Oh what a week it’s been. I know, I know, it’s Monday so what on earth am I moaning about the week for? Well I guess I mean last week. Everything seems to be breaking in the house. The fridge died. (I think I have resurrected it – keeping everything crossed). The drains are blocked. The house needs cleaning. The children are tired. I am tired. No-one is sleeping well. It feels like the Gods of unrest have visited the house and here we are, all miserable and just about hanging on. I need to muster something other than this low level malaise – it’s infecting the bricks and mortar of the house. READ MORE
Happy Boxing Day! I am on The Saturday Show on Channel 5 today at 9am making recipes to use up leftovers. We simply didn’t have time to make this pie live on air but I wanted to post it up. It’s mighty useful when the leftovers mountain feels too steep to climb, as it get leftovers out of the fridge and safely stowed away in the freezer for another day. READ MORE
I can’t stop for long. This is a quick one as we’re decorating the sitting room. Yes! I know, how stupid do two adults have to be to decorate in the week before Christmas? Very, is the answer. Anyway, it’ll all look beautiful on the big day for the 10 people we are catering for. I of course will be crying from exhaustion and chipping pollyfilla from my nails. What can I say… I am not Deliciously Ella. READ MORE
Now I made a similar pie to this on This Morning and it was easy, oh so easy. You just stirred it on the hob, covered it in raw sliced potatoes, covered it and left it in the oven until your stomach couldn’t stand waiting any longer. It was a week night pie that everyone likes. My 9 month old son especially loved it and started to jump in his high chair when faced with a plate of lamby potatoey pea based goodness.
But I know you lot. I know that although you like fuss free recipes, you’re also the types to like a bit more of a challenge. I know you do buy puff pastry, but also reserve the right to make your own pie coverings when the mood takes you. So this is the weekend version of the one I made on This Morning. The lamb is stewed that little bit longer for depth of flavour. The pie lid isn’t potato, it’s flaky homemade rough puff. The stuff I made on the Bake Off that made Paul Hollywood say something vaguely positive about one of my bakes. I urge you to make it. Go on…
I made this pie using the Kenwood Chef Sense which is available here. The full video of the recipe is below and can also be viewed here, plus some top tips on getting really crisp pastry without a soggy bottom in sight here.
Place the butter (apart from 50g of it) and lard into the freezer an hour before you start making the pastry.
Preheat the oven to 160C/gas mark 3. To make the pie filling toss the lamb in the flour, black pepper and salt. Heat the oil in a pan on a medium heat and fry the lamb in 3 batches to brown, being careful not to overcrowd the pan. Remove from the pan and add to a casserole dish with a fitted lid.
Dice the onion using the Kenwood and fry in the remaining oil until just starting to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the stock, mint, thyme and nutmeg and allow to simmer for 2 minutes before pouring into the casserole dish. Add the lid and oven bake for 2 hours, stirring every 20 minutes or so.
Put your flour into the mixer bowl and add the 50g of room temperature butter , using the K beater, mix the butter into the flour for a couple of minutes until you have a breadcrumb consistency. Remove the frozen butter and lard from the fridge and grate it using the grating attachment into the floury butter mixture. Using the K beater mix again until all the strands of frozen butter and lard are coated in flour – this should only take a few turns. Next add the vinegar and the water very slowly with the K beater at the lowest setting. Just as the pastry comes together into clumps stop.
Flour your work surface well and pull the pastry together with your hands forming a square flat shape. Then flour the top of it and roll into a long rectangle about 4mm thick. Mentally divide the pastry into thirds, then fold the right side over to meet the first third and the left side over to do the same so you have a piece of pastry with three layers. Wrap in clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes. Repeat this step three more times using flour each time, then chill for an hour before rolling to use on the pie.
When the lamb is tender and the sauce has reduced down remove from the oven and add the frozen peas. Stir and leave to cool. Place into a 22cm pie dish (metal preferably) at least 3cm high and chill the pie dish complete with filling.
Roll the pastry out to about 2mm thick onto a well floured work surface and then cut a circle about 2cm larger than the pie dish. Use any off cuts to cut into strips to stick to the pie rim with egg wash. Then egg wash these strips and attach the pie lid to the top of the pie. Cut a cross in the middle for steam to escape and egg wash the top of the pie. Then bake in a preheated oven at 200C/gas mark 7 for about 50 minutes until the pastry is golden brown, puffed up and the pie filling is piping hot.
I’ve been to LA. I’ve been to New York. I’ve been to Miami, albeit briefly. I have been to San Francisco many, many times. If I were to visit an American pal for Thanksgiving this is what I would take. Though I doubt it’d stay frozen what with the long transatlantic flight.
Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4. Blitz the Oeros in a food processor until they resemble fine breadcrumbs. Add the butter and blitz again. Press into a 28cm wide pie dish or tin and bake for 5 minutes.
Whisk the double cream to stiff peaks then in a separate bowl mix the cream cheese, peanut butter, sugar and vanilla seeds until really smooth and well combined. Fold in the shipped cream using a large metal spoon and a cutting motion. Pour into the pie crust and freeze for 1 hour. Just before serving dribble with melted chocolate and a couple of Oreo biscuits crumbled over the top.
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I am reaching the terrified stage. I’ve done the hypno birthing course. I’ve re read all my birthing books. I’m trying to keep my feet up. But there’s no getting away from the fact I’m basically scared.
I don’t especially like giving birth. For me, it hurts that bit too much. Admittedly my second son’s birth was a positive experience overall. But it still bloody hurt.
I think it’s karma. When I was training to be a midwife in the late 90s I have to admit to pondering whether some women were making a bit of a fuss over labour. I even remember thinking they were overreacting. Oh the ignorance of youth.
Wish me luck – I am 11 days from my due date. Here’s a recipe for orange meringue pie which would give a woman in labour a fabulous sugar surge.
Mix the flour and icing sugar with the flat beater in a stand mixer then add the butter and mix to breadcrumbs on speed 2 (or rub in by hand). Add the egg and mix at 1 until the pastry is just coming together (or use a blunt knife to mix). Pull the pastry together with your hands. Then wrap in clingfilm and rest in the fridge for 20 minutes. Roll out to the thickness of a pound coin and line a 20ish cm tart tin (mine is loose bottomed for easy removal later) and slip it under the pastry by pulling the pastry up from the work surface. Push the pastry into the edges of the tin and into the sides then run a rolling pin over the top of the tin. A very quick and easy way to trim the pastry.
Pop the tin into the fridge for 15 minutes, preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4, with one shelf in the middle of the oven. Bake blind with baking beans or dried rice lining some greaseproof paper for about 20 minutes. Remove the greaseproof paper and beans and bake again until the pastry is completely baked through. Then leave to cool.
Make the orange filling. Take 125mls of the water and add cornflour – whisk well until combined. In a saucepan whisk the egg yolks, sugar, juice and rest of the water. Add the cornflour mix and then place on hob, whisking continually until it boils. Should take about 8 minutes. Then remove from the heat once it’s boiled continuously for 1 minute, still whisking all the time. Add the zest, stir and transfer to a bowl. Cover in clingfilm and cool in the fridge.
Once the curd is cool, preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4 and make the meringue. Whisk the room temperature egg whites to medium peaks and then add the castor sugar a teaspoon at a time – 30 second intervals between each teaspoon as this stops the meringue weeping in the oven by ensuring all the sugar dissolves. Add the cornflour. Whisk until at stiff peaks and very glossy and white. Spoon the cold curd into the pastry case, (warm curd makes the pastry soggy and the meringue slip off the top) then spoon/pipe the meringue over the top starting at the edges (making sure the pastry is touched by the meringue) and working inwards (or the filling will escape) then bake for 20 minutes until the top is lightly browned and crusty. Leave to cool in the tin for about 1.5 hours before cutting and serving.
Now I know this sounds like a lot of ingredients and possibly therefore hard work, but I promise you it’s not. It’s the dish that really gives back. It’s pretty quick to prepare, you make the filling the day before you want it and then on the night just assemble and bake. Everyone loves it and it’s grown up enough for having friends over for dinner and yet homely enough for a regular Tuesday night supper. I serve with green beans usually plus a little mashed potato if I’m feeling especially in need of comfort.
If you’re the type of person who wraps all their presents for Christmas by September and laughs in the face of panic buying then you might even make the filling ahead and stash it in the freezer ready for a rainy or even a snowy day. Just imagine having this as a standby supper… And if slow cooker standbys are your thing then have a look here. Loads of ideas.
500mls Burgundy or any red wine you have in the house
250mls beef stock made up with a stock cube and boiling water
2 Schwartz dried bay leaves
1 tsp Schwartz dried thyme
200g shallots, peeled and halved
250g chestnut mushrooms, halved
1 medium egg beaten with a pinch of salt
500g all butter puff pastry (plus a little flour for rolling)
Mix the flour, salt and pepper together in a bowl and then toss the beef in it, making sure each piece is well covered. Heat the oil in a large frying pan on a medium heat and add the beef cubes about 8 – 10 at a time, turning the pieces in order to brown them. Don’t overcrowd the pan! If you do the pieces won’t brown. Once each few pieces are brown transfer to a dish. Repeat until all the meat is brown.
Fry the smoked bacon, onion and garlic in the remaining oil then add the browned beef. When the onion has softened and the bacon cooked through add the Burgundy, beef stock, bay leaves and thyme and bring to the boil. Once bubbling away, scrape the bottom of the pan to make sure all the meat juices are incorporated into the sauce and then transfer to your slow cooker. Add the shallots and mushrooms and leave on ‘low’ for 3.5 hours. (If you don’t have a slow cooker you can use the oven at 140C/gas mark 1 for 2 hours, though ensure your casserole dish has a well fitted lid.)
Once the beef is well cooked and easy to break apart with a fork, remove the bourguignon from the heat and allow to cool (if your sauce is very thin then you can strain the meat and vegetables over a colander, retaining the sauce into a saucepan, then reduce over a high heat stirring constantly). When completely cool (I leave mine overnight in the fridge) you can assemble and bake your pie. Please don’t try and assemble when the filling is hot as the pastry will melt with the heat resulting in a very unsatisfactory looking pie.
Preheat your oven to 220C/gas mark 7 and place the cold pie filling in a large pie dish. I prefer enamel pie dishes as they conduct heat best. Then roll the pastry out onto a floured work surface using a lightly floured rolling pin. You need to roll it to about the thickness of a pound coin, just about 3cm larger than the pie dish. Trim the edges of the pastry you have rolled to remove some strips about 2cm wide. Egg wash the rim of the pie dish, then fix the strips to the dish, pressing down firmly. Egg wash the now pastry lined dish rim again, then place the rolled out pastry lid over the top, being careful not to stretch the pastry too much (or it will shrink when baking). Press down gently around the edges and use scissors to cut the edge of the pastry to about 1/2 cm larger than the rim of the pie dish.
You can then ‘knock up’ the edges of the pastry as per the photo above, or you can use a fork to press the pastry together leaving a pleasing pattern on the edge. Make a hole in the centre of the pie, in a cross shape, about 4cm across, using sharp knife (you can use a pie funnel if you like but this isn’t necessary – if you do use one insert before adding the pastry lid.) Egg wash the whole pie with a pastry brush and then bake for 40 minutes until golden brown and bubbling.
This is a terribly greedy pudding. It’s not content with being a pastry tart, it’s gone one better and added a blackberry custard filling. Then it threw caution to the wind and added a cookie crumble topping. Just call it ostentatious.
Blackberry and hazelnut cookie crumble pie with a pastry crust
Serves 6 – 8
300g plain flour, plus extra for rolling
150g cold butter, cubed
A little cold water
Egg wash – egg mixed with a little salt
100g caster sugar
20g custard powder
125g toasted hazelnuts, finely chopped (I buy them like this but you can gently toast in the oven yourself and chop once cool.)
225g plain flour
90g granulated brown sugar
½ tsp baking powder
170g butter, melted
Place the flour into your stand mixer bowl or if doing by hand in a large bowl then add the butter and either use the flat beater at speed 1 to make breadcrumbs, or if making by hand rub the butter into the flour until you have a breadcrumb type consistency. Add cold water a dribble at a time and use a blunt knife to pull the pastry together. Once it forms a ball, wrap in clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes.
Roll to 4mm thick on a floured work surface being careful to roll in one direction and then turn the pastry 90 degrees after each roll. Once you have a rough circle shape place the pastry carefully into a loose bottomed tin measuring about 20cm. Allow the edges of the pastry to hang over the tin a little and then line with greaseproof paper – the paper should be high enough to reach to the top of the sides of the tin. Chill the pastry lined tin for 20 minutes and preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6.
Fill the pastry and greaseproof paper lined tin with baking beans and bake blind for 15 minutes then remove the beans and paper, brush the pastry with egg wash and bake for another 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool a little. Turn the oven down to 160C/gas mark 3.
Toss the blackberries in the sugar and custard then pour into the pastry shell. Mix the nuts, flour, sugar and baking powder with the flat beater in a stand mixer (or by hand with a spoon) then stir the melted butter through until gathering into clumps. Sprinkle over the fruit and bake the whole pie in the oven for 45 minutes. Serve with warm custard of cold cream.
I’m a mum of 3 boys, a cookbook writer and also a finalist on the 2011 Great British Bake Off.
I’ve decided to record the recipes I use, partly to save them somewhere and partly in case someone else might like to use them...
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