Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Home made Beef and Stout Family Pie

In this world there are pie lovers and pie, well, non lovers.  Ever since I was a teenager I have never liked pies, until I made my own chicken, leek and mushroom pies which improved further when I ventured into making the pastry as well as the filling.
Still, meat pies have never been high on my list of desirable foods.
My family however love them.
So I compromised and bought an electric family size pie maker.
It seems lazy but I know that specific electrical devices, such as the pizza maker, turbo oven, or thermochef cook food perfectly and make timing for cooking simple and easy.
So I promised hubby that if I bought an electric pie maker I would cook a meat pie.  Simple.
I purchased the model online on a Tuesday and suspected it would arrive on the following Monday.
We had a few days away in Lismore and Byron Bay with friends and whilst passing a liquor store in Lismore I remembered to buy a big bottle of 'Stout' for a meat pie recipe I had seen.
One thing I especially enjoy about staying in this region is the availability of wholesome food shops where you can buy by the 100 grams or kilo measures any dried ingredient you might need.  I stocked up on Senshu green tea, freshly roasted local coffee beans and bought some hippy hemp and cotton shirts for the family.  It is so nice to get away to a relaxed pace of living for a while.

We arrived home on Sunday night and sure enough the pie maker arrived on Monday.
On Tuesday I purchased gravy beef on the way home in preparation for the sublime meat pie recipe and located the bottle of dark, almost black stout which had found it's way into my wine cabinet.
This is the first time I have ever cooked a filling the night before and let cool in the fridge.

I bought frozen puff and frozen shortcrust pastry  but sometimes we need help ...

Then I cooked the most amazing two meat pies I have ever tasted , varying the recipe slightly but I was inspired by this recipe.

I am now a converted pie lover and there will be many more variations to come in the future.


Chunky Beef and Stout Pie

4 onions, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/3 cup olive oil
1.3kg gravy beef, outer fat removed and cut into 2cm chunks
1 bottle of Stout 750ml ( I bought Guiness extra stout)
400ml beef stock
2 Tablespoons worcestershire sauce
3 Tablespoons tomato paste
cracked black pepper
pinch of salt (remembering beef stock is salty)

Heat oil in a large pan and cook onions and garlic for about 5 minutes until it starts to brown, stirring occasionally.
Add beef and cook 5 minutes.
Add Stout and beef stock, worcestershire sauce and tomato paste.
Bring to a high simmer and simmer, lid off for 1 1/2 -  2 hours.
Season with black pepper and salt to taste.
Let cool.

(Makes 2 beef and stout pies)

2 sheets frozen shortcrust pastry, thawed
2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed

Preheat oven to 180 Celsius.
Line your greased 20cm pie pan with the shortcrust pastry, leaving a little extra pastry at the top.
Place half of the filling on top of the pastry.
Place puff pastry sheet, cut to fit on top of the filling and lightly crimp edges to seal.
Brush with a little milk and bake for approximately 30 minutes.

Or use an electric pie maker like I did, after the initial 5 minute heating and a wipe of vegetable oil, I used the enclosed pastry cutter to cut the big side from the shortcrust pastry for the bottom.  Place in pie maker, insert half filling on top and line with the puff pastry cut from the smaller side of the cutter.  No need to brush with milk, close lid and cook for 18 minutes.  Place in 150C oven whilst cooking the other pie.


Tell me, do you like to collect kitchen gadgets to make your life easier?
What's your most favourite shortcut electrical appliance?

Buon appetito, enjoy Merryn xx

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Artisan Cultured Butter Home Made

Cultured butter has a great depth of flavour and creaminess much more so than regular home made butter.  I have been making my own butter from fresh cream for many years but absolutely love the cultured butter you can buy, well anywhere but my hometown so I set out to research and develop my own Artisan Cultured Butter to rival any purchased cultured butter.

As we all know, fresh and homemade is the best YOU will ever taste!

  I decided to make it on a Saturday afternoon, after purchasing my cream (it must have at least 40% cream for this to work) reasoning that I always woke up once through the night anyway, usually around 4am and I thought it would be easy to simply place the bowl into the refrigerator at this time after the initial 12 hour wait. 

I awoke every hour to look at the clock to see if it was 4am yet.
Trust me, start this in the morning or in the evening to time the first 12 hours wisely when it sits on your kitchen shelf before it goes into the fridge for the next 12 hours. 

I found these simple instructions on this website and was so surprised that the method is simple, but you have to be patient. After stirring the culture into the cream, it had to rest on the counter, covered, for 12 hours, and then go into the fridge for 12 more hours. The previously thick liquid was now solid.

You then have to take it out and wait for the cold cream to come to 54°F (12.2°C). This is still a cool below room temperature. Then you have to whip the mixture.   I placed the cream mixture into my Thermomix, then used the butterfly to whip the butter at speed 3 for about 2 1/2 mins and it was ready to be kneaded.  This can be also be done in a food processor or mix master.
to test for readiness pinch a bit between your fingers. The texture will be smooth and very buttery. Place muslin over a colander and pour in the butter and buttermilk.  Let it drain and keep rinsing (about 4 times) continually with ice cold water.  keep kneading until there isn’t any more creamy buttermilk coming out of the butter but just clear water. Then knead some more. When the texture is consistent I separated it into 3 lots.  Refrigerating one for immediate use (it will last about 1 month) and then I froze the other 2 parts in plastic containers.



  • 1/8 teaspoon aroma B powdered mesophillic starter culture
  • 1 litre minimum 40% cream (low pasteurization), or raw cream
  1. Read all instructions before beginning; sterilise your implements and clean your work areas
  2. Pour the cream into a container or pan with a lid
  3. Measure 1/8 teaspoon of aroma B powder mesophilic starter and sprinkle it over the cream; let it sit for 5 minutes
  4. Mix it into the cream with continual stirring motion to combine
  5. Cover and sit on the counter, without moving for 12 hours
  6. Refrigerate for another 12 hours, keeping it covered
  7. Take out of the fridge and remove the lid, place in your the thermometer into  the cream and wait for the cream to raise to 54°F (12.2°C)
  8. Scoop the cream into the Thermomix bowl with the butterfly inserted, speed 3 for  2 1/2 minutes  (alternatively place into food processor bowl or mix master for about 5 minutes).  You will see the buttermilk separate from the butter then it is ready to remove it
  9. Pour the butter and buttermilk into the muslin lined sieve; remove the buttermilk and pour ice cold water over the butter as you work it inside of the sieve to release all of the buttermilk
  10. Once the water runs clear from the butter, you are ready to knead it on the counter
  11. Knead the butter a few times until the texture is consistent
  12.  in an air tight container in the fridge, it will keep safely for at least 1 month                                                             
  13.  Buon appetito, enjoy Merryn xx