Sunday, August 22, 2010

Beef & shiraz pie with lemon thyme potatoes

One of the meals that I really loved in England and Wales earlier this year were the yummy pies, particularly the beef and ale ones. I had never made pies like that but thought I would have a go tonight. I didn't have any Guinness on hand or on tap but I did have red wine so I thought I would try my hand at a beef and red wine pie.

To accompany it, I cooked potatoes roasted with lemon thyme and lemon-infused olive oil. It ended taking a lot longer than I expected. So it is certainly a meal to make on the weekend or a meal to do a lot of the preparatory cooking before! I certainly enjoyed my pie but think that I like the ale ones better!

Beef & shiraz pie with lemon thyme potatoes

12 potatoes
Several sprigs of lemon thyme
Lemon-infused olive oil
880 gr topside beef
Plain flour
Olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
1 onion
4 handfuls mushrooms
1.5 glasses shiraz
Puff pastry
1 egg

Preheat the oven to 220c
Chop the potatoes into halves or quarters and place in ovenproof dish
Sprinkle with lemon-infused olive oil and add lemon thyme
Mix to coat, preferably with hands
Put aside potatoes
Heat oil in pan
Place flour on plate, add pepper and mix
Chop the topside into cubes and coat with seasoned flour
In batches quickly brown the meat in the oil and add to a lidded casserole
Roughly chop the onion and crush the garlic
Add to the pan once the meat has been removed and cook until soft
Slice the mushrooms and add to the onion mix in pan
Cook a further few minutes and then add to meat mix in casserole
Pour the shiraz into the pan and bring to the boil loosening the pan scrapings
Pour over the meat mixture in the casserole
Place the casserole in the oven and cook at 220c for 30 minutes
Check and stir the casserole and add potatoes to oven and cook for 45 minutes
Check and stir the casserole and turn the potatoes
Cook for a further 30 minutes or until meat is tender
Remove casserole from the oven (leaving potatoes in oven)
Decant the meat into six individuals oven-proof dishes (I used souffle dishes)
Roll and cut the pastry into circles to cover the dishes and cut out decorative pieces if desired
Wet the rims of the dishes and seal the pastry around the edges
Pierce the pastry in a couple of places with the point of a knife to allow the steam to escape
Add decorative pastry leaves if desired
Beat the egg and use it to brush the pastry lids
Place pie dishes on oven tray and return to oven for 15 minutes
Allow to cool slightly and serve with the potatoes.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Lamb's fry and bacon

Earlier in the week I was browsing in the supermarket meat shelves looking for something to improve a cat's anaemia and generally tempt her appetite. I was amazed to see a shelf of lamb's fry. I hadn't eaten lamb's fry for years but we used to have it regularly when I was a child.

The cats weren't at all keen on it, but I really enjoyed looking up recipes for lamb's fry in my old favourites Margaret Fulton and my Stephanie bible. It was also fun trying to remember how we used to cook it when I was a child.

The resulting recipe is an amalgam of all these sources, combined with what I had on hand in the kitchen.


1 lamb's fry
6 rashers of shortcut rindless bacon
1 cup combination of stock/red wine
Olive oil


Moisten the bottom of pan with oil and heat
Add the bacon rashers and cook until crisp
Put aside in serving bowl which is being kept warm
Meanwhile chop the lamb's fry into pieces a couple of inches long
Season the flour with pepper
Coat the lamb's fry pieces in flour
Once the bacon has been taken from the pan add some margerine to the bacon fat
Cook the lamb's fry in fat/margerine in batches for 2 minutes each side
Add cooked lamb's fry to the bacon in serving dish
Make up a cup of stock and red wine
Clarify the pan with this and then simmer until reduced
Pour sauce over lamb's fry and bacon in serving dish
Serve with mashed potatoes.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Spinach and Ricotta Pastries

After using half a tub of ricotta to make my meatballs, guess what? I needed to decide what to do with the rest. And what goes with ricotta? Spinach! So I decided to make some spinach pastries using ready made sheets of frozen puff pastry I had in the freezer. The result was pretty yummy, if I say so myself, and incredibly simple to do.

2 sheets frozen puff pastry
200 gr low fat ricotta
2 spring onion chopped
Handful shaved Parmesan
6 individual serves frozen spinach
1 clove of garlic peeled and crushed
Half teaspoon Sambal Oelek
1 egg
Sesame seeds

Preheat the oven to 200 c.
Take sheets of frozen pastry from freezer and put on wire rack to thaw
Place frozen spinach, spring onion, garlic and chilli in bowl
Cover with greaseproof paper and microwave for 2.5 minutes
If microwave not available, place in top level of steamer until cooked
Place ricotta and parmesan in mixing bowl
Beat egg in cup with fork and add most of it to cheese mixture (leave enough to baste the pastries)
Add vegetable mixture to bowl and stir until combined
Cut pastry sheets into four equal portions
Spoon heaped dessertspoon of mixture onto each square
Pull each corner to centre and press together to seal
Make sure that the four outer corners are also sealed thoroughly to prevent leakage
Using pastry brush baste tops of pastries with beaten egg
Sprinkle with sesame seed
Place in middle of oven and cook for 20-30 minutes
Leave for 15 minutes before serving


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