Tag Archives: pie

Crumble of rhubarb, apples and blackcurrant GF

Pie is my favourite number...

Pie is my favourite number…

Over my years as a London based foodie, I have developed an addiction to pies, crumbles, cobblers and anything with a crust outside and stewed fruit inside… The simple mention of this sends a tremor along my spine: Fruit and crust, a very sexy combination indeed. I still do love tarts and tartines, but I think I slightly favour a crust ON TOP rather than UNDER.

Each season offers its own enticing variations and Autumn is a season for : rhubarb, sharp apples and black currants. All three are quite acidic so in this version, I have put a little more sugar than usual to counter balance the tartness of the fruit but you can make it less sweet if you wish.


  • 1 stalk of rhubarb
  • Bramley or other cooking apples, 2
  • Handful of frozen blackcurrant
  • Cornflour, 1 Tbsp
  • For the Gluten Free crust:
  • Ground almond, 100g
  • Chesnut flour or rice flour, 50g
  • Butter, 100g
  • sugar, 100g

Cut up all the fruit, mix it with the frozen berries and the cornflour – the object of the cornflour is to soak up the juice of the rhubarb to avoid a very wet pie!

Mix the flour, sugar and butter with the tip of your fingers until you have a sand-like texture. Lay the fruit in a pie dish or gratin dish. I have used frozen blackcurrants here, but you can opt for blackberries instead. They have a more subtle flavour but work deliciously toward a very British taste.

Top the fruit with the flour mix, trying to cover all of the fruit but do not worry if the lumps do not hide it perfectly. Just try and shake your sandy mix everywhere.

Put in a hot oven for 45min at 180º C.

Eat warm with some clotted cream or yogurt. If you are in France, it goes also well with a nice Faisselle or full fat fromage frais. This is the ultimate in homely, comforting puddings and with this GF version you won’t be leaving anybody out!

A patchy cover is not a problem...

A patchy cover is not a problem…


Matador steak and kidney pie with chorizo

The perfect winter warmer

The New Year finds me as usual in a flurry of new resolutions, new projects, new hobbies! It is a challenging but exciting time of the year and I always try to get everybody involved in resolution making and list writing: The family devised a new challenge for the first week after Christmas- to give me a rest from cooking, said my youngest!

They each chose a day, devised their menu, sourced the right recipes with my help and shopped and cooked a full meal from scratch. The rule was not to buy anything pre-made but to make it all from fresh, seasonal ingredients. Normally, A. does not partake in our cooking challenges but this year he did, to my utter surprise – my husband is only interested in the “tasting” aspect of food- and produced the most magnificent savoury pie ! It had to be a British classic, of course. But I had suggested a Spanish twist on the Steak and kidney filling and it worked well with the extra chorizo.

I absolutely adored the flavours and really thick, meaty sauce of this recipe ! And the fact I did not have to cook. I really could get used to that sort of treatment… Being a man, he misjudged the quantities big time and made two large pies for the 6 of us- not that we complained!

 Dad’s pie:

Ingredients list: You will need a pie dish and a pot that goes in the oven and stands the hob.

For the pastry:

  • Plain flour 250g
  • Goose fat 80g ( replaces suet, with health benefits!)
  • Rapeseed oil 50g
  • Cold water 80ml
  • pinch of ground pepper and salt
  • Beaten egg to glaze

For the filling:

  • Good marbled steak 500g (diced)
  • Lamb kidney 100g, cut in twos
  • Corn or potato flour 2 Tbsp
  • Onion, 1 large one
  • Water 500ml
  • Knorr or Maggi 1 cube
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Mild chorizo 100g
  • Sliced brown mushrooms 100g
  • Sprig of Thyme
  • Fresh or dry oregano 1 Tbsp
  • Ground cloves 1 tsp
  • All spice 1 Tbsp
  • Dry shiitake and porcini mix 10g (pre-soaked)

Choose a nice streaky piece of beef, with flavour – so sirloin better than fillet or a cheaper cut and with enough fat to sustain the cooking without going as hard as a boot.

Pat the meat dry with a kitchen towel and shake it into a bowl with a dusting of corn or potato flour. Each chunk must be nicely coated.

Heat some oil into a deep oven friendly ceramic pot and fry the sliced onion until soft, then add the meat and brown all sides.

Pour in the stock and seasoning and bring to a slow boil. Throw in the pre-soaked mushrooms and chorizo.

Leave to simmer for 10/15 min. then put the dish into the oven (160) for two hours.

Don’t forget to add the sliced mushrooms half hour before the end.

Make the pastry by mixing all the dry ingredients into a bowl, then adding the cold water slowly. Stop adding when it starts making a ball, as you mix.

Pat it to gather all the crumbs and drop it into a plastic bag.

This will now rest in the fridge until you are ready to assemble the pie.

Check the meat is falling apart and the juices have reduced. Put on the stove on high heat for a few minutes if not.

Adjust the seasoning at this point because this dish needs to be full-flavoured…

Brush the pie dish with a beaten egg, all around the rim.

Pour the filling inside the pie dish.

Make a long coil with a chunk of pastry and stick it to the top of the rim.

Then roll out a cercle of pastry and position it on top of the pie. Prick it all around with the flat end of a fork so the top will be properly sealed and make a small hole in the middle for the vapour to come out.

Brush with the rest of the egg.

Put in the oven (220) for 15 min. then turn down to 160 for a further 20.

The pies arrived piping hot on the table, with a golden and moist crust like a nice tight tummy and a perfect belly button in the middle, oozing with sauce! The pastry was crusty and flaky, with just enough bite and melting on the tongue. The inside was dark and fragrant … and here I get lyrical again! Truly the food of love…  And so we drank a Burgundy St Amour (Domaine des Pins).

PS:Don’t get turn off by the long ingredients list, it is worth it.

As for the rest of the contenders for this challenge:

C. produced homemade spaghetti with Carbonara sauce then a Far Breton with prunes

S. made burgers with home made tomato and parmesan buns and a fruit salad

Lovely with the St Amour!

E. baked Toads in a hole and an apple and quince crumble with coconut  and oats topping

Salmon and spinach pie- A classic quick fix!

>Salmon and spinach pie

2 round circles of puff pastry (frozen, all butter)
3 nice slices of smoked salmon
A big bag of spring greens or spinach leaves
1 Pot of crème fraiche
1 egg
Grated gruyere or parmesan 50g
Black pepper
Pinch of grated nutmeg or all-spices

Garlic clove
Butter for cooking the spinach 50g


Warm the oven: pastry raises better in a hot oven. Now oil and prepare a pie dish and lay one circle of pastry in it. Prick with a fork. Cut the salmon up and scatter at the bottom of the dish. Beat the egg, pepper and cream together and keep aside.

Wash the greens thoroughly in cold water with a dash of vinegar and drain well.
Put the butter in a thick cast-iron pan and melt the spinach on low heat until it has reduced to half its volume! Thankfully there is plenty of it in season now.
Mix the cream and egg with the spinach and reserve. Add the grated cheese, the pressed garlic and the spices.

Now pour this on top of the salmon, cover with the second circle of pastry and glaze with a bit of egg yolk – what’s left in the pan where you beat your egg is enough.

With a sharp knife, incise the crust with a pretty but simple pattern and put in the oven at 210°C on the middle rack. Bake for 20mn or until the pastry has raised and taken a golden tinge.

Serve hot but be careful because pies tend to remain very hot inside: that is why they make traditional picnic food and used to be eaten in the field after a hard morning’s work! Their crust acts like a natural lid and keeps food piping hot for very long… Which is very handy when your children only arrive at the table after you’ve shouted for twenty minutes… But maybe it’s just us!

A hint of spring?… Forced rhubarb is in season

>Portobello market yesterday morning. I caught sight of the first “forced rhubarb” of the year… This signals in Britain that, against all evidence, spring is on its way… Albeit, this is not the greenish, leafy rhubarb we will get in April-May but its crimson sister, less fibrous and just as sweet. I’ve just learned that “‘forced rhubarb” is grown in dark sheds and almost by candle-light so that the stem shoots out looking for light and does not produce the large leaves you expect for the lack of light prevents the photosynthesis. Hence the harvest is of these long, crimson stalks that are as sweet as a fruit, although this is of course a vegetable.

Spring rhubarb and custard pie

Ingredients list:

  • A few fresh raspberries or strawberries
  • 1 roll of all butter puff pastry
  • 3 or 4 stalks of rhubarb, chopped finely
  • Sugar 150g
  • Egg 1
  • Crème fraîche 2 tablespoons
  • Vanilla sugar 1 tbsp or a few drops of essence

Lay the pastry into a quiche tin. Then beat the egg with the cream and vanilla sugar and spread on top.
Cook the rhubarb in a pan with the sugar and stir for 10mn on medium flame. Do not overcook so the stems don’t des-integrate too much or loose their blush.
Spread the fruit on top of the custard mix and bake in a very hot oven at 200 C. for 10 to 15 mn. You must make sure the bottom oven is very hot so the under-pastry cooks wells and does not get soggy.
You can decorate with fresh strawberries or raspberries when in season so the pink theme is nicely highlighted in the presentation!

This is one of my children’s favourite pies…
And because the custard is already inside the pie, you don’t need to do anymore then serve it.

Apple pie glory: My favorite winter comfort food


Deep retro apple pie


For the pastry topping:

150g cold butter

180 g plain flour

20g almond powder

50g muscovado brown sugar plus extra caster sugar for sprinkling

80ml of cold water


For the filling:

3 large apples (jonagold or bramley)

1 handful of brown muscovado sugar

1 spoonful of cornflour

a few blackberries, plums or dried prunes (optional but nice)

1 capful of orange blossom water



Blitz the pastry ingredients in the mixer and roll in a ball. Reserve in the fridge in a plastic bag while you do the fruit filling.


Warm the oven to medium high.

Dice the apples and mix the sugar and spices with the fruit. Put the fruit in a deep pie dish, sprinkle the cornflour and dot with the orange scented water.


Roughly roll out a slab of pastry. Cover the dish with it, stretching it to the sides and making sure you create a snug topping. Don’t worry if it is uneven, looks don’t matter – here at least. Pull and tuck as necessary. Carve a small hole on top with a sharp knife. Sprinkle the extra caster sugar over it.


Put in the middle rack of a warm oven for 1hour, then raise the temperature for 10 mn to get a golden top.

Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream and wait for the compliments!


Preparation 15min

Baking 1h10min

Oven 140 degree Celsius then 160 to brown the top.