Thursday, April 23

The Cow And Kidney Pie

Tower Bridge, Southside
Stan and Silver to us yesterday and we pick up the Shakespeares from school. Madeleine, especially, loves the attention and I can still scoop her up for a playground hug; Eitan now decidedly cool about PDA. Madeleine and I play an endless game of "tag! you're it!" with trees being "homey" (of course). Stan makes his perfect lemon meringue pie and imparts the tradition to Sonnet, who has been experimenting with pies this past year - lucky us. Stan notes that "it is all in the crust."  Me, I think it would be good to have a signature dish and for a moment I consider steak-and-kidney pie, which was on BBC4 yesterday following a national competition for England's best. Pie. By coincidence, we supped at The Guinea last week which is a London institution whose steak-kidney has been awarded tops numerous times across the ages. Located in W1 near Berkeley Square, it caters to office workers and the like with a wonderful bar facing street side. A guy from Park Place Capital, where I shared an office momentarily, went every day to drink pints with his mates, and then return before home. He, of course, being the firm's administrative officer keeping record of all trades. His other vice the Tottenham Hot Spurs, who haven't a chance. So sadly, we say our good-byes to the Stanfills last night, who return to Montrose today. We enjoyed their visit and them, and everybody a bit teary eyed at the parting. 

How to make steak and kidney Pie (from BBC Food):
225g/8oz lamb's kidneys
700g/1lb 9oz chuck steak
1 tbsp vegetable oil
knob of butter
2 onions, chopped roughly
2 tbsp plain flour
2 bay leaves
4 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves only
570ml/1 pint beef stock
4 field mushrooms, sliced thickly
1 tsp tomato purée
1 tsp mushroom seasoning or mushroom ketchup (if not available, use Worcestershire sauce)
3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
salt and feshly ground black pepper

For the pastry:
175g/6oz butter
225g/8oz plain flour
8-9 tbsp water
1 beaten egg, to glaze

1. Halve the kidneys and cut out the tubes. Rinse in cold water and peel off the skins. Cut in small pieces. Trim and cut the steak in cubes.
2. Heat oil and butter in a large pan, then fry the onions for 3-4 minutes, stirring. Fry the meat for 2-3 minutes until it loses its pink colour. Stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes. Add the herbs and stock. Stir until thickened and coming to the boil.
3. Add mushrooms and purée, lower the heat and simmer, covered, for about 1½ hours until, the meat is tender.
4.Make the pastry: wrap the butter in foil and freeze for 45 minutes. Mix the flour with ¼ tsp of salt.
5. Holding the frozen butter in foil, dip it in the flour and grate coarsely back into the bowl, peel the foil back so it does not get grated. Keep dipping it in the flour as you grate.
6. Mix in the butter with a knife until evenly coated with flour. Stir in the water to form a dough. Gently form into a ball. Wrap in plastic film and chill for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
7. When the meat is cooked, remove bay leaves, season with salt, pepper and mushroom seasoning (or Worcestershire sauce), then cool slightly.
8. Roll out the pastry on a floured surface to 5mm/¼in thick and 2.5cm/1in wider than a 1.2 Litre/2 pint pie dish. Cut out the lid so it is slightly bigger than the dish. Cut a strip of pastry the width of the rim. Stir the parsley in to the meat and transfer to the dish.
9. Brush the rim with egg, lay pastry strip on top and seal. Brush with egg and put lid on top. Seal the edges, knock them up with the back of a knife. Flute the edge. Cut a slit in the lid, brush with the egg (but not the edges or they won't rise).
10. Bake for 20 minutes, then brush with egg again. Bake for 10 minutes until the pastry is golden.