Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Hot Water Pastry

Hot Water Pie Crust

As part of preparation for Bhakail Yule in December, and also as part of my research into English Pies, especially pork pies, I'm looking into Hot Water Pie Crust.

Known in the Middle Ages as 'coffyns', these crusts were originally used as a way to preserve meat. The crusts were formed and then filled with meat, the entire 'pie' was baked and cooled and then jellied stock was poured through a hole in the crust to seal off the contents.  This allowed the contents to last quite a while.  The crusts were highly salted and not meant to be eaten.

One of the dishes I'll be serving at Bhakail Yule is "Beefy Stew'd", a beef in gravy dish.  It occurred to me that the Hot Water Pie Crust could be formed into bowls for service of this dish.

This recipe is based on one from the BBC Food website:

I started by measuring out 575g plain flour and placing it in the bowl of a food processor.  I added a large pinch of salt to the bowl as well.  I then added 200g lard and 225ml water to a saucepan and placed it over medium heat.  

I then added 200g lard and 225ml water to a saucepan and placed it over medium heat.  As the lard just about finished melting, the water began to boil.
I then poured the nearly boiling water and lard mixture into the running food processor and a dough formed in moments.   

I dumped the dough which was not at all sticky (thanks to all the lard) onto the board.

 The temperature of the dough was 139 degrees when it came out the food processor.

 I formed the dough into a ball and kneaded it for a few minutes until it was a smooth mass.

 I then formed 250 grams of the dough around a small metal bowl.  

(In the back, you can see the two small springform pans I'll be baking the pork pie experiment in soon.)

And put it into a 350 degree oven...

 ...and baked it for 1 hour...

After an hour, I took it out of the oven.  The color is good, but there is a hole...

The crust was thinner there, which is reflected in the fact that it's browner in that area.  This is a process problem, I believe, not a problem with the concept, and should be fixable in the next try...

Sadly, the hole is near the bottom, so this one won't be testable for holding a stew'y item.  However, I'll see how it tastes in a bit...

Having let the bowl cool, we broke it apart and ate some of it.  It's quite tasty, the lard comes through nicely.  To my taste, it needs more salt.  

Next up, a serving bowl for a table of eight...

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Lambwich - Maryland Sheep and Wool 2016

I was accepted into the Lamb Cook-Off at Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival again this year.  I finished second, again, with a score of 95.  When I did Lamb Ravioli (from scratch) last year and got seriously marked down on "Ease of Preparation", I immediately said to K "Next year, Lambwich". So here you go...


Serves 4
Total Preparation time: 1 hour


1 lb Ground Lamb
4 – 6 scallions
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon      Cumin
1 teaspoon      Paprika
1 teaspoon      Mint
2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
2 tablespoons Brown Sugar
1 cup                Ketchup
2 tablespoons Stone Ground Mustard
¼ cup                A1 Sauce
½ cup                Baby peas
Fresh Mint


Fry ground lamb in large pot until well browned.  Remove meat with a slotted spoon and drain the fat from the pan. 

Chop the whites of the scallions finely.  Reserve the green tops for garnish.  Finely chop the garlic. 

In the reserved pot, add a tablespoon of the reserved lamb fat and fry the scallions until softened and translucent.  Add the garlic and fry for 30 seconds until fragrant.  Add the cumin, paprika and mint, fry for another 30 seconds.  Add the ketchup, mustard, brown sugar and A1 sauce, stir well.  Add 1/2 cup of water, stir well and add the reserved lamb.  Cover and cook for 15 minutes, then add the peas and cook uncovered another 5-7 minutes until peas are cooked through.

Serve on toasted buttered potato buns or toasted French bread.  Garnish with thinly sliced scallion tops and finely chopped fresh mint.

Next year I'm thinking Lamb Flatbreads.  I'll probably make the lamb sausage and the flatbreads myself, but I may not tell the judges that...

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Bhakail Yule - Orange Sauce

Bhakail Yule Orange Sauce:

I have been asked to lead the kitchen to cook the feast for a nearby Society of Creative Anachronism group, the Barony of Bhakail for the holiday of Yule.  This group usually holds a Yule celebration in early December every year.  It has been my honor in the past to assist in that kitchen, and this year I have been asked to lead it.

There have been discussions already, and we have a rough outline of a menu.  One of the dishes we are looking at is Ham with Orange Wine Sauce.  The recipe that attracted my attention is from To The Queen's Taste by Lorna J. Sass, copyright 1976.

At first, I was taken by the redaction, which sounds pretty tasty, and then I started looking at the original recipe. 

The original is from The English Hous-Wife by Gervase Markam, and reads as follows:

"Take Orenges and slice them thin, and up unto them White Wine and Rose Water, the powder of Mace, Ginger and Suger, and set the same upon a Chaffing dish of coales, and when it half boyled, put to it a good lump of butter, and then lay good store of sippets of fine white bread therein, and so serve your Chickens upon them, and trim the sides of the dish with sugar."

Having read that, I decided to go my own way, rather than follow Ms. Sass' redaction.

I got some seedless oranges, sliced them thin without peeling them and placed them in a saucepan with 3/4 of a cup of leftover white wine and a 1/4 cup of rose water, some powered mace and powered ginger and teaspoon of sugar.  I brought all of this to a boil and left it sit covered on simmer for about an hour.  

At the end of the hour, I fished out the orange slices and set them aside, arranging some of the slices on plates.

I let the sauce reduce a few more minutes and then added some bread crumbs and whisked it.  The bread crumbs thickened the sauce nicely.  In fact, it was a little too thick, so I cut with a little more orange juice until I was happy with the texture.  I did not put butter in this time, but will try that next time.  

Once the sauce was done, I left it on a warmer burner and fried up a ham steak.  I put the ham on top of the orange slices, topped it with the sauce and another orange slice.

The taste was very rich and a nice mixture of sweet, sour and bitter.  It went well with the salty ham.
I'm looking forward to continuing the experiments.