Thursday, November 29, 2007

Glazed vanilla cheesecake

The cheesecake, similar to the one which I blogged back in June, here plated up for a wedding tasting (above), and set up for a delivery (below). The base is made with nice biscuits giving you a faint coconut taste, the centre made to an old recipe with a combination of cream cheee and cottage cheese, vanilla and lemon zest. Just before serving we brulee the top like you would with Crème brûlée to give you a crunchy texture. The rum soaked berries make the perfect accompaniment.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Beef And Cotswold Way Ale Pie - Something between the beers

Frozen meals version of beef pie

It's all in a name. I stumbled accross Cotswold Way ale in the supermarket last year while I was looking for a good beer for my beef pie. Maybe it was because just a few months earlier I had walked the Cotswold Way (from Chipping Campden to Bath), or maybe it was just name association, but I tried it out and it worked very well. Being a mild pale ale Cotswold Way ale adds a malty-brown-sugary hint to the beef pie without being overpowering which you get with stronger darker bitters.
Bistro delivery version of beef pie
The top 5 ways to make a good beef pie

1 - Use the best quality Ingredients. Get your beef direct from your local farm. Shin is the best cut for slow cooking - it has the most amazing texture and flavour. I got this from Home Farm in Bredons Norton, where they had a whole piece hanging up in their cold store. They will cut it for you, but I like doing that myself. I also use Kites Nest Farm in Broadway. The colour of the meat is slighty dark which shows it has been matured - which is why supermarket meat looks so bright red.
The mushrooms I use for this are Oakfield organic portobello mushrooms, and the thyme often comes from my garden.The award winning Cotswold Way ale:
2 - Get a good seal on the beef. For this you want a large pan, and very hot. Leave some space in the pan -if you crowd the beef there is nowhere for the steam to go, and it will stew rather than caramelise. The caramelisation gives you the depth of flavour in your beef pie. Close your kitchen door or you may set off the smoke alarm in your house.3 - Deglazing. When you have lifted out your sealed beef in to your casserole dish, add a little more oil and cook the onions till the start to caramelise. As they caramelise they will lift the sediment from the beef you sealed before. Cook the mushrooms afterwards in the same pan, and again, you want them to have space in the pan so they colour on the outside rather than steaming. This colour will give you a richer flavour. Once they are well coloured and transferred to the casserole dish, add a litte of the ale in to the pan to lift off any sediment - deglazing - and add this to your casserole. This is the way you maximise your flavours.


4 - Use a holey baking tin.
Once your beef is cooked (between 4 and 7 hours for shin. The most I ever cooked it for was 9 hours and it melted) and cool, you are ready to make your pie. A perforated tin such as the one above allows the bottom of the pie to cook properly so the pastry doesn't sweat - crispy instead of soggy: the perfect pie. It is also easy to undo as the base lifts out - saving you from breaking it.

5a - Make sure your gravy you put in the pie is very thick (with extra cornflour to thicken if neccessary). This means less steam, so the pastry will hold together without bursting.

5b - Seal it wth an egg. Before putting the lid on, brush the top of the pastry that forms the base with beaten egg. Put the lid on squeezing the two layers together in your fingers. Refrigerate for 20 minutes to half an hour so the join seals. This is much stronger, and less likely to burst open when cooking.

Al moderne


You could cut out a square or oval of shortcrust or puff pastry, egg wash it and cook it for 15 - 20 minutes and place it on top of your beef once cooked such as the below. This is more ideal for your guests who like pastry but not too much of it to fit in with their diets.


Related posts

The best beef pie pastry
How do I stop the edges of my pie burning?

Shepherds pie
Beef olive

Bistro menu

1001 Kitchen Tips #2 - Ice and a-slice

The phone goes. Saturday afternoon. "We can make it after all" they say. There's always someone who changes their mind at the last minute.

So you've made the terrine for your dinner party and now you have to get 10 pieces out of it when really you were pushing it just to get 8 - what are you to do? Get the knife sharpener.


1 - Place your terrine in the freezer till the edges are just a little firm. This makes it much easier - you are cutting something solid instead of jelly. Don't leave it in too long or you will be trying to cut through an ice cube.


2 - Fill a jug with hot water. First off you want to sit your knife in the water till it's warm. The hot knife will slice through the slighly frozen terrine much more easily. When you've made your first slice, dip the knife back in the water. Clean the blade - this will stop any debris catching while you are slicing so your terrine is much less likely to fall apart while you are slicing.

3 - After you have all your slices, dip the knife in the hot water again and run it flat over the top of each slice to smooth it off and leave a good finish.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Pear and almond tart set up for a delivery

These were still warm, fresh from the oven as I packed them on the tray. Freshness is the key.


1001 Kitchen Tips #1 - Season your frying pan/ How to salt a frying pan

Any help in the kitchen is generally gratefully received. Last year I had someone washing up. He seemed to be doing such a good job I left him to it. A few minues later he was still scubbing away ".... almost got rid of this" he said "it was really tough to get off...." I looked more closely. He had indeed got rid of most of it - the non-stick on my best baking tray that is.

FAQ

How do you season a frying pan?
Is there something you must do to a new stainless steel pan before using it?
What does it mean to season a pan?

When it comes to frying pans, you can't beat stainless steel - brilliant heat distribution, and so easy to clean afterwards.

The trick to make sure what you're cooking doesn't stick is to season the pan - sprinkle a thin layer of salt in and let it heat up.

Then with a cloth wipe it around - as if you were polishing it. Watch out as the salt gets very hot, and will burn if you come into contact with it.
After this, empty the salt into a metal container to cool down before discarding (the heat in the salt will burn throuh plastic, especially bin bags!). Rub the pan again to remove the last grains of salt and you are ready to fry.
Related posts:

Other 1001 Kitchen tips