Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Kitchen Sink Pie aka Boxing Day Pie

I didn't expect to be writing this, what with my admittance that I needed to drastically reduce blogging in this post here. Then my life got turned upside down just before Christmas and the days have been pretty rubbish since then due to dealing with what happened, revision, final year stuff etc. I've been just about managing to revise for a couple of hours each morning but in the afternoon/evenings I can't face any. My current book is a bit naff, I can't get to the shops to buy some more wool to carry on with my crochet blanket and I'm fed up of watching films. So I thought I'd write. And tell you all about the most awesome pie I made for lunch yesterday. Insert your choice of superlatives here.....
Kitchen Sink Pie aka Boxing Day Pie. Use up your meat and veg leftovers and all sorts of other treats in one delicious and hearty pie. Pure comfort food.
There are numerous titles I could give this dish. Kitchen Sink Pie because it has everything in it. Boxing Day Pie. Cheesy Ham and Vegetable Pie. Slow Cooked Honey Mustard Glazed Ham and Mixed Veg Pie with Rich Wensleydale Sauce and Parsnip and Potato Topping. Yeah, the last one took it a bit too far but it is the one that covers it best. It also tells just how much. I love cooking with leftovers. It forces you to get so creative. I've found it so relaxing too after my bouts of revision. The satisfaction of producing something so delicious while saving things from going to waste is a real boost too. And we could all do with that at the moment in this house. Grief is a soul sucker I can tell you.
Kitchen Sink Pie aka Boxing Day Pie. Use up your meat and veg leftovers and all sorts of other treats in one delicious and hearty pie. Pure comfort food.
This is actually the second goddamn awesome pie I've made in the last week. The first used the same sauce with turkey, ham, caramelised leeks/mushrooms with a pastry lid. I didn't get any pictures of that one though. And even though this one only produced a couple of very quick pictures I had to tell you about it. It has everything. Smoked ham with the delicate flavours produced by slow cooking with marmalade, honey and mustard. Slowly softened leeks, mushrooms, carrots and sprouts with hints of caramelisation. Creamy Wensleydale sauce with lashings of indulgence. Wholesome parsnip and potato mash topping. And finally, my secret ingredient. A scotch egg. Honestly. They needed using up so in one went. The egg in the sauce and the sausagemeat shell finely chopped and sprinkled on top. This pie has the power to ease a stressed, busy mind into relaxation as well as coaxing someone who has been too distraught to eat to enjoy a meal. My mum told me she enjoyed it twice. The highest praise possible. 

Kitchen Sink Pie
Serves 3-4
Ultra comforting and very economical using up lots of seasonal leftovers including veg, meat and chilled treats. And how to cheat at making a sauce!

For the filling:
  • 1 large leek, washed, trimmed and sliced 
  • 2-3 carrots, trimmed, peeled and finely diced
  • A few chestnut mushrooms, wiped and chopped
  • Approx 10 sprouts, trimmed, peeled and quartered
  • A little oil
  • Pepper
  • Parsley
  • A handful of slices cooked glazed ham, roughly chopped
  • 1 scotch egg
 For the sauce:
  • 15g plain flour
  • 15g butter
  • 200 ml water
  • 100 ml milk
  • 1 chicken or vegstock cube
  • Approx 40g Wensleydale, grated
For the topping:
  • 1 large parsnip, trimmed, peeled and sliced
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
  • Splash of milk
1. First start preparing the filling. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the vegetables. Slowly good over a medium heat while you prepare the other components of the pie. When softened and beginning to caramelise, add the pepper and parsely to taste and set aside. Remove the egg from the scoth egg, roughly chop and place in a large bowl with the ham. Finely chop the sausagemeat from the scotch egg and set aside.
2. In a saucepan, slowly mix the water into the flour, starting off with just a little to make a smooth paste, then adding the rest slowly. Place on the heat, add the butter and crumble in the stock cube. Stir continually getting right into the corners of the pan to avoid lumps forming. Continue to stir until the sauce thickens and begins to bubble. If lumps do form simply whisk the sauce well and they should disappear. When thickened, stir in the cheese until melted then set aside.  
3. Meanwhile, place the parsnip and potato chunks into a saucepan of boiling water and cook for 10-15 mins until soft. Drain and mash until smooth, adding a splash of milk if necessary to get the topping to your desired consistency. Set aside until needed.
4. Set the oven to 200 C/180 C fan and place an ovenproof dish on a baking tray. Mix the vegetables with the ham and egg, followed by the sauce and pour into the baking dish. Spoon over the mashed topping and spread out, roughing it up a bit if you like crunchy bits. Sprinkle over the chopped scotch egg sausagemeat and bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 mins until piping hot and the sauce is bubbling. Serve straight away.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Gingerbread Biscotti

Hello again! See, I haven't abandoned you forever. My final year of a MChem degree was never going to keep me away entirely. For those of you who have only just met me, I explained why I would be absent a lot of the time from my beloved blog in this post here for Tunis Cupcakes. I'm back for a bit though to squeeze in this post for Gingerbread Biscotti because I've looked forward to joining in the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2014 since I found out about it last year.
Gingerbread Biscotti - full of lovely warming spices. A crunchy texture perfect for dunking.
Have you heard of the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap? It's a really fun way to raise money for charity while simultaneously getting to discover new blogs and receiving surprises parcels in the post. You are assigned three blogs to send a batch of twelve cookies (biscuits to me) to and in return you receive three lots of mystery cookies yourself. The blogs assigned to me were Victoria Sponge Pease Pudding (I have my eye on that recipe for Maple and Candied Walnut Chocolate Celebration Cake), What Sass Says (lots of brilliant advice to be had there) and Digital Diva (the best mixture of recipes, reviews and all aspects of life). I really hope they liked their gingerbread biscotti. In return I received my one of my favourite combinations of chocolate and hazelnut cookies from Foodie Laura, Chocolate Dipped Earl Grey biscuits from The Vanilla Bean and Cranberry, Ginger and White Chocolate Cookies from Annie's Noms. I was spoilt. Don't ask me to pick a favourite. All I will say is that they disappeared helped with my revision.
Gingerbread Biscotti - full of lovely warming spices. A crunchy texture perfect for dunking.
Like I mentioned, I first cake across the Cookie Swap last year and I've been waiting since then to join in. What a fantastic way to meet new bloggers and get parcels of freshly baked goodies in the post. I had to pick my parcels up from the Post Office because I missed the postie man and it was all I could do to wait until I walked back to my house before ripping open the packaging. I'm sure I've mentioned before that I have no self control. It took me a while to decide what to bake for my contribution because I had so many ideas floating around my head. Then I remembered the breakthrough biscotti I had made, the ones that meant I had recently cracked biscotti making and I simply had to make my gingerbread version again. 
Gingerbread Biscotti - full of lovely warming spices. A crunchy texture perfect for dunking.
Previous to this I've had the same problem over and again with biscotti. I simply couldn't get them to go crunchy after their second bake. Now I've got a base recipe which work for me though so I'll be away with all my ideas. I would quite happily much these all year round but let me state right now that if you are looking for a truly seasonal biscuit then this recipe will deliver. Dunk them in tea, hot chocolate (yes!!!!) or coffee, pretty much any steaming hot drink you can think of and you will sink into a state of welcome bliss. Pre-dunking each bit brings a satisfying crunch reminiscent of amplified boots walking on fresh crisp snow. After dunking they biscuit hold itself together long enough to reach your taste buds where it will dissolve and release its warming, quilted sensation to wrap you up against the winter chill. Not a fan of ginger but love spices? That's ok, simply replace with your favourite spice or even some Speculaas spice mix. I've already proven how wonderful Speculaas shortbread is.
Gingerbread Biscotti - full of lovely warming spices. A crunchy texture perfect for dunking.
If you are a blogger then I encourage you to join in the Cookie Swap next year. If not, then I still encourage you to look over all the other entries and get yourself into a baking frenzy. You might wear yourself out making so many delicious biscuits and cookies but you will have to best of rewards at the end of it. Let me know which flavours of biscotti I should make next then go pop the kettle on.

Gingerbread Biscotti
Makes 24-28 biscuit
Crunchy, spicy, warming biscotti. Dunk them in your favourite hot drink for an extra special treat.

  • 280g plain flour
  • 0.5 tsp baking powder
  • 0.5 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 0.75 tsp cinnamon
  • 0.25 tsp ground cloves
  • 0.25 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 eggs
  • 150g granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp black treacle or molasses
  • 55g butter, melted
1. Set the oven to 180 C/160 C fan.  
2. Sift together, the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and spices. In a jug, mix together the remaining ingredients then mix into the dry ingredients.  
3. Knead together until evenly mixed then lay a piece of baking paper onto the kitchen surface. For the dough into two logs, roughly 30cm x 13 cm, on the paper.
4. Slide a baking tray under the baking paper and bake in the preheated oven for 25 mins (pat back into shape part way through if they spread too much for your liking) then remove from the oven and lower the temperature t 150 C/130 C fan. While the oven cools, slice each log into 12-14 pieces and lay them cut side down on the baking tray.
5. Return to the oven for 25-30 mins ( less/more depending on your oen), turning the biscuits over every ten minutes or so. They will firm up but remain slightly soft. Remove from the oven and trasnfer the biscotti to a wire rack to cool wherre they will ery quickly firm up to the desired crunchy state.