Archive for the ‘baking’ Category

Hearty Steak and Ale Pie

Even though winter hasn’t seemed to settle in just yet by us, we still have some cold enough days to justify a steak, ale and cheese pie. This takes a while to be cooked but in truth, you do about 20 minutes preparation and the oven does the rest. Perfect to have a lazy Sunday at home when the most pressing matter is when you can eat the delicous pie and what movie to choose to see you into the evening. I love weekends like that, don’t you?

This recipe comes from a friend that loves Jamie Oliver recipes so much that she passes them around to anyone that will listen. She had made at the words “steak”, “cheese” and “pie”.

Steak, ale and cheese pie

olive oil
2 onions chopped
2 cloves of garlic chopped
30g of butter
2 carrots peeled and chopped
2 sticks celery peeled and chopped
about 4 field mushrooms. sliced
1 kg brisket of beef or stewing steak cut into 2 cm cubes
small amount of fresh rosemary picked and chopped
salt and pepper
1 can of Guinness
2 tablespoons flour
200g fresh Cheddar cheese
500g puff pastry
1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 190C/375F.

In a large overnproof pan, heat about a tablespoon of oil on a low heat. Add the onions and fry gently for a few minutes. Turn the heat up and add the garlic, butter, carrots, celery and mushrooms. Mix everything in before stirring in the rosemary, beef, some salt and a teaspoon of pepper.
Fry for a few minutes, then pour in the Guinness, stir in the flour and add some water (if needed) to cover. Bring to the simmer and cover the pan with a lid and cook in the oven for one and a half hours. Remove and give the stew a stir, continue cooking for another hour.
Remove from the heat and stir in half the cheese, season and let the filling cool slightly.

When you are ready to make your pie. Roll of a piece of the puff pastry to line the bottom of your pie dish. Butter the pie dish and line the pastry inside, leaving some edges dangling. Pour in your filling mixture and sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top. Roll out another piece of pastry for the top of the pie and place over the mixture. You can do whatever fancy pie work here you like but I usually just crimp the edges together, create a hole in the centre with the tip of a knife and brush the top with beaten egg. Bake for 45 minutes until the pastry is cooked and golden. Jamie suggests serving this with peas, and if you would like to feel really English, add some chips (fries) as well.

Unfortunately my photography did not justify the taste of the pie and it was too lovely and warm from the oven for me to spend that much time trying to get a decent shot. But trust me, this recipe is a keeper.


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Well, hello September!  Time really does fly when you get older.  When I was younger I remember having to wait forever for my parents to finish watching the news before we could watch our programmes, anyone remember Party of Five

This past week at work has felt like swimming in the deep end of an endless pool.  My brain was tired and stressed and I found myself snapping at my husband for breathing to deeply and not whipping up meals on demand.  Me on PMS, never a good thing.  Luckily my manager is one of those understanding types and gave me the day off as TOIL (time off in lieu).  Yes, I toiled therefore I deserved TOIL.

The first thing I did was naturally write out a long mental list of things that needed to be done, house cleaning and washing being top of the list and I had to pull myself together and realise that this is a day for me, I could do anything that struck my fancy.  I was built with the guilt gene buried deep in my brain so this has been hard to do but so far I have;

  • slept in later than usual
  • had breakfast in bed reading blogs
  • played with the cat
  • went shopping and ended up buying some styling creme that will hopefully tame my curly hair
  • aimlessly wandered around a material store
  • nosed around Zara and drooled over a cherry red sweater with the cutest buttons on the sleeves
  • drifted around Marks and Spencer with the older generation and bought some dinner for tonight
  • came home and baked banana loaf

I think that banana loaf is one of the five fruit and veg that you should try and eat a day, it’s more-ish, cake-like and has enough bananas in it to make you feel slightly healthier after having a slice.

My recipe for this loaf came from an old cookbook called ‘Come, Cook with Mary’, it was given to me by one of my mother’s friends, who had it passed down to her from her sister who sadly passed away about 10 years ago.  Our local church in my hometown used to have all the ladies send in their favourite recipes and bind them into a cookbook, which went on sale to raise funds for the church and community.  This is one of those cookbooks, splattered with flour, oil and enthusiasm.  Most of the recipe titles begin with a persons name like, ‘Aunt Jane’s Genoa Cakes’, never mind that we have no idea who ‘Aunt Jane’ is.  But this is the book you come to when you want something familiar and comfortable to nibble on, and the banana loaf is the essence of being at home when the wind and rain come knocking on your door.


2 cups (240 g) flour
1 cup (120g) caster sugar
120g butter
2 eggs
3 ripe mashed bananas
65ml water
1.5 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarb of soda
pinch of salt

Pre-heat the oven to 160C
Cream the butter and sugar together.  Stir in the bananas and beat well.  Beat in the eggs one by one.  Add flour and salt and stir in well.  Dissolve the bicard into the water and stir into the batter, then add the baking powder.
Pour into a well-greased loaf tin and bake for about 50 minutes.  Let cool a little in the tin before turning out.

Serve with a cup of coffee and you are good to go.

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Snicker Muffins

Snicker Muffins


It was one of those days.  Those long working days which ended in my PC giving up on me and just refusing to shut down. It seems like out of the two of us, it still wanted to carry on looking at documents all day while I was ready to cry at a moments notice if one more person came up to me and asked if I was busy.  No, I just look like I furiously type away at nothing to amuse myself all day and then gasp in surprise when I get paid at the end of the month.

Stressed, therefore must bake, which I did.  The snicker and peanut butter muffin is my idea of a good welcome home after a long day.  They are also handy when, having a bad day at work you can eat one of these thinking at least that it’s a muffin rather than a bar of chocolate (I know there is chocolate in there but when it is wrapped in peanut buttery gooiness, the sun just shines and your day gets better, trust me).

I thank Nigella for inspiring me to bake these wonderful muffins, yaay for the domestic goddess!  I have tweaked the recipe slightly as I prefer MORE chocolate and MORE peanut butter because for me, you might as well go all the way.


250g plain flour
6 tablespoons golden caster sugar (85g)
1 and a half tablespoons baking powder
pinch of salt
6 tablespoons crunchy peanut butter (I use 8 )
60g unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg beaten
175 ml milk
3 x 65g Snickers bars, chopped ( I use 4)
12 bun muffin tin with paper cases

Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6
Stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Add the peanut butter and mix until you have coarse crumbs.  Add the melted butter and egg to the milk, and then stir this gently into the bowl.  Mix in the Snickers pieces and dollop into the muffin cases.
Bake for 20-25 minutes,  the tops should then be risen, gold and firm to the light touch.  Sit the tin on a wire rack for 5-10 minutes before taking out each muffin and allowing to cool, if you can.

I love simple and easy baking, enjoy!

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