Thursday 13 November 2014

Mr Bishop & The Haynes Men's Pie Manual *REVIEW*

Hi all, Mr Bishop here! Bit of a change from normal today. Mrs Bishop was recently asked to review a copy of a new cookbook, the Haynes Men’s Pie Manual by Andrew Webb . As the book is aimed primarily at men, we thought it would be a good idea for me to give it a road test instead and write a guest post review. So for one day only, get your aprons on and wipe your floury hands on the back of your jeans, as its Mr Bishop’s Attempted Bakes and Banter time!

The Haynes Men's Pie Manual is available from Haynes priced £21.99.

The first thing to say about the book is that it’s in the style of a Haynes car manual, so with that and the writing inside, it’s definitely aimed at men who might not be the best of cooks.

Everything is written very simply and is easy to follow in an easy-to-understand informal style, without being patronising. It aims to give you lots of extra information on cooking processes rather than just give instructions like ‘Crimp’ or ‘baste’ or ‘add a pinch of’ or something else equally familiar but vague. So it’s not just a book of recipes, there is a quite detailed section at the front of the book (‘Tools of the Trade’) which takes you through several cooking skills that you wouldn’t normally find in a cookbook. Basic info on lots of kitchen areas that are often assumed knowledge, such as ‘Stove top things’, ‘Correct oven and hob use’, ‘ Pastry amounts for specific tin sizes’, ‘Pie funnels’ and loads more helpful stuff.

There is also a huge section on making your own pastry if you don’t want to buy it ready-made, with tips on rolling, resting, blind baking, flour types, crimping and loads of others. There are recipes for 7 different types of pastry you can use. Basically everything you wanted to know about pastry that isn’t in a normal cookbook.

The book is a hardback, the pages are full colour with big pictures of the food, and quite thick paper, so it can take a bit of battering with floury/greasy/eggy hands in the kitchen and hold up well.

Onto the recipes! There are loads of sections and a huge amount of recipes in here, so loads to choose from. There are some really simple ones for beginners, up to some quite impressive more complicated recipes for veteran chefs. Here are the sections and a few select recipes from each I like the sound of, but there are tons in each. Every section has a few pages at the start, giving some tips on how to cook meat/put together the pies and other stuff it would be handy to know etc

Tools of the Trade

Making Pastry

Stocks and Sauces

Meat Pies - Steak and Kidney Pudding, Chilli Beef Pie, Lamb Bomb, Oxtail and Beef Cheek Pie, Espresso Cup Pie, Meatball Pie

Chicken and Game Pies – Chicken and Mushroom Pie, Chicken and Stuffing Ball Open Pie, Chicken in a Frying Pan Pie, Venison Pot Pie

Fish Pies – Smoked Fish Pie with Chedder Mash Topping, Prawn Cocktail Pies

Potato Topped Pies and Cobblers – Shepherd’s Pie, Individual Gnocchi Topped Fish Pie, Beef and Guinness Cobbler

Veggie Pies – Magical Mushroom Pie, Bubble and Squeak Pie, Cauliflower and Broccoli Cheese Pie

Things That Are Almost Pies – Cornish Pasty, Beef Wellington, Bedfordshire Clanger (a local classic to us Bishops)

Sweet Pies – Pecan Pie, Cherry Pie, Pear and Chocolate Chip Pie

Accompaniments – Making Proper Gravy, Ketchups and Condiments, Baked Beans, Beer

And loads more in every section. That’s enough of a few favourites to keep me going for a while!

Right, obviously no cookbook review would be complete without making a few dishes from it. So after getting flour all over my jeans, I strapped one of Lucy’s aprons on and was ready to cook. For my main course, I decided on...

Fry Up Pie

This one appealed to me as it’s basically a fry up in a pie, so I had to give it a go. Not your classic pie recipe, but that’s what I love about this book! It’s a pie everyone wants but never knew it until they saw it in a book. There is a bit of info on the classic fry up at the start of the recipe, and why which ingredients are included in the pie, so after reading through that and getting all my bits together, I started the baking. The full recipe can be found in the book, so I’ll just take you through the basic process and show you how I did. *cue drooling*

I started off by frying each of the main ingredients one after another in the same pan (preserving flavour). So we have pork sausage, bacon and black pudding (eg the Holy Trinity of breakfast).

The recipe calls for 2 smaller pie dishes but it does state you can make 1 big one, and being a fan of massive pies, I went for a big one. So I put the ingredients in my trusty pie dish, made 2 indents in the filling, and cracked an egg into each, over the top of the sausage/bacon/black pudding mega-mix.

Next I rolled out my shortcrust pastry using a big wooden rolling pin (the bigger the better, doubles up as a sword when kitchen play-fighting). I put the pastry over the filling, crimped my edges, egg-washed the top and I was ready to bung it in the oven and bake!

And here we go, Fry Up Pie!

I served it with baked beans, fried mushrooms and some hash browns. It was delicious! I was worried it might be a bit dry without any pie-gravy but the egg had filled in all the gaps and baked it all together and kept it moist, a little like a quiche filling really. The pastry top was great as well. It really did taste like a fry up in a pie, which makes it more acceptable to have for dinner rather than breakfast. Brilliant stuff!

One thing to note, it doesn’t look like the most appetising pie filling ever, but who cares when it tastes so good! I know Mrs Bishop normally includes the calories for each dish, but I haven’t here as a Fry Up Pie is so obviously a treat dish and I didn't want the total to put me off.

For dessert I tried out something from the Sweet section...

Mars Bar En Croûte

The original recipe called for a Snickers bar, but I'm not a huge fan of nuts and chocolate together (weird, I know!) so I opted for a Mars bar considering they are basically the same, minus the nuts. I wanted to do something simple seeing as I had already made a normal pie that evening already.

Again the full recipe and details on the dish are in the book. Here are the Mars Bars ready to go.

I measured and rolled the right amount of pastry and wrapped the bars specifically to keep them encased (no leaking of molten Mars wanted!). A quick chill in the fridge (whilst we ate the Fry Up Pie) and then an egg-wash and it’s in the oven. 

And here we go!

This was AWESOME. Imagine a molten chocolate caramel Mars Bar encased in pastry. Go on. It looks this good and tastes better. You know you want it.

It would be great as a dessert with added ice cream. You could do them in advance and leave them to chill all day in the fridge ready to pop in the oven when you needed them, if like me you were in a rush making other pies and didn't want to be doing pastry prep in the evening. It would even be good as a warm afternoon snack if you had some friends round and were feeling decadent.

Overall I was really impressed with this book. It’s aimed at men who probably aren’t experienced cooks, but it’s not patronising at all. I’d say women could get a lot from it as well. It has absolutely loads of information on all aspects of working in the kitchen, so when it tells you to do something, it tells you how to do it as well. There are a huge amount of recipes, classic pies as well as some modern interpretations. I will definitely be using it again. I actually thought it was such a good book that I went out and brought another copy of it to give away as a Christmas present to a male family member who also loves to cook, but, like me, finds most recipe books frustrating! I hope he'll be pleased with this one. 

This book really would make the perfect Christmas gift for any males in the family who'd like a helping hand in the kitchen. 

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the Mr Bishop’s Attempted Bakes and Banter guest post today, I’m off to finish my Mars En Croûte with a coffee!

Mr Bishop 

Disclaimer: We were sent one copy of the Haynes Men's Pie Manual for the purpose of this review. All words, opinions and photos are our own.