My Delicious Homemade Buttery Mince Pies

Sweet pastry Mince pies

I love mince pies, I love mince pies so much. Lilly and I set a challenge this December to try all of the mince pies we could possibly get our hands on in Jersey. Shall I let you into a secret none of them match up to today’s recipe. We hope you like them just as much.

A bit of Mince Pie history

Mince pies are a peculiarly British individual pie now eaten across the English speaking world. They are traditionally served over the Christmas period. Although in America they are more likely to be made in large tart cases and eaten at Thanksgiving. It is thought the name is derived from mince meat and preserved fruit pies first bought back during the crusades. These would have been quite heavily spiced with cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Today when we make mince pies we omit the meat but most recipes contain suet. You can use the tradition beef suet or a vegetarian option if you prefer.

My Last Minute Mincemeat Recipe

You can use a good quality mince meat but you might like to use my own quite luxurious recipe. As with a lot of my recipes you can always adopt to your own tastes. You can add Drambuie instead of brandy, some freshly grated orange zest,  and fresh cranberries for example.

Mincemeat is traditionally made in advance and stored in sterilised air-tight jars but I this recipe is just as good and read to use immeadiately.
Buttery sweet pastry mince pies ready for baking

The best Mince Pie Recipe

The basic recipe is for sweet buttery sable pastry and any left overs can be used to make Christmas biscuits. You can make the pastry ahead and freeze and defrost as you require. If you want to make a more traditional cover seal the edges with a little cold water, top with pastry and snip a small hole in the top.

Mincemeat is traditionally made in advance and stored in sterilised air-tight jars but I this recipe is just as good and read to use immeadiately.

Classic Beef and Ale Pie – British Food Fortnight

Love British Food logo

Summer seems to have come to a chilly, wet and blustery end and it is time for an overhaul of the summer salads and barbecues and start to cook some of my favourite foods, warming soups, hearty stews and casseroles, and traditional pies and puddings. As we shift into Autumn if you are a bit of a foodie you will know it is also time to celebrate National Cask Ale Week* and to promote British Food Fortnight, and if you follow this blog you will also know how I feel about some of the more obscure food promotions but as my day job is working for a brewery pub chain this is an ideal opportunity for me to promote two great passions, classic British pub food accompanied with a pint or two and what can be more suitable than a traditional Beef and Ale pie, a real pub favourite.

 

Braised Beef and Ale Pie
Beef and Ale Pie

Pies date back to pre-Egyptian history, early pies were flat, round crusty cakes called ‘galettes’ containing honey, evidence of which can be found on the tomb walls of the Pharaoh Ramesses I, located in the Valley of the Kings. The Roman cookbook Apicius has several recipes which involve a pie case, with a sweet filling, more like a modern-day cheesecake on a pastry base, which more often than not were used as an offering to the gods.

Medieval pies could be easily cooked over an open fire, the earliest pie-like recipes refer to coffyns ( meaning basket or box), with straight sealed sides and a top. The pastry was an effective airtight seal and used to prolong the life of expensive meat and was a handy carrying case when traveling on horseback.

Pies remained as a staple of traveling and working peoples in the colder northern European countries, with regional variations the locally available meats. The Cornish pasty is an excellent adaptation of the pie to a working man’s daily food needs.

 *Most of my recipes now include a beer and a wine choice to match the dish.

 Love British Food logo

More Great British Recipes

Classic Beer Battered Fish and Chips

The Best Ever Bramley Apple Crumble

Perfect Yorkshire Puddings

Shepherd’s Pie

 

Braised Beef and Ale Pie

Shin is an inexpensive cut of meat, which is big on flavour, and is full of gelatinous sinew which cooks down to make the most excellent gravy. It is easy to stew, you can also cook in the oven at around 350 F / 180 C / Gas mark 4 and it really lends itself to batch cooking in the pressure cooker and freezing down until required. You can adapt the recipe further sautéd kidneys or if you are feeling indulgent a dozen oysters just before you finish cooking. I am using Liberation Ale ( obviously ) but you can substitute any good flavoursome beer of your choice Adnams Broadside and Fullers ESB are other personal favourites.

 1.5kg Shin of Beef, bone removed, meat cut into chunks

( Ask you butcher to do this as you need a really good knife to cut shin

and ask the butcher to give you the bone )

500 gr Chestnut Mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced

2 large White Onion, peeled and finely chopped

2 large Carrots, peeled and finely chopped

2 sticks of Celery, washed and finely chopped

750 ml quality Beef Stock

500 ml Liberation Ale or a good Ale of your choice

100 ml quality Olive Oil or 3 tablespoons Beef Dripping

100 gr Plain Flour

2 tablespoons Tomato Puree

1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce

Bouquet garni; Celery stick, Bay leaf, Parsley and Thyme

A generous pinch of freshly grated Nutmeg

Fine Sea Salt & freshly ground Black Pepper to taste

Ready-made puff pastry

(use an all-butter one if you can) or Shortcrust

1 free-range Egg, beaten

Place the beef, flour, and seasoning into a plastic bag and shake. Meanwhile, heat the oil or dripping in a large heavy-bottomed pan. Fry the beef shin in batches until browned all over and set aside. In the same pan, adding a little more oil necessary, sauté the onions, carrots, and celery until soft for about ten minutes. Add the tomato puree and leftover flour and cook out for another minute, stirring continuously, before adding the beer and beef stock. Add the beef shin back to the pan, stir everything together and place the marrow bones and bouquet garni, tied with string, on top.

Reduce the heat and place a tight-fitting lid on the pan. Bring to the boil and reduce the heat to achieve a gentle simmer. Allow to cook for about two hours then remove the lid and allow the sauce to reduce for another hour. When the beef is cooked, remove from the heat and thoroughly cool. When cool remove the bones and the bouquet garni.

To serve, preheat your oven to 350 F / 180 C / Gas mark 4 and on a floured surface, roll out the half of the pastry to fit an oven-proof pie dish. Carefully place the pastry into the greased dish and add the beef shin filling. Brush the edges with egg wash and top with remaining rolled out pastry, crimp the edges and brush the top with the rest of the beaten egg. You can decorate with any pastry offcuts if you want. Place the pie in the oven for thirty to forty-five minutes until the pastry is golden and cooked. Allow to stand for 5 minutes after baking and serve with horseradish mash and buttered peas or seasonal greens.

Wine

What to Drink? A fruity, smooth spicy new world Merlot is a perfect match with the rich, full flavours of the slow-cooked gravy or have a pint of the ale that you cooked with.

 

 

Allergens in this recipe are;

  Flour   Milk    Eggs  Celery  Raw Fish In the Worcestershire sauce

Please see the Allergens Page

My Great Shish Kebab Recipe for your Bank Holiday BBQ

It looks like we are going to get some sunny spells over the Bank holiday weekend and let’s face it if it rains who hasn’t grilled under an umbrella before. Now if you are tired of same old, same old burgers and sausages burnt to a crisp today’s post are not one but a host of recipes. In a restaurant one of your goals is consistency, you want a dish your customers can enjoy again and again and recommend to all their friends. This is one of the reasons we follow recipes. As someone interested in food, and you are reading this article, you will probably look at a recipe then like me tweak a little ingredient here, adjust an amount there. I am going to make a wish and hope you change the following recipe(s) for Shish Kebabs totally, utterly and completely. Just think of them as the loosest of culinary guidelines. There is an almost infinite opportunity to mix and match textures and flavours and experiment to your heart’s content.

Kebab

 

Shish kebab is an English version of the Turkish words for sword and roasted meat. A Shish Kebab is a grilled skewer of marinated meat, normally lamb but chicken, beef, veal, and even swordfish can be substituted. In Turkish cooking, the vegetables are normally cooked separately.

There are a couple of rules for Shish Kebabs, first please if you are using wooden skewers soak them in water overnight as they have a tendency to burn, especially over a barbecue or char-grill. The second is not so easy and requires a little experience. Cut up your ingredients so they will cook at the same time. What do I mean by this? A large wedge of onion will not cook as quick as a king prawn so separate out the layers. Courgettes, mushrooms and bell pepper all add colour and flavour but need to be quite large pieces if mixed with small pieces of chicken or steak as the denser texture of the meat takes longer to cook. If you want to make a seafood Shish Kebab try wrapping scallops in bacon to protect them from the searing heat of the grill and add more flavour. Finally, not a rule but a top tip, a good marinade will add a ton of flavour but be careful, sugary marinades can burn and are better brushed on the food in the latter stages of cooking.

shish-kebab

Chicken and Vegetable ( Shish ) Kebabs                                          makes 8 kebabs

2 large Chicken Breasts cut in two-centimetre chunks

1 large Courgette, washed and cut into slices

1 large Red Bell pepper, cut in chunks

1 large Red Onion, peeled, quartered, and parted in layers

16 large Button Mushrooms, wiped

Quality Olive Oil

Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper

8 skewers

Thread the meat and vegetables on the skewers. Place on a baking tray, drizzle with oil and season generously. Cook on barbecue or under a medium to high grill turning regularly for around ten minutes until cooked. There that is it the easiest recipe I will probably ever post.

Now let your taste buds run wild, here are a few suggestions;

King Prawn and Rump Steak ( Surf’n’turf )

Monkfish, Prawns, and Scallops wrapped in Bacon

Chicken Tikka

Lamb with Garlic and Thyme

Mediterranean Vegetables

Cajun Tuna

Sweet and Sour Pork with Bell Pepper and Pineapple

skewer

Marinades 

Marinating your meat and fish for a couple of hours will add multiple layers of flavour and you can brush the Shish Kebabs with the marinade during cooking. Remember that if you use a sweetened marinade to lift the kebabs a little higher on the barbecue or turn the grill down a fraction as they will easily burn over a high heat.

Quick Southern Barbecue – 4 tablespoons Tomato Ketchup, 4 tablespoons Vegetable Oil, 1 tablespoon Sherry Vinegar, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce, 1 tablespoon Dark Brown Sugar, 2 Cloves Garlic, peeled and pureed, 1 teaspoon Smoked Paprika, ½ teaspoon Hot Pepper sauce, ¼ teaspoon Black Pepper

Greek Style – 4 tablespoons quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil, freshly squeezed juice of two Lemons, 2 tablespoons Honey, ½ teaspoon freshly chopped Oregano, ½ teaspoon freshly chopped Rosemary, ½ teaspoon freshly chopped Thyme, ¼ teaspoon Sea Salt, ¼ teaspoon Black Pepper

Asian – 4 tablespoons Vegetable oil, 2 tablespoons toasted Sesame Oil, 2 tablespoons Rice Wine Vinegar, 2 tablespoons Light Soy Sauce, 2 cloves of Garlic, peeled and pureed, 1 large piece of preserved Ginger, finely grated, ¼ teaspoon Chinese 5 Spice, ¼ teaspoon Black Pepper

Sweet ‘n’ Sour – 4 tablespoons Tomato Ketchup, 4 tablespoons Pineapple Juice, 2 tablespoon Honey, 1 tablespoon Sherry Vinegar, 2 cloves of Garlic, peeled and pureed, ¼ teaspoon Sea Salt, ¼ teaspoon Black Pepper

Fiery – 8 tablespoons quality Olive Oil, 1 small hot Chilli, finely chopped, 2 cloves of Garlic, peeled and pureed, 1 teaspoon Smoked Paprika, ½ teaspoon Hot Pepper Sauce, ½ teaspoon Sea Salt, ½ teaspoon Black Pepper

Wine and Beer

What to Drink? Slightly smoky grilled chicken kebabs pair well with un-oaked refreshing New world Chardonnays and are complemented by the light hop and citrus flavours of IPA or Indian Pale Ales

Allergens in this recipe are;

Celery    Raw Fish     and Soya maybe present in your marinade please check the recipe.

Please see the Allergens Page

Grilled Sirloin Steak

How to cook the Perfect Steak

Valentines Cover

What can be more romantic on Valentine’s Day than to cook and share a delicious steak with your partner, served with a rich buttery Bearnaise Sauce, some thick cut chips, and a crisp green salad? Here are the steps you need to prepare a fabulous steak just like a professional grill chef;

Grilled Sirloin Steak
Char-grilled Sirloin Steak

Buy the Best Meat You Can

You need to find a butcher who knows the provenance of his supplies, even better a farm shop or butcher who breeds his own cattle. Well hung ( matured ) grass fed beef is best. Good meat is expensive, but you are better buying less and better quality than more of an unknown piece of meat. The choice of cut will affect the flavour of your steak, rump and flank are very tasty but require perhaps a little more skill to cook correctly, a fillet is the most expensive cut and very tender but perversely not as flavoursome as the cheaper pieces of meat. I would settle in the middle for a piece of rib eye steak with some nice marbling of fat. The best ever Rib eye I have tasted is from the tiny island of Alderney and the grass-fed, twenty-eight day aged beef from Kiln Farm.

Aged Rib eye Steaks
Well marbled Kiln Farm Rib eye Steak

Fat is your Friend

Marbling is the small specks of white to yellow fat you can see in some cuts of meat they will render down during cooking and help keep the meat moist. Most importantly remember fat adds flavour to any cut, this is why beef joints such as silverside are often wrapped in fat by the butcher for a roasting joint.

Buy a Big Steak

For maximum flavour we want to get a good char on the outside of your steak while keeping the meat juicy and tender inside and this can be difficult with a thin cut for even an expert. The solution is one supersized steak to share, instead of two 350 gr steaks get one thick cut 750 gr steak.

Thick Steak

Cook from Room Temperature

It can be difficult to cook a steak and raise the temperature in the center if it comes straight out of your fridge at three to five degrees. Take your steak out of the fridge at least an hour before you want to cook it.

Hot, Hot, Hot

This is very important if you are barbecuing, using a griddle pan or just a big old heavy-bottomed cast iron frying pan, the choice of award-winning steakhouse Hawksmoor, it needs to be hot. Very hot. You don’t want to be able to hold your hand close to the grill or pan. Barbecuing over charcoal will give the steak a lovely smoky finish.

Charcole

Seasoning

If your steak is in a plastic bag or container, remove and pat it dry with kitchen paper.  Immediately before serving generously season with sea salt and pepper. Chef’s season meat exceedingly well it is probably the biggest difference between them and a home cook so don’t be afraid. I would use about a four to one ratio sea salt to fresh roughly ground black pepper. You don’t need to add anything else unless you want to add a little freshly ground coriander or smoked sea salt for a little extra flavour.

Oil and Butter

You don’t need any oil in the pan but if you want you can add butter towards the end of cooking and turn the heat down to stop burning. You can add a few thyme sprigs and a crushed clove of garlic for extra flavour if you desire. This will give your steak a buttery, creamy finish but you can finish the steak without the butter maintaining the extra crisp finish.

Cooking

Carefully place the steak on the grill or in the pan and leave it for a couple of minutes and then using a pair of tongues turn over. As long as the pan or grill is hot enough you should have no problem with sticking. WARNING you may get some smoke so open a window the pan needs to be hot enough for your steak to develop a delicious crust, so don’t overcrowd the grill or pan. Carry on turning the steak to prevent burning. If there is a thick layer of fat on your steak, hold it vertically, with tongs, to brown the fat. For cooking times follow this link, remember your steak will continue to cook after you remove it from the heat.

Resting

When the steak is ready it is vitally important to let it rest, at home place it on a warm plate cover with foil and wrap in a couple of T-towels and leave for at least five minutes this allows the meat to finish cooking and suck all the juices back, otherwise they will leak as soon as the meat is cut, and it will be dry.

 Steak 3

Slice the meat against the grain, rather than parallel to the fibers in the meat and serve with Bearnaise Sauce.

Wine and Beer

What to Drink? Steak and Bearnaise Sauce requires some out of the box choices to match the richness and slight acidity of the sauce try a bold, slightly acidic Chilean Cabernet or a big, bold in your face oaked Californian Chardonnay if you prefer beer try a hoppy English IPA beer.

Allergens in this recipe are;

 Milk    If you use butter

Please see the Allergens Page

Valentines Cover

Valentine’s Day Oysters Blonde and Blue

Valentine’s Day Bearnaise Sauce

Valentine’s Day Chocolate Mousse

A tray of Pasties

My Beef and Vegetable Pasty Recipe

It’s cold outside ( again ) and you probably want something hearty to eat, worry no more I have the perfect recipe for you from a few years back from when I lived and worked in Cornwall. On a journey through the southwest when you leave cuddly, cosy Devon and its world-famous cream teas, scones piled high with clotted cream and jam*, you cross the Tamar river and enter another world. There is something different about Cornwall and it always has been so, it is a magical place, a mythical place, slightly out of step and even out of time with the rest of England. It is a land with a rich history, it was a stronghold of the Celtic resistance to the Roman invasion, Phoenician traders travelled across the seas, over five hundred years ago, to bargain for the tin mined from its stony ground. It is a land of rolling, bleak moors, secret coves and bays hiding smugglers and pirates. Tintagel Castle, the birthplace of the once and future King Arthur clings to its rugged coast. Cornwall is the land of the pasty.

Freshly Baked Pasties
Freshly Baked Pasties

While I lived in Cornwall I made more than a few pasties culminating in a Bank Holiday weekend festival of pasties, real ale, music and more than a little mayhem at the New Inn, Tresco. People watched live bands, drank numerous pints of real ale and scrumpy in the Beer Festival Pavilion and ate pasties, ate pasties and ate more pasties. In fact, I’m pretty sure it could be a world record we sold thousands of pasties from producers all over Cornwall with some very unusual fillings. Peaches and Cream, Lamb Biryani, the Full English Breakfast Pasty ( grandma would approve ** ) to name just a few. I developed quite an aversion to the pasty but now I am slowly recovering.

So before I upset every Cornish man, woman, and child with my totally unauthentic recipe I really ought to mention how it should be made. One of the first references to a meat pasty was made by the thirteenth-century chronicler Matthew Paris ( not the modern Times columnist although I’m sure he could make a mean pasty should he wish ) writing about the diet of the monks of St. Albans. The pasty often filled with venison was a delicacy and is mentioned by Jane Seymour, wife of King Henry VIII and the diarist Samuel Pepys.

As the popularity of the pasty waned nationally the Cornish pasty came into its own. The pasty was a popular filling dish to carry into the deep pits of the Cornish tin mines in the seventh and eighteenth century, wrapped in thick pastry and muslin cloth the filling would keep warm for several hours. The pasty was often divided with meat the potato then fruit fillings. The thick twist of pastry was to allow the miners with dirty hands a convenient way to hold the pasty and was then discarded. There may be some truth that this also prevented contamination with poisonous arsenic present in the tin mines.

A proper pasty is considered to contain beef, sliced potato, onion, and swede. Confusingly in Cornwall, a swede is called a turnip. I am not sure what they call Norwegians. The ingredients are sealed in the pastry with plenty of black pepper and cooked from raw. The Cornish pasty is protected under European law alongside Champagne and Parmesan cheese so the Cornish are right to be proud of their culinary heritage. Here is my recipe for the unauthentic but still quite tasty pasty. If you are Cornish I apologise.

*Always in Devon cream first and jam on top, in Cornwall the jam goes on the scone, it’s best not to ask wars are started over less.

 ** It is a little-known fact all Grandmother’s don’t think you can get through the day without a hearty full English breakfast inside you. This is no bad thing

 

Beef and Vegetable Pasties makes 6 – 8

1 block of readymade Puff Pastry

Look I know we have not even got to the filling and I am using puff pastry and that is sacrilege, frozen puff pastry is a godsend to all but the most dedicated of cooks and always delivers a good finished result and they are very tasty I promise and I have apologised already.

500 gr Chuck Steak, cut into small chunks ( ask your butcher if you’re a bit unsure )

1 large White Onion, peeled and sliced

1 medium Swede, peeled and sliced about  ½ cm thick

4 Carrots, peeled and sliced

2 large Baking Potatoes, washed, peeled and sliced twice as thick as the swede

50 gr Button Mushrooms, wiped and thinly sliced ( optional )

A knob of butter

A glug of quality Olive Oil

30 gr Plain Flour

300 ml good Beef Stock

Worcestershire sauce

Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper

Flour for dusting

Egg wash

Preheat the oven to 200C / 400F / Gas 6. In a large heavy-bottomed pan heat the oil and butter over a medium heat and add the onion and sauté for five minutes. Seal the meat, flour and plenty of black pepper into a plastic bag and shake well. When the meat is coated add to the pan. Stir and add the carrots, swede, mushrooms, and stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for ten minutes stirring occasionally. Add the swede and a good slug of Worcestershire sauce. Cook for a further fifteen minutes until the potatoes are just soft. Check seasoning and set aside to cool.

Making Pasties
Pasties and filling

Flour a clean work surface and roll out pastry to about half a centimeter thick. Using a plate cut out circles around six to seven inches in diameter. With a soft pastry brush egg wash one side of the circle. Spoon on a generous amount of filling and pull over pastry.

A Prepared Pasty
Crimped Pasty

Crimp together the edges between finger and thumb to seal the pasty and place on a baking tray covered in parchment or with a silicon mat. Continue until all of the filling is used up. Chill in the refrigerator for twenty minutes to relax the pastry then brush twice with the egg wash. Prick once with the tip of a sharp knife to let out the steam and place in oven. Bake for twenty minutes until golden brown and serve.

Allergens in this recipe are;

  Flour   Milk    Eggs  Celery  Raw Fish

In the Worcestershire sauce

Please see the Allergens Page

Beef Bourguignon

Here in Jersey, we are proud to be part of the British Isles, but we are exceedingly close to France and have many French influences on everyday life from the street names to our culture and our cooking. There are probably several dishes that come to mind in mainland Britain if you are asked to think about French cuisine, Onion Soup, Coq au Vin and Moules Marinière are some of the most popular as is today’s classic recipe, Beef Bourguignon. This is a classic French recipe that comes from the Bourgogne or Burgundy region of France and is traditionally made using Charolais beef.

Today restaurants serve far more elaborate versions of the dish which was originally a simple stew. Traditional the beef was threaded or larded with bacon fat and it was marinated in red wine for up to two days for extra flavour before being cooked with the marinade, vegetables, and a bouquet garni. Bacon is still added to give the sauce extra flavour and makes up the traditional bourguignon garnish with button mushrooms and baby onions or shallots. Many of the recipes have changed from Auguste Escoffier’s recipe of 1903 and now use cubes of beef such as chuck steak, I am sticking to the single piece of beef in Escoffier’s recipe but using a slightly unusual cut, beef cheek, which cooks down into the sauce and makes the best bourguignon I have ever tasted. The dish is very rich so one cheek will feed two people.

Bourguignon.jpg

Beef Bourguignon

2 Beef Cheeks

200 gr diced Pancetta or Smoked Streaky Bacon, cut into slices

200 gr Button Mushrooms, cut into quarters

1 bottle Red Burgundy

300 ml quality Beef Stock

14 Shallots, peeled and halved lengthwise if very large

1 large Carrot, peeled and cut into chunks

3 cloves of Garlic, peeled and very finely chopped

3 tablespoons Olive Oil

2 tablespoons Plain Flour

A large knob of fresh Butter

1 Bouquet garni

Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper

Freshly chopped Parsley

Preheat your oven to 150°C / 300°F / Gas Mark 2. Heat a large, heavy-based ovenproof casserole dish on a medium heat and add the oil.  Season the beef cheeks with sea salt and black pepper and fry until brown, for three to four minutes, on each side. Remove the beef and set aside on a plate and add the butter to the casserole then add the shallots, bacon, mushrooms, and carrots, and cook until lightly browned.

Beef Bourguignon Veg..jpg

Then stir in the garlic, tomato puree, and plain flour and cook for two more minutes, stirring constantly. Return the beef cheeks and any beef juices to the pan and pour in the wine and stock. Put on the casserole lid and cook very gently for three to four hours. Alternatively, you can cook in a slow cooker following the manufactures instructions. Check seasoning and serve topped with plenty of chopped parsley.

The traditional accompaniment is Boulangère potatoes, but I like Celeriac or Parsnip mash.

Allergens in this recipe are;

Celery  Milk

Please see Allergens Page