On the occasion of giving thanks

Our table
Our table. From front: Cornbread & Sausage stuffing, Kale & Chard salads, roasted root veg, and roast beef.

Dear Internet,
Thanksgiving, as a holiday, has always been a source of conflict in our house. There is, of course, the idea of thanking the fates for all the bounties the year has given us and then there is the history of the day, which is steeped in blood, violence, and deceit. We’ve started approaching it more as a “Let’s make a fabulous feast and have people over for cards!” as our tradition rather than dwell on the historical origins.
Here is this years menu, along with recipes:
Beef roast marinating in Guinness.
Beef roast marinating in Guinness.

After slow cooking for 8 hours.
After slow cooking for 8 hours.

Meat: Guinness marinated, slow cooked roast beef
Instead of turkey (which both of us are eh on) or ham (which TheHusband is not a fan of), we opted to make a slow cooked Guinness marinated roast beef just like the meat pies of the same name I usually make, except minus the crust. We marinated the beef for nearly 48 hours before slow cooking it for about 8.
This year, the beef was good but on the dry side. We decided it was because we used a janky slow cooker which we’re now discovering has terrible heat element and thermostat control. We’ve decided next time, whether as a stand alone dish or for the meat pie itself, to use Mark Bittman’s techniques for making pot roast from his How To Cook Everything
I should also add that in the three years since I first published the recipe, much has changed with how we prep and cook the beef. Namely, there is no dried onion soup mix or cornstarch involved. TheHusband, when we make this meat pie, now makes the gravy via a roux from the beef drippings and caramelizes the onions instead of relying on dehydrated spices.
Cornbread and Sausage stuffing.
Cornbread and Sausage stuffing.

SidesCornbread & Sausage Stuffing
It’s a well known fact nothing can come in between me and my carbs. This is TheHusband’s take on a Whole Foods recipe of the same name, except we take the corn bread recipe found on the container of corn meal, double it, and use the same pan the corn bread cooked in as the baking dish for the stuffing. He also doubles the meat, and adds carrots for color and flavor. By far our favorite part of the meal it has now become the default staple when we do big meals like this.
Kale and Chard salad with almonds and lemon/garlic dressing.

Sides: Lemon Garlic Kale Salad
This recipe was pulled from the New York Times’ essentials for a 2013 Thanksgiving and came out a dud. It looks super pretty, but tasted of oil slicks. The dressing, which I prepared as directed, was the culprit. Given I had double the greens requested, and made the dressing to a T, we ended up having more than double of the dressing left over after giving the greens a good toss. The olive oil and lemon juice looked emulsified but tasted strictly of oil even though garlic cloves steeped in the concoction for roughly an hour. The recipe doesn’t give precise directions on what you should be looking for or how long the garlic was to steep, so I worked with what I had.
Next time we make this salad, we’ll use the same greens/almonds mixture, but with a different vinaigrette.
Sides: Mashed potatoes
TheHusband used russets which he smashed using goats milk and vegan butter. They came out delicious and ultra creamy.
Sides: Roasted root vegetables
Sweet potatoes, carrots, and kohlrabi were slow cooked in the oven for about an hour under a brown sugar glaze TheHusband whipped up for the cooking process. TheHusband was meh on most of the veg, only liking the glaze and the sweet potatoes, while I adored the whole concoction. Next time we make this dish, we’re going to change out the kohlrabi and add in turnips and another veg for color and flavor and keep the glaze.
Chocolate pecan pie (before baking).
Chocolate pecan pie (before baking).

Deserts: Chocolate Pecan Pie
The pie crust held up remarkably well using vegan butter (Earth Balance) and but the caveat is I should add is I should have rolled the crust thicker to the size as it shrank when it was pre-cooked before I added the filling.
Per the instructions listed, the pie was to bake 30-40 minutes until it jiggles and then pull out to cool completely. After 35 minutes, the pie was a’jiggling and was set aside to cool for an hour before being placed in the fridge to chill for about five hours before it was cut.
Turns out the pie had not finished cooking and the middle, even after chilled completely in the fridge to hasten the thickening process, was like runny black blood. TheHusband didn’t care for the pie, declaring it too chocolatey and sweet, which is odd since I used bittersweet chocolate not only for the chips but also for the cocoa powder. But I do have to agree the chocolate, even with the pecans, is overpowering. May make this again in the future, but modified to taste. The crust recipe, however, is a definite keeper.
We love trifle so much, we even have its own designated bowl.
We love trifle so much, we even have its own designated bowl.

Deserts: Trifle
The tradition to eat trifle for major dinners and feasts is a long standing one in TheHusband’s family, one of which he introduced me to when we got back together and one he has been in charge of making.  Upon finding out my allergy to dairy a few years ago, the entire concoction is now artisanal with nothing coming pre-packaged except the cake mix, which we found saves a lot of time when we have so much else to prep for other courses, and of course the fruit, none of which is locally instead at the moment.
Trifles are layers consisting of cake, custard/pudding, whipped creams, and fruit of some sort. We usually do a yellow cake mix, vanilla pudding/custard, fruits striking the fancy, and of course the whipped cream. As nearly each component is lengthy for prep, we usually start assembling the ingredients a few days before the event it is to be eaten. (And if TheHusband had his way, all he’d eat is trifle for every meal.)
For the pudding/custard layer, TheHusband makes it from scratch using the following technique:
Throbbing Manor custard 
8 egg yolks, whisked together
4 cups of goats milk
3-4 Tbls Tapioca (optional, for texture)
2/3 cup of sugar
3-4 Tbls of cornstarch to thicken
Guts of a vanilla bean

  1. Using a whisk, combine milk, tapioca sugar and cornstarch in a medium saucepan over medium heat on stove top. Allow milk to scald (heat to the point when tiny bubbles form around edges of pan). Whisk occasionally to prevent cornstarch from clumping on bottom edges of pan.
  2. Remove milk mixture from heat,
  3. Mix a few tablespoons of scalded milk mixture into eggs using whisk, then introduce eggs/milk mixture into remaining milk in a slow stream, whisking constantly.
  4. Immediately return pan to heat and whisk gently until custard thickens, another two or three minutes. Do not allow to boil.
  5. Remove pan from heat and stir in vanilla.
  6. Cool completely before eating. Should be refrigerated at least 12 hours before assembling in trifle.

I personally found the above a little on the thin side after it was assembled in the trifle, and TheHusband agreed. He said he’d probably up the cornstarch to get it to thicken more.
Throbbing Manor coconut milk whipped cream
1-2 can of full fat coconut milk
Sugar/Vanilla to taste (optional)

  1. Refrigerate the can of coconut milk for at least 10-12 hours (we like it after at least 24). Several hours before you need to whip the cream, place metal bowl in freezer to chill.
  2. When you’re ready to whip the cream, open the can of coconut milk and scoop out the firm layer coconut cream that has risen to the top of the can and put it in the chilled metal bowl. Do NOT scoop out any of the water left in the can, you want just the solids. You can use the leftover water for drinking/smoothies/whatever.
  3. Mix on high speed for 3-5 minutes using a hand mixer or mixing stand. You want soft peaks to form as you whip.
  4. Add in optional sugar/vanilla during the end stages of the whipping
  5. Keep unused mixture in the metal bowl and keep in fridge to re-whip before using again.
  6. For the trifle, we used two cans of coconut milk

And there you go. Now you know why we are so fat. Happy holidays!

This day in Lisa-Universe: 2011, 1998

To: Consume: Recipe – Guinness Steak Pie

[I started writing this post Sunday morning, with the intent of having the text finished while the meat was simmering in the slow cooker and adding photos as the meal progressed during the day. I discovered, however, when looking for photos from past meals to add to the post that I had NOT uploaded half of my photos from my trip to Scotland. I spent a better part of the afternoon color correcting and uploading five days worth of images to Flickr, from a trip taken 4.5 years ago. Considering I also just recently uploaded the remaining photos from my 2008 trip to England, at this rate, I’ll get the rest of the honeymoon pics up in 2013.]
In the early summer of 2006, several friends of mine and I travelled to Scotland for two weeks of Scottish bliss. Nearly every night during our stay, we would top our day off with a trip to Haymarket Pub, New Town, Edinburgh and after the pub, a trip to the local fish/chips/pizza/kebab/burger/chicken place.

At Haymarket, our home away from home away from home, we flirted with the staff, taught the bartenders how to make black’n’tans and lemon drops and ate at least one meal there a day. Our favorite meal, by far, was their Guinness Steak Pie served with mashed potatoes and peas.1 Darcee and I were so enamored of the meal that upon our return to U.S., we set to work on figuring out the recipe. The summer of 2006, in my itty, bitty kitchen on Norwood Ave., during an incredibly hot summer in which I also did not have A/C, we worked out the recipe and after a few tries, found an ingredient list that works.
In the nearly five years since our trip, I usually make Guinness Steak Pie once a season and usually timing it with a birthday or some sort of celebration. The meal, due to the cost and amount of beer and meat involved, can be fairly expensive2 and because the process can take several days, also very time consuming. To make Guinness Steak Pie, thus, involves planning and giving up your kitchen to a higher good for a few days. In the end, it is totally worth it.
Also during those five years, I have been the only person who has known the recipe from start to finish. I’ve hoarded the recipe close to my chest like crazy lady because it was a great trump card to entice people to visit or woo them if we just met. Plus it was also my “thing”! Everyone has a “thing” and mine was/is Lisa and her Guinness Steak Pie! When TheHusband and I started dating again, I wooed him with Guinness Steak Pie. When he would return to home to California after visiting me, he apparently bragged to his roommate about the deliciousness that is Guinness Steak Pie. Said roommate would ask for the recipe, TheHusband would ask me for it, I would say no and then TheHusband and I would get into an argument about the ideas behind freedom of information. He argued, and I do agree with, that information should be freely available.
Unless it’s Guinness Steak Pie and in that case, the rest of the world can go fuck itself. 🙂
Over the course of the last few years, as TheHusband and I would argue back and forth on this topic, I realized that hoarding the recipe AND then claiming to be a proponent of freedom of information was getting a bit ridiculous, so I decided that I would publish the recipe the next time I made it. And to be fair, I did parcel out the recipe to friends outside of the continental U.S., if that counts, which to me it does.
The pie can be cut into four large pieces or six normal sized pieces, served with mashed potatoes and accompanying gravy and a veg on the side. We recommend the veg to prevent scurvy. So here we are. Links in recipe to images on Flickr illustrating that step. Also consider this a rough draft of the presentation of the recipe since it’s done from memory. Corrections/edits will be notated when necessary. Please email or comment with suggestions/additions.
Guinness Steak Pie
Ingredients (Makes 1 pie.)
3lbs of beef roast
2 bottles of Guinness Extra Stout
1 packet of dried onion soup mix
2 Tbls corn starch
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Pastry dough for top/bottom crust
nRed skin potatoes
Sour cream
Veg (to prevent scurvy)
Step 1
Marinate beef roast in liquid from 2 bottles of Guinness, in the fridge, for a minimum of 12 hours. Recommend using a gallon sized bag and double wrapping the bag to prevent leaking. Meat should be submersed in the beer for best results so make sure meat is laid flat on the shelf.
Step 2
After minimum time marinating, transfer meat and beer into slow cooker. Add enough water to the beer mixture to cover the meat. Then add 1 packet of dried onion soup mix to the mixture. Turn slow cooker onto low for minimum of 8 hours. See notes for additional options.
Step 3
nOne hour before meat is done (minimum 7 hours), pull pie dough out of fridge to warm to room temperature. Clean and cut red skin potatoes for cooking. Transfer potatoes into a pot, with water to cover, onto stove.
Step 4
Preheat over to 400F.
Turn heat on under potatoes on stove to bring to boil.
After minimum of 8 hours, turn slow cooker off.
Line 9″ deep dish pie plate with bottom crust.
Pull roast from slow cooker onto a plate and shred. Pile shredded beef into pie plate.
Step 5
Pour liquid from slow cooker into a pot.
Turn on medium heat.
Add cornstarch to water to form liquid consistency then add to gravy mixture on stove.
nHeat until gravy thickens.
Step 6
Cover meat pie with gravy. Please note there will be EXTRA gravy left over, so you will not use it all.
Add top crust and vent crust, then put into pre-heated oven for 15-22 minutes until crust is golden.
Step 7
While pie is baking, potatoes should be done. Mash redskins with butter, milk and sour cream.
Heat up veg of choice (to prevent scurvy).
Step 8
Pull pie out of oven and let sit a few minutes.
Cut into 4-6 pieces.
Serve with mashed potatoes, veg and gravy.

  • The magic minimum time for marinating the meat is 12 hours. More is better, less doesn’t work as well.
  • The minimum slow cooking time is 8 hours on low, or 4-6 hours on auto then on low for remaining time. I’ve had it hang out in the slow cooker for up to 10 hours on low and have had great results, but minimum is 8.
  • 3lbs of roast will fill a 9″ deep dish pie plan with room for gravy.
  • I’ve made the pie with expensive AND cheap cuts of meat, with the same results. It was pointed out to me that the idea of marinating meat is not only to flavor the meat but to tenderize it, therefore cut of meat is irrelevant.
  • We’ve done pie dough by hand AND pre-made. Both work equally well.
  • The pie will keep in the fridge for a few days, but does not freeze well.
  • You could alternately put the cornstarch in with the meat while it’s slow cooking and make the gravy that way instead of doing it separately.
  • I also should note that a vegetarian friend has made this, swapping the beef for portabella mushrooms, and said it came out deliciously awesome.

1. I have yet to find a reasonable explanation for the Scots and their obsession with peas as evident by their serving it at Every. Single. Meal. The exception to that rule seems to be peas were of the mushy variety, of which I was able to track down cans of here locally in the summer of 2009.
2. This time around, roast was running at about $4/lb so it was $12 USD for the meat and $9 for the beer for a single meal, not including other ingredients.