IT'S THE WEEKEND: Food and drink - Celebrate British Pie Week with a home-made pie

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Make yourselves piemasters with these tasty recipes ahead of our national celebration of one of our favourite foods. SOPHIE BROWNSON reports.

EVERYONE loves a good pie and now is your excuse to tuck in - as the country gears up to celebrating the dish during British Pie Week.

Running from March 3 to 9, the week is the perfect excuse to cook up a storm in the kitchen with these delicious recipes including shallot, chunky steak and mushroom pie and American style beetroot pie.

Why not give them a go?

Shallot, Chunky Steak and Mushroom Pie

Recipe by UKshallot.com

Serves four

Preparation time: 45 minutes

Cooking time: Two hours

Ingredients:

For the pastry:

110g butter

280g plain flour

1 ½ large eggs, beaten

8 shallots

40g butter

500g shoulder steak, trimmed and cut into 2cm cubes (or larger)

25g plain flour, seasoned with salt and pepper and a tablespoon of paprika

1 tbsp sunflower oil

100g streaky bacon in one piece, cut into lardons (short strips and approx. 5 mm thick)

200g chestnut mushrooms, halved

200ml red wine

200ml beef stock

2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

Pre heat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.

To make the pastry, rub the butter, flour and a pinch of salt together in a mixing bowl until the mixture has the consistency of fine breadcrumbs.

Add the egg and bring it all together into a dough. Knead this lightly three or four times with floured hands.

Cover in cling film and refrigerate for an hour before use.

Take the shallots and pop into a pan of cold water. Bring the pan to the simmer and gently cook the shallots for about one and a half minutes. This will make the shallots easier to peel and assist the cooking.

Peel off the skin without cutting the ends of the shallots off. Lightly shave of any remaining root fibres but do not cut into the shallot at all.

Melt 25g of the butter in a flameproof casserole dish. Add the shallots and fry over a medium heat for about 10 minutes, until nicely golden. Meanwhile, put the steak into a polythene bag with the seasoned flour and toss together so that it becomes well coated.

Heat a large frying pan until very hot. Add the sunflower oil, then the bacon and stir fry for a few minutes until richly golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and add to the shallots in the casserole dish.

Now brown the mushrooms for a couple of minutes, then add to the casserole dish. Add the remaining butter to the frying pan and brown the beef well on all sides. Transfer to the casserole dish.

Now add the wine and stock to the frying pan, bring to the boil and scrape up all the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Pour this into the casserole dish, add plenty of seasoning, especially pepper, and mix together well.

Cover the casserole with a tight-fitting lid and bake for 1-1½ hours until the meat is tender and the sauce has thickened. Now all you have to do is stir in the chopped parsley, check the seasoning and tip into your pie dish then let cool as quickly as possible.

Roll the pastry out on a floured surface to a thickness of a beer mat. Trim a strip long enough to go around the rim of a 20cm pie dish.

When the stew has cooled, line the rim of the dish with the thin strip of pastry. Dampen the pastry rim by brushing with beaten egg. Cut a piece of pastry to fit across the top of the dish and place on top of the pie filling, pressing the edges together to seal.

Make a steam hole in the centre of the pie by cutting a small cross in the centre with a sharp knife, then brush with more beaten egg.

Pop the pie into the oven and cook for about 35 minutes, and serve.

Serve with mash and mixed greens.

Pink Lady Apple, Elderflower & Almond Pie

Recipe by www.pinkladyapples.co.uk

Serves eight

Prep time: One hour

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

7 Pink Lady apples

340g plain flour

225g butter

4 tbsp caster sugar

1 egg yolk

250ml elderflower cordial

100ml water

finely grated zest of one lemon

25g ground almonds

115g white marzipan

flaked almonds

icing sugar for dusting

Method:

Put the flour and butter into a food processor fitted with a plastic blade and whiz until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the caster sugar and whiz again. Now add the yolk and whiz again until your pastry comes together into a ball. Wrap in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for 45 minutes or so.

Quarter the apples and remove the core from each piece. I don’t peel the apples as I love the pink colour of the skin but peel them if you prefer.

Cut each quarter into slices, about 3 mm thick at the thickest part. Put them into a saucepan with the cordial and water. Cover and simmer the apples very gently until they are just beginning to get tender on the outside.

Strain off the liquid and measure how much you have. If it is more than about 75ml then put it into a small saucepan and boil to reduce it to 75ml. Stir in the zest, pour the liquid over the apples and leave to cool. Preheat the oven to 190 C and put a metal baking sheet into it.

Roll out 2/3 of the pastry and line a pie dish (measuring 25cm in diameter, 5 to 6 cm deep) with it. Sprinkle the ground almonds on the bottom of the pie.

Break the marzipan up into little chunks. Spoon the apples (with the elderflower syrup) into the case, scattering the chunks of marzipan as you go.

Roll out the rest of the pastry and make six strips with which to form a lattice on the top. Moisten each end of the pastry strips and lay them across the top of the pie. Press down to seal. Put this into the oven on top of the baking sheet and cook until golden. It will take about 30 minutes.

About eight minutes before the end of cooking time, scatter a handful of flaked almonds on top and return to the oven – the almonds will toast in the final stage of baking. Dust the pie lightly with icing sugar before serving.

American style beetroot pie

Recipe by www.lovebeetroot.co.uk

Serves four

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 45-50 minutes

Ingredients:

250g shortcrust pastry

325g plain cooked (vacuum packed) beetroot, drained

3 eggs

75g soft brown sugar

2tsp ground mixed spice

½ tsp ground allspice (optional)

½ tsp ground ginger (optional)

250ml double cream

Method:

Preheat the oven to 200?C/Gas Mark six.

Roll out the pastry and use it to line a 23cm loose bottomed pie tin. Line with greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans. Bake blind for 20 minutes.

Whilst the pastry is baking, prepare the filling by puréeing the beetroot along with the eggs in a food processor.

In a small saucepan add the sugar, all the spices and cream and bring slowly up to a simmering point. Pour into the food processor and mix thoroughly with the beetroot puree.

Remove the pastry case from the oven and reduce the temperature to 180?C/Gas Mark four.

Pour the filling carefully into the pastry case and bake for around 25 to 30 minutes. The edge should be puffed up a little and the centre will still be a touch wobbly. Allow to cool and chill in the fridge. Serve with crème fraiche.

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