I officially suck at keeping up to date with my blog. Its been a few hectic weeks at work and also at home, and whilst I have been whipping up a number of treats, I have just been too lazy to write. I’ll give myself a D- and must do better.

Last Sunday was a cold, wet, horrible day. One of those days that made you want to just stay indoors, watch trashy TV and eat. I had one thing on my mind that day and that was pie. I love pie. Any pie, but in particular savoury. Pie is also a bit of a topical choice, as it is apparently a key food trend for 2011 (see here for the full story). In my opinion, pies aren’t something that you can consider a “trend” food they’ve always been around, from schools, to football terraces and to pubs. they’re among the top of the foods I have in my “comfort food” list. I defy any non vegetarian who doesn’t love a pork pie and brown sauce!

Anyway, aside from the pie rant, I actually made a really good steak, ale and stilton pie. Homemade pastry and everything, which I was particularly proud of. Steak, beer, cheese and pastry are four of my favourite foods, so to combine them all = winner!

The pie filling was an adaptation of Jamie Oliver’s Steak, Guiness and Cheese Pie. The base recipe can be found on Mr Oliver’s site.

My changes to the recipe was that I used a lovely British Stout by Hook Norton instead of the Guiness and instead of the cheddar cheese I used the classic cheese of choice in this kind of pie – Stilton! So not to over power the pie, I used about 120g of Stilton.

This is brilliant, long slow cooking at its best. The only real bit of “cooking” is frying of the pie filling before whacking it in the oven for a couple of hours.

Whilst the pie filling was in the oven, I got on and made the pastry. I’ve never made pastry before, basically because I’ve always thought it would be too difficult and it’s much easier to buy my own. However, I took the plunge and used Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s Rough Puff Pastry recipe from his River Cottage “Meat” book. However, you can also find the recipe for it on the C4 Food site

Puff pastry relies on layers and layers of butter and flour – rough puff essentially a halfway house between puff and flaky pastry, but easier to make. The key to achieving a good flake to the pastry is not to rub the butter in too much, you want to see lumps of butter – rather than cube the pastry as in the recipe, I grated it whilst super cold and then bright it together with the flour and the water.

You also need to work very quickly and try and keep the pastry as cold as possible. If you feel that it is getting too warm, then pop it in the fridge for 30 mins and continue. Roll and fold the pastry at least a dozen times and chill until you need it.

When the pie filling is ready and you have added the cheese, line the pie dish with 2/3 or the pastry, fill with the meat mixture and top with the other 1/3 of pastry. Roughly crimp the edges, seal with egg wash and cook in the oven for 45 mins at 190C.

The beauty of this dish is that you can make the pastry and filling in advance, the pastry and filling freeze really well too.

We just ate it with peas, and a glass of Hook Norton Stout!

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