Chestnut Bourguignon pie

My lovely sister was making me jealous with tales of the lovely harvest of apples, pears and plums from the surrounding orchards, down in kent where she lives. She suprised me this weekend by sending me a box full of plump, shiny, perfect chestnuts – freshly picked of course.

I knew exactly what I was going to do with them – make my favourite vegetarian pie. If you don’t have a lovely sister to send you fresh chestnuts, then you can sometimes buy tinned or vacuum packed ones locally or alternatively, buy them dried online. This recipe is taken from the BBCGood Food magazine. It is wonderful with creamy mash and sweet potato.

To prepare the fresh chestnuts, snip of the tip of each nut, and bake at 200C for around 8 minutes. Let them sit for a couple of minutes until they can be handled, and peel.


  • 250g/8oz of fresh chestnuts OR 125g/4oz dried chestnuts, soaked for 6-8 hours
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary or 1 tsp/5ml dried rosemary
  • 210ml/7fl oz red wine
  • 300ml/10fl oz Marigold vegetable stock or water
  • 25g/1oz butter or soya margarine
  • 8 small pickling onions or shallots, peeled
  • 125g/4oz chestnut mushrooms, wiped
  • 125g/4oz button mushrooms, wiped
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2-3 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 225g/8oz pastry. You could use Gluten Free Pastry.


  • Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
  • Place the soaked chestnuts, herbs and 150ml/5fl oz of wine in a saucepan with vegetable stock to cover and cook until just tender – approximately 50-60 minutes.
  • Drain the chestnuts, reserving the liquid.
  • Melt the butter in a frying pan and sauté the onions until slightly browned.Add the mushrooms and cook for a further 4-5 minutes.
  • Add the chestnuts, the remaining red wine and sufficient chestnut cooking liquor to cover. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20-30 minutes to reduce the liquid a little.
  • Stir in the mustard, tamari and black pepper to taste and cook for a further 5 minutes.
  • Check seasoning and adjust as necessary. Spoon the mixture into a pie dish. Roll out the pastry on a floured surface and place on top of filling. Bake for about 20 minutes until golden.

Chocolate Mousse Pie

As made by one of my children.


For the pastry

  • 60g hazel nuts, toasted and finely ground (use a spice grinder)
  • 165g plain flour
  • 30g caster sugar
  • 125g butter
  • 1 small egg, lightly beaten
  • A little cold water

For the mousse filling

  • 125g plain cooking chocolate
  • 60g butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp self-raising flour
  • 4 tbsp double cream
  • 1 1/2 tbsp brandy, rum or other liqueur
  • plain chocolate curls or other decoration
  • cocoa powder

  • Start by making the pastry case. Put the hazelnut flour and plain flour in a large bowl and rub in the butter.
  • Once the mixture is like breadcrumbs, add in the sugar, then mix in the small egg, and just enough cold water to make a stiff dough. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 200 C
  • Roll the dough on a floured table and use it to line a large flan tin, around 3.5cm deep and 23cm in diameter. Line the bottom with greaseproof paper and weigh this down with dry baking beans.
  • Bake the pastry case for ten minutes, remove from the oven, and remove the beans and lining paper. Return the pastry case to the oven for a further 8 minutes.
  • Time to make the filling. Melt the chocolate and butter together and set to cool.
  • Whisk the eggs and sugar in a large heatproof bowl over hot water for around ten minutes.
  • Sift in the flour, and fold it in, then add the chocolate mixture, cream and alcohol. Use a delicate hand and just mix enough to combine the ingredients well. You need to keep the air trapped in the egg and sugar mix.
  • Pour the mixture into the pastry shell and bake at 190 C for 15 minutes.
  • Once the pie is cool, decorate with chocolate curls and a dusting of cocoa.

I like something a little fruity with chocolate, you can experiment. We used a bramble liqueur, but sloe gin, raspberry liqueur, cointreau, all would be delicious. It keeps in the fridge, but is best on the day of baking.

Shepherd’s pie

There were several reasons to cook this tonight. First of all, we have a lot of fresh vegetables in the garden, and Malcolm requested plain cabbage, no messing with stir fries or salad, just lightly boiled, seasoned and buttered. Next, we had some lamb in the freezer, and I wanted to test out a new mincer. Also, we have some lovely potatoes coming in, the crop we are eating just now is Arran Pilot, and I wanted to see how well they mashed. They mashed very well indeed. 


  • 1 tbsp oil (I used olive oil)
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, in small chunks
  • 500g lean minced lamb
  • 500ml lamb or beef stock
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 900g potatoes, peeled and cut into pieces
  • 75g – 85g butter
  • milk, to achieve consistency
  • salt and pepper, to taste


  • Heat the oil in a large pan, and when it is hot, add the onion and carrots, and cook over a medium heat until the onion is softening
  • Add the minced lamb, and turn the heat up, browning the mince
  • Add the tomato puree, Worcestershire sauce and stock, and bring to a simmer. 
  • Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, then uncover and simmer another 20 minutes to reduce the liquid. Season to taste with pepper and salt, if required. 
  • Boil the chopped potatoes in salted water, and drain. Mash with the butter, and a little milk to make a soft smooth mash. 
  • Add the mince to an oven-proof dish, and then put the mashed potatoes on top, using a fork to make patterns that will crisp up in the oven. 
  • At this point, the pie can be frozen or put in the fridge for cooking later
  • To cook the pie, bake for around 30 minutes. Leave to stand a few minutes before serving. 

To cook the cabbage, I cut it into wedges, cooked it for around 5 minutes in boiling water, then I poured the water off, and added salt, pepper and butter. 

Steak and Kidney Pie

We had a really good bottle of Chateauneuf du Pape, and when I googled what we should eat with it, the answer was steak and kidney pie. I made this, and it was delicious. The basic recipe is in Maw Broon’s cookbook


  • 375g Bells ready-rolled puff pastry
  • 2 sheep’s kidneys
  • Approx 150g mushrooms, roughly chopped. 
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 50g butter
  • 450g steak
  • A little water
  • Milk or beaten egg to glaze


  • Turn the oven to 220C
  • Dice the steak into large chunks. Peel the kidneys of their membrane, and cut out the central fibrous tissue. Coat the meat in seasoned flour. 
  • Fry the onion gently in the butter until translucent, for around five minutes. 
  • Add the mushrooms, and continue to fry gently for another three to five minutes. 
  • Mix in the meat, and fill the pie dish with the mixture. The dish should be fairly full. Add a little water. 
  • I needed to fold the rolled pastry in half, and then gave it a gentle roll to ensure it was just a shade larger than my dish. Wet the edge of the pie dish and trim a strip of pastry, and press this onto the wetted edge of the pie dish. Cover the pie filling with the pastry, pierce a few holes to let steam out, and decorate as you wish. 
  • Glaze the pastry with egg or milk. 
  • Cook in a hot oven, 220C until the pastry is golden, and then turn the heat down to 180C and cook for a further hour and a half. 

We had mashed potatoes and garlic cabbage with this.