Corned Beef and Potato Pie

Corned Beef and Potato Pie by The Fat Foodie

I’m originally from the North East of England and as a result I was born with a love of pastry in all of its beautiful forms. Northeasterners are extremely skilled at working all types of pastry into divine concoctions. They can make delicious steak pies, mince pies and chicken pies. They can also create outstanding apple turnovers and jam tarts. However, for all that they are great at creating these wonderful delicacies, in my eyes none of these pastries compare to the humble plate pie.

Plate pie is exactly as it sounds – a pie baked on a plate, with the gentle sloping curves of the plate helping to contain the filling within a pastry casing. My Mum and Dad (both of whom are Northeasterners) are masters of the plate pie, just as their own parents were, and frequently make them for family gatherings. They often make plate pies filled with minced beef and onion, which is delicious, but my favourite is their corned beef and potato pie.

Once upon a time, it would have been necessary to peel and boil countless potatoes to make the mash for this pie, but the invention and ease of access to cheap, good quality ready-made mashed potato in our supermarkets has made the creation of this pie a much faster task than it ever was. The same can be said about the convenience of picking up a pack of ready-made (and even ready-rolled) puff or shortcrust pastry instead of having to go through the palaver of making your own. We’re truly living in exciting times, my friends!

For all that it’s now July, on the day I’m writing this the weather is, as the Scots would say, ‘dreich’ (drizzly, overcast and cold) and I’d highly recommend making this plate pie on a day such as this. The lovely warmth of the fan oven is gently circulating around the kitchen and the scent of the pie cooking is reassuring me that a good dinner will warm me up even further very soon. I’m going to serve it with steamed broccoli, thyme-infused carrots and a ‘stick to your ribs as it goes down’ rich beef gravy. And now I think of it, I’m sure there’s some rhubarb and ginger crumble left in the freezer that we can have with warm custard. Shall I set another place at the table for you?

Ingredients:

A 500g block of puff pastry (I used gluten-free)

A 340g tin of corned beef

A 500g carton of good quality mashed potato

1 tsp asafoetida

1 tsp ground white pepper

1 beaten egg (for sealing the edges and glazing the top of the pie)

Method:

Get a large, deep dinner plate or a pie plate and keep it to one side.

Put the corned beef, mashed potato, asafoetida and ground pepper into a large bowl and mash together.

Cut your puff pastry in half and keep one half aside.

Roll one piece out on a floured surface until it is the right size to fit comfortably on top of the plate with a little hanging over the edges.

Put the beef and mash mix in it and smooth it out, leaving 1 cm around the edges bare so you can seal the pie edges later on.

Roll the other piece of puff pastry out until it’s the right size to fit on top of the pie.

Spread beaten egg along the edge of the pie and fit the lid on top. Use a fork to gently seal the pastry together and then trim off the excess with a knife and make two small knife cuts in the centre of the pie. (This helps steam escape.)

Bake in the oven for 30 – 35 mins until the pastry is risen and golden brown.

Corned Beef and Potato Pie by The Fat Foodie

Digiprove sealCopyright protected by Digiprove © 2017

Breadmaker Banana Hazelnut Bread

Breadmaker Banana Hazelnut Bread by The Fat Foodie

I recently acquired a breadmaker from a friend and I’ve been looking for something to bake in it for a while. I remember that when breadmakers first came out they were really expensive and cost well over £100 to buy, but nowadays you can pick them up really cheap. In fact, I’ve just Googled it and you can buy one for £21:49 from Argos! It’s insane how much prices decrease after the initial fad dies down, huh?

Anyway, as I was saying, the breadmaker I inherited from my friend is only a Tesco version (I think she paid around £30 for it a number of years ago), but it does the job very nicely because for all that it’s only a supermarket version it’s still got 3 crust colour settings and a range of cooking options to suit whatever bake you’re making. That’s good enough for me!

After a couple of failed attempts at making gluten-free loaves in it (spoiler alert – these were massive failures!) I decided to park my lofty notions of creating the perfect, light and airy gluten-free loaf aside and try to make a banana bread instead. Thankfully this was a much more successful endeavour!

Although I enjoy banana cakes sometimes I prefer banana breads because they have a firmer texture and are more substantial. They also don’t need as much sugar in them so you can kind of justify having a small slice of the bread for breakfast. In fact, if you have the option on your breadmaker to start cooking your loaf at a specific time (which many modern models do) you could wake up to a freshly baked banana hazelnut bread that’s just begging to be coated in butter and eaten with your morning cuppa.

Ripe bananas test high for oligo-fructan FODMAPs at half a medium banana so if that’s an issue for you I’d exercise caution. Although, one banana hazelnut bread makes at least 12 portions so that’s a small amount of banana consumed per portion, but as with every recipe on my website these are just my adventures in cooking low FODMAP food so it’s important that you only make what will work for your own body. Also, I must stress that this isn’t a gluten-free loaf because I used spelt flour which still contains gluten, but is an ancient form of wheat grain that is easier to digest because it’s less refined than normal wheat flour. Therefore, if you’re gluten intolerant you should probably give this a miss. Sorry, guys!

However, if you can tolerate spelt or a small amount of gluten in your diet then I’d encourage you to give this breadmaker banana hazelnut bread a go because it’s genuinely delicious. This recipe makes a loaf that’s infused with the delicate flavour of fresh banana and is studded with crisp, crunchy little hazelnuts. It’s lovely on its own, but I think it’s elevated into something utterly divine when it’s topped with a generous slathering of salted butter. You only live once, right?

Ingredients:

260g plain flour (I used spelt)

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

200g sugar

4 tbsps vegetable oil

3 eggs

2 large over-ripe bananas

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsps ground cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla extract

150g hazelnuts

Method:

Place all of your wet ingredients into your breadmaker and then add the dry ingredients.

Choose a setting that will bake the loaf for around two and a half hours with a light crust.

Check to see if the loaf is cooked by pushing a skewer into the middle of it. If the skewer comes out clean then it’s cooked. If necessary continue to cook for a bit longer.

Once it’s done remove from the breadmaker and leave to cool inside the tin.

Once cool, cut into thick slices and serve either on its own or with butter.

Breadmaker Banana Hazelnut Bread by The Fat Foodie

Breadmaker Banana Hazelnut Bread by The Fat Foodie

Digiprove sealCopyright protected by Digiprove © 2017

Chocolate Torte

Chocolate Torte by The Fat Foodie

The other day I was walking home from work when my Dad stopped his car to say that he’d got me a clutch of fresh duck eggs from one of his colleagues. Never one to turn my nose up at free ingredients, particularly ones as generous as eight massive, freshly-lain duck eggs, I dutifully followed him home to collect them. Once I’d given them a wash (chickens aren’t that fussed about keeping their productions clean) I was rewarded with the sight of a bowlful of creamy, pink and blue, large eggs with striations that made them look like they’d been sculpted from marble. They were truly a thing of natural beauty.

Freshly Lain Duck Eggs

Now I’d been wracking my brain trying to come up with a recipe that would do them justice. Duck eggs are very rich, infusing a delicate and delicious intensity into cakes and biscuits with very little effort, so I knew that I didn’t want to waste them on a bake that would fail to let them shine. After some consideration I knew that a chocolate torte would be the perfect vehicle for their use because the richness of the torte would only be enhanced by the duck eggs.

A chocolate torte is a very rich, buttery and intensely chocolatey  cake. It’s not made with a flour sponge like most cakes are and instead depends on the lightness of whisked eggs (and in this case a small amount of ground almonds) to provide the structure of the cake. Accordingly, the result is a slightly dense, but infinitely moreish, chocolate torte that requires only a small serving to satisfy one’s sweet tooth.

Much like pavlovas and profiteroles, this bake looks complicated and its reputation only bolsters this misconception, but trust me, this chocolate torte is really easy to make. It literally only requires you to melt your butter and dark chocolate in one jug, whisk all of your other ingredients together in another jug and then pour one into the other before whisking again and baking. You can’t really get any easier than that, can you?

This chocolate torte is a dream to both make and eat, particularly when served with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of good quality ice-cream. It’s a torte that is decadent and luxurious, with a rich, fudgy, but light cake base that delivers the perfect chocolate hit to the taste buds. Try making this one soon, guys, you won’t regret it.

Chocolate Torte by The Fat Foodie

Ingredients:

85g salted butter (at room temperature)

170g dark chocolate (broken into small pieces)

4 large hen’s eggs (or 3 duck eggs, if using)

50g sugar

2 tsps of instant coffee granules

1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon

50g ground almonds

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Cocoa powder (for dusting the top)

Method:

Preheat your oven to 180C/160C Fan/350F/Gas mark 4.

Line a 9 inch cake tin with greaseproof paper.

Place your butter and dark chocolate in a microwavable jug and slowly melt in the microwave, stirring frequently so the chocolate doesn’t burn. If you don’t have a microwave then melt it slowly by placing the jug in a pot that’s been filled with boiling water (but is not on the heat) and allowing it to melt down. (Don’t have the pot over heat though or you might melt your jug!)

Leave the melted chocolate mixture to cool slightly.

Measure all of your other ingredients into a separate jug and whisk well until thoroughly combined and airy.

Slowly pour the chocolate mixture into the other jug, whisking all the while. Mix it all together and then pour into your cake tin and bake for 40-45 mins.

Check the cake is cooked by poking a skewer into the middle. It should be cooked when only a few crumbs are on the skewer when removed from the cake, but remember that it is supposed to be moist and fudgy in the middle so don’t panic too much if it’s a bit wetter than a normal cake.

Leave to cool and then dust with cocoa powder and serve with whipped cream or ice-cream (or a non-dairy alternative).

Chocolate Torte by The Fat Foodie

Chocolate Torte by The Fat Foodie

Digiprove sealCopyright protected by Digiprove © 2017

Gluten-Free Soda Bread

Gluten-Free Soda Bread by The Fat Foodie

Gluten-free bread doesn’t rock my world in the slightest. It’s gritty, grainy and dry. It’s everything a loaf shouldn’t be and that makes me sad. However, I recently visited family in Ireland (stopping off to see Phil Collins in concert along the way too, which was freakin’ awesome!!!) and after a delicious breakfast of traditional Irish toasted soda bread with butter and jam I realised that I could abandon my yeast-based attempts at making a gluten-free loaf and focus instead on making a bicarbonate of soda based oat bread.

My previous attempts at making gluten-free bread have produced somewhat mixed results. I think this is because gluten-free flour tends to be very dry and produces a really dense crumb when baked into a loaf. However, this gluten-free soda bread incorporates oat flour, which I simply made by blitzing some oats in my food processor, which helps to add a lightness to the loaf and enhances the texture of the bread.

Although soda-based loaves are found in the history of many countries, in times gone by, a soda bread loaf was traditionally freshly made every morning by Scottish and Irish women because it’s really quick to produce. Instead of using yeast which takes a long time to prove, soda bread uses alkaline sodium bicarbonate as its raising agent which is activated by acidic buttermilk (or in this case lemon juice) to produce carbon dioxide bubbles which make the bread rise. This results in a robust, but flavoursome loaf which is gorgeous when spread with fresh butter.

This recipe is just for making a standard plain gluten-free soda bread, but you could easily incorporate raisins, dried cranberries or different types of nut into the base bread mix to produce a variety of loaves. I’ll bet a soda bread made with plump little raisins and crunchy walnuts would be outstanding!

The gluten-free soda bread produced by this recipe is soft, but substantial and is surrounded by a lovely golden crunchy crust, while its interior crumb is moist and has a faintly nutty flavour from the oat flour. It’s practically begging to be sliced while still warm and coated in butter and generously topped with good quality jam.

Ingredients:

200g oat flour (or 200g of oats pulsed into a rough flour using a food processor or Nutribullet)

100g gluten-free flour (I use Dove’s Farm G/F Plain Flour)

1 tsp xanthan gum

1 tsp salt

1 tsp of bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp baking powder

200ml milk (or rice milk)

2 tbsps lemon juice

Method:

Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C Fan/425F/gas mark 7 and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.

Pour the milk into a jug and add the lemon juice.

Place all of your dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl and stir well.

Once the milk has curdled and become thick add it to the dry ingredients and stir until it starts to come together.

Get your hands into the bowl and continue mixing it until it forms a ball.

Place it on the baking tray and flatten slightly before scoring it with a cross and baking for 35 mins.

Gluten-Free Soda Bread by The Fat Foodie

Turn it over and bake for about another 10 mins. You’ll know it’s cooked when the base sounds hollow when tapped.

Leave to cool slightly before serving.

Gluten-Free Soda Bread by The Fat Foodie

Gluten-Free Soda Bread by The Fat Foodie

Digiprove sealCopyright protected by Digiprove © 2017

Chocolate Orange Carrot Muffins (makes 12)

Chocolate Orange Carrot Muffins by The Fat Foodie

I like taking cakes into work. I think it’s nice to bring something tasty into the staff room for everyone to be able to enjoy when they’re on their tea breaks and lunch. I always think that there’s something warming and cosy about having some cake available for everyone to partake in, should they choose. Let’s be honest, very few people turn their nose up at a nice bit of cake.

I bought some pretty muffin cases the other day that I wanted to test and after some consideration I settled upon the idea of making carrot cake muffins, but it didn’t sound very exciting to me so I went back to the drawing board and decided to add more flavours to the cakes and so I made chocolate orange carrot muffins instead. I’m so glad I did because they are divine!

If you want a moist cake that’s not going to dry out in a hot environment, such as a very warm staff room, then I’d heartily recommend incorporating two components: a good oil and some sort of fruit or vegetable. You can never go wrong with basing a cake around carrots or courgette because their water content works fantastically to introduce and retain moisture in cake sponge. It’s also a bonus that you can’t even taste the vegetables in the cake once they’ve been baked.

Also, although most cakes tend to add fat to the sponge base by using butter, sadly as it cooks a lot of the water from the butter will evaporate. It will also continue to evaporate the longer the cake sits waiting to be eaten too, whereas using sunflower or vegetable oil (which does not evaporate) will ensure that the fat content (and therefore, moisture) remains present even after it’s been baked in a hot oven. It’s science, innit?

Although these chocolate orange carrot muffins are gluten-free you can easily make them standard muffins by using the same quantity of normal self-raising flour and omitting the xanthan gum and bicarbonate of soda, and only using 1 tsp of baking powder. Although why not give the gluten-free version a go? They’re really tasty and you honestly cannot tell the difference!

These chocolate orange carrot muffins are gorgeous. They’ve got an incredibly soft and bouncy texture, are infused with rich, deep cocoa and have a lovely fresh zing from the orange zest. Their whipped chocolate orange buttercream frosting also does the entire flavour combination justice. Quite frankly I think I’ve outdone myself. Now, I wonder if the boss will like them enough to give me a paid day off…

Chocolate Orange Carrot Muffins by The Fat Foodie

Ingredients:

250g of grated carrots

250g brown sugar

250g gluten-free flour (I use Dove’s Farm G/F Plain Flour)

1 tsp xantham gum

50g cocoa powder

2 tsps baking powder

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

250ml vegetable oil

1/2 tsp salt

3 eggs

The zest and juice of 1 orange (keep 2 tbsps of orange juice aside for the buttercream icing)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 heaped tsp ground cinnamon

For the buttercream icing:

175g icing sugar

25g cocoa powder

50g butter (use dairy-free, if necessary)

2 tbsps orange juice

Method:

Preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan/400F/Gas mark 6.

Lay 12 muffin cases out into a muffin tray.

Measure all of your ingredients into a large mixing bowl.

Quickly mix all of the ingredients together using an electric whisk and spoon the mixture equally into the muffin cases.

Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes or until a skewer pushed into the middle of a muffin comes out clean.

Freshly Baked Chocolate Orange Carrot Muffins by The Fat Foodie

Leave to cool and make the buttercream by placing all of the icing ingredients into a jug and whisking until light and whipped.

Once the cakes are completely cold decorate with the buttercream icing and enjoy.

Chocolate Orange Carrot Muffins by The Fat Foodie

Digiprove sealCopyright protected by Digiprove © 2017