Scottish Steak Pie

Had a lovely weekend. Met up with a fellow American for Sunday lunch at Citation and afterwards we found the rumoured bubble tea stall in the Savoy Centre. The Savoy Centre is exactly as it sounds. Totally 70’s and made up of tiny little storefronts selling DVDs, random household stuff and a wig shop. There’s also a growing Asian population so there’s now a Chinese medicinal herbs office and most importantly, a bubble tea stall!

bubbleteasavoycentre

I am addicted to sucking up those bubbles!

Our lunch at Citation was a brilliant two course and a glass of wine for a tenner deal. We both started with chicken liver parfait and I got the pork roast while my friend got the butternut squash risotto. The roast was amazing and such a big portion for the price. Even so, I woke up this morning craving even more comfort food. I don’t make a lot of traditional Scottish food but I do make – and absolutely love – Scottish steak pie.

Now, this isn’t a British steak and ale pie. There’s no ale or beer in it. No vegetables other than one large yellow onion. No herbs or spices other than salt and pepper. It’s not even pie shaped. This is the traditional Scottish New Year’s/Hogmanay dish that can be enjoyed year round and it is absolutely delicious.

Every New Year’s Day my mother-in-law has the family over for steak pie. Most people I know go over to their ‘wee maw’s’ for their New Year’s steak pie. It’s tradition, it’s yummy and it happens to be the perfect hangover food. A lot of people will pick up a pie at their local butcher’s but it’s so easy to make yourself. After my first time tasting it, I immediately asked for the recipe. My MIL rattled off a few ingredients to throw in the slow cooker – an onion, stewing beef, an Oxo cube (beef stock) and some water. Sometimes she’ll throw in some mini beef sausages toward the end but it really is that simple.

Scottish Steak Pie

Serves 3 to 4

500g stewing/casserole/slow cook beef
one medium yellow onion
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp and 1 tbsp black pepper
1 Oxo cube or any beef stock cube
1 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp flour
1 tsp cornflour/cornstarch
200g puff pastry

1. Cut the onion into slices and drop into the slow cooker
2. Trim the beef and cut into bite sized pieces if not already pre-diced.
3. Mix the flour, salt and 1/2 tsp pepper in a large bowl and then add the beef, coating each piece in the seasoned flour.
4. Heat the olive oil in a pan until very hot and then brown the beef in small batches. As always, don’t crowd the pan and allow each piece to get browned on all sides. Transfer the beef to the slow cooker once done.
6. Crumble the Oxo cube in, add the remaining 1 tbsp black pepper and enough water to barely cover the mixture. The top pieces should still be a bit above water.
6. Cook on low for 5-6 hours. An hour before done, mix 1 tsp cornflour with 2 tsp water and add to the mixture to thicken it up.

Now as for the puff pastry topping, I prefer to cook the pastry separately and then add it to the individual servings. I see from a quick perusal on the internet that this is sacrilege for some people, but this is how my Glaswegian MIL taught me so I’m sticking to it! Plus, I’m not a fan of ‘soggy bottom’ pastry.

I usually use store bought puff pastry but today I tried making my own and it turned out pretty well! I followed this recipe (to a freaking T by the way – I even watched the video) and used a little less than half for tonight’s dinner. I just rolled it out and cut long strips to bake. I love this way because you get little flaky batons to dip into the gravy.

scottishsteakpie

We usually eat ours over boiled potatoes but anything goes. My MIL serves hers with mashed potatoes and boiled carrots or green beans. I get chips with mine if I’m eating out at a pub or cafe. We had a big portion for dinner tonight and Danny proclaimed it the best steak pie I’ve made and that I’m to try and make mince and tatties next!

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Thanksgiving in Glasgow

An expat Thanksgiving is a funny thing. The holiday is in the middle of a busy working week and the rest of the country is caught up in the impending Christmas season. But even if you’re busy on the actual day, there’s always that longing for the holiday back home and the desire to commemorate it in some way. This year I was lucky enough to be working the US shift, so I automatically got the day off. And with Danny not starting his new job until the beginning of December, we had the perfect day to make our own expat Thanksgiving.

This is my second time making Thanksgiving dinner in Scotland but my third holiday in the country. I was over here for Thanksgiving in 2006. We had a theatre class field trip to Edinburgh on the actual day so we all celebrated that Saturday. Our trip leaders provided the turkey, but we had to make do with turkey breasts as that’s the only thing that could fit into their flat’s tiny oven. Everyone was assigned a side dish and I’m ashamed to say I went to easy route and brought a veggie/dip tray. I definitely wasn’t into cooking back then!

I had to work in 2010 but I brought in mini pumpkin pies to introduce my colleagues to some traditional Thanksgiving food. That Saturday I hosted my first every Thanksgiving and managed to cook a turkey, stuffing, scalloped potatoes, biscuits, cranberry sauce and a pumpkin pie for five adults and two kids! No pictures, I think that’s around the time my camera started to not work.

Spent last Thanksgiving in the States so that brings us to 2012. Even with my new camera I only have two iPhone pictures as the uploader’s not working right now (don’t worry, it’ll get fixed before our trip to the States).

My beautiful pumpkin cheesecake, before we cut into it and found it hadn’t set properly. Oh well, pumpkin chocolate chip mousse is just as good!

I made chicken instead of turkey this time, with my own special roast chicken marinade. I also made stuffing, scalloped potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes, roasted brussels sprouts with balsamic glaze, dinner rolls, cranberry sauce and a very pudding-like pumpkin chocolate chip cheesecake. We invited Danny’s mom over and enjoyed some cheese and crackers and homemade pomegranate martinis before the big meal.

Hope everyone’s still enjoying the Thanksgiving weekend or just a good old regular weekend here in the UK.

American Chocolate Chip Cookies

Decided to make chocolate chip cookies with the Nestle Tollhouse chocolate chips I brought back from the States. My mom was never a big baker of sweets but she would occasionally indulge us by baking up the cookies on the back of the package. Having made stuffed shells from my mom’s recipe for dinner I thought I would continue the theme and make the cookies for dessert.

The only conversion I had to do was for the butter. Sticks of butter here are more like cubes of butter and they come in cubes of 250 grams. After using my conversion app I estimated that 250g of butter would be approximately 1 cup/two sticks. I know you’re never supposed to estimate when it comes to baking but I know the texture of the butter/sugar combo quite well so I knew I could make it work. So many memories of trying to steal bites of that amazing combo and my mom shooing me away. Still haven’t bought an electric mixer over here or a handheld electric mixer so I had to mix the soft butter and sugar by hand. Definitely need to make a note to buy a handheld from Argos next time I am in town. It’s not only baking, I’ve had to manually whip egg whites into stiff peaks more times than I’d like to remember.

From my memories of my mom making these cookies she only had to do 2 or 3 batches. While checking the baking time I noticed this recipe makes 5 dozen cookies!ย  My baking sheet (and oven) only fits, at the most, 9 cookies at a time. I never thought our oven was small by American standards but I think I’ve been cooking with British recipes for too long. My kitchen cannot handle a big soccer mom batch of American chocolate chip cookies. I’m going to have to do at least 6 batches. I started this at 9 pm. Thankfully I have no work tomorrow or I would be up all night baking cookies.

Update at 12ish. It really didn’t take that long. Now I’m just up because I had a bottle of Diet Coke while waiting for the cookies to bake and I can’t fall asleep.