Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Almost Store Cupboard Ham Pie

This pie is great because it is so simple and can be made from a tin or good quality ham when you have very little else to feed a fair number of people.

Firstly you need to make the pastry:

250g/9oz Plain Flour
125g/4.5oz cold unsalted butter, cut into 1cm cubes
2 egg yolks
2 tbsp ice water
heaped tsp salt
1 tsp sugar

Put the flour and butter in a dish, and put the dish in your freezer for 10 minutes. Stir together the yolks, salt and water in a cup, and put the cup in the fridge.When the time is up, tip the flour and butter into a food processor, add the sugar and pulse to combine, it will look somewhere between sand and porridge oats. Pour in the egg yolk mixture and pulse till it looks like it's on the verge of coming together (stop just short of it binding). You may need to add more water. Turn the dough out and mash together with your hands. Once it is all bound together, cut it in two, wrap in cling film, and let rest in the fridge (generally about half an hour, but will keep in there for a couple of days I think). If you are using it for two batches, cut in two evenly. If you are making a springform cake tin pie, then cut one piece slightly larger then the other (one for the base, one for the top).

Ingredients to make the pie filling:

500g tin of ham from Marks and Spencer. Don't buy one of those awful tins of ham made from reformed pieces. the better the ham, the better the pie.
125g mild cheddar
250g cream cheese
1 medium onion, fried until soft
2 tbsp chopped parsley (optional) I didn't use any in the pie in the picture as I didn't have any at the time.
1 or 2 eggs, lightly beaten, it depends on how soft the mixture is
freshly ground black pepper
1 heaped tbsp dried breadcrumbs

To Make the Pie:
Cube the ham and pulse in a food until coarsely chopped.
Transfer to a bowl and then add all the other ingredients except the breadcrumbs. Preheat to 200c/400f, and put in a baking sheet. Roll out the larger disc of pastry to cove the bottom and sides with a few cm of overhang. Sprinkle the bottom with breadcrumbs, then fill with the mixture. Roll out the rest of the dough to make a lid. Fold the overhang over and seal by pressing down with the tines of a fork. Just before baking glaze the pie with the milk salt egg combo, and stab it here and there with the prongs of a fork to make steam holes.Bake at 200c/400f for 10 minutes, then turn it sown to 180c/350f and bake for a further 45 minutes. Leave the pie to cool at least 10 minutes, but 25 is better.

Chocolate Verrines

My cousin, Martine has come to stay with me and has brought the latest in food crazes from Paris. These are 'verrines' which are basically beautiful small glasses which are filled with delicious foods. They can be savory or sweet, but I've decided to start with something sweet.
These cute little desserts are basically a chocolate mousse that is piped on top of amaretti biscuits that have been soaked in chocolate liqueur. Can you ask for better? The chocolate leaves on the top and mint chocolate leaves from Green and Black. Could you ask for easier or better?

Monday, 2 June 2008

Ready to Drink

Some of you may remember that I had a glut of mirabelle plums last summer. One of the things that I did was put some of the plums in alcohol and sugar. The jars were left untouched over the winter, probably because I was in the UK and unable to sample, (nothing like a thousand miles between you and temptation). Now I can say that it is well and truly ready to drink and even though I say so myself it's delicious.
The photograph was taken from the balcony of the house at the end of May.

The recipe :

All that I did was take a large jar. About 2 liters is good. I filled it with as many mirabelles as I could... push them in... then I added white sugar up to about the half way mark. Don't put too much sugar or your liqueur will be too sweet. Shake it down as it will tend to stay on the top. Now comes the exciting part. I filled the jar with 95% pure alcohol. Don't think for a moment that your finished product will be that strong. The plums will leech out their juices and mix with the alcohol making it much weaker. Leave to dissolve in a dark place. Shake the jar every day to help the sugar dissolve and when it is dissolved and the mirabelles are starting to shrink. However, taste a bit first. leave it longer if it still tasted of raw alcohol. Do not store in the light as the produce will turn brown rather than the amber colour that you see in the photo.

Do not throw away the plums as they are fantastic served in small glasses or over vanilla ice cream.