Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Steak and Guinness Pie

I absolutely love pies, nothing is more comforting than a steaming homemade pie on these cold dark nights. I love the versatility in pie fillings from a light and fresh filling to something hearty like the recipe I will be sharing. Steak and Guinness Pie, has a lovely Irish twist on a traditional Steak Pie - the addition of Guinness adds an intense warmth flavour. The steak is slow cooked in the oven for a few hours which makes the meat tender and full of flavour. Although this pie isn't a 30 minute wonder, as the oven does the hard work for you, once the meat browns, you can sit back and relax. A perfect dish to make over the weekend. 

Recipe from Leiths How to Cook

1 packet puff pastry (extra flour to dust)
1 egg

For the filling

1 onion
3 tbsp olive oil
handful mixed herbs, such as parsley, thyme, rosemary and oregano
1kg beef chuck steak
450ml Guinness
200g tinned chopped tomatoes
1 bay leaf
2 tsp butter, softened and mixed with 2 tsp flour, if needed
freshly ground black pepper

  1. For the filling, halve and peel the onion and cut each half into 4 wedges. Place in a medium flameproof casserole or ovenproof pan with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, cover, ideally with a cartouche, and sweat over a low heat until soft and translucent but not taking on any colour.
  2. Meanwhile, finely chop enough herb leaves to give you 1–2 tablespoons and set aside. Trim off any excess fat and sinew from the beef and cut it into 2–3 cm cubes.
  3. Heat the oven to 150°C.
  4. Once the onion is soft, remove it from the pan and set aside. Brown the meat in batches in the pan, using as much of the remaining oil as necessary and deglazing with a little water after each batch.
  5. Return the onion to the pan and add the Guinness, tomatoes, chopped mixed herbs, bay leaf and some salt and pepper, and bring to a simmer. Return all the meat to the pan and add a little water if the meat is not covered.
  6. Cover, transfer to the oven and cook gently for 2–2½ hours, or until the beef is tender. To check, remove a piece of beef; you should be able to cut through it with the side of a fork or spoon.
  7. Remove from the oven and drain the cooking liquid into a small pan. Discard the bay leaf, then taste and reduce the sauce, if necessary, to a consistency that lightly clings to the meat and a good concentration of flavour. If the sauce needs thickening, use a little beurre mani矇 (the butter and flour mixture).
  8. Add the beef back to the sauce and transfer to a lipped pie dish, ensuring the filling fills the dish generously. Use a pie funnel if necessary. Leave to cool completely.
  9. Roll out the chilled pastry on a lightly floured surface to a rectangle about 3 mm thick and 3 cm bigger all round than the pie dish. Cut off strips that together will line the lip of the pie dish. Lightly beat the egg with a very small pinch of salt, using a fork, then pass through a sieve into a bowl.
  10. Press the pastry strips onto the dish lip and brush with a little beaten egg. Carefully lift the pastry rectangle on top and press gently over the lip, to join the edges. Trim off the excess pastry and cut up the sides. Place 2 fingers lightly on the edge of the pastry and draw the back of a cutlery knife between your fingers and upwards, to create a scalloped effect. Make a hole in the centre of the lid to allow steam to escape. Cut out leaves or decorations from the pastry trimmings, if desired, and stick to the pie lid with beaten egg. Glaze the pastry with the beaten egg. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm the pastry. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 200°C.
  11. Brush the pastry with the beaten egg again. Bake the pie in the top of the oven for 25–30 minutes, or until the pastry is well risen and golden and the filling is piping hot when tested with a skewer.


Thursday, 16 July 2015

Mustard and Pomegranate Baked Chicken

Quick, easy, fuss free and the oven does all the hard work, that's the sort of dish I'm after a long day at  work. I still want to eat well, but I just haven't got the energy to be slaving over the stove. I've found that a bit of preparation goes a long way, meat seasoned the night before and quick accompaniments makes an otherwise stressful midweek meal to stress-free heaven. I'm sure most of you have tried honey and mustard chicken before, this is that dish, but given an exotic twist with the addition of pomegranate seeds. I adore pomegranate seeds and many people are surprised to know that pomegranates grow in the Caribbean so this is something I have eaten since a child. I often chuck a handful over cooked chicken to add a sweet taste to the ol bird. With this evening meal, I added the pomegranate seeds 5 minutes before the cooking time had completed. The result is a spicy, sweet and fruity evening meal.
Here is how my Mustard and Pomegranate Baked Chicken. 
Mustard and Pomegranate Baked Chicken.

Mustard and Pomegranate Baked Chicken.

Mustard and Pomegranate Baked Chicken.

Recipe adapted from Leiths How to Cook.
Serves 4
30g butter, softened.
2tbsp Dijon mustard.
1tsp caster sugar.
1tsp paprika.
1/2 lemon.
8 chicken pieces.
80g pomegranate seeds.

Heat the oven to 200C/Gas mark 6
Put the butter, mustard, sugar and paprika in a small bowl. Juice the 1/2 lemon, add to the bowl and mix to a smooth paste. Arrange the chicken pieces skin side down in a shallow roasting tin.
Spread half of the mustard paste over the chicken pieces. Season well with salt and pepper and bake in the oven for 15 minutes
Turn the chicken pieces over to skin side up, spread with the remaining mustard paste and sprinkle with pepper. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. To check that the chicken is cooked, remove the piece to a plate and cut down to the bone on the non-skin side; the juices should run clear. 5 minutes before the end of the cooking time, scatter the pomegranate seeds over the chicken pieces.
Arrange the chicken pieces on a serving dish. Pour over any pan juices.


Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Leek and Gruyere Tart

There are many dishes which I consider to be "comforting" such as pasta, bread, chocolate and pastry. There are also many dishes which I consider to be "refreshing" such as salad, smoothies, exotic fruit and pastry. Yes, pastry features on both my comforting and refreshing list. Why, because nothing is more comforting than the combination of butter and flour to make a crisp pastry and nothing is more refreshing than a crisp pastry with a light filling. I've made so many quiches, tarts and pies, far too many to count and this love affair with the tart, as previously shared on the blog, stemmed from a quiche being one of the first dishes I made as a child.
This Leek and Gruyere tart is by far the best tart I've made. Why? Well, previously I made pastry using margarine but decided it's time to upgrade to non salted butter, this combined with the method of making the pastry, made the pastry easy to handle, mould and roll out. I also adored the filling, using primarily the white part of the leek (although I could not resist slicing a few of the green parts), which quickly sweetened upon frying. The starring show of this tart was the Swiss Gruyere cheese, creamy, slightly sweet and salty and one the more luxurious cheeses to bake with, made this dish moreish, addictive and luscious. I would highly recommend making this dish, perfect for the Spring months served with homemade sweet potato wedges and a leafy salad. A tart that you and your family will truly enjoy.
Here is my Leek and Gruyere tart:
Leek and Gruyere Tart.
Leek and Gruyere Tart.

Leek and Gruyere Tart.

Perfect pastry making.

Pastry rolled out.

Leeks cooking.

Cream whisking.
Pastry in tart.

Pastry pre-bake.

Recipe for Leek and Gruyere Tart.
Serves 6
1 quantity rich shortcrust pastry
Makes enough to line a 24cm flan ring tin
250g plain flour
pinch of salt
140g chilled butter
2 egg yolks
3-4 tbsp chilled water

Method for the pastry
1) Sift the flour and salt into a medium bowl.
2) Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the flour. Using 2 cutlery knives and working in a scissor action, cut the butter into the flour, keeping the 2 knives in contact. Using knives rather than fingers help to keep the butter and flour cool.
3) Once the butter has been broken down to a small pea-sized pieces, use your fingertips to gently rub the little pieces of flour and butter together.
4) Give the bowl an occasional shake to lift larger lumps of butter to the surface. The mixture should become a uniform fine, pale crumb with now visible lumps of butter. If the mixture begins to turn yellow, the butter is softening too quickly and you need to put the bowl in the fridge for 5-10 minutes to chill the butter.
5) Mix the egg yolks and water together in a small bowl with a fork until evenly combined. Add 2-2 1/2 tbsp of the yolk mixture to the crumb and, using a cutlery knife, distribute the liquid as quickly as possible (this will create flakes of pastry)
6)  Pull some of the flakes to the side and feel them; if they very dry, add a little more of the liquid to any dry areas of crumb and use the knife again. Don't be tempted to add too much liquid as it can make the pastry tough.
7) Use the flat of the knife to bring a few flakes and dry crumb together, to create larger lumps. Continue like this until there are no dry crumbs in the bottom bowl.
8) Pull the pastry together with your hands, shaping it into a flat disc, about 10cm in diameter and 1.5cm thick. Do this as quickly as possible, without overworking the pastry.
9) Wrap the pastry in cling film and chill for 20-30 minutes before rolling out. This will relax it and prevent to much shrinkage, as well as firm up the batter.

For the Tart filling
2 small leeks, white part only
30g butter
100g Gruyere cheese
3 eggs
250ml double cream
salt and pepper

1) Roll out the chilled pastry on a lightly floured surface to a 3mm thickness and use to line a 24cm loose-based flan set on a baking sheet. Cover with cling film and chill in the fridge until firm to touch.
2) Meanwhile, slice the leeks length ways in half with the root still intact, then thinly slice into half-rings and discard the root end. Wash well in cold water to remove any grit, then drain well.
3) Melt the butter in a small saucepan, add the leeks, cover with a damp cartouche and lid and sweat over a low heat until soft and slightly translucent. Drain the leeks or remove the lid and cartouche and allow the liquid to evaporate.
4) Blind bake the pastry for 15-20 minutes, then remove the cartouch and beans and bake for a further 5 minutes, or until the pastry looks dry and feels sandy to the touch. Remove from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 150C/Gas mark 2.
5) Put the eggs and cream into a small bowl and mix with a fork. Pass this mixture through a sieve into a clean medium bowl. Grate the cheese.
6) Add the sweated leeks and 85g of the grated cheese to the egg and cream mixture. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
7) Using a slotted spoon spoon the leeks and cheese into the pastry; they should half-fill the case. Pour the egg and cream mixture over the filling, making sure the case is full as possible. Sprinkle over the remaining cheese.
8) Carefully transfer to a shelf in the lower third of the oven and bake the tart for 40-50 minutes until the custard is pale yellow colour and just a little soft in the centre.
9) Allow to cool slightly on the baking wheel, then removed the side of the tin, if using, and slide the tart onto a wire rack, or lift the flan ring after transferring.
Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

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