Sunday, 29 June 2014

Random Recipes #40 - Bacon and Egg Pie

I shall start this post by noting that it is a very good thing that I am far better at managing deadlines at work, than I am with blog challenges.

I'm writing this AFTER this month's Random Recipes challenge roundup has been published - you can find it here (and there are some scrummy looking entries as always). As ever, the challenge is hosted at Belleau Kitchen and participants are encouraged to choose a random book and recipe from their collection and make whatever comes up.

A change from my usual form, this was not an unmitigated disaster, as my RR submissions have often been. It looked exactly like I hoped it would. How it tasted, I have absolutely no idea as I gave it to my lovely little sister as a thank you.

Smile - it's a pie!
So… my Random Recipes #40 came from "Traditional Scottish Cooking" published by Lomond Books. I had good intentions to make the recipe on page 40, but it was Herrings in Oatmeal, and I really really really can't stand all those teeny, unfilletable herring bones. So I closed the book in a strop, opened it again and got page 74 - Bacon and Egg Pie.

I tweaked a few bits and bobs here and there, and cheated with the pastry. So here's my version

Happy Bacon and Egg Pie (Serves 6ish along with salads etc)

  • 500g pack ready to roll puff pastry
  • 250g smoked streaky bacon
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 large eating apple
  • 50g cheddar with chili or Mexican spices
  • 50g regular unflavoured cheddar
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp chutney (I used rhubarb relish)
  • Splash of milk/egg wash

First boil the eggs (hard boiled) and cook the bacon (I used a griddle pan, but however you usually cook bacon will work perfectly).
Preheat the oven to 220C (200C fan).
Very lightly grease a 9 inch sandwich tin
Peel and slice the eggs
Slice the tomatoes
Snip the cooked bacon into pieces about 2cm wide.
Grate both cheeses and mix together.
Divide the pastry block so one part is approximately 1/3 and the other 2/3.
Roll the large piece out, on a floured work surface, and use to line the base and sides of your tin. Cover the other piece to prevent it drying out whilst you layer your pie.
Next slice the apple (I left the skin on for extra fibre, but you could peel it if you felt strongly anti-apple-skin) - doing this just before you assemble stops it from going brown.
Spread the chutney thinly over the bottom of your pastry-lined tin.
Cover the bottom of the tin with the apple slices, overlapping if necessary.
Next layer the bacon on top of the apples.
Add the sliced hard boiled egg, and then the tomatoes.
Lastly top with the grated cheese.
Now roll out the remaining piece of pastry to fit the top.
Before putting the pastry lid on, lightly wet your finger with a little of the the milk/egg wash and run your finger around the edge of the pastry sides to help the lid stick.
Pop the lid on and press firmly around the edges to seal.
Use any trimmings you have to make a happy face to go on top, attaching the pieces with a little dab of the egg/milk wash.
Brush the top with a good layer of the egg/milk wash and then bake for around 35 minutes until golden and puffed up on top.

Arrrr me hearties! - having a tomato inspired pirate moment to begin with
Pastry rolling
Apples - check 
Egg slicing
Bacon - check 
Egg - check
Tomato - check
Cheese - check 
Finished off with a good dose of egg wash.
 Mini-M has requested we make one for ourselves soon - minus the cheese. We'll see how that turns out - I can't help feeling it is probably critical to sticking it all together when you slice it!

I really will have to do better next month with my time management…

Friday, 13 June 2014

Get your kilt on and let's make some haggis!

It's Daring Cooks' posting time again, and this month the host was… me!

Throughout the Daring Cooks' challenges there has been a strong theme of hosts sharing some of the culinary specialities of their home country and culture, and there are some very daring cooks out there, so there was only one contender for the challenge recipe in my mind - haggis. Oh yeah.

In preparation for the challenge I was a little concerned a) I'd made it too daring for even myself to carry out, or worse, b) that by making it, I'd put myself off haggis forever.

Haggis, neeps, tatties and… smoky tomato sauce. Whatever floats your sauce boat
Issue a) was solved by going for a slightly toned down haggis, largely due to the easy availability of ingredients for both myself and the cooks around the world that might be giving it a go. Issue b) was thankfully not an issue - haggis is still awesome - and probably less disgusting than quite a lot of sausages out there on the market, if you think long enough about it.

Blog Checking Lines
The June Daring Cooks Challenge was hosted by Ruth from Makey-Cakey. She brought out the Daring-est of Daring Cooks and challenged us to make real Scottish Haggis.

Served at a rather non-traditional Burns lunch (since a Burns supper would have been post bedtime for Mini-M and her intrepid haggis eating toddler friends, way back in January)
For those that don't eat meat, or weren't quite feeling like getting acquainted with some heart and liver, I gave a really delicious veggie option too.

Mmmm - appetising
So without further ado, onto the haggis. I'm calling this "Home" haggis - i.e. you can make it at home fairly easily. It's non-traditional, in that it doesn't include lungs, and isn't steamed in a casing. It's made of liver and heart plus oatmeal and suet, and steamed in a pudding basin. It still tasted good and haggis-y though.

"Home" Haggis (Serves 6)

  • 4 medium onions
  • 3 lambs hearts
  • 400g lambs liver
  • 100g pinhead oatmeal
  • 75g shredded beef suet
  • 1 tbsp chopped sage
  • ½ tsp ground mace
  • pinch mixed spice
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • A little butter, margarine or oil to grease

Peel the onions, but leave whole. Put in a large pan along with the hearts and liver. Cover with cold water and bring quickly to the boil.

This is probably the low-point of the haggis gross-out cooking experience. It gets better... 
Skim off any froth, drain and re-cover with water, bring to the boil again, reduce the heat and simmer for around 40 minutes, keeping the hearts and liver covered.

Drain, reserving a little of the cooking liquid (100ml will be plenty), and put the onions, hearts and liver into a food processor or blender. Pulse until finely chopped (or pass through a mincer).

Stir in the oatmeal, suet, herbs and spices. If the mixture is very stiff, add a splash of the cooking liquid. It should be solid rather than liquid, but soft.

After mixing in the oatmeal
Grease a 1l pudding basin, fill with the haggis, cover with foil securely and tie the foil on with string.

Before steaming
Put the trivet on the bottom of the pan, and the tied pudding basin on top. Fill with water to ½ way up the sides of the basin.

A tight squeeze - makes lifting it out more nerve-wracking
Bring the water to the boil over a medium heat, then reduce to maintain a gentle boil and simmer away for 2hrs, topping the pan up with water as needed.

Remove from the heat and very carefully unmold from the basin, and the haggis is ready to serve.

Houston, we have haggis!
And now for the veggie one. I love veggie haggis. It tastes nothing like meat haggis, but completely fantastic in its own right, and has a very similar texture. Some days I'd choose veggie over meat. Other times meat wins. It's certainly not a second class substitute!

Veggie Haggis (serves 6)

  • 75g red split lentils
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • 250ml water
  • 1 onion (~180g unpeeled)
  • 1 stick celery (~50g)
  • 1 carrot (~150g unpeeled)
  • 75g white mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 50g drained tinned red kidney beans
  • 75g nuts (I used 20g cashews, 30g brazil nuts, 25g peanuts)
  • pinch dried thyme
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp ground mace
  • ½ tsp ground white pepper
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 100g pinhead oatmeal
  • 50g vegetable suet

Bring 250ml water to the boil in a small saucepan, then add the stock cube and the lentils. Simmer for around 15 -20 minutes until the lentils are soft, and most of the liquid has been absorbed.

Meanwhile, finely chop the onion and celery and peel and grate the carrot.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the chopped onion, celery and grated carrot. Sautee for around 5 minutes until softened.

Finely chop the white mushrooms and add to the vegetables in the pan, and cook for a few more minutes.

Mash the kidney beans with a fork, and add them to the frying pan, along with the thyme, soy sauce, lemon juice, mace, peppers, salt, oatmeal and suet.

Turn the heat down to very low and allow to cook gently whilst you chop the nuts - you can use a blender to blitz them if you have one. If the mixture is very thick, add a splash more water, then stir in the nuts.
It is not a glamorous dish… please don't draw any unflattering comparisons! Photo included for indication of consistency before baking.
If you are preparing the haggis to eat straight away, then cook gently for around 10 minutes, turn off the heat and allow to cool for 20 minutes.  Grease your loaf time and preheat the oven to medium - around 180C. Spoon the haggis in to the prepared tin, cover with foil and bake for around 30 minutes (uncovering for the last 5). Allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

If you are preparing the haggis to eat the next day, don’t cook for the additional 10 minutes, remove from the heat after adding the nuts, cover, allow to cool, then refrigerate overnight. When you are ready to finish the cooking, preheat the oven to around 180C, remove from the fridge and cover with foil. Bake for around 45 minutes, uncovering for the last 5). Allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

It is hard to take a beautiful photo of haggis, with no natural daylight...
Thanks to all the intrepid cooks who gave haggis a go - especially to the few (very few!) who braved the meaty version. I'm going to post links to some of my favourites later in the week.

Haggis is traditionally served with mashed potatoes, mashed turnips and some whisky sauce. However if you've got leftovers, they make some great savoury scones (among many other things) which I have blogged previously.
Haggis Scones

Now let's see what challenge next month brings :o)

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

At 8am on Sunday morning...

...when most of the world was asleep,  or the world without small children at least, we were making a rainbow palace and listening to French reggae.

The palace in all it's technicolour toilet roll glory
Yes really. Does anyone fancy a life swap - happy to trade advanced toddler negotiating, random activities,  awkward questions and general bizareness for, say, guaranteed long lies and a floor free of raisins and stickers!

It even has a "stained glass" window!
Only kidding - but I'm not kidding about the French reggae. Mr E and Mini - M have started listening to music in the mornings. Mini - M chooses the country and style and Mr E gets searching online.  Just that both country and musical style knowledge are fairly narrow fields for Mini - M. Hence the French reggae. We have been to France and Rastamouse is responsible for the rest!

Our palace was constructed from loo roll tubes, and an Amazon delivery box, stuck together with sticky glue dots from Poundland. To give it a bit of rainbow flair we wrapped strips of coloured tissue around the rolls, stuck on with a bit of trusty Pritt on each end.

The aftermath...
I would like to say it was a virtually cost free activity however that would be a lie, since through some cunning bargaining, Mini - M "swapped" the chocolate she couldn't eat from from a recent party bag, with Mr E - for a Rapunzel doll to play in said palace!


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