Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Pumpkin and Blue Cheese Pie, the Second

I've been wanting to revisit the idea of the pumpkin and blue cheese pie since the first time I made one. This time I changed the recipe a little, and used a rough puff pastry.

Half of the resulting pie
Pastry (rough puff)

  • 180g unsalted butter, cut into <1cm cubes and chilled in freezer but not frozen
  • 240g plain flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup water, chilled
  • Flesh of half a butternut pumpkin weighing about 1kg
  • 2 brown onions, chopped finely
  • 1 head of garlic, split into cloves and peeled
  • 100g blue cheese (Stilton in this case), crumbled
  • 50g parmesan, grated
  • 150g or so spinach leaves, chopped finely
  • Make the pastry in advance: smoosh the butter into the flour with your fingers until all the pieces of butter are flattened. Then gradually mix the water into the flour with fingertips until the dough forms - don't add all the water if you don't need to. Now give it a gentle kneading before rolling out into about a 5x10cm piece. Fold it once into a square, cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate until well cooled. Over the next hours / days take the dough out, roll out until it can be folder in half (or thirds, or even quarters and halves, whatever you can to get lots of layers). If it's cool enough then do that again before returning to the plastic and the fridge. Fold at least 6-8 times - the more times the nicer the result will be. Because it's warm at the moment I did this over several days, getting a some folds in during the morning.
  • Chop the pumpkin into small pieces, no larger than about 2cm at most a side.
  • Roast pumpkin and garlic at 200ºC until both are nicely cooked (about 40 minutes). Give them a toss to mix up about half-way through.
  • Place pumpkin and garlic in a mixing bowl, mash both together a little to mix and leave to cool.
  • Fry the onion slowly for about 30 minutes (a fully hour if you want it fully caramelised) and then add to the bowl with the pumpkin and garlic.
  • Fry the spinach until wilted and add to the bowl also. Add in parmesan and some salt and pepper, and mix well. Finally add the crumbled blue cheese and mix through gently (I find it smooshes through if mixed too much and it's nice to have blobs).
  • Preheat your oven to 200ºC
  • Roll out the pastry until it's a good 50cm across. Try for a circle if you can, but if you can't then a square will also work. Place in the middle of a baking tray that's at least 30cm across. Put the pumpkin filling from the bowl in the middle of the pastry, evenly spread out to leave about 5cm or more at the edges. Fold the pastry in to the centre, crimping together so it holds while baking. Brush the top with a beaten egg if you like to have a nice brown glazed finish.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the pastry is nice and cooked.
All up, I preferred this mix of ingredients to the last. It does take a while to cook, but a bunch of that can be only minimally supervised.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Chicken, chorizo & potato pie

I wanted to make a pie with chorizo sausage in it, and try a new combination of ingredients, and this pie popped up in my searching. I made some modifications that I would come to regret. Because I was in low-effort mode I used shortcrust pastry which ended up horribly crumbly. Next time I'll use (rough) puff pastry that'll have more structural integrity and suit the pie better. It'll be worth putting in that extra effort of rolling and folding.

Also, no photo because I plumb forgot, sorry!

Pastry Which Did Not Work
  1. 2 cups plain flour
  2. 160g butter chopped into chunks
  3. 1 egg
Blend the flour and butter until the texture is like grainy sand. Then blend in the egg until the whole mixture clumps. In the future, I would also add some water to give the pastry some sticking power. The above mixture was far too crumbly, and I ended up having to knead it slightly to have it hold together at all when being rolled out. Even then it cracked far too easily.

Filling Which Did Work
  1. 400g potatoes, peeled and cut into 2cm pieces
  2. 2 chicken breasts, cut into 2cm pieces
  3. 1 chorizo sausage chopped into thin slices
  4. 1 leek thinly sliced
  5. thyme and rosemary
  6. optional whisked egg
  1. Place the potato and water in a large heatproof microwave-safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. Cook in microwave on High/800watts/100% for 8 minutes or until just tender. Drain.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Cook half the chicken, stirring, for 4-5 minutes or until light golden and almost cooked through. Transfer to a heatproof bowl. Repeat with the remaining chicken.
  3. Add chorizo to pan and cook, turning occasionally, for 3-4 minutes or until light golden. Add leek, thyme and rosemary and cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes or until the leek is soft. Add the potato and cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until well combined. Transfer to the bowl with the chicken. Toss gently to combine. Set aside for 30 minutes to cool slightly.
  4. Preheat oven to 200°C. Line 1 large baking tray with non-stick baking paper or use a non-stick baking tray. Roll out half the pastry and place on the tray. Place half the chicken mixture in the centre of the pastry and shape to form a circle, leaving a 3cm border. Fold pastry edge over the filling to partially enclose, leaving the centre of the pie open. Repeat with remaining pastry and chicken mixture to make a second pie. Brush the pastry edges with egg if you like.
  5. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the pastry is cooked through. Set aside on the tray for 5 minutes to cool slightly.
Even with the pastry disaster, it was very tasty :-)

Monday, January 23, 2017

Custard tarts, third edition

Time for some holiday baking. Abbey decided custard tarts were the go. Rather than repeat the previous cooked-in-oven custard, she wanted to try filling tarts with Creme Patisserie. So, making sure we grabbed some extra eggs at the shop, we started the creation as soon as we got home, borrowing from a few places to make the recipe below (as remembered / dictated by Abbey).

Pastry Ingredients

  1. 225g plain flour
  2. 125g butter
  3. 2 tbsp chilled water
Custard Ingredients
  1. 125g caster sugar
  2. 50g plain flour
  3. 3 egg yolks
  4. 1 whole egg
  5. 500ml milk
  6. 3 tsp vanilla essence (or a bean, we cheated)
Pastry Method
  1. Chop butter into little cubes and chill.
  2. Blend flour and chilled butter until the texture is grainy like sand.
  3. Slowly add water while blending.
  4. Continue to blend until lumpy.
  5. Wrap dough in glad wrap and chill in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
  6. Preheat oven to 200ºC (fan forced) [ed: this could be reduced to 180, I think]
  7. Prepare a 12 cupcake pan with strips of baking paper (large enough to pull the baked tart cases out).
  8. Roll the dough thin and cut circles large enough to fill the cupcake moulds. Combine leftovery bits if needed to make up 12 cases. It's hot here so we did this in two halves, putting the pan in the fridge in the middle.
  9. Chill the pan for about 20 minutes before baking.
  10. Stab the bottom of each tart case a couple of times with a fork.
  11. Cut out 12 squares of foil and place in the tart cases with baking beads in the foil.
  12. Bake for 10 minutes.
  13. Remove foil and beads.
  14. Bake for further 5-10 minutes [ed: this is where I discovered the oven might have been a bit hot since a full 10 minutes is ideal]
  15. Cool for a few minutes before extracting onto a cooling rack.
Custard Method
  1. Measure and combine dry ingredients in a large heatproof bowl.
  2. Whisk in eggs until thoroughly combined.
  3. Boil milk and vanilla on a medium to high heat on the stove, stirring constantly.
  4. Once milk is boiling, pour into the egg stuff [ed: Abbey's word] and whisk until combined.
  5. Quickly pour back into the same pan and stir over medium heat until thickened.
  6. Pour into a cool pouring jug and fill the cases with the yummy yummy custard goop!
  7. Cool and EAT