Oh, tidings of comfort and joy, with potatoes and pie

This is not the first time you’ve seen recipes here from lawyer-turned-from scratch baker Warren Brown. From cakes and breakfast treats and now to pies, Brown’s cookbooks have proven to be imaginative, informative and full of flavorful fun. In his fourth cookbook, “Pie Love: Inventive Recipes for Sweet and Savory Pies, Galettes, Pastry Cremes, Tarts, and Turnovers,” Brown shares techniques and formulas for pie making that will win raves from both experienced and novice pie bakers alike. As in his previous cookbooks, “CakeLove: How to Bake Cakes from Scratch,” “United Cakes of America: Recipes Celebrating Every State” and “CakeLove in the Morning: Recipes for Muffins, Scones, Pancakes, Waffles, Biscuits, Frittatas, and Other Breakfast Treats,” Brown’s newest book clearly rolls out the science behind baking – this time with inspired recipes for all things pie, including specialized vegan, gluten-free and multigrain piecrusts, and fillings that are comprised of sweet things like chocolate, spiced cherries and maple cream, as well as those savory, such as a classically delicious beef stew serving as the hearty filling for a cheesy mashed potato-topped Shepherd’s Pie, which is offered in this column. If you’d like to learn more about Warren Brown, his CakeLove Bakery and cookbooks, visit www.cakelove.com. One (or all) of Brown’s cookbooks would make a fine Christmas gift for yourself, your favorite baker or anyone aspiring to learn more about baking.


Sue Ade is a syndicated food writer with broad experience and interest in the culinary arts. She has worked and resided in the Lowcountry of South Carolina since 1985 and may be reached at kitchenade@yahoo.com.

Shepherd's Pie

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon sea salt

2 diced yellow onions

3 minced or pressed garlic cloves

2 diced celery stalks

4 chopped carrots

2 cups fingerling or new red potatoes, chopped

2 pounds, cut into ½ inch cubes, beef top round or sirloin

1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground

1 teaspoon paprika

4 cups beef stock

½ cup red wine

2 sprigs rosemary

2 tablespoons sage, chopped

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter

2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

Recipe Decadent Potatoes (recipe follows)

Add the oil to a 6-quart, heavy-bottomed stock pot or Dutch oven and warm it over medium heat.

Add the salt to the pan, followed by the onion, garlic, celery, carrots and potatoes. Stir often while the vegetables brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the meat, pepper and paprika and continue to stir while the meat browns, another 5 minutes. Add 3 cups of the stock, the wine, rosemary, sage and garlic and onion powders. Stir, and reduce the heat to low.

Make a roux: melt the butter in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir in the flour and cook until it turns medium brown in color and gives off a nutty aroma. Whisk in the remaining 1 cup stock—it should bubble vigorously. Stir the mixture into the stew. Continue to cook the stew on low heat until it simmers lightly. Raise the burner temperature as needed to maintain a simmer, but cook as slowly as possible to yield tender meat, up to 1½ hours. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Top the stew with the Decadent Potatoes and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the potatoes are golden brown across the top. One casserole to serve 6 to 8.

Real Mashed Potatoes

6 medium russet potatoes

½ cup whole milk

1 stick butter

Salt and pepper, to taste


Scrub, peel and cut potatoes into quarters. Place potatoes into a large saucepot and add enough salted water to cover. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and cook, for 15 to 20 minutes, or until tender. Turn off heat, remove potatoes from stove and drain potatoes well. Return the potatoes to the pot, and place the pot to the same burner used to cook the potatoes; do not turn on the heat. (The reserved heat on the stove will help to “dry” the potatoes and remove excess moisture.) While the potatoes are drying, warm milk and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until butter melts. Remove pan from heat and set aside. Pass the potatoes through a potato ricer into a large mixing bowl. With a fork, gradually whip in the milk mixture until potatoes reach desired consistency, reserving some of the milk for finishing the potatoes. Finish mashing potatoes with a potato masher, adding more milk, as needed. Season with salt and pepper. Makes 6 to 8 servings.


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