Monday, September 27, 2010

Steak and Potato Pie

Today I was feeling a little bit home food sick.  We all know that British food is not known for it culinary delights. Many people feel that it is stodgy and heavy. I like to think of British food as good wholesome comfort food. Fish n Chips, Roast Beef and Fish pie are but a few. If spruced up in a posh restaurant would critics think of it negatively. I think not. Today's post is a homage to British food and my memories of it.

Steak & Potato Pie
For the pastry.
300g Flour
75g Butter
75g Shortening/Lard
4-5 Tbsp Water
Salt and Pepper
Egg Yolk and milk to glaze

For the filling.
500kg Stewing Steak
4 Rashers of Bacon sliced
1/2 Large Onion diced
1 Medium russett potato diced
1 1/2 Cups Beef Stock
Splash Worcestershire Sauce
Large pinch mixed herbs (rosemary,thyme, tarragon etc)
2 bay leaves
Salt and Pepper
Flour to coat the meat

Cut the butter and shortening/ lard into the flour until you get a breadcrumb consistency. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and slowly add tbsps of water one at a time until the mixture can be mixed into a ball of dough Try not to overwork the dough. Wrap in cling-film and store in the fridge for 20 minutes. Cut the dough in half and roll one half out, then line the pie dish. Cover in cling-film and place back in the fridge. The second half can go back in the fridge until the pie filling is made.

For the filling:
Using a paper towel blot of any excess water that is present on the meat. In a large bowl add enough seasoned flour to coat the meat. Pour the meat into the bowl of seasoned flour and coat well. Meanwhile in a medium pan melt a good knob of butter and oil and add the sliced bacon rashers. Cook down until fat renders. In batches fry the stewing steak until brown on all sides. Its doesn't need to be cooked through. Remove the steak from the pan and add the potatoes, onions and dried herbs to the pan. Stir well to combine. Cook for approx 5 minutes. Pour in the stock and scrape of any brown bits that are stuck to the bottom of the pan. It should simmer. Add a splash of Worcestershire sauce and the bay leaves. Stir the meat back into the pan, cover and simmer on a low heat for approx 40 minutes. After making the filling remove the bay leaves. If the sauce gets too thick add some more water. Allow the filling to completely cool before pouring into the pastry lined pie dish. Roll the remaining pastry out and cover the pie. Pinch the pastry sides together, brush the egg wash over top of the pastry and poke a hole in the top of the pie to allow the steam to escape. In a preheated oven at 400 degrees bake the pie on the middle shelve for approx 30 minutes or until the pastry has turned golden brown.
and after....

Friday, September 24, 2010

Ginger Snap Cookies

As you can see my posts have been a little sparse recently. Back in August I told you that we were going to ride whatever came our way and our potential move was postponed. Well the wave we rode has sent us back on course to our potential move. We are excited, yet nervous as we don't want to count our chickens before they have hatched. We want to celebrate but are scared to do so until all the t's have been crossed and all the i's have been dotted. As a result my cooking has taken a side step and has not been that experimental. I am sticking to trusty recipes that are easy and quick to make. Recipes that I feel are to weak to post on my blog.

I would however like to share a ginger snap cookie recipe which I found on These cookies are slightly cakey and are wonderful on there own but would be even better served with vanilla ice-cream and a hot caramel sauce. I wish I had pictures to show you but what with all the goings on in our house at the moment my camera has been a little ignored. (I even cut and pasted the recipe!!!! That's how crazy we have been).

Ginger Snap Cookies
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup unsulfured molasses (I used golden corn syrup instead...only because I didn't have molasses)
  • 1 large egg
  • parchment paper
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

Into a large bowl sift together 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour, baking soda, and spices and whisk in brown sugar. In a small saucepan melt butter and whisk into flour mixture with molasses and egg until combined well. With a wooden spoon stir in remaining 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour until combined well. Chill dough, covered, until firm, at least 1 hour, and up to 2 days.
Preheat oven to 350°F. and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Roll level tablespoons of dough into balls and in a small bowl roll balls in granulated sugar to coat. Arrange balls about 2 inches apart on baking sheets and bake in batches in middle of oven until flattened and a shade darker, 10 to 12 minutes. (Cookies will puff slightly and then collapse slightly, and tops will be covered with little cracks.) Cool cookies on baking sheets 2 minutes and transfer with a spatula to racks to cool completely. Cookies keep in an airtight container at room temperature 5 days.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Cheese scones

I was making a huge pot of chilli for tonights dinner and thought what else can I have with it besides rice. After racking my brain I decided that a cheese scone would go nicely. I had a rough idea of how to make a scone mixture, but pretty much went by the trial and error theory. The trial and error theory worked out very well. I was so impressed that I bypassed waiting for chilli to cook and decided to have the scone with an avocado pear for my lunch.

Cheese Scones
1 1/2 Cups Flour
1 Tsp Baking Powder
1 Tsp Baking Soda
1 Tsp Salt
1/4 Cup Grated Cheese
250mls Milk
1 Egg
3 Tbsp Olive Oil

Pre heat the oven to 425 degrees. Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl and set aside. In alarge measuring jug whisk together the milk, egg and oil. Slowly pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and mix at the same time (You may not need all the wet mixture) until the dough becomes slightly wet and soft but not too sticky. Place the dough on a floured surface, mold gently into a circle and flatten down with your hands until the dough is approximatley an inch thick. Cut into quarters and brush any remaining wet mixture over top before baking on a parchment lined baking sheet (on the middle shelve) for 12- 15 minutes or until golden brown,

These can be served alongside chillis, soups, stews or just on there own.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Vegetable Soup

The weather is definitely turning, the mornings are crisper and there is that cold chill that rides on the tail end of the breeze. The farmers markets are abundant with the late summer harvest, crispy green apples, juicy nectarines, fuzzy peaches, assorted varieties of squash, zucchini's and every potato imaginable. Even hazelnuts have appeared, a sign that Autumn is on its way. Our meals also show signs of Autumn. A chicken casserole with fresh sweet carrots was enjoyed last week, apple pies were made and ginger snap cookies were just what the doctor ordered. A nice spicy warming cookie enjoyed with the perfectly brewed tea. Oh I love it when a season changes.

Soup is a great way to welcome in Autumn and use up those remaining vegetables that sit in the bottom of the fridge. I always find that I have a few veggies left over that don't quite make up a meal but I hate the idea of wasting them. What I tend to do is freeze any left over veggies so that I can make a nice hearty vegetable soup. Something that I have been craving for a couple of days.

I had collected a good selection of veggies so I knew my soup would be satisfying and nutritious. Vegetable soup always reminds me of when I worked as a kitchen assistant in a residential home. Every Sunday we would serve a roast chicken dinner with all the trimmings, carrots, brussel sprouts, swede (rutabaga) and roast potatoes. After serving, my job would be to make stock with the remaining chicken carcasses. Into the pan went the carcasses with a large onion a couple of carrots and a leak or celery, salt and pepper and a collection of herbs. This simmered away in water for a couple of hours whilst the residents enjoyed there lunch. This was then strained and any left over veg was added to the stock, simmered for a short while and blitzed to make a thick soup. It always tasted soooo good especially alongside fresh bread lathered with thick butter. Happy Days!!!! 

Today I wanted to revisit those happy days, so to go alongside my soup I made some fresh country bread. It was perfect and made for a lovely supper.

Vegetable Soup
1 Large Russet Potato Diced
1 Large Red Onion Diced
1/2 Roasted Butternut Squash Diced
1 Ear of Corn (kernels cut from corn)
2 Carrots sliced
1/2 Green zucchini diced
1 Head of Broccoli Florets
Handful of Cherry Tomatoes
3 Cups Chicken Stock
Salt and Pepper
Olive oil

In a large stock pot over a medium heat add some oil and soften the onion, potato, zucchini and carrots. This should take about 10-15 minutes. Add the remaining vegetables and simmer with the lid on for 5 minutes. The potatoes, squash and tomatoes will begin to break down. Add the chicken stock and simmer gently for 20- 25 minutes until all the vegetables are tender. Blitz the soup in batches and return back to the pan. Add a good swig of olive oil and salt and pepper for seasoning. (Season to your taste). If you find the soup is too thick add some more water. Serve in large bowls with hunks of fresh bread and butter.