Our friend, Susan, came over for lunch, today, and we made a big Steak and Ale Pie straight out of The Great British Bake Off. Unlike the individual pies I made a few weeks ago, this was one monstrous pie suitable for a family. Fortunately, Susan took a picture and sent it off because Victor decided his didn’t come out and I didn’t take any because he did.
Hot Water Crust
- 250ml water
- 100g lard
- 10g table salt
- 450g plain flour, plus more to dust
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
Put the water, lard and salt in a small saucepan and set over a medium heat. Put the flour into a large bowl and, once the water and lard are boiling, pour them over the flour, stirring with a wooden spoon until the dough has come together, then tip out on to a floured work surface and knead for 2–3 minutes. Return to the bowl and lay a tea towel over it to keep the heat in. You need to work quickly now, for if the pastry cools down too much it will be difficult to shape.
Take about two-thirds of the dough and roll out on a floured surface to a circle 28–30cm in diameter. Roll this on to a rolling pin and lay inside a 23cm springform cake tin. Use your fingers to mould the pastry into the tin, making sure you work it into the corners. Allow the excess to flop over the edge. Plug any holes with more pastry and ladle in the cold filling.
Brush the inner exposed rim of the pastry with plenty of beaten egg, then roll out the remaining pastry on a floured surface to a circle of around 28cm in diameter. Roll this on to the rolling pin and lay out on the pie. Use your fingers to work the pie top into position, making a good seal between the two layers of pastry. Use two fingers and a thumb to crimp the pastry closed, then brush liberally with beaten egg (reserve the remaining egg). Slash three holes in the top of the pie to allow steam to escape.
Bake for 45 minutes at 425°F, then release the springform sides – the pastry will be cooked enough to hold its shape now – brush the sides of the pie with more egg and return to the oven for a final 20 minutes until the pie is a rich brown colour. If the top begins to brown too much, cover it with a layer of foil
Brilliant, as they say in the UK.
We definitely ate our fill – much more than our usual lunch – so we decided to have lunch for dinner. Balance…
Our luncheons are usually bowls of homemade soup, so soup it was – along with some crusty baguette from the other day. We take turns making big batches, and this one was from Victor.
Italian Wedding Soup
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1/2 cup onion, minced
- 1 tsp garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
- 1 large egg
- Salt & Pepper, to taste
- 3 qts chicken broth
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 1 leek, chopped
- 1 lb escarole, chopped
- 2 large eggs
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Make meat balls: Mix all ingredients together and form into very small meat balls- about the size of a prize shooting marble. Place on a sheet pan off to the side.
Make the soup: Bring the broth to a boil in a large pot. Add the meatballs and escarole and simmer until the meatballs are cooked through and the escarole is tender – about 10 minutes.
To add the egg: Whisk the eggs to blend. Stir the soup in a circular motion. Slowly drizzle the egg mixture into the moving broth, stirring gently with a large fork to form thin stands of egg.
Ladle into bowls and add additional grated cheese and a drizzle of good-quality olive oil.
It is hearty, filling, and oh, so flavorful. He added carrots and leeks this time around for a bit more added nutrition. Pretty darn good.
And speaking of pretty darn good, Susan made us cookies! Knowing that we’re being good about desserts, she brought each of us one. That, boys and girls, is a good friend.
Buttery shortbread with a hint of almond. The perfect ending to a perfect day!