Wednesday, March 26, 2008

If you’re in search of Cordon Bleu, Haute, Nouvelle, or any other sort of cuisine, you’re on the wrong page. I hail from England, which has long had a bad rap where food is concerned ― undeservedly so, in my opinion. What I aim to produce on these pages is plain, home cooking, in easy to follow recipes, using ingredients that are available in any supermarket.

When I first moved to the US thirteen years ago, I had difficulty making many of my favorite recipes, largely due to the unavailability of certain ingredients, or ingredients having different names. But, over the years, I have adapted and learned. Now the only British foods I simply cannot live without are Bisto gravy powder, Atora beef suet, and Ringtons tea.

Bisto makes excellent gravy (it’s what me mum always used), and it is available from an on-line store called British Delights. If you want to give it a try you’ll find it here:

Beef suet is a no-no here, too. Mention suet to an American, and they think of bird feed. Yes, what passes for suet here is solid, and hung outside to feed the wild birds in winter. They don’t know what they’re missing, all those wonderful suet puddings, like Jam Roly-Poly, and Spotted Dick, and not forgetting dumplings , and pastries. Anyway, when my contraband supply runs out, I can get vegetable suet, not quite as good as beef, but better than nothing, at:

Ringtons have been producing and selling fine teas for 100 years, and in my humble opinion theirs is the best tea in the world. I am particularly partial to their connoisseur blend. This is a tad pricey as this tea is only available in the UK, and the shipping and handling charges are more than the tea. And, while I can get other British teas from American web sites, the cost of S & H is less, but the tea is more expensive, so it all evens out in the end. Ringtons also make some excellent biscuits (cookies), and you can’t beat tea and biccies. Check out their web site at:

Another interesting fact about Ringtons is their products are not available in stores or supermarkets, even in Britain. Ringtons sell direct to the tea-drinking public. Men and women go into neighborhoods taking orders for tea and biccies, and then deliver them to your door.

Anyway, enough of this blather, the recipe for this week is Meat Pie, or as me mum would call it Plate Meat Pie. She called it that because she had a special plate that she used for making any sort of pie, and I guess making it on a plate instead of a pie dish used less filling. She was always frugal, my mum.

Meat Pie


1lb ground beef sirloin/or other lean ground beef
1 onion, chopped
3 carrots, sliced
½ tablespoon butter
2-3 cups beef broth/stock
2 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce
1 bay leaf
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1 package Pillsbury pie crusts (Although I can bake, I’ve never been able to master the art of pastry making. Me mum always said I was too heavy handed with it).
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons water


1. Preheat oven to 400°F

2. In a deep-sided skillet, or large saucepan, melt butter over a medium-high heat and brown beef. Drain the fat from the pan.

3. Reduce heat to medium, add onion to beef and sauté for a further minute.

4. Add carrots and beef stock to pan and bring to boil.

5. Reduce heat to low, add Worcestershire sauce, bay leaf and pepper, and simmer for 20 minutes.

6. Drain liquid from pan and set aside for later use.

7. Allow meat mixture to cool for approximately 20 minutes before adding to pastry.

8. Line a 9-inch pie dish with pastry, add beef mixture and top with second pastry sheet. Brush pastry with milk, or a beaten egg and water mix, cut 2 slits in pastry to allow steam to escape.

9. Place pie dish on a baking sheet and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until crust is golden brown.

10. Return reserved liquid to pan and heat over a low heat. Mix cornstarch with water and add to liquid, (or use Bisto gravy powder according to package directions). Gradually increase heat, stirring all the time, until gravy reaches desired consistency. Adjust seasoning to taste.

This pie is delicious with creamed mashed potatoes, and any fresh vegetable you like. I like cabbage with this dish, but the only fresh veggies I had at the time were carrots, and as they were already in the pie I just used some frozen peas.