A prettier pie than previously anticipated

Or is it a galette? I don’t know what the rules are for naming pies. It is in a pastry. Therefore, it is a pie. Feel free to elucidate if you know the pie-rules. Don’t report me to the pielice (get it, pie-lice/po-lice?) Let’s leave it on that terribly embarrassing note and proceed to the recipe, shall we?

This is a pretty flexible recipe. The only requirement is that the filling is dry and solid enough that it is able to stand by itself in the centre of the puff pastry and not leak out. And the smoked cheese really adds something. By adding something, I mean in the sense of fancy food bloggers “oh my goodness, it really adds a special something!!!” as opposed to the view that, of course, if you add cheese then you are adding ‘something’, i.e. cheese, to the pie.

I think this is one of the tastiest pies I’ve made so far, and it tasted awesome over the next 4 days as cold lunch. If you want to crisp up the pastry again, reheat it in the toaster oven for a couple of minutes.

Soon to be pie See ugly folding - but it didn't fall apart! Isn't it pretty

Seafood Leek Smoked Cheese Galette 

1 sheet puff pastry
1 egg
2 handfuls of grated smoked cheese – I only had enough for 1 handful, so I used a second handful of cheddar
1 handfuls mixed seafood
2 small fillets of fish
3 large leeks
1 tablesp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tablesp sugar
1-2 teasp black pepper
A pinch of salt
A dash of chilli flakes

1 egg + a splash of milk for the eggwash

Oven temperature: 180 degrees C

  1. Slice the leeks and fry over medium heat with a little oil until soft. Add the sugar and balsamic vinegar, and continue to heat until the leeks caramelise slightly on the edges.
  2. Mix the egg, cheese, leek, salt, pepper, and chilli flakes – reserve a couple of tablespoons of cheese for later. Add the mixed seafood.
  3. Place the puff pastry on a sheet of baking paper, and scoop the pie filling into the centre of the sheet of pastry. Leave around 2 inch clearance on each side of the filling.
  4. Cut the fillets into strips, and place on top of the filling, skin up (if the fillets have skin).
  5. Fold up the edges of the puff pastry into a pie shape, starting with one corner and working around until all sides are folded up. Take a look at the picture above for an idea of how to fold it up.
  6. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the assembled pie. Rub a little eggwash (egg mixed with milk) on the exposed puff pastry.
  7. Bake for 40 minutes, until the pie is a nice golden colour.
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Chocolate fondant cupcakes

I don’t know whether it’s anxiety, or some other first world disease that’s been plaguing me, but I’ve REALLY been on a roll this week with baking. I made a batch of red velvet earlier during the week, which was invariably well received. The thing about cupcakes is that it is a surefire way to please everyone and anyone at work. When one has chocolate cupcakes, the world is an exponentially happier place. It’s so cute. Anyway, the result of this free-floating mysterious need to wake up at six o’clock in the bloody morning was this: chocolate fondant cupcakes from none other than The Hummingbird Bakery cookbook. ‘

This is a decadent, super rich chocolate combination. If you’ve been having a terrible day, I guarantee this is the panacea to your problems. Or, at least, it will kickstart a whole new set of problems such as guilt trips and overexercise. Fret not, fret not: it is well worth the guilt.

Some notes: I had to attempt this recipe twice. The first time was kind of a bust: the middle was a bit undercooked, the base was concave…?! Mrs Yeti remarked they tasted a bit like chocolate mooncakes. I don’t like mooncakes. So I added some sodium bicarbonate the second time around. It got better. I also didn’t add all the liquid mixture into the dry, as you will see later, as this made my batter far too runny the first time around. Maybe Singaporean eggs are too watery? I’m not entirely sure. That has been known to happen before, according to my grandma.

Also, I didn’t bother hollowing out the cupcakes and piping  the fondant into them. I tried it with one cupcake, but I found it very overwhelming (and I was also pretty tired by the time I got around to the second cupcake), so I spread the fondant over the tops and left it at that. Still delish.

Chocolate Fondant Cupcakes
from Cake Days: Recipes to Make Everyday Special by The Hummingbird Bakery

Sponge

80g unsalted butter, softened
280g caster sugar
200g plain flour
40g cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda (this I added in, for added texture. Maybe my baking powder wasn’t great?)
2 large eggs
240ml whole milk

Fondant/Frosting

150g dark chocolate
150ml double cream

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius. Line a muffin tin with muffin cases.
  2. Using a hand-held electric whisk or a freestanding electric mixer with the paddle attachment, set on a low speed, mix together the butter, sugar, flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder. Mix until the ingredients are sandy in consistency and no large lumps of butter remain.
  3. Place the eggs in a jug, then pour in the milk and mix together by hand. With the mixer on low speed, pour 3/4 of the milk and eggs into the dry ingredients. At this point, I had appx. 50ml leftover. I didn’t bother putting that in as I found the batter was of drop consistency at this point when everything was well mixed and even.
  4. Spoon the batter into the muffin tin, and bake for 18-20 minutes or until well risen and springy to touch. Leave to cool slightly before removing from the tin and placing on a wire rack to cool completely before making the frosting.
  5. Place the finely chopped chocolate in a bowl. Pour the cream into a saucepan and heat just to boiling point. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and stir until all the chocolate has melted. Stir until it is smooth. If you are using dark bittersweet chocolate as I did, you might want to add 30g of icing sugar to balance the bitterness.
  6. Leave the fondant in the fridge (the book does not say this, but I did). When you are ready to frost your cupcakes a few hours later or in the morning, leave it to warm up to room temperature before spreading the generously over the tops of your beautiful cupcake sponges.
  7. Or, if you want, hollow out the center of each cake using a sharp knife, cutting out a piece about 2cm in diameter and 3cm long. Set the cut-out pieces to one side, then, using a teaspoon, fill the hollow of each cake half full with the chocolate cream filling. Place the cut-out pieces of sponge on top of the filling, like a lid, trimming the pieces to fit, if then top each cupcake with more chocolate cream and swirl it.

On the Clash of Cuisines

Bigfoot and I have this problem, in that he says all Chinese food is bland and I strongly, vehemently, and occasionally violently disagree with him. And I continue to politely suggest that his taste buds have been corrupted by a lifetime of curry powder and exposure to poor quality pork-free cantonese  food.

There is a whole world (of Chinese food) out there. And I will win this personal crusade. Bit by bit, fighting tooth and nail each step of the way.

After this meal, the score stood at 5,001:0 (me being the victor. Of course, I’m also the only one keeping score, but whatever).

Preconceptions vanquished

Szechuan Eggplant with Spicy Tauchu 

Adapted from Smokywok.

2 medium sized eggplants – cut into sticks
1 cm knob salted fish – chopped
5 (small) cloves garlic – chopped
Thumb sized knob of ginger – sliced
3 stalks spring onions – chopped into 1-2 inch lengths
2 red chilli – chopped
1 teasp szechuan peppers

2 tablesp spicy tauchu (bean paste)
2 tablesp soya sauce
1.5 tablesp sugar
2 tablesp chinese black vinegar
1/4 cup water

  1. Pre-cook the eggplant – either fry it for a couple of minutes in a wok, or toast it in the toaster oven for 5 minutes. I toasted mine.
  2. In a claypot (or a pot with a lid), fry with a little oil: salted fish, garlic, ginger, spring onions, chilli, and szechuan peppers.
  3. Throw in all the sauces and the pre-cooked eggplant. Stir it up and wait for the sauce to boil.
  4. Once the sauce boils, lower the heat to medium-low, and cover with a lid. Cook for 10 minutes or so, until the eggplant is cooked and the sauce is absorbed.

Lea’s Favourite Lala

Lala, I have missed you. Pipis (as they appear to be named here in Melbourne) are pretty similar. I do love my clammie types.

I was so excited that I didn’t take process shots. Oops. The process is pretty simple though.

Food like this needs no further introduction, though pretty pictures would probably endear it to more people. Without further delay, I present one of my favourite foods:

Oh lala I have missed you

Ginger & Spring Onion Lala (or Pipis)

Adapted from Rasa Malaysia’s ginger & spring onion crab.

600g lala / pipis
Thumb size knob of ginger
8 stalks spring onion
1 red chilli

1.5 tablesp oyster sauce
1/2 tablesp sesame oil
1/2 tablesp fish sauce
1/2 teasp sugar
1/2 teasp white pepper
1/4 cup water
1/2 teasp corn flour

  1. Clean your lala / pipis, if they aren’t already clean.
  2. Slice ginger into sticks. Chop the red chilli too. Finally, chop spring onion into 1-2 inch lengths, separating the white hard bits and the green bits.
  3. In a little oil, fry the ginger, chilli, and white parts of the spring onion until fragrant.
  4. Throw in everything else – sauce components, cornflour, green bits of the spring onion, and lala / pipis.
  5. Cover for 5-8 minutes with the heat on medium-high, until all the lala / pipis have opened.

Ode to pie

Everyone likes pie. Do you like pie? I like pie.

Far too cutesy pie beads

Pie is not really a thing that one can say no to. And today, in the silence of the still morning, amongst the clackings of my keyboard, I suddenly decided: I want pie.

Why? Does pie need a why? One can never deny the pie.

* end of self indulgent poorly written rhyming *

Pre-caramelised leek Post-caramelised leek

Also, I work from home at present and so I can do these odd things like make pie in the middle of the day. Of course, that means I am back here at the computer working at midnight. Very clever. The sacrifices we make for pie, sigh. (Pie? Sigh? Geddit? snigger snigger)

Hello pie!

Caramelised Leek and Feta Pie with Zaatar Crust

I had leeks in the fridge so cobbled something together. I didn’t like the pie crust I used, and will update the recipe when I find one that I do like.

3 leeks
2 tablesp balsamic vinegar
1 tablesp sugar
Approx 1/2 cup feta, cut into small cubes
3 eggs
150ml milk
Black pepper

1 portion of your favourite savoury pie dough + 1 tablespoon zaatar

  1. When you make your pie dough, add the zaatar to the flour and then continue to prepare the pie crust as per normal. 
  2. Slice the leeks so they are approx 3cm long each. Stand them all up in a frying pan. Pour over a little oil and fry them standing up that way for 5 minutes on medium-high heat.
  3. Slosh the vinegar into the pan, and wait for a couple of minutes so it drys a little. Then sprinkle in the salt.
  4. If you want, gently flip all the little leek cylinders upside down, so both sides char. The easiest way to do this is with a pair of chopsticks, in my opinion
  5. When cooked (and the pie crust is ready to be filled), arrange in the pie crust and place cubes of feta between the bits of leek.
  6. Whisk the eggs and milk together. Pour over the leeks into the pie crust.
  7. Bake for around 15-20 minutes until browned. Use the same temperature as required by your pie crust.