Monday, 18 July 2011

Pork Pies & Potted Things...

Pork Pies & Potted Things by Charlotte

The al fresco dining afternoon/soiree was planned for a beautiful mid July afternoon. Everything was going well, a little too well. To spice things up the rain arrived, I cancelled the borrowing of the bbq and announced grilled food with kitchen/lounge party as the order of the day.

In keeping with my Mark Hix obsession I had two recipes from British Regional Food planned, plus some salads, Matt's homemade burgers with Fergus Henderson ketchup, plus bits and pieces that others were turning up with, such as chilli halloumi, a large Tuscan sausage, Brasilian potato salad, homemade scones and raspberry coulis and Borough red wine. Treats, so many treats.

So, my chosen Mark Hix recipes were Pork Pies and Potted Shrimp. Two absolute classic dishes that Greg Wallace would be thrilled to get his little hands on.

The pies are very simple and tasty, requiring fatty pork shoulder and pastry made with hot water and lard; intriguing, warm and as Rachael will agree, the lard is key!

Here's what Mark says about his Pork Pies -

Makes 6-8

Homemade pork pies are nothing like the ones you buy in the shops. The pastry is easy to make and if you haven't got a mincer at home on your mixing machine, you can just chop the meat up very finely by hand. A helpful butcher might mince the filling for you. All you do is take a large disc of pastry and shape it round the filling into a bulgy-sided pie, then join it to a smaller circle of pastry at the top by pinching round the edge. You could use this recipe to make two big pies, or even one very large one.

I prefer to eat the pies warm rather than cold, as that brings out the flavour and the pastry tends to be crisper. You can also add other seasonings such as anchovy essence, mace or allspice and a bit of sage to suit your taste - it's entirely up to you.

For the filling

1kg boned shoulder of pork, including 20-30 per cent fat

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the hot-water crust pastry

500g plain flour

1tsp salt

175g lard

1 egg, beaten

First prepare the filling: chop some of the best bits of pork into rough 1cm dice and mince or finely chop the rest. Season it well and mix in the diced meat. Take a small teaspoonful of the mixture and fry it to check the seasoning, then adjust it if necessary. Pre-heat the oven to 200C/gas 6.

Then make the pastry: mix the flour and the salt in a bowl and make a well in the centre. Bring 200ml water and the lard to the boil, then stir it into the flour with a wooden spoon to form a smooth dough. Leave the dough covered for about 15 minutes or so, until it can be handled.

Divide the dough into 6-8 equal pieces. Take one of the balls of dough and divide it into two balls, one twice the size of the other. Roll the larger piece on a lightly floured table to about 12-14cm in diameter. Use the smaller piece to make another circle about f half the size for the top. Put some of the filling in the centre of the larger circle, lay the smaller circle on top and raise the sides of the larger one up, then pinch the lid and the top of the sides together with your fingers. If it looks a bit of a mess, you can reshape it, as the pastry is quite pliable. Repeat with the rest of the pastry and filling.

Brush the pies all over with the beaten egg and cook them for 35-40 minutes. If they are colouring too much, cover them with foil and turn the oven down.

Serve them warm or cold, preferably with homemade piccalilli.

Next up Potted Shrimp...

Potting things is of interest to me. Its simple but exciting, several small filled ramekins giving off different aromas gets most peoples attention.

Mr. Hix, of course, did not disappoint - I came across his recipe for potted shrimp with tales of the shrimpers of the Sefton coast. I went to the fishmonger to check out the brown shrimp on offer and found them to be rather pricey. We had a chat and started talking about potting crab, which got me all excited and I ended up leaving with both shrimp and crab.

I potted them both in the same way according to the recipe and actually would have to say I enjoyed the crab rather a lot. The shrimp were good too but do have a slight maggoty look about them which most people managed to point out at some point.

Recipe as follows -

180g unsalted butter

Juice of a lemon

A good pinch of ground mace or nutmeg

Pinch of cayenne pepper

1 small bay leaf

1tsp anchovy essence or paste

210g peeled brown shrimps (or crab meat – I used a mix of brown and white)

Salt and freshly ground white pepper

Melt the butter in a pan, add the lemon juice, mace, cayenne pepper, bay leaf and anchovy essence and simmer on a low heat for 2 minutes to infuse the spices. Remove from the heat and cool the mixture until it is just warm.

Add the shrimps and stir well, then season with salt and freshly ground white pepper. Put the mixture into the fridge and stir every so often. When the butter starts to set, fill 4 ramekins with the mixture or spoon it on to plates. If you aren't serving them that day, return the ramekins to the fridge and cover with clingfilm. Don't serve the shrimps straight from the fridge, as the butter will be too hard to spread nicely on to the toast, and won't taste as good. Serve with hot buttered toast and lemon halves.

Sunday, 10 July 2011


A world of extremes on Worthy Farm.

Devoted Keston Kitchen followers will have enjoyed, and been somewhat overwhelmed, by Charlotte and Matt's food diaries from their gastronomic tours (see On Location Paris and On Location Sicily for the comprehensive documentation of their holiday feasting).

Not to be outdone, Rachael and I decided to document our food consumption at our annual trip to Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts; the funnest five days of the year.

A scary prospect, given that we usually abandon our foodie ways and focus on finding excellent bands and dancing like lunes; relying on cider and rum to fulfil our nutritional needs.

However, as we have developed into mature women, we have become increasingly aware of the fine eateries that can be found on our treks between stages. In fact, there is an array of local, health-restoring, delicious meals to be bought.

But Glastonbury is a world of extremes. You will see from the food catalogue below that we have not abandoned our festival roots - there is an irrepressible urge for fried bacon in the mornings (of whatever quality) after particularly riotous nights. And Rachael has been on autopilot on the pre-festival supermarket run for over a decade: I had to point out that there is no need for a 29 year old woman who has been on Leith's cookery courses to eat dairylea dunkers. But the shopping list hasn't changed since Reading back in '99.

(to note Rachael has already been here for a day guarding the pitch, but no food record exists)

I arrive at midday and decide that I must immediately have a pint of cider and a burger.
This was to reward the extreme mission I had just completed - it is too traumatic to go into, but involved carrying twice my body weight in camping equipment, sequined clothing, wellies and cider through the London rush hour - train/tube/train/bus - trekking through many many muddy fields and a heroic effort with an airbed and a £2 pump.

I was just at the point of collapse when Rachael announced that Meat Wagon were making their debut appearance at Glastonbury. Halleluiah.

Rachael and Julia both ate Dubble Bubble burgers.

Generally Glastonbury involves one proper meal a day*, followed by snacking on random items from the '99 list. Therefore for dinner:

Julia: Snack a Jacks. Hummous. Bread.
Rachael: Sainsbury's pasta salad. Dried apricots.

Rachael: cereal bar, carton of apple juice, satsuma.
Julia: woke to the immediate realisation that cereals bars wouldn't cut the mustard and headed straight for the nearest bacon buttie vendor.

Rachael: Bread roll, hummous, french fries (s&v), caramel chocolate wafer biscuit (those ones with the red and gold foil), apple, dairylea dunkers

(Julia still full of bread and meat)

Rachael: Stonebaked pizza: peppers and mushrooms
Julia: Stonebaked pizza: meat feast

Rachael: Cereal bar, carton of apple juice, satsuma.
Julia: Bacon baguette the size of my forearm

Rachael:Bread roll, avocado, McCoys (steak flavour), caramel chocolate wafer, apple, dairylea dunkers
Julia: no need

Rachael:Thali Cafe butternut squash curry with rice
Julia: Realised severe lack of veg in recent days - headed to Manic Organic for a vegetable stir fry and side salad.

Rachael:Cereal bar, carton of apple juice, satsuma
Julia: Sorreen malt loaf, apple, orange juice

Lunch (or more accurately, random snacks dispersed though the day)
Rachael: carrot cake, smoothie, doritos (cool original), apple
Julia: carrot cake, watermelon, iced-coffee

Rachael: Made a pilgrimage to Pie Minister for a Henny Penny pie (of course) - chicken and porcini mushroom. With mash and mushy peas

Julia: Discovered an amazing organic falafel stand with no queue. Falafel on flat bread with hummous and three salads (carrot and orange, beetroot, leaves)

Let's just say it involved a service station and a very long drive. Best not to divulge.

*Unless you are Robert or Jack, in which case you buy 4 meals a day, at least one of which is a Meat Wagon burger.
**not necessarily consumed in the am.