Have you ever thought perhaps your life may be ‘driven by food’? Seriously, think about it. Be honest!
I think mine is! There is the daily what’s for breakfast, lunch and dinner and all the snacks in between. Plus the ‘let’s go out to eat’, ‘Where can we eat?’ ‘Where haven’t we eaten?’ And now, of course, my work is based around food – so when I’m not eating it, I’m shooting food, styling food or blogging about food.
Yep, I’m so totally ‘driven by food’ haha!
If you follow my work both here and on social media, this will come as no surprise. I’m quite open about my growing love affair with food. But for me it’s more than just the need to eat. There’s something really special about this most basic human necessity, one that everyone from all over the world – regardless of race, gender or sex – has in common. I love the concept of ‘breaking bread,’ sharing food and connecting people. I also love exploring people’s culture through food. What fascinates me most is how different people from different parts of the world eat, how they eat and what they eat.
Whenever I travel, one of the first things I think about is, you guessed it, food! Now, let me admit from the get go, I’m not known as the bravest of eaters. By this I mean I’m not known for seeking out and trying bizarre foods. It’s unlikely you will ever catch me eating eyeballs, fried tarantula or a century old egg! Bar that, I believe it’s an important part of my travels to experience local foods.
Speaking of someone who’s known for travelling the globe in search of the most bizarre things to eat though, Andrew Zimmern has a new series coming to the Food Network that’s more up my alley. This series is called “Andrew Zimmern – Driven by Food”. In this series, Zimmern gets neighbourhood drivers to set his itinerary and take him to their favourite places to eat.
In the first episode, which airs Wednesday, July 12, Zimmern explores London through the eyes of London cabbies.
Personally, I always research the best places to eat in the place I’m visiting before I travel, and when there I attempt to go to as many of them as possible, often going off the opinions of other travellers. But now looking at the premise of this show, it makes more sense to eat where the locals eat if you want to get the best of what that city has to offer.
This series sounds really interesting in its exploration of traditional and popular foods through locals, their culture and what’s on their own plates. This got me thinking about what and where he would go in London and what dishes the locals would be eating?
Meat and two veg, fish and chips, a meat pie, Chicken Tikka Masala?
London has an interesting convergence of flavours from across the globe from Indian, Caribbean, Egyptian to Chinese.
A classic English-pub style meat pies are one of my favourite foods and as popular as it is in the UK, us Aussies have taken on a variation as a national favourite. The iconic English steaming hot pie, gravy, meaty inner, crispy outer with soft mashed potato and classically British mushy peas. I’m drooling just thinking about it!
The Lebanese don’t really have that type of meat pie. The closest we have is what’s called ‘Lahem bi ajeen‘ (which literally translates to meat in dough!). They have a unique spicy, sweet flavour which pulls at your tastebuds and you have no choice but to eat two or more in any one sitting.
Thinking about these two types of pies has me wanting to try combining the two; you know best of both worlds sort of thing!
So today’s recipe is an English Pub inspired meat pie with flavours which you might find in a ‘Lahem bi ajeen’ – a traditional English dish, which became an Aussie favourite, enhanced with traditional Lebanese flavours. Perfect for a cold, rainy night indoors… How very London!
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 500g minced lamb
- 1 tomato, diced
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1 teaspoon gravy powder
- 2 cups beef stock
- 1/2 teaspoon baharat
- 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon sumac
- 1 teaspoon pomegranate molasses
- 4 sheets shortcrust pastry
- 2 sheets puff pastry
- Olive oil spray
- 1 egg
- Heat olive oil in a saucepan at medium heat. Add mince, brown and break up large pieces with a spoon. Remove meat from saucepan and set aside.
- In the same saucepan, melt butter. Add diced onion and sauté until soft.
- Add tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes and then add the diced tomato.
- Add the flour and cook stirring quickly to combine.
- Slowly add the stock, 1/2 cup at a time. As the mixture begins to thicken add another 1/2 cup. Repeat until you have added all stock. Mixture should now resemble a thick gravy.
- Return meat to saucepan (strain the meat first if there is a lot of fatty liquid). Add salt, pepper, sumac, pomegranate molasses and gravy powder. Stir through to combine well and set aside to cool.
- Preheat oven to 200ºC.
- Use an 11cm round cutter to cut out 4 circles from each shortcrust pastry sheet for the base of the pie. Spray a standard muffin tray with the olive oil spray. Line each with the shortcrust pastry circle, folding in two places so it fits snuggly.
- Spoon approximately 2 tablespoons of the meat mixture into each pastry case.
- Use an 8cm round cutter to cut 16 even circles of puff pastry. Top each of the mini pies with the puff pastry.
- Whisk the egg and brush the top of each pie with the egg.
- Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 20 minutes or until golden and crispy.
Serve with mash potato & mushy peas! And of course, lots of tomato sauce.
*This post is in collaboration with and sponsored by Food Network. Opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. You can watch Andrew Zimmern – Driven by Food on Wednesdays starting 12 July until 23 August at 8.30pm on Food Network, free-to-air Channel 33.