Happy New Year everyone!!!!

Life of Pie.
It may not be an epic story of friendship and survival, but it does contain some pretty epic pies.
I really do love pastry and there is no better food for Winter then a big helping of some humble pie.
There are so many types of pastry, pies, and fillings,both sweet and savoury the World is endless with pie possibilities.






I have started with simple shortcrust and a few fillings both sweet and savoury.

Pastry may seem scary and technical but it really is quite easy and can make a huge range of great food.
Shortcrust party is a simple creature. Just double the amount of flour to butter and bind with cold water, simple.

I would use a food processor this chops the butter and flour together, getting a nice fine breadcrumb. A mixer works fine too, with my Dolly I like to break the cold butter into the flour a little bit just to help it break up. I also put a teacloth over the machine as you do get a few sprays of flour going everywhere.
After you get lovely fine looking breadcrumbs, the trickle in small amounts of very cold water. When the dough comes together and goes into a ball, the dough is ready.

For a good medium- large sized pie a 8-10 oz batch will be enough to make a base and a lid.
x 8-10 oz, 500-700g of plain flour
x 4-5 oz,250-350g of  butter, cubed
x 100 ml +  of cold water

You can use any plain flour, just as an experiment I have used wholemeal in the past, which works well. You get a much denser, darker dough, which is more filling and a little better for you. I tried tipo ‘oo’ flour as we had it in the cupboard. A much finer flour which is normally used in pizza dough and for choux pastry. It worked really well and will definitely b using it again. It produced a thin, crisp party. Very nice.










To make the fillings.

This really is where you can let your imagination go and have an experiment with lots of flavours. It is also a great way to use up left overs.
Typivcal combinations are:

Ham and Mushroom– use cooked cubed ham and cooked mushrooms, season with parsley.
Ham and cheese– use cooked ham and the cheese sauce.
Cheese and onion– use diced red, white or spring onions, cheese sauce, and extra grated cheese stirred through when filling is cold.
Spinach and Feta– wilt spinach and squeeze out excess water, mix with cheese sauce then add crumbled feta when mix is cold.
Mixed vegetable– cut into equally sized cubes of broccoli  cauliflower, leek and carrot, boil for 5 minutes, drain then mix in cheese sauce, add some thyme and basil
Chicken and mushroom– add cooked chicken and coooked mushrooms too cheese sauce, add tarragon.
Chicken and Leek– Cooked chicken and cooked leek with the white or cheese sauce, add parsley.
Sausage Pie– any flavour sausage meat, raw, with flour and breadcrumbs.This is a great chance to use great quality speciality sausages, such as pork and apple, black pudding, spicy, grain mustards.
Sausage and Leek– Any flavour sausage meat plus leek.
Beef and onion– Stew beef and onion for a few hours, stir in flour at the end.
Steak and Kidney– Stew steak and kidneys, add some flour and
Venison and Chestnut– A great seasonal stew, see below for details
Rabbit stew– A simple rabbit stew cooled then used as a pie filling.
Fidgety Pie– An old recipe, a mix of bacon and apples.

In all except the sausage pies, the fillings are cooked and cooled.
With chicken, ham and vegetable ones I do a simple bechamel or white sauce, which can be a cheese sauce.

x 4 oz butter
x 4 tablespoons plain flour
x 1/2-1 pint milk, any
Bay leaf if desired
x 60g grated cheese, if making onto a cheese sauce.

Make a roux, melt butter in a saucepan and add the flour, mix with a whisk for a minute or two to cook out the flour. Add the milk very slowly and mix constantly with the whisk to prevent lumps. Keep adding until you have the consistency of single cream, then stop adding milk, keep on medium heat. The sauce should begin to thicken after around 3-5 minutes, keep string all the time. When the sauce has reached a thickness of thick double cream or batter, it is done, stir in the cheese and cool. If you do have any lumps, a hand blender can be used or a sieve. just so you have a lovely smooth sauce.

Leave to cool then mix in your other fillings, such as cooked mushrooms and cooked cubed ham, add herbs, such as a small hand full of sage and parsley. Check seasoning and the filling is done. Always leave to cool or go cold. Hot fillings and pastry don’t mix well.

Roll out the lid into a nice circle. If using a pie bird then place the bird in the pie base and put mix around. Cut a little hole in the middle of the lid to fit over the birds head and shoulders, attach to base with a dab of water on the rim. If not using a bird, roll lid and put over filling and do the same with bonding the edges.
Crimp the edges with a pinching action around the sides. This can be done with a fork as well, but I like a rustic crimp. You are sealing these edges together to prevent any mixture leaking out. If using a bird the air will be realised through the mouth. I f not cut a cross hole in the top. This lets the air out of the top, instead the air trying to find an escape route through a week join, which would be an edge.
Put a milk wash over the pie before going in the oven. The pie can go straight in the oven, but I like to rest the made pie in the fridge for 20 minutes. This settles all the filling and pastry ready for a beautifully cooked pie.

















With most pies, they only need cooking to cook the pastry, so around 30-40 minutes will be fine. I start them off at 200 degrees for 10 minutes hen turn the oven down for the further 20-30 minutes to cook. Pastry like hot ovens. Cook until golden brown.
The sausage and leek pie I made took 40 minutes.

Another great pie I have made recently is Venison and Chestnut.
A lovely seasonal pie, full of gamy full flavours. I used wild venison from my local market butcher  I know I’m eating Bambi, but for me the fact that he had a wild life, without cages is a comfort to me. It is a personal choice and the decision as always is yours. I love venison and game and have less of a problem eating wild then I do mass produced, raised and butchered farmed meat.

x 200 g wild venison
x 200 g roasted or vac packed chestnuts- to roast, score chestnuts then roast in a tray for 10 minutes at 180 degrees
X 2 rashers of smoked back bacon
x 1 leek chopped
x 1 swede peeled and roughly cubed
x 1 parsnip, peeled and chopped
x 1 cup red wine
x 1 carrot, chopped
x 1 cup stock/water and stock cube.
x handful of herbs. Rosemary, parsley and thyme is a great mix.

Cook off the venison and bacon in a pan until golden brown. Meanwhile chop all veg and put into a slow cooker on high. If using the oven put in a lidded casserole dish and preheat oven to 150 degrees. Once venison is nice and browned, add to chopped vegetables. add a cup of stock or water with a stock cube to the veg and meat mix, season with salt and pepper. add red wine. I do this by de glazing the pan you cooked the venison in. Keeping the an on the heat add the wine. It will bubble and boil. This de glazing removes all the flavour from cooking the venison. This is full of flavour and will add bags of yumminess to the mix. Add the bubbly red wine to the dish. Add the herbs on top and cook in the slow cooker or oven for a few hours.
I had my slow cooker n high for 5 hours. In the oven I would say 150 degrees for 4-6 hours should do the trick. You want a rich mix of soft venison and juicy veg.
Either eat as a stew as is or cool to add to a pie and cook for 30-40 minutes until filling is hot and pastry is golden.











Now onto sweet pies.

A classic apple pie, a peach tarte tatin nice ideas for left over pastry bits.
Classically with sweet deserts you would use a sweet pastry, but I use shortcrust and just make sure the filling is nice and sweet. I like the plain flavour of the shortcrust, and it makes the whole thing not too sweet and sickly.

A classic Apple Pie.
x 400 g apples, I use a general apple such as breburn, but a mix of eating and cooking would be nice too.
x 100 g sugar, any but I do like a golden, brown or muscavado.
x 6-8 oz pastry
x 2 teaspoon cinnamon
x 50 g raisin/sultanas optional.

Peel and chop apples into slices. In a pan melt a knob of butter and cook off apples, once the edges start to soften, add a splash of water, the sugar, cinnamon and raisins, cook for a further 5 minutes. Take off check sweetness, you can add more sugar at this stage. And cool.

Roll out pastry leaving 2oz for the top and line a pie/flan dish. Add filling to the base.For the lid I like to do strips of pastry and criss cross. A nice twist on a full lid. Bind on edges with water and crimp as before. Wash with milk then sprinkle wit a little extra sugar. This gives a nice crisp sugar top cook for 30 minutes at 200 degrees until golden brown.
Leave to cool a little, and serve warm form the oven with a great vanilla ice cream. YUM!!!

Tarte tatin
a French classic desert of cooked caramelised fruit with a pastry top/bottom.  You will need a pan without a plastic handle as the frying pan need to go into the oven.

x 300 g fruit, apple, peach, nectarine, pear and plum work well. Sliced
x 100 g brown sugar
x 50 g butter
x 1 cup of water
x 2-6 oz of pastry
milk for wash

Slice and de-stone/pip fruit. With apples and pears I slice, with peaches, plums and nectarines I half then place in pan. Cook on medium heat with the butter for 5 minutes, then add sugar and a cup og water, cook for a further 5-10 mins, you want the fruit soft but holding its shape well and slightly caramelised on the edges. Take off the heat and cool for 5 minutes.
Next roll out the pastry to the same size as the pan. Once friuit has cooked slightly place pastry oven fruit, tuck edges down the sides, milk wash and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.
To serve turn out onto a plate, so the pastry is on the bottom and the fruit is on top. Serve with a dollop of cram, ice cream or sweet mascarpone.













Tip: Keep any left over pieces of pastry.
Use on any holes that appear in the pie bases of lids.
Decorate pies with leaves or shapes.
Use to make jam tarts or sweet shapes.See below.

Jam Tarts and Sweet Treats.
These are great to do with kids. I had help form my 4 year old nephew which is why they look a little ummm rustic. A great way to introduce pastry to children and use up left over bits.
x pastry off cuts
x jams
x cinnamon
x granulated sugar
Roll out pastry bits, use cutters to cut pastry shapes, place on a greased baking tray and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon, bake at 180 for 5 minutes.


Roll out pastry and cut circles  use a fairy cake tin. grease holes, add pastry circle, place on a teaspoon of jam and bake at 180 for 5-7 minutes. A nice way to use some of your elderberry jam. A great hit with Children and adults alike.

I hope you have enjoyed the pie blog. If you need any extra information on specific recipes, please drop me an email or leave a comment and I will get back to you.

Have your life in pies!
Love Janine
BakeLove xxxxx