Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Upcoming Beer Events

Pan-toasted & ground grains of paradise 
added to rhubarb & vanilla!!
Hi everybody! How's tricks? Enjoying the sunshine? Well then that means it's time for a beer then doesn't it?

Tonight (March 28) my lovely fellow beer writer Pete Brown (@petebrownbeer) will be launching his Ilkley Brewery (@ilkleybrewery) collaboration Medina, which is a Moroccan inspired saison with some yummy spices in it.

Then on Monday April 2, I shall be hosting a Spring beer and foodextravaganza at Meantime Old Brewery with head brewer Rod Jones, which I'm really looking forward to - details here of full menu.

UPDATE: There are only a few tickets left to my Meantime Brewery event next week, get 'em whilst they are hot! :)

Then, on Tuesday April 3, if you have nothing better to do you can come and laugh and point at me through the windows of the Tap East brewery, as new head brewer Jim Wilson as we knock together a pale ale, launch date of which is currently TBC.

Finally, on Wednesday April 4, I shall be launching my collab beer with Ilkley Brewery, which is also a saison called Siberia, which has been made with Yorkshire forced rhubarb, vanilla, grains of paradise and orange peel - yep, another mental one from me! I am getting to try it for the first time tonight, so I'll give you an update after that, but the boys from the north assure me it's tasting mighty fine! 

UPDATE: The Siberia is fab, I'm really pleased, it was spicy peach on the nose, a tiny bit sour, pleasingly spicy and orangey on the palate and absolutely bone dry, it's lush! :)

Here's the agenda for the pub crawl we're embarking on, which could be dangerous as this beer has rocked out at 5.9%, eek!

5.30pm: The Bull, Highgate
6.45pm Southampton Arms
8.15pm Draft House Tower Bridge
9.30-close The Rake

P.S. In case you're wondering why it's called Siberia, it's because rhubarb originates from Siberia, something I only found out when researching it - every day is, indeed, a school day! :)

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Pie - that is all!

I don't know about you, but anything with the word pie in the title is enough to catch my attention, so I thought I'd save my terrible punning headlines for another day!

In case you didn't know, it's National Pie Week...WHOOP!

And as I recently created a pie I was pretty proud of (and that my mate @cityjohn went back for seconds of) I thought I'd pop it on the blog!

It's my take on a chicken and ham pie and my reason for making it was that I always find chicken and ham pie disappointing - it's generally claggy and bland and just, well, meh! So I wanted to make an updated version that had a little more to it - I think I've succeeded.

I will hold my hands up that, on the occasion I made it, I used shop-bought shortcrust pastry for the base, but I was pushed for time and would normally make it myself, so I've included the recipe but you really don't have to use it but do follow blind baking instructions.

Another cheat I used was some frozen leftover chicken gravy from a roast that I let down with a little bit of brown chicken stock, but if you buy a good-quality chicken gravy (Duchy's from Waitrose is not too shabby) or reduce some good chicken stock with a few unpeeled cloves of garlic, a bit of arrowroot/corn flour, a bay leaf and a few peppercorns (strain before using!) then you'll get pretty similar results I'm sure.

As for puff pastry? Life's too damn short! Now you can get all-butter puff in the shops it's just not worth your while making it in my opinion - but if you're masochist enough then please feel free to go the whole hog!

And whilst I'm here, I'm immensely excited that Carl Smith of the Windmill in Mayfair, one of my oldest contacts in the trade, is giving away the secrets of his award-winning pies on YouTube - most especially my absolute favourite the English Breakfast Pie, it's awesome and I'm going to be making my own version of it next weekend with a few little beery (and possibly black pudding) tweaks for a bit of fun!

So, without further ado, here it is...

Summer Lightning Chicken, Leek, Ham & Cornish Brie Pie
Serves 4 very hungry people, you don't need much more to accompany it than some samphire/greens/peas & carrots (the potatoes were a little much when I had mine!)

Sharp, decent sized knife
Chopping board
Mixing bowl
Rolling pin
Cooking spoon
Rubber spatula
Pastry brush
Large heavy-based saucepan
Large dish (I used an oval one that is 24cm long x 16cm wide x 5cm deep, but a false bottom/spring form would have been better to see the pie in all its glory!)

Sundry Ingredients
375g All-butter puff pastry

Make your shortcrust pastry:
500g/1lb plain flour (plus some extra for rolling)
125g/4oz unsalted butter (plus extra for greasing dish)
125g/4oz lard
pinch salt
1 tsp cider vinegar
1 egg, beaten
Cold water

1. Sift flour & salt into a large mixing bowl
2. Rub the butter & lard into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs
3. Add vinegar & enough cold water to bring mixture together into a smooth dough
4. Wrap in cling film, chill in the fridge for 30 minutes

500g skinless, boneless chicken thighs (free range)
100g Jamon Iberico lardons (Waitrose) or smoked bacon lardons
White onion, very finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped or smushed
Two good size leeks (trimmed, washed, cut into 3cm disks)
200ml chicken gravy
1 bottle of Summer Lightning (and more to drink with it!)
1tbsp dried Tarragon
100g Cornish brie (I used Llawnroc)
Groundnut oil

1. Get a pan on a medium high heat
2. Chop your chicken thighs into bite-size chunks
3. Put oil in pan and add chicken
4. When it’s golden brown on one side, turn over and then throw in onion & lardons
5. When chicken is golden brown all over, onions should be softened and almost disappearing, lardons should be golden & crispy too
6. Throw in your chicken gravy to deglaze pan then turn heat right down
7. Add garlic and leeks, cook for a minute
8. Add half your bottle of beer (other half is for the cook!), reduce at a gentle pace, it will take about 20-30 mins to reduce to a thickish sauce
9. Put in fridge to cool

Assemble Your Pie
1. Roll out shortcrust pastry and put in a suitable, lightly buttered, dish and leave some hanging over sides
2. Fill with baking parchment (quick tip, scrunch up your baking parchment before trying to fit it in, makes it easier – as well as a satisfying noise!!), and fill with baking beans, or rice and blind bake for 15 minutes in 180 oven or until it’s just beginning to colour
3. Once it’s set, remove baking beans and parchment, allow to cool for 10-15 minutes then trim the excess off the sides
4. Put half your cooled filling in the pie, stud with torn off chunks of half your brie, repeat process with the rest of your filling & brie
5. Roll out your puff pastry and put it over the top, crimping it to the shortcrust pastry base as you go, poke a hole in the middle to let the steam out & egg wash (tip: put remaining egg wash in a small plastic tub in freezer, very handy!)
6. Bake in a 200 degree fan oven for about 25 mins or until the top is golden and the insides bubbling!

To Drink
The Summer Lightning goes gloriously with this, of course, and really any spritzy, citrusy blonde ale will go well. I also thought that the Saison Dupont I had was also a good accompaniment too, take your pick!