This trip to London was very low key for the most part. More about spending quality time with my daughter than sightseeing or socializing, although I did manage to squeeze in a fair bit of the later, along with plenty of fun playing games, going to movies, and shopping with Tatjana.

Maria Grachvogel show back in the day

Maria Grachvogel show back in the day

Fashion week was in full tilt when I arrived, so of course I grabbed dinner with one of my all time favorite designers, Maria Grachvogel, and finally met her adorable son, Ansel. Before dinner, I managed a quick drink with Genlux editor at large, Amanda Elisach at the Ivy Chelsea, where I was also thrilled to bump into Johnny and Jan Gold who were back in London briefly for author Jackie Collin’s funeral.

Jake and Irene's dinner party for John Benson

Jake and Irene’s dinner party for John Benson in their lovely home

Jake Panayiotou and his gorgeous wife Irene threw a dinner in honor of our friend, John Benson who has been seriously ill. A magical evening where the decades melted away instantaneously as the old posse (including Yasmin LeBon, Danny Huston, and my old partner in crime, Jeanette Calliva en famille) picked up where we last left off. Fond memories, deep belly laughs, and an evening none of us will ever forget. We love you John!

Justine's birthday party

Justine’s birthday party

Next it was a different kind of celebration of the decades – a major birthday celebration for, actress Justine Glenton at the Electric in Notting Hill. I just met Justine in Los Angeles when she starred in Amanda’s film The Gun, The Cake, And The Butterfly a couple years ago, so you could have knocked me over with a feather to find long lost friend Boo Beggs, aka artist, Eleni Gagoushi (we met back in the Kajagoogoo days so she will always be Boo to me) at Justine’s party. What a small world!

Lula at the Half Moon

Lula at the Half Moon

Tatjana and I celebrated our last evening together catching Boo’s uber talented daughter, Lula perform at the Half Moon in Putney. What a “RIP VanWinkle moment” as my memory flashed back to the days in that studio in the Cotswolds where Tatjana’s father and Colin Thurston produced Kajagoogoo’s first album, and now here I was watching the next generation…

… thinking how cool it would be to see Lula open for Duran Duran on their UK tour in December. The icing on the cake? Bumping into Pat Cash, son Shanon all grown up and handsome, and proud papa Nick Beggs at the gig. I’ll leave you with one of my favorite traditionally Brit recipes…

Shepherd's Pie

Shepherd’s Pie

Americans tend to confuse shepherd’s pie with cottage pie. The easy way to remember which is which is to think about the title – shepherds tend to sheep, so shepherd’s pie is the one with lamb and cottage pie is made with beef. Use this same recipe to make a cottage pie by simply substituting beef for the lamb.

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

Meat and vegetable filling

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 1 large carrot peeled and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 14.5 ounces canned diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the mashed potato topping

  • 2 pounds potatoes peeled and chopped into large chunks
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 ounces sharp cheddar cheese grated (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Meat and vegetable filling

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F.
  2. Heat oil in a large nonstick sauté pan. Add onion and carrot and cook until softened and onion is transparent, 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add lamb, bay leaf, thyme, diced tomatoes, and salt and pepper, stirring well, breaking up the lamb with the back of the spoon, until browned all over, 5-8 minutes.
  3. Add flour, stir and cook for 2 minutes. Add broth and Worcestershire sauce, and peas. Deglaze pan by scraping up the gooey bits on the bottom, and stirring constantly until thickened, 2-3 minutes. Remove bay leaf and pour into a casserole dish.

For the mashed potato topping

  1. Meanwhile, boil the potatoes until soft when pierced with a fork, 10-12 minutes, drain. Add milk, butter, egg yolk, and salt and pepper to taste, and mash until smooth. Spread potatoes over meat mixture in casserole dish and mark with spatula. Sprinkle with cheese and herbs if desired. If not eating right away, I generally cool and store in the refrigerator or freezer at this point.
  2. Place in 400° F preheated oven and bake until hot and bubbly, and the surface and golden brown.

Serving Suggestions

This is really a one dish meal in itself, but you could add more vegetables on the side or a green salad if you desire.

Heat To Eat

Preheat oven to 400° F. Bake the shepherd's pie in the preheated oven until hot and bubbly, and the surface and golden brown.

Variations

Use ground beef instead of lamb to make a cottage pie, or be adventurous and try your own mixture of meat, poultry, and vegetables - for instance I make a delicious turkey-mushroom cottage pie.

« Previous PostNext Post »