Cooking, teaching and having fun…….

I have the pleasure of being a tutor at the WI Cookery School, Denman College based at Marcham near Abingdon. I really enjoy the environment there and when working with the students on the course I get a real thrill from their questions, enthusiasm and the food they produce.

Recently I taught my Pies, Pates and Terrines course. I designed the course initially as a one day course but this one has been stretched to a three day course. A request from a member of the WI for the course to include a pork pie recipe was made earlier in the year and I re-designed the course including the traditional pork pie and new sweet recipes!

The fun of these courses is working with students who have a wide range of experience and knowledge, the enthusiasm to learn and try something different.

Traditional Pork Pie

The resulting pork pie demonstrated as part of the course.

The course is designed to simplify the process of making pastry, terrines and pates. The difference between pastries, such as sweet, shortcrust, strong, hot etc and how they can be used are clearly demonstrated.

As for pates – by working with very simple ingredients such as smoked salmon and cream cheese using a simple method, combining these fresh tasting delicious ingredients you can make a beautiful pate. The process can be applied to any fresh ingredients to make your own favourite pate. This builds confidence and moving onto more complex recipes is not so daunting.

It is the same with the Pie recipes, but I added some sweet pies to the course including my signature Normandy Apple Tarts and a fabulous Chocolate Tort made with chocolate and coconut milk. It is simple and a bonus is that it suits any one with a vegetarian or vegan diet.

The terrine is a Celebration Terrine made with minced chicken, minced pork and duck breast, studded with green pistachios and red cranberries. All wrapped in pancetta. A colourful starter for a celebration dinner! Again the process is the same for any terrine and one you have the process you can gain confidence to try more complex terrines such as a Game Terrine.

The Pork Pie is made using fresh quality meat: pork mince, diced shoulder, bacon, hock and belly. Boil the hock, I use smoked as it gives a deep flavour to the jelly, an essential in any pork pie. Diced the cooled ham hock and the rest of the meat, mix in a bowl and spice with nutmeg and  or mace, herbs include thyme and rosemary if you like both. Season it all.

Then the hot water crust pastry. This is a great pastry to work with and whilst you need to be speedy, don’t panic. Melt the lard, water together in a pan, get is boiling gently but be careful of any spitting that will happen as you pour the liquid into the sifted flour that has been seasoned with salt and pepper.

Having previously lined the base of a spring form tin with baking paper and greased the base and sides with lard. Take approximately 3/4 of the pastry, bringing it together in a ball and drop it into the tin. Spread the pastry across the base evenly and pull the pastry up the sides of the tin. Ideally you want to get to the point where you have a small overlap of pasty hanging over the lip of the tin. Fill with the meat mixture. Then put a pice of cling-film on the worktop. Put the remaining pastry in the middle. Cover with a second sheet of cling-film and roll the pastry so that you have a disc just larger than the top of the pie. Pull off the top piece of cling-film and using your hand under the sheet and lifting the cling-film up over the pie you can line it up and drop the top onto the top of the pie. Seal the pastry together and make a hole in the centre of the top. Decorate if you like and brush with a beaten egg. Cook for about an hour at 180C Fan. The top of the pie will give you a great indication if it is cooked as it should be golden brown. If in doubt use a thermometer to check the meat is at 75C or more.

When ready let is cool a bit before taking off the side of the tin. Do this by placing it on top of an upturned jug. Ensure that it fits within the circle of the tin. Release the side of the tin carefully. If there are any areas sticking use a sharp thin bladed knife to loosen being careful to keep the side of the tin in place. When released you can brush the side of the pie with the rest of the egg wash and pop back in the oven for a further 10 minutes. Remove and leave to cool, chill in the fridge overnight.

To make the jelly the stock from the ham hock make have enough gelatin in it to stiffen but if not use a few sheets of gelatin leaves, soaking them in water for 20 minutes than adding them to the stock. Warm gently and stir to ensure the mixture is fully mixed.You can test the jellification state by putting a plate in the freezer for 10 minutes then dripping a little of the stock on the plate if it turns to a jelly you are ok. Otherwise add some more gelatin and repeat the process.

Next day you can pour the jelly in liquid state into the hole on the top of the pie. You may need to make a few small holes with a skewer around the edges of the top of the pie. This helps the air to escape and make space for the jelly as it is poured in.

Any questions please let me know.




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