Friday, February 18, 2011

Chicken, Leek and Mushroom Pie

Cook Meter: Intermediate
Cost Meter:  $$


All Kiwis are born with a love of pies. I remember crisp winter mornings with my dad driving to the Spa bakery in Taupo and picking up a steak and cheese pie with a packet of Ripple cheese and onion chips for breakfast. A pie and chips may not sound like the most nutritious breakfast for a 12 year old but hell those were some of the best mornings I ever had.

I've lived in both halves of New Zealand. I've sampled a Jimmy's Bacon and Egg Pie as soon as the Roxborough store opens at 9am. I delved into a smoked fish Maketu Pie with my best friend after a big night out. I have caught a taxi across Wellington with a group of mates just to go the closest BP that will have Butter Chicken Pies at 3am.

Pies are part of my life and are always there at key moments, well the ones that are important anyway. Coming to live in Australia means that I am constantly searching for a great pie. But sometimes you're just better off getting in the kitchen and making one yourself. Try this recipe, it's delicious and I even made it up myself!

Chicken, Leek and Mushroom Pie

Ingredients:

4 sheets of pastry
Rice to blind bake
25grams of butter
4 cloves of garlic (crushed)
1 leek (sliced and washed)
5 thigh fillets of chicken
200g mushrooms
3 tbsp flour
1 cup of cream
Water

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius. Spray a large casserole dish with canola oil and then line with pastry.

2. Place baking paper on top of the pastry, pour in rice and blind bake in the oven for 20mins.

3. Whilst the pastry is in the oven. Melt butter in a large pot, and saute garlic and leek until soft.

4. Add the Chicken and cook until brown.

5. Add mushrooms and cook until soft.



6. Add the flour and make sure that you mix it well to get rid of lumps. Cook for a further five minutes.

7. Pour in the cup of cream bit by bit, making sure to mix well. it will create a fantastic sauce for the pie. Once you reach the consistency that you like the inside of your pie stop and then add another quarter cup of water and stir. The pie filling will reduce a little bit in the oven.



8. Remove pastry from the oven. Remove baking paper and rice and pour in pie mixture.



9. Place a piece of pastry on top and seal. Puncture the top to allow the steam to escape.

10. Cook for an hour or until pastry is brown and puffed.
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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Not So Boring Breakfast: Breakfast for One

Cook Meter: Intermediate (sometimes the flipping is hard!)
Cost Meter:  $$



Nick works shiftwork , which means that sometimes on a Sunday morning, I am home alone. Fortunately there is one meal that I cook especially when I am alone.

Omelettes.

I know it's probably possible but I have never been capable of making more than one omelette at a time. For starters, I only have one large frypan. So when cooking omelettes for multiple people, it means dishing them up one. This means that by the time I sit down to have mine everyone else has already finished.

When you are alone however, you get to eat that omelette as soon as you have cooked it. It's all about you. So relax and enjoy.

Ingredients (for one omelette only)

3 eggs
2 tbsp milk
1/4 red onion
50g sliced smoked salmon
Feta (as much or little and you like)
Salt and Pepper to taste

Method:

1. Heat a small frypan with a little butter and fry the sliced red onion until soft and brown. Once done put aside.


2. In a bowl whisk the eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Remember to go a little easy on the salt as the feta will be salty enough.

3. Put a large frypan onto a medium heat and melt butter so that it thinly covers the bottom of the frypan.

4. Cut up your salmon and feta.

5. Once heated add your egg mixture and rotate the pan to make sure it is spread evenly. When it's about halfway cooked, run your egg slice around the edge of the omelette until you can figure out which half will flip over the easiest.



6. Place your ingredients on the other half and then fold the empty half of the omelette onto itself.



7. Cook until feta has melted and the omelette is a golden colour.

8. Serve with toast and a nice pot of coffee.
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Friday, February 4, 2011

Baking Bliss: Blueberry Muffins

Cook Meter: Amateur
Cost Meter:  $
 
 
It's well known that I am one of the worst bakers and that I have issues with burning things on the bottom.  Today, however my baking dreams were answered, so let me tell you how.
 
A friend of mine told me that he has a special biscuit tray.  One for people who don't have fan-bake ovens.  It has two layers of metal and a section of air in between so that your baking doesn't get direct contact with the heat on the bottom elements of your oven.  This was a genius idea.

The next day off I went to my local gourmet cooking appliance store.  I couldn't find what I was looking for so I asked the shop assistant. The next thing I know she was looking at me like I was a crazy person.
 
"They exist!" I told her, "I have a friend who owns one."
"Oohh OK a friend of yours has one, so what are they called?"
 
To be honest I was stumped, and when I asked him he said he didn't know either.  So at this point my oven frustration reached it's peak, knowing their is a solution and not knowing how or where to get it is worst than not knowing at all.
 
Sitting in my lounge angry, frustrated, a thought popped into my head. What if before I put my blueberry muffins into the oven, in the rack below I placed an empty oven tray. This is essentially the same idea right?  Am I a genius, NO, but can I now bake without burning things on the bottom. HELL YEAH!
 
Blueberry Muffins
 
Ingredients:
 
3 cups of flour
1 tbsp of baking powder
3/4 cup of brown sugar
125g of butter
2 punnets of blueberries (you don't really need that much but I LOVE blueberries)
1 cup of milk
2 eggs
 
Method:
 
1. Preheat an oven to 200 degrees celcius

2.  Sift together the flour and baking power, add the sugar and make into a well.
 
3.  Melt butter and mix with flour and lightly whisked eggs.
 
4. Pour into the well and mix together with the dry ingredients. 
 
5. Fold in the blueberries but don't mix it too much.


 
6. Place mixture into a greased 12 muffin tray, use muffin cups if you can, it makes them easier to take out.



7.  Place in the oven and cook for 15 - 20 minutes, to check if cooked push a skewer through the middle of the muffin and if it comes out dry your muffins are cooked!!
 
Variation:  I also like to half the amount of blueberries and add half a packet of white chocolate chips!
 
 
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