So, today we’ve reached R in The A-Z of Cooking (1977) and…what? Yeah, I know the heading for the post is Blackberry and Apple Pie. But we’re at R already; you should know by now that The A-Z is never going to give you Roasts or Rice or Root Vegetables. Anyone want to guess the “R” in blackberries or apples or pie? No? Good thing because you may as well be shouting “Rumpelstiltskin”. The R in question is “Reheatable”. What makes this even weirder than the normal bonkers of The A-Z is that you’ll quite likely never need to reheat this Blackberry and Apple Pie because it is so good that you’ll eat it in one go!
If you follow me on Instagram, this picture may be somewhat familiar as I posted it the day I made it which was waaaaayyy back in February. As they say, good things some to those who wait! The February baking also explains the heart-shaped decorations because nothing says “I love you” like pie right?
The pastry for the Blackberry and Apple Pie came together really well which was awesome because pastry and bread, even after just doing two months of bread with Tasty Reads, are still things that frighten me! I used frozen blackberries so my mixture was quite wet so when before I placed the filling into the pastry I sprinkled some almond meal into the mix. This helps to soak up any juices that would have resulted in that anathema to the British Bake Off – the soggy bottom. Having recently spilled my water bottle all over my lap en route to the gym and having to do an entire class feeling like I had wet my pants, I am also totally against the soggy bottom!
Okay, I know I need to work on my edges but come on, you gotta give me points for the hearts right?
Long story short. This was one of the best recipes so far from The A-Z of Cooking. Shame it was hidden away in “R for Reheatable”. If I was going to randomly allocate it a category, it would certainly fall under “T for Totally Awesome”. Here’s the recipe, including my l’il almond meal trick.
Blackberry and Apple Pie
A delicious and easy to make Blackberry and Apple Pie
Add the butter and rub until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
Add the sugar, the egg yolk and enough water to make a firm dough.
Roll out half the dough into a circle and line a 22cm pie dish.
For The Filling
Peel, core and slice the apples.
Mix them with the blackberries, the lemon juice, the almond meal, and sugar to taste.
Spoon the filling into the lined pie dish.
Heat your oven to 425F or 220C.
Roll out the rest of the dough and use it to top the pie. Seal the edges, trim neatly and decorate as you wish. Make sure you include a hole in the centre, either as part of the decoration as I did or, just with a skewer. This will allow the steam to escape.
Sprinkle with sugar.
Place in oven and bake until the pastry is golden-brown, about 30-40 minutes.
Serve with vanilla ice cream if desired!
By Taryn Fryer
Adapted from The A-Z of Cooking 1977
Adapted from The A-Z of Cooking 1977
Retro Food For Modern Times http://www.retrofoodformoderntimes.com/
Back to work tomorrow after an Easter break filled with doing a whole heap of nothing! I feel like I’m getting back into the swim of blogging regularly. Let’s hope my holiday filled May doesn’t derail my best intentions!
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!
God Bless the Greeks. They invented democracy, philosophy and some damn fine food. Including fried cheese. How good is that stuff? You take cheese…which is one of my all time best ever foods to begin with…and fry it. That;’s not even eleven. That’s twelve! Possibly thirteen. But, I digress, yeah, I know opening paragraph…and we’re already off track, because today we’re talking about the second wonder of the Greek cuisine pantheon…(or should that be Parthenon?) the cheese and spinach pie, also more formally known as the Spanakopita.
I live in Melbourne, which as anyone in Melbourne will tell you has the largest population of Greek people outside of Athens. I have no idea if this is actually true or just one of those urban myths about the city you live in. Regardless of numbers, there are a lot of Greek people and hence a lot of super delicious Greek food. In fact, just as much as some families have the local Chinese or Indian restaurant, my family would go Greek.
No, not like that you bunch of perverts….I meant we would celebrate family occasions at the local Greek restaurant.
Mind you, this did come after a debacle at the local Chinese. You know the classic tale of the gauche family who drink the fingerbowls? Not that old chestnut for my family. No way. Uh huh.
We’re a much classier lot.
So when, towards the end of our meal, the waiter delivered some small bowls of water to our table we dutifully dipped and dunked and positively soaked our fingers revelling in our (sub) urban/e sophistication. He then reappeared with a plate of…I can best describe them as caramel coated sweet dumplings. The idea being that you dipped your caramel dumpling into the icy cold water thereby changing the caramel from a hot liquid to a crispy shell. We all looked to our now slightly grubby bowls of warmish water and the thought of dessert suddenly didn’t seem so good.
Now, I can’t speak a word of Mandarin, but believe me, that wasn’t a prerequisite to understand what our waiter was muttering as he swished away the original bowls. There is a certain tone people adopt when they say “You people are morons” that is pretty much universal.
We celebrated with Greek food from then on.
The February Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Audax of Audax Artifex. The challenge brought us to Greece with a delicious, flaky spanakopita – a spinach pie in a phyllo pastry shell. I had thought I was au fait with the cooking of this particular dish as it is something I make fairly regularly. However Audax’s version had a few curve balls.
First there was massaging the ingredients. It made me think about those Wagyu cows…
Then post the massage there was the squeeze….this was both kind of disgusting and a shit ton of fun.
Post the squeeze, you end up with two bowls. Once containing a dry mixture, one containing a milky green liquid.
It is at this point that I would diverge from the recipe as given by Audax and add some more cheese into the dry mixture. I don’t know what happened to the cheese but somewhere during the massage or the squeeze it kind of disappeared, leaving a less cheesy spanakopita than I would normally have. For me, it’s all about the cheese.
Anyhow, then you add some couscous to the liquid and let it soak it all up. This is utter brilliance. The couscous bulks up the mixture so you can have a higher pie and it stops the bottom pastry getting soggy.
Another brilliant idea? Cutting the squares before baking. Stroke of genius!
A few weeks ago I, was chosen to be one of the brand ambassadors for The Spice Peddlers, a great shop in Sydney selling a fabulous range of herbs and spices!
Each month, they will send me a different spice or spice blend and I can play with it as much as I want.
Happy days people, happy, happy days.
I can’t tell you how excited this made me. Well, I can’t tell you…but I can can show you.
There may have been a bit of spontaneous dancing round the kitchen.
I may have done a little bit of this… Followed by a bit of this…
I drew the line here.
It seemed a little bit too Monty Python Ministry of Silly Walks…
But I was right back into the groove with this…
That’s how excited I was.
Then I got my first blend and…the fear kicked in. What if it was terrible? What if I was totally uninspired? What if what I made turned out awful? What if the sky fell on my head? You know the usual nonsense panicky “I’m not worthy” that plagues the best of us at times….
So first things first. Which for me was to open up the pack, lick my finger, dip it in and have a taste.
Yeah, I know…
So much for the first unfounded fear. The team at the Spice Peddlers had sent me a container of their Middle Harbour Seasoning. This is a blend of sea salt, lime leaves, lime zest, Tasmanian Pepper, black pepper, green peppercorns, lemon myrtle, dill, chervil and green and white onion.
Otherwise known as delicious! It’s tangy from the lime, zingy from the pepper, punchy from the salt with a very slight herby, aniseedy undertone. So good. So, so good.
This would be perfect just spinkled on pita bread which is then toasted in the oven until crispy to have with dips and a lovely crisp cold glass of white wine on a hot summer day. And you know what? I’ll be doing that very soon.
However, for the purpose of experimentation I wanted to get a bit more fancy.
We are heading into party season and I wanted to experiment with some new fingerfood dishes…have I ever mentioned how much I love fingerfood? There is something magical for me in a party pie, a mini burger, a bite-sized pizza, a canape….you get my drift.
I was once waxing lyrical to a friend about how if I owned a restaurant it would only serve small bits of food and wasn’t it crazy that no one had ever thought of that before?
She gave me a look. You know. That look. “They’re called tapas bars” she said in a voice that suggested she was speaking to the mentally incompetent.
My idea is to have cocktails and fingerfood and it would only be open for the cocktail hour…
Ok…never mind…it’s a tapas bar.
Damn those Spanish and their eerily prescient good food ideas.
Let’s quickly move on and talk about some of my better ideas…like this:
Smoked Salmon and Herb Frittata
Makes 16 mini frittatas
8 eggs 400ml cream
4 spring onions
200g smoked salmon, chopped
2 tsp Middle Harbour Seasoning
1 tsp chopped tarragon
1 tsp chopped chervil
1 tsp chopped chives
1/4 cup grated parmesan
Preheat oven to 150º.
Whisk together the eggs, cream and milk.
Add the spring onions, salmon, spice mix and herbs and parmesan.
If not using the spice blend, season with salt & pepper and increase herbs to 1 tbsp each.
Pour into greased muffin trays and place in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until base and sides are set. Serve sprinkled with additional chives.
Except again, I subbed in the Spice Peddler Middle Harbour Seasoning for half of the herbs and I also sprinkled a little bit of the mix on the top of the pastry before cooking.
The mixture for this is delicious. However, when I make this next time, instead of the “pastry” mix in the Serious Eats recipe I would use a really light crispy buttery shortcrust pastry or even a filo.
As soon as I tasted the Middle Harbour Mix I knew I wanted to make cocktail with it..and what else would go with a lemony, peppery zingy herb mix than a Bloody Mary?
Can i just digress for a moment to talk about how much I love a Bloody Mary? I love a Bloody Mary the way Don Draper loves a Manahattan. To me they are the height of sophistication. In my mind, enjoying a Bloody Mary is like enjoying oysters…when you can do it, you know you’re a grown up. Even more so if you can down one before noon!
I’m also a big fan of drinking my vitamins and all that tomato juice, has to be good for you!
This recipe is probably the best one I have tried. I think it’s the splash of sherry which adds a teeny bit of sweetness into the mix that does it – and I used the Spice Peddler Middle Harbour instead of the celery salt and also to rim the glass.
OMG, this was sooooo good, it set off another bout of dancing…
200ml tomato juice
1 tbsp Worchestershire sauce
1 tsp Spice Peddler Middle Harbour Seasoning or Celery Salt
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
6 drops Tabasco sauce
Splash of cream sherry
Stir Ingredients in a mixing glass with ice, strain and serve!
I’m going to be spending my week perfecting my moves from my new favourite possession – the Barbie Allen Dance/Exercise Book.
She has an entire routine for Xanadu which I may share as a special Christmas Present for all of you…hell, if I get full enough of some Christmas spirit (we here at RFFMT are quite fond of a little bit o’ Hendricks for the holidays) I may even dance it for you!
Bananas are not my favourite fruit. I put it down to an ill-advised visit to a…(please don’t let my mum be reading this)… “show” in Amsterdam when I was, younger and more prone to drunkenness peer pressure than I am now. It took many a year before I could even look at a banana (or anyone dressed in a Batman costume) without an inward cringe and a slight sense of shame.
But, even a banana-phobe like me could not resist trying out the recipe for Rhubarb and Banana Pie in Good Cooking For Everyone. Here is a sneak peek at how that turned out before we turn to some less appetising uses.
OMG that pie was good!!!
I’m conquering my fears in more ways than one this week – bananas and homemade pastry! If only Christian Bale would drop by we could go for the hat trick. Anyway, I had a little flick through Good Cooking for Everyone whilst I was waiting for my pastry to chill and there seemed to be a lot fewer recipes containing bananas than I remembered.
Here is what was listed:
However, my eagle eye soon discovered out the recipes Mary Meredith tried to hide. So, today, allow me to present the Banana File of Shame (and a really, really, good pie recipe)!
Mary Meredith seems to have had quite the predilection for bananas and bacon as they feature in three recipes. I had no idea this was a thing but Niki Sengit gives the combination a stamp of approval in her Flavour Thesaurus (one of my favourite food books) so I guess it must be. Like Mary, Niki also gives a recipe for Bacon Wrapped Bananas. However it is the cheese sauce in Mary Meredith’s recipe that moves it from what Niki calls “fun” to what I call “Ewww”!
Then there are Bacon, Kidney and Banana Kebabs. I have never cooked with, or even knowingly eaten, kidneys. And after reading the second sentence in this recipe which made me gag, it will probably stay that way! The faint of stomach may want to skip recipe.
There is also a sneaky use of bananas in the Sunrise Breakfast. I initially thought the things on the serving platter with the tomatoes were sausages. But who ever heard of people eating sausages for breakfast? Crumbed bananas make far more sense. If you’re insane.
Mind you, I’m obviously a bit slow because I made the same mistake with the Sunday Chicken which also features bananas cunningly disguised as sausages.
Another combination I would never have thought of but Niki assures me that breaded chicken with banana was served on the Titanic and features in F. Scott Fitzgerald‘s novel Tender is the Night! Mary Meredith also features chicken and bananas in her recipe for Stuffed Boned Chicken.
I would have included the pages on how to bone a chicken. Unfortunately, the 13-year-old boy whose sense of humour I stole was snickering so hard at the phrase “boning a chicken” that I had to let it go.
Mary is also not afraid to take food from other climes and destroy them with the inappropriate inclusion of the banana.
A recipe called Flamenco Rice should invoke Spain. It should bring up images of a glamorous Spanish woman, holding the edge of her brightly coloured ruffled dress and twirling, or clicking her castanets to the tune of a classical guitar. Or, at the very least, Paella.
Fried eggs and fried bananas on a bed of rice served with tomato sauce is not flamenco. It’s not even the Macarena.
France also does not fair well. Bananas as an accompaniment to Fondue? No thanks.
Fabulous copper fondue pot though!
Finally, the hidden gem in the shape of a Rhubarb and Banana Pie. This was awesome!
I made a few small changes to the recipe as given. I wanted a really short, almost a shortbread, crust so I used the Almond Sweetcrust Pastry in Alan Campion and Michelle Curtis’ In The Kitchen instead of that suggested by Mary. If you are scared of large quantities of butter look away now.
I mastered the pastry only to discover my pie dish had disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle that hovers over my house. But, in the spirit of keep calm and carry on, I crossed my fingers and rolled the pastry into a soufflé dish.
I added 1 teaspoon of Orange Flower Water into the mix before I loaded it into the Pie Crust. I love the mix of rhubarb and orange!
The pie was fabulous, the flavours worked beautifully together and the pastry was light and crisp. I kept my rhubarb and my banana relatively chunky which made for an interesting mix – one mouthful would be heavily rhubarb in flavour, the next would be almost entirely banana. If you wanted less sharply defined flavours, you could cook the rhubarb to soften it, then mash be bananas in.
I may be biased but I think mine looks pretty good, despite the use of a soufflé dish!!!
They say the best way to get rid of your phobias it to face them. So, this week I’m going to be spending a lot of time looking at pictures of Christian Bale on the internet.