Is anyone else jealous of the Food Network’s Rachael Ray? She’s beautiful, intelligent, creative, successful and she can cook! She’s actually the kind of woman we can use as an inspiration and a role model for women across the nation. She had her own share of hard knocks but did not let it stop her. The girl whose first word was “vino”, as a young woman saw an opportunity and acted on it, rather than sitting back and allowing her dreams fade into a distant memory.
Rachael Ray grew up in her mother’s Cape Cod restaurants with her siblings to make sure they did not have to be placed in the care of strangers while their parents were at work. Later in life she was mugged and beaten at gunpoint in her Queens apartment. She “high-tailed” it back to upstate New York and landed a job at a gourmet food store in Albany. She began to notice a trend with the store’s clientele – they preferred to leave with prepared foods rather than essential groceries. She developed the idea for Albany chefs to give 30-minute cooking lessons to help sales but not one went for the bait. She took it upon herself to teach the classes with the help of a local television station. This opened up a guest spot for her on the Today Show and the opportunity to publish her first best-selling book.
So you see Rachael Ray’s fame and success didn’t just fall in her lap. When she came up with good ideas, she ran with them even when no one else was anxious to support her. The Food Network got an eyeful of her on the Today Show and took her national. She told them, “You’re champagne, I’m beer out of the bottle,” but that suits their viewer’s tastes just fine. The ratings for her shows, 30-Minute Meals (right), $40 a Day and Tasty Travels are through the roof. Her magazine Everyday with Rachael Ray helps readers get on track with the lifestyle they enjoy.
Here is Rachael Ray’s amazing recipe for a spectacular shepherd’s pie:
Turkey Chili and Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie
2 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes (4 or 5), peeled & cut in cubes
Salt to taste
2 tsp. zest of orange
4 tbsp. butter, cut into pieces
1 cup creme fraiche (sour cream can be substituted)
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 lbs. fresh ground turkey
1 large onion, diced
2 small chili peppers, either jalapeño, red Fresno or serrano
1 red bell pepper, diced
2-3 large cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp. chili powder
1 tbsp. smoked sweet paprika
1 tbsp. ground cumin
1 tbsp.ground coriander (a palmful)
1/4 cup tomato paste
2-3 cups turkey or chicken stock
2 cups shredded shredded cheddar cheese (sharp)
In a large pot, cover with sweet potatoes with water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Add salt to the water and cook the potatoes until tender, maybe 12-15 minutes. Drain and return the sweet potatoes to the warm pot. Add the zest, butter, creme fraiche or sour cream and salt, pepper and nutmeg, all to taste.
While you are waiting for the sweet potatoes to boil, heat a chili pot with olive oil over medium-high to high heat. Add the turkey and brown. Now you can add the onion and cook for 2-3 minutes. Dice the peppers, and then add them, along with the minced garlic, to the browned turkey. Stir in the spices. Add the salt and pepper, to your taste. Cook for another 8-10 minutes. Now stir in the tomato paste and cook for another minute. Add in the stock and simmer a few minutes to combine the flavors. Allow the sauce to thicken.
Pre-heat the broiler.
Transfer everything in the chili pot to a casserole dish. Spread the sweet potatoes evenly over the top and cover with the shredded sharp cheddar cheese. Brown under the broiler until golden but not crispy and serve to your hungry fans!
For more recipes by Rachael Ray you can visit her website: www.RachaelRay.com