Sitting on a train making my way to Scotland this morning (and working on this post when the train's wifi allows it).
My outing yesterday didn't exactly go as planned. I managed to visit Burough market, though only after considerable walking. I, having no sense of direction or ability to read maps, got completely lost. My slight mix-up between London Bridge and Tower Bridge didn't help much either. So I ended up walking all over Southwark looking for the market and by the time that I realized where the market really was, I had burned out the little Humble's patience--which was about nil to begin with.
Mr. Humble and I managed to stop by Monmouth for a cup of coffee. A very bold and smooth brew. The exceptionally long lines outside the shop seemed justified. Though, filter coffee feels a wee bit pricey in this part of the world. Prices from £2 to £2.50 for a basic cup of joe seems like a lot (not just at Monmouth, train station coffee is just as much) and this is coming from a native of the overpriced coffee capital of the world.
Once we had coffee in hand, our ability to shop/eat basically ended. Little Humble decided our outing greatly offended her and she started to pitch a fit. So we quickly walked through, hungrily eying the food and all those free samples, unable to approach any vendors for fear of the little Humble's thrashing causing bodily injury to the patrons.
Ah yes, the joys of traveling with a toddler. I wonder if it gets easier or harder as she gets older...
Anyway, I did at least get some photos. There were so many yummy things: meats, cheeses (the Comte I could not find and I am miserable about it), breads, pastry, chocolates, and meat pies. I'll definitely try to make it back to this market when I visit Mother Humble again. As for the rest of my trip, I'll be in Scotland and not certain if I'll be able to make it back into the city again. Boo.
So today's pies! We're going with an English theme today. The first pie is made by a real actual Englishman (I've checked his papers, he's legit) and the second is a savory pie adapted from meat and kidney classic.
Our first pie is from Mr. P of Delicious Delicious Delicious the pie is made in his beloved blender and after taking a quick trip to Waitrose I understand the attachment. Kitchen appliances are absurdly expensive here! I now understand why stand mixers are less common in the U.K., they're twice as expensive as in the U.S.! We're talking £399 for a tiny Kitchenaid mixer ($600)! Food processors also cost an arm and a leg. Someone needs to smuggle inexpensive U.S. appliances across the Atlantic for all the home cooks and bakers over here.
Let's get to Mr. P's Bad Language-Free Baked Banana Blender Pie:
OK, who thought there wasn't going to be a pie for April?
(Well, my hand is raised.)
Obviously, I take these pies very seriously indeed, for as soon as the kitchen was deemed usable, this was the first thing I rustled up. I would like to add that cleaning the kitchen, all of the downstairs and garden of dust and rubble after the departure of the workmen took all of Saturday and most of Sunday last weekend, hence the slightly more calorific pie content this month; we deserved it. If you have not spent the weekend cleaning and lifting rubble, but still wish to enjoy my pie, I suggest you make your main course a salad.
No time to make pastry for this one (which I know was the whole point of the pie series anyway, but let's do a Gordon Brown and just skirt around the issue on this, shall we?), so it is a slight cop-out for April: a biscuit crumb base. However, you mustn't feel too disappointed, because the whole thing is made in the blender (even the whipped cream top), so replace your sadness with glee and appreciation of my proclivity for kitchen appliances and let's make a pie. No need to be a malcontent.
(If you had my blender, you'd feel the same by the way. It's a KitchenAid, and was a gift from my mum and sister years ago - basically the best thing I have ever been given.)
The filling is banana and chocolate, which when baked smells somehow of caramel. I have not figured out why or how that can be the case, but presume there is science involved. Which is strangely appropriate because as April's pie was cooling on the counter, I was catching up on some of my favourite food blogs and noticed that Not So Humble Pie is having a virtual pie contest. So over to you Ms. Humble! Why does my entry (which the pie now is) smell like caramel?
I am unsure as to what to call my mysteriously caramel fragranced creation mind you. Drawn though I am to the alliteration of Mr. P's Bitchin' Baked Banana Blender Pie, my grandma reads this blog from time to time and I wouldn't want her to see my bad language. I am full of admiration for those who brazenly cuss on their blogs (swear words are so expressive!), but I'm reticent to follow suit. So I think it will have to be Mr. P's Bad Language-Free Baked Banana Blender Pie for now. That's not what I'm calling it at home though!
Reasons my Pie of the Month should win the Not So Humble Pie Contest:
* It is particularly scrumptious, even without swear words;
* Anybody could make it, even without a blender (see alternate method);
* Chocolate and banana is always a winning combination;
* Mr. P likes the idea of winning a mystery prize from Morocco.
Wish me luck! (Unless you also enter the competition. In that case watch your back!*)
*I am joking. Let's all be unified in our appreciation of the pie!
Mr. P's Bad Language-Free Baked Banana Blender Pie
You will need:
250g digestive biscuits
100g butter, melted
2 tbsp cocoa powder
300ml single cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
handful of chocolate chips
300ml double cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1. This is easy as pie. In a blender, crush the biscuits until they become crumbs; mix these with the butter and cocoa and press the mixture into a 26cm springform cake tin. Mound the mixture up at the sides, so it becomes more of a pie shell than a base. If you don't have a blender, just bash the biscuits up with something heavy. Or get a blender.
2. Chill the crumbed mixture base for half an hour or so.
3. Blend the bananas, eggs, sugar, single cream and vanilla until smooth. Pour this (very liquid) mixture on to the biscuit crumb base, and sprinkle with as many chocolate chips as you like. No blender method: mash the bananas with a fork; add the eggs, sugar, cream and vanilla and mix until smooth.
4. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180°C for 40 minutes, until the banana mixture has puffed up and set. (Your kitchen and home will smell unbelievable.)
5. Cool on a rack, and chill until needed.
6. Just before serving, whip the cream and vanilla extract (in the blender, or by hand) to soft peaks and use to top your pie.
Our next pie comes from Jacqueline of Food-ology, another scientist/baker who refers to her blog as her "kitchen lab notebook".
Jacqueline submitted the only savory pie to the contest, a variation on the classic steak and kidney pie. After touring the city and its markets and grocers I've realized Brits are quite fond of their meat pies. While in the Burough Market yesterday I saw dozens of beautifully made meat pies. Pies filled with a wide variety of critters, everything from boar to pheasant.
Mr. Humble is also a fan of the pies and is already pestering me to make one "for the blog" when we get home later this week.
Jacqueline's pie is really interesting, as it is steamed not baked. One might assume the crust would be overly moist but it looks so tender and delicious that I may experiment with this technique myself.
I'm ready to kick back and enjoy the rest of my train ride now, so lets get down to Jackie's beef and mushroom 'pudding' pie!
Last month when I was doing my Daring Baker's challenge we were given the option of making either a sweet British pudding (steamed cake) or savory pudding (a savory pie with crust). For the challenge I decided upon a steamed cake, but also wanted to try out the pie-crust method.
So I decided on trying a variation of a meat and kidney pie (sans kidneys...)
It's just like a regular pie, but instead of cooking it in a pie pan you steam it in a bowl. (Yea for having a slow cooker: 5 hours in a slow cooker uses a lot less energy than stovetop.)
I'm so glad I tried out this second version of British pudding- it came out delicious! (OK, it may not look super appealing, but certain foods taste a lot better than they look. This is one of them.)
This method (using suet pastry crust) can also be used for sweet pies as well. Sooo many possibilities, so little time.
To prepare the pie all you do is fill a pastry-lined bowl with a combination of flour-coated meat, onions and cooked mushrooms.
Then you pour in a combination of wine and oyster sauce, just enough to almost reach the top of the meat. (A little more than what I have.) Then cover the top with the remaining dough and seal it all up.
Cover the bowl in foil and seal the edges well. Place in a vessel and steam for 5 hours. (You can use a pot or a slow cooker.)
After it's done your crust will look lightly golden. I didn't really have a way of knowing if it was done or not, but all the recipes I read online said ~5 hours steaming so I figured it was good. Probably could have steamed it for longer and I'm sure it would have been fine.
Now- the moment of truth. Flipping it over and seeing if you can get it to not fall apart.
Step 1: Place large plate over bowl and carefully flip it over. SUCCESS!
Step 2: Cross your fingers in hope that step 3 works.
Step 3: Remove the bowl
SWEET!!! It totally worked!!!
Now go ahead and break open the crusty shell to reveal the deliciousness inside.
Mmmmmmm, delicious. All the flavors really just come together and the beef was the most tender I've ever prepared (for beef stew type of meat). It's just a great hearty, family style meal.
And the crust- can I take a moment to talk about the crust. (Well, it's my blog so I'll do whatever I like...) It was so good, like a cross between bread and a flaky pie crust. It was so tender and somewhat flaky as well. Surprising a texture like that could come out of a steam cooker.
Meat and mushroom "pudding"
adapted from recipes for meat and kidney pie
For the suet crust pastry
225 g/ 8 oz flour (1 ½ cups + ~ 1-2 TBSP)
2 tsp baking powder
115 g/ 4 oz rendered beef suet (or substitute like lard or Crisco)
salt and pepper
cold water, ~7-9 TBSP (more or less depending…)
For the filling
380g/13 ½ ozs chuck steak
1 lb mushrooms, quartered
1 small onion, sliced
3 TBPS of oyster sauce and enough red dry wine to make ~3/4 cup
3-4 TBSP flour, seasoned with salt and black pepper
1-2 fresh bay leafs
1. Butter your bowl (1 liter/1 quart capacity pudding basin or glass bowl). Also prepare the steamer (i.e. get the liquid heated and ready to steam either in your pot or your slow cooker set to high.)
2. Cook mushrooms ~5-10 minutes, until nicely browned. (I cooked the mushrooms so that they release their liquid now and the pie wouldn’t get too watery later.) Season lightly with salt and pepper.
3. Cut chuck into small (1 inch) cubes. Set aside.
4. For the pastry, sift flour, baking powder, salt and pepper into large mixing bowl. Then add the suet and mix it into the flour using a pastry cutter or the blade of a knife. Add water, 1 TBSP at a time, until the dough comes together. This will vary depending on many factors so once you’ve added 6 or so TBSP, start adding the liquid in smaller amounts.
5. Once the dough gets too sticky for the knife, use your hands and bring it all together until you have a nice smooth elastic dough, which leaves the bowl clean. It's worth noting that suet pastry always needs more water than other types, so if it is still a bit dry just go on adding a few drops at a time.
6. Reserve ¼ of the dough for the lid, then roll the rest out into a 9-10 inch circle (it will be fairly thick), or just enough to reach the top of your bowl. Line the greased bowl with the dough, pressing it all around.
7. You are now ready to start preparing the filling. Toss the steak in the seasoned flour and shake off the excess flour. Layer 1/3 of the meat, 1/3 of the sliced onions and 1/3 of the mushrooms in the pastry-lined bowl. Repeat until all the meat and veggies have been added.
8. In a measuring cup combine oyster sauce, red wine and a few shakes of Worcestershire sauce. Pour mixture over the steak. (The liquid should be semi-high but below the surface of the steak.)
9. Roll out the remaining ¼ pastry for the lid, dampen its edges and place over the steak. Seal well and cover with a double sheet of foil.
10. Place in the steamer and steam for 5 hours, making sure to watch the level of the liquid in your steamer.