Steak & Guinness pie

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I am going to tell you a (food) love story. The protagonists are textbook romantic drama types: the beautiful heroine (me, of course) and the misunderstood, ill-reputed and much maligned British cuisine with its hidden charm & a pedigree of manifold honourable ancestors (all to be revealed in the course of the dramatic events). They have a first encounter where sparks fly: ours happened in children’s books and English literature and who could not fall in love with the descriptions of picture perfect countryside picnics, mad tea-parties or feasts in Sherwood Forest? Then, crisis! Reality came down as a hammer, literally shattering those idyllic images with really ghastly fish & chips, horrendous breakfasts, weak tea & cardboard sandwiches on my first trip to England (late 80’s) where the food lived up to the bad rep it had abroad.

Fast forward to years later (you are visualizing the movie, aren’t you?): I am married to a wonderful British husband, visiting England regularly and indulging in my love for most things British (& rhapsodizing about here), which has certainly taught me a thing or two about English food – first of all: it can be amazing. And surprising, fresh, light & startling beautiful (I only wish my husband would be a seafood fanatic as I am). There are great historic recipes (lemon posset), fantastic condiments, traditional foods, Country house cooking (kedgeree, game pie), Cream teas, iconic preserves (marmelade, chutney) & puddings, great breakfast dishes, sandwiches and sponges, really good fish & chips and and and.

It also has a great amount of comfort foods with fantastic & unexpected deep, intense flavours that belie every clichéd opinion out there. One stellar example is certainly Steak & Guinness pie. Continue reading

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Nigella & caraway seed sticks

Going away for a few days and am leaving you with this:
The quickest of snacks to make for Friday night drinks. You might be using puff pastry for one or two dishes anyway (chicken pot pies for supper, sausage rolls for the abandoned-husband weekend), the oven is hot already and you are in hurry to produce a few nibbles, then these are your new friends. I used caraway seeds and Nigella seeds here, the next batch will have sesame, poppy seeds, rosemary on it.

 

Nigella & caraway seed sticks

puff pastry
nigella seeds
caraway seeds
salt

Oven: 200°C (400°F).
Cut your sheet of puff pastry in thin long strips, place on parchment paper and a baking tray, sprinkle one portion with Nigella seeds and the other with caraway seeds. Lightly press the seeds down with your fingers, so they stick to the pastry. Add some salt. Ready. Bake for about 10 minutes until lightly brown.