You know when you find yourself saying, “Come to us for dinner” and then immediately you start to feel that cold white feeling running down your back and you wish you had just kept your mouth shut. Especially when one of the guests is a walking talking cookbook.
Don’t despair, these recipes are incredibly easy to make and look like you’ve spent ages on them. They are packed with flavour too and are just ace to have in your recipe locker.
The pie filling can be made in advance and by using ready-made puff pastry the final assembly part is ridiculously easy (trust me). The Nectarine & Maple Pavlova base can also be made well in advance (again, trust me).
Beef & Stout Pie (serves 6)
500g braising steak, bite-sized cubes
1 tablespoon flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
1 tablespoon oil
2 onions, sliced
1 large carrot, sliced
300ml stout (Guinness style of beer)
300ml water, with a chicken stock cube added
1 tablespoon tomato puree
1 tablespoon Worcestershire cause
1 tablespoon maple syrup
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 sheet ready rolled Puff Pastry
Milk to glaze
Place the beef on a large plate and sprinkle with the flour. Heat the oil in a large pan and fry beef in batches until browned. Remove and set aside. Add a large knob of butter to the pan and cook the onions, carrots and mushrooms for about 5-10 minutes until soft. Add the stout and allow to bubble away until reduced by half.
Return the beef to the pan and then add the remaining pie filling ingredients. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to a low simmer for 1¼ hours. This filling can be made well in advance even a day before.
For the topping, place filling in a pie dish, dip your finger in the milk and run around the pie dish edge so this will “seal” the pie. Then simply place pastry sheet over top and glaze using 1 tablespoon of milk over top. Again, use your fingers if you don’t have a brush. No need to do any fancy pastry crimping, just press edges with a fork and let any extra pastry hang over the pie dish. Your guests can have extra pastry with each portion. Serve with simple green veg.
Nectarine & Maple Pavlova (serves 6-8)
4 egg whites
Pinch of salt
250g golden caster sugar
2 teaspoons cornflour
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
300ml double cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons maple syrup (plus more for drizzling)
2 ripe nectarines
Preheat oven to 180 degrees centigrade (Gas Mark 4/350F) and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper drawing a 20cm circle on top as a guide.
Whisk the eggs whites and pinch of salt until soft peaks form then continue to beat adding sugar one third at a time until glossy and stiff.
Sprinkle over the cornflour, vanilla extract and cider vinegar and fold in carefully. Pile onto the baking sheet, smooth top and place in the oven and immediately turn down the oven to 150 degrees (Gas Mark 2/300F) and bake for 1.15 hours. Then leave in the oven to cool completely.
When ready to add topping, turn over the meringue, as this will keep the inside soft. Whip the cream, vanilla extract and maple syrup together until at the soft peak stage and then pile on top of the meringue, add sliced nectarines. Drizzle over a little maple syrup.
Does sound so bad does it?