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Day 366: Jamie Oliver’s Steak & Guinness Pie and Sticky Toffee Fondue


This photo was taken at five to 4 am.

That’s how late we managed to stay at the New Year’s eve party we went to. I can’t recall the last time I was out until 4 am, (if you don’t count the night we shot to episodes of It’s Just Food between 10pm and noon the next day). It would have been at least a decade BW (before Willem), and tonight he was actually out with us – he had a 3 hour nap in preparation for the party, but I still can’t believe he stayed (more or less) upright all night, driven by the thrill of playing with bigger boys (aged 7-10) and their big-boy Christmas toys – Rock Band wii and such.

4:42 am – that’s what time it is now. It’s fitting, actually, that rather than spend the day composing my final (but not really) blog post of the year, I’m propping myself up in bed to hammer it out when in fact I can hardly keep my eyes open. Mmac’s idea to linger over this all day tomorrow is bloody brilliant.

My New Year’s eve, instead of being relaxing and low-key as we assured ourselves repeatedly it would be, was instead an act in three parts:

OK, I fell asleep at that point, but it was almost 5 (!!) am, so really it was today anyway. That must have been my delirious logic.

8 am: W wakes up and comes in my room, eventually falls asleep again.
9 am: parents call to say they’ll be here in 20 minutes for their ride to the airport.
9:15 am: dressed, guts churning, standing outside (it’s around minus 100), in waiting with a vanilla-scented poo bag for Lou to do his steamy thing.
10:10 am: present – back from the airport and reheating yesterday’s Tims in the pot I cooked my sticky toffee fondue in last night. Oh yes.

So where was I? A New Year’s Eve in three parts:

Since it’s my last official DwJ day, I needed to make something suitably scrumptious. Jamie Oliver’s Steak & Guinness Pie. I don’t want to down the whole thing between the three of us, so I invite my sister over to share it. She obliges. We sit around the kitchen nook and crack a big spoon into the crackly puff pastry crust and scoop steaming (in a much better context this time, don’t you think?) beef in gravy into our bowls, then top them with peas. We ate the whole thing, but at least it was divided between 4. The crispy bits around the edges were superb.

Jamie’s recipe calls for puff pastry on the bottom of the baking dish too, but I don’t think it needs it. It would end up soggy(ish) anyway, and I’d rather spend those calories elsewhere. Like baking the extra sheet of puff pastry on its own, on a cookie sheet, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. (Frozen President’s Choice puff pastry comes in a package with two individually wrapped rectangles of pastry, and one fit perfectly over my rectangular baking dish – no need for rolling.)

Also, the cheese was fab, but it would have been equally fab without. I browned the meat first (separately from the veg, just so they’d get a bit of browning) and tossed with the flour before adding the Guinness (this way you ensure no lumps), baked the lot in a casserole dish with a lid, then tipped it into the baking dish I wanted to use; I’d love to do this again in individual baking dishes (those little French onion soup crocks from the 70s would be great), each draped with a square of puff p.


Jamie Oliver’s Steak & Guinness Pie

Recipe link

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January 1, 2009

  • Makes: Serves 4-6.


canola or olive oil, for cooking

3 medium red onions, chopped

3 garlic cloves, crushed

1 Tbsp. butter

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

2 cups sliced mushrooms (optional, and any kind - button work well, but Portobello are nice and meaty)

2.2 lbs. beef brisket or stewing beef, cut into 3/4" cubes

salt and pepper

a few springs of rosemary, leaves pulled off and chopped

2 Tbsp. flour

1 can or bottle of Guinness

1-2 cups grated old cheddar (white cheddar looks and tastes great)

1 pkg. frozen puff pastry, thawed

1 egg, lightly beaten with a fork, for brushing on top (optional)


1Frozen peas

2Preheat the oven to 375F. In a large skillet or oven-proof pot, heat a drizzle of oil and sauté the onions over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, sweating them more than browning them. Add the garlic, butter, carrots, celery and mushrooms and cook for a few more minutes. Transfer to a baking dish (if the one you're using won't work) or a bowl. Add a bit more oil to the pan and brown the meat in batches, sprinkling with salt and pepper and rosemary. Return all the meat and vegetables to the pan and sprinkle with the flour; toss to coat. Pour over the Guinness and bring to a simmer, stirring. If the pan you're using won't go into the oven, dump it into a baking dish. Either way, add water (or beef stock) to just barely cover the meat.

3Cover with a lid or foil and bake for 2 1/2 hours, stirring about halfway through. After 2 1/2 hours the meat should be very tender and the sauce thick, dark and robust; if it's not, uncover and bake for awhile longer, or cook it on the stovetop to reduce the sauce a bit. Remove from heat and stir in half the cheese.

4If your puff pastry is in a block, cut it in half and roll out on a lightly floured surface until it's about as thick as a loonie (or as Jamie describes, a silver dollar). Place over the beef filling and tuck the pastry around the edges (it doesn't have to look neat - go for rustic). Lightly score the surface in a crisscross pattern, not cutting through to the filling. Brush the top with beaten egg.

5Return to the oven for about 45 minutes. Towards the end of the cook time for the pie, cook some frozen peas. Serve the pie steaming hot, with a scoop of peas beside or overtop.

Makes: Serves 4-6.

Damn, are we still only on part 1? Good thing everyone is off work today.

After our pie, my sister and I baked a load of potatoes to bring down to Olympic Plaza to my Mom, who was manning the skate shack during their New Year’s Eve bash. We pictured her freezing (she was to be there from 6-midnight, but actually left the plaza at 1:30 am) and possibly needing a potty break. so we trucked down with a little basket of potatoes wrapped in a towel (it’s all we could think of) and a chocolate bun from Manuel Latruwe. When we arrived the line-up to borrow skates was massive (they had a DJ and light show on the skating rink, and live bands, and fireworks at 9 for the kids as well as midnight) and she was short two volunteers, so we jumped in and doled out skates for a couple hours.

We managed to get out before the wave of skate returns, and M, W and I headed over to M and A’s for a 70s-themed party, at which we had jelly balls (meatballs with grape jelly and chili sauce – have I made these this year? if not, there’s reason enough to go on) and smoked salmon devilled eggs, and A made French onion soup topped with toast and Gruyere, baked in these stripy brown tureens she borrowed from her Mom.

I had decided on fondue for the final day of the year, so that was my contribution. Chocolate is the obvious choice – too obvious, I think. Plus I may actually be chocolated out. (Come to think of it, it would have made use of our stash of stocking chocolate – Lindt balls, Toblerone, icy squares, chocolate Santas – all could have been melted down and consumed with fruit.) But since this has been a sticky-sweet year, and also the year I became slightly infatuated with caramel, I decided to do a caramel fondue, which is delicious with white cheddar popcorn for dipping.

But I had been toying with the idea of a sticky toffee pudding, which morphed into sticky toffee fondue. Fortuitously I caught a snippet of Nigella on Food Network, in which she was making a sort of ice cream sauce that she described as liquid pourable fudge and was made with brown sugar, cream and Lyle’s Golden Syrup. (Remember when I said that toast and jam was my favourite food? I lied. It’s buttered toast with Lyle’s Golden Syrup. No question. I can’t even buy the stuff – I kind of pretend it doesn’t exist – because I eat it all.) I searched for the recipe to no avail, and so sort of tried to make something up – really all toffee and caramel are just amalgamations of sugar, syrup, butter and cream. I didn’t have dark Muscovado sugar and didn’t want to make a run to the store, so added a drizzle of molasses to the golden sugar and it turned out fantastic. (At the end of the night we were all sitting around the table eating the stuff straight up out of the Chinese soup spoons W brought to serve his arctic char tartare in. I think I’m still sticky.)

A made me promise to fess up that I jammed on the hot tub last night. True. But no one wants to see post-holiday Julie in a swimsuit, no matter how much Prosecco was consumed. Plus we couldn’t exactly leave the 5 zombie boys in the house to their own devices.

And since this is our finale, my (other) sister made gingerbread letters for the kids to decorate the other night, and she made enough to spell Dinner with Julie. W and all his cousins decorated them, and I thought it would be a fitting final photo for the year, don’t you? (She used the Martha Stewart gingerbread recipe, I believe.)

Thanks for making this such a wonderful, memorable year.

(P.S. It looks like Whitecap Books might be interested in publishing a book version of Dinner with Julie! Stay tuned!)


About Julie

51 comments on “Day 366: Jamie Oliver’s Steak & Guinness Pie and Sticky Toffee Fondue

  1. glenda
    January 1, 2009 at 10:55 am

    You are TRULY AMAZING… a coherent post after a virtually sleepless night! Thanks Julie for the many tips, the great recipe ideas, the glimpses into your life, the giggles, the permission to love simple things (toast and syrup!) and the great writing. Congratulations on a job well done (we will see some more though, right?). And Happy New Year to your house.
    Have a nap this afternoon. :)

  2. Kathy H
    January 1, 2009 at 10:58 am

    Happy New Year! Thanks so much for sharing your life and creative genius with us. I know my year was a whole lot better with DwJ, than it would have been without! Looking forward to whatever you are willing and able to share in 2009! Blessings to you and yours for a great year ahead.

  3. Ann
    January 1, 2009 at 10:59 am

    Thanks a million Julie for a fabulous year of food and fun! It was a joy to read your blog each day and see what you were up to. I tried lots of recipes – all with great results. :)

    So glad to hear that a book version may be in the works.

    May you and yours have a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year!!

  4. Doréus
    January 1, 2009 at 11:14 am

    First, Happy 2009! You made it through 2008 with your sanity and humour intact!
    I caught onto this blog late… after your Red Deer visit, and have been enjoying it since. Thanks for inviting us into your kitchen and life so generously. Now, I hope there will be some continuation to this blog… and certainl wish you well with the book deal!

    Now, get a good day of rest in your PJs.

  5. Kathy
    January 1, 2009 at 11:36 am

    thanks for a year of fun, food and all that. will have to go back now and start from the beginning, I came into this blog part-way through.

    good news about the book deal. Apparently a year of crockpotting blog is also going to be a book.

    hmm how can I get a book out of a blog?

    enjoy a well-deserved blog-cation!

  6. Bonnie
    January 1, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    Happy 2009! I would so buy your book if it gets published. Keep us posted.

  7. Jennifer CK
    January 1, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    Holy guacamole! You deserve a week at an all-inclusive resort somewhere in the Caribbean for completing this massive undertaking. May 2009 be less sleepless but just as fun and full of great food. Cheers, Jenn

  8. Pips
    January 1, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    Not only did you do it, but you did it sooooooo well!

  9. Donna
    January 1, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    Thanks again, Julie, for an entertaining and informative electronic diary. Best wishes for 2009 – take some time to smell the roses.
    Blog cookbook – count me in!

  10. Fiona
    January 1, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    Happy New Year, and congratulations on making 366 thoroughly readable posts (not to mention dinners!). How exciting about the book! Sounds like 2009 is off to a great start.

  11. sally
    January 1, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    You did it! And we loved it. Happy 2009.

  12. Avery
    January 1, 2009 at 1:08 pm


  13. Avery
    January 1, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    Wait…. boooooo! What will I read on Jan. 2nd??? I know, I’ll just start at Day one from 2008…

  14. Lisa
    January 1, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    WOWOWOWOW! What a year, Julie! You’ve saved dinner in our house on more than one occasion, along with some great advice on how to make supper out of the miscellaneous items in my fridge. You rock, Julie!

    May 2009 bring you many wonderful things. I’m so glad I live in Calgary so I can at least get my Julie fix on Tuesday mornings. 😉

    P.S. The gingerbread letters brought a tear to my eye. I love DwJ so much!

  15. Kari
    January 1, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    Congratulations on a year well done!!! You are truly amazing…your creativity and humour have been enjoyed by myself and many of my friends! You and your recipes have been often the topic of discussion on my weekly run’s! You make us go the distance, girl! We run…so we can make your recipes and then eat them!! Best of luck to you and Happy New Year!

  16. Kathryn
    January 1, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    Congratulations. A real achievement. It has been a pleasure to be along for the ride.

    I sure hope that you get the publishing deal; I buy the book for sure.

    Enjoy your dinner on Day 1 of 2009.

  17. The Inorganic Gardener
    January 1, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    That pie’s a favourite of mine – but I like to add a few spoonfulls of redcurrant jelly into the gravy before I put the pastry on top. I’m not sure if redcurrant jelly it’s a bit of a “British” ingredient which you don’t see on your side of the pond – but it’s a fantastic addition to gravy when you’re having beef or game.

  18. Marilyn
    January 1, 2009 at 3:09 pm


    But it will be strange not knowing what you will be eating tonight for dinner.

  19. Lauren
    January 1, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    Julie! The toffee fondue looks AMAZING! Thank you for such a great year of dinners, etc. :) It’s such a pleasure to go to your blog each day. I really hope they do a book! That would make my 2009! I hope you had a Happy New Year. God bless!

  20. Carol
    January 1, 2009 at 4:04 pm

    Congratulations, Julie! I’ve said before that I greatly enjoy your recipes, anecdotes and stories. I’ll miss my daily dose. Hey, I think I’ll start back at the beginning of the year to read everything that I missed since I only found you this summer. Off to Day 1 I go…..

  21. Pat
    January 1, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    I always believed DwJ would make an excellent book. I know all of your readers would buy one (or more), and cherish it, as we have your blog. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading all of the comments from others, as well. Thank you for sharing your gifts with us.

    Is there a way to access the article on DwJ that is to be in the National Post?

  22. Christina - the Happy Slob Housecleaner
    January 1, 2009 at 6:56 pm

    Congratulations Julie! Yours is a favorite blog of mine – a foodie blog for people who just love food, and not snobbery. I would absolutely be in line to buy your book, so please let us all know if the book deal pans out!

    Take care,

  23. Dana
    January 1, 2009 at 7:39 pm

    *****standing and applauding*****

    Brilliantly done! You should be proud. I am so excited that this adventure was such a great one for you (even if it meant 366 late nights!) I so appreciate your time your words and your spirit! Thank Willem and Mike for me, too.

    All the best in 2009. Transforming DwJ into a book would be so smart of Whitecap, if they don’t do it, I am certain someone else will! (and you know I will be one of the first in line to get mine).

    xoxo d

    PS – AWESOME for your sister to make the cookie letters. I bet they will make a very satisfying treat.

  24. Christine
    January 1, 2009 at 7:48 pm

    Julie – I am sad that this is the end (the official end anyhow) … I just found this blog recently and am already addicted to it! I have to say a big thank you, you have inspired me to cook again! We were eating way too many chicken nugget dinners around here until recently! Thanks again, it’s been very inspirational.

  25. Cheryl
    January 1, 2009 at 8:08 pm

    Welcome to the end, and new beginnings. And sleep after Willem is in bed.
    Great, great, great last photo!

  26. Bev
    January 1, 2009 at 8:27 pm

    I would love to see and buy a book version of “dinner with julie”……..maybe even a movie????

  27. Erica B.
    January 1, 2009 at 10:02 pm

    Great news about the interest in the book!Congratulations Julie & Thank you for a wonderful year!

    Best wishes to you and your family for 2009 😀

  28. sue d.
    January 1, 2009 at 10:13 pm

    Okay, the idea of a sticky toffee fondue is nearly killing me. Why oh why don’t I live next door to you?

    Happy New Year to all, love your work.

  29. Sue
    January 1, 2009 at 10:35 pm

    Happy Happy New year….
    What a great cooking year it has been! My family will really miss the dinners that I created last minute with ideas from your blog, so if the book comes out in print, I am sure they will buy a few!!
    Thanks for so much more than just recipes…. you have provided relief from life, stress, life…. your writing is inspirational and should be in print. Blessings to you and Mike and Willem. I hope 2009 is a great year for you all.

  30. Rebecca
    January 2, 2009 at 4:08 am

    What a remarkable feat you’ve accomplished! Do you know how inspirational your daily posts are? (Not to mention funny!) You’ve helped me break out of the hum-drum of making dinner with delicious new ideas. You’ve also demonstrated an incredible amount of resolve to actually share with the world what you actually ate, and to take the time every day to write about it in a meaningful way. Congratuations, and all the best for 2009!

  31. Nancy Gibson
    January 2, 2009 at 6:06 am

    I have really enjoyed your blog and I am going to miss it in the new year! I will just have to start back at day one and cycle through it all again. Thanks for all the great recipes. Happy New year!

  32. The Inorganic Gardener
    January 2, 2009 at 7:26 am

    Oh I do hope the book deal comes to fruition! Hopefully in time for Christmas 2009 so I can buy a crate of copies and give them to everyone I know. Such an excellent book it will be too – as others have said – writing which shows a true love of food without the silly snobbery that so many food authors have.

  33. Valerie
    January 2, 2009 at 9:13 am

    Thank you Julie for the great year. Best wishes for the new year to you and your family. I trust this is not really the end and I am looking forward to your next endeavour!

  34. LisaGee
    January 2, 2009 at 9:23 am

    Congratulations, Julie! I’m going to miss your daily blog, but I’m already looking forward to the book! Happy cooking, and all the best in 2009.

  35. Erin
    January 2, 2009 at 9:43 am

    I (and by extension my family) can’t thank you enough for 366 days of easy, delicious, inspirational recipes. Looking forward to whatever you decide to do in 2009 – and hopefully a book to sit beside my Lou-loved copy of One Smart Cookie!

  36. Melanie
    January 2, 2009 at 10:42 am

    Congratulations!!! … on getting through a year of everyday blogging, providing us all with such wonderful advice and recipes, and being so kind in sharing!!! Wishing you much success in the future!

    My husband is asking what we are going to do from now on for supper… Good question!!!

  37. Tagyn
    January 2, 2009 at 11:09 am

    Hey Julie,
    It is January 2nd and I still had to come and check to make sure I didn´t miss anything, slightly disappointed that there is nothing new here but I understand!!
    I really enjoyed reading your blog and I will keep checking to see what new stuff you come up with.
    Thanks for the inspiration day after day!!!

  38. Barb
    January 2, 2009 at 11:31 am

    Looking through all the comments I’m pretty sure I can’t add anything much. I’m very excited and happy for you on the pending maybe book. Mark me down for one. Thank-you so much for inspiring me to begin cooking again. I really do enjoy it! I just run short of ideas on my own. You’re the best. Happy 2009!

  39. Sue (London)
    January 2, 2009 at 11:56 am

    Way to go Julie. I love that last picture. What a fine way to finish this delightful adventure. All the best to you and your family. Will look forward to buying yet another of your cookbooks! Keep us posted. Boy I’m going to miss checking this blog everyday!!

  40. Kim
    January 2, 2009 at 4:14 pm

    Congrats on day 365! I know I speak for lots of DwJ readers when I say – please don’t go! Or at the very least please keep us posted on the possible DwJ book. Thanks so much for letting us into your life for a year and sharing all your fabulous ideas.

  41. angiebean
    January 2, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    Thanks so much for a wonderful year of delicious food. I read every single entry. There were many times when my mouth watered while reading this blog. The pictures were amazing. But the writing was even better. You made things sound simple to make and inspired us all.
    Thank you:)

  42. Mrs. M
    January 3, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    I’m such a geek! I missed the Whitecap books part on this post and posted on your next post that you should publish Dinner with Julie! Wuhoo! I hope it all works out!

  43. pips
    January 28, 2009 at 4:48 pm

    Hi Julie, I have been looking forward to making the Steak and Guinness Pie recipe and today is the day (well, I started yesterday..). It is in the oven right now and it smells divine. Just wondering though… what do I do with the “other half” of the cheese?

  44. JulieVR
    January 28, 2009 at 5:12 pm

    Good question! If I recall correctly, it was sprinkled over top of the filling before placing the pastry overtop. I think I omitted that part though – as if trimming cheese from this is going to help much in the health department!

  45. Olivia
    September 20, 2009 at 7:29 pm

    So, are you going to have a book version of Dinner with Julie?!! Let us know! I would for sure be intested in buying it.

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