Sep 18, 2010

Kezz's Steak Pie

Well, more truthfully, my steak pie that I make for Kezz. This is rib-stickingly good eating, and definitely something that will light up the eyes of anyone coming in on a cold, wet winters evening. Pop off your shoes, relax by the fire, and enjoy with a glass of red wine.

Will serve 4 very hungry, cold men


1 lb cubed beef
1 medium onion, diced
2 large carrots, chopped
1 stick of celery, diced
1.5 litres water
2 heaped tablespoon original Bisto powder
100ml red wine
Bouquet garni
4 large waxy potatoes
500g shortcrust pastry (plain or savoury, not sweet!)
1 egg, beaten


1.       In a small saucepan put your cubed beef. Pour in just enough cold water to cover the beef, and place over a high heat. It will quickly come to the boil, and see that foam that rises? That’s excess fat, we’re not going to need that. Now that’s sorted, drain your beef, and run it under a cold tap just to cool it off again. Leave aside to rest.

2.       Take the biggest pot you have. It needs to hold the entire stew so you need a big pot here. Drizzle a little oil onto the bottom, enough to coat it, and place over a high heat. Add your onions, carrots, and celery and let them sizzle for 2-3 minutes, stirring them around.

3.       Next add your beef, water, Bisto, red wine and bouquet garni and bring to the boil, stirring constantly. Once it has started to boil reduce to a low heat and cover. Leave to simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

4.       At this point peel your potatoes and cut them into very large chunks. Think 2cm thick slices. Pop them into the pot, cover, and leave for another 45 mins to an hour, or until you can knock the beef and potatoes apart with a wooden spoon. You should preheat your oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 about now too.

5.       Now, the dish can actually be eaten at this point as a perfectly lovely stew, just so you know!

6.        Roll half your shortcrust pastry out to a thickness of just under 1cm, and line the base of a large, deep, buttered overproof dish.

7.       Spoon in your stewed steak and vegetables (remember to remove the bouquet garni!) and a little of the gravy (about half should do it). Keep the rest of the gravy covered and aside for now.

8.       Roll out the rest of your pastry, and cover the pie with it. Remember to press down on the edges to get a really good seal on your pie. Glaze the top of the pastry with the beaten egg, and slash a few vents with a sharp knife to allow steam to escape.

9.       Pop the pie in the lower part of the oven and bake for 35-40 mins, or until the top is golden and crispy. You might want to place a baking tray underneath it to stop any juices that escape from becoming a smoky, charred mess on the bottom of your oven.

10.   Once the pie is baked remove it from the oven, and allow it to cool slightly whilst you re-heat the leftover gravy. Serve in thick slices, with a generous splash of the extra gravy.

*This is a great use also for leftover roast beef, though be sure to adjust the cooking times accordingly.

**Although there’s already potatoes in the dish, if you wanted to stretch it that little bit further, you could serve smaller portions with mashed potatoes and lashings of gravy.

*** As pie this doesn’t really keep, it’s always best fresh, but as stew it’s actually at it best after 2 days of sitting in the fridge. I don’t know why, it just is how it is


This is the very basics of baking, the stuff that looks great, tastes amazing and is so simple that kids can do it with you and have loads of fun. Think of it as the next step on from Rice Krispie buns. Presuming that like me you’re using shop bought puff pastry that is. If you decide to do it from scratch well, it’s a bit more like advanced mathematics!
I’ve included 3 different types of filling here, but there’s loads more out there to try.

Do remember though, if you have small helpers especially, that jam comes out of the oven at boiling temperatures, and that it sticks to skin like glue. You do not want a jam burn.


500g puff pastry
1 egg, beaten
Golden caster sugar, to sprinkle
Drop of milk

(For the apple filling)
3 cooking apples
50-100g golden caster sugar (depending on how sweet you like them)
Splash of orange juice
Pinch of mixed spice

(For the jam filling)
Jar of jam of your choice

(For the mixed berry filling)
Whatever berries are in season, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries etc
50g golden caster sugar


1.       Peel, core and roughly chop your apples/or wash and prepare your berries/ or open your jar of jam.

2.       Preheat your oven to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 5.

3.       Place your apples in a saucepan and sprinkle them over with the sugar, add the orange juice and simmer until mushy and soft with a few lumps left here and there/ or simmer your berries and sugar until the berries are just losing their shape.

4.       Take your fruit filling off the heat and set aside to cool.

5.       Lightly flour a clean work surface and rolling pin. Roll out your puff pastry until just under 1cm think, then cut it into squares about 4-5cm in size.

6.       Take a pastry square, and put a teaspoon of your filling (apple, berry or jam) into the centre of the square. Dip your finger in the milk, then run it along two adjoining edges of your pastry.

7.       Fold your pastry over so that it makes a triangle shape, with the filling in the middle. Press the edges sealed with a fork. Repeat until you run out of pastry squares.

8.       Place your turnovers on a baking sheet covered in baking paper. Use a pastry brush to glaze them with the egg, them generously sprinkle with more golden caster sugar to coat.

9.       Pop them into the oven for 15 minutes, or until golden and crispy, and puffed up.

*I find that if I’m making a fruit filling for a pie or tart and I have some leftover it’s just as good as the filling for turnovers. Pop it in a small bowl in the fridge and one it’s covered it should keep there for 3-4 days, giving you loads of time to make them at your leisure.

Jamaican Jerk Chicken

This was born out of the need to use of the last of a leftover roast chicken, and half a butternut squash that we had floating around. I know there’s loads of recipes floating around for Jamaican jerk but Levi Roots Reggae-Reggae sauce is gorgeous, but quite hot. You have been warned!

Serves 2


2 chicken breasts, diced, or the leftover pickings from a roast chicken
1 red onion, chopped
100g garden peas, fresh or frozen
2 carrots, chopped
1 bottle Levi Roots Reggae-Reggae sauce (or another Jamaican jerk sauce)
½ butternut squash, cubed
250g rice


1)      Mix your chicken with two thirds of the sauce in a bowl, cover, and leave to marinade whilst you chop the other veg etc.

2)      Put a frying pan on a high heat, and bring a saucepan of lightly salted water to the boil. Wash your rice but putting it in a fine sieve and running cold water over it until the water runs clear. Leave it aside.

3)      Add a teaspoon of oil (I use rapeseed) to the pan and allow it to heat. Add your onion and carrots to the pan, and let them sweat until softened.

4)      Add your marinated chicken, reduce the heat and cover with a lid. Put your rice on to boil, and your butternut squash in with it.

5)      Keep an eye on your chicken, stirring occasionally, until the meat is cooked through and the sauce is starting to get a little sticky. At this point add the rest of your sauce and the peas.

6)      After your rice and butternut squash has been boiling for about 10 minutes it should be cooked through so remove from the heat and strain the water off. Split the rice/squash mix between two plates.

7)      Once your rice is arranged give your chicken and veg mix one last quick stir and ladle it onto the plates.
8)      Eat!

*This dish is HOT. I know I’m repeating myself but trust me, very spicy. Don’t let it catch you by surprise. If you don’t like spicy food you will not like this dinner. I’d advise a pint of cold milk as the beverage of choice for this one. And maybe a fire extinguisher!

Jamie Oliver’s Sweet Shortcrust Pastry

I have to give Mr. Oliver props for this pastry, I have tried countless other shortcrust recipes, varying the sugar, flour, flavours and I always, always come back to this one. If you try it you’ll see why! I tend to make twice what I actually need, and keep the excess in the freezer for a day that I want pie and can’t be bothered making pastry. This recipe though is for 1 portion, that is, enough to make 1 large pie.

You don’t want to over process shortcrust pastry, it can get doughy and chewy rather than that delicious buttery, crumbly texture we’re after, and for that reason I’ve given the instructions for using a food processor. I find it helps the pastry come together faster, and by removing the heat of your hands from the equation you remove the chances of melting the butter. I sound like a nag now, so I’ll just get on with it...


500g plain flour
100g icing sugar
250g cold butter, cubed
2 large eggs, beaten
Splash of milk
Flavouring of your choice (see below)


1)      Sieve the flour and icing sugar together. Pour into your food processor and add the butter cubes and your chosen flavouring. Pulse until the mixture is crumbly and fine (should only take about 30 seconds).

2)      Pour in the eggs and milk, pulse for a few more seconds until the mixture starts to come together.

3)      Place some clingfilm on your work surface, and scoop out your dough onto it. Pat it into a compact, roundish shape (DON’T KNEAD IT), wrap it in the clingfilm and pop in the fridge to chill for at least half an hour. TA DA! You’re done, and you’ve made fantastic pastry. Go you!

You can use any of the following:-

Lemon zest, orange zest, lime zest, cinnamon, nutmeg, mixed spice, cocoa powder, vanilla seeds

The list is pretty much endless. You will know from what you’re making what flavours are going to complement one another and work from there. Just remember that it’s the pastry you’re flavouring, not the pie, so go easy on it! You don’t want the crust on your gorgeous tart to overpower the filling. Similarly, try not to use a flavouring that is already present in the pie itself eg. Cinnamon flavouring in the pastry, plus cinnamon in an apple filling would be a cinnamon overdose and the flavour of the apples would be lost. Better to use some lemon zest and let it boost the fruitiness of the overall pie.

Apple and blackberry pie

This is a somewhat bastardised version of a Jamie Oliver recipe. I started out following Mr. Oliver’s recipe, only to find I didn’t have all the ingredients listed, didn’t like the idea of whole chunks of fruit in the pie, and I sort of went off on a tangent after that... According to Kezz this pie tastes like a summer garden, and reminds him of mown grass and sunshine, and flowers swaying in the breeze. How very poetic! High praise indeed from the son of a baker! I’ve included Mr. Oliver’s sweet shortcrust pastry here as I’ve made a few different versions and I always come back to this one, it truly is second to none. If you are pushed for time or don’t feel up to making pastry from scratch, fear not! This recipe works just as well with shop bought shortcrust, but I would suggest that sometime you give making it yourself a go. It’s surprisingly easy, and crazy delicious. Seriously, the man’s a genius.

If you’d like to try Jamie Oliver’s non-bastardised version it’s from his “Jamie at Home” cookbook, on page 348, and includes stem ginger (which I must try myself as I love all things gingery!).


1 sweet shortcrust pastry recipe (I use the lemon zest flavouring for this pie)
50g butter
100g golden caster sugar (plus extra for sprinkling)
4 cooking apples
4 eating apples
250g blackberries
1 egg
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon OR mixed spice


1)      Make your pastry dough. Once made wrap your pastry in clingfilm and leave it to rest in the fridge for at least half an hour. Shop bought pastry simply needs to be thawed (this takes 12 hours in the fridge, or about 3 hours at room temperature).

2)      Peel, core and roughly chop your apples. Preheat your oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4.

3)      In a saucepan large enough to hold all your apples, place your sugar and butter. Melt over a high heat, and once your butter has melted, reduce to medium heat and add your apples and enough water to come about a third of the way up the apples. Slowly cook for 10-15 minutes with a lid on, then add your blackberries and cook for another 5 minutes with the lid off. (A word of warning here, if you think your wooden spoons are precious, use a metal spoon at this point. My wooden spoons are a permanent shade of violent purple from this pie). Remove from the heat once cooked.

4)      While your pie filling is cooling get your pastry. Dust your work surface with flour and roll out half the pastry until it’s just under 1cm thick. Line a shallow, buttered pie dish with the pastry, and trim off any excess (a simple way to do this is to roll across the dish with your rolling pin).

5)      Spoon your pie filling into the dish, filling it up as much as you can without actually having it brimming. Roll out the rest of your pastry as you did the first half, and place it over the top of your pie. Trim the edges again, and push the two pastry layers together with your fingers.

6)      Beat your egg in a small bowl and brush over the top of the pie. Mix your leftover sugar and cinnamon or mixed spice together, and sprinkle over the top of the pie. Make a few steam vents in the pastry with a sharp knife.

7)      Pop into the lower part of the oven and bake for 45-60 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp. You may want to place a baking tray underneath it to save your oven from any sticky fruity splashes.

8)      Eat, and enjoy! Delicious hot with cream, custard or ice-cream, or can be wrapped in some greaseproof paper and tucked into a lunchbox to be enjoyed cold.

*I often have some leftover pie filling, and I tend to put it in a small bowl and keep it in the fridge. It’s gorgeous the next day with pancakes or French toast at breakfast (just quickly warm it through before using), mixed through natural yogurt it can be enjoyed at anytime as a quick snack, or it can be swirled through whipped cream to make a delicious fool. Great for getting fruit into kids!

**This pie keeps for 2-3 days at most, though I’d be surprised if anyone can actually make it last that long!

Apple Crumble

Apple crumble has always been one of my favourite comfort foods, and if you have ever had the real homemade deal you’ll know why. Crumbles and tarts are a great way to use up the inevitable autumn abundance, and since it can be prepared so quickly it’s a great dish to have up your sleeve to welcome guests with on a rainy afternoon. It’s too good to be kept just for visitors though, and makes a great fruity family treat anytime during the week!


750g cooking apples
Golden caster sugar
85g butter, cubed
175g plain flour, sifted
Pinch of cinnamon (optional)


1)      Preheat your oven to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6.
2)      Peel, core and slice the apples. Layer them in an ovenproof dish with 150-225g sugar, depending on how sweet a tooth you have!
3)      Pour over the water. You want it to come about two-thirds of the way up the apple layers.
4)      Rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs (I find it fastest in a food processor); stir in 50g sugar, and the cinnamon if you’re using it.
5)      Sprinkle the mixture on top of the fruit. Bake for 30-40 minutes.
6)      Serve with custard, cream or ice-cream.

*For a more grown-up dessert, you can whisk some icing sugar and brandy through your cream before serving it with the crumble.

**This method works pretty well with most fruits, and can be varied to suit whatever is in season. Just remember that sweet juicy berries like strawberries need less water(about half the amount), and less sugar, than cooking apples do.