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INGREDIENTS For the filling 2 tbsp olive oil 500g minced beef 1 large onion, finely chopped 2 cloves garlic, crushed 2 carrots, diced or grated 1 parsnip, diced or grated 400g tin chopped tomatoes 500ml beef or vegetable stock 1 tsp dried mixed herbs 1 tsp Marmite a shake of Worcestershire sauce

For the topping 1.2kg floury potatoes, peeled and cut into equal chunks 50g butter

efore I ever even had the pleasure of working with Genevieve Taylor, I knew her name. Because, you see, despite her not being a ‘celebrity chef’ – or, yet worse, a ‘celebrity pretending to be a chef’ – Genevieve is the writer behind some of my most used cookery books. Her work isn’t about

‘food porn’ (although her styling, and the food photography she uses, are top notch), or far-flung ingredients that you need a visa to source, but about humble dishes, often cooked in a frugal way, that would appeal to the whole family. The Bristol-based mum to two (she also feeds a dog, a puppy,

one fat cat, one skinny cat, chickens and bees) first started working with Bath-based publishers Absolute Press back in 2011, launching a new series of books. Stew! was the fi rst, and featured slow-cooked suppers from Lancashire hotpot to venison and chestnut casseroles; it was followed by Soup! in 2012. She also wrote Marshmallow Magic and A Good Egg for Transworld. But books aren’t all that Genevieve does. Nor, indeed, is it

even where she comes from. “I moved to Bristol after university in the mid ’90s,” she

explains. “Having studied zoology at Manchester, I came here with the specifi c dream of working in natural history television, of which Bristol is the world hub, as a producer. Being quite a driven sort of girl I got a break quite quickly, and worked very happily in TV for nearly a decade, travelling far and wide. Kids put a stop to all that, but I’m now genuinely happier than ever.” Food styling was a natural progression for Gen, after the birth

of her son 10 years ago, as “food has always been the thing I felt I did best” – you have probably seen her work on multiple fresh

produce campaigns. But writing soon caught up, and now she divides her time between the two. “I’m not a trained chef,” she says. “Pretty much everything I

know is self taught. I feel very lucky: cooking is just my comfort zone, where I feel most confi dent and at ease.”

Her latest book in the Absolute series is Pie!, which features 100 savoury and sweet numbers, crispy and soft, hot and cold. Some have lids, some don’t – horror of horrors! – and others don’t feature pastry at all. So why pies? “What’s not to love about pies?” she says. “I don’t think I’ve

met a person yet who doesn’t say ‘mmmmm’ when you mention them. Apart from the instant yum-factor, I love the versatility of pies: it was a subject I knew I could run with, and make my own. “I’m braced for the odd ‘pie purist’ to complain that I have

stretched the defi nition of ‘pie’ way too wide. But to me small rebellions make life more interesting – a pie has a pastry lid, or a pastry base and lid, so can’t it just have the base? And banoffee pie is a pie, surely? What about a fi sh pie, or that school


50-75ml milk 40g mature Cheddar, grated (optional)

METHOD – First, make the filling. Heat the oil in a deep frying pan over a medium-high heat, then add the mince and fry until it starts to take on a little colour, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon as it cooks – this will take around 10 minutes. Resist the temptation to stir too frequently, otherwise the pan will cool down and the meat will sweat rather than fry. – Add the onion, reducing the heat a little, and continue to cook for a further 10 minutes or so

until it starts to soften. – Add the garlic, carrots and parsnip and fry for another minute before pouring in the tomatoes and stock. Season with the herbs, Marmite, Worcestershire sauce and a little salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to a minimum and simmer, uncovered, for 50-60 minutes or until thick and rich, stirring occasionally. Adjust the seasoning to taste, adding a little more salt and black pepper, if necessary. – While the mince mixture is simmering, prepare the potato topping. Put the potatoes into a large


saucepan and cover with cold water. Shake in a little salt and bring to the boil, then cook until they are tender – around 15-20 minutes, depending on the size you cut them. Drain well, tip the potatoes back into the pan and allow the steam to evaporate off for 2-3 minutes. Mash thoroughly until all the lumps have gone, set the pan over a really low heat and then add the butter, beating until smooth. Add just enough milk beating to create a smooth creamy mash, and season well with salt and black pepper. – Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6. – Transfer the mince filling

to a baking dish and then spoon the mash over the top. Use a fork to level and fluff up the surface, making sure the mince mixture is covered completely. Scatter the grated cheese over the top, if using. – Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the topping is crisp and golden and the filling is starting to bubble up a little. – Alternatively, if you are short of time, crisp up the top under a preheated hot grill for 5-8 minutes, making sure that both the filling and mash are piping hot throughout before you add them to the baking dish. Serve hot.

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