Budding chef Suzie Arbuthnot has been wowing viewers and judges alike on the BBC’s hit show Best Home Cook.
Suzie, whose family owns a popular Chinese takeaway in Lisburn, was delighted to be accepted onto the show and has been amazing everyone with her cookery skills.
She has made it through to next week’s final, and friends, family and fans will be on the edge of their seats to see if she can bring home the title.
Even if she isn’t named Best Home Cook, Suzie has had an amazing time on the show, and has certainly done Northern Ireland proud.
“I loved being immersed in cooking and being challenged every day,” said Suzie, who has received glowing reviews for her dishes throughout the series. “It is such a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
“Pie Week was a highlight for me. When I got the hat-trick of votes it was surreal and it gave me the much needed confidence boost from the week before. One of the quotes from Tom Kerridge was ’One of the best pies I have ever eaten’. I was over the moon and just so happy.”
It hasn’t all been smooth sailing for Suzie. In week one she suffered a minor accident with a knife and couldn’t quite get to grips with the high tech ovens at the start, but from the very beginning she has been one of the judges favourites.
The toughest week for Suzie was Curry Week, when her dish fell slightly short of what the judges were hoping for.
“I tried to replicate my mum’s recipe for our takeaway curry,” said Suzie, “but I was unsuccessful and I was devastated I couldn’t pull it off.
“I was 15 minutes off getting it just right, but there was the other curry, one bread and one fried snack to worry about as well.”
Despite those struggles Suzie avoided the dreaded Elimination Round, until the nerve-racking semi-final, and was buoyed by her success with her Steak and Guinness Pie the following week. Her dishes have made the judges mouths water week after week and she admits her two favourites have been at both the sweet and savoury ends of the spectrum.
“I loved making the pink three-tiered pavlova and the pie; I got to be creative in both,” she admitted.
Despite the ups and some downs, Suzie has been proud of her performance and definitely wouldn’t change a thing.
“I always stand by what I do,” she said.
“I may have tried to scale the curry recipe down even more but it has been and gone and I have learnt from it.”
Behind the scenes of the show, the contestants have all supported each other, living together whilst they competed on screen, but there are a few things the viewers won’t know.
“After each challenge we were brought platters of food for snacking on,” said Suzie. “You would think we would have been full with all the food-tasting but we still ate it. We just love food!
“We used to take walks around the film studio grounds to get fresh air and clear our minds and we tried to spot famous people; however we were never allowed close enough to the James Bond set otherwise I think I would have tried to sneak in.”
Tune into BBC One on Thursday, February 20 at 8pm to see who is crowned Best Home Cook. Follow Suzie on Instagram @suziecookingthebooks
Why not try out Suzie’s popular Steak and Guinness Pie -
250g plain flour
250g salted butter (refrigerated)
Pinch of salt
Cold water to combine
Rough puff pastry
100g grated frozen salted
200g grated frozen salted
350g plain flour
Pinch of salt
Freezing cold water – 8-12 tbsp depending to combine dough
½ tsp of lemon juice
150g button mushrooms
2 large brown onions diced
6 large garlic cloves minced
Handful of thyme
2 bay leaves
2 large celery finely diced
2 large carrots peeled and cut into chunks
800g rump steak chunks
600ml of Guinness
4 tbsp of Knorr chicken granules
Salt and pepper to taste
Plain flour to thicken sauce
1 beaten egg
1. Preheat oven at 180.C and place a large baking tin upside down so the pie can be placed on top of it and so the pastry cooks at the bottom
1. Place plain flour into food processor and cube the cold butter and place into the food processor
2. Pulse till it resembles fine breadcrumbs
3. Then add 1 tbsp of cold water at a time till it begins to come together as a dough, tip out and shape into a ball
4. Roll out between 2 sheets of baking paper as it can become sticky if handled too much, roll out large enough to cover the bottom of the white pie tin (5mm thick)
5. Carefully transfer the dough and line the tin, place back into the fridge till ready to use
6. Place 350g of the plain flour into the food processor, then add 100g of grated frozen butter on top, pulse till fine breadcrumbs
7. Add the lemon juice and pulse
8. Then add 1 tbsp of cold water at a time till the dough comes together
9. Tip out onto a floured surface and shape into a ball and then roll out into a long rectangle
10. Place 100g of the frozen grated butter on 2/3 of the dough rectangle, fold over the 1/3 of non-butter covered dough towards the middle of the rectangle then fold the other 1/3 on top of that fold (that is the first fold)
11. Rotate the dough 90 degrees, using the rolling pin flatten out and roll out to a long rectangle, repeat step 10 again (this is your 2nd fold)
12. Repeat the 90 degrees rotation and thirds folding for a further 3 times 13.
Once complete put the dough which is now a thick smaller rectangle into the fridge covered with clingfilm, let it rest for at least 20 min Pie filling
14. Fry off chunks of steak in the pressure cooker, in small batches till sealed
15. Then take meat out and put aside, start frying off the onions and garlic and celery till soft then add the meat and juices back in with about 3 tbsp of plain flour to thicken sauce, add all herbs now
16. Then add Guinness and some salt and pepper, bring to the boil, then put the lid on set to cook function
17. Cook at this setting for 15min at high pressure, then turn off heat and allow to sit on hob for 10 min, then flick to the release pressure mode, allow all the steam to escape before you open it
18. If it is still watery, reduce down for a further 5-10 mins, taste and adjust with seasoning
19. Then remove bay leaves and any thyme twigs etc
20. Spread out to cool on a large baking tray till ready to use
21. Once pie filling is cold enough to use, pour into the pre pastry lined tin, not all the gravy will need to be poured into the tin as it will become too soggy (keep some back to serve as gravy-sieve and put in jug)
22. Roll out the puff pastry to 5mm thickness and place on top of the tin, and then trim the edges and crimp with fork and use a knife and create a design and slice a small cross into the top of the pastry in the middle to allow steam to escape while cooking - brush with a beaten egg
23. Put in oven on top of the baking tin