Free-form spelt pie with spicy beef, butternut squash and feta

It’s British Pie Week and Brits up and down the land are apparently celebrating by indulging in their favourite pies, whether homemade or shop-bought, sweet or savoury.

And as a fan of just about anything that comes wrapped in pastry, I felt compelled to offer you one of my own latest pie experiments.

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As I’m sure you know by know, baking isn’t really my forte, so a free-form pie crust is right up my street as it’s meant to look ‘rustic’ or, in other words, a bit of a state.

This pie is so quick and easy to pull together, and the spelt wholemeal pastry is surprisingly light and crisp and very tasty. Filled with savoury mince, roast butternut squash and tangy feta cheese, lightly spiced with sumac and cumin, it’s an ideal light lunch or supper dish.

The children loved it and the husband too – although he reckons it would be better served with gravy. I was happy with a yoghurty dressing, but I’ll leave you to make up your own mind on that.

freeform spiced beef and butternut squash pie 3

Free-form spelt pie with spicy beef, butternut squash and feta

Serves 6

Half a medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced
4 tbsp Pomora rosemary oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
500g beef mince
large pinch of sumac
100g feta cheese, cubed

For the pastry

200g wholemeal spelt flour
large pinch of salt
100g butter, diced
4 tbsp cold water

For the dressing

6 tbsp Greek yoghurt
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
1 tsp wholegrain mustard

1 egg, beaten

steamed green beans to serve

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.

Place the butternut squash in a roasting tin and toss in 2 tablespoons of the oil. Roast in the oven for around 20 minutes until tender.

To make the pastry, place the flour and salt in a large bowl and rub in the butter with your fingertips until the mixture forms a consistency like breadcrumbs. Gradually mix in the water until you a dough forms. Wrap in cling film and pop in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Heat another 2 tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan and cook the onion until soft and translucent.  Add the cumin seeds, garlic sumac and fry for a minute or so before adding the minced beef. Cook for around five minutes until the mince is browned. Stir in the roasted butternut squash and cubes of feta.

Cover a baking tray with greaseproof paper.

Flour your surface, and carefully roll out the pastry into a large circle. Pile the beef filling into the middle of the pastry and gently fold up the sides towards the middle, leaving a small opening.

Brush the pastry with egg was and sprinkle with a little more sumac. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

To make the dressing, simply place the yoghurt, pomegranate molasses and mustard in a bowl and whisk together. Pour over green beans to serve.

Chickpea pancakes with spicy egg, ham and chard

With Pancake Day on Tuesday, magazines and the internet are awash with pancake recipes, so do forgive me for jumping on the bandwagon and sharing yet another one. But this one is a keeper and makes an ideal brunch, light lunch or supper dish at anytime of year.

So no pressure. Stick to your favourite pancake recipe on Shrove Tuesday (hopefully liberally doused with lots of lemon and sugar), but maybe give this a go some other time you’re in a pancakey kind of mood? Continue reading “Chickpea pancakes with spicy egg, ham and chard”

Ropa Vieja and Bienmesabe

Today has been quite possibly one of the coldest days of the winter so far; a cold-to-the-bone kind of cold when it takes an hour in a hot bath to thaw out. In the depths of winter, I can’t help but dream about summer holidays in warmer climes…

When Monarch Holidays invited me to recreate some traditional Spanish recipes for their new online Island Cookbook, I thought it was a perfect opportunity to feed my craving for sunshine food and cheer up these dark, dank days. I took my inspiration from the third largest of the Canary Islands, Gran Canaria, where I have fond memories of holidaying with my family as a teenager Continue reading “Ropa Vieja and Bienmesabe”

Claudia Roden’s kofte kebabs

I know I do harp on a bit about cutting down the amount of meat we eat. And yet, while I love vegetarian food, I could never give up meat completely. My blog is called Bangers & Mash for a reason. Plus, it would mean giving up dishes like this. And that’s simply not happening.

This is one of my favourite recipes from one of my favourite cookery writers, Claudia Roden. I met her briefly following a talk she gave at the Bath Literary Festival a few years back when she signed my copy of Arabesque, from which this recipe comes. I talked to her briefly about my blog and she wished me lots of luck with it, although it was clear the concept of blogging was a bit of a mystery to her. And I successfully managed to refrain from telling her how beautiful I think she is. Because she is. But that might have come across just a little too creepy. Continue reading “Claudia Roden’s kofte kebabs”

Tarka dal with curly kale

Over the past few years I’ve been making a concerted effort to reduce the amount of meat my family and I eat. While I could never contemplate being vegetarian, it’s very important to me that I don’t bring up my children to consider meat as a basic, ‘everyday’ kind of ingredient, but much rather a luxury ‘treat’ food. This is for a variety of reasons: to avoid unnecessary cruelty to animals through intensive farming methods; to reduce our impact on our environment; and to improve our overall health.

It hasn’t always been easy. At first it was my husband who showed the most resistance – his attitude was that a meal wasn’t a proper meal unless there was a meat component. Then there were complaints from the children when I refused to take them to McDonald’s for a Happy Meal. “It’s not fair,” they’d whine. “Our friends at school get to go with their parents!”

But recently I think we may have turned a corner with both our girls. Our oldest,who started secondary school in September, has started talking about wanting to be pescatarian – inspired by her new (vegetarian) school friends – and is keen to learn to cook her own meals. And our youngest, now eight, who has always been a somewhat stubborn carnivore, actually asked for a second helping of tarka dal. Yes, you read that right. My daughter asked for more lentils. Lentils! Admittedly, she asked for “more of that meaty thing” but once I explained all the dishes on the table were vegetarian it then became clear that by ‘meaty’ she meant ‘tasty’.

My work here, people, is done.

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Continue reading “Tarka dal with curly kale”

Grana Padano cheese straws with Prosciutto di San Daniele

The season of home entertaining and dinner parties is nearly upon us and cheese straws really have to be one of the loveliest homemade nibbles you can serve to your guests when they first arrive. They’re oh so easy to make (because I cheat and use shop-bought puff pastry) and if you’ve got kids you can probably get them in on the act too.

As with all simple foods, success is down to the quality of the ingredients. To make good cheese straws, you must start with really good cheese. Continue reading “Grana Padano cheese straws with Prosciutto di San Daniele”

Our ghastly Halloween showstopper

Every year I watch the Great British Bake Off and every year I feel inspired to get the kids in the kitchen to join me in creating some crazy, outlandish showstopper-style masterpiece*.

The problem is, and I know I’ve said this before on the blog, but I’m just not a natural-born baker. That’s not to say my bakes don’t taste good. Nine times out of ten they most certainly do. But all too often they just don’t look good. And that’s the whole point of a showstopper, isn’t it? To impress? To wow? So perhaps our attempt this year at a ghoulish bake for Halloween is more a pause-glance-and-nod-approvingly before moving on than a full-blown stop-them-in-their-tracks-in-awe showstopper. The children loved it though, and that’s what’s most important.

*easily interchangeable with ‘monstrosity’, but quite appropriate really for this time of year. Continue reading “Our ghastly Halloween showstopper”

Spicy sausage chilli for #OrganicSeptember

Autumn is almost upon us. We enjoyed the warmth of the sun yesterday on our bike ride under the Suspension Bridge towards Pill, but by the time we got home there was a distinct nip in the air. The blackberries are out in full force, the leaves have started to turn and we spotted conkers and acorns on the ground.

autumn-bike-ride-collage

It’s a brilliant time of year. While summer is for picnics in the park and eating out, autumn marks the return of proper home cooking – making the most of the glut of glorious autumn vegetables; cooking up slow, hearty, satisfying dishes to warm the cockles.

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It was good to return home from our bike ride to this spicy sausage chilli – an absolute cockle-warmer if ever there was one, and just what we needed after working up quite an appetite. I came up with the recipe to celebrate the return of #OrganicSeptember, the Soil Association’s annual campaign to encourage more people to go organic. Continue reading “Spicy sausage chilli for #OrganicSeptember”

Healthy snacks for NSPCC’s Big Board Game Day

It’s Big Board Game Day on Friday 27 May 2016, a chance for us all to unleash our inner board game demons while fundraising for the NSPCC.

Big Board Game Day Collage

Big Board Game Day is for absolutely everyone; whether you’re a Sore Loser, Rule Master, a Puzzled Player or The Lucky One. Taking part is so simple: all you need to do is get together with friends and family and play your favourite board games. It’s as easy as Connect Four! Visit www.nspcc.org.uk/boardgameday to find out more on how to get involved.

If you decide to take part, and I really hope you do, how about whipping up some tasty and healthy snacks for your games night? When the NSPCC asked if I’d contribute some snack ideas for Big Board Game Day, I couldn’t think of anything more appropriate. The tag line for my blog after all does state that it’s fun to play with your food!

In my eyes, finger foods are best for games snacks, but as I was keen to steer clear of the usual pizzas, sliders, creamy dips and crisps, I thought I’d have a go at a few healthy alternatives and tried them out on the family over a game of Trivial Pursuit.

Continue reading “Healthy snacks for NSPCC’s Big Board Game Day”

Chilli beef pasta with Savoy cabbage and caraway for the #OrganicUnboxed Challenge

cat in a box 2

Like many of my fellow food bloggers, I’ve been taking part in the #OrganicUnboxed challenge this last few weeks. The idea of the challenge is simple. Organic UK is sending bloggers a big mystery box of organic produce to see what easy, every day dishes they might come up with to inspire more people to switch to organic. In my excitement I failed miserably to get a picture of the organic goodies being unboxed. Which is why I’ve brought you a gratuitous shot of our cat Tango in the box instead. Now, hasn’t that brightened your day? Continue reading “Chilli beef pasta with Savoy cabbage and caraway for the #OrganicUnboxed Challenge”