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Wednesday, January 3, 2018

January ABC challenge: crustless spinach quiche II

New year, new source for the Avid Baker's Challenge group:  David Lebovitz.  We started out with a savory dish to counterbalance all the sugar from the previous months.  And who knows, maybe starting the year with a crustless spinach quiche will be a new tradition.

This recipe is pretty straightforward and basic.  David initially called it a "cake", then changed it to "pie."  I must object.  It's not encased in dough, therefore it's not a pie.  I hope he doesn't decide to call things whatever he wants "just because" or I will be very annoyed.  I thought about putting it in a pie crust to make a quiche, but I got too lazy.  I called it quiche anyway.  That is allowed.

I cut this recipe in half, and then made a few minor adjustments.  My changes to a half recipe are in italics and strikeout.  Here's what I used:

1 medium leek 
1 tablespoon butter, salted or unsalted
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound fresh spinach, stemmed and triple-washed
pinch of chipotle chile
about 1/8 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
1 3/4 cup whole milk

2 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 4 large small eggs

1½ teaspoon turmeric powder
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
Parmesan cheese

Remove the green part of the leeks, slice each lengthwise, rotate them a quarter turn, then slice them lengthwise again, keeping the end intact. Swish the leeks in a bowl of water until they’re grit free, and towel-dry. Cut into small pieces.  Melt the butter in a pan and sauté the leeks with a little salt and pepper, stirring occasionally, until they’re translucent. While they’re cooking, cut the spinach into smaller pieces.  Once the leeks are cooked, begin adding the spinach in batches, putting on the lid until the spinach has cooked down, then you can add more.  Include the nutmeg and chile powder during the final batch.  Allow to cool. 

Preheat the oven to 400ºF (200ºC). Liberally butter a round or rectangular baking dish with high sides, with a capacity of at least 1 quart.  In a food processor, puree the spinach mixture with the milk, cream cheese, eggs, turmeric, and white pepper until almost smooth. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.  Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish.  If desired, grate a layer of Parmesan over the top and bake for 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.


I would have used the cheese on top but I forgot about it as I was seasoning and then was afraid it would end up too salty if I added the cheese.  If I'd remembered there was supposed to be cheese on top, I would have cut back on the salt.  Also, I didn't notice we weren't supposed to puree until smooth, and did.  I'm sure the texture is more interesting if left a little ragged. (Pretty sure you could whip the egg whites separately and fold them in and you'd have spinach soufflé, always a crowd favorite.)  I used a medium-sized, ceramic casserole dish for baking, but I still ended up baking it for 45 minutes, although I did turn the temperature down to 375 after 30 minutes.

Conclusion:  Very good.  Predictable, but a good main stay.  It had a really interesting flavor that I couldn't quite identify.  I really liked the cream cheese; I think it added a little more depth of flavor to the dish.  I would definitely put this in a crust---it needed just a little something extra for fun and to cut some of the intensity of the flavor, and would also mask the unpleasant bitterness where the spinach gets browned.  (In fact, it might be delicious sliced and wrapped in puff pastry.)  I'm also trying to figure out how to add something oystery.  (An oyster cream sauce?  Is there such a thing?)  Lastly, mine had a bit of a wateriness as I chewed, even though it doesn't seep in the pan.  Perhaps I should cut back the milk next time (or use the correct type and quantity of eggs.)

Recipe:  Spinach Pie via David Lebovitz

Friday, December 29, 2017

Martabak (Indonesian pancake)

"Martabak is a popular food that is delicious and very loved by the whole family," reads the copy.  I bought this mix several years ago because it looked interesting.  I held onto it for a long time (in fact it should have been used prior to April 2014), intimidated by the Indonesian directions.  Google Translate helped, but there were significant gaps.  (It doesn't help any that Translate makes up new words.  Take this translation, for example:
Timbang 285 adonan, lalu tambahkan dengan 20g (2 sendok makan penuh) butter yang sudah dilumerkan, aduk hingga tercampur rata.
which was translated into:
Weigh 285 dough, then add with 20g (2 tablespoons full) butter that has been melinjkan, stir until well blended.
Melinjkan?  What is that?  And where did it come from?  It's not English, and it wasn't in the original sentence to be translated.  A mystery.

               

I finally decided I had the directions sufficiently translated and it wasn't going to get any better, so I dove in. Here's what I used:

2 egg yolks
pancake mix
350g water
150g water
60g butter, melted and divided into 3 equal portions, plus additional
sugar
condensed milk
toppings (chocolate, cheese, nuts, etc)

In a medium-sized bowl, add the egg yolks, the pancake mix, and the 350g water and blend with a hand mixer on medium speed for 10 minutes.  Stir in the 150g water thoroughly, and allow to rest for 1 hour.

Heat a 9.5" skillet on medium heat for 5 minutes.  Measure out 285g of the batter into a bowl and stir in 20g of the melted butter.  When the pan is ready, butter the bottom and sides lightly, then add the measured-out batter.  Allow to cook for about 7 minutes, until holes have opened up across the surface like a honeycomb.  Lower the heat, sprinkle with sugar, cover, and cook for about another 3 minutes until the surface is no longer wet. 
(The surface will still be shiny.)  Remove the pancake from the pan to a cutting board and rub the surface with butter.  Pour on condensed milk and selected toppings.  Cut in half, and place one half on top of the other like a sandwich.  Rub exterior with butter if desired.  Allow to cool somewhat before cutting into wedges.  Repeat with the remaining batter, making 2 additional pancakes.  I recommend sandwiching the two whole pancakes together for convenience, rather than cutting each in half, unless you want different toppings on each. 

I found cooking the pancakes a little challenging.  (My pan was only about 7", which probably threw off the cooking.  I probably should have done only two pancakes and used the 10" skillet.)  The first one worked best, but cooked quickly.  I suspect you should let the pan reheat well before adding the next batch of batter.  The first one was cooked on the spider burner with an oiled pan; the second on the solid cover with a buttered pan.  The first one came out a bit spotted and cooked quickly, but seemed to work out best.  The second one came out with a beautiful, evenly tanned crust... except where it burned.  The third I did on the spider burner with butter, and it did the worst.  It didn't cook evenly, and one spot didn't rise at all.  (A big air bubble formed under the batter and raised it off the pan surface.)


I don't know why the instruction have you add the butter in separate batches.  Why not just add all 60g to the batter and THEN divide it up?  I can only assume the fat causes some reaction in the batter if left to sit.  In fact, the last batch of batter sat longer after the butter was added than the first two.

I cut into the first pancake immediately.  It was very spongy and didn't cut well (which is why I recommend letting them cool a little so the crust firms up), but was delicious and decadent.  Very much like a pancake, but eggier, spongier, and overly buttery.  (Probably could do without all the slathering.)  Perhaps it's better likened to a crumpet.  It was soft and rich and extremely satisfying.  I used dulce de leche plain and with toasted almonds, and chocolate ganache, all delicious.  I can imagine cheese would also be delicious, resulting in something like these Salvadoran quesadillas.  (Particularly the recipe from Global Table Adventures.)  The possibilities are endless.

I don't remember where I purchased this product, so I'm not likely to find it again.  The mix powder tasted a lot like vanilla cake.  (In fact, my only complaint was that it was overly vanilla-y.  Probably imitation flavoring.)  The ingredients on the box are wheat flour, sugar, leavening, vanilla (with an undefined adjective), and salt.

Conclusion:  I'd like to make this again, although it's so terribly decadent I'm not sure I would ever be brave enough to be left alone with it again.  I'd been thinking it was too bad that I probably wouldn't be able to find the mix again.  But after noting on the box that this is a popular Indonesian treat, it occurred to me that they probably make it from scratch.  Which means there are recipes. :)

Recipe:  Digging around on the Internet, I found a recipe that includes yeast, which would be fun to try, but this one seemed very close to the mix I made:  Martabak Manis via SortedFood.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Rum raisin shortbread


Normally I find Martha Stewart recipes to be unnecessarily complicated and then don't even taste that good, but this one was an exception.  I'm in the process of moving, so baking hasn't been on my agenda AT ALL.  But I've been trying to use up ingredients, and this one took care of some of the more expensive items:  currants, coconut, and butter.  I'd already packed my measuring cups and spoons, and all my baking pans, so I had to improvise and all measurements are approximate.  I also cut the recipe in half, and I reduced the sugar.

Here's what I used, resulting in 1 dozen bars:

1/4 cup Myers's Rum
1/2 cup currants
1 stick (8 ounces) salted butter
3/8 1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
about 8 drops orange extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup flour
3/8 cup unsweetened coconut powder (see note)
1/2 teaspoon salt

Soak the currants in the rum overnight, or cheat and heat in the microwave for about 30 seconds, then allow to cool.  They should be plump.  Drain and reserve 1 tablespoon of the rum.  Drink the rest.

Heat the oven to 325 F.  Cream the butter and the sugar, then add the extracts and the reserved rum, blending in between additions.  Add the flour in three portions, blending between additions.  Stir in the currants and the coconut.  Spread into a 8" x 6" baking pan and bake for about 30-35 minutes until the top is slightly firm and the edges have started to brown.  Cool in pan.


Reading the comments in the original recipe, a lot of people had trouble with this recipe, and in particular they said it needed more flour.  Admittedly, I ended up with a sort of batter; it was a good thing I had already intended to bake these in a pan rather than as cookies on a sheet, so it wasn't a problem.  But the bars were fairly soft, so I can see something needs to be done about the texture if you wanted to make cookies.  Adding flour would dilute the rich flavor, but the only other option really is to reduce the liquid, which also reduces the flavor.  Perhaps a combination.  Or perhaps chill the batter slightly to make it more manageable and THEN roll it into a log.  It's worth figuring out how to make these work, because the flavor was terrific.


Conclusion:  Delicious!  These tasted like Christmas pudding.  The edges were especially tasty because they had that browned-butter flavor.  Individually cut cookies would provide more of that than the bar form.

Recipe:  Rum-Raisin Shortbread Cookies via Martha Stewart

Friday, February 3, 2017

February ABC challenge: the browniest (salted) peanut butter chip cookies

 

I keep asking, "Why do we keep seeking a cookie that tastes like a brownie? Why not just make brownies?"  I still don't know.  Maybe it's a texture thing?  These chocolate chili cookies and chocolate crackle cookies were good, but no substitute for a brownie.  Anyway, here's another attempt.

I reduced the recipe to 1/4 and changed out the chocolate chips for peanut butter (EXTRA chips too), because yey peanut butter!  I sprinkled half of them with kosher salt to jump on the salted chocolate bandwagon (even though I'm sort of over the whole salted everything trend.  Enough already.)

Here's what I used (yield 6 cookies):

1/2 cup 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 1/4 cup dark or light brown granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon molasses
2 tablespoons 1½ teaspoons granulated sugar
2 1/2 large egg
1 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 1/8
teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, lump-free (any kind)
2/3 cup 3½ tablespoons chocolate peanut butter chips (increased from 2½)
kosher salt, optional

Melt butter and unsweetened chocolate together over low heat or in the microwave until nearly melted. Off the heat, stir until it is.  Stir sugar and molasses into butter and chocolate mixture, then the egg and vanilla, stirring to combine.  Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa, and stir into the batter until completely incorporatedStir in the peanut butter chips, making sure they're evenly distributed. In order to maintain the shape while baking, refrigerate the batter until firm but not stiff (about 15 minutes for this small amount.)  

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Scoop batter into about 1½- to 2-tablespoon-sized mounds and space evenly on greased baking sheets, allowing room for them to spread a little. (For a salted chocolate cookie, sprinkle lightly with kosher salt.  These can also be done as a slice-and-bake.)  Bake for 11 to 12 minutes for a fudgy center; they will look underbaked.  Allow to cool a few minutes on the sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack.
 
Conclusion:   As promised, these are very brownie-like.  Very dense, with a rich, dark chocolate taste.  The sprinkling of salt was a nice touch.  They were better after being fully cooled, as I found them somewhat gummy when still warm.  The moistness, even after cooling, made them still a little gummy; I might even have preferred them baked to a drier state.  Very good, but due to the texture, true brownies are still the winner.

Recipe:  the browniest cookies via Smitten Kitchen



Sunday, January 15, 2017

Coffee and Banana Muffins with Coffee Cream Cheese Frosting


I discovered some time ago that coffee and banana is a great flavor combo, so I've been anxious to try this recipe for some time.  I finally got that chance when my mom had 3 overripe bananas sitting around while I was visiting.  I don't know why the recipe is so large---I cut it in half and it still would have made at least 12 (if not 18) regular-sized muffins.  I used a pan with 8 rectangular cups, which I think are bigger than regular muffin cups, and filled them nearly to the top.

I prefer ginger over cinnamon in banana bread, but used the cinnamon anyway because I wasn't sure how ginger would go with coffee.  (Probably fine, as I've been drinking gingerbread-spiced coffee all winter.)  Anyway, I don't think I could detect it (but maybe because it was old.)  I reduced the sugar from the original, but otherwise pretty much followed the halved recipe. 

Here's what I used:

1¾ cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 heaping teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
5/8 1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/8 cup vegetable oil
1½ cup mashed banana (3 bananas)
1/4 cup sour cream plain yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 heaping tablespoon instant coffee espresso, dissolved in 1 tablespoon of extremely hot water
scant cup walnuts, toasted and chopped, if desired

Coffee frosting
4 ounces cream cheese, very soft
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 heaping tablespoon instant coffee espresso, dissolved in 1 tablespoon of extremely hot water
1½ 1 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350; grease cupcake pans.  Sift together flour, soda, cinnamon and salt and set aside. Beat together eggs and sugars on high speed for 3 minutes. Reduce speed and beat in oil, then bananas, yogurt, vanilla, and coffee, mixing well. Gently mix in dry ingredients until just mixed (then stir in nuts.)  Fill cups to 3/4 full and bake 17-19 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on cooling racks. 

Mix together frosting ingredients until smooth and creamy, 2 minutes. Frost cooled muffins or fill them with the cream cheese mixture.


I'm pretty sure I baked these longer than the recipe states, which would make sense since they were larger, but I can't remember the time.  I'm thinking 20-25 minutes.  I checked them with a cake tester.  My cream cheese wasn't quite warm enough and left little bits that I didn't get completely mixed in, but it wasn't noticeable while I was eating them.  Apparently "room temperature" isn't necessarily warm enough.  Curiously, I noticed the original recipe now calls for the reduced quantity of sugar in the frosting, same as I used.  Must have been a typo that I copied long ago into my recipe file.  (Note to self:  these might look nice with fork marks longitudinally down the frosting.)

Conclusion:  These were really good, moist and not overly sweet. In fact, if I made them without the frosting, I'd want the additional sugar that I left out of the batter.  The frosting was pretty strongly coffee flavored, and 3 bananas is a lot (although it might equal out to only 2 if the recipe were scaled to only 12 muffins, which is a normal quantity).  Yet when pressed, one taster didn't taste the coffee at all, and another thought they were pumpkin muffins with a maple frosting.  I have to admit, I could see it.  Part of that might have been because they had the texture of pumpkin muffins, moist and dense.  But even so, pumpkin and maple isn't bad at all.  I enjoyed these and would make them again.

Recipe:  Coffee-infused Banana Muffins via Just a Pinch.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

January ABC challenge: crustless spinach quiche I


It's a new year, and a new source for the Avid Baker's Challenge recipes.  This year we've chosen The Smitten Kitchen.

This first challenge was easy, but really nice for a cold winter morning.  I find traditional quiche too rich with all the pie crust and eggs and cheese and fatty meats, so I usually make this one using tofu and vegetables.  I knew I'd need to modify this recipe to my tastes.  The first thing was to oust the crust, and then substitute milk for the half-and-half.  (I used whole milk, but I suspect I could have gotten away with 2%.)  I'm not a fan of cheesy food, so although I didn't specifically reduce the amount of cheese, I measured the cheddar very lightly in the cup and didn't weigh it, so it was probably less than the recipe intended.  I substituted out some of the black pepper for white, and though I didn't think to add the red pepper, with my first bite I immediately wished I had, so I've listed it in the recipe.  (As an alternative to the heat, I think some herbs would be a nice addition, so I've listed that as well.  It all depends on whether you want a robust flavor or a delicate one.)  The switch to pecorino Romano was simply because I prefer the taste over Parmesan and always have it on hand.

I cut the recipe in half, which fit nicely in 3, 4.5-inch ceramic tart pans.  (I used a large, 1/2-cup spoon to ladle the filling in.  Each tart took one healthy spoonful.)  I also changed up the directions slightly; it seems like it would be easier to emulsify the eggs into the cream cheese before adding the milk.  I added the salt and spices earlier to give the salt a chance to dissolve and fully incorporate (so one didn't get bursts of salt grains) and for the spices to give up their essence.  Although it's probably not necessary to use a bain-marie, since I wasn't using a crust and it happened to be a convenient thing to do at the moment, I figured it wouldn't hurt to have the quiches protected by a water bath.

Here's what I used:

3 ounces (3/8 cup) cream cheese, very soft
3 large eggs
1/3 cup half-and-half whole milk
1/2 1/4 teaspoon kosher sea salt
1/2 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 

1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper or chipotle pepper OR 1/4 teaspoon herbes de Provence (optional)
1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry (see note)
1/2 cup grated medium cheddar

1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan pecorino Romano
3-5 green onions (according to taste), thinly sliced

Preheat the oven to 425F.  Whisk cream cheese in a medium-sized bowl until smooth and fluffy.  Whisk in the eggs, one by one, blending well between each, then add the salt and peppers/herbe.  Continue whisking while adding the milk.  Fold in the remaining ingredients until they are evenly distributed.  Pour into greased tart pans and place them in a small, shallow baking pan.  Add boiling water to the pan to about half way up the sides.  Bake about 20 minutes, checking after 15.  The quiche should look firm but still moist.  Serve warm.


Note:  to fully dry out thawed spinach, I squeeze out as much as I can with my hands, then put it in a cotton kitchen towel and wring out the remaining water.


I had green onions that had been around a while and consequently I'd removed quite a lot of the outer sheaths.  They'd been thin ones to start with, so I relied on weight to get the right quantity.  I really like the freshness green onions bring, so I was going for 1.5 ounces---half the larger quantity in the original recipe.  But getting to that weight took a lot more than 4.  I used all but two of the fresh bunch I'd just bought, plus all the remnants from the old bunch, and still wasn't quite at 1.5 ounces.  As it turned out, I thought the quiche was too oniony; it even left an onion taste in my mouth for a long while.  I recommend being your own judge on the quantity for that.

I tested some nutmeg in one of the quiches (because I think nutmeg belongs in custards), but couldn't really detect what I'd added.  Just as well, as I don't think it would have mixed well with the cheddar.  I normally buy mild cheddar in 2-pound blocks, but last time I accidentally bought medium cheddar.  I found the cheddar flavor a little strong, but by no means excessive.  I think the strong cheese flavor is what demanded some chile heat, but if using mild cheddar either the red pepper or the herbes would be fine.  When I saw the recipe called for kosher salt, I wondered if it were measured for large-grain salt.  (Kosher comes small grain as well.)  Since I wanted the salt fully incorporated, I used small-grained sea salt, but worried the measurement might be off.  It was---the quiche was a little too salty. I've adjusted the recipe above to reduce the salt content.  Lastly, I messed up on the timing and overcooked the quiche slightly.  I initially set the timer for 13 minutes.  They weren't nearly done, so I set it again for 10 minutes... or so I thought.  When it didn't go off after what seemed like 10 minutes, I got up to check and the timer read 9:49.  <insert confused emoticon here>  I guess I accidentally set it for 10 hours.  Oops.  So in total it seems the quiche baked for 24 minutes.  They could have been moister, but otherwise were fine.  I've adjusted the timing in the recipe to what I think would be acceptable.  (See also Crustless Spinach Quiche II.)


Conclusion:  Very good.  Very safe.  Nothing that's going to jar you out of your chair.  I just find quiche a little too fussy for what amounts to scrambled eggs with veggies and cheese, and since you can eat only a small amount, you have to find something else to round out the breakfast anyway.  It's nice to have to gussy up special occasions, though.

Recipe:  Spinach sheet-pan quiche via Smitten Kitchen

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Beef and kidney pies


I've been wanting to make these pies for some time, but it's hard to find enough grass-fed stew beef at once, and nearly impossible to get hold of kidneys.  So I've been stocking up on the beef (some of it even had freezer burn), and when I got hold of a kidney, it was time.

I wasn't sure what recipe to follow, and I was feeling lazy, so I sort of just threw things together from what I had (which included some fajita meat along with the chuck.  Probably a waste of good fajita meat.)  The onions had been in the freezer for some time, the result of a recipe for pumpkin soup that never got made (and which I now can't find). I can't remember how many onions it took, probably about 4, and they were caramelized for close to an hour.  They were VERY sweet.  I bought the Murphy's to make this, but found an open bottle of Guinness in the back of the refrigerator.  (Blasphemy!)

Watch the salt.  The broth will cook down and become concentrated, so you don't want to add too much salt to start.  I made a similar pie a few years ago (beef and ale), and I don't think they were quite salty enough. You also want to think about how salty your crust will be.  I prefer a salty filling and mild crust.

I thought a rich dough would go well, since the filling is fairly lean, so I looked for a cream cheese pastry.  The ratios vary widely -- I didn't want one that was TOO fatty, so I compared them and chose one that was sort of in the middle.  I used the quantities for a 2-crust, 9-inch pie.

Here's what I used:

2.5 lbs stew beef, grass fed, cubed
1 beef kidney, cut into large cubes
2 portobello mushrooms, cubed
8 ounces regular mushrooms, cubed
about 1 cup deeply caramelized onion
3-4 tablespoons flour
1 can Murphy's stout + less than half bottle Guinness
1/2 box beef stock
few dashes Worcestershire sauce
few sprigs marjoram
1 bay leaf
black pepper
salt

Pastry
2 cups (dip and sweep method) all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4½ ounces cream cheese, cut into 4 pieces, cold
12 8 tablespoons salted butter, cut into 3/4-inch cubes and frozen
4 tablespoons lard, cut into 3/4-inch cubes and frozen
2 tablespoons ice water
1 tablespoon cider vinegar

Brown the beef in batches in olive oil over high heat; remove from pan, cut into bite-sized pieces, and set aside.  Cook kidney pieces until browned; set aside.  In the stew pan, cook mushrooms in olive oil until soft.  Add onions. then sprinkle with flour and stir to coat.  Add the reserved meat and remaining stew ingredients and bring to a boil.  (Use some stout or broth to deglaze kidney pan and add liquid to stew.)  Simmer over low heat, uncovered, until broth has reduced and stew is thick and barely runny, about 2 hours.  (This is really to your desired firmness.)  Cool.

Meanwhile, in a food processor mix flour and baking powder.  Add cream cheese and process until the cheese is the size of large peas.  Add butter and lard, and process until none of the butter is larger than a small pea.  Add water and cider and process to blend.  It will not stick together.  Pour into a plastic bag and knead until it comes together.  Form into two discs, one much larger than the other, wrap tightly and refrigerate at least one hour.

Roll out the smaller disc of dough 1/8 inch thick or thinner.  Cut out 6 pie lids, generously sized to fit the tops of your tins.  Set aside.  Add scraps to larger disc and divide into 6 pieces.  Roll each piece into a ball, then roll out to a circle at least 8 inches across.  (The diameter needs to be equal to the length of two heights of your tin, plus the width of the bottom, plus at least 1 inch [to create a 1/2-inch overlap with the lid].) Fit the rounds into large muffin tins, clipping out the excess and sealing seams by dampening the dough and pressing edges together.  Leave plenty of dough above tin.  Fill cases with meat stew just to the tops of the cases; do not over fill.  Place a lid on each, dampen edges, then fold the excess dough from the sides inwards to cover edges of lid.  Skewer a hole in the center of each pie to let steam escape.  Bake at 400F for 30-35 minutes, until golden brown on top.  Allow to cool for about 10 minutes in pan, then carefully remove each pie and serve, or cool fully on a wire rack.


Prior to filling the cases, I thought the stew might be too thick, so I loosened it with more broth. Then I added salt slowly, tasting it after each addition, until I was satisfied.  I felt it needed to be slightly saltier than a soup stew because it was being paired with the pastry. 

I had a lot of trouble finishing the pies so that they looked nice.  The key, I think, is to have plenty of overlap between the tops and the sides.  The more filling you want in your pies, the more overlap you'll need.  It's certainly easier to overlap the sides over the top, rather than the other way around (although the second way looks nicer.) 

Conclusion:  These turned out really well.  They were a bit too salty, but only slightly.  I also would have liked a little more gravy, which could have been accomplished by adding more broth (or cooking it down less.)  The pies were very rich, between the kidney and the pastry.  These are supposed to be an individual meal, but halfway through I felt I'd had enough and needed something lighter to balance the meal.  Next time I would try the pastry recipe with the least amount of fat.

Recipes: 
A good steak and kidney pie via BBC Good Food
Proper beef, ale, & mushroom pie via BBC Good Food
Gary's beef, onion, and & Guinness pies via MasterChef Australia
Flaky Cream Cheese Pie Crust via Epicurious