DEAR SOS: I had the good fortune of dining at the Penny Farthing Tavern in Salinas, Calif., and was absolutely enchanted with my entree, cottage pie. I can't imagine what seasonings were used in the filling, which was covered with a layer of mashed potatoes. But it was so good that I'd love to enjoy it again, at home.
DEAR LORRAINE: Does curry powder ring a bell? Cottage pie is one of those soothing, old-fashioned, low-cost, easy-to-make casseroles. Incidentally, don't be alarmed by the amount of curry powder used in the recipe; sharpness of flavor depends on it. But if it sounds like more than your palate can handle, reduce the amount by a third.
PENNY FARTHING COTTAGE PIE
2 onions, finely chopped
3 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon minced garlic
3 pounds ground beef
1 cup tomato puree
1 1/2 teaspoons beef base
1/3 to 1/2 cup curry powder
1 cup dry bread crumbs
6 large potatoes, cooked
1/2 cup milk
Saute onions in 1/2 tablespoon butter until transparent. Add garlic and beef and cook until crumbly and browned, about 10 minutes. Add tomato puree, beef base, curry powder and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook until meat is thoroughly cooked and crumbly, about 20 minutes.
Stir bread crumbs into meat mixture thoroughly. Remove excess fat. Peel and mash potatoes with remaining 3 tablespoons butter, milk and season to taste with salt and pepper. Layer meat in casserole. Top with mashed potatoes, peaking ends slightly. Bake at 350 degrees 30 minutes to heat through. Broil 3 minutes to brown tips of potatoes.
DEAR SOS: I would love the recipe for crustelli. It's a light, deep-fried flaky pastry that melts in your mouth and is wonderful with coffee.
DEAR LEE: This light-as-a-cloud pastry (low-cost too) goes a long way when entertaining a crowd. You can make these a few hours before serving, but not much sooner, because they lose crispness if they stand too long. Incidentally, the reader who requested the recipe for Chinese bow ties will find these quite similar.
5 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon rum
5 tablespoons sour cream
1 1/2 cups flour
Oil or shortening for deep frying
Beat egg yolks with salt until thick and lemon-colored. Add rum and continue to beat. Add sour cream and flour alternately, mixing well after each addition. Knead dough on floured board until blistered.
Cut dough in half. Roll each half out about 1/16 inch thick and cut with pastry cutter into strips, about 6 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide. Cut lengthwise slit in center of each strip and pull 1 end through slit.
Fry in deep hot oil or shortening until lightly browned. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle generously with powdered sugar. Makes about 25 cookies.
DEAR SOS: I'm desperate. My husband's birthday is coming up in a couple of weeks and I've misplaced his favorite recipe: Frank Sinatra's Sausage and Peppers.
Dear Celeste: Here it is--Frank's way.
FRANK SINATRA'S SAUSAGE AND PEPPERS
3 green peppers
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound hot Italian sausage links
1/3 cup red wine
Remove stems and seeds from green peppers and cut into large chunks. Heat olive oil in baking dish that can be used on top of stove. Add and saute green peppers until tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove green peppers and set aside.
Brown sausages in same baking dish. Add red wine. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees 40 minutes. Uncover and add sauteed green peppers. Bake additional 30 minutes and serve in same baking dish. Makes 4 servings.