Steak and mushroom pie

Steak pieNot much beats a proper home made pie and this steak and mushroom pie is ‘the King of pies’! Thick chunks of beef in a rich gravy with mushrooms and a crisp pastry lid, it’s quite easy to make and completely delicious. The trick is to make the filling at least a day ahead of when you want to serve it and to add chopped pig’s kidney in with the steak. It really transforms the flavour of the gravy but I know not everyone likes it so I cut it into very small pieces so it’s barely detectable. I make this in a deep 2 litre oval ceramic pie dish and use a pie funnel to support the pastry lid. It’s a big pie and will serve 4 to 6 people easily. It needs some creamy mash with it to mop up the gravy and green vegetables on the side.

You will need…

  • 1kg chuck steak cut into 3cm cubes
  • 200g pigs’ kidneys – remove the white connective tissue with a sharp knife and chop into small or medium sized pieces to your preference
  • 25g butter
  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 25g plain flour seasoned with a little salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh thyme
  • 300ml red wine
  • 300ml beef stock
  • 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce
  • 200g pack of button mushrooms
  • 400g of pastry made with your favourite recipe – flaky, shortcrust – or a shop bought 375g pack of ready-rolled all butter flaky pastry (if I’m in a hurry, I use Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference pastry) and a beaten egg to glaze.

To make…

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  • Place the the seasoned flour in a large mixing bowl and then add the chuck steak and chopped kidney. Thoroughly coat every piece in the flour.
  • Heat the butter and a dash of vegetable oil (to stop the butter burning) in a large heavy-based casserole (I use my big cast iron Le Creuset) and cook the onions though until soft and translucent but not browned.
  • Add the meat and brown quickly and then add the stock, wine, Worcestershire sauce and chopped thyme.
  • Bring to a simmer, add the casserole lid and then cook in the oven for an hour and a half. Remove from the oven, add in the mushrooms and return to the oven for another 15 minutes or so. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
  • steak pie fillingTransfer the meat into a 2 litre pie dish and allow to cool.
  • Set aside in the fridge until the following day to allow the flavours to develop but take it out of the fridge a good hour before you want to put in the oven so that the dish and the filling can come back up to room temperature. Don’t be tempted to put the pastry over a hot filling or it will go soggy.
  • When you want to cook the pie, preheat the oven to 200°C.
  • Steak pie lidEither make your own pastry topping, or use a ready rolled all-butter puff pastry. Brush the rim of the pie dish with a little water. You’ll now need to place a strip of the pastry onto the pie dish rim to anchor the crust. So, cut a thin strip of the pastry and press it firmly onto the rim. Make sure you centre the pie funnel in the pie filling and then carefully drape the remaining pastry over the top. Use the tines of a fork or your fingers to crimp the edge of the pie and trim the remainder with a knife. Brush the lid generously with beaten egg.
  • Steak pie Place the pie dish onto a baking sheet and cook in the centre of the oven for approximately 35 to 40 minutes. It will be cooked when the pastry is crisp, golden and cooked right through from the edge to the centre.
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Raan Masaledar

lamb-raanThis tender leg of lamb, slowly oven baked in a self-saucing yoghurt and spice marinade , tastes absolutely sublime and is a complete doddle to cook. It’s a fantastic dinner party dish that will get you lots of brownie points : ).

You will need…

  • 1 large leg of lamb – about 2+kg
  • 500ml thick Greek yoghurt
  • 150g ground almonds
  • 6 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon of cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon of green cardamom seeds
  • 60g grated fresh ginger
  • zest and juice of half a lemon
  • 1 teaspoon of ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon of garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons of chilli powder
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons of Maldon salt
  • A handful of toasted almond flakes and chopped coriander to garnish

To make…

  • This dish needs to be made at least the night before you want to serve it so that the flavours can permeate thoroughly into the meat.
  • Lightly toast the coriander, cardamom and cumin seeds with the black peppercorns in a dry frying pan for just a few moments to release the oils. Grind them coarsely in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle.
  • In a large mixing bowl, add all the ground spices, garlic, ginger, yoghurt, ground almonds, salt, lemon zest and juice. Mix thoroughly into a paste.
  • shoulder-of-spiced-lambScore the lamb with a sharp knife – make deep cuts in a diamond pattern. Put it in a ceramic dish large enough for the leg to lay flat. Apply the spice paste to each side of the lamb, push it into every cut and encase the meat totally. Cover tightly with cling film and leave in the fridge overnight.
  • The lamb takes around three hours to cook and needs about 15 minutes to rest once cooked. It should be taken out of the fridge at least an hour before it goes into the oven to enable it to get up to room temperature. So, if you want to serve it at e.g. 7pm for dinner, take the meat out of the fridge about 2.45 and get the oven up to 180°C  so it’s ready to go in the oven at around 3.45pm. The lamb should be soft and cooked through and can take a little longer in the oven if you’ve bought a really large leg so use our judgement.
  • Just before you put the lamb into the oven, transfer the lamb into a deep roasting tray, pour about 150ml of water in the bottom, and cover tightly with foil. Once the temperature is right, cook in the oven for two and half  hours and resist the temptation to peek.
  • After two and half hours, remove the lamb and uncover it. Some of the paste will have fallen into the water and the lamb should be quite tender. Baste the lamb with the juices so that only a thin layer of the paste remains. Pour off the liquid into a saucepan. This will form the basis of the sauce. Put the meat back in the oven to brown. Remove when it’s done, cover with the foil to keep it warm and allow the meat to rest.
  • Meanwhile, skim off any excess fat from the sauce in the pan and keep it warm on a low heat.
  • When you serve the lamb, I like to place the leg directly into a large, shallow sided bowl, pour the sauce over and around it and then sprinkle with toasted almond flakes and chopped coriander.
  • Carry it to the table with pride, allow everyone to help themselves to lamb and sauce. The meat should be tender enough to pull off big chunks with a couple of serving spoons in.
  • I serve this with basmati rice or naan breads, a dal, roasted cauliflower, spiced spinach and a cucumber raita.

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Swiss-style cherry clafoutis

cherry-clafoutisI’m really not a pudding person so, when I actually bother to make one, I do like it to be a crowd pleaser. This Swiss-style cherry clafoutis (inspired by a recipe from Betty’s legend Lesley Wild) is easy to make, fills the kitchen with just the best aroma ever and tastes scrumptious with a dash of double cream on the side. Give it a go, you won’t be disappointed! This will serve six to eight people and, should their be any leftovers, it reheats beautifully in the microwave.

You will need…

  • 1 x 400g brioche loaf (I used one from Waitrose)
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 425g tin of pitted black cherries in light syrup (I used Epicure cherries)
  • 1 tablespoon of Kirsch cherry liqueur
  • 2 tablespoons of ground almonds
  • 1 generous tablespoon of flaked almonds
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 300ml milk (semi-skimmed or whole)
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of demerara sugar
  • 25g unsalted butter

To make…

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C although I usually prepare this ahead, stick it in the fridge until I want to bake it and then put it in the oven after I’ve taken all the Sunday roast dishes out. It takes 30 minutes to bake so you can pop it in while you eat lunch and it will be ready by the time you’ve finished.
  • Pour the cherries and syrup into a bowl and add the Kirsch. Leave to marinate for an hour.
  • Gently warm the milk in a small non-stick saucepan, add the sugar and cinnamon, stir until thoroughly mixed and then remove from the heat.
  • Slice the brioche into slices and then bite-sized cubes. Place then in a large mixing bowl, add the ground almonds, pour the cinnamon milk over and gently mix together. Leave to stand for a hour so the milk is absorbed by the bread.
  • Butter a large oven-proof baking dish.
  • Beat the eggs together in a separate bowl.
  • To assemble, add the beaten egg and the cherries with the syrup to the bread mixture, mix gently but thoroughly. Pour carefully into the buttered baking dish. The cherries need to be evenly distributed throughout so just move them around with a spoon if they have gravitated to one end.
  • Scatter the surface with the demerara sugar, flaked almonds and dot with butter.
  • Bake in the oven for approximately 30 minutes. It’s done when it’s risen evenly, crisp and golden on top. Remove from the oven and serve warm with double cream.

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Spicy roasted cauliflower

spicy-cauliflowerNormally, I’m a bit boring when it comes to cooking cauliflower – cauliflower cheese, gratin, mash etc. but this recipe is both easy to make and very tasty as part of an Indian themed meal or served as a side with roasted meats.

You will need…

  • 1 large head of cauliflower
  • 2 tsps cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 5 tablespoons of light oil – olive, groundnut or rapeseed
  • 1 small lemon

To make…

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  • Break the cauliflower into small floats and blanch in a large pan of boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain and allow to cool and dry in its own steam for 5 minutes or so. It needs to be as dry as possible for the spice mix to adhere and the florets to crisp.
  • Mix the spices, salt and oil together in a large bowl and then add the cauliflower florets and toss in the mixture, coat each floret thoroughly.
  • Arrange the cauliflower in a large, shallow-sided roasting tray. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes.
  • Once cooked, pour into a serving dish and squeeze the lemon juice over the roasted florets just before serving.

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Spiced roasted shoulder of lamb

This is so easy to make, taste amazing and looks impressive enough for a Saturday night supper or a Sunday lunch gathering with friends and family. The lamb is rubbed with spices and then slowly roasted until it falls apart. Served with cous cous or a pilaf, some roasted vegetables (aubergines, peppers, onions, courgettes) and a cucumber raita this should feed six comfortably.

shoulder-of-spiced-lamb

You will need…

2kg shoulder of lamb.

Spice rub: 2 tbsp light olive oil, 1 teaspoon each of smoked Pimenton paprika, ground cumin, ground coriander, ground cinnamon & ground black pepper plus 2 fat cloves of garlic, crushed into a paste with 2 tsp of Maldon salt.

shoulder-of-spiced-lambTo make…

  • Mix the spice rub ingredients together thoroughly to make a thick paste.
  • Make deep slashes in the lamb shoulder, mix the paste into all the slashes and the outside of the lamb. Place it in a roasting tray and cover with cling film and leave overnight or at least two hours before cooking the meat to allow all the flavours to penetrate the meat.
  • Remove the cling film and bring the meat up to room temperature if you’ve had it stored in the fridge – it might take about 30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 220°C.
  • Put the lamb in the oven to sizzle for 25 minutes, pour off any excess fat, reduce the temperature to 160°, cover tightly with tin foil and then return to the oven for another two hours.
  • Check after two hours. The meat should be falling off the bone. If it isn’t, pour off the juices in the roasting tin into a small saucepan, then return it to the oven for up to 45 minutes.
  • The liquid you pour off can be reduced by simmering it gently on the hob – it makes a delicious sauce. Skim off any excess fat and taste it to see if you need to add any more salt or pepper.
  • When the meat is done, take it out of the oven, keep it covered and let it rest for 10 minutes.
  • To serve, pull out the bone and carve it/pull it into rough chunks. I usually serve it in a large bowl so I can pour the sauce over it and everyone can help themselves at the table. Scatter with a little chopped flat leaf parsley or coriander.

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