Friday, 15 May 2015

Roasted Butternut Squash and Goats Cheese Pie

If you're making this for a vegetarian meal then make sure to use a vegetarian hard cheese instead of the Parmesan and use instead of lard use a pure vegetable fat (you should be able to find an 80% white block of vegetable fat in most large supermarkets).

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 a large butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1 cm pieces
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 150 fresh spinach
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 125g soft goats cheese
  • Hot water pastry made with 175g flour, 60g lard and 70ml water
  • 25g grated Parmesan cheese

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees
  2. Place the butternut squash into a roasting dish and roast for 45 minutes.
  3. Put the onion in a large saucepan with the olive oil and fry over a medium heat for a few minutes.
  4. Add the spinach to the saucepan, turn the heat down and then cover with a lid.
  5. Leave the spinach to slowly reduce down, stirring every 5 minutes or so. It'll probably take 20 minutes to reduce down to a green mush.
  6. Remove from the heat and start to make the pastry.
  7. While the pastry is resting, mix the onion and spinach with the butternut squash, cumin and goats cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Line a pie dish with the pastry.
  9. Bake the pastry on it's own in the oven for 30 minutes.
  10. Put the filling into the half-baked pastry and return to the oven for another 30 minutes.
  11. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over the top of the pie and return to the oven for another 20 minutes.
  12. Optionally, 10 minutes from the end, you can brush the exposed crust with some milk to bring out a better colour in it.
  13. Leave to stand for a few minutes before serving.

Makes enough to fill a 23cm low pie/flan dish, serving about 5 people.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Chicken and Ham Pie

These pies can be made ahead of time and left in the fridge after they've cooled: ideal for a picnic lunch.

Ingredients:

  • 125g bacon lardons
  • 250g minced pork
  • 200g chicken breasts, diced
  • 1 tsp all spice
  • a generous pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp of dried sage
  • Hot water pastry made with 400g flour, 140g lard and 155ml water

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius
  2. Put the water on for the pastry.
  3. Fry the lardons over a medium heat until they just start to brown, stirring every minute or so to ensure even cooking.
  4. Tip the lardons into a mixing bowl and add the minced pork, chicken and spices. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Mix well.
  6. Line the pie dish(es) with the three quarters of the pastry.
  7. Fill the pastry with the filling and then use the remaining pastry to make a lid.
  8. Puncture holes in the lid after attaching it to the base with a bit of pressure between your fingers.
  9. Bake in the oven for 2 hours.
  10. 15 minutes before the end of the cooking time you can optionally brush some milk onto the top of the pie to give it a good brown colour.
  11. Leave to stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Makes enough filling for two 10cm pie tins or a single 14cm tin, serving about 5 people.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Hot Water Pastry

Hot water pastry is really easy to make and, as long as you leave it to rest for the right length of time, very easy to work with.

Ingredients:

  • 200g lard
  • 225ml water
  • 575g plain flour

Method:

  1. Put the lard and water into a sauce pan and heat over a medium heat until fully melted.
  2. Put the flour into a large heat proof bowl.
  3. Pour the liquid lard and water onto the flour and mix with a wooden spoon until it starts to lump together.
  4. Carefully (as it'll still be hot) use your hands to kneed the dough. You want to form a consistent ball of dough, which shouldn't take more than about a minute.
  5. Leave to rest for 10 minutes.
  6. Split the dough into a 3:1 split, using the smaller bit for the lid of a pie.
  7. Roll the dough out into roughly the shape of your pie dish (you won't need flour on the rolling surface) and then use your fingers to spread the dough into the pie dish.
  8. Stuff with your filling of choice.
  9. Roll out the remaining pastry for the lid and use your fingers to seal it to the base.
  10. Bake in an oven at 160 degrees Celsius for an hour and a half to two hours, depending on your filling.
  11. Leave for 10 minutes before serving after removing from the oven for the pastry and filling to rest.

Makes enough pastry for a 20cm wide pie that will be about 6 or 7 cms deep. Which is large enough for 8 people or so.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Flammkuchen

This uses puff pastry rather than bread as a base, giving it a lighter crisper texture, even if it isn't entirely traditional.

Ingredients:

  • 1 sheet of ready made puff pastry
  • 2 red onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 125g bacon lardons or 175g mushrooms in small cubes
  • 150g crème fraîche
  • 1 pinch of grated nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 15g flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
  2. Place the puff pastry sheet onto a baking tray and put into the hot oven for 10 minutes.
  3. While pastry puffs up, put the onions and olive oil in a frying pan and fry for a few minutes.
  4. Add the bacon/mushrooms to the pan and fry until it's started to cook, but you don't want it to brown. If it does, just remove it from the heat.
  5. By now the 10 minutes on the puff pastry should be about done, so remove the pastry from the oven and spread the crème fraîche over it.
  6. Sprinkle the nutmeg over the pastry and then top with the onions and bacon/mushrooms.
  7. Season with salt and pepper and return to the oven for another 10 to 15 minutes.
  8. When the edge of the pastry is a nice crisp golden colour, remove it from the oven and garnish with the parsley.
  9. Cut into slices and serve with a leafy salad.

Serves 3 (or 5 if served with some boiled potatoes).

Monday, 30 March 2015

Tea Bread

This cake keeps for days and if you ask me is actually improved by giving it a couple of days (in an airtight container) to mature after baking.

Ingredients:

  • 4 tea bags, I used English Breakfast
  • 300ml boiling water
  • 500g mixed dried fruit, choose your favourite, but I had 200g currants, 100g dried pineapple 100g dried papaya and 100g dried cranberries
  • 125g unrefined caster sugar
  • 250g self-raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 egg

Method:

  • Pour the boiling water onto the tea bags and leave to brew for 15 minutes before removing the tea bags.
  • Put the dried fruit in a large bowl and pour the tea over it.
  • Leave the fruit overnight to soak up the tea.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees.
  • Mix the sugar, flour, spice and egg into the fruit and stir until it's well mixed.
  • Put a loaf tin liner into a 2lb loaf tin and then pour the mixture into that.
  • Bake for 70 minutes in the oven.
  • Remove and leave to cool in the tin.

  • Makes a 1kg loaf.

    Thursday, 19 March 2015

    Caraway Seed Loaf Cake

    The taste of caraway has a slightly anise-like taste, but is also unique on it's own. As a flavour for a cake which it is a little unusual to see these days, but it's worth tracking down some caraway seeds.

    Ingredients:

    • 175g spreadable butter (vegetable fat blended with buttermilk or butter)
    • 175g caster sugar
    • 175g self-raising flour
    • 50g ground almonds
    • 3 tsp caraway seeds
    • 60ml milk
    • 3 eggs
    • 2 tbsp of unrefined granulated sugar
    • 10g (about 1 tbsp) flaked almonds

    Method:

    1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
    2. Put the butter and caster sugar in a bowl and cream together.
    3. Add the flour, ground almonds, caraway seeds, milk and eggs and mix together until a smooth batter is formed.
    4. Pour the batter into a lined 2lb loaf tin. It's easiest to get some of the pre-made liners rather than trying to cut greaseproof paper to fit.
    5. Use the back of a spoon to level off the batter. Sprinkle the granulated sugar followed by the flaked almonds over the top of the mixture.
    6. Place in the oven for an hour.
    7. Use a skewer to test that the cake is cooked in the centre (it should come out clean). You might need an extra 10 minutes, depending on how powerful your oven is.
    8. Remove from the oven and leave for 20 minutes in the tin.
    9. Lift the cake out of the tin and leave to cool on a rack.
    10. Once fully cool, store the cake in an airtight container and enjoy.

    Makes a 2lb loaf shaped cake.

    Monday, 9 March 2015

    Bacon Cauliflower

    This is so very simple but leads to a great tasting vegetable.

    Ingredients:

    • 1 medium sized cauliflower, all leaves removed
    • 16 slices of streaky bacon

    Method:

    1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees celsius.
    2. Carefully wrap the bacon around the cauliflower, starting at the top and tucking the edges in under it.
    3. Place into a large roasting tin.
    4. Bake in the oven for an hour and a half.
    5. Remove from the roasting tin and serve whole, slicing it at the table.

    Serves 6.