Junior Masterchef is blowing my mind!

At Vegie Smuggling HQ, last Sunday night was spent watching TV with our jaws hanging wide open. Isn’t it a shock, to see a bunch of kids so young who can kick butt in the kitchen, sauteing, baking and slicing their way to foodie heaven? We’re all so protective these days and assume our little lovelies are so helpless that it’s refreshing to see competent kids, who’ve been well trained, concentrating and doing their thing with such aplomb. And putting the rest of us to shame. I mean, really, I doubt I could make Pierre’s Lamb Wellington that won the other night.

And isn’t it great, for younger kids to see these visions of accomplishment. Miss Fruitarian was grinning the entire time.

Why do I underestimate what my kids are capable of and wrap them in such thick layers of cotton wool? A while back, my Japanese friend shocked me by instructing in that helpful/harsh Japanese way that I must give my kids knives from the time they’re three. “They only cut themselves one time”, she assured me.

In some countries Miss F would probably of have a flock of goats under her control by now. Even half a century ago she would have been contributing to the household in ways more productive than her current “muuuuuuuuuuummmmmmmmm, iiiii nneeeeeeeedddddddddddd youuuuuuuuuuuuuu”. Of course, I run to her to check what the emergency is and generally find that she can’t find her red texta, or she needs me to kill the microscopic spider on the bathroom floor. With renewed purpose, I’m going to work on getting my kids more domestically skilled and useful.

In the mean time, here’s my contribution to the Junior Masterchef ‘pie’ challenge, a vegie smuggling Shepherd’s Pie that hides potato, pumpkin, onion, carrot, celery and eggplant. Strangely enough, I didn’t see any of the Masterchef kids sneaking too many vegies into their masterpieces.

shepherds pie

Miss F may not herd goats, but she does love this Shepherd's Pie

Shepherd’s pie

Meat base
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
1 carrot, peeled,
finely diced
1 celery stick,
finely diced
500g lamb mince
2 finger eggplants, peeled, finely diced
2 tbsp plain flour
2 cups beef stock
Splash of Worcestershire sauce
Squeeze of tomato sauce
2 fresh bay leaves
(or 1 dried)
Salt & black pepper

Mash topping
3 mashing potatoes, peeled, diced
500g pumpkin, peeled, diced
½ cup milk
Margarine, to taste

Canola oil cooking spray

For the meat base, heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook the onion, carrot and celery until soft (5-10 minutes). Add the mince and brown, breaking up lumps as you go. Add the eggplant and stir.

Add the flour and cook for 1 minute. Add the stock, sauces and bay leaves. Bring to the boil then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes. Season to taste.

Meanwhile, for the mash, bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Add the potato and pumpkin and cook for 15 minutes until tender. Drain.

Preheat oven to 200C.

Mash the potatoes and pumpkin well, adding milk and margarine to achieve your preferred texture.

Divide the lamb mixture between a family-sized souffle dish and 4 x 1 cup ovenproof dishes (eat the family one tonight and freeze the smaller serves).

Spread mash over the top as evenly as you can.

Put all the dishes on one oven tray, spray the tops with cooking spray and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden and bubbling.

SERVES 2 ADULTS & 6 KIDS

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1 Response so far »

  1. 1

    Sweet B said,

    great recipe!

    for anyone out there who wants to puchase Junior Masterchef merchandise, you can get cooking kits, chef hat & apron sets from http://www.sweetb.com.au

    they’ll make great gifts for Christmas!


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