

Add 1 cup of brown gravy to beef & onion mixture

Mix thoroughly

Drain boiled potatoes

Add 1C chicken broth (I use Osem) and mash with a potato ricer

Evenly spread beef/onion/gravy mixture in parchment-lined (8x11) pyrex

Evenly spread mashed potatoes on top of beef mixture

Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for approx 1 hour

Some of the best meal-making memories are in the odd traditions that each family develops over time.  In our house, the kids vie for who will get to lick the potato ricer after the potatoes are mashed.  They feel utterly indulged if I reserve a little extra mashed potato for them to nosh (snack) on, as was the case tonight. 


Well, I am back to add the finishing touches (photos and scans) and am pleased to report that dinner was a huge success! 


It is 9:17 pm, and I am finally ready to curl up with my book.  I wish you a wonderful evening filled with family, fun, friends and fantastic food!  B'Tayavon and Buon Appetito and Sweet Dreams...