And Phil Vickery's beef and thyme pie is the ultimate comfort food for this cold weather.
FOR THE BEEF AND THYME PIE
2 tbsp vegetable oil
750g cut into 4cm diced chuck steak, leave any fat on
2-3 tbsp plain flour
1 heaped tbsp tomato puree
2 small onions, very finely chopped
1 tbsp creamed horseradish
2 x 10g beef stock cubes, crumbled
3 tbsp Worcester sauce
2 tbsp fresh thyme finely chopped
Roughly 600mls of boiling water
Ground black pepper
500g butter puff pastry
1 egg lightly beaten
Preheat the oven to 160°C, Gas Mark 3.
Using kitchen paper pat the meat dry.
Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a deep casserole dish or ovenproof pan, then add the meat and cook until nicely browned all over.
Sprinkle on the flour and stir in well, let the flour catch slightly, this helps to give the stew a nice colour and flavour.
Then add the tomato puree, onions, horseradish, stock cubes, Worcester sauce and fresh thyme, mix really well.
Add enough boiling water to barely cover the stew.
Season well with salt and pepper and bring to a gentle simmer.
Cover with a tight fitting lid and place in the pre-heated oven and cook for 1½ hours, nice and gently.
Once cooked, remove from the oven and cool.
Roll out the pastry and line a 24cm x 5cm deep pie dish, allow 2cm extra.
Cut off any excess then egg the pie dish top and use the excess to line the top of the dish.
Add the cooled beef mixture, and leave nice and proud.
Lightly egg the pastry rim, and lay the top over neatly making sure not to stretch the pastry, and seal the edges well, trim again and crimp.
Brush well with beaten egg and make 2 small incisions in the centre.
Bake at 180 C / Gas Mark 4 for 35-40 minutes until well browned and hot.
Serve with mash, braised swede and carrots (see recipe)
FOR THE BRAISED SWEDE AND CARROTS
1 medium swede, peeled and cut into 4-5cm chunks, not too thin
6 medium carrots, peeled and cut in half, not lengthways, nice chunks.
1 head garlic
4 sprigs fresh thyme
Pack the veg into a small saucepan (so you use less oil) and just cover with olive oil.
Season well with salt and pepper, add the garlic head, sliced in half and the fresh thyme.
Gently heat until the oil is just simmering, not boiling and cook for 12-15 minutes until the veg are nice and soft, but not squashy.
Leave to cool in the oil.
When ready to re heat, drain off the veg, garlic and herbs.
Using some of the drained oil, heat in a large non stick frying pan, then sauté the cooked softened veg nice and gently until nice browned.
The veg will be sweet and utterly delicious.
Keep the oil for further cooking in the fridge. Serve.
750g potatoes, Marfona, White King Edward, Wilja
150mls hot milk, approx
50g butter or olive oil
Ground white pepper
Bring the washed medium chunks of potato to the boil, turn down the heat and simmer (not too slowly) until cooked right through, check several with a table knife as the chunks may cook at different times.
Drain well and leave in their own steam for a couple of minutes, then tip back into the pan.
Using a potato masher, break up well and thoroughly.
Then using a whisk add the hot milk, butter or oil into the mashed potatoes and season well with salt and pepper (the mash should not be too creamy, but soft).
Re-season well with salt and pepper if needed.
Add half teaspoon ground nutmeg or mace and beat well.
Add 1 small onion and 2 cloves garlic crushed and stewed in butter for 15 minutes.