Master 10 has recently upped his pastry game. The ‘game’ being the eating of pastry, not the making of it. After years of solid allegiance to the sausage roll he is branching out … thanks to a trip to the pool and a Mrs Mac’s Famous Meat Pie. This then triggered a request for a classic meat pie for dinner so we borrowed some pie tins from my parents and I searched the web for a recipe. For his first birthday party I’d actually made party pies but didn’t save the recipe and also recalled them being a little dry, so it was useful to take the opportunity to revisit.
I based my recipe on this one from bestrecipes but baulked at the idea of adding tomato sauce so substituted in tomato paste.
Classic Meat Pie Recipe
1 onion, finely chopped
500g mince (beef, obviously!)
1 cup (ish) of beef stock – substitute stock cube & water if you prefer
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
salt & pepper
pastry – I used puff on both top & bottom
Heat some oil in a pan and sweat down the onion.
Ensure the pan is hot and add the mince. Break it up and ensure you brown it.
Add stock, tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce, stir well and then bring to the boil.
Cook well – keeping an eye on the liquid level. Taste and season with salt & pepper.
Create a slurry of the corn flour & some water and stir in to the meat – this will thicken the gravy.
Allow filling to cool.
When ready to assemble the pie, preheat your oven to fan 180C and beat an egg to use as the glaze. Line your prepped pie tins, fill and top. Glaze with egg & decorative pastry. Cook for about 20 minutes or until pastry is golden.
The cooking (and subsequent recipe-blogging) hiatus induced by the kitchen reno has taken a little while to sort itself out. No sooner was the kitchen vaguely finished than summer meant no one felt like eating, let alone cooking. All the while, recipes were piling up – stashed on the internet or literally, piling up as piles of paper on the new kitchen benches …
So it’s more than time to try, and write about, something new. This recipe was cut from a That’s Life and I’m guessing it was around Australia Day as it’s called ‘Chive and Cheese Aussie Damper’. I suspect that ‘Aussie Damper’ is something of an oxymoron, given that damper is uniquely Australian. For those playing along overseas, damper is basically a soda bread and/or like a gigantic savoury scone. Historically, it was made by swagmen in a campfire and these days it is made by intrepid campers in a camp oven.
Or you can just make it in an oven. Like making scones, the trick is to use a light hand and not over-mix or over-knead your dough. One problem I find with breads like this (and scones) is that raising agents (the most common being bicarb which you add to plain flour), can leave a slightly metallic after-taste. In this bread, that is reduced somewhat (but not entirely) by the addition of cheese and chives. I’ve just had a look at the SR flour I used and it has four different raising agents in it – I wonder if I would have been better off using a plain flour and adding baking powder to it …
The other thing with damper is that it really doesn’t keep that well. Think about how well scones keep – they don’t. Damper is similar – eat it straight from the oven with lashings of butter. Unlike leavened bread, it is quite dense but it’s not chewy.
We probably won’t make this again – as Andy said – there are nicer breads to be made! However, if you want a quick bread to knock up and serve to a hungry group you could do far worse. Obviously, if you’re camping it’s definitely worth giving this a go!
(Oh, and if you’re wondering, the silicone mat I use is a silpain – I love it!).
I suspect that the year might be reaching its end when it comes to pastry making. The weather is slowly but surely actually warming up and we’re getting more than one day of blue sky and sunshine in a row.
Dealing with pastry in hot weather is a bit of a nightmare – not to mention that you then need to turn on your oven – so I’m going to have to get some baking out of my system sooner rather than later.
Thanks to having some hot-smoked salmon and some asparagus very fortuitously hanging around in the fridge (the salmon had been marked down and I’d forgotten to put the asparagus in something else) this tart (or quiche) was an easy dinner option. Thanks to having a trusty food processor, I even put in the effort to make my pastry. And thanks to having a new and as yet unused tin I even put in the effort to blind-bake. Something I frequently neglect.
You can’t really go wrong with tarts – bung in some kind of filling you like, top with eggs and cream and the job’s done. You’re going to like it (they’re like omelettes or frittatas but with a bit more faff on account of the pastry). With this recipe, do not look at the inclusion of the mozzarella, think it’s a bit weird and be tempted to omit it (or was that just me?) – it definitely adds to the richness of the finished product. And load up with as much dill as you can handle … because, well, it’s just delicious!
For us, this served three. We ate half and then shared a third quarter, leaving the final quarter for Master 5’s dinner the following day.
Bunch of asparagus, chopped into chunks and steamed
hot-smoked salmon - as much as you can afford or have left over
4 spring onions, finely sliced
2 tbsp (or even more) finely chopped dill
100g mozzarella, shredded/grated
6 eggs (yes, really)
¼ cup cream
pepper to season
To make the pastry, process the flour, butter and a pinch of salt together until crumbs form. Add the egg yolk and process again, before adding a little cold water so that it comes together. Wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for about half an hour.
Preheat oven to 170°C fan.
To blind bake, grease a 23 cm tart tin, roll out the pastry and line the tin then prick the base with a fork. Cover with a piece of baking paper and fill with baking beans. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove the baking paper and beans and bake for another 5-10 so that the bottom is golden too.
Allow to cool.
When you're ready for dinner, flake the hot-smoked salmon over the base of the tart, follow it with the asparagus, dill, spring onions and mozzarella.
Beat together the eggs and cream and season with pepper. Pour into the tart and then bake for 25-35 minutes until just set.
Serve with a salad and feel virtuous, as you'll be getting tons of your 5-a-day.