Oh. My. Word! This is very exciting for me. Probably less for you guys but put yourself in my shoes for a moment. I’ve never even eaten a hand raised hot water crust pie let alone baked one. Let alone baked one that’s really good. On my first attempt! Okay, enough trumpet blowing, but seriously, I’m so pleased with these.
I’m a bit of a pastry fiend, sweet and savoury, so I’ve always been a bit put out that I can’t (usually) indulge in traditional hand raised pies. They always seem to be meat filled and more often than not the crusts are made with lard. No good for meat averse me.
But it’s not just the light, crisp, buttery crust that’s really good on these. The filling is delicious, warming and hearty but not heavy or stodgy. Yep, I’m marking these down as an all round winner. I can’t wait to try out some more variations of these beauties.
Makes 2 decent sized pies
1 tsp olive oil
1 small red onion
1 medium carrot
1 can butter beans
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp ground cumin
salt, pepper and chili flakes to taste
100g tomato paste
1 tbsp chopped parsley
50g cheese (any full flavour medium fat one you like)
100g plain flour
30g bread flour
50ml boiling water
pinch of salt
1 tsp paprika
Dice the onion and carrot (fairly small) and gently fry them in the oil until they are just starting to colour. Mince the garlic and add that to the pan along with the spices and seasonings. Fry for a couple of minutes before adding the beans. Mix in the tomato paste and cook until it has lost its ‘raw’ taste. Remove from the heat and mix in the parsley and the cheese, which will help to bind everything together. The filling should be quite thick. Leave this to cool whilst you make the pastry. You don’t want to try to fill warm pastry with warm filling, that will get you into all sorts of bother!
To make the hot water crust melt the butter in the boiling water. In a large mixing bowl whisk together the flours, salt and paprika. Lightly beat the egg and set aside a spoonful of it for glazing the pies before baking. Use a butter knife to mix the remaining egg into the flour. Pour in the hot water/butter mixture and combine everything so that you have a very soft pliable dough. It’s okay if you need to sprinkle in a tiny bit more plain flour to absorb any excess stickiness.
Divide the dough into two and then pull about a quarter off each ball. On a lightly floured surface use the tips of your fingers to pat out the larger balls to about 7 inch discs and the small ones to about 5 inches. Cut a couple of slits in the centre of the smaller discs.
Pile half of the filing on to each of the larger discs and place the smaller disc on top. Gently bring up the sides of the pastry and crimp them together with the lid, making sure that everything is well sealed. If you want to you can use a fork to press around the edges too.
If, like me you don’t trust everything to hold together in the oven then wrap and tie some strips of baking parchment around the pies for a bit of structural support. Use a fish slice (dipping it in flour makes this easier) to transfer the pies to a greased baking tray.
Chill the pies in the fridge for at least 20 minutes (they can sit there for longer if you aren’t quite ready to bake them yet). Brush the tops of the pies with some of the remaining beaten egg and then bake them in an oven pre heated to 200°c for 35 minutes, until they are golden brown and the pastry is crisp.
We all feel like we should eat a little bit lighter after Christmas but on cold, grey, dreary winter days it’s hard for me to get excited about a bowl of salad.
I need bright colours, bags of flavour and preferably a bit of spice to warm me up from the inside!
I know a lot of people who struggle to get on board with eating tofu. I think it’s because they view it just as a meat substiute. I just view it as a protein source. I know that the flavour can take a little getting used to and that it needs a little help in that department, but that’s also why it works so well in spicy dishes.
These little crispy patties, topped with colourful, chunky salsa certainly remind me that, one day, there will be warm sunny days again!
450g block of extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
3 spring onions
handful of coriander
1/2 tsp paprika
pinch each of ground cinnamon, cumin, salt and pepper
1 tsp chipotle paste
squeeze of lime juice
chili sauce to taste
3 tbsp panko breadcrumbs
3 tbsp sweetcorn
1 small ripe avocado
handful of cherry tomatos
handul of coriander
lime juice, salt and pepper to taste
little gem lettuce leaves to serve
Mash up the tofu with your hands in a large mixing bowl. Make sure that there are no large lumps in it. Slice the spring onions and chop the coriander. Add these to the mixing bowl and mix them through with a fork. Add everything else but the panko and mix these through too, making sure that they are well distributed through the tofu. Finally add the panko and mix the whole lot. Let this sit whilst you make the salsa.
Dice the tomatoes and roughly chop the coriander and chili . Mix these with the sweetcorn, lime juice, salt and pepper. Peel and pit the avocado and dice this so that it’s a similar size to the tomatoes. Toss this in with the other ingredients.
Shape the tofu mixture into little patties, a heaped tablespoon is about the right amount. Fry these over a medium heat in a lightly oiled frying pan until the outsides are golden and crisp.
Serve the patties on the lettuce leaves with a sprinkling of the salsa and perhaps an extra drop or two of hot sauce.
Give the Bailey’s a break and make your own creamy concoction.
This isn’t quite as heavy as Bailey’s or as rich as something like eggnog but it’s still got a bit of a kick to it. It makes a nice alternative to dessert at the end of a festive meal.
For the ginger simple syrup you need equal amounts of sugar and water (about 3 tbsp of each) and a thumb sized piece of fresh ginger that you’ve sliced into 6-7 pieces and bashed about a bit to release the juice. Combine them in a small pan and let the mixture bubble over a low heat for 5 minutes. Allow to cool before straining and using. This doesn’t make a lot of syrup, enough for 1-2 people but you can easily increase the amounts if you need to.
Makes 1 (very) generous serving
25ml vanilla vodka
25ml ginger simple syrup
30ml single cream
pinch of nutmeg/cinnamon
Add everything but the cinnamon or nutmeg to a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice. Shake to combine and then strain into a glass. Sprinkle the top with a pinch of nutmeg or cinnamon.
Put the fruit at the bottom of your Christmas stocking to good use this year and make one of these.
I love this drink, it looks all sorts of fancy but it’s actually pretty easy to make once you’ve got the syrup. It’s not as tart as a ‘sour’ because the clementine juice is nice and sweet and the spices make it wonderfully fragrant. I also like to think that the foamy egg white layer on the top makes it look extra festive and snowy.
This makes enough for two drinks but you can easily increase the quantities. To make the simple syrup lightly crush 3 cloves and 1/2 tsp pink peppercorns before combining with equal amounts of soft brown sugar and water (about 3 tbsp of each) in a small pan and heating gently for a few minutes. Leave to cool before straining and using.
2-3 strips of clementine/satsuma zest
25ml clove and pink peppercorn brown sugar simple syrup
Juice of 2 clementines/satsumas (50ml approx)
25ml triple sec
1 egg white
Combine all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously for 1 minute. Strain into coupe or martini glasses and let the foam settle on the surface before garnishing with pink peppercorns.
It might be because I was raised in the West country but I’d take one of these over a bucks fizz on Christmas morning every time. This is made from apple and spice and all things nice. And by ‘all things nice’ I mean rum.
For the simple syrup (there’s enough here for two drinks but you can easily increase the quantities) lightly muddle 3 sprigs of rosemary with 3 tbsp sugar in a small pan. Snap a cinnamon stick in two and add this to the pan along with 3 tbsp of water. Heat gently and allow to bubble for a few minutes. Leave to cool before using.
30ml cinnamon and rosemary simple syrup
50ml spiced rum
dry cider, apple slices and rosemary sprigs to serve
Shake the rum and syrup along with the rosemary and cinnamon from making the syrup in a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice. Strain it into glasses filled with ice and top up with cider. Garnish with an apple slice and a fresh sprig of rosemary.
The time has come for Mr Colonial Cravings annual office festive hoopla. I’m not sure they refer to it like this but I think that maybe they should start.
To say thank you for the hours of photographing food that he puts in (my hands are just too shaky to take a decent picture) I’ve made him something extra special.
I’ve combined his favourite Italian treat with something festive from their Austrian neighbours. Gingerbread! And it is so good! If you like gingerbread lattes then you’re going to love this. Seriously, this tastes amazing. Layers of richly spiced sponge soaked in boozy coffee, sandwiched together with thick zabaglione cream. Christmas dessert heaven…
You can bake the sponge ahead of time because it keeps really well, and also if it is a tiny bit stale then it tends to soak up the coffee better. Winning all round!
If you don’t have a spring-form cake tin, of just don’t want to serve the tiramisu like this, then you can of course just build up the layers in a serving dish, trifle-style. Either works well for this.
Half the quantity of gingerbread from my gingerbread latte cupcakes, baked in a spring-form pan for about 35 minutes at 180°c.
300ml strong brewed coffee
3 tbsp sugar
50ml brandy/dark rum (feel free to use more if you like it really boozy)
1 tbsp coffee liqueur (optional)
2 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla paste
225g mascarpone (room temperature)
200ml double cream
dark chocolate to serve
Trim away the very top of the cake, to expose the crumb and slice the sponge in half horizontally. Set aside.
Mix one tablespoon of the sugar with the coffee, brandy/rum and coffee liqueur (if using) and let the coffee cool a bit.
Place the remaining sugar in a mixing bowl with the egg yolks and vanilla and place it over a pan of simmering water. Whip the yolks until they are pale and fluffy and have at least doubled in volume. Remove them from the heat and let it cool for a minute or two before beating the mascarpone into it.
Put the cream in another bowl and whip it until it becomes thick and fluffy. Use a large metal spoon to fold the cream into the egg yolk/mascarpone mixture.
To assemble the tiramisu place a layer of the sponge back into the springform pan that you baked it in. Brush the surface of it with the coffee mixture. You need it to be saturated but not so soggy that it loses all integrity.
Spread half of the creamy filling mixture evenly over the sponge and then carefully place the second layer on top. Brush this with coffee too, again making sure that it is well moistened but not drenched. Don’t worry, you won’t need all of the coffee mixture. Cover this with the remaining cream mixture and smooth off the surface. Put the tiramisu in the fridge to firm up for a couple of hours.
Dust the top of the tiramisu with some grated dark chocolate (I like to be fairly liberal with it) and run a palate knife around the edge of the tin before releasing the catch and removing the sides of the tin. Carefully transfer the tiramisu to a serving plate. Enjoy!