Friday, 7 September 2012

Who ate all the pies?

How do you like the new blog style, by the way? I'd love your comments.

I like the Search option at the top- just put in an ingredient eg. chicken, rocket, breadcrumbs, curry or whatever you want some ideas for- and hey presto! it shows where you can find the relevant blog page. Genius!

Anyway, back to the pies.

I was visiting family in Exeter recently (in the West Country) and I was strolling along Cathedral Green when to my astonishment one of my favourite chefs walked by- Michael Caines! (To be fair he does have a restaurant in Cathedral Green so I shouldn't have been too surprised- but I didn't know that at the time!) My jaw dropped, I pointed rudely and said 'Omigod! Michael Caines!' (So uncool- I'm really ashamed.) He, however, was the epitome of cool. He said 'Hi! How are you?' as if he knew me well. I would have loved to have discussed the blog with him and talked recipes, but he scurried off. . He is a busy man after all.

The reason why I admire him so much as a chef is because he has achieved Michelin stars despite having only one hand- he lost his arm in a motorbike accident. (Family members will know why this might be significant for me.) Also I like his recipes.

Anyway, I'm putting a link here to Michael's recipe for beef, ale and oyster pie to say thanks for being such a gracious celeb:

I had a request from a blog follower a few months back ('Pub Classics') as to how to cook a good steak and ale pie- the answer is simple. A good pie is made from a good casserole- either made especially for the pie as in the above recipe or - as in the spirit of this blog- from leftovers.

First, make your pastry case: roll out shortcrust pastry to fit your pie dish. I like to bake the bottom half 'blind' to make sure it is not soggy. (Line with greaseproof paper and baking beans or rice and cook at 180 degrees for 15-20 mins until it starts to go golden.)

Take your leftover beef casserole (or pork or chicken or whatever you want to use up) and fill the case. If there is not quite enough, you can eke it out with extra vegetables, stuffing balls (good with chicken or pork), mushrooms etc

Roll the lid over the top, brush with beaten egg wash or milk and sprinkle with paprika for a brown crust.

I use shortcrust pastry for this- but you could mix and match with shortcrust on the bottom and puff pastry for the lid. Just seal and crimp the edges well (using milk to make a 'glue').

Favourite savoury pie fillings for me are Steak and mushroom, Chicken ,bacon and leek, and Pork and cider with onions. Mmm! I make a good 'Christmas Dinner' pie too, with the festive leftovers ....but I think you've probably guessed how, when and what goes into this. It won't stop me posting it up though when the time comes.

Incidentally, I do exactly the same method for sweet pies (I don't make a sweet shortcrust pastry for these)- I just fill them with apples, rhubarb or  sweet mincemeat and sprinkle the top with sugar and cinnamon. If you're in a hurry, you can make a good fruit pie using puff pastry squares: mark out a smaller square inside the pastry with the point of a sharp knife but don't cut all the way through. Lay thinly sliced fruit on the small square and brush with apricot or nectarine jam. Bake in a hot oven (200 degrees) until risen and golden.

And what about a chocolate pie (here with bananas but raspberries or pears go well):

Bake your pastry case blind, as recommended above. Beat together 150g butter and 150g caster sugar. Mix in two beaten eggs and 50g of plain flour. Melt 150g of dark chocolate (1 minute in the microwave is the easiest way) and mix it in with the rest. Lay out your fruit in the pastry case and pour the chocolate filling around it. Bake at 190 degrees for 25-30 minutes until the cake is risen but a cocktail stick inserted into it still comes out a little chocolatey. This means it will be lovely and gooey when the cake cools.

Little pies are good too- either individual lidded pies made in suitable dishes (tapas or creme brulee dishes are the right short of shape and size) or pasties.

Other pies and tarts already featured on the blog (but you might have missed them) are: tarte a l'indienne ( a curried chicken tart- excellent way of using up leftover curry), quiche lorraine (classic bacon and egg tart with cheese), tarte aux framboises, fig tart and nectarine tart. Here's the gallery, just use the Search option to find the blog post.

So, the question remains: who ate all the pies?

Alas, I think I know the answer to that one.

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