Can you see the common denominator yet? FOOD GLORIOUS FOOD!
Today started with me trying to decide primarily what to cook for my son Leo and myself. It's sad to say but the wife Tracey as gorgeous as she is comes 2nd cos she's happy with reconstituted frozen rubbish that you buy in supermarkets
Anyway I decided to defrost some steak and kidney and make the obvious Steak and Kidney Pie. In order to do a pudding using suet pastry I would've of course needed some suet which,not only did I not have,but I've never used. As it happens I didn't even have any lard so I started a thread on the BBC Messageboard asking for pastry recipes using oil and a substitute shortening. A good friend of mine Lesley found a recipe and I decided to go with it.When I'd finished it I found it was one of the easiest pastry consistencies I'd ever used. I'll definately use the same recipe again and here it is:-
Ingredients: 1 cup self raising flour 1/4 teaspoon salt 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 large egg, beaten 2-3 tblspns water
I used my food processor to make it by firstly adding the flour to the salt and just pulsing it. Then it was as simple as adding the egg and olive oil and putting the machine on medium speed and adding a little water a tablespoon at a time until it came together into a ball of dough. The recipe suggested resting it in the fridge for 30 minutes but I went straight on rolling it out. This was the perfect amount for 2 small pies in ramekins that measure 4" diameter and 2" deep.
I had;- 280g of cubed steak 196g pork kidney ½ red onion finely diced 3-4fl oz gravy
I fried off the onion in a little butter and olive oil until soft and then put them to one side.I then tossed the steak and kidney in seasoned flour and again sealed in hot oil and butter. It was then a simple matter of lining the ramekins with the pastry and filling them with the onion,steak and kidney mix. I then poured the gravy on top and place the pastry on top,sealed it,brushed it with milk and cut an air hole in the top. I placed into a hot oven(220°C)for 20-25 minutes until a nice golden brown.
I forgot to mention a product that I've recently become aware of thanks to my good friend Melissa who bakes better than I do that I'm not sure I could do without now. It's Wiltons Cake Release and it's brilliant.
In case Melissa ever reads this she ought to know that I'm aspiring to bake better than her.
Can you guess fro the photo which is the mass produced frozen vegetable pie.
Well like most things,hindsight is 20/20.I decided that after eating a rather over peppered Ginsters Cornish Pasty that I could expand on it and hopefully improve things. We all have opinions anyway.
After some thought on the matter,running through flavours in my mind of matches that were made long before I walked the planet,I eventually decided on doing some Chicken and mushroom pasties with a twist.
I decided that although Traditional Cornish Pasties had no sauce,the chicken would need something to stop it drying out. The outcome was as follows...a chicken and mushroom pasty with a tarragon flavoured bechamel sauce and here's the recipe I devised along with a picture.I made some small ones especially for my young son.
1 large chicken fillet A couple of shallots-finely diced 2oz swede-diced A small potato-diced 3oz finely sliced mushrooms
and for the sauce.... 2oz butter 2oz plain flour ¼ pint milk 4-5 tarragon leaves finely chopped S+P 1 beaten egg
For the pastry I used: 8oz plain flour 4oz butter-diced 1 egg to bind Pinch of salt
1) Dice the chicken and seal in hot oil and transfer to a bowl with some salt and pepper in. 2) Add the potato,swede,mushroom and onion. 3) Make the bechamel by melting the butter and adding the flour and whisking continuously for a few minutes to cook out the flour.Then add the milk and carry on whisking. 4) The sauce will start to thicken up after a few minutes and at this point add the tarragon. 5) Pour onto the pasty mix and incorporate well. 6) Sieve the flour into a bowl,add the butter and rub in til it looks like breadcrumbs and then add beaten egg slowly.Just add enough to bring the dough together and save the rest for eggwash later.Rest it for ½ hour in the fridge then roll out to 5mm/¼" thick. 7) I used a small plate with a diameter of 8"/20cms. 8) This amount of filling should be enough for 5 pasties. 9)Pile up some filling in the centre of each circle and brush some beaten egg around the edge. 10) Fold over and either press down to seal.If you're more proficient that I you can try and crimp the edges. 11) Eggwash each pasty. 12) Place each pasty on a lightly oiled baking tray and place in a preheated oven for 30/40 minutes.
Preheat oven to 180C, Gas 4 Prepare a small rectangular roasting tin or oven proof dish approximately 8 x 12" (20x30cm) Melt the butter and chocolate over a pan of simmering water. Cool slightly. Stir in the sugar and vanilla. Add the eggs, one at a time, stirring until well blended each time. Add the flour and cocoa and beat for about 1 minute, until smooth. Pour into prepared tin, and bake for about 40 - 50 minutes. The mixture needs to be just cooked, so start testing with a cocktail stick at about 35 minutes - it should have moist crumbs, but not wet batter, still clinging to it. Cool in tin until cool enough to handle, then turn out and leave until completely cold before cutting into squares. I cut this size into 24 pieces (8 x 3), but it could easily make 32 smaller pieces (8 x 4) as it is very rich.
NOTES : Use the best chocolate you have; 40 - 50% cocoa solids makes great brownies, but 70% cocoa make superb ones! You can use unrefined brown sugar, even muscovado, for that extra bite. Strong flour can be used for extra chewiness.
I've received some relatively good news about my back. I had an appointment with the pain clinic doctor on the 28th May which was the follow up from the epidural that I had on February 27th. He asked how I was and I basically threw half a carrier bag full of medication on his desk and said how the hell do you think I am?
Any way he could see how much pain i was in so the first thing he did was write me a prescription for Morphine and then said he would get me an urgent MRI scan.This was around 2.30pm on Thursday. True to his word I arrived back from the hospital at 3.15pm and my phone was ringing at 4.00pm asking if I could get to the hospital the next afternoon for an MRI.
As I've said I got the results and it appears I have a prominent disc bulge and a tear in the disc.I neglected to ask if this was separate discs or not but when he said I could be treated without major surgery I was happy.
I've got to go to Coventry for a procedure called an I.D.E.T which is a less complicated way of saying INTRADISCAL ELECTROTHERMAL THERAPY.
With this news and the 100mgs of morphine still fresh in my mind I felt the need to cook something. As I've said before I do like to try things that I haven't tried before and today was no exception. When a schoolboy some of my dinner money used to go towards a packet of Garibaldi Biscuits which I loved.My schoolfriends used to call them Squashed Flies. I found a Marcus Wareing recipe and decided to give it a go. As you can see by the photo's they turned out great and taste just like i remember them.
I managed to keep out of the kitchen for most of the day which would've pleased my wife. Every time she comes in through the front door from work she's worried what will be the next thing to add inches to her perfect waistline.
I managed ok til around 3.20pm when I was overtaken by the urge to cook something. I knew it was imminent as I had to put a meal together for my wife ,son and myself.
I decided on a shop bought steak and kidney pie with some mashed potatoes and minted French beans.
My wife walked in through the front door at 4.22p.m which is over an hour early. She shouts through to the kitchen.."Oh god,now what?"
In she came to find me cutting out and placing fruit scones onto two baking sheets.
The recipe I used is quite a straightforward one.
8oz/225g Plain Flour 1½ Teaspoons of Bicarbonate of Soda 2oz/50g Butter 1 oz/25g Sugar 2oz/50g Sultanas Approximately 2-3 Fl oz milk .
1) Sift together the flour and bicarb together into a bowl. 2) Cut the butter up into small cubes and add to the flour and rub in with your fingertips. 3) When it's fully incorporated slowly add enough milk to allow the dough to come together to form a ball. 4) On a floured surface roll out to about ½ inch thick(1½cm). 5) Cut into fluted rounds and place onto a baking sheet. 6) Brush with milk or beaten egg and bake in a fairly hot oven for 15 minutes or until light brown in colour.
Following on from Miss Agedashi's great recipe I was asked by a friend if I could adapt/change it just for him? He loves his fudge but he liked it grainier and sweeter if that was possible. In the end I decided on the sugar being half an half (caster and granulated),I was only using condensed milk and as her recipe states...I stirred it for longer as it cooled. When my friend tasted it ,the only way I could describe the look on his face was 'It looked like he'd been sat in an opium den .'
The type that you used to see on the news in China etc. My friend is a Northerner through and through he insists and he asked me if I made Eccles Cakes?
I replied not only have I never made them but I've never tasted one. I guess that could be a future project.
I'm 42 and married to Tracey with a gorgeous 23 month old son called Leo who's named after my late Father.I have two great daughters from a previous marriage called Laurenne who's 14 and Danielle who's 13 and they live with their mum in Scunthorpe which is 160 miles away.I don't see the girls as often as I'd like but that's down to financial restraints as much as anything.