For long I believed the stereotype that English food is not any good. For long I wanted to have a flag on the blog from the UK and was convinced that it would be a full English breakfast. For long I thought I knew how to chop ingredients right. And, bloody hell, this Sunday I was proven wrong three times – and I could not be happier that I was!
Not only it turned out that English food is very delicious but also that it is complicated. Brace yourselves, it will not be an easy one! I have most likely already forgotten at least half the steps. Beef pie, mashed potatoes, beans, carrots, parsley liquor – all our heart desires in one single evening!
A geographer, a woodworker, a storyteller, tall, dark and handsome – and a chef for tonight: Ted (which stands for Edward and not Theodor as you would assume, a-ha)! Step by step he proved all I believed was wrong, starting with my chopping skills. It has been weeks now him trying to teach me how to chop food properly – I either just do not listen or do not succeed (yet!), so luckily he took the lead! He arrived bringing his own razor-sharp knife and chopped it all – onions, garlic, meat. You want to start with your shortcrust pastry though!
Get a bowl, mix flour and butter, then add a few spoons of cold water. Knead into a ball, then in the fridge it goes for a while. In the meantime also cut your beef, start frying in a pot. When starting to get brown, add onion, garlic, chopped mushrooms, a splash of vinegar, salt, pepper. You also add some nice dark beer, for example Guiness, then in goes a little water and beef stock. Regularly stirred, you leave this festive-smelling mix to cook for about an hour!
In the meantime, get some sort of pie tin or deep baking tray. Cover the inside with a thin layer of butter, then (as on the above photo) make the pastry bed for the filling. You put it back in the fridge for a while. Tip from Ted: besides keeping the pastry cold the whole time, as working on it also keep your hands cold! Though not so talkative while cooking – he is completely in the zone, focusing on the details -, my chef from Coventry has the best questions and best answers. Want a riddle? He has one. Want to solve the crossword? He finishes it in no time!
Your filling is almost ready, so it is time to pre-bake its pastry bed. Put it in the oven for 10-15 minutes to bake. When your filling is ready, you first let it cool down, then prepare your pie. When fully filled, you cover it with an extra layer of pastry, give it an egg wash, and put it back in the oven. It will take some time until ready, so in the meantime make some mashed potatoes and steam beans and carrots.
Oh, and the parsley liquor! Butter and corn flour are mixed in a little pot on lower heat. Add a bit of vinegar, beef stock, and a lot of parsley to it – ready!
I have to apologise for the very simple set of steps and just listing them, but: 1) this cooking session went on for too many hours for me to note down everything and 2) Ted is just too distractive, I cannot focus on cooking when he is around. Have I mentioned yet that he is the best? He is. Look down, he even put little Food and Flags monogram on the pie (makes him boyfriend of the year) !! Fingers crossed Brexit will not get him deported from Amsterdam, otherwise I need to learn how to chop well all by myself.
Most lovely dish, most lovely company! Hope you will also make this delicious meal, perfect for guests, holidays, or when you are simply just very very hungry – no way to move after finishing a whole plate.
This was all so festive that I could easily imagine her majesty Queen Elizabeth II getting this on her birthdays as well, carried in on golden plates on the back of her corgis – or am I going too far? Nevertheless, enjoy the meal, dear reader, and biggest thank you for cooking, Ted!