Don’t have an ingredient? Use something else

Getting out a cookbook, finding a recipe and discovering you’re out of something doesn’t have to be the end of the world. | Getty Images

Getting out a cookbook, finding a recipe and discovering you’re 
out of something doesn’t have to be the end of the world

The following recipe originally came from an Australian friend, but as my aunt often said, when I got finished with it the list of ingredients had changed somewhat.

She called it beef cottage pie and I normally refer to it as shepherd’s pie, even though true shepherd’s pie is made with lamb or mutton.

I cut the recipe in half when making it for the two of us.

Beef broth can be used instead of consommé soup, but I prefer the flavour of the consommé. Recently, when I made it I had no sour cream so used Greek yogurt.

Beef cottage pie

  • 1 tbsp. canola oil 15 mL
  • 2 cups diced onion 500 mL
  • 8 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 celery stalks diced
  • 2 medium carrots diced
  • 2 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. flour 22 mL
  • 2 10-oz. cans beef consommé 2×275 mL
  • 5.5 oz. tomato paste 160 mL
  • 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce 15 mL
  • pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary 10 mL
  • 1/2 c. peas 125 mL
  • Potato topping:
  • 2 lb. potatoes, chopped 900 g
  • salt
  • 1/4 c. sour cream 80 mL
  • 2 tbsp. butter 30 mL
  • 2 tbsp. horseradish 30 mL
  • 2/3 c. grated cheddar cheese 160 mL

Heat oil in large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, celery and carrots and cook for five minutes or until softened. Add beef and cook until browned. Add flour and cook for one minute.

Stir in remaining ingredients. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 30 minutes or until thickened. Spoon mixture into large, greased casserole dish.

To make the potato topping, place potatoes in large saucepan, cover with water. Add a pinch of salt. Cook, partially covered for about 15 minutes or until cooked; drain well.

Mash potatoes with a potato masher. Add sour cream, butter and horseradish. Stir with fork until smooth. Spread over ground beef. Sprinkle with cheese.

Bake 375 F oven for about 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

I’m sure everyone with a garden has lots of rhubarb on hand now. When I heard a frost warning earlier this year, I used some more fresh rhubarb from the garden to make a blueberry-rhubarb crumble for dessert. Big juicy blueberries were on sale when I slipped to town for milk this morning.

Blueberry-rhubarb crumble

  • 6 c. fresh or frozen unsweetened blueberries 1.5 L
  • 4 c. fresh or frozen rhubarb 1 L
  • 1 c. white sugar 250 mL
  • 1/4 c. all-purpose flour 60 mL


  • 1 c. quick cooking oats 250 mL
  • 1 c. packed brown sugar 250 mL
  • 1/2 c. all-purpose flour 125 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg 2.5 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon 2.5 mL
  • 1/2 c. cold butter 125 mL

Preheat oven to 350 F. In large bowl, combine blueberries, rhubarb, sugar and flour. Transfer to a greased 13- by 9-inch baking dish.

For topping, in a large bowl combine oats, brown sugar, flour, nutmeg and cinnamon, cut in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over fruit mixture.

Bake 45-55 minutes or until the fruit is bubbly and topping is golden brown. Let cool 10 minutes.

My family likes it served with whipped cream or ice cream. This recipe can be converted to gluten free by using a gluten-free flour and cornstarch for thickening.

I’ve made these muffins numerous times and the other morning I decided to use butter because I was out of margarine. I thought the muffins were delicious before but I think butter even improves the taste.

Cinnamon rhubarb muffins

  • 2 c. flour 500 mL
  • 3/4 c. white sugar 175 mL
  • 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder 12 mL
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon 5 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda 2.5 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 2.5 mL
  • 1 c. sour cream or sour milk 250 mL
  • 1/2 c. melted butter 125 mL
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla 5 mL
  • 2 c. diced rhubarb 500 mL

Combine dry ingredients.

Whisk together margarine, eggs, sour cream and vanilla.

Combine both together. Do not over mix.

Gently stir in rhubarb. Batter will be thick. Fill muffins tins almost full.

Make a topping of three tablespoons white sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Sprinkle over muffins.

Bake at 400 F for 18-23 minutes until golden brown.

Let cool in pan for five minutes. Makes 14 muffins.

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