meat pies

Who ate all the pies? Why Brits love meat pies

National Pie Week 2018 got us thinking about pies. Whether you’re partial to a Pork Pie, a Scotch Egg or a good old Steak Pie, us Brits love our meat pies. The aim of National Pie Week is to promote all that pastry goodness and get us eating all the pies!

Traditional pie ‘n’ mash

The humble meat pie has been a staple of Britishness for decades. Who hasn’t been to a chip shop and plumped for a slightly soggy-bottomed, but somehow still tempting, Pukka Pie? Made in Leicestershire, this family-run company churns out over 180,000 pies a day. And the most popular flavour since they began in the early 60s? Why good old Steak and Kidney of course!

If you’re in the London area, you can’t miss the traditional Pie & Mash shop. It’s like the southern equivalent of the fish and chip shop, but with pies. The most authentic will still serve you a meat pie, with mash and liquor (which is a parsley-based thin sauce), accompanied by a serving of jellied eels. Our favourite London pie shop is Goddards at Greenwich, which has a been dishing up pie and mash since 1890.

And who can forget Fray Bentos? Those pies in a tin might be seen as being downmarket these days by some, but they’re still going strong and even have a cult following. The company, named after the town in Uruguay where the meat originally came from, started making Corned Beef in 1865 and now the tinned pies are made at a factory in Fochabers, Scotland.

meat pies in a tin

Fray Bentos, exotically-named meat pies, but actually made in Scotland!

Humble meat pies get a makeover

All these traditional brands aside, pies have had a makeover in recent years. One of the pie-oneers of the new school, trendy ‘street food’ style pies is Pieminister, the Bristol-based artisan pie company that started with an indoor market stall and has gone global.

Their buttery pastry pies have gone down a storm in pubs and delicatessens around the country and pie eaters love the quirky names like ‘Moo & Blue’ (steak and stilton) and ‘Kevin’ the vegan pie. The standout favourite remains the Chicken of Aragon, a delicious combination of chicken, tarragon and smoked bacon.

meat pie stall

Meat pies, pork pies, Scotch eggs and more at Pie Fest in Melton Mowbray

A festival of pies

Now pies are cool again, you’ll see them on menus in gastropubs and on sale in delicatessens around the country. There’s even a whole weekend dedicated to all things pie with the Pie Fest organised by the Melton Mowbray Pork Pie Association. It’s held at the Cattle Market in Melton Mowbray, the home of Pork Pies, every year at the end of July. Here you can browse the stalls, taste and buy a whole range of pies, including meat pies, Scotch eggs and pork pies too with both traditional and inventive recipes too.

You can even attend in pie-making demonstrations, where everything from flaky to shortcust pastries will be covered. And if Melton Mowbray is too far from you, there are pastry making classes on offer at cookery schools around the country where you can learn how to make you’re very own tasty pies and tarts to eat at home. Two of our favourites are the Perfect Pastry Course at the Manor School of Fine Cuisine in Nottinghamshire and the Pastry Masterclass at the Cooking Academy in Hertfordshire, to name but two.

meat pies in the oven

Learn to bake your flaky and shortcrust meat pies at home on a pastry cookery course


Best Winter Cocktails – A Bubbly Guide by IntoTheBlue

The weather has changed. We feel it in the cold mornings, we feel it with the snow falling, we smell it in the wet grass… That’s right, winter is officially here! And what a better way to put that warm cozy feeling in your body than to try one of these cocktails from our Winter Cocktails Guide by IntoTheBlue?

hot chocolate and vodka cocktail

The best thing about this drink? No one has to know what else is in your hot chocolate…

Peppermint Smirnoff Twist Hot Chocolate

We’re starting the list with a sweet surprise! Hot chocolate and Smirnoff vodka might be a combination you’ve never heard of before, but you better believe us when we say it’s as delicious as it gets! All you need is a cuppa of hot chocolate, a sip of Smirnoff vodka, some whipped cream and a peppermint stick. Perfect for a cozy night in.

mulled wine cocktail

Get some extra fancy points by putting a slice of lemon or orange on the glass!

Mulled Wine Cocktail

This well-known cocktail is a family’s favourite and a perfect choice for the traditionalists out there. The classic version uses red wine, cinnamon, cloves, clementine’s and Cointreau, but if you’re not a big fan of red wines, there’s also the white wine mulled version. And the best part? It can be served either hot or cold!

vodka cranberry juice cocktail

This sweet looking cocktail still has a punch to it!

Vodka & Cranberry Blush

A perfect choice if you’re looking to add a sophisticated touch to your dinner or party. All you need for this vodka based cocktail is, obviously your preferred vodka spirit, cranberry juice, orange juice and crushed ice. As optional choices, you can add some Cointreau to the mix and peel some limes for decoration. These fruity cocktails will gain you the “Best Dinner Host” award for sure!

french 75 cocktail

Champagne is a classic among winter parties, so why not add a twist to it?

Gin and Champagne Cocktail

Nothing screams “special occasion” better than popping a bottle of champagne, especially during the winter Christmas celebrations, so why not add a different touch this year? This cocktail recipe, commonly called French 75, adds a sip of sugar syrup, lemon juice and gin to the bubbly drink, and the result? The fanciest drink you’ve probably ever had!

winter cocktails

Some consider the mojito to be a king among cocktail recipes.

Ginger Mojito Twist

No cocktails guide can be complete without a mention to the classic mojito recipe. This variation, however, adds a bit of stem ginger syrup to give it an interesting flavour twist. Mojito cocktails are the chosen go-to for many Christmas dinners as they’re very easy to make (it only takes 5 minutes!) and can serve a lot of people.

And there you go everyone! Now you don’t have any excuse to not taste these fancy cocktails during the winter holidays. And if you’re looking to go a step ahead and become a liqueur connoisseur, you can always try out our cocktails and spirits experiences!

what is a green curry - ingredients

What is green curry? What is red curry? And what is yellow curry?

So just what is green curry, red curry or even yellow curry?

If you’ve ever asked yourself what is green curry, or red curry…or even yellow curry, we’ve got all the answers to your Thai curry colour questions right here in one easy guide.

And in essence, what makes a curry red, green or yellow, is the colour of the chillies that you use to make your Thai curry paste.

In traditional Thai cuisine the basic Thai curry paste recipe is the same for all curries, no matter what the colour:
- Chillies*
- Ginger
- Garlic
- Coriander
- Lemongrass
- Lime
- Kiffir lime leaves
- Galangal
- Coriander seeds
- Cumin
- Thai fish sauce
- Black peppercorns
- Olive oil
*The chillies – red for red Thai curry, green for green Thai curry and yellow for yellow Thai curry

In true Thai curries there wouldn’t have been any coriander, but it’s pretty much the norm nowadays, so we’ve included it on our ingredients list for your curry paste. There’s also a trend for adding tumeric to Thai yellow curries to make the colour more vibrant.

If you’re not familiar with galangal, it’s a member of the ginger family and looks like a knobbly Jerusalem artichoke.

What is green curry vs red curry?

What is green curry compared to red curry? It al depends on the colour of the chillies used – and this one’s red!

So now you know what green curry is (and red and yellow for that matter!), you’ve probably got some more questions about how hot your Thai curry will be…

What is it that makes a green curry hot?

The use of fresh green chilli peppers, that’s what! The science bit of it is that a chilli contains capsaicin and this gives the chilli its heat.

Which are hotter, red or green chillies?

Nowadays red is generally thought of as hotter for pure heat, green chillies are hot with a sweet taste and yellow the mildest.

BUT ask everyone from chefs to curry fans whether they think red or green is hotter and you’ll get both answers. In reality, it depends on the variety of chilli. It’s generally agreed the smaller the chilli, the hotter it is, so that can be green or red. And it’ll be hotter the riper it is too!

green and red chillies

What makes a hotter curry – red or green chillies?

Which are the hottest chillies out there?

The Caribbean/Scotch bonnet is a small round fiery red little number that’ll blow your socks off, whilst the elegant, finger-like Thai bird’s eye is at its hottest when red and therefore fully mature. If you love your fiery flavours this is what will make our red curry super hot!

How do you make a Thai curry dish less hot?

If you cut the chilli lengthways and scrape out the chilli seeds and some of the membrane, your curry will be less hot.

But if the dish you’re eating is too hot, what do you do?

Capsaicin is oil-based, so drinking water will literally add fuel to the fire! You need to drink something diary based to break down the capsaicin like milk or a lassi

This ‘what is green curry’ blog piece was bought to you with the help of happy clients who have been on IntotheBlue’s Thai curry cooking course at The Avenue Cookery School in south-west London.

fresh chilli peppers for red and green curry

Whether it’s a green curry, a red one or a yellow one, the key to Thai food is using fresh ingredients – including chillies!