Happy New Year everyone! 2016 was a tough year and I am glad to see the back of it! And what better way to celebrate the turn of the year than with a classic chicken pie! Well, champagne and lobster would have also been grand but chicken pie it was! And Lord Almighty, you have no idea the effort involved in bringing you this chicken pie – direct from the pages of The A-Z of Cooking! This is the third recipe I made from the chapter called Old Favorites.
The first thing I made were some pastries called Maids of Honour, originally made in Tudor Times. I nearly lost my head when I saw the photos of them. They were terrible!!! Totally unusable. So then I made an Apple Pan Dowdy. Terrible name for what was a quite tasty upside down apple cake. I did not take any photos the night I made it and only remembered a couple of days later that I needed to. By which time, the cake was gone!
Left in the chapter was a recipe for Steak and Kidney Pie – I know people eat it and I’m sure it’s delicious. But as far as I’m concerned kidneys are there to absorb waste and make urine – neither of which make me want to pop some in my mouth and chew. There was also a recipe for a Killarney Hot Pot which contained pork belly which is another thing I don’t eat. Finally, there was a recipe for Chicken Pie which I initially ignored because….boring! Then I realised I had everything I needed to make it in the house and voila, chickken pie it was!
This Chicken Pie is actually not boring. It was delicious!!! Making it during a heat wave was probably not my brightest move ever but it was worth it! Seriously, the night I made those pies, I went to bed around 1:00am and it was still 32°C. That’s 89.6°F for my American friends. And is damn hot for the early hours of the morning where ever you are! So you can only imagine how much hotter it was earlier in the day when I was baking the pies!
This was perfectly balanced, chicken and mushroom is always a great combination and this had the perfect amount of wine and cream. I added some fresh chives into my chicken mix and made small pies instead of one large one but otherwise this was exactly as per The A-Z. Well, I used bought pastry instead of making my own – heat wave remember?
This would be a great way to use leftover chicken…just sub it in at the point of mixing. And if you are not fond of mushrooms (I’m looking at you Jenny Hammerton) use whatever vegetables you like – corn, asparagus and or leek would all be super delicious or you could go very traditional and have peas, carrots, celery.
The only downside of this pie, apart from the heat wave, was that for the whole time I made it I was singing that terrible hair band song from the ’90’s “She’s my cherry pie” in my head, except I was subbing in chicken for cherry. Be warned. It could also happen to you! Meaning, now that I have planted that seed it surely will!
All together now
“It’s my chicken pie,
Cool drink of water, such a sweet surprise,
Tastes so good makes a grown man cry,
My chicken pie”
Now that I’ve ruined this, and all future chicken pies for you all, here’s the recipe:
It will come as no surprise to you, wise people of the internet that this, in all it’s earthy glory, is a potato:
And this, is a can of beans.
They don’t call me Captain Obvious for nothing!
What is probably not so obvious is that you can turn these into this:
That’s right, lemon meringue pie made from spuds and beans.
Well, it’s Pieathalon – the foodie equivalent of Mouseketeer Surprise Day; anything can happen and it usually does!
Starting with a brand new logo (thanks Greg, it looks super!)
Pieathalon is that time of year when bloggers from all over the world swap recipes and rejoice in the kooky baked goods of yesterday. The full list of participants and what they made is at the bottom of the post. Why not go visit them all? Maybe start with Battenberg Belle who is making my pie of choice, Fatty Arbuckle’s Delight, then pop over to Ruth at Mid Century Menu who sent me lemon potato pie!
Lemon Potato Pie – The Pie
The recipe for Lemon Potato Pie comes from 250 Superb Pies and Pastries, a book from 1941. The use of the humble spud instead of the more luxurious ingredient of butter to create lemon curd had a feel of wartime austerity about it. Butter was rationed right? Otherwise….why? No, seriously, WHY?
Let’s not delve too deeply into the minds of 1941 and get stuck right in to the pie. Starting with some grated potato.This was then parboiled for a spell and quickly became a kind of gloopy liquid.
After the rest of the ingredients were added and it cooked some more, the potato broke down even further. However, at the end of the cooking there were still some small flakes of potato which were odd and a bit off putting when you tasted the….sludge. So, even though this was not in the recipe I blended the lemon mixture to make it smooth. Bear, in mind I have the fussiest eater in the world as my chief taste tester!
Lemon Potato Pie – The Meringue
So, then to the meringue. And here disaster struck. I had put the separated whites into a bowl and left them on the far side of the kitchen bench while I made the filling. When it came time to make the meringue I looked around to where I had left the egg whites and they had vanished.
“Did you take my egg whites?” I asked The Fussiest Eater in The World.
“I gave them to the dogs. I thought that’s what you left them for”.
We had no more eggs. And we had been to a rather boozy lunch that day so there was no option of getting into the car to go buy more eggs.
“Crap…guess, I’ll have to finish it tomorrow”.
A bit later, I was making our dinner which was the Argentine Beef Stew from The A-Z of Cooking (1971). I will definitely blog about that one soon, it was DELICIOUS and I remembered something about making meringues from bean water. A quick visit to Google confirmed that you could make meringue from the water that surrounds tinned chickpeas or white beans. Why not give it a whirl? It’s in the same spirit of “make do and mend” as the potato based filling.
I drained the can of beans, the beans went into the stew and the bean water went into the mixer.
I was incredibly surprised to see that it meringued up a treat!
Ooops! I’d over filled my pie!
In homage to Ruth, I thought I would let the Fussiest Eater in The World have the final say on the Lemon Potato Pie.
Lemon Potato Pie: The Verdict
So, what do you think?
“The filling is gorgeous. It’s really delicious”.
And the meringue?
“Tastes like the worst marshmallow in the world”.
Well done cooks of 1941! And thanks Ruth for a super recipe! Your lemon potato pie is delicious!
Sadly, vegans and egg intolerants, the aqua fava meringue was not. It was much more marshmallow-y than meringue-y. It was very gooey and a bit stringy – think mozzarella cheese on a pizza.
Here is the recipe for the pie:
Given the bean meringue was a failure, here is the proper recipe for the meringue from Ruth.
“The recipe for Meringue 1 is 2 egg whites, 4 tbsp sugar, 1/2 tsp vanilla. Beat eggs until frothy, add sugar gradually, and continue beating until stiff. Add flavoring. Pile on pie and bake in 325 degree oven for 15-18 minutes”
Pieathalon 3 – The Bloggers
Here is the full list of the wonderful crazy people who participated in Pieathalon this year. I’m heading off to see their creations! Why not join me?
Is late March too early to call Dish Of The Year for 2016? Because I think I have a winner.
At the very least, my version of Four and Twenty Blackbirds’ Salted Caramel Apple Pie will be Top Ten. I would love to think that over the course of the next nine months I could cook ten things that are better than this. I just very much doubt it will happen. It’s THAT good!
Salted Caramel Apple Pie. Even the words sound good together. You know how when you first fall in love and you want to say the name of your beloved all the time? That’s what I’ve been like all week, just walking around with my head full of “Mmmm…caramel…salted caramel…with apples…in a pie….salted caramel apple pie….oooohhhh yyyyyeah”. And sometimes not only in my head. There’s been a few awkward moments when I’ve said some version of the above only to be met with a blank look and someone saying “Ok, sure…but what’s the time?” That’s how good this is. It will send you into inner rhapsodies. Which sometimes become outer rhapsodies.
It’s starting to get a bit colder here now, much more autumnal – and nothing quite says Autumn like an apple pie! I pretty much used the Four and Twenty Blackbirds Recipe that you can find here for this.
However, I twisted it up a bit as follows:
I used Rhubarb Bitters instead of Agnostura Bitters in the filling – because I already had some and rhubarb and apple is a classic combo right?
The original recipe calls for four to six lemons. I think this is waaaaaaayyyyy too many. I used three and I feel my apple mixture was too wet. I had to drain a lot of liquid off before I put the apples in the pie. I would use two as a maximum and ideally, the minimum amount I needed to stop the apples from browning.
I also used less nutmeg because I’m not overly fond of it and for my palate, a little of it goes a long way.
I used bought pastry – a sweet shortcrust pie shell for the base and puff pastry for the topping
I used less salt than the recipe specified because the fussiest eater in the world is not a fan of salt and sweet.
I also swapped out the flour in the recipe for almond meal and used demerara sugar in the filling and sprinkled over the top of the pastry.
To me, the salted caramel sauce is the star of this dish. Without it, you have…apple pie. Tasty but ho-hum. With it – with the caramel sauce taken to the edge – so you get a hint of bitterness, then a flood of sweet then a kick of salt in the finish – you have a taste sensation!
Having said that, the spiced apples had a lovely flavour!
This was the first time I had ever latticed a pie and it shows. My lattice was quite uneven. Or, as we shall be calling it henceforth – rustic!
This was soooo good! We ate it plain and also with cream and some of the leftover caramel sauce. It would be DIVINE with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
The leftover sauce can be used over ice cream or other desserts and will keep in the fridge for a week or so. I am combining it with chocolate mousse and raspberries for a recipe from our latest Tasty Reads book which I hope will be as amazing as this.
1 1/2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed and cut into even strips
Salted Caramel Sauce
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup water
113g unsalted butter (1 stick)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2-1 1/2 tsp sea salt flakes
4-6 medium to large apples,
1/3 cup demerara sugar
2 tbsp almond meal
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
4-6 dashes Rhubarb bitters
1 egg beaten
Demerara sugar to sprinkle
The Salted Caramel Sauce
Cook the sugar and water together over low heat until just dissolved.
Add the butter and bring to a slow boil.
Continue cooking until the mixture turns a deep golden brown, almost copper colour.
(Keep an eye on it, it can turn from under done to burnt very quickly.)
Once it is the coppery colour, remove from the heat and add the heavy cream. Be careful as the mixture will bubble and steam.
Whisk the mixture over a low heat and add the salt.
Juice the lemons into a large bowl. Add the bitters. Core, peel and thinly slice the apples - a mandoline is perfect for this. Place the apples in the mixing bowl, ensuring each slice is dipped in the lemon juice to prevent browning.
In a large measuring cup combine the sugar, almond meal, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg. Pour over the apples in the mixing bowl. Use your hands to gently mix and coat the apple slices in this mixture.
To Assemble the Pie
Preheat your oven to 190-200C (375-400F).
Place 1/3 of the apples into the sweet shortcrust pie shell, ensuring that the base is well covered and there are minimal gaps.
Pour 1/4 of the caramel over the apples.
Repeat with the caramel and apples twice.
Assemble the lattice crust from puff pastry.
Brush the crust with beaten egg.
Sprinkle with demerara sugar.
Place the pie on a baking paper lined baking sheet (to protect your oven if the caramel bubbles over).
Reduce the oven temperature to 165C / 335F and bake 25-35 minutes or until the apples are just done when tested with a skewer.
Allow to cool. Serve with the remaining sauce, cream or ice cream.
It seemed quite appropriate that I made my Pieathalon pie on Eurovison weekend. After all, my pie was a Belgian Onion Pie with French Pastry Dough. And in 1974 ABBA won Eurovision with their song Waterloo which draws its inspiration from the site in BELGIUM where the Brits defeated the FRENCH army lead by Napoleon.
The coincidence is almost spooky.
But would this pie take me down like a diminutive French General? Or, like a bearded drag queen was I going to “rise like a phoenix” to Euro glory?
And I Have Met My Destiny (In Quite A Similar Way)
A few weeks ago, the lovely Yinzarella put out the call and 19 bloggers answered. We were going to take part in a global event to rival Eurovision, Pieathalon 2.
The History Book on The Shelf (Is Always Repeating Itself)
My recipe, which came from S.S. over at A Book of Cookrye is taken from The Cotton Country Collection from 1972:
Which looks and sounds like it comes more from the Mississippi Delta than any field in Flanders I ever saw. Which is fine, I just finished reading Miss Hazel and The Rosa Parkes League for bookclub. I’m feel like I’m down with the M, I, crooked letter, crooked letter….
I also recently made a French Apple Flan, so my credentials for France are also solid.
I have driven through Belgium on a bus.
I have watched “InBruges“. Twice.
They have waffles. And chocolate. And smurfs.
And that’s pretty much the sum total of my knowledge about Belgium. If there’s going to be a weak link here, it’s bound to be Belgium…is Pieathalon going to be my Waterloo?
My, My, I Tried To Hold You Back (But You Were Stronger)
I feel like the The French Pie dough recipe is very French. And by that I mean both annoyingly pedantic in some details (Triple sifting flour? Really?) and then just gives a big Gallic shrug and leaves others mostly up to your imagination. The implication being if you are that much of a dummy to not know what spices and liquid to use in your pie dough, you probably shouldn’t be making pie dough.
My imagination told me to use a pack of French Onion Soup Mix for both – a spoonful of the dry mix as my dough spice, then make up the rest of the soup and chill it down for my liquid.
My imagination is a psychopath.
The soup mix made the pastry quite salty. If I had added more salt by adding the soup, I’m pretty sure it would have become inedible. So, after a moment of panic and some highly creative swearing I used some pear cider as my liquid. Purely because I happened to be drinking it at the time of making.
And you know what? It worked!!! Really well. The sweetness took out some of the salt and I think the bubbles helped to make the pastry really light and crisp.
I loved this pastry. It had a real French Onion Soup flavour. I am going to make it again but into “cheese” straws to have with dip. And I will probably use Pear Cider as my go to chilled liquid again too!
Now to the first way I “tweaked” this recipe…you may know that have a weakness for small round food. I’m also very much of the mind that more is more. So, why make one pie when you can make a lot of pies?
And Now It Seems My Only Chance Is Giving Up The Fight
I was actually pretty confident with the filling. Because pastry is the hard part of any pie right? And honestly, I nailed that French pie dough like a….like a….French hammer…Yeah…just like that. (Note to self, find some better metaphors).
So bring on the filling….
First up -looking at this very cute picture made me think the pie was baked in onions. I’m not actually sure HOW you would bake a pie in an onion but I do know I want to find out. Another entry into the bucket list of weird food I want to make. I think it also may have sub-conciously influenced my idea to make party-sized pies instead of one big one.
Then? Chopping three large onions? There were tears before bedtime. Then I weighed the butter. Half a pound of butter seemed like an awful lot. I checked my measurements from ounces to grams and weighed it again. No, my measurements were right and that was still a, pardon me for using a very technical baking term, a shit ton of butter.
Suddenly my mountain of onions seemed like barely a hill next to that Everest of butter. In the end, I couldn’t do it. That skyscraper of butter was too overwhelming. I cut off about a third of it and stuck that back in the fridge. I felt really bad about this because I had wanted to follow the recipe exactly. But I was convinced this was just wrong.
And I could just add some extra butter if I needed, right?
Then I started to saute my onions. I was a bit worried that the onions would suck all the butter up and it would be too dry. It seemed ok when the onions were sautéing, however once I added the flour the butter problem became apparent….
Far from being too little butter there was still too much. WAY too much…it was pooling everywhere…
I made the decision to tip some more butter out….turned out to be about another two tablespoons.
I was kind of worried about doing this but as soon as I added the milk and cream, it all came together perfectly and I knew I had made the right decision. Look how lovely and smooth the filling looks.
I only had filling for ten little Belgian onion pies so I ate the additional pie shells. That pastry was awesome!!!!
And half an hour later they came out like this. Puffed up, golden brown, the Belgian Onion Pie babies looked like little golden buttercups!!!
I was so happy with these. And not only were the baby Belgian Onion Pies so pretty to look at, they were delicious too – the light crisp pastry, the creamy filling, they were gorgeous!!!! And they tasted just like French Onion Soup!
You could almost say they were souper!
Gahhh…….Thankfully, the Belgian Onion pies tasted better than my puns!!!!!
I Feel Like I Win….
So despite a couple of hiccups, Pieathalon 2 was a total success.
Huge thanks to S.S. for the recipe and Yinzerella for the opportunity. I LOVED it! Here is my slightly twisted Muriels Wedding thanks to you both:
“I used to sit in my room for hours and listen to ABBA songs. But since I’ve met you and moved to Sydney joined in Pieathalon , I haven’t listened to one Abba song. That’s because my life is as good as an Abba song. It’s as good as Dancing Queen”
High praise indeed!
And as a fitting finale to this Pieathalon, Ladies, Gentlemen…bring out your best moves and your favourite satin jumpsuit and join me, Toni Collette and Rachel Griffiths in a little celebration of all things Pieathalon. Feel free to sing along with my ever so slightly modified lyrics below as you bust a synchronised move…
Pieathalon, Belgian pie with butter galore,
Pieathlon, promise to love you for ever more
Pieathalon, couldn’t escape if I wanted to,
Pieathalon, Knowing my fate is to be with you,
Whoa, whoa, whoa, Pieathalon,
Finally facing Pieathalon!”
The entire list of bloggers and pies are here. Please check ’em all out but check out Sarah who made my Fiesta Almond Peach Pie recipe first!
It’s been a while so I thought I would give you a little update on how I am getting on with the Tasty Reads Books.
Slow: Valli Little: August 2014 pick
Recipes in book: 60
Recipes marked to cook: 34 38
Cooked to date 12 22
p50 Fresh Piccalilli
I did not make the Ham Hock Terrine that this was supposed to accompany but this was one super pickle!!! So fresh and tasty and zingy.
p60 Roast Chicken With Pan Roasted Romesco
This was delicious!
p64 Oven Baked Thai Chicken Curry
Meh…take it or leave it…a solid chicken curry but nothing to write home about.
p66 Moroccan Chicken with Olives
Sorry, I took this photo on the fly during a dinner party. Not the best quality but this dish was great. Very tasty and you can pop it in the oven and pretty much forget about it until serving time! Oh, and in the background you can see the fennel and apple salad from Persiana.
p70 Massaman Roast Chicken
I really wanted to cook this in style of the cover (above) but we had a heap of chicken breasts…this was delicious!
p74 Fish Pie
OMG. So good.
p76 Green Curry With Smoked Salmon
This was ok. I probably would not make it again. It was a bit too salty with the smoked salmon and the soy and the fish sauce.
p84 Fish Tagine
p102 Baked Mushrooms with Pine Nuts & Feta
p124 Deep Fried Brie with Sweet Chilli Sauce
Of this lot, my top three were the mushrooms, the fish pie and the tagine. And you know…fried cheese is never wrong!!! The piccalilli was really good too.
The worst was the smoked salmon curry. Funny thing was, I don’t think I had it marked as something to cook, however we bought some hot smoked salmon which was on sale so I thought I would give it a go. I should have stuck to my initial instincts.
Still To Go
p6 Braised Beef Cheeks With Salsa Verde
p8 Braciola (you’ll notice I’ve added a few in)
p10 Steak with Wild Mushroom Sauce
p22 Lamb & Apricot Tagine
p24 Massaman Curry Lamb Shanks
p28 Lamb En Croute
p36 Macaroni Cheese with Truffle Oil
p44 Meatballs with Heavenly Mash
p62 Roast Quail with Split Pea Dhal
p88 Mushroom Soup with Garlic Bread
p92 Cauliflower Cheese Soup
p104 Pumpkin, Goat’s Cheese and Onion Marmalade Jalousie
p106 Twice Baked Souffles
p110 Mushroom & Potato Tarts
p116 Bagna Cauda with Baby Vegetables
p118 Instant Fondue with Roast Vegetables
Sixteen to go.
I’d like to cook them all before this August which will be the 12 month mark. Technically, that should be easy. Then again, I also have retro books, Persiana, Healthy Every Day and two Tasty Reads selections I have not even told you about yet!!! Plus at least one other bloggy project I am keen to get off the ground. We’ll see…