Pie Recipes from my Grandmother's Kitchen
My Grandmother Baked the Best Pies Ever!
This is my Grandmother.
She was born around the turn of the century, the daughter of a cook who worked in grand houses, producing rich food for rich people. My Grandmother, however, baked good, plain food for good, plain people. My Grandmother was renown for her pie recipes, and she certainly knew how to make a pie!
She moved around as her mother moved for work but she spent some of her youth in the countryside in Blancheland, North Yorkshire, England and she was used to wholesome country fare. I'd like to pass on to you some of the recipes she used to make the pies that we remember from our childhood; apple pie, fish pie, steak and kidney pie and so many more delicious, traditional British pies.
Having said this, not all the pies in my Grandmother's repertoire are really suited to life today, so bit by bit I'm working my way through them to produce versions more in keeping with our lifestyles now. Some though, really are beyond the pale and I'm giving the Sheep's Head Pie a miss.
Pie Making for Beginners! - This is me in my Grandmother's kitchen
Gifts that you can customise featurig this little domestic angel
And this is my pie-making debut, folks
This Is The Story
"Once upon a time it was baking day in my Grandmother's kitchen. Granny was busy baking pies and to keep her little granddaughter occupied (or quiet!), she gave her a left-over bit of pastry to play with. The little girl kneeded it and rolled it and kneeded it again until it became a greyish, putty-like lump. Never-the-less this little girl was very proud of her work.
Her granny was making pies and the little girl wanted to make a pie too, so she looked around to see what she could put into her pastry. By and by her gaze fell on The Fish. Excellent! Fish pie. So the little girl put her hand into the cold water and fished around until she clasped the orange goldfish, scooped it out of the bowl and popped it efficiently into the pastry.
'I'm all finished,' she told her Granny. 'My pie is ready to be baked!' Her Granny, busy with all the baking she had to do to feed the family of five, whisked up the pie and slid it into the oven. It was only then that the Grandmother noticed rather a lot of water splashed liberally around the table. 'Where on earth has all this water come from?' Grandmother asked. Then the Granny noticed that the goldfish was no longer swimming in the bowl. 'And where on earth has the goldfish gone?' Asked the Grandmother. Now this Granny was no fool, and she quickly put two and two together and made four. 'What sort of pie did you make, exactly?' Grandmother asked the little girl.
'I Made a fish pie,' the little girl replied. Quick as a flash the Granny sped to the oven, opened the oven door, whipped out the pie and opened the pastry to reveal the fish, still alive. The Grandmother gently dropped the goldfish back into its bowl and, believe it or not, the fish was none the worse, as far as you could see, for its brush with death.
The little girl, however, was devestated to see all her good work ruined and cried to see what a mess had been made of her lovely fish pie."
Moral of the Story? It only goes to show that there is more than one aspect to most happy endings! For every happy Cinderella there are two disappointed ugly sisters. For every Snow White there's an aging stepmother doomed to a miserable menopause. We forget about the feelings of all the lesser characters, don't we?
As for me, I expect I recovered and, despite this rather ambiguous start to my baking career, my enthusiasm for cooking remains until this day.
Perhaps there is such a thing as a happy ending after all!
Image: Goldfish courtesy of Bjwebb, Wikimedia Commons
A few words about these pie recipes
When my Grandmother used these recipes, she would have been baking them in the oven of a range heated by a coal fire. Nor would she have used measures or scales. In those days people knew how to cook and bake and how to regulate their ovens with poker, moving dishes around to take advantage of hot and cool spots. Sorry about these inconveniences, but why not just have a shot, see how much pie you end up with, (after all you can always keep it in the fridge or freezer if you make too much; not a luxury aftorded to my Gran), and use any left-overs to make a bit of soup or a little tart.
If I can find a similar, modern recipe I'll put in a link for those cooks too timid to launch themselves straight in at the deep-end. And good luck to you!
Russian Fish Pie
Take 1/2 lb cooked fish, 1 hard boiled egg finely chopped, 1 teaspoon parsley, grated lemon rind, 2 tablespoons of white sauce, 1oz butter, pepper salt and 1/2lb flaky pastry. (Rice optional).
Flake the fish, removing bones, mix all the filling ingredients. Roll out the pastry into a square. Place the mixture into the centre and bring the four corners together. Glaze with egg and milk.
Steak and Kidney pie
1 lb of beef cut into strips 2" x 1". Cover in seasoned flour and roll up loosely. Put this into the pie-dish. Add four Sheep's kidneys, skinned and cut into neat pieces, 1 tablespoon of ketchup, a teaspoonful of Harvey's sauce and enough stock to nearly fill the dish. Cover with pastry and bake in a moderate oven for 2 hours.
Cumberland Pot Pie
Stew pieces of shoulder of mutton in small pieces and put in a pie dish with the gravy. Sprinkle with finely shredded onion and season. Cover with pared whole potatoes and bake for 1 hour.
Chicken or Fowl Pie
2 small fowls or one large one. Seasoning, 1/2 teaspoon of grated nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon ground mace, a few forcemeat balls, a few slices of ham, 3 hard boiled eggs, 1/2 pint of water. Puff pastry.
Skin and joint the chicken. Put a layer of the chicken into a pie dish, then a layer of ham, then one of forcemeat and hard boiled eggs sliced. Season between the layers with mace, nutmeg, pepper and salt. Pour in about 1/2 pint of water. Border the edge of the dish with puff crust, put on the cover and glaze with egg and milk. Bake for 1 1/2 - 2 hours. When half done cover with baking paper.
To make the gravy: put the neck, leg and back bones into a pan with a little water, an onion, herbs and mace and stew for about an hour.
Pour the gravy into the top of the pie.
Forcemeat: from the French word 'farce' for stuffing, and is finely ground meat mixed with fats and/or other ingredients.
Chicken Pie by By Roberta Sawalha / Julia Sawalha
- Chicken and Mushroom Pie
From the BBC programme 'Recipes from Taste of My Life'
My Grandmother had exactly the same pie birds! - And so do I now!
These pie birds are used to vent the steam from your pies, but the really lovely thing is the way they look - straight out of 'Sing a Song of Sixpence' I remember that my Grandmother and my Great Aunts used to have blackbird pie birds, and now, since writing this article, so do I! During a visit home, my kind old mother bought one for me, so, of course, I just had to set to and bake a pie.
1 fine beef steak, pigeons and livers, parsley, 1/2 pint gravy, little butter, salt and pepper. If to be served hot use flaky pastry, if cold use short crust pastry.
Butter the dish and put pastry round the sides and edges. Place the steak on the bottom of the dish and season with salt and pepper. On top of this place the birds, rubbed inside and out with salt and pepper, and a piece of butter inside each one. Make sure that you put the breasts downwards to keep juicy. Add chopped livers and parsely. Pour on the gravy and cover with the pastry. Make a hole in the top. If you like (!) you can put one of the birds' feet, nicely cleaned, into the hole. Brush over with beaten yolk of egg and bake 1 1/2 hours.
1 rabbit, 1/4 lb bacon, 1 cup of stock, pinch of salt, pinch of pepper, 1/2 teaspoon powdered mace, puff pastry made from 3 oz butter and 6 oz flour.
To make a stock, cut the rabbit into 10 pieces, wash and dry. Put the head, heart, liver and kidneys into a small pan, add a chopped onion, cover with water and simmer for an hour.
Place the rabbit pieces and bacon into a pie dish, season and pour on the stock until the dish is about 3/4 full. Cover with an oven-proof plate and cook in a hot oven for about an hour.
Remove the pie dish from the oven. Allow to cool a little then cover with the pastry and decorate and bake for half an hour.
Simple Simon likes his pies
I remember this nursery rhyme from when I was a girl, but it goes back much, much further! They are the first of a longer chapbook, (a pocket sized book), first published in 1764. The character of Simple Simon may have been older still, possibly appearing in an Elizabethan chapbook and in a ballad, Simple Simon's Misfortunes and his Wife Margery's Cruelty, from about 1685
The third verse goes on ....
Simple Simon went to look
If plums grew on a thistle;
He pricked his fingers very much,
Which made poor Simon whistle.
Cold meat, onions, potatoes, salt and pepper, mixed dried herbs, milk or cream, a little butter.
Roll the meat in the herbs, pepper and salt and put into the pie dish to form a layer of meat. Then add a layer of sliced onion, then a layer of sliced potato alternately. Mash the remaining potato with milk and butter. Mix 1/2 gill of milk and 1/2 gill of water and pour over the pie. Cover with the mashed potato, smooth the surface and then score with the back of a fork to make a decorative pattern. Put into the oven until brown.
Need a beautiful pie dish for your pie?
Potatoes, 1 carrot, 1/2 swede, 3 medium onions, 1/4 lb chestnuts, 1 dessert spoon tapioca. 2 boiled eggs, (optional), short crust pastry.
Soak the tapioca in cold water overnight. Boil the potatoes until they are just soft enough to slice. Chop and cook the carrot, swede and onions in boiling water until just tender and drain. Cut the chestnuts at the point and boil for 20 minutes then peel.
Put all the ingredients into a pie dish, season with pepper and salt. Cover with short crust pastry and bake.
Vegetarian Pie (1)
1/2 lb dried peas, 1/2 lb lentils, 1/2 lb onions.
Soak and boil the peas, gently stew the onions until soft. Mix together and cover in bread crumbs. Dot with butter and bake.
Vegetarian Pie (2)
1 lb potatoes, 1/4 lb mushrooms or tomatoes, 1 large onion, 1 oz butter, salt and pepper.
Peel and slice the potatoes. Slice the other vegetables put into a dish and season. Cover with short crust pastry and bake for 1 hour.
Portmeirion Pie dishes are so pretty - Collectable
... and you'll be able to cherish them all your life!
Called (Grandmother's) Apple Pie in my Grannie's book
Short crust pastry, apples, 1 cup of sugar, 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg.
Line the pie dish with pastry. Core and slice the apples thinly, mix with the sugar and nutmeg. Fill the pie dish, heaping it full of apple. Wet the edges of the pastry and cover the pie with pastry, pressing down the edges so that the juice can't escape. Bake for 3/4 of an hour until the apples are tender.
Image: Apple pie courtesy of Len Rizzi (photographer), Creative Commons This photo is copyrighted but also licensed for further reuse
Short crust pastry, mincemeat
1 1/2 lb suet, 2lb raisins, 2lb currants, 2lb chopped apples, 1lb dark sugar, 1/2 lb mixed peel, 1/4 lb almonds finely chopped, rind of 1 lemon, mixed spice to taste.
Peel and core the apples. Grate the suet. Chop all the fruit finely together and put into a saucepan. Add sugar, then add all the other ingredients and heat until the fat has melted. Press the mixture into steralised jars and press well down.
Has this given you a taste for pie? - Many more gorgeous recipes here
Little Jack Horner's Christmas pie
Little Jack Horner
Sat in the corner,
Eating a Christmas pie;
He put in his thumb,
And pulled out a plum,
And said 'What a good boy am I!'
This rhyme can be traced back to 1764 and the chapbook 'The History of Jack Horner, Containing the Witty Pranks he play'd, from his Youth to his Riper Years, Being pleasant for Winter Evenings'.
Little Jack Horner - Illustration by William Wallace Denslow 1902 (from the Project Gutenberg EBook of Denslow's Mother Goose, by Anonymous)
Pie in the Sky
So many pie sayings ...
"If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe." Dr. Carl Sagan
"God always has another custard pie up his sleeve." Lynn Redgrave
"A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie." Tenneva Jordan
"You'll have pie in the sky when you die." Joe Hill
Other pie expressions trip off the tongue with some regularity; think, for example, of "Easy as pie", "Nice as pie," "Apple pie order," or "Pie-eyed (absolutely drunk)." What about there being "too many fingers in the pie"?
Can you think of any more?
Joan says "when someone wants to make sure they receive their fair share of something, they're trying to 'get their piece of the pie.'"
Cockney rhyming slang - Pork Pie - Lie
Pork Pie = Lie in Cockney rhyming slang; so what I want to know is, 'have you ever told a porky?'
Have you ever told a porky?
The Demon Barber of Fleetstreet
Don't read this if you think a gruesome pie story will put you off your dinner!
Sweeney Todd is a fictional character who first appeared in the Victorian penny dreadful 'The String of Pearls' (1846–1847). In the original version of the tale, Todd is a barber who murders his victims by pulling a lever while they are in his barber chair, sending them through a trapdoor and into the basement of his shopwhere he "polishes them off". After Todd robbed his victims, Mrs. Lovett, the owner of a pie shop and Todd's partner in crime, baked them into meat pies, and sold them to the customers.
Tim Burton directs the film Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Stephen Sondheim's Broadway masterpiece. A humorous and beautifully filmed, if macabre, gothic horror, it stars Johnny Depp, plays Todd, a wronged man whose lust for revenge drives him to murder (an 19th-century legend who has been traced to a real-life barber), and Helena Bonham Carter plays the pie maker.
I wonder how tasty they were!
© 2011 Barbara Walton