Whole lotta pies: Join the upper crust

You don't even have to make the pastry if you don't want to

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Chicken and Leek Pie

Dad of two and Celebrity Masterchef finalist Michael Underwood's enthusiasm for pies is infectious. In this video, he's scaled his recipe for chicken, mushroom and leek pies to make individual portions for his kids, but the same recipe can easily be used for a single pie.

For chicken fans who aren't keen on pastry, Gordon Ramsay's simple north African-inspired chicken pastilla uses filo pastry rather than puff or shortcrust.

It's hard to beat a traditional steak and ale pie - especially when the meat it braised in Guinness until it's tender first - but this recipe turns the whole idea of a pie on its head!

If you have access to some seasonal game, why not make the most of those rich flavours in a game pie? Alternatively, if you prefer something lighter, this prawn and fish filo pie uses ready-made filo pastry to give a lighter crunchy topping.

If you're in a hurry and want to put something traditional on the table, this all-in-one chicken pie fits the bill. And when the time comes for picnic season, this showstopping picnic pie is easy to make but can form a very impressive centrepiece.

These oriental mushroom parcels are a great meat-free option and can be a great dinner party dish if you have vegetarian guests. They're based on large field mushrooms. Greek-style spanakopita (which uses filo pastry and frozen spinach) is another crowd-pleasing meat-free possibility.

And finally, if you love apple pie but think that it sounds like a faff to make, try this freeform apple tart.

The easiest pastry in the world
Whatever pie recipe you're making, you can almost always use shop-bought shortcrust or puff pastry. Look for 'all butter' on the label as it has a better flavour. But if you fancy a tastier home-made result, make your own. One of the easiest is Delia Smith's quick cheat's flaky pastry. You can use it for anything, sweet or savoury, and there's no rubbing in.

Ingredients:
75g block butter or block margarine
110g plain flour
a pinch of salt
little cold water (keep it cold with some ice cubes)

Method:
Weigh the butter or margarine, wrap in foil and put it in the freezer for 45 minutes. Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Using a coarse grater, grate the butter or margarine into the flour. Pause and stir to coat the fat in flour a couple of times until all the fat is grated into the flour. Use a table knife to stir it round a little and cut into it so that there are no large lumps of fat or flour. Add the water and stir with the knife. Keep mixing until a ball of dough forms and all of the flour and fat are mixed. Chill before using. This dough freezes well.

More sweet and savoury pies

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