Pies made in mini muffin tins are always a great hit. You can fill them with any manner of things - finely snipped bacon and beaten eggs and chives, Thai chicken green curry, flaked smoked fish in a cheesy white sauce or, in this case, a beef and mushroom braise. The amount of filling required for each pie is miniscule so make sure it is very tasty and well seasoned. You will only need a generous teaspoon-full to fill each pastry case.
For 10 people, make two dozen pies.
1 Spray or brush your mini muffin trays with oil. Refrigerate the trays.
2 Cut circles with an appropriate sized cookie cutter from sheets of puff pastry - 24 to make your bases and 24 to make your tops. Refrigerate the pastry discs.
3 Finely dice 500g of beef, finely slice 10 button mushrooms, finely dice half a medium onion and crush 2 cloves of garlic.
4 Saute the onion and garlic in a tablespoon of olive oil and a tablespoon of butter to soften.
5 Add the beef and toss to colour.
6 Add the mushrooms, stir altogether and pour in a cup of beef stock and a cup of red wine.
7 Season well, add a small sprig of fresh rosemary and simmer until the beef is tender. If the mix is still quite runny, thicken with a little cornflour mixed in cold water.
8 Remove the rosemary sprig and allow beef mixture to cool.
9 Take the chilled muffin trays and pastry from the fridge .
10 When the pastry has softened a little, press the bases into each indentation. Using a cork is a gentle way to do this.
11 Dice up the cold beef and mushroom mix so that it is almost shredded.
12 Fill the pastry cups, place the pastry tops on the pies, make a hole with a skewer in the middle of the top, brush with egg and decorate with some cracked pepper or a couple of rosemary leaves.
13 Put into a moderate oven and cook. Serve warm with your favourite sauce or chutney.