Little boy is four and a half months old (now 5 months) (… now 6 months!) and I’m going to attempt to finish my first blog post since he arrived. I did draft one a couple of months ago, but it turned into a rant about how people judge other people’s parenting skills. A shame really; what had started as a good day where I had managed to cook myself a delicious lunch from scratch (and even eat it while it was reasonably warm) turned into the day where I decided that the collective noun for mothers is ‘a judgement’. A parliament of owls, a murder of crows, a judgement of mothers… sounds about right. Today I am somewhat more positive, so here goes.
Not only is this the first post since baby arrived, it is also the first in my new kitchen. We took delivery of a new oven this week to replace the rather scary ancient gas contraption, so of course I celebrated by making pie!
This recipe was invented using inspiration from the reduced section of the supermarket and what needed using up in the fridge. I have rarely bought ready chopped vegetables in the past thinking it a bit lazy, which I suppose it is when you have time and energy. Now that I have a baby who will only let me put him down for limited periods of time I see the point of them! The chopped carrot and swede was reduced in the supermarket, as was the pastry. The spinach was in the fridge and wanted using, I wouldn’t have thought to buy it for this purpose but it worked.
- Chopped carrot and swede
- Half a pack of bacon, chopped
- Half an onion
- A few cloves of garlic
- Teaspoon dried herbs – I used thyme and tarragon
- A couple of handfuls of spinach
- A splash of cream
- A handful of grated cheddar cheese
- Pastry – I used ready rolled
Preheat the oven to 180oC.
Finely chop the onion, garlic and bacon and fry together in a saucepan which has a lid – you will need very little oil because the fat will come out of the bacon. Add the chopped carrot and swede, herbs and black pepper. Do not add salt or stock at this stage – you will probably find that the bacon makes it salty enough. Add about half a pint of water hot from the kettle and simmer until you can put a fork in the vegetables. Stir in the spinach so that it wilts, then drain most of the liquid off (you can use this later as stock for soup). Stir in cream and grated cheese, taste and add salt and pepper to taste. Put the pie filling in an oven proof dish and let it cool before adding the pastry lid – pastry put on a hot filling often shrinks. Brush the pastry with egg and bake in the centre of the oven for half an hour to 45 minutes.
… and finally, I don’t like to waste things so I made some delicious little tarts with the leftover pastry and egg. I rolled the pastry thinly and used a biscuit cutter to make rounds which I pressed into a small muffin tin. These I filled with finely chopped mushrooms which I had stirred into the remaining beaten egg along with some dried herbs and salt and black pepper. These were baked below the pie for about 10 to 15 minutes.
This delicious pie used leftover roast pork, it would also be nice with leftover cooked chicken or lamb.
- A couple of handfuls of cooked Pork, diced
- A few rashers of Bacon
- One Leek, washed and chopped
- A cooking apple (I used Bramley)
- Teaspoon of Mustard seeds
- A couple of grinds of Black Pepper
- Half a teaspoon of ground Mace
- A generous slosh of Cream (you can use creme fraiche if you prefer)
- A sheet of Puff pastry
- An egg
Fry the bacon, mustard seeds and leek in a pan with a little butter. While this starts cooking peel and chop the apple and then it add to the pan along with black pepper and mace.
When the leeks have softened turn off the heat and stir in the leftover pork and the cream.
Lay the ready rolled puff pastry onto a baking tray and brush the edges with egg. Place about three handfuls of the filling onto one side of the pastry – it’s important not to overfill it*. Fold the other half over to form a lid, turn the edges and press down with a fork. Next, use the fork to make holes in the top to let steam out, brush with egg and sprinkle with some salt crystals.
Bake in the center of the oven at 180oC for approximately 45 minutes.
* if you have extra filling it is nice with a baked potato, or you could freeze it for a future pie. I had a go at putting it in a quiche but there was too much liquid in it so the consistency wasn’t right- it was yummy though!
You may have gathered from the previous couple of posts that I have quite a lot of courgette and marrow to get through! I rather like having a glut of a fruit or vegetable because it tends to lead to the invention or discovery of new and exciting recipes.
I found this recipe in one of my mother’s 1970’s cookery books. I was a little sceptical but thought I would give it a go – it’s delicious, my new favourite thing! The cooked marrow and egg makes a kind of egg custard, and the nutmeg gave it a wonderfully autumnal feel which reminded me a little of American pumpkin pie (although friends who tried it thought it was apple!). I have made it a couple of times now and intend to make it a few more times as I try to get to the bottom of the pile of courgettes and marrows.
I find that older recipes tend to assume that you know what you are doing, so I add the following clarifications:
- You can buy shortcrust pastry but it is pretty easy to make. I tend to use a recipe from another of my mum’s old books, where the proportions are 8oz flour, 4oz fat (half lard half margarine is best) and 2 tablespoons of water. I am very lazy and bung it in a food processor; this time I was even more lazy because Steve made too much pastry the previous day (he is renowned for his pies).
- It works best if the marrow is mashed while it is in a colander or sieve, so as to get as much liquid out of it as possible. The first time I made it it didn’t look like it would set; I took some beaten egg, added some more sugar and nutmeg and put this as a layer on top of the tart and cooked it for another five to ten minutes which rescued it nicely.
- The recipe doesn’t say what to do with the sugar; I sprinkled demerara sugar on top of the pie which made it nice and caramelised.
- I used quite a small, deep dish because I like thick flan filling; this is a matter of taste.
This was a proper make-it-up job.It wasn’t something that I would have thought of if I didn’t happen to have some cooked beef, mushrooms and cream in the fridge which needed using up and puff pastry in the freezer.
I went rifling through the cupboards for further inspiration and decided to add to the mix some walnuts, shallots from my mum’s garden, a little white wine, mustard powder, mace and black pepper. I had a sneaky suspicion that this would be a winning combination, what I didn’t expect is that the spice combination would strongly remind me of haggis – one of my favourite things. But for for the squeamish it is minus the offal!
It was so delicious! I will definitely make it again.
- A couple of handfuls of cooked beef ripped into bite-size pieces
- A couple of handfuls of finely chopped mushrooms
- A couple of finely chopped shallots
- A handful of walnuts, broken into pieces
- A good splash of cream
- A small splash of white wine
- Teaspoon mace
- Teaspoon Mustard powder
- Good grind of pepper
Preheat the oven to 200oC.
Mix the above ingredients in a bowl.
Take the ready-roll pastry and cut it into two pieces. On each piece, pile up your beef mix on half of the pastry and then fold it in half, then turn the edges over and press down with a fork. Brush with beaten egg and grind some salt onto the top.
Bake in the centre of the oven for about 25 minutes, until golden brown.
This is part of my ‘Supermarket-free Lent‘ and also includes some Christmas leftovers. I love Turkey Pie; it is usually a Boxing-day meal in my family so it is quite a treat to have it in March. If I had had some I would also have added bacon or leftover gammon to the pie-filling; however seeing as I had defrosted the gammon in error a couple of weeks ago and ended up making a slightly unusual curry with it I had to make do!
This served three people with leftovers.
- A couple of handfuls of cooked turkey (mine was leftover from Christmas), chopped into chunks
- 1/2 Onion
- a knob of Butter
- A Leek
- Mustard seeds
- 3/4 Pint Milk
- a heaped tablespoon of Cornflour
- 1/2 teaspoon Mace
- a slosh of Cream
For the pastry
- 8 oz flour
- 4 oz fat (3 oz Margarine, 1 oz Lard)
- 2 tablespoons of water
For the pastry
This is an Allcock-family cheat; put the pastry ingredients into a food processor and whizz until combined, adding more water if necessary a splash at a time. You will find that after a minute or so the pastry comes together in a nice ball ready to roll out.
For the filling
In a saucepan gently cook the onion and mustard seeds in the butter. Add the milk and heat slowly. Put a heaped tablespoon of cornflour into a jug with enough cold milk to make a paste. Once you have a good paste add the warm milk and mix well, then return the mixture to the saucepan. Continue to cook gently, stirring frequently until thickened.
Next, arrange the turkey in the base of an ovenproof dish. Cook the leeks in a small amount of water for about 3 minutes and then add to the dish.
Cover with the white sauce and leave to cool (otherwise the pastry will shrink).
Putting it all together
Preheat the oven to 200oC.
Roll out the pastry on a floured surface to approximately 1/4 inch thick. Put the dish with the filling next to the pastry and gently lift the pastry onto it by folding it back over the rolling pin. When the pastry is loosely covering the filling, take a fork and push the pastry against the side of the dish all the way round. Then, either take a knife and trim the excess pastry off, or fold the edges back in on themselves for a more ‘rustic’ look (I tend to do this when the pastry is difficult to deal with and it looks a bit scruffy – pretend that it’s meant to be that way!). Pierce the pastry a couple of times with a fork and brush with egg. Grind some salt over the top.
Bake in the centre of the oven for approximately 1/2 hour, until the pastry is golden.
Any extra pastry can be used to decorate the pie or, if there is enough, to make jam tarts.