{Around The World In 12 Dishes} United Kingdom | Shepherd’s Pie

March 4, 2012 in All Posts, Play, Toddler Activities

Welcome to Around The World in 12 Dishes!

Starting this month, we – and 12 other amazing bloggers and their children – will be taking you on a culinary adventure around the world, exploring 12 different countries in 12 months by cooking one dish from one country each month with our kids.

This project is a great way to explore taste and smell, in addition to learning about different cultures, and honing your children’s food awareness and culinary appreciation.

I hope you’ll join us, Adventures In Mommydom, Creative Family Fun, Glittering Muffins, Juggling with Kids, Keeping Life Creative, Kitchen Counter Chronicles, Make, Do & Friends, Mom 2 Posh Little Divas, Mummymummymum, Rainy Day Mum, Red Ted Art, and The Educators’ Spin On It on our delicious journey!  Remember to link up your recipe or craft each month and grab our badge, too!

Full instructions on how to join the fun below, but first, here’s our recipe for Shepherd’s Pie, a dish from this month’s country:  the United Kingdom.  I decided to follow Nigella Lawson’s Simple Shepherd Pie recipe, but added my secret weapon bestowed upon me by my Irish mother-in-law (that’s Irish, not British) – Bisto.

Bisto makes everything so yummy, and you can get it on Amazon if you can’t find it at a specialty grocers.  (I also checked out Rachel Ray’s 30 Minute Shepherd’s Pie recipe, but somehow using an American recipe didn’t seem right).

This was a great recipe to make with the kids.  They were so proud to make a special dinner for Daddy and show off that they had chopped, cooked, and mashed everything.  And Daddy exclaimed that the Shepherd’s Pie was “kick ass” and as good as any he’s ever had – which means it is pretty darn good since he’s consumed his fair share of these.

Shepherd’s Pie

Adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Simple Shepherd Pie recipe


  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • 1 carrot (chopped)
  • 1 garlic clove (chopped)
  • dried thyme (fresh, if you have it)
  • dried rosemary (fresh, if you have it)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 pound ground beef (or substitute with lamb)
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp Bisto (or 2 tbsp, if you’d like)
  • 350 ml organic chicken stock
  • 2 lbs potatoes (cubed)


Step 1

Heat your oil and garlic in a large pan, then add your carrots, onions and herbs and cook until softened.  Let your child help stir, if you’re comfortable.  I let Jane (3 years old) stir, while I braced her against me, so she could learn the importance of stirring carefully, being aware of fire and the possibility of being burned, and how fun it is to cook your own meals.

If you don’t want your child to have anything to do with the cooking part, let them in on the prep.  I gave Jane a basically blunt cheese/spread knife and let her try to chop our ingredients.  She also learned to peel an onion – a first – and that onions make you cry – another first.

Sam ate his way through the whole process.  Surprise there.

Step 2

Raise the heat and add your ground beef, stirring constantly until the meat is browned.  You can season the meat with salt and pepper if you wish.

Step 3

Add the flour, tomato puree, and Worcestershire sauce (and my secret ingredient if you have it!), and stir well.  Again, let your child pour in the ingredients or measure them out, if you’re comfortable.

Step 4

Gradually add your chicken stock, bringing the mixture to a boil, before leaving to simmer for about 40-50 minutes.

While your meat is simmering, chop up your potatoes and boil them until tender in some salted water.  Most people peel their potatoes for mash, but we like to keep the skin on for extra nutrients and texture.

*Tip:  Don’t skimp on the mash!  I did this along with Jane and Sam, so I ran out of time before I could chop up all the potatoes before they started poking into everything.  You can see in the first and last photos that the meat seeped through the mash layer and this was rather meat heavy instead of evenly split between the meat and potatoes.

When your potatoes are cooked, mash away.  I let Jane mash the potatoes while they were still in the super hot pot.  I placed a trivet on the floor and cautioned her against touching the pot because she would get burned.  Of course, I supervised her the whole time because it easy for little minds to forget and they’ll want to reach out to hold the pot for stability.  If you have two or more children, make sure someone can supervise them individually as well.  I had Sam (21 months) up in his high chair away from this activity.

This was one of Jane’s favorite parts.  Her face lit up with utter glee at being able to pound and squish something without repercussion.

Step 5

Put the meat mixture into an oven proof dish and spoon a thick layer of the mash onto the meat.  I added an extra layer of thawed peas and carrots before putting on the mash, and just a tiny sprinkling of shredded cheddar cheese.  Your children can easily help with this part.

Step 6

Bake on 400F/200C for about 30-40 minutes until the mash and/or the cheese is light golden.

More fun facts on the UK

  • Typical Dishes For The UK:  Bangers & Mash, Yorkshire Pudding, Shepherd’s Pie, Custard, Apple Crumble
  • Online fun: Check out www.paddingtonbear.com, where you can find some fun printable and online activities from the much loved and well known Paddington bear.
  • Fun fact:  The UK is one of the rare countries to host the summer Olympics twice – the second time will be this summer.
  • For this month’s book, how about A Walk in London, recommended by Maggy of Red Ted Art.

    “I love love LOVE this book!  As a Londoner I have been looking forward to “showing my children” London for a long time. We have seen Big Ben and the London Eye. Seen the Thames, Tower Bridge and driven past The Tower of London. And we always exclaim “look, that is xyz, look”.. and I think sometimes Red Ted just doesn’t know what we are on about… Read more here


How You Can Join Us

  • Cook a dish typically eaten in the Country of the Month.  The goal is to explore each month’s country through food (and an activity or craft, if you wish).  Help your child make a traditional or typical dish (sweet or savory) from the chosen country.
  • Print your passport.  Click here to download a passport, which comes with space for a photo of your child with the dish she cooked.
  • Color a placemat.  Click here to download the placement.  You can laminate it or put it between clear contact paper in order to use it over and over.
  • Make a craft.  Have your child make a craft related to the country of the month.
  • Read a book.  Read a book about the country of the month with your children to help them explore the sights, people, food, and culture.
  • Share with us.  Our challenge starts on March 4th and will remain open for a year, so enter the linky party at the end of every month’s post, leave a comment, or post a photo on our Facebook page.
  • Pin.  If you share a photo with us, we will add your photo to one of our “Around the World in 12 Dishes” Pinterest Boards (one for the dishes, one for the crafts) so that you can share your experience and inspire us all!
  • Are you a blogger?  Let your readers know about the challenge and grab our cute button to share our challenge on your blog.  And, of course, anyone is welcome to participate!


Around the World in 12 Dishes
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Check back April 1st for our next destination!

Happy Cooking!

Parents and friends: for more ideas, activities, and inspiration for #RaisingThinkingKids, click on an icon below to join us on Facebook, Pinterest, Google+ and Twitter.

Fellow bloggers: join me at Bloggy Law, where you’ll find Simple Tips for Bulletproofing Your Brand and Blog and I’ll help you navigate the social media legal landscape a little more smoothly.

Chrissy – who has written posts on The Outlaw Mom® Blog – Creative Living in a Conventional World.

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