Tag Archives: British recipe

Steak and Guinness Pie

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about locally grown food lately — not unusual for me by any means,  but my thoughts have just been more intensely focused.  So it shouldn’t be unusual for an article like “Butchers’ Banquet:  England’s Lincolnshire Wolds” published in the October 2011 issue of Saveur to have an impact on me.  I’m always looking for truly good recipes for traditional food, and even though I’m not British, I have solid connections.   In 1881 at the age of three, my great-grandfather sailed with his family from Newport, Wales to San Francisco hoping to find inexpensive land where his family might grow apples.  But that’s a story for another day.

This is more about the group of men mentioned in the article who have gotten together over years and years to enjoy a Sunday meal each week.  They know where the food has been grown, how it’s been grown, and have prepared it to showcase its quality.  Of course, it helps that they’re in the business.  I’d like to be invited to a table like that to hear the talk and understand more about what they know.  I’ll work on that from here in San Diego and maybe, just maybe, by the end of this year, I’ll know more about the more than 6,000 farms in our county and the farmers who tend them.

In the meantime, I thought I’d share these great Steak & Guinness pies with you.  My father-in-law loves Stilton and will jump at any excuse to tuck his napkin into his shirt and cozy up to a plate of hot food like this with a pint.  The recipe isn’t challenging, but does take some time, so plan ahead.  It’s worth it.

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Cornish Pasties

Suffice to say that my plans to get several posts written and queued up before we leave on vacation this Sunday never materialized.  Close, but no cigar. Living in a hobbling, semi-ambulatory state for the last five days put me in my place more than once, and I found myself thinking, Really?  Do I really need to write one more recipe?  Or should I focus on getting this knee better so I can actually walk?

Of course I need to write.  Just one more.

One.

The last minute shopping has been done, the house is relatively clean, tickets, shuttles, and reservations are in order.  Maps, check.  Routes, check.  Super-strength enormous bandaids for my feet, check.  Nine months of obsessive planning, check. It looks like we’re ready for our trip to the UK.

We’ll be in London for four days, then drive through Kent, and East and West Sussex, staying a couple of nights along the way, cutting up toward Oxford and then the countryside near Worcester where we’ll stay three days.  The last portion of our stay will see us in York, then Cambridge and Essex before we drive back to Heathrow and our trip home.  It promises to be a wild two weeks, and like the last time, I’m sure at least one intelligent Brit will say, “Why are you Americans always in such a hurry?  You can’t really see the UK in less than a month.”  And we know they’re right, of course, but who can afford it?  Who can stay away from work that long?

Not us.

If we had the time and resources, we’d have made it to Cumbria near the Scottish border to enjoy the beautiful Lake District along the way.  And we’d definitely would have made time for a drive through Dorset to Dartmoor and Plymouth, where one of my great-grandfathers boarded an old sailing ship to journey through the Straits of Magellan to Sebastapol, California more than a century ago.

There will always be another time for Cornwall, with its craggy coastline and Arthurian legends, but I couldn’t wait for that time to try an authentic Cornish Pasty.

Is it authentic if it’s made by someone from Southern California who’s had sound Cornish advice?

Who cares if they’re as delicious as these.

Seriously.

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Mixed Berry Bakewell Tart

Bakewell Tart 3 It’s becoming very apparent that I’m a complete failure at this business of working and trying to keep a food blog. I’m surprised, actually, because for years and years I managed to work a ridiculous number of hours and still have time to occasionally pretend that I might be Martha — sans the income, of course.  I’ve figured out that because I used to have so little time to do anything, I took quite a few shortcuts, or completely gave up what I enjoyed.

A few nights ago, I was yet again trying to explain to my very patient husband what the problem is;  I find solace in quiet activities that are often solitary in nature and often have a tangible product.  They’re things that keep my hands and mind busy and are often of a creative nature that can also be considered practical. Of course writing here packs several of those interests all into one nice product, so it makes sense that I’d enjoy it.  Unfortunately, for me it’s not very practical.

Therein lies the rub.

This would be the enormous excuse for why I’m just now getting around to posting The June Daring Bakers’ Challenge, hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart….er….pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800’s in England.

Making a Bakewell Tart isn’t all that difficult if you’ve had lots of practice making pie crust.  It’s perfect with a cup of tea or coffee and a good book enjoyed on a sunny morning patio, or near a fireplace on a chilly day.  In fact, making a Bakewell Tart isn’t all that time consuming, either.  No, it’s more the time needed (and enjoyed) to read the forum at the Daring Kitchen to see what creative ideas others are using to make the experience more challenging, or to sit at my Mac on reveal day, clicking from one blog to the next, enjoying the stories and photos that accompany each baker’s experience.  I seem not able to manage both.

So here I sit well past June 27th, just now showing my tart.  It’s the first day of the July 4th weekend and the start of our family vacation time.  The sky is cloud free for the first time in more than a week and blue as blue can be.  It figures.

I’m sure there’s a lesson in this somewhere, so perhaps I’ll take my book out on the porch, stretch my legs and turn my face to the sun to doze a bit and wonder what I can do to avoid giving up something I truly enjoy yet again.

In the meantime, here’s my delicious Mixed Berry Bakewell Tart.

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Shepherd’s Pie with Beef, Pork and Lamb

Cottage Pie

It’s raining here today, so I’m as subdued as the grey skies.  After two mornings of very early morning walks as I attempt to get back into the “I, too, can be fit!” swing of things, I’m content to sit in the quiet sipping my coffee.  Thoughts come and go but hover around memories of our trip to the UK a few years go — the winding roads in Wales, ancient castle ruins tucked between soft green hills, engaging after dinner conversation with local farmers at an old country house, and Pub food.

Last night, my husband’s parents came by for an impromptu celebration in honor of my mother-in-law’s birthday, and it seemed perfect to make a shepherd’s pie.  I love to cook for them, and for years, they’ve indulged my culinary whims.  When we get together, inevitably, talk turns to travel, and specifically travel to the UK.  My father-in-law has always wanted to go, and so he graciously indulges us yet another sharing of our time there as we think of ways to get him there before too much longer.  He’s 80 now.

Of course the talk turns to food and a pub we enjoyed in Bath.  I don’t remember the name of it because we made several attempts before we found one that would allow us to enter, my husband talking to someone inside while my son and I waited on the street.  Although pubs are more accepting of children than they used to be, not all of them are, and it was mortifying to my son that his presence caused us to have to search.  I felt badly for him knowing I would have been embarrassed as well. Finally we found one, and were led to the back, away from the bar to a small room.  So much for my romantic notions of cozy tables, old plastered walls and a roaring fire, no matter if it was the middle of summer with temperatures so uncharacteristically hot that everyone was talking about it.

Thank goodness for the waiter who indulged my husband with good-natured humor in answering a question about the rules of Cricket. He chided us about ordering “extra cold” beer and served us a meal of Shepherd’s Pie that was truly memorable.

Shepherd’s Pie is a traditional English dish made of minced meat — usually lamb — and vegetables, then covered with mashed potatoes before baking.  If the dish contains beef, then it’s referred to as a Cottage Pie.  Regardless, it’s comfort food at its best, and one that will leave you smiling well into the evening after the plates have been cleared from the table.  You may have to waddle to bed, however, because it’s quite filling.

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