Shortcrust squash and cabbage pie with lattice top

It’s squash season. This is usually heralded by the arrival of the Squash Box at Riverford and we take full advantage – as such we have a lot of squash dotted around the living room.

When thinking of tonight’s dinner it seemed sensible to go the squash route, and it occurred to me I hadn’t made a pie in a while.

So here goes. I’d not made a shortcrust pastry in a while, so followed one I found on About.com and added sage to make it a herbed crust.

You’ll need a pie dish. I used a rectangular quiche tin, measuring approx 12″ by 8″, with a removable base

Pastry ingredients

  • 200g plain flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 110g butter, cubed
  • 2-3 tbsp cold water
  • 2 tsps dried sage
  • A shot of milk (for brushing the lattice)

Pie ingredients

  • Rape seed oil for frying
  • 2 x medium squashes, I used one medium sized butternut squash and one small festival squash
  • 2 x medium sized squashes
  • 2 of the outer large leaves of a savoy cabbage
  • 6 x cloves of garlic (everyone in my house LOVES garlic, hence 6 cloves – obviously adjust to taste)
  • 2 x tsps of brown mustard seeds
  • 1-2 tsps of smoked paprika
  • 2-3 tsps of mixed herbs
  • A little water for steaming the cabbage
  • Salt and pepper to season

Pastry method

I used a food processor to make this pastry – obviously it can also be done by hand, it will just take a little longer. I always weigh the ingredients direct into the food processor, balancing the jug (with blade already in place) on my digital scales.

Heat the oven to 180°C (fan assisted oven)

  1. Measure the flour, butter and salt into the bowl/jug and then rub in or pulse until the consistency is like breadcrumbs.
  2. Sprinkle in the sage and pulse once or twice or combine with hands.
  3. Add water a tablespoon at a time, until the dough has come together. Be careful not to over mix if using the food processor and only use the pulse – be sure to check the mixture carefully to avoid adding too much water.
  4. Turn the pastry out onto a clean surface or cutting board and gently bring together with your hands, the mixture should be just right so you don’t need to add any more flour or water at this point and it should form a rough, round ball.
  5. Cling film and put in the fridge to rest for around 20 minutes.

Squash and cabbage pie filling method

  1. Peal, de-seed and cut the squash into relatively even pieces.
  2. Pop all into a large cast iron frying pan or oven-proof dish – coat lightly in rapeseed oil season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with around a teaspoon of smoked paprika and a sprinkling of mixed herbs.
  3. Roast in the pre-heated oven for around 20-30 minutes – keep an eye on, you’ll want them to start roasting but not burn and cooking times will depend on the type of squash and size of the pieces.
  4. Roughly chop the shallots and onion.
  5. Grab two big leaves from your savoy cabbage and cut out the stalky bit in the centre. Chop the leaf in half and chop into small strips.
  6. Put a frying pan on the heat and add rapeseed oil.
  7. Add the shallots and cook for 2-3 minutes, add the garlic and cook the lot for around 2-3 minutes.
  8. When shallots and garlic are looking translucent (and ensuring they’re not colouring brown too much) add in all the cabbage and combine through.
  9. Fry the cabbage for a couple of minutes and then add around 5 tablespoons of hot water so the cabbage gets cooked through and remove from the heat.

Now is a good time to get the pastry crust in the oven.

Cooking the pastry crust method

  1. Take the pastry out of the fridge and allow to get to room temperature (give it around 5 minutes).
  2. Taking a tip from Mary Berry on the Great British Bake Off – use the removable base of your pie tin to roll the pastry directly onto – you then know you’ll need to roll just over an inch extra around the outside.
  3. Once you’ve done that, the pastry can be carefully lifted into the rest of the pie tin. Then I use the handle of a wooden spoon to crimp in around the vertical edges and go over the top with a rolling pin (allowing excess pastry to be cut off by the rim of the pie tin).
  4. Prick the bottom of the pastry with a fork all the way around and pop into the oven (if the timings work, this should be about the same time you take out the roast squash.
  5. Bake for around 10 minutes, check and then bake until the middle is starting to lightly brown and is cooked.

Finishing the pie

  1. To make the lattice top, take the excess pastry you trimmed from the pastry case, and roll out quite thinly into two flats (one approximately the length of the tin, and one approximately the width). Cut these into long strips approx a centimetre wide.
  2. Add the cabbage mix to the roasted squash and combine – add more smoked paprika, salt and pepper to taste.
  3. When the pie case is cooked, remove from oven and add in the squash and cabbage mix. This isn’t a wet mix, but should have enough give to fill the pie quite thickly.
  4. When the pie is filled, carefully place the longer lattice strips lengthways over the filling and then the shorter ones across. Brush all the lattice work lightly with milk.
  5. Cook for a further 10 – 15 minutes or until the lattice is lightly browned and cooked.

I served this up with gravy, peas and mash potato and it went down a treat with all who ate it.

Sorry there aren’t many photos – everyone had eaten it before I thought about writing it all up! I did manage to grab a couple of snaps of the last slice packed up for someone’s lunch:

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The lattice was a little rough around the edges, but it worked.

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Hopefully this shows what the consistency of the filling should be like.

Next time I make it I’ll take photos and add into this post.

Bone Daddies is the daddy

After much anticipation, a lot of schedule crunching and really just any old excuse – we finally made it to Bone Daddies.

I, and the rest of my party of 4, arrived hungry. I found the big windows, communal layout and lighting all very delightful. In short, Bone Daddies looked like an ideal refuge out of the London drizzle.

Unlike all my incredibly enthusiastic dining buddies, I had not studied the menu in intricate detail before hand – so it was my very first perusal in the restaurant. One thing I’d say, being a sometimes veggie, this is not a place for vegetarians; all the stocks are make with bones and every bowl of ramen comes with meat. No bad thing when you’re a sometimes veggie, if you’re a full time one you might just be having a side of mizuna.

Choices, choices…

Being a hungry group, we ordered snacks and mains. This means we started with a helping of yellowtail sashimi, fried chicken and softshell crab. The sashimi came surrounded with a sort of tart soy dressing. I usually prefer my sushi dipping sauces on the side, but as the review on Cheese and Biscuits says, Bone Daddies isn’t going for authentic; and this sashimi just happened to work.

The fried chicken was described by one of my party as “the KFC popcorn chicken – but good”. I had a taste and it was perfect, crunchy moreishness. Suffice to say, it was polished off before you could say Colonel Sanders.

Crunchy tasty chickeny goodness with a slice of lemon – this photo does not do it justice.

The softshell crab was a sight to behold and a generous portion (you got your monies worth at £8 a pop) – this was also polished off quickly, with the accompanying green chilli ginger sauce being a hit with all concerned. It might just be me, but the crab could have done with a touch more seasoning and a little more crunch in the batter. But that is a minor complaint – there was not a bit left.

That velvety green dipping sauce was a hit with everyone.

We did have a little bit of a wait between courses which served to build hunger levels back up again. When the various bowls and plates arrived with our mains, we knew it was worth the patience.

Our party ordered “TANTANMEN with sesame, chilli, pork mince, bok choy (Chicken Bone Broth)” and “DIPPING RAMEN with spring onion, kizami nori, chashu pork (Chicken Broth)”.

I was initially a little disappointed at not getting a one of the big ramen bowls, but my disappointment was dissipated upon tasting my dish. Oh my, my. A tiny little bowl of broth on the side packed an unctuous, umami punch right in the face. The chashu pork had lovely charred BBQ notes to it and dipped in the broth, with a helping of noodles topped with bamboo, spring onions and bean sprouts.

The dipping ramen.

The Tantanmen was ordered with extra mizuna and a pippette of fat – just for that little extra somethin’ somethin’. This beautiful bowl of comfort and pork had an almost coconut-ty taste to it, with all those deep savoury notes that come from really making stock.

The pipette of fat is off to the right there.

Here it is close-up.

The eggs – these must have been smoked, then soft boiled, and they were the embodiment of perfection. Those eggs absolutely rocked my world – and mine is a world where the best is saved to last and my last mouthful was one of those eggs.

Even discounting the fat pipette, the meals were just a touch greasy and the Tantanmen could have done with another handful of veg in there. The accompanying broth in the Dipping Ramen was increasingly salty, I really wanted to drink that thing up but it was just a little bit overpowering. But the point isn’t to drink it neat, hence the “dipping”.

To accompany our meals we went alcohol free – with a round of green tea and ginger beers. The soft drinks menu could have done with a couple more options, just for those of us trying to stay off the sauce in the run up to Christmas.

Drinks in order of “hardness”.

I have also forgotten to mention the condiments – to add whatever zazz you’d like to your dish there is the choice of toasted ground sesame seeds,  pickled garlic (you crush your very self at the table) and a garlicky-chilli oil that everyone at my table was tasting before the starters even arrived.

If you look closely, you can see the awesome sesame seed grinder.

Shiny, chilli goodness.

Self-crush that pickled garlic – grr!

Total bill came to just over £80 including service. We arrived at just after 6pm and the restaurant had plenty of free tables, by the time we left around 8pm the place was packed out. If you’re hungry at 6pm, get there early.

Overall, some seriously savoury treats and there is no doubt that this is an excellent joint to stop off and fuel up – being only a stone’s throw from Oxford Street, a perfect Christmas shopping pit stop. We give this place 7.5/10 and highly recommend a visit.

Cornbread recipe – perfect accompaniment to pumpkin soup

As usual, we here have cooked a whole host of things and have many a recipe waiting to be posted on the blog. Please insert the usual excuses about neglecting the blog [here].

Recently we held a Hallowe’en evening BBQ at our East London flat. Part of this feast involved a cornbread – mainly inspired by the amazing cornbread I’ve had at Ottolenghi’s in Islington.

I baked this cornbread in a cast iron pan, simply because this is how I saw it done in Ottolenghi. I originally used the cornbread recipe I found on Cape By Mouth blog. The below recipe is my adapted version; I was keen to use less oil and substituted the missing wet ingredients for milk. I also used milk with lemon instead of buttermilk. The overall result was lighter and less oily, and I did prefer it.

Cornbread ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups polenta
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 cups milk combined with 4 tbsps lemon juice, or you could use buttermilk for a slightly richer cornbread.
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup rapeseed (canola) oil
  • 1 cup cup grated cheddar (I used Green’s of Glastonbury cheddar)
  • 2 chopped red chillies

Image courtesy of my lovely friend Angie.

Method

Oven 180 C | cooking time around 30-35 minutes

  1. First thing’s first, message out the milk and add the lemon juice. Leave to stand for around 15 minutes.
  2. In one bowl, measure out and combine all the dry ingredients.
  3. In a separate bowl, add the milk, measure the oil and then add the eggs and lightly beat before gently mixing all the wet ingredients together.
  4. Chop the chillis and set to one side. I cut them into slivers for my first attempt, and I preferred them this way.
  5. Now, add all the wet ingredients to the dry and also add most of the cup of grated cheddar (set a small amount aside for sprinkling over the top of the bread before baking) and add to the mix. Stir gently, being careful not to over mix, until most of the lumps are combined.
  6. Set to the side for 20 minutes.
  7. After 20 minutes, transfer to cast iron pan. We used a number 8 cast iron pan, 10.5 inches.
  8. Sprinkle the set aside cheddar over and bake in a pre-heated oven for approx 30-35 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.

And then it’s ready to serve with a hearty pumpkin soup. Awesome autumn eats.

Burgers in donuts – need more be said?

I didn’t have to ask twice about whether to get tickets to the latest Bompass and Parr collaboration. The Mercedes Drive-thru in the old Selfridges hotel underground car park; in association with Mercedes-Benz and the Avant/Garde Diaries.

I went with absolutely no expectations, or I should say: being a seasoned B&P event goer, I was comfortably reassured that it was going to be good. And oh my, it was sweet, greasy, tasty good.

We were met by the curtained entrance by a very polite maître d, who (like all well briefed staff) immediately informed us about the cheese. A walk-through confirmed it was a veritable smorgasbord of British delights, including a British camembert and unpasteurised goat’s cheese:

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Oh my, the cheese:

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We were shorty after ushered to through into the revolving restaurant and taken to the bar. As usual, someone did an excellent job of the staging, and the place was like a scene out of Twin Peaks – with giant, blown-up pictures of bodybuilders and heavy, red velvet curtains:

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Suffice to say, all staff were inpecably dressed and incredibly polite. We soon ordered our food (me taking the veggie option, the Canadian opting for meat) and also ordered our sodas (mine a violet and elderflower concoction spiced up with a splosh of gin, the Canuck had the orange quinine one – preference was for the violet):

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The violet one put me in the mind of parma violets and made me want to try using that flavour in cooking more often. Next we selected our seats (salami formica tables and stools no less) and revolved around, offering the opportunity for diners to marvel at the drive-thru spectacle unfolding through the windows, all the while moaning with delight at the food. Donuty, burgery, savoury…goodness gracious me:

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All in all, a most excellent way to spend a an hour or two. £10 for a burger like you’ve never tried before, topped with some pretty outrageous soda, and a constant revolving spectacle before your very eyes. Oh yes, and that cheese! The experience was not diminished by the lack or car, I’d even go so far as to say the pedestrian experience was the better of the two options.

If there are tickets left, I highly recommend you get down there.

Just as an aside, if you are interested in Bompass and Parr I urge you to purchase the following two books:

Buy Bompass and Parr Jelly

Buy Bompass and Parr Cocktails

We’re drinking beer again – more Hitachino Nest Beer: Weizen

From the bottle: “This German style Weizen is a cloudy beer brewed with wheat malt and a fragrant yeast. Please enjoy the banana like flavour and light taste.”

5.5%

Charlie says:

Woke me up like a kick in the teeth. Sour smell and strong first taste, softening in the after taste. Have to say, first sip I wasn’t sold – consequent second and third have won me over.

An acquired taste I’d say. I personally am not getting bananas – but each tastebud to its own eh!

Ty says:

I like it. Got a cloudy apple juice look to it. It’s got a creamy finish and texture in the mouth. Slight lemony flavour, get a tiny bit of coriander/herbyness (similar to Hoegarden).

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Cake decorating course in High Gate

We recently cashed in one of our Groupon vouchers and headed up to The Bull in Highgate to part take in a 2 hour cupcake decorating class.

Obviously, the cupcakes were already prepped for us to work decorative magic on. There were four different designs to attempt, starting off using piping bag and nozzle to create a rose:

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Naturally, the effect was finished off with edible glitter.

We also used dyed royal icing to roll out and cut shapes to fit the tops of the cupcakes. I find this type of icing to be an acquired taste, but the decorative effect can be very good. I loved making the pink rose, and the shoe was pretty impressive (though not my favourite – it was trying too hard) but had lots of royal icing.

The butter icing was made 1 part butter to 2 parts icing sugar, the lady recommended a particular liquid you can drop into the mix to make it completely white and loose the yellow from the butter. I definitely want to experiment with a butter icing recipe in order to try and reduce the sugar a bit.

Anyway, here’s the rest of the course in pictures:

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Given we have a lot of piping nozzles and an eternal love and cupcakes, it’s really time to put these new skills into action. Will post any experiments up the blog.

We’re back with a live beer tasting – Nest Beer Amber Ale

Hitachino Nest Beer Amber ale from the Kituchi Brewery Ibaraki, Japan. 5.5%.

“This amber ale is a reddish brown beer brewed with a rich malt and bitter hops. Please enjoy the well-balanced flavour and taste.”

Charlie says:

Perfect post-sushi beer for me. It’s light so feels perfect for summer time drinking, has a mildly bitter aftertaste which adds to the overall flavour.

We’re sharing one 500ml bottle between two, but definitely suitable for quaffing to oneself. Ruddy drinkable.

Ty says:

Little bit of a caramel taste to it. Not hoppy. It’s a nice amber ale.

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Next up, another Hitachino Nest. Japanese Classic Ale, matured in cedar casks. 7.5%.

“This Japanese classic ale is a recreation of the first Japanese beer made in the Edo period. Please enjoy the Japanese taste. Aged in cedar barrels like the old IPA style method from England.”

Charlie says:

A bit bitter for me on the first sip, but softens after that. Least favourite of the two, but would still order again.

Ty says:

I quite like it. Slight bitter note.

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Simple baked veggie breakfast – sausage, eggs, potatoes and tomatoes

This is also known as Hannah Bake Two since it was baked and a recipe passed onto us by a friend, Hannah.

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It’s a simple breaky and all baked in one dish in the oven.

Recipe as follows (for 2 people – adjust as required):

Oven at 150 degrees C (our oven is fan assisted)

    • Potatoes – we used a couple of handfuls of Jersey Royals, kept the small ones whole and cut larger ones in half. You could use any potato, just cut it into bite-sized chunks.
    • Cherry tomatoes – we used a couple of handfuls of mixed red and yellow. These go in whole.
    • 4 cloves of garlic whole.
    • 6 veggie sausages.
    • 4 duck eggs (chicken eggs would be fine as well)
    • Fresh chives.
    • Salt and pepper.
    • Olive oil.

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Method

  1. Put a drizzle of olive oil in the pan and put in the warmed oven.
  2. Clean the potatoes and cut to size if needed. Chop the bottom end of each garlic clove off, but keep whole and don’t peel. Add all this into the warmed oil and put in the oven to begin to roast.
  3. When starting to crisp up (about 10 minutes) add the veggie sausages and put back in the oven.
  4. Roast the sausages, turn once or twice, and then add the cherry tomatoes. Cook for a further 5 minutes.
  5. Then break the eggs into the pan and put back in oven. I cooked the eggs for around 12 minutes and this was a tiny bit too long, not all the yolks were runny. These were big eggs though, so adjust your cooking time according to your eggs and oven.
  6. Serve up with fresh chives sprinkled over the top.

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Vanilla and salted caramel macarons

So it might seem a tad hyperbolic, but I am genuinely excited to have finally attempted to make macarons.

Although the plan had been to do the whole recipe from the Adriano Zumbo recipe book, a broken sugar thermometer meant we ended up melding a Roux recipe with the Zumbo one.

So now to the recipe.

Vanilla flavoured macaron shells

  • 110g ground almonds
  • 180g icing sugar
  • 40g caster sugar
  • 90g or 3 egg whites
  • 3 tbsps vanilla bean paste

Method

Pre-heat oven to 160 degrees C

  1. Sieve the ground almonds and icing sugar into a bowl and combine evenly.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until firm. Fold in the vanilla bean paste.
  3. Slowly, fold in the dry ingredients to the egg whites until fully combined.
  4. Prep a baking sheet lined with parchment, you’ll need to pipe circles 3-4cm in diameter onto this – we drew around the bottom of a vanilla essence bottle to ensure that the circles were as uniform as possible.
  5. We didn’t have a piping bag, so used a large freezer bag and filled that with the almond, icing sugar and egg white mix. When full we cut the corner off ready for piping.
  6. Pipe out all the mixture (makes about 40 shells) and then put in the heated oven for approximately 7 minutes.
  7. When cooked, remove from oven and slide parchment and macarons onto a wire cooling rack.

Salted caramel filling
Caramel salt:

  • 220g whipping cream (35% fat)
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 60g liquid glucose
  • 120g water
  • 1 vanilla pod

Caramel butter

  • 75g butter
  • 150g caramel
  • 2g sea salt flakes

Method

  1. Heat the whipping cream and vanilla pod slowly until boiling. When boiled remove from heat and set aside.
  2. In the meantime, add the water, liquid glucose and caster sugar to a separate pan and heat on a medium/low heat until sugar is dissolved.
  3. Once sugar has dissolved, turn the heat up and heat until water has evaporated and the mixture has turned a golden amber colour. This took us quite some time to get to.
  4. Once the sugar syrup is ready, add the warm whipping cream vanilla mixture slowly, stirring all the time. Be careful as the mixture will spit as you do this.
  5. Pour all the mixture into a bowl and set aside to cool.
  6. When the mixture is cooled, add the butter to a bowl and beat until light and fluffy.
  7. Slowly add the cooled caramel sauce, beating until mixture thickens (you’ll need to pipe it into the macaron shells so it needs to thicken to do that).
  8. When thickened, stir through the salt and then it’s ready to pipe onto the waiting macaron shells.

Finishing the macarons

  1. Match up halves of shells to pairs that are of similar size.
  2. Put the filling in piping bag and then pipe the desired amount onto one half of each of the pairs.
  3. Sandwich together and pop in the fridge to cool.

Now go lay down, you’ll need to recover from the sugar coma you’ll now be in.

We had a lot of caramel mixture left over, but I’m sure we’ll figure out something to do with it! Obviously, simply doubling the macaron ingredients and the butter part would use up more of the caramel.

It was a labour of love, but well worth it.

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