Julie's Cooking Thread 2020


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Julie's Cooking Thread 2020

Ago 29, 2020, 8:20 am

Hi all! I've been in this group, commenting on other people's threads, mostly, for a while now, and I thought it was about time I started my own cooking thread.

Like some of you, I'm not setting myself any specific challenges or goals. Instead, I'll just be posting about the cooking and baking I'm doing, and anything else that seems to fit.

I hope you all enjoy, as I've been enjoying your threads.

Ago 29, 2020, 9:00 am

For my first post, I'm going to go back in time almost two weeks, to the Monday before last, August 19, 2020, when I made "Sarah Woolam's Scotch Pies" from page 142 of Outlander Kitchen: The Official Outlander Companion Cookbook by Theresa Carle-Sanders, which I had taken out of the library.

I'm not actually a fan of the Outlander TV show -all of the gratuitous rape/sexual violence and gay-for-no-reason villains really put me off - and I haven't read the books, but my mom, who only started the show in the first place because I convinced her to try it with me, absolutely loves the show, and I love tie-in cookbooks and trying new things in the kitchen, so when I saw it on the library website, I immediately put it on hold.

This was the only recipe I tried from the cookbook, the only one I was interested in trying, really, and it came out, well, I was going to say beautifully, but that's...not really the right word. The pies actually turned out pretty ugly, to be honest.

But they were also successful, and most important, delicious, as agreed by everyone who tried one.

Scotch pies, according to Carle-Sanders, are hot water crust pastry pies made in a mold and filled with either lamb or beef. I used beef, having never cooked lamb before and seeing no reason to spend the money on it for experimental meat pies. I did also make some adjustments to the recipe, out of practical necessity.

The recipe called for sirloin, to be minced by knife as part of prep, an added step that Carle-Sanders assured was worth the extra work for the "superior texture." But I had no experience picking any meat other than ground beef, no idea how to judge a good sirloin from a bad, a suspicion that sirloin costs more than ground beef, and no real desire to do the extra work of mincing a sirloin anyway, so I just bought ground beef. I've never eaten a Scotch pie before, store-bought or otherwise, so I figured I wouldn't mind the texture of the ground beef. I have nothing to compare it to, after all.

No mention was made in the recipe or notes about fat content - another thing I know nothing about in reference to sirloins - so I just bought what I always buy, which is 93% lean. I have come to believe that for meat pies, you generally want a higher fat content than that, but the pies came out great, so it all worked out fine.

The recipe also called for 1/2 small onion, grated. Somehow I read this as 1/4 onion, probably because I only had a half an onion in the fridge, so I accidentally translated 1/2 onion to 1/2 of your onion in my head. Which turned out to have its upside, since when the quarter onion I grated with the box grater turned into liquidy mush, I still had another quarter onion left to mince super, super fine and add instead. This always happens when I try to grate onion in the box grater. I always end up just using very finely minced instead. Nothing bad has ever come of it, so that's probably fine. Next time I'll skip trying the box grater entirely and skip straight to mincing.

The last ingredient that I changed was the 1/4 teaspoon of "freshly grated nutmeg," which I substituted with 1/4 teaspoon of the ground nutmeg I already had in the cabinet. I don't know where one gets whole nutmeg to grate, nor did I, as an unemployed millennial in the middle of a pandemic who is cooking for fun, feel the need to go to the effort or expense of procuring it. I do suspect that I should have altered the amount to account for the different form. I don't know if ground dried nutmeg is more or less intense than fresh grated nutmeg, but it's sure to be one or the other, and therefore require a different amount, either more or less. But again, it worked out in the end, so all's well that ends well.

Otherwise, I followed the recipe.

Some of the dough dropped on the floor when I was turning it out of the pot onto the counter, and though I didn't realize it at the time, some was left in the pot, so I didn't have quite as much dough to work with as I was meant to.

I did still manage to make the six pies I was supposed to end up with, though they weren't consistent in terms of thickness or amount of filling or even size, despite my having used the same mold for all of them - custard ramekins - and in the same way for all but one. (5 of the pies I made the way Carle-Sanders suggested, by shaping the dough inside the molds. One I did the way Paul Hollywood always insists contestants on British Bake-Off make their hand-raised pies, by shaping the dough around the outside of the mold. That one was significantly more difficult to shape, and came out significantly more shapeless, floppy, short, wide, and ugly, than the rest. But I was able to fill and cover it, and it came out of the oven with its structural integrity intact just like the others, so I'm calling it a win.)

The pies came out absolutely delicious. They're definitely not an all-the-time sort of meal - they do fit the stereotype of British food as being greasy and bad for you - but as a treat, they're a winner. My mom and my nana both enjoyed theirs immensely, as well, and had my dad not literally just had his gallbladder out the day before and thus been unable to have one, I'm sure he would have enjoyed his, too.

I'd been avoiding making my own pastry dough because I kept hearing that it's really difficult. Now that I've made hot water crust and know both that it's fairly simple and that I can do it successfully, tons of new projects are open to me. I don't know if I'm ready for puff or even rough puff yet, since those I know actually are more difficult, but I can now say I've successfully made pie dough from scratch, which is not nothing even if it is the easiest type to make, and having made one type of dough successfully should help me get over my reluctance to try making other types.

So that's the first post! I'll be adding to this thread to discuss other cooking and baking projects, though not on any sort of regular schedule, most likely. If you got this far, thanks for reading, and talk again soon.