I used to wake up every morning before 6 am, drive to the gym so I could be there before the freshly-showered, fully glossed and flossed beauty queens could monopolize the treadmills, work out, drive back home, get ready for work, drive to work, actually work (like, really work, not blog), leave work, get home late, pour myself a home-cooked bowl of Special K, and devour it standing over the sink in my kitchen watching CNN and The Daily Show before collapsing into bed, just to start the wicked cycle all over again in a mere five hours. Sliced bananas, too, if I was feeling extra-special creative, and the bananas I bought a week and half ago haven’t fermented into Chiquita wine.
As much as I loved the utter control and rhythmic method, it was madness. I got sick of the monotony. Even when I changed it up a little with Total, then with Cinnamon Toast Crunch, in the end, it was all a bunch of flakes. I resolved to make real food for dinner at the end of the day, even if it meant I would be standing over the stove half-asleep, a wooden spoon propping up my drooping head so I didn’t singe my non-existent eyebrows off my face.
If I were efficient, I wouldn’t have to make drastic alterations to the Monday-through-Friday, 6 am to 10 pm part of my life. I could schmooze and cruise the Sunday morning farmers’ markets, read the paper over brunch, then make a gargantuan portion of some delicious dish on every lazy Sunday afternoon. During the week, all I would have to do is just reheat the leftovers, thus saving me from a straight five very Special nights. Brilliant! Too bad that I went from five straight nights of Special K to five straight nights of the same whatever it was I made on Sunday. In the grand game of hopscotch called “life,” I had skipped right back to square one.
Enter: Puff Daddy...er, I mean, Puffy...or is it P. Diddy? Right, it’s just...Diddy.
Diddy ain’t got diddly on this uber-urban, uber-slick DJ. She’s a Delicious Jockey, and sorry Mr. Combs, she invented the remix.
With the help of a University of Chicago economist, I made my very own beef stew. The beauty of home-cooked beef stew, though, isn’t that it sends Dinty Moore to Aisle 11 with Alpo and Science Diet. The beauty of beef stew is that it's beef stew one day, and then can be "remixed" a few times through the week. You can still have the satisfaction of cooking from scratch all day on Sunday, and do a re-heat with a tweak to eat during the week. (Yes! She’s a rhymer-ess, too!)
Remember when you used to buy “singles?” I do. I even remember when I used to buy singles on cassette tapes. LOL! Side A would have the original, extended recording of the song, and side B would have the abbreviated Radio Edit, censored of any and all expletives, as well as the DivaDance Mix, DJ Skribble’s SuperClub Mix that had no lyrics, and Moby’s UltraChilled Mix, just in case you wanted to do yoga to U2’s Sweetest Thing. I’ll be honest, I loved buying singles for the remixes, DJ Skribble included or otherwise.
I re-mixed the beef stew into a simple beef pot pie, but it wasn’t just the regular radio edit with a flaky pastry crust. We did the Mega Mashed Potato Mix and the Drop Bass Biscuit Mix. I’m just sort of crazy like that. Especially when it come to pot pies, baby.
Before placing the beef stew into the ramekins, I had to add a few ingredients to make them work a little better for a pot pie filling. Stew loses some of its "gravy," as it chills out in the refrigerator, so I reheated the stew on the stove top and added a bit more beef stock. This is also a good time to really let your mad scratching skillz shine by adding red wine, a little beer, or even cream (but be prepared for a very weird beige-colored beef filling if you use cream).
Like a traditional shepherd's pie (though shepherd's pie filling is made with lamb and different vegetables), spoon creamy mashed potatoes on top of the beef filling. I felt a little ooh-la-la so I piped the mashed potatoes into a spiral. Ohmigod! Could this metaphor work any better?! It looks like a record!
The crumbly drop biscuit topping is similar to many of the southern homestyle chicken pot pies that simply have biscuit dough plopped on top (technically, doesn’t that make it a chicken pot cobbler?). I made the biscuit dough by whisking together 1 c. all-pupose flour with 1¼ tsp. baking powder and a pinch of salt, cutting in 3 Tbsp. diced cold butter, and bringing it together with ½ c. milk. That's enough to cover two small ramekins.
The third pie got the traditional flaky pastry topping. It’s the same as any pie crust, minus the sugar. Or, hell, you can leave the sugar in there if you want, you crazy kitten.
I thought about puff pastry as a fourth top, but puff pastry works for frou frou pot pies like ones made with ooh-la-la lobster, but didn't seem at all appropriate for a hearty beef filling.
Bake all of them in a 425-degree oven for just under 15 minutes.
Who wins the pot pie pastry dance-off?! Three way tie.