24 Feb 2007

Waiter, there's something in my ... pie!

This is my submission for the food blogging event.
Waiter, there's something in my ... pie! hosted by Cook Sister

I made this recipe with some blueberries I had frozen last summer when they were in season. The recipe has been made by the catering team at the National Trust's Penrhyn Castle Tea Rooms in North Wales where it has been one of the most popular items on their menu. It comes from the National Trust's own collection of Victorian recipes. It takes its name from the children's habit of collecting bilberries and shoving handfuls of them into their mouths - with predictable results.


ISBN 0747221057 - Page 86

Serves: 6-8 people but can easily be scaled down.

Skill Level: Moderate.

Taste Test: The pastry melted in the mouth and the blueberry and apple combination tasted fresh.

Firstly, I had to make a rich sweet shortcrust pastry which called for quite a lot of sugar, I omitted most of this and only used 14g as I could see from the filling ingredients list that lots more sugar was to be used. The pastry case had to be baked blind - and on eating the pie I was pleased about this because the filling would have made the base soggy. Instead the base had a wonderful crunch to it.

I used a 20cm, and not the 23cm loose-based pie tin recommended and scaled down the filling ingredients. In the original recipe 675g of blueberries were stated, but I only had 500g and so I used these. If you use the original recipe to the letter I would scale down the amount of caster sugar, in both the pastry and filling, otherwise the pie will be far too sweet.

The surprise ingredient in this pie is using fresh mint. I have to admit I left this out, purely because I wanted to make sure I was going to enjoy the pie – after all, I did use up my stock of blueberries.

I served the pie with homemade yoghurt - the acidity from the yoghurt complimented the sweetness of the pie perfectly.

Kitchen Equipment used: Magimix Food Processor.

For a 23cm (9 inch) pie you will need 350g (12 oz) of rich sweet shortcrust pastry.

Rich Sweet Shortcrust Pastry: 225g (8 oz) plain flour, 1 large pinch of salt, 115g (4 oz) butter, 55g (2 oz) caster sugar, 1 egg yolk, 2 tablespoons very cold water.

Whiz the flour, salt and butter to breadcrumbs in the food processor, add the egg yolk and water, whiz again until the mixture just comes together. Wrap in clingfilm and leave in the fridge for 30 minutes. Roll the pastry out between two sheets of clingfilm, and use to line the loose-based pie tin. Prick the base all over with a fork and brush the pastry base with beaten egg. Place on a pre-heated baking tray in a preheated oven (180°C/350°F/Gas 4) and cook the pie base for 25 minutes.

Turn the heat up to 190°C/375°F/Gas 5.

Filling ingredients:
2 large granny smith apples (or dessert apples), peeled, cored and thinly sliced.
225g (8 oz) caster sugar (I would reduce this to 170g/6 oz).
Juice of half a lemon
1 heaped tablespoon of finely chopped fresh mint(optional)
675g (1½lb) blueberries
115g (4 oz) icing sugar

Place the apple slices in a bowl and sprinkle with half the sugar and the lemon juice. Toss to mix and leave for 20 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, place the apple slices in the pre-baked pastry case. Mix the mint (if using), with the blueberries and then put them on top of the apple slices. Sprinkle with the remaining sugar and juices from the apples. Place a pie raiser or an upturned eggcup in the centre of the tart.

Roll out the remaining pastry for the lid and place over the filling, sealing the edges. Make a slit in the centre of the pastry lid. Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes or until the apple slices are soft. Remove from the oven and allow the tart to rest and cool.
Do not remove the pie from the tin until cool otherwise it will crumble.

Placed the icing sugar in a bowl and slowly add a few teaspoons of very hot water, mixing until you have the right consistency, drizzle over the pastry crust in no particular pattern.

Serve warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!!

Metal or Silicone Baking Trays

I decided to buy into silicone baking trays, they come in an array of tempting colours and designs.
However, I have now found it is impossible to love a silicone baking tray, they always look so clinical and unused, and anyway you still have to put them onto a rigid baking tray otherwise they just flip flop about!
Metal baking trays always have signs of being used, old deposits that won't budge no matter how hard you try. They look loved, also they bring back memories of baking days of old. You have to grease and line them even though the lining paper can sometimes be a struggle. I don't want perfection - just a cake that looks homemade.
A muffin or cupcake never looks the same unless it is in a paper case - well it just looks undressed! Part of the fun of eating a muffin is prizing it out of the case.
A muffin out of a silicone tray always looks lonely and unloved to me - but one in a muffin case, well that's a wonderful sight.

18 Feb 2007


I have been working my way through various cookery books over the last year or so to find a lamb shank recipe that I have been really pleased with, and this is it. The Australian Women's Weekly cookery books suit my style of cooking. Fearing whether or not a recipe is going to work just isn't an issue with these books - all the recipes I have used in the past have been wonderful. I am looking forward to trying other lamb shank recipes now from their books.


ISBN 186396477-0

- PAGE 71

Serves: 8 people (but can easily be scaled down).

Skill Level: Moderate.

Taste Test: The meat was meltingly tender and the sauce was rich.

This recipe lends itself to being made in the slow cooker - it only takes 5 hours on high. If you do use a slow cooker you will have to dice the vegetables finely otherwise they won't cook.
I made this for two people and so the recipe had to be scaled down accordingly, but I kept the 500ml of red wine in and used half a litre of chicken stock.
It says in the recipe to strain the pan juices and then discard the solids (what a waste!!). I strained the pan juices and served the diced vegetables separately, after all they were cooked in red wine.
I made the mash but left out the cream and I didn't use all of the butter it states in the recipe. Buttered spring cabbage was served with this dish.
The sauce and meat were fabulous - what more can I say but try this recipe for yourself and I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Kitchen Equipment Used: Alligator Vegetable Dicer.

14 Feb 2007

Bamix Handheld Blender

Gordon Ramsay has put his name to a new Bamix model and I have to say this looks very sophisticated compared to my old white one. However, it still does the same job as mine and so I will get down to the nitty gritty of describing how this works.
Compared to most other handheld blenders it is very powerful and works at approx. 15,000 r.p.m.
It comes with a mincer blade which makes light work of making batters, it will chop, mince and puree, and is also great for blending soups and sauces.
The beater - aerates cream and will whip up soup.
The whisk - stirs and mixes shakes, drinks and purees.
The processor - grinds coffee beans, chops nuts, makes castor sugar and grates Parmesan cheese.
My model also came complete with a jug.
The Bamix is very powerful and so take a word from the wise - make sure you keep the blender head immersed at all times whilst it is whizzing around or you will decorate yourself, and the whole kitchen, but thats another story!!

8 Feb 2007

Retro Recipe Challenge RR6

St.Valentine's Day is nearly here, but I made this for what is sometimes called St.Valentine's weekend and also for the
Retro Recipe Challenge #6 Food of Love.

Recipe taken from:


Serves: 4 people

Skill Level: Moderate

Taste Test: The meringue was sweet and a little chewy.

The ingredients list was unusual in that icing sugar instead of the usual caster sugar was used, also baking powder was in the list of ingredients to make the meringue. I made this in a heart shaped tin which I lined with a large piece of parchment baking paper. The method was unusual in that you didn't whisk the egg whites until they were stiff as you would usually do. The sugar etc was added to the egg whites gradually from the beginning. The addition of baking powder worried me slightly. When the meringue was cooking it rose quite alarmingly (obviously the baking powder was doing its job) - far too much for my liking. I cooked the pavlova at 140°C for 90 minutes then left it in the oven to dry out.
I took the pavlova out of the oven, turned it out - oh dear! it had a top, middle but no base! Also, the top looked like a crater. I think maybe my tin would have been more suitable for a 2 egg white mixture and not the three specified in the recipe, perhaps that is why the mixture rose too much and it didn't have a base.
The cream I used to cover the top was my usual favourite - ¼ pt of softly whipped double cream, ¼ pt of thick Greek yoghurt and 1 tablespoon of icing sugar mixed together.
What is your favourite cream?
I made a raspberry coulis to go with the pavlova - 170g raspberries, 60g icing sugar, 1½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice. Just whiz everything together, push the sauce through a plastic sieve. Store covered in the fridge - Beautiful.
Would I use this recipe again - definitely no. Would I make this again using a different recipe - yes!!
We ate it all up, even the meringue crumbs and so it couldn't have been all bad could it?

EQUIPMENT USED: A heart shaped tin.

1 Feb 2007


On a shopping outing with my husband I spotted a wonderful bundt tin - it said buy me and so I did! I saw an article on mini bundts by Brilynn on her foodblog Jumbo Empanadas and so I decided to have a go.


ISBN 0701168889 - PAGE 26

Makes: 6 cakes

Skill Level: Easy

Taste Test: Doughnut texture and slightly sticky.

These are made with plain yoghurt and so obviously I used some that I had made. I thought these would be a fairly bland cake mixture and so I added a teaspoon of culinary lemon oil to liven them up. I read on another foodblog that they had added some raisins to the mixture because they also felt the sponge was rather bland.
They are a doddle to make, even a child with the necessary supervision could have a go at these. The bundt tin needed lots of greasing otherwise I think they would just stay in the tin forever! I use Cake Release to grease tins and the problem of turning cakes out isn't a problem anymore. These could be made in muffin cases - just spray the cases first with an oil mister.
The topping is made with lemon juice and icing sugar - you really need the hit of lemon in the icing otherwise these cakes are in danger of being too bland.

Kitchen Equipment Used: Nordic Ware Bundt Tin.