Thursday, 22 January 2015

FREE PIE!

Not actually a pie, but tasty.
By: Mrs Robot

No, not for you. Free 'pie' for me! Bristol-based pie company Pieminister decided to give everyone at my workplace a free pie pot today. They're not really pies, they're pie filling topped with potato, but they're jolly tasty anyway. Mr Robot would probably go into an extended rant at this point about the lack of pastry, and indeed there was some grumbling round the office about it (not that anyone refused to eat their Pie Pot owing to a lack of pastry).

Some of the range has slightly different fillings to the firm's range of proper pies, which I'm not sure are widely available outside the south-west, though Waitrose stocks them. You can get the chorizo and beef 'Matador' as both a pie and a pot, however. I make all our pies at home, but have enjoyed Pieminister pies with mash in the Raven in Bath over the years. A pint or three, big pile of carbs and meat, what's not to love?

We're pretty good at recycling at Casa Robot; even plastic tubs from the Chinese takeaway go on to have a new life as freezer containers, while foil trays get washed and recycled. I rarely eat things that come in plastic tubs because I picture vast piles of the things accumulating as landfill. However, I've checked online and it looks as though my local council (Wiltshire) accepts rigid plastics at its recycling centres, so I can ditch the guilty feelings. If I ever have to work on Saturdays I treat myself to something like an Innocent Veg Pot, something fast to heat and easy to eat at a desk but good-quality, and this would make an acceptable alternative. I could definitely see myself having one of these for an al desko lunch.

Anyway: pie, free, but I doubt Pieminister realised anyone would do a food blog post, I think they just hoped to get a bunch of hungry journos hooked. I thought I'd be upfront about the source just in case anyone accused me of being 'bought'. (Darling, it takes much more than a pie to buy me...)
Home-made bear pie. NB: does not contain actual bear.
And you can't beat an enamel pie dish - they banish soggy bottoms!

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

New Year, still here!


Oh dear, what a lazy pair of 'bots we've been. Except that we haven't – except for when it came to updating this blog. December is always a very busy month for both of us at work, and we simply didn't have time. We did, however, go to see Tom Kerridge give a talk in Bath (proof here in the form of Mr Robot with the man himself), and we cooked a post-Christmas meal for friends.

Tom Kerridge's recipes from Proper Pub Food are among our favourites, being seriously tasty, and substantial too. The treacle-cured beef, date and toffee pudding with caramelised bananas and beef ribs are all big favourites. When he brought out Best Ever Dishes we had to go to his talk. Annoyingly, the talk then got moved from October to December, so we ended up buying the cookbook months after everyone else had it. Still, it was worth waiting for as Tom is a really nice bloke, every bit as affable as he is on the telly. In fact, even after all this time as one of the country's top chefs he seemed a little embarrassed to be standing in front of a group of people, which was quite sweet, and was happy to pose for a photo. I'm not sure when we'll get round to making anything out of the book as Mr Robot does most of the cooking from the Kerridge books, though there are some nice-looking pies and I'm the house pastrymaker so I might try that.

The other reason why we might take a while to cook from the Kerridge book is that we got a few extremely nice ones for Christmas. I've already tried a couple from Meera Sodha's book Made in India. Mr Robot thought that would appeal to me as in addition to sharing a lot of really delicious recipes Meera also talks about her family's journey from India to Britain via Uganda, and how moving between continents and changing circumstances affected their food. I have really enjoyed reading it, especially her rules (feed the dog chapattis!). His mum gave him the Duck and Waffle book; he's yet to make anything from it but he does keep saying he wants to.

“Why do you have all these books you never use?” I hear you ask. Well, we would use them, but we had a traditional Christmas meal with family, and then friends came over on the 28th. We served canapes (Mr Robot's own invention, so I'll leave him to post about those), then spiced potted beef (courtesy of Elizabeth David – and 'Damien Trench' did almost exactly the same recipe in his Christmas radio programme, which made us chuckle), followed by roast goose with many trimmings, then port wine jellies and/or our friend Ian's fab chocolate orange pannetone pudding, and finally a cheeseboard supplied by Matt and Lucy. Frankly after all that neither of us wanted to see anything fancy for a bit! Though when I was poorly last weekend Mr Robot did make me a comforting bowl of ohn-no khao swe, Burmese coconut chicken noodles, from Mi Mi Aye's book Noodle. Every bit as restorative as chicken soup, but even tastier (and the shallots and chili oil garnish will help to stop a virus in its tracks).

Anyway, Happy New Year to you. This year my plan is to keep the kitchen tidier during the week, and to make more things involving dough. It could be pizzas or soda bread, it could be bau or naan. Who knows? If it starts out as a splidgy floury mess, it counts. Watch this space.