Sing a song of sixpence…
Now that the clocks have gone back and the nights are drawing in, there is no better excuse to indulge in a bit of comfort eating to make us feel a bit better. I try as much as possible to cook a Sunday lunch each week so that we can all sit down as a family and enjoy a meal together. Call me old fashioned but I really see the value in doing this for our little family. Besides, it gives me an opportunity to bake and try out new things, which keeps me happy.
One of the new things I have been trying out is an old favorite which for some reason seems to have passed me by in the last few years. Not sure why. Maybe it was because I was not fortunate enough to taste one that inspired me enough to want to start making my own. This is possibly a consequence of living ‘down south’ but there is no excuse for the bad ones out there, and they are far to fattening to eat a bad one! I guess I should say what I am talking about, although you may have guessed from the title of this post. It is of course the humble pie! So what was it that got me thinking about, and then baking pies? Well it was quite innocent really, and a bit by chance. A good friend of mine gave me a new recipe book as a gift and in there was a fabulous looking pie recipe that caught my eye. It was just what I fancied, and I guess you could say the rest is history. Once the first one was a success, I have gone on to try a few, and have now come up with a recipe that combines a number of seasonal ingredients to create a pie which for me is worth making every time. After serving this to my mum one week, she went out and brought me the cutest little blackbird pie funnel, so now with a blackbird to put in my pie and a nursery rhyme to sing with the kids, pies are a regular feature in our house. If you are reading this and can’t remember the last time you made a pie, give this one a shot and you might just find yourself in a whole new world of Sunday lunch heaven!
Mushroom, Chestnut, Stilton and Guinness Pie
This is a vegetarian pie but is hearty enough for any meat eater to enjoy. The addition of Guinness is down to my Irish roots, but it helps to make a rich flavoursome gravy which is one of the reasons this pie stand out. It is perfect to eat at Christmas time too, and can be made in advance and frozen once the pie filling is in and the pastry lid on top. I have included the recipe for puff pastry, but if you have not got the time or energy to make it, just add some ready made puff pastry to your shopping list and use that instead.
- 300g/10 1/2 oz plain flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 300g/ 10 1/2 oz unsalted butter – cold but not solid
- 1 teaspoon of lemon juice (jif will do)
- 140ml icy water
- Put the flour into a bowl with the salt, then rub in 50g of the butter with the fingertips until it looks like breadcrumbs and is well incorporated
- Add the water and the lemon juice and stir into a dough using a round bladed knife and then your hands. We are trying to keep the pastry as cold as possible, hense the mixing with a knife first. Cut a cross into the top of your dough ball and then wrap with cling film and put in the fridge
- Put the remainder of the butter on the counter between two sheets of cling film and bash with a rolling pin until it is half its original thickness. Then fold up and do it again, and again if needed until the butter is pliable but still cold. Beat into a square approximately 13cm width and length
- Retrieve your dough from the fridge and roll out into a cross shape with four (for want of a better word) flaps, leaving a slightly thicker central square once all flaps are rolled
- Place the butter in the centre of the dough and fold flaps in to cover the butter
- Turn dough upside down and roll carefully into a rectangle and then fold bottom third in to the centre third and the top third into the centre third, (a bit like folding a letter)
- Give dough a quarter turn so folded edge in on the left and follow step 6 again
- Complete another 4 turns and folds, at which point your puff pastry will be ready. Can be keep in the fridge for up to 4 days or frozen
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 medium onions
- 250g/9oz chestnut mushrooms cut in half
- 2 carrots cut into bite size chunks
- 150g/5 1/2 oz cooked chestnuts
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 250ml Guinness
- 100ml vegetable stock
- 2 tsp worcestershire sauce
- 2 tbsp plain flour
- 100g/3 1/2 oz stilton cheese
- 1 egg lightly beaten
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 200c/400f/gas 6. Heat oil in pan and fry onions until golden and soft. Add mushroom and carrots then saute for another 10 mins
- Stir in the chestnuts and thyme, then add the Guinness and simmer for 3-5 mins
- Add stock, worcestershire sauce and sprinkle in the flour stirring until fully mixed in. Cook stirring regularly for another 15-20 mins until the liquid has reduced and thickened to look more like a gravy.
- Add stilton and season with salt and pepper. Stir until melted and combined
- Put pie filling into your pie dish. Place pie funnel in the middle if you have one, otherwise you can use an upturned egg cup
- Roll out the puff pastry on a lightly floured surface and lay it over the top of the pie dish leaving a slight overhang. Trim with a sharp knife and seal edges with the back of a fork or by pinching with your fingertips
- Brush top of the pastry with beaten egg, gently prick the top with a fork and bake for around 35-40 mins until risen and golden.
I like to serve mine with new potatoes, a green vegetable and some additional gravy.