An individual chicken pie for each member of the family. Succulent chicken pieces cooked in creamy sauce with sweetcorn and peas, and a light pastry topping, is guaranteed to fill the hungriest tummies. And you can personalize them!
You will also need four 300ml (10 fl oz) ovenproof basins
Put the chicken in a pan with the carrot, onion, bay leaf, parsley stalks, and peppercorns. Cover with cold water and bring to just under the boil. Then reduce the heat and simmer for 15–20 minutes until the chicken is cooked through, skimming the surface regularly.
Meanwhile, sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Rub in the butter and lard until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Sprinkle the water over the flour and use a palette knife to bring the flour and water together. When it starts to bind, remove from the bowl and then lightly knead by hand. Wrap in cling film/wrap and place in the fridge to rest for 20 minutes.
When the chicken has cooked, remove from the pan with a slotted spoon. Strain off and reserve 400ml (14 fl oz) (1¾ cups) of the poaching stock, discarding the rest along with the herbs and vegetables.
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) (gas 6).
Melt the butter in a pan over a medium heat. Add the flour and mix to form a smooth paste. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and gradually stir in the reserved stock until it is thoroughly blended and smooth. Then return to a medium heat and stir until it starts to thicken. Simmer for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Now pour in the cream and simmer for a further 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until there is a smooth, thick sauce.
Strip the chicken meat off the bones, if joints were used. Cut the chicken meat into small chunks and stir into the sauce along with the peas, sweetcorn and parsley. Season well.
Now, roll out the pastry thinly. Using the top of one of the ovenproof basins as a guide, cut out four circles of pastry 2cm (¾ inch) larger than the diameter of the basin.
Divide the chicken mixture between the four dishes. Dampen the pastry edges with water and cover the tops of the basins, pressing the edges of the pastry against the rim of the basins. Brush the tops with beaten egg.
Any trimmings can be used to decorate the pies. A personal touch would be to put names on the top. Making the letters does take time but makes it special. Place any decorations on the pastry top and brush these with remaining beaten egg.
Place the four basins on a baking sheet and then pop in the oven for 30 minutes until the pastry is golden.
4 eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.), whites only (reserve the yolks for the filling)
¼ tsp cream of tartar
170g/6 oz caster sugar/fine white sugar
For the filling
4 egg yolks
100g/3½ oz granulated sugar
225ml/8 fl oz whipping cream/double cream
For the topping
120ml/4 fl oz whipping cream/double cream
2 tbsp icing sugar
280g/10 oz strawberries, washed and hulled
23cm/9 inch glass dish
For the meringue
Preheat the oven to 110°C/225°F/gas mark ¼.
Whip the egg whites until stiff. Sprinkle over the cream of tartar then gradually add the sugar a spoonful at a time, beating well between each addition until the meringue is smooth and glossy.
Very lightly grease the glass dish then spoon in the meringue, making a nest about 2.5cm/1 inch deep with a rim about 5cm/2 inches deep.
Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes and then leave to cool.
For the filling
Zest half the lemon and squeeze the juice from the whole lemon and set to one side.
Beat the egg yolks and sugar together in a glass bowl sitting over a pan of just simmering water. Stir in the lemon juice and zest. Continue to cook for about 10 minutes or until the sauce has thickened, stirring frequently. Remove the bowl from the pan and leave to cool.
Whip the cream until soft peaks just start to form (you don’t want it to become stiff). Fold into the lemon sauce until incorporated. Pour into the meringue nest and chill for 2 hours.
For the topping
Whip the cream and sugar together until stiff and spread over the lemon filling.
Decorate with the strawberries. If they are small, leave whole but if they are large, slice.
An apple pie that is delicious, especially when the apples just come into season. The pie filling literally just contains apples and a little sugar so the full flavour of the apples come through. It has a sweet pastry lid that when cooked is buttery and crumbly. For a mouthwatering finish serve with cream or ice cream.
1.35kg/3 lb Bramley apples/Crispin, Mutsu, or Courtland
110g/4 oz caster sugar/white fine sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1 egg white, lightly whisked
A 28 x 20cm/11 x 8 inch deep pie dish, sides and rim buttered
A pie raiser, buttered
For the pastry, sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl and add the sugar. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Whisk the egg yolk and 3 tablespoons of cold water together in a small jug and gradually pour onto the flour mixture while mixing in with a palette knife until it starts to form small lumps. Quickly knead by hand to bring the mixture together. Wrap in cling film/cling wrap and chill for at 20 minutes.
Remove from the fridge and let the pastry return to a cool room temperature. Roll it out fairly thinly. Upturn the dish onto the centre of the pastry and use it as a template to cut out the lid, adding an extra 2.5cm/1 inch all the way round. Then cut out a 5cm/2 inch wide strip from the remaining pastry, enough to go round the rim of the dish. Apply this to the flat rim and insides of the dish, pressing into place and making joins where necessary. Put the pie raiser in the middle of the dish.
For the filling, prepare the apples one at a time. Peel, cut into quarters and core. Cut each quarter into four and pile into the dish as you go, sprinkling some sugar between each layer. They should pile up high in the dish which will help to support the pastry lid.
Brush the pastry covered rim with cold water and put on the lid. Crimp the lid and rim pressing together as you work your way round the rim.
Cut 4 slashes in the lid and return the pie to the fridge for another 30 minutes (up to 2 hours).
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 190°C/375F/gas mark 5.
Remove the pie from the fridge and brush the surface with the egg white, then sprinkle with sugar. Place in the middle of the oven and bake for 40–45 minutes until pale golden brown.