The Shed

If I can't eat it I don't want to know. Unless it gets me drunk.

Month: November, 2010

A vegetarian pie that isn’t ‘alf bad.

I have finally cracked it; a vegetarian pie that doesn’t make you weep for the meaty dream your pastry could have contained. I’m not saying you’d fall over yourself to order it above mssrs Steak and Kidney, but really decent vegetarian pie filling has eluded me for a while, so I feel like sharing.

The problem is gravy, or to be precise, lack of. Gone are the days when chucking a tin of Campbell’s condensed mushroom soup over a load of parboiled brassicas would do*. Filling a pie with tasty roasted vegetables is all well and good, but without a bit of ooze it’s all a bit one dimensional, texturally speaking. Here’s my way around it.

*having watched CDWM recently I realise, with a shudder, that those days are still alive and kicking in some kitchens.

Aubergine, sweet potato, garlic mushroom, roasted pepper, lentil and goats cheese pie (phew)

Serves 6
½ quantity of this pastry (or 125g shop bought puff pastry)
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 2cm cubes
Olive oil
120g green lentils
500ml vegetable stock
1 large aubergine, cut into 1cm rounds, which are then cut into quarters
2 peppers, roughly chopped
1 onion, roughly chopped
50g butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Portobello mushrooms
Handful flat leaf parsley
A little oregano
150g goats cheese (nothing fancy, chevre log will do) cut into chunks

Heat the oven to gas mark 7.

Roast the sweet potato in the pie dish with some oil, salt and pepper. When the potato starts to soften at the edges, add the peppers and onions and roast for a further 30 minutes. Rinse the lentils then simmer them in stock until they’re tender. The stock will gradually reduce which helps to make the ‘gravy’. While the lentils are cooking, cook the aubergine pieces over a high heat, in a heavy based frying pan. You’ll need to use a tiny bit of oil, and salt and pepper. Remove the auibergine from the pan and set to one side. In the same pan, over a low heat, melt the butter and gently cook the garlic until it softens. Turn the heat up a little and add the mushrooms, parsley, and oregano and cook for a further 10 minutes.

Once all the components are ready, add the mushrooms, aubergines and lentils to the pie dish, and mix. If you have quite a lot of stock left, add in just the lentils and further reduce the stock before adding. Season with plenty of pepper, add the goats cheese, and check to see if it needs any more salt. Roll out and add a pastry lid, ensuring you cut couple of air holes, before baking the pie for 15 minutes or so, until the pastry is crisp and golden.

The Shed is CLOSED

The Shed supper club is now closed until 2011. If anyone is interested in joining us next year, drop us a line at and we’ll stick you on the list.

Until then, like the Queen, one has a Christmas message (ignore that missing apostrophe, I know it hurts):

See you next year


Cheesy herby rough puff pastry

If there’s something that’ll help ease the misery of cold, dark, wintery weather, it is a pie topped with this pastry. It’s a relative doddle to make, though still clearly weekend cooking due to the chilling time. Crisp but giving without being too flaky, deliciously savoury and very moreish: the perfect lid for chilly-day pie. I slow-cooked some beef shin in veal stock with shallots, fennel, aubergines, parsley and garlic, and golly it was blummin’ tasty.
We should all be eating more pie.
Makes enough for one huge pie, freezes for a month or so.
250g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
250g butter, very cold and cut into small cubes
125ml ice cold water
Handful herbs of your choosing, very finely chopped – parsley and chives work well with beef, tarragon would be lovely with fish or chicken, whatever floats your pastry boat.
120g grated hard cheese – I used Lincolnshire Poacher but pretty much any firm tasty cheese would work.
Tip the flour onto a work surface and make a well in the centre. Mix the butter and salt in the well, and gradually work in the flour with your finger tips. Try not to overwork the mixture or melt the butter with the heat from your hands.
Mix together the chopped herbs and cold water, before adding gradually to the flour/butter, mixing gently to bring it loosely together. Again, don’t overwork the pastry. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
Knead the pastry twice before rolling it into a large, rough rectangle. Sprinkle with a quarter of grated cheese, lightly press in the cheese with your hands, before folding the outer two thirds of the pastry into the middle. Turn the pastry a quarter turn, then roll out again, sprinkle more cheese, press, fold, wrap and refrigerate for another 20 minutes.
Repeat the process again for two more ‘turns’. Keep the pastry chilled until use, it’ll need at least 20 minutes in the fridge anyway. I then rolled the pastry to size and chilled (again) before baking, but I don’t think that’s crucial. You should have enough pastry for a large lid, and an extra ‘lip’ for the outside edge. Make sure you cut some holes in the lid before baking.

Hawksmoor Seven Dials

The Sinking Spritz, taken by Tehbus on a proper camera, like.
The Twittersphere runneth over. The blog posts are trickling through. Only if you’ve been living under a rock will you be unaware of the new Hawksmoor in Seven Dials. Everyone else: I hope you had a great meal. Offering a 50% discount on food for their week-long soft-opening made for a full restaurant and busy kitchen. If staff were feeling the strain when I attended on their sixth day of madness, they sure as beef weren’t showing it. I’d have felt bad about getting the food half price had we not so gallantly made up the bill with seven hours of cocktail consumption.

Here’s a small selection of the other blog posts which on the whole are bigger, better, brighter, and have more pretty pictures.

And here’s my top five. I’m not going to include the meat because it’s “***king brilliant” and you all knew that already.

5. Décor. Every reclaimed door, swirly leather bar stool, the art Deco lamps and sexy little cocktail glasses – they’ve all been chosen with such care and attention to detail that I’m almost surprised they let the general public in. The place is stunning, which really adds to the sense of occasion; you’re not going out for steak, you’re going out for steak at Hawksmoor.

4. The Lobster roll. The tender, succulent flesh from a whole lobster finished with hazelnut and garlic butter, served warm in a light brioche bun with Bearnese on the side. Absolutely stupendous, and deliciously messy to eat. Well worth the wedge.

3. Dripping cooked chips. Hard to describe without transgressing into a Homer Simpson-esque dribbly pool, these are serious potato fun times. Like the best roast potatoes you’ve ever had only with a higher degree of crispy surface area, more perfectly seasoned than granny on the olorosso.

2. Hawksmoor Tomato Ketchup. Yes, for real. It really is that good. If you’re going to serve such high-grade meat you need a ketchup to match, and this definitely keeps up with the cow.

1. The bar, its staff, everything they make and do. Ever. Best appreciated in smaller numbers; as a party of two we had private audience with each of the talented bar team in turn. You might walk in thinking you know your stuff but these chaps will blow you and Your Mate Who Makes A Lovely Martini out of the water, and then some. Explore the painstakingly assembled list before going off piste and ordering a Sinking Spritz from Rich. Properly inspirational stuff. They have an impressive array of botanicals and bitters perched on the bar which they’ll happily explain as you make your way down the menu. It would be educational if it didn’t encourage you to drink so much.

So a bit good, then. Essentially, Hawksmoor sells you pleasure. They take wholesome chunks of beef, sex things up with butter sauces and bone marrow and medal-worthy chips, make you toe-curlingly fabulous cocktails before sending you on your way wishing you were as cool as them. You’ll only have one question about your visit: when can I come back?