Easy Way To Roll Out Pie Pastry

April 2, 2013

This is one of those posts that runs the risk of pointing out the obvious, but then it wasn’t as obvious to me as perhaps it should have been…

I like to bake an apple and pear pie with very short pastry.  I like it to be like a shortbread biscuit (only not quite as sweet).  This means that the pastry is hard to roll out without it splitting and crumbling.  And certainly getting it into the tin can be a challenge without breaking it.  Usually I would flour the work top and roll it out to size.  Once it’s thin and circular I’d roll it onto the rolling pin to bring it over to the tin, then roll it off the pin onto the tin.  Inevitably I’d then have to go around fixing the splits.

The new technique is to use greaseproof baking paper the same way that adhesive stickers are lined with a non-stick backing.

First place down a square of baking paper.  The place the chilled sphere of pastry on top (cold pastry is way easier to work with than unchilled).  Place a second piece of baking paper over this.  Roll out the pastry between the paper.

pastry1

Of course you can check the size by placing the tin over what you’ve done.  I found the rolling pin good for most of the rough work, then the whole thing can be smoothed with a gentle rubbing of the hands.

Peel the top layer of paper off, keeping it for the lid.  Place the pastry in the pie tin with the remaining paper uppermost.  This is easy to do because the pastry sticks to the paper while you carry it over.

pastry2

Tease the paper away from the edges first then remove it from the centre.  Then the pastry can be worked into all the nooks and crannies of the pie tin.  Notice no splits at all!

pastry3

After putting in the filling the same process is used for the lid.  Roll the edges together to seal and add vent holes.

pastry4

Couldn’t be easier.

Finally here’s the recipe for my pastry for those following along at home:

  • 1.75 cups plain flour
  • 0.5 cup self raising flour
  • 185g butter
  • 75g raw sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1tbsp milk

Sieve the plain and self raising flour together, add the raw sugar.  Chop the butter into small cubes and work the mix through your fingers until you have the consistency of breadcrumbs.  Whisk the eggs and milk together.  Add to the mix and combine with the hands until it has all come together as a smooth ball.  Divide into 60/40 spheres (for base and lid, respectively), wrap in plastic kitchen wrap and chill in the bottom of the fridge for 20min.

For the pie I use 2 green apples and 2 pears, some brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Bake for 50-60min 180C.  Can also be partially baked for 40min the day before and then freshened up for 20min in the oven on the day.


Formula One Food – 2012 Wrap-up

January 23, 2013

Previously I have posted the odd recipe and mentioned that some of these dishes were part of my Formula One Food game.  But I haven’t really mentioned in any great detail what any of this was about.  So in heady anticipation of the 2013 Season starting in March, I’m doing a 2012 retrospective…

First, what is this all about?  Well the idea was to cook for a whole year in the style of cuisine of each host nation.  So on the night of each race I would eat food typical of that location.  This turned out to be both great fun because my girlfriend and I ended up eating cuisines that we otherwise probably wouldn’t have gone looking for recipes for, and quite a commitment because the races really sneak up on you.  It also ended up being a very sociable challenge because often it was a great excuse to have friends over for a meal, some drinks and to watch the race.  Indeed it converted a lot of people to Formula One, who were not previously into motorsport!

I only came up with the idea during the Australian Grand Prix, so the gallery of meals only commences from Round Two onwards…

Round 2 (Malaysia) – Beef Rendang

Malaysian GP Beef Rendang

Round 3 (China) – Pork Char Siu (Schumi doing some gardening)

Chinese GP pork char siu

Round 4 (Bahrain) – Machboos

Bahrain GP machboos

Round 5 (Spain) – Tortilla de Patatas with Chorizo and Goat’s Cheese Salad

spanish_gp

Round 6 (Monaco) – Caviar, Cheeses, Antipasto

Monaco GP Well, it had to be caviar

Round 7 (Canada) – Salmon Burger with Habanero Guacamole

Canadian GP Salmon burger with smoked habanero gua

Round 8 (Europe) – Paella

European GP (Spain) - Paella

Round 9 (Great Britain) – Full English Breakfast (aka best dinner ever)

British GP full English breakfast (best dinner eve

Round 10 (Germany) – Schweinhaxen, Bockwurst, Semmelknodel, Sauerkraut

German GP schweinshaxen, sauerkraut, bockwurst, we

Round 11 (Hungary) – Goulash

hungary_gp

Round 12 (Belgium) – Waffles

Belgian GP Waffles

Round 13 (Italy) – Pizza (before cooking)

Italian GP pizza

Round 14 (Singapore) – Singapore Noodles (yes, not authentic I know)

singapore_gp1

Round 15 (Japan) – Sashimi, Edomame, Miso, Giant Asahi

Japanese JP

Round 16 (Korea) – Bulgogi, Kimchi

Korean GP bulgogi, kimchi

Round 17 (India) – Curry

Indian GP - curry

Round 18 (Abu Dhabi) – Shawarma

Abu Dhabi GP Shawarma

Round 19 (United States) – Ribs

US GP Ribs

Round 20 (Brazil) – A night off from the cooking!


Chillies: Crop Three!

November 28, 2012

Well it would seem that a new crop of pimientos de padron is now a weekly affair.  This afternoon Mary and I plucked 19 plump pimientos.  The chilli plants are so plentiful that we could be very selective and only take those that are large and fully developed – no little runts this time.

Here’s the now obligatory hands-shot.  And here’s a link to the previous crop for comparison.

And of course the best thing to do is to reach straight for the frying pan and get those things on the heat!

..and once they’re browned and blistered it’s time to give them a generous crack of salt and rack up the beers – for nothing goes better with pimientos than a cool ale.  This truly is the king of drinking food.

These 19 largish chillies were enough for three people to snack on or two to get indulgently piggy.

Now, I have often heard the pimiento de padron referred to as ‘the roulette chilli’ – a name it gets from its habit of one in six chillies being significantly hotter than the others . Normally these are very mild and the hot ones are far from disastrous, but certainly have a little zing to them.  I thought that this time with a decent(ish!) sample size we might keep track of how this plays out.  Well the results are that out of 19 chillies 4 were hotties, so not too far wrong.

All in all I think that a packet of pimientos de padron seeds would make an excellent gift.  Mine cost less than $10 (much of which was postage) and yielded over 30 plants.  Not only do you get the enjoyment of growing these things from seedlings into verdant, bountiful bushes but also it would seem that you get a weekly excuse to pluck a whole pan’s worth, fry them up and crack out the beers.  What could be better?


Chillies: first crop and re-pot

November 6, 2012

Today I picked my first proper crop of pimientos de padron.  Technically this isn’t the first of my chillies that I’ve eaten – but certainly the first time that I’ve managed to pick more than one at a time.  Naturally they went into the pan, got fried and then covered in salt.  Yum!

It has been very hot and dry in Sydney over the last few weeks/month.  This, combined with the small pots that some of my chillies are in, means that my fruit have not been as large as could be expected – they dry out and shrivel quite easily.  The red ones have been on the bush too long (hoping they would get bigger), while the big green one is probably about 7cm long.  Tall plants in small pots also have a habit of getting knocked over in the wind – so the sensible solution is to re-pot a few sizes larger.

In the picture above you can see quite how small my current pots are.  Having been to the local hardware store I am appalled at quite how expensive plastic pots are – over $2 a pot for the nastiest of ‘cheap’ pots.  So I am using plastic buckets that I’ve sourced from the local supermarket.  The deli section gets its mayonnaise and cake icing delivered in them and then they get thrown out – so if you ask nicely you can get a whole bunch of them for free.  All they need is a few holes drilled around the bottom rim for drainage.

You can see from the roots that it is indeed time for larger pots.  Of course you don’t want to leave plants heavily pot-bound permanently, but letting them get a little bound certainly makes repotting easier because it holds all the soil to the roots while you knock them out of their pots.  Before long these root balls will have grown out into their new soil.

And finally a picture of the chilli grove with its new up-sized pots.  I’m always impressed how quickly chillies are appearing on each plant – but it is quite a challenge to keep them all adequately watered.  Hopefully this will help things along.


Souvlaki

October 5, 2012

My recipe for super simple souvlaki – which may or may not be super authentic, but is easy and massively tasty.

Ingredients for the marinade

  • 500g diced lamb/beef
  • 1 tsp all-spice
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 large sprig rosemary, chopped

Directions

  1. Combine and marinate for a few hours.
  2. Barbecue on skewers.
  3. Serve meat on flatbread with hummus and tabouleh.

Singapore Noodles

September 28, 2012

Another in the Formula 1 Food series (albeit not actually Singaporean)…

Ingredients

  • 300g peeled green prawns
  • 300g chicken breast, diced
  • 1tbsp rice wine
  • 2tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1tbsp finely diced ginger
  • 250g rice vermicelli noodles, steeped in boiling water until soft
  • 1tbsp curry powder
  • 1 capsicum (red or green)
  • 3 spring onions

Directions

  1. Marinate the chicken and prawns in the rice wine, soy sauce and half the ginger.
  2. Fry the chicken until cooked.
  3. Add the capsicum, spring onions, remaining ginger and curry powder.  Fry until capsicum has softened.
  4. Add the prawns and remaining marinade.  Cover and steam for a couple of minutes until prawns are cooked.
  5. Remove from heat and stir through the noodles.

How to salt air-popped popcorn

September 21, 2012

Earlier in the week I had a go at making my own microwave popcorn using a brown paper lunch bag.  At the time I mentioned that this technique, while costing well less than 10c a bag, does suffer from one of the key problems of all dry-popped popcorn (such as that made in an air-popper) which is difficulty getting seasoning to stick to the corn.  When cinemas use butter flavouring this goes in with the oil and they use a highly milled salt.  Standard table salt sprinkled over air-popped corn simply falls off.

I’m not entirely sure where you would go to find finely milled salt.  They use it on potato chips, for a similar reason – ease of adherence.  All I know is that it won’t be in your average supermarket aisle.

Not that any of this matters because it turns out that it’s really straightforward to make your own.  A mortar and pestle makes very short work of it all.  I was able to make a couple of teaspoons of fine salt powder in less than a minute of grinding.  (the granite mortar and pestle was $15 for those keeping an eye on costs!  and your curries will thank you for ever more…)

It sticks to popcorn wonderfully well.  Having done this I am honestly baffled at how many endless forums threads there are on how to get flavouring to stick to dry corn.  Everything from oil sprays to specialist chemical suppliers are mentioned – yet this is actually the easiest problem to solve ever!  And you don’t get soggy, oily corn.