How to: Steak and Mushroom Pie

With Autumn setting in with its freezing wind, rain and dark nights we’re kicking off our new “How to” series with a recipe for those cold Autumn nights – a classic steak pie. Follow Alex’s recipe and you’ll be left with a delicious, typically Northern, heart and stomach warming dish.


Feeds: 6

Prep time: 30 mins

Cook time: 2 hours

Equipment needed: 1 deep frying pan, 1 casserole dish

900g diced beef (normally comes in 450g packs, £3.70 each)
240g Smoked bacon lardons (£2.40)

4 Large Carrots, roughly chopped (1kg for 60p)
2 large red onions diced: red onions provide a sweetness that white don’t (3 for 80p)
300g chestnut mushrooms (90p)

Herbs and spices:
3 good beef stock cubes, cheaper ones are a nightmare to crumble and are more salt than anything else so it’s worth investing in a brand like oxo (12 pack for £1.25)
Dried Parsley
Dried Thyme
Smoked Paprika

The pie:
1 roll of defrosted Jus roll Puff Pastry (£1.55)
1 bottle of port (£7)
4Tbs plain flour (1.5kg 55p)

Pre heat your oven to 160°c or gas mark 3.

  1. Add 1 tbsp of oil to the casserole dish and then put in the oven to warm.

You begin by browning the beef in the pan until it starts to crisp slightly.
It’s a lot quicker to just fry it up in batches, but if like me you’re inherently lazy, you can just throw it all in the pan and leave it a little.

Once browned set it aside in the cassarole dish to keep warm.

2. Next you add the onions and carrots to the pan you sealed the beef in, it’s important to make sure you use the same pan throughout so the flavours all combine.

Fry on a low heat until the onions begin to go translucent, you then add 2 tsp of smoked paprika,  1 tsp of both the rosemary and thyme and 4 tbsp of plain flour.

Make sure to keep stirring until the flour in evenly distributed and turns golden.

3. Once the herbs are mixed in you add 200ml of port, and crumble 2 of the stock cubes into 400ml of boiling water and add to the pan.

Once the stew reaches boiling point, lower the heat to a simmer and add 2 tsp of sugar and salt and pepper to taste.

Add the stew to the beef in the oven, stir well and then leave in the oven, covered, for 1 hr 30 – 2 hours. Adding the third stock cube with 200ml of boiling water half way through, as the mix will reduce down as it cooks.

This waiting time is essential to ensure that the beef becomes soft and tender.

4. Once the stew has cooked, quarter the mushrooms start to fry them in the pan and add the bacon about 5 minutes in.

Sizzle until golden brown, and then slice the garlic cloves before adding to the pan.

It’s important not to allow the garlic to burn otherwise it will take on a bitter taste, so be sure to remove the pan from the heat a minute after it is added.

Stir the bacon and mushrooms into the pie mix and then allow the filling to cool on the side for 10 minutes, whilst turning the oven up to 200° or gas mark 5.

5. You will see some recipes insisting that the pie must cool fully and be chilled for 24 hours, however this is only required if you are using a pie base. Since we are using a casserole dish, you only need it to cool enough to allow you to put the pastry on top without burning yourself.

The pastry should be a relatively straight forward addition. “Jus’ roll” pretty much does what it says on the tin, you then simply place it on top, score it lightly with a sharp knife and then place in the oven.

Then simply slice up and serve.


Eat & Wander: The Borough

When sampling the local pubs around Lancaster with the Real Ale and Cider Society (which I would recommend readers to join), I have been quite impressed with many of the establishments. But all changed when I went to The Borough because that REALLY impressed me.

The moment I stepped into The Borough, I couldn’t believe it was somewhere to go for a pint, it was a much smarter venue than anywhere I’ve ever previously been. There was a traditional feel to the place which had those old fashioned, buttoned burgundy chairs, old prints and photographs covering the walls and really nice Christmas decorations. There was a real tree in each of the bay windows, which gave the place really warm and cosy feel.

The atmosphere was great, especially as the Graduate College happened to be having their Winter Ball there when we arrived and they seemed to be enjoying every minute of it. It was an ideal location on a cold, wet windy December night, when the main thing on your mind was to go home after a long term at University.

When approaching the bar, I was amazed to find that The Borough did their own range of real ale brewed on site, because very few pubs that I have visited did that. The barmen were really friendly and enthusiastic about the ales they sold, which added to the welcoming feel of the place. One of the ales I had was called Crystal and was one of the nicest I’ve had to date – which is all the more surprising when I’m not normally a fan of lighter ales. To top it off I had £1 off my pint because I had my CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) membership card with me.

Unfortunately I didn’t sample the delights of their food menu at that time, but I have heard that they serve excellent food. Their menu includes fillet steak, calamari and spicy chicken ribs for mains and they also do a range of puddings which are not listed on the menu. They do a great deal of “three courses for £22”, which includes a glass of fizz – this would easily save you a couple of pounds per head. This is also perfect for those on a student budget and perhaps would be an idea for somewhere to eat on Valentine’s Day.

It was one of the social highlights of my first term at University and I would really recommend The Borough for any occasion from a wedding reception to a family gathering and even just for a quick evening pint. It was named 2014 Luneside CAMRA Quality Pub of the Year, which doesn’t surprise me at all. I highly recommend real Ale lovers get down there and savour every moment!

The Borough is really accessible being on Dalton Square, it’s no more than five minutes from the bus station or one of the other bus stops. The return there and back to the University is usually around £2.50 so it’s no hassle getting home at the end of the night. I highly recommend it to everyone.

By Harry Fenton


[Image Credit: calflier001]

Film on Campus: Take 2 Cinema

Take 2’s crucial selling point may easily be the price of a ticket. Where else can you go to the cinema for £3 a pop? Though Lancaster’s Vue does deliver showings at the point of release for those frothing at the bit for the next big title, it’s a safe bet those same films will come to campus three months later. Due to this, Take 2 is perfect for those late to the game regarding the next big feature, or alternatively wanting round two with their new favourites.

You have to be pretty on the ball to catch the films you want to see, screenings typically only lasting a couple of days, but this is to be expected from a small cinema with a high film turnover. Over the past couple of years I’ve caught titles like The Avengers, Les Miserables and Cloud Atlas, in all cases the cinema providing a good service. Additional selling points include its close proximity to Bowland bar and fresh popcorn catering courtesy of Unicorn. Notably, it’s one of the few student cinemas to have a 3D projector.  The long and short of it: Take 2 is a good cinema and worth supporting, particularly because it’s entirely run by students.

In talking to Meg Bates and Hannah Davis, the president and vice-president of the cinema society, I gained more insight into how Take 2 operates. The group is comprised of projectionists and stewards, executive roles including the acquisition of films and posters, the training of society members and publicity.A new projectionist can expect five weeks’ training before being given the reins for a particular screening. After this, they are expected to run one screening per term. The perk: free films.

Take 2 Cinema Review Nathaniel Spain

It all sounds very neatly organised, though not without difficulties. Projector maintenance and making sure the received films are licensed can throw a spanner in the works, sometimes leading to cancellations. Thankfully these are pretty irregular. Anyone is welcome to join the society and they can be contacted via or through Facebook.

Perhaps Take 2 misses out on something through focusing on popular recent releases. The convenience of its location and the fact it is student-led has the potential to give people access to more unusual films on the big screen. As to be expected, however, this is dictated by audience size. I’m told that foreign language films and documentaries don’t get much of a look-in, these kinds of features typically drawing in only a handful of people. Democratic enough.

Take 2 is planning to show a greater number of older films, anyway, including a sci-fi week featuring Ghostbusters and 2001: A Space Odyssey (excellent), and a Lord of the Rings marathon, tickets for which will shortly go on sale. Next term also sees big releases like the latest instalments of the Hobbit and Hunger Games series, as well as Alan Turing’s biopic The Imitation Game. Screenings show Thursday-Monday with tickets costing £3 with a Purple card or £4 without – making for great cinema experience on a student budget.

If you’re interested in checking out Take 2 you can view a sneak peek at some of the films they have on offer for Lent Term here.

By Nathaniel Spain



Film at the Dukes

Initially I was sceptical of The Dukes. I’m one of those people who hankers after awkward films not on general release, and the cinema’s delayed screenings have often meant I’ve missed early showings back home and the late showings in Lancaster in a Christmas-holiday ritual of disappointment. This year I’m missing 2001: A Space Odyssey. I’ll get over it. I quite like The Dukes now anyway, having managed to see films like Inside Llewyn Davis, Blue Ruin, 12 Years a Slave and recently Mr Turner, all of which have been good experiences.

The Dukes offers a range of mixed-media shows, delivering plays, comedy and music alongside film, as well as having a gallery for exhibitions. Personally I know it for its cinema, though it does have a good reputation for theatre too. Both mainstream and independent films are screened, particularly from the UK, but there are usually a few upcoming pieces of American cinema (on the artsy side of the spectrum) and foreign-language films.

It’s an unusually comfortable cinema experience. The auditorium is less crammed than your typical multiplex, the seats more comfortable and placed on a sufficiently steep incline where you don’t have to peer around the heads of taller people sitting in front of you. There’s also a Café Bar, and they’re eager to encourage you to take your drinks into the showing. Price-wise it’s quite reasonable. As a student you can get a ticket for £5.


Part of the appeal of The Dukes is its partnership with the British Film Institute. The BFI has themed seasons of film throughout the year, currently Sci-Fi: Days of Fear and Wonder. Upcoming examples at The Dukes include Blade Runner and, yes, 2001: A Space Odyssey. In the past the cinema has also shown historic film restorations, such as The Epic of Everest, which documented the disastrous third attempt at climbing the mountain. If you’re interested in the history of film, it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on upcoming features.

The main area of criticism for The Dukes is its showing times. Their calendar of screenings tends to be backlogged so that films may show a month or so after release, though this is to be expected of a single-screen cinema. There are some more perplexing issues, however. The screening I went to of Mr Turner was at 1pm on a Saturday and turned out to be subtitled for the hearing impaired. Odd considering it was the second showing of the film, and wasn’t advertised as such when looking on the website. It didn’t detract from the experience, though, and actually helped in the early stages when understanding Timothy Spall growling through authentic Victorian language proved a bit challenging.

Minor annoyances aside, The Dukes is definitely worth a visit if you’re interested in film. It offers a wide range of independent features, or if you would like a cheaper, more pleasant experience of certain mainstream offerings it caters for that very nicely too.

By Nathaniel Spain


Moor Lane, Lancaster LA1 1QE | 01524 598500


[Image Credit: Nathaniel Spain]

Eat & Wander: Go Burrito Lancaster

It’s a tough call deciding where to grab that bite to eat or coffee and cake at the best of times, particularly if you fancy avoiding the same old same old that comes with all of Lancaster’s chain cafés and eateries. But when you choose to look that little harder, we have a bunch of independent treasures from which to select.

One of Lancaster’s most popular independent establishments (and a personal favourite of mine), is Go Burrito. I can’t recall a week in which I haven’t nipped in to pick up my usual Purple card meal deal and stamp my loyalty card, and yet I still come across so many people who’ve never even heard of it!

Having first popped my burrito cherry a couple of years ago, I’ve tried pretty much every combination of filling; from shredded beef to veggie chilli, from cheese to no cheese you get the opportunity to pick from a range of fresh, flavourful fillings and to personalise your order exactly as you wish.

IMG_20141117_183443 (1)go

Burritos come in all shapes and sizes, as do nachos, but for the brave hearted amongst you, Go’s infamous Titanic Challenge may be just what you’re after! Having witnessed my flatmate and only girl attempt to eat the 3ft burrito and accompanying nachos in the allotted 30 minutes, it’s safe to say it is no mean feat!


Go Burrito’s relaxed, quirky atmosphere, friendly staff and affordable menu make it one of the most student friendly spots in Lancaster. The city’s only burrito bar isn’t exactly hidden, located at the bottom of town, opposite St. Nicholas Arcades car park.


In the evening Go doubles up as a tequila bar with regular Go-live nights comprised of acoustic performances from all the best local talent; so maybe for the handful of you out there that can’t appreciate the perfect B, you can spend the night trying out some of Méjico’s finest Tequila. So long as you remember guac is always extra, you really can’t go wrong!

By Sophie Walsh


01524 874 775 | Lancaster Rd LA4 5QR


Eat & Wander: The Yard Coffee & Food

Cold, chilly mornings always signal my need for a hot cup of coffee and in Lancaster it’s a pretty regular occurence. Located in a small nook en route to Common Garden Street is The Yard, a snug, independent coffee shop that is a prime spot for people watching.


The hum of busy traffic and the rush of society soon dissolve as you step into the cosy confines of the café. The hearty brown cedar wood sharpness of a fresh brew steadily greets the senses and the place swiftly becomes a comforting cloak of coffee and warmth. Taking a seat on a small table by the window decorated with an origami tulip centrepiece, the place didn’t feel as cramped as we expected.

The light that came through brightened the small place and we were soon distracted by the numerous photography of American landscapes by M J Swarbrick that graced the café, giving the place vivid urban vibes. And if art doesn’t take your fancy there’s plenty to observe outside if the hustle and bustle of the street is what you prefer while you’re solaced by a warm cup of coffee. The café certainly had a vibrant atmosphere where you can easily watch the world go by, or even as a place to work and Tweet with the café’s free wifi.

SAM_7050 SAM_7040


While the place is small and only accommodates a few tables, their menu boasts a pretty sizeable range of choices. From sweet treats from the Yummy Cupcake Company to savoury salmon bagels, soups and toasted ciabattas. Although if you’re like us (indecisive and greedy) and have a taste for both, you can opt for the pancakes, bacon and maple syrup combo.

The drinks menu is obviously packed with a variety of hot drinks and artisanal teas. We ordered plain black americanos which were served just at the right temperature and perfectly textured with a rich aroma. Can’t go wrong.


The Yard’s coffee is certainly noteworthy, the only wood roasted coffee in Lancaster from artisan coffee roaster UE, the café showcases 10 house roasts of strong, hearty and full-bodied blends, and it’s safe to say a sip erased all signs of our lethargy. If you’re in the mood for something sweeter though, you can try their mini-mochas or even their ‘apple pie in a glass‘, a hot apple drink with hints of cinammon.


And if you’re feeling exceptionally fatigued by your busy student schedule the Yard offers breakfast and lunch deliveries straight to your door and you can perk up with a cup of their house roast while enveloped in your duvet.

Check out The Yard if you’re in the mood for a good wake up call or simply a cosy setting for a hearty coffee in this little independent café in the heart of Lancaster.


01524 847393  |  5 King St, Lancaster