Monday, 31 March 2014

let's cook: shortcrust pastry pies

let's cook: pies

This round of our cooks challenge is dedicated to shortcrust pastry pies.

Sweet or savoury, the only requirements were that the pastry had to be made from scratch and that we had to make an effort to decorate the pies.

My mum made an apple pie decorated with cute cat shapes, and I went for a Stargazy pie, decorated with fish heads and tails (and some stars!). Not very pretty, but traditional.

If you're not familiar with a Stargazy pie, here's a nice illustrated story and simple recipe I found a while ago.

My mum and dad were both in charge of judging this time round as they got to sample both pies.

The results: My mum scored 7/10, with points deducted for a soggy bottom, and I got 9/10. Not at all bad!

stargazy pie

I couldn't find one complete recipe for the pie that I wanted to work with, so I ended up combining a few different suggestions. Here are the details if you want to try it out:

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Stargazy pie
(enough to feed 3 hungry mouths)


For the shortcrust pastry:
250g plain flour
A pinch of salt
110g butter (cubed)
60-90ml cold water
+ 1 egg for glazing

For the filling:
4 pilchards, sardines or small herrings (I used herrings!) - Ask the fishmonger to gut and bone the fish, but make sure you keep the heads and tails!
2 rashers streaky bacon
½ an onion
2 hardboiled eggs
1½ tbsp fresh parsley
½ tbsp flour
175ml fish stock
150ml double cream
1 ½ tbsp white wine

stargazy ingredients


Make the pastry
Preheat the oven to 190ºC.
Put the flour and salt in a bowl.
Add the butter and rub with your fingertips until it has a breadcrumb texture.
Add the water slowly, until the mixture binds together.
Wrap and chill for 15 minutes.

Once the pasty has cooled, roll out half of it to line the bottom and sides of your pie dish.
Add baking beads and blind bake for 20 minutes.

Make the sauce
Heat the butter in medium saucepan.
Cook the onions and bacon on a medium heat until soft.
While stirring add ½ tbsp flour, the wine and fish stock.
Bring to the boil, and then simmer for 10 minutes.
Add the cream, bring back to the boil, and simmer until the mixture is reduced by half.
Remove from the heat, add in the parsley and chopped egg, season and leave to cool.

I layered some of the fish fillets on the bottom of my blind-baked pastry case.
Then I added half the sauce, some more fish, and a final layer of sauce.

Roll out the rest of your pastry to cover the top of the pie.
Position some of the fish heads on top of the pie pointing upwards.
Carefully lay the pastry over the top, the make small slits to allow the herring heads to show their faces.
I made extra slits and slotted the tails in after the pastry was in place.

Use a pastry brush to apply egg around the rim in order to join the lid of the pastry to the base, pressing down lightly as you go.
Glaze the top of the pie with egg, along with any pastry decorations you have chosen to add (I suggest some stars, and the moon!)

Put the finished pie in the oven for half an hour at 200ºC, or until the top is a nice golden brown colour.
Serve with nice fresh vegetables.

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Next time we will be making cheesecakes. I'm looking forward to this one.
heads and tails

Sunday, 16 March 2014



I'm off to Amsterdam for a few days tomorrow - an incredibly wonderful birthday present from Ben.

I'm looking forward to it very much!

The desk calendar above was a nice gift from Simon, made by the Rifle Paper Co. It is my goal to visit all of the cities illustrated in it. I'm almost halfway - after this week, my tally will be five.

Saturday, 15 March 2014


new buttons

It's nice to have some time to get some long overdue tasks completed.

Today I had a wander around some charity shops in the sunshine, and then sewed some new buttons onto my old green coat.

Good as new.

Friday, 14 March 2014

new year trip


In January we packed all our thermals and headed off to Iceland for a few days - a perfect way to start the year!

Everywhere you go in Iceland is a treat for the eyes. I wanted to take pictures of absolutely everything. The colours and the landscape are so different from anywhere I've ever been before.

And I'd love to live in one of their sweet houses with a colourful roof. Cosy and calm.

When can I go again?

iceland outside the blue lagoon icelandic mountains geyser iceland9 iceland - geyser hunting reykjavik houses by the frozen lake