SHEPHERD’S PIE >> started out being called Cottage Pie. It was considered a poor man’s dish made from scraps of meat, lots of potatoes and a sprinkling of vegetables. It originated in the United Kingdom and Ireland; today, the dish is popular worldwide. Variations of this savory pie are called St. Stephen’s Day Pie, made with turkey and ham, and Cumberland Pie, which is topped with breadcrumbs. In England, there is Fish Pie. In most cases, traditional Shepherd’s Pie is made with lamb or mutton, and Cottage Pie with beef.

As I am very fond of Shepard’s Pie, I want to share this basic recipe I came up with.

Bette’s Shepherd’s Pie● 3 cups prepared mashed potatoes

● 2 tablespoons parsley flakes● 1 pound grounded beef, lamb &/or veal, browned

● 2 tablespoons dried onion soup mix

● 2 cups vegetables (peas, carrots, and/or corn)

● Approx. 2 ½ cups gravy of choice (to serve on side)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir parsley flakes in prepared mash potatoes. Brown meat and mix in soup mix. Stir seasoned meat and vegetable(s) together. In ungreased 3-quart casserole, add meat-vegetables. Spread potatoes evenly on top of meat mixture. Bake uncovered, 30 minutes or until potatoes are slightly brown. Serves approximately six.

SPANISH RICE >> is not a product of Spain, but a side dish served as part of Mexican cuisine. Spanish is spoken in Mexico, which is believed to be how the rice got its name. It depends on the spices, which lend themselves to different tastes for different versions of this popular dish. Sautée the rice until golden brown, then add in the liquid, tomatoes, spices, etc. and simmer together. For the spice, you can use cumin, saffron, chili pepper, garlic and/or onion.

SPAM >> may be one of the most misunderstood food products that has withstood time. It was created in 1937 to supply the troops with fresh meat that did not need to be refrigerated. Actually, from 1941 to 1945, 100 million pounds were shipped to the military during World War II in brick shaped cans. The Hormel Food Company located in Minnesota uses only pork shoulder meat, ham meat, salt, water, potato starch, sugar and sodium nitrite; the gelatin forms when cooking in the can. From the onset, Hormel refuses to use inferior ingredients that its competition used.

The other week on CBS Sunday Morning, they featured Spam on one of their segments. The number one state that consumes the most Spam is Hawaii. It seems like the national dish of Hawaii, so called “The Hawaiian Steak.” There are 147 variations available on their store shelves. It is not unusual to make sushi with canned pork product. Actually, Spam made a strong impression on Asian and Pacific countries and islands after World War II. Throughout this area, Spam is listed on McDonald’s menus. Today, in South Korea, it outranks Coca-Cola and KFC in popularity.

In today’s world, “spam” is a term used in the electronics field. “Spam the meat” tastes a whole lot better than misguided junk mail and other unwanted communications floating around out there.

My friend Mary Jane (Mitchell) Wagner adds chucks of Spam on top of her scalloped potatoes recipe. When they were little, her three boys thought that Spam and scalloped potatoes were great. Her eldest, Eddie, thought that Spam was a real luxury food and decided it was the food for the rich.

Mary Jane’s Scalloped Potatoes & Spam Strips

● 2 pounds potatoes (6 medium)

● ¼ teaspoon pepper● 2 medium onions, thinly sliced

● ¼ cup butter/margarine● 3 tablespoons flour

● 2 cups milk● 1 teaspoon salt● 1 can Spam

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Wash potatoes, peel and remove eyes. Slice potatoes, about 4 cups. In a greased casserole dish, arrange potatoes into four layers. On top of each layer, put thinly sliced onions, one tablespoon flour, salt and pepper, dotting each layer with butter chunks. The top layer should be onion, etc. Heat milk to scalding; pour over potatoes. Cut Spam into ¼” slices, cross cut to make strips. Arrange Spam on top to make a design of your choice. Cover; bake for 30 minutes. Uncover; bake 60 minutes or until potatoes are tender and the Spam is crisp.

GOOD FOOD FOR A GOOD LIFE!Let me hear from you -

Check out Downtown Kitchens at or search YouTube for Look Who’s Cooking.

comments powered by Disqus