Day 15, in which I explain

why the only recipe’s I follow are baking ones. I use recipe’s as a guideline not an absolute. Robin can’t do that and it drives him up the wall, this is a bonus. Baking to me is a dark art, I rarely do it and when I do tend to follow the recipe slavishly as I don’t have the 10,000 hours required to be as spontaneous with desserts. I understand that other people may not have the same cavalier attitude (cavalier attitude, not said enough in my opinion), I do towards meal meals iyswim. So I know what I can do with the recipes that I change due to lack or ingredients or whimsy.

Which is why I’m putting the recipe’s up and then telling you what I do, so last night was the Brie thing. The boys don’t like brie sometimes they think it tastes a bit amoniaey (legit word!) and tastes a bit like the smell of wee so I use a packet of normal cream cheese. Robin not so keen on the lemon so a quarter of the lemon zest and about a teaspoon of juice. Mixed the non-pasta ingredients and left to ‘infuse’ for the length of time it took to cook the pasta.

Picture:

It was yum, the boys had a minor revolt. The Cub did NOT like the sauce on his pasta and Robin complained about the amount of lemon – again. I thought it was extremely yum, so yahboo shucks to them.

Tomorrow is soooooooper complicated, but not really, beef in ale pie, from a magazine, I have no idea which one.

For the Beef

  • small handful (grr) dried procini mushrooms (about 10 g/1/2 oz) not essential
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1kg 2lb 4 oz braising steak (buy this as a whole piece and cut it yourself into large chunks)
  • 2 large onions, roughly chopped
  • 4 large carrots, chopped into large chunks
  • 2 tsp golden caster sugar
  • 4 tbsp plain flour
  • 300 ml/1/2 pt dark ale
  • 2 beef stock cubes mixed with 400 ml/14 fl oz boiling water
  • small bunch each thyme, bay leaf and parsley, tied together
  • 200g/80z smoked bacon, lardons or chopped rashers
  • 200g/8oz chestnut mushrooms, halved

For the pastry

  • 650g/1lb 7oz plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 250g/9oz lard or cold butter, diced, plus extra for greasing
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten, to glaze
  1. Start by braising the beef. If you’re using the porcini, cover them in boiling water for 20 mins, then squeeze out but keep the soaking water. Heat oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3. Heat half the oil in a large casserole dish, brown the meat really well in batches, then set aside. Add the onions and carrots to the pan, adding a drizzle more oil, then cook on a low heat for 5 mins until coloured. Add the soaked mushrooms, sizzle for 1 min more, then scatter over the sugar and flour, stirring until the flour turns brown. Tip the meat and any juices back into the pan and give it all a good stir. Pour over the ale, stock and porcini soaking liquid, discarding the last few drops. Season stew, tuck in the herbs and bring everything to a simmer. Cover with a lid and place in the oven for about 2 hrs, until the meat is really tender.
  2. While the stew is cooking, heat a drop more oil in a frying pan and sizzle the bacon for 3 mins until crisp. Turn up the heat, add the mushrooms and cook for 4 mins until golden. Remove from the heat and, when the stew is cooked, stir them through. Leave everything to cool completely – better still, make this up to 2 days in advance and keep it in the fridge as the pie will be better if the filling is fridge-cold when added. Can also be frozen for up to 3 months and defrosted when needed.
  3. Make the pastry up to 2 days before you want to assemble the pie. Crumble the flour and lard, or butter, together with a generous pinch of sea salt until completely combined, then add up to 200ml ice-cold water to make a soft dough. This can be done in a food processor if you want. Knead the pastry, then wrap in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for at least 1 hr. The pastry can be made up to 2 days ahead and kept in the fridge or frozen for up to a month.
  4. When you want to make the pie, heat oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7 and place a flat baking tray in the oven. Heavily grease a 24-28cm pie dish and dust well with flour. Cut a third off the pastry and set aside. Roll out the pastry to a thick-ish round that will easily line the pie dish with an overhang, then line the tin. Add the beef to the dish using a slotted spoon so some gravy is left in the container, as you don’t want too much sauce in the pie. You want the filling to be slightly higher than the rim of the dish. If you have a bit too much, set it aside.
  5. Roll out the remaining pastry to a thick round big enough to cover the dish. Brush the edges of the pastry in the dish with egg yolk, then cover with the pastry lid. Trim the edges, crimp the pastry, then re-roll your trimmings to make a decoration, if you like – I always decorate my pies with pastry leaves. Brush the top heavily with egg. Make a few little slits in the centre of the pie, place on the hot baking tray, then bake for 40 mins until golden. Leave the pie to rest for 10 mins while you heat up the gravy left in the container. Serve the pie at the table with a jug of gravy and a big pile of something green and leafy.

Old Cub Picture

New Cub Picture

Love, peace and pizza!

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