British Pie Week, and my regular Friday Pie-day!

I never needed an excuse to eat pie. I’ve loved pie since very young, and I have fond memories of burning my tongue on scalding hot pie filling erupting from freshly made Wrights Pies (a delicacy of my native Stoke on Trent!). My all time favourite dish my Mummy cooks is her incredible mince meat pie and onion gravy….one day I will perfect it!

But in case unlike me you need an excuse, or perhaps the humble pie isn’t something you often opt for (I won’t hold it against you, promise), you may be interested to hear that we are currently in the middle of British Pie Week! Conceived to share the pie love, promote this wonderful British dish and to show people new and wonderful recipes, Pie Week is a perfect time to indulge in something yummy and pastry-encrusted!

Now we have a bit of a tradition in our house…..Friday Pie-day! Whilst we sometimes swap out for Fish Friday, we very often like to scoff a home made pie on a Friday….a sort of ‘you made it through the week!’ treat, and a way to use up whatever ingredients we may have languishing at the back of the fridge to boot!

For me, pie is best served with a creamy mash, but gravy is an absolute MUST (another Potteries, or perhaps Midlands thing I think!). But beyond that, anything goes in my book! I often use up the end of a ham in a pie with cheese sauce and leeks….I adore a fish pie….and anything with a mashed potato topping is a grand idea as far as I’m concerned (cottage pie and shepherds pie feature heavily).

We’ve recently taken up a new organic vegetable box subscription though, from nearby St Helen’s Farm in Tadcaster, and so this week I’ve had some squash that I need to use up. I visited Fodder in Harrogate yesterday and came away with a log of Yellison Goats Cheese which is also made nearby in Skipton. So along with some other things I needed to use up, I made up a tasty pie filling in a rich tomato-based sauce.

It always feels quite rewarding to home-make a pie, but it’s really the easiest thing. I like making pies when we have guests as I can pre-prepare the filling, then clean up before finishing them off in the oven once our guests arrive.

For this pie I simply peeled and cubed the squash, and roasted it in the oven until soft. Then I fried up some onion and garlic, followed by sliced fennel and spring greens. Oh and some chick peas left over from a salad earlier in the week. Next I added a tin of chopped tomatoes (the fresh ones we got in our box are long gone!) to the whole lot, seasoned well and reduced slightly before spooning into pie dishes, crumbling in some of the cheese and topping with puff pastry. Lush!

Ems x

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Something from the weekend: Visitors, treats and yums…

Beautiful mauve roses brought in from our little garden

Beautiful mauve roses brought in from our little garden

I do love it when the weekend starts early! And this one did as we recieved surprise (ish) visitors in the shape of the lovely Claire and Matthew. On their way to a wedding in the North, they joined us for our ritual Friday PieDay supper (Shepherd’s Pie this week!) as well as great chats, and much reviewing of Rightmove (at least we’re not the only ones who are addicted!).

Cooper the lurcher giving us our Saturday morning wake up call

Cooper the lurcher giving us our Saturday morning wake up call

Saturday began as usual with a wake up call from Cooper, followed by a dog walk. Then after a quick coffee we decided to walk into town for Brunch. We opted to do a little shopping and browsing first and as we’d not popped into our favourite Otley gallery in a while, went to see what treasures were to be found in the stunning Old Grammar School Gallery. As usual, there were lots of gorgeous things to spy and we had a very nice long chat with the proprietor who actually used to go to school in the building our house is now in!

We’d been eying up the incredible paintings on show there by Sheryl Ashton….the very large one in particular is a big favourite of ours but unfortunately beyond our budget (though still a steal for such amazing work!). So, when it was pointed out to us that there were a few of her original works to be purchased un-framed, we eagerly leafed through the browsers and found a stunning painting by her that we both adored….and at uncommonly decisive speed, Adam snapped it up to bring home! We’re very excited about framing and hanging it, and adding to our home!

Our Sheryl Ashton painting all wrapped up, from The Old Grammar School Gallery in Otley

‘Sold’, our Sheryl Ashton painting all wrapped up, from The Old Grammar School Gallery in Otley

For our brunch we headed to the pretty little Victoria Plum Tea Rooms. We’re hoping to try all of the tea rooms in Otley (there are a great many!) but this one had caught my eye with its quaint frontage and yummy sounding menu. Feeling pretty hungry I chose a double fried free range egg bap, with a double choc mocha alongside. Adam went for the toasted tea cake followed by a home made scone….all of which was seriously delish!

Double free range fried egg bap at Victoria Plum Tea Room, Otley

Double free range fried egg bap at Victoria Plum Tea Room, Otley

Double Choc Mocha at Victoria Plum Tea Room, Otley

Double Choc Mocha at Victoria Plum Tea Room, Otley

The afternoon saw more errands, shopping and dog walking, along with a light supper and some slobbing in front of the TV!

Having enjoyed our extra hour’s sleep, Sunday brought more adventures as we received more visitors! Friends Sam and Ellie live not too far away from our new home, so they came over to see the new place and explore Otley. After a cup of tea and a catch up, we headed to the Craft Market at the Courthouse, then the monthly Farmers’ Market in the square. Sam and Ellie are foodies too, so we all enjoyed snooping around the stalls and buying up lots of treats and yums. They kindly treated Cooper and Digby to their favourite hand made treats, and we all shared some tiny Dutch pancakes called Poffertjes which were seriously yummy!

I found a new favourite stall though….the Convivial Yorkshire Crisp Company were there with lots of different flavours to try! Most notable were the Henderson’s sauce flavour which is SO good, and the Chardonnay Wine Vinegar flavour which are most unusual and very tasty. As a crisp connoisseur I can certainly recommend them, and will be munching through a great many I dare say!

Lastly, we all got a huge bap filled with hog roast and stuffing to bring home with us, and yummed those up along with some of the sweet treats.

Convivial Yorkshire Crisps from Otley Farmers' Market

Convivial Yorkshire Crisps from Otley Farmers’ Market

After that we took a dog walk together to work off some of the eating; Sam and Ellie loving to see Cooper and Digby playing and running at the park. Then after one more cuppa for the road, they set off home and we spent the rest of the afternoon and evening getting some more slobbing in…and eating a whole tub of the crisps in my case!

Ems x

Made with love….. (Savoury) Sweet Potato Pie

In honour of Pie Week, this weekend I’m making my legendary sweet potato pie. I used to make it all the time for parties and picnics, but have rather forgotten about it of late…..my friend Annie reminded me of it though when I saw her a few weeks ago and I’ve been wanting to make it since!

It’s actually a savoury pie, not like the traditional sweet kind at all in fact. The recipe was born I think of having lots of sweet potatoes to use up (similar principle to most of my recipes!). It’s lovely for supper sliced from a large pie, or you can make miniature ones for parties and picnics…..

Ingredients….

  • 2 large pink flesh sweet potatoes, peeled and grated
  • 2 large handfuls of flaked almonds, lightly toasted
  • 2 large handfuls of grated cheese (red leicester and double gloucester are the best, but cheddar is good too)
  • enough pastry to line your pie tin (here is a good recipe…. and if you like, it’s nice to replace 1/4 of the flour with ground almonds for this pie I think)
  • Aromat seasoning (or salt and pepper)

How to make it…..

  1. Grease your pie tin (this recipe will fill about a 20cm diameter, quite deep tin nicely, but you can always add more or less filling for a different size pie/tin) and heat the oven to 180 c
  2. Roll out your pastry to about 3-5mm thick and line the tin with it, pressing down gently into the edges
  3. Scatter the flaked almonds into the bottom of the pie
  4. If the sweet potatoes are quite wet once grated, press them inside a kitchen towel to dry them off a bit, then fill up the pie case with them
  5. Scatter your grated cheese over the top, and top with a little Aromat or salt and pepper
  6. Place in the middle of the pre-heated oven, and cook for about 45 minutes, or until the pastry is golden
  7. Remove from the oven to slice and eat whilst hot

A slice of the warm pie is lovely with some baked beans, or a nice fresh slaw. It’s easy to make for parties or picnics by using the same method in miniature, using muffin tins or cupcake tins (which will take only about 20 minutes to cook).

Enjoy your pie!

Ems x

Planning for the weekend….. a weekend of Pie…..

Happy British Pie Week everyone! Yes, this weekend sees the end of a week of recipes, tastings, tips and generally yumming up pie. And I love pie.

So, here are my ideas for a pie-filled weekend…..

Pie, Chips and Peas at Apples and Pears

Eating out…..

Last night we visited Apples and Pears ….the East-End-meets-Shoreditch hidden drinking den. It’s just around the corner for us on Brick Lane and so off we tootled for some cocktails and supper. I began with the Columbia Martini, so called after the local flower market…..it has a hint of lavender in it and according to the menu is Mary Poppins’ favourite tipple, so I was bound to get on well with it! For food we opted for two of their yummy pies (of course)….Adam the steak and me the chicken. Both were delicious and came with beautifully crispy chunky chips and garden peas. The pies were drizzled with gravy but I’d have like a boat of my own (Northern lass that I am)! Whilst I’d rather go to Lounge Bohemia (just a little further around the corner) for the cocktails (Paul makes incredible mixes from around the same price), I can certainly recommend the pies.

Cocktail menu at Apples and Pears

Eating at home…..

In honour of Pie Week, tonight I’m making my legendary sweet potato pie. I used to make it all the time for parties and picnics, but have rather forgotten about it of late…..my friend Annie reminded me of it though when I saw her a few weeks ago and I’ve been wanting to make it since! I’ll post the recipe for it tomorrow so shop for sweet potatoes and almonds!

Planning ahead…..

In my opinion, there is no better pie-based experience than the traditional pie and mash shop of Goddard’s, founded in Deptford in 1890. As a student, I would go to their Greenwich shop for a treat lunch (although it was always incredible value for money) of pie, mash and gravy. Devastatingly though, the shop was closed a few years ago, but I have heard that it will be reopening at a new location on King William Walk in April! Taking over the Great British Fish and Chip Shop (which was the Cricketers pub when I first knew it, but has since been the Powder Monkey Bar and W Lounge) I can’t wait till they’re open again for business….. I’m planning a visit as soon as they are! In the mean time though, you can still visit their stand at the Fountain Food Court, next to Natwest in Greenwich.

Goddard's old pie shop in Greenwich

And whilst we’re on hearty winter food and planning ahead…. I can highly recommend the Dead Doll’s Club’s Stew House which is opening its doors at a new venue in Bethnal Green in a couple of weeks. We really enjoyed our visit to the transformed hall in Hackney a few weeks ago, and this is your last chance to get in before their menus change for a more summery theme. Tickets are still available here….it’s best enjoyed as a group, so why not get a gang together?!

The Stew House

Exhibitions…..

Brain Activity is David Shrigley’s first major exhibition in the UK and includes the full range of his work, including a number of new works created especially for the Hayward Gallery. Although Shrigley is best known for his wry and witty drawings, the exhibition will also feature animation, music, painting, photography, sculpture and taxidermy, all with his signature absurdity and humour.

Until 13th May at the Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre. Adults £10

David Shrigley at the Hayward Gallery

As I’m heading into town for a very important rendezvous at Liberty, I think I’ll pop to the Getty Images Gallery to see the Marilyn Exhibition. Commemorating 50 years since the actress’ death, the gallery have put together a collection of photographs and memorabilia, as well as original dresses and costumes worn by Monroe.

Until 23rd May at the Eastcastle Street Gallery. Entry is Free

Out and about…..

There are still a few events around the UK to celebrate Holi, the Hindu festival of colours, including special menus at Dishoom (where the waiters will be covering themselves in powdered paint!).

Shopping…..

I see there are still a few pieces left online at H&M in their much anticipated collaboration with Marni. I hear it was carnage at the opening yesterday, and some naughty shoppers had items on Ebay by ten past nine! Still, perhaps still worth a look….I’m loving the amazing prints and gorgeous bright colours.

I’ll be heading back out East though after my appointment at Liberty (supper at Poppies with friends planned) so I think the weekend’s shopping is more likely to take place at Spitalfields Market, which is hosting the International Women’s Fair in celebration of International Women’s Day. The market will host a wonderful collection of creative women including artists, craftswomen, designers, performers, workshops, women’s groups and organisations. And you can even round off the day with another pie at Square Pie which is right in the market!

Hope you all have suitably pie-filled weekends!

Ems x

A super supper

Last Saturday night we had a little dinner party at the flat with dear friends Claire and Matthew. Claire and I are *relatively* good these days at finding time to catch up over a Guiseppe’s, but the boys often miss out in favour of a ‘girls only’ night of gossip and giggling. So this weekend, Adam and I decided to cook for us all at home.

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Adam, who is currently sporting a moustache for Movember, had been lucky enough to receive a lovely gift of a set of ‘moustache clips’ from Claire the week prior, as a good luck wish for his facial hair growing and fundraising. And so Adam, keen to get using them, had the idea to make them into place cards. So as the beginnings of our meal were bubbling away on the stove by mid-morning, I began to fashion little name cards from the clips and folds of card. Oh, and a matching menu card too.

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Supper was to be relatively casual, we’d decided, so the menu looked like this….

Warm Green Salad, Chorizo, Pecorino

“All Day” Cottage Pie

Sherry Trifle Wally Ladd

The starter was super simple…..a toasted ciabatta (half each), rubbed with a clove of garlic, drizzled with olive oil…then on top, blanched and buttered asparagus and long stem broccoli, with some shavings of pecorino, chorizo and a drizzle of balsamic.

For the cottage pie we used a recipe from BBC Good Food which has served us rather well. We love the Duchy Originals range at Waitrose, and so the beef came from there. Claire was surprised to see the pie topped with cheese, but as I said, that’s the only thing that makes a cottage pie better than a shepherds pie. We spent the whole day cooking the filling very slowly on the hob, so the flat was filled with the most fabulous wine/thyme/gravy smell!

The pudding preparation was an all day event too, and the smell of the black cherry jam simmering with sherry did for a while take over the kitchen. We followed (mainly) a Marco Pierre White recipe from his Great British Feast book for the Sherry Trifle Wally Ladd. We adapted a little to make the mixture fit into our new (although vintage), gorgeous pudding glasses, just pouring the cream over rather than whipping it and piping it in. The end result was absolutely delicious, and took us right to the other side of full.

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The real triumph of the evening though was our newly readied Hertfordshire Foraged Sloe Gin. We’d been out picking the berries back in September, painfully pricked every last one, and then added them to two litres of gin and sugar…..oh and much like disturbing a Champagne to encourage the bubbles, Adam had to shake the bottles every day for several weeks. But boy, was it all worth it! The sticky, purple nectar is deliciously sweet and boozey, and rather too easy to drink down fast. Neat too.20111124-075156.jpg

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Fresh coffee and petits fours (fruit jellies on this occasion) finished us up for the night though, after plenty of wine of course. And so with the marvelous company and great fun of having guests, I think perhaps the only downside is having to share ones Sloe Gin.20111124-075547.jpg

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