Thursday, June 23, 2005

School-Dinner Lunch for 6-8

This was our first time having people over for food since I started the How To Eat project. This menu, from the Weekend Lunch chapter, looks to be typically English, so I invited Uncle Mike and Aunty Helen - Mike is my mum's ex-boss from BHP, a Cambridge man, very proper and very, very English.

34. Steak and Kidney Pie
35. Banana Custard

The filling is basically a stew of vegetables, mushrooms, steak, kidneys and stout. Of kidneys, Nigella says, "unless you've got a good butcher [kidneys] can be bitter and somehow sawdusty and rubbery at the same time". I, thankfully, do have a good butcher, so got my steak and some fab lamb kidneys from Rendinas (and wahoo, it was only $10 for all of it!) Lamb kidneys were only 50 cents each, and the steak was about $17 a kilo. I got field mushrooms from the local greengrocer, and my Guinness from the bottle-o up the street. Support local business!

I cooked the filling on Tuesday in a red Le Crueset pot (I think it's a Dutch Oven..?), and let it sit on the stove, off the heat, until this morning. It's winter now, it didn't need to go in the fridge. On Wednesday, I went shopping, and got a ceramic Maxwell & Williams pie dish from The Ware House on Bridge Road (only $14.95), and put it all together this morning. The recipe asks for a 20cm pie dish, but I couldn't find any. "This looks pie-sized, doesn't it?", said the shop-assistant, as he pointed to a 26cm one. It indeed did look pie-sized, so I took it.

Unfortunately, Rendinas didn't have any suet, (apparently no-one uses it these days...) so we had to go to another butcher, who scraped up the 100g I needed. I've never used proper suet (aka solid beef fat) before, but it was easy to use. You grate it up, or chop it into teensy-weensy pieces, and stir it into the flour with some water. Easy peasy. It looks rough and ramshackle, but I think that's the look we're going for here. It's extremely easy to work with.

The filling made the perfect amount to go in the pie dish. Fab!

Pie - I didn't put an "upended egg cup" or pie funnel in, but it was fine. The filling's super-sturdy anyway, so there's little chance of it collapsing. There was also some pastry leftover, so I got all creative with my Living Kitchen cookie cutters and wrote "EAT THIS PIE" on top, with a love heart too.

Me with Pie - Domestic Goddess moment anyone?


My plate

Uncle Mike: "I like this pie because there are lots of kidneys in it! The first mouthful I had was an enormous chunk of kidney."

Too much mash? (We barely made a dent in it - I'm going to make Salmon Fishcakes with the rest.)

Nearly there

Done! This was the perfect amount for the 6 of us, but we were all very full at the end. I think it would have been fine for 8 people too.

This pie is so delicious! The filling cooking in the oven on Tuesday night filled the house with the most gorgeous aroma, and the pastry is amazing. Even Aunty Helen said she loved the pastry, and she's quite exacting when it comes to food standards. The pastry is light, flaky, crispy and filling, all at the same time. Nigella says you don't necessarily need mashed potatoes because of the pastry, and she was right - the pastry is very substantial. (I, of course, panicked at the idea of there not being enough food, so did mash as well). The peas are just ordinary frozen McCain's peas, boiled, with nothing added. Love 'em.

Banana Custard

You know what? I can't make custard. It's one of the kitchen skills which I have yet to acquire, let alone master. I either end up with scrambled eggs, or a thin, pallid soup. Today, I ended up with a cross between the two! Perhaps the heat was too high. It still tasted good, but was a bit lumpy, and didn't develop a skin. Argh, I dunno. The only custard I have been able to make properly is the chocolate custard, which is used in the Chocolate Cherry Trifle (Feast) and the Gooey Chocolate Stack (How to be a Domestic Goddess). But that one has flour in it to stablilise. Well, there are, like, a dozen custard recipes in How To Eat... hopefully I'll get the hang of it before too long!


Annauk said...

Sarah, It all looks divine!!
Well done

Ilana said...

Wow, you managed to do the things I am scared of the most in one meal:

1. pastry
2. cooking for company
3. cooking out of a book you only recently discovered
4. cooking a 'native' dish to a native

wow, i'm so impressed. my hats off to you, lassie.