Product Review: Men’s Pie Manual

Well I think we all know, you don’t have to be a man to enjoy a bloody good pie. Whether it be a pork pie ready for lunch, a hearty beef and ale pie ready to warm you through or a light fish pie topped with gnocchi the Haynes Men’s Pie Manual have got it covered. The book is written in a light hearted, quirky tone, constantly reminding you of the delights to come and pushing you to carry on; especially in the case of the beef and ale pie which takes two days to make. This recipe book is for the ultimate foodies out there (male or female) who handle their grub with true love and attention and seek out the best ingredients to produce the best results. I would like to consider myself as being within that category, hence I went for the beef and ale, two day pie.
This is why you need this book…

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Look! Beef bones! After 5 hours of cooking the skirt and bones in the dark ale the bone marrow oozed out. Flavour, flavour and more flavour!
image 8And I was left with this sensational filling after adding the braising steak, carrots and onion and cooking for a further 3 hours. I had to stop myself from spooning it in my pie hole (hehe) to save some for the actual pie!

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Nearly finished!
image 6Voila! Ready for the oven. By this point I was pacing the kitchen in a fury of hunger. GIVE ME PIE.

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Here it is, served with buttery, delicious mash and of course some peas!

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So, if your a true pie lover and a perfectionist (when it comes to food anyway) then the Haynes Men’s Pie Manual by Andrew Webb is a winner – Tom Kerridge certainly thinks so (and who doesn’t trust Tom Kerridge when it comes to proper food?!). There’s a huge range of pies from the hearty meaty ones to lighter chicken and fish pies and of course sweet pies for pudding because after all, I could probably live off pies. What a good idea…
The Haynes Men’s Pie Manual is available from priced £21.99.

Uyen Luu’s Vietnamese Cooking Class

 Taylah and I had an amazing time in London last weekend thanks to a great day spent with Uyen Luu at her Vietnamese Cooking Class. Costed at £95, it is a fun day with stacks of recipes to try and more importantly, eat.
The class took more of a demonstration approach which meant we spent much of the time huddled around the stove paying close attention to what Uyen and her mum were saying. However, there were lots of opportunities to get stuck in and we rolled our own summer rolls and bò lá lởt and flipped our own sizzling crepes.
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The class had a great atmosphere and we got stuck into the true Vietnamese culture. We took our shoes off once we arrived and visited a nearby Vietnamese supermarket to discover the best brands. We also learnt about balancing sweet, sour, umami, bitter and hot flavours; something which is vital in Vietnamese food.
In total we discovered 11 dishes which included summer rolls, bò lá lởt, carrot and chicken salad with prawn crackers, chicken noodle soup, congee, baked seabass with spring onions and soy sauce, stir fried morning glory, aubergine in soy sauce, braised pork belly in coconut and cider, banana fritters and a blueberry ice cream dessert.
Not only that but we all left with some of the summer rolls, bò lá lởt and carrot and chicken salad that we had made.
Overall, I would really recommend this cooking class. It was an intimate style class, run by two ladies dedicated to sharing true Vietnamese cooking. We were welcomed into Uyen’s home which was ideal for the class and even greeted by two delightful, small (well fed) dogs. It was a really relaxed occasion which ended with a great feast and the opportunity to buy signed copies of Uyen’s recipe book.IMG_5149

Dill and Chilli Sea Bass with Asparagus and Sautéed Potatoes

Dill and Chilli Sea Bass with Asparagus and Sautéed Potatoes

On a recent trip to the Underground Cookery School in London I learnt to make this wonderful dish. Take the potatoes away and you have yourself a hearty starter, with the potatoes, a summery main. This was such a great dish, it must be shared!

Ingredients (serves 2):
2 whole, gutted sea bass (or 4 sea bass fillets)
1 bunch of asparagus
500g of new potatoes
Olive oil
Lemon juice
Lime juice

1. Begin by boiling the new potatoes until they have softened (around 10 mins) but not so much that they fall apart.
2. Meanwhile trim the asparagus stalks (about an inch off) so that the woody bit is removed. Using a potato peeler peel the skin off the ends of the stalks so it becomes light in colour (as pictured).
3. If you have bought whole sea bass then fillet. If they are ready filleted then score the skin lightly.
4. Prepare the dressing by roughly chopping a handful of dill (removing stalks). Add to olive oil, lemon juice, lime juice, thinly chopped chilli and a teaspoon of mustard. Add in small quantities and keep tasting!
5. Heat a pan of oil and begin frying off the potatoes until they are crispy. When they are nearly done, boil the asparagus for 5 minutes.
6. Cook the sea bass by heating olive oil in a non-stick pan. Pop them in the pan, skin side down. Watch the fish and you will see white gradually rising as it cooks. Once the white has nearly risen to the opposite side of the skin, flip then over for a final minute.
7. Hopefully it’s all come together at the same time. Serve as pictured and drizzle with the prepared dressing!!

I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. A truly wonderful summer dish which is sure to wow everyone.

The Underground Cookery School, London

I’ve been popping down to London quite a bit recently, but my trip to the Underground Cookery School has to be, by far, the best out of them all. Me, and nine other fellow bloggers headed down to the minimalistic, quirky venue, tucked away amongst the vibrant City Road. As we descended underground, we left the hustle and bustle of London and rolled up our sleeves.


We were greeted with prosecco and canapés, my ideal greeting. The canapés were delicious, freshly made by the chefs – something we didn’t have to worry about preparing. Taylah and I were a little early as we were so excited to get started but the chefs and Annaliese were all so friendly and got talking to us. They even put us to work with preparing some asparagus.


Once everyone arrived, we got aproned up and had a quick team talk. This, we were informed, was an opportunity to learn some key skills in terms of prepping fish and lamb. So despite the fact that we didn’t cook anything ourselves, we marvelled at our work when tucking into a perfectly(?!) filleted sea bass.


We were split into two groups. First thing for our group, the chocolate torte. The chef, Matt Kemp talked us through each step and got each of us to complete one of the stages. I was trusted with melting the chocolate and butter together, a very technical job and I am pleased to say, I think I excelled myself. Matt was really consciencous to make sure we were all able to keep up with what was going on whilst completing our own stages and taught us some fab techniques. The one I particularly liked (and will attempt to use in the future) was the folding in of the egg whites. He flicked his wrist quickly, instead of doing big, labour-some folds like I usually do.  The finish product, accompanied with clotted cream with raspberry ripples running through it looked like this:



It was absolutely delicious. A wonderful dessert that took hardly anytime to make – even if though there was 5 of us making this single cake, do not fear, a solitude cook can still make this gooey, warm chocolately heaven.


Next up, we moved on to prep the main. We were presented with a rump of lamb. Initial thoughts: help, what, really, me? But Matt talked us through it, then showed us, explaining which bits to feel for and how to use the knife. There were also a few other chefs including watching to make sure we didn’t ruin a good rump in seconds. We trimmed it down, removed the fat and voila, ready for cooking.

ImageOf course, as required, prosecco was at hand throughout the entire preparation of the lamb. The chefs beautifully put the lamb with potatoes, a jus and some long stem broccoli.


Finally we prepped the sea bass, our starter. Of course, after having watch the chef fillet one side of the sea bass I set to work and immediately thought, HELP I’ve forgotten everything you just showed me. The small group meant that he was able to come round and talk us through it again, checking for bones to make sure choking was off the agenda. We then had a quick taste test of the lemon, lime, olive oil, dill and paprika dressing. “Hmmm yes some more lemon I think ahh yes that’s perfect” I thought. “Bloody hell more oil” said the chef so it appears my palette requires a bit more refinement.



Served with British asparagus, the dressing and some chilli, the skin was lovely and crisp. I have even bought some sea bass ready for filleting, house mates WATCH OUT.

Overall, I had a really enjoyable evening and learnt some valuable skills. The opportunity to meet other bloggers was also really nice, fuelled with a constant supply of wine and nibbles. Brimming with exciting goodies and full tummies we left happy with our experience, and of course, hoping to come back soon.