I possess the world’s worst hands for handling pastry. Fact. These hot hams won’t be churning out mille feuille any time soon.
So I tried my best at one of these recipe ideas from BakingMad using simple old short crust. I made a few changes to make sure the meat was completely tender and gave it a cheese-flavoured savoury pastry that just finished it off nicely. I handled the dough as little as possible and it seemed to turn out OK. It made a rich, savoury stewy pie that left me licking the bowl.
I’ve freezed a whole bunch of it so I can look forward to more pies over the next few weeks.
Based on a recipe from Baking Mad
Steak and mushroom pie (makes 6 individual pies):
For the pastry
250g plain white flour
100g cold butter, diced
25g cheddar, grated
1 egg, beaten
Splash of milk
For the filling
1kg casserole beef (such as braising, shin, blade), diced
1 onion, thickly sliced
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons flour
500ml beef stock
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
400g mushrooms, thickly sliced
- First make the pastry. Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the cheese, then add the egg and enough milk to bring it all together. Try not to mess about with it too much, but press enough so that it comes together. When it forms a ball wrap in cling film and store in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.
- Get a large lidded casserole on a high heat, add a splash of oil and brown the beef all over. Do this in batches as necessary so as not to crowd the pan.
- Lower the heat and add the onions and carrots. Cook until the onions are lightly browned, then stir in the flour. After a minute put the heat back up and add a little of the stock, scraping up all the crusty bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the remaining stock and all the other ingredients, pop a lid on and leave to simmer for about 2 hours, or until the beef is tender. If it’s a little watery at this point, take the lid off and ramp the heat up to reduce it down.
- Spoon the beef filling into dishes you’ll eventually cook the pies in. Allow to cool before adding the pastry, otherwise it’ll be all soggy underneath (eurgh).
- Roll out the pastry as thin as you like and press on to your pie dishes. Press around the edges with a fork and slash the middle to allow the steam to escape. At this point you can freeze the pies (defrost thoroughly before baking).
- If you’re eating now, get the oven on 180°C and brush the pies with milk. Bake for 30 mins or until the pastry is golden and risen.
This is largely based on a recipe from Jamie’s 30-Minute Meals (yes, I still haven’t cooked them all) but without the crazy Ryvita-apple salad (?). I’ll be honest: the only reason I made it was to have a squirly-whirly sausage which somehow makes me grin more than regular daisy-chained sausages. But the leek gravy is the surprise star, all sweet and silky. I’ve added a dollop of creme fraiche to make it even more smooth and tasty. Great stuff as the nights draw in.
Catherine wheel sausage with leek gravy (serves 4):
12 linked chipolatas
1 large teaspoon dried sage
500g potatoes, peeled and diced
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 leeks, quartered and sliced
1 chicken stock cube
1 tablespoon flour
1 heaped teaspoon wholegrain mustard
1 tablespoon creme fraiche
- Get the grill on medium, and two lidded saucepans on a low heat. Fill one of the pans with boiling water, add the potatoes and garlic, a large pinch of salt and get them simmering away.
- Allow the sausages to unravel and squidge the meat together so you get one long sausage as opposed to lots of links. Push a couple of skewers through the sausage to hold it in place. Douse with olive oil and sprinkle with half the sage. Pop under the grill for 10 minutes.
- Chuck the leeks along with some olive oil and the remaining sage into the other pan and a splash of boiling water, then clamp the lid on. Let these whistle away for 5 minutes until tender, then sprinkle in the stock cube and flour. Stir well and when well combined add the cider. After a minute or two bubbling away top up with the same amount of hot water and simmer.
- Flip the sausage over for a further 5 minutes or so until browned. In the meantime check the potatoes are cooked through; when done drain well and add the butter and mustard. Allow to sit for a minute and then mash until it’s a smooth as you like. Check for seasoning.
- Take the leek gravy off the heat and whisk in the creme fraiche. Serve up the sausages with a pile of mash and drown with leeky gravy.
One of my favourite dishes from an Indian takeaway, among the mighty lamb balti, brilliant onion bhaji and cracking keema naan, is the humble sag aloo. Spinach and potato. What springs to mind are buttery, savoury bright yellow nuggets of firm potato streaked with iron-y spinach. Yum.
But I’ve never managed to recreate it successfully at home. In a moment of weakness the other day I picked up a packet of Schwartz Bombay Potato mix somehow assuming it would be any good. It smells the part and trying it neat it’s interesting (and bl**dy spicy!) but not really what I’m after. The recipe I used is on the Schwartz link and yet after 30 mins additional cooking the potatoes were only just done.
After whining on Twitter Shauna put me on to this recipe which sounds like the business. I’ll be trying it soon.
BUT – I have an idea for the leftovers. Watch this space…
[There is supposed to be a photo here, but once I'd seen it I couldn't inflict it on your poor eyes. It was an awful abomination unto lenses. It did however taste great.]
The lovely people at Frank PR sent me some Onken Sicilian Lemon Yoghurt to try. Trying it neat it’s has a wicked tang, properly lemony. Really nice texture too that coats the tongue. But I couldn’t leave it at that, I thought it would taste perfect in a cheesecake. The version I’ve made has a jelly topping which is completely optional but just gives it one more tart edge. Zestilicious!
Lemon yoghurt cheesecake (makes about 8 servings):
200g shortbread biscuits
1 450g pot Onken Sicilian Lemon yoghurt
300g cream cheese
1 tablespoon icing sugar
Juice of 2 lemons
1 gelatine leaf
50g caster sugar
- Bash the shortbread to dust and melt the butter. Combine to form a sticky paste and put it in the bottom of a pie dish. Bung in the fridge while you carry on.
- Combine the icing sugar and cream cheese and beat in the yoghurt until smooth. Put this on top of the biscuit base and return to the fridge.
- Snip the gelatine into bits and soak in the lemon juice on a heatproof bowl. After 10 minutes add the sugar and a splash of water, and sit on top of a saucepan of simmering water. Stir continuously until all the gelatine has dissolved, then pour on to the yoghurt base.
- Pop in the freezer for an hour, then transfer to the fridge for another hour or overnight if you can. Serve once the jelly has set.
A rare evening alone; everyone had disappeared to bed. So I did what every self-respecting man does: catch up on recorded TV, eat crisps and er, flick through the latest cookbook. I’d been sent a copy of Hungry?, the third recipe book from the cheeky chaps at Innocent. It’s a family-friendly cookbook, with loads of great reliable recipes made from decent ingredients. I’ll certainly be featuring a few in the coming weeks. The layout reminds me a bit of Leon’s which is no bad thing (it was my favourite cookbook of last year after all); a scrapbook of memories, stories and kooky odds and ends that give the book real character.
One particular recipe struck me in this witching hour of being exactly what I wanted right at that minute, and I don’t think there can be any greater validation for a recipe book. Essentially, naughty late-night milkshake.
To celebrate the release of their new book, Innocent are sending a van around London all this weekend, selling food from recipes straight from the book. Check out where it is on their Facebook page. If you’re in the area, why not check them out?
Boozy milk (serves 1):
2 capfuls rum
1 teaspoon honey
Cinnamon to taste
- Heat up the milk, rum and honey in a saucepan until warm. Whisk briskly, pour into a mug and dust with cinnamon.
I’d made some cholent (a stew of brisket, pearl barley, beans, onions and paprika) recently and had about half left over. I put my super thrifty hat on and decided to split the meat away from the pulses and freeze them separately, giving me two goes at the leftovers. With some uncooked pearl barley knocking about as well I thought I would try a pearl barley risotto, a first for me.
I asked for some advice too late – the ever helpful Fuss Free Flavours recommended I soak the grains beforehand. Unfortunately I was making it that night! Luckily I had time to spare.
And what a treat it was. Really hearty, which is fortunate in these gloomy September evenings, and full of flavour. The pearl barley was plump with still a bit of bite, the beef still rich and tasty. Well worth the effort.
Beef and mushroom pearl barley risotto (serves 4):
6 rashers streaky bacon
2 onions, diced
1 celery stick, diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 sprig of rosemary, leaves finely chopped
250g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
180g pearl barley
4 tablespoons Marsala
300g cooked brisket, shredded
1 litre beef stock
- Heat a little oil in a deep casserole with a lid. Fry the bacon until browned and then add the onions, celery and carrot. Cook slowly for 5 or so minutes until the veg starts to soften.
- Add the rosemary, garlic and mushrooms and fry for another few minutes until the mushrooms start to get tender. Turn the heat up high and add the Marsala. Once it has all but evaporated, stir in the pearl barley and cook for a minute to coat in all the lovely flavours.
- Add the beef and the stock, simmer and cover for 45 minutes until the barley is tender. If the barley’s cooked but it’s still very liquidy in there, crank the heat up and boil away unlidded until it’s a little less juicey. Check for seasoning. If you have some parsley it would be really nice stirred through as you serve.
Flushed with the success of Simon Hopkinson’s stunning lamb breast dish, I felt the only way it could be improved is with the addition of curry spices. The Indian flavours I felt would surely go well with rich lamb. At the same time I stumbled upon other people doing the same dish, such as Girl Interrupted Eating. She’d chosen to do this in the slow cooker so I thought I’d do the same. I asked if she’d fried the onions off beforehand, as in my experience onions aren’t good at breaking down in a slow cooker. However in my haste I got on and cooked them off anyway, before Becky could reply that she didn’t!
Mine turned out very nice – warming and spiced and just breaking through the fatty lamb. It kinda tasted like it had been baked in mango chutney. Juicy and filling, not what you’d call a light dinner! Good fun though.
Curried lamb breast baked with onions (serves 4):
800g lamb breast
3 onions, sliced
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 large bunch of fresh coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon chilli powder
6 curry leaves
- Pre-heat your slow cooker to low.
- Heat a little oil in a large frying pan and sear the lamb on each side. Put to one side while you fry the onions gently.
- Remove the leaves from the coriander bunch and reserve for later. Put the stalks on a chopping board with the garlic and ginger and chop together to a chunky paste. When the onions have softened add the coriander / garlic / ginger mix. Fry for a minute and then add all the spices, frying for another minute.
- Add half the onion mix to the slow cooker, pop the lamb on top then add the remaining onions. Add a splash of water and pop the lid on for about 6 hours, or until the lamb can be pushed apart with a spoon.
- Remove the lamb to the side for one minute so you can remove any bones or gummy bits of skin ‘n’ stuff that lamb breast can have. Pop a sieve on a saucepan and put the onions into the sieve. Put the lamb and drained onions with a sprinkle of salt back into the slow cooker while you work on the reserved liquid.
- Simmer the liquid until reduced by half, add a dash of white wine vinegar and the coriander leaves. Dish up the lamb and onions, spoon over the sauce and serve with crispy cauliflower.