Saturday, 3 May 2014

Merryn's Menu: Garden Share Collective May Gardening

Merryn's Menu: Garden Share Collective May Gardening: Autumn is definitely here, producing lovely sunny days with cooler mornings and evenings. The perfect climate for growing capsicums. ...

Garden Share Collective May Gardening

Autumn is definitely here, producing lovely sunny days with cooler mornings and evenings.

The perfect climate for growing capsicums.

Sweet Fennel

I have started a new herb garden against a north facing brick wall.
The shredded paper was padding for an object posted to me,
I decided to use it as mulch.  Anything from straw to paper, helps to keep the soil moist
and stop your delicate plants from drying out too quickly.

To the right is a new male kiwifruit plant I finally purchased.
My 3 year old female on the left has been alone for a while
and kiwifruit need male and female plants for pollination.
I will remember to water this one.

Shopping for plants is like going into a jewellery store.
You have to try hard not to get distracted.
Well, not too much anyway.
So I found this really cute cinnamon tree ~ if it lives for just 5 years it will pay for itself.

... and this adorable macadamia tree.

Here are winter tomatoes raised from seed and planted in a northerly position
against a brick wall that retains the heat and give the tomato plants extra warmth.

My Tahitian Lime and Eureka Lemon trees
bursting with glorious citrus fruit.

Our next banana bunch, growing in size and strength.

Blueberry bushes, a Biloxi and a Misty.
They will cross pollinate each other and grow up to 1m in size.
I have potted them into bigger pots as I want them to grow bigger before planting in the ground.

I trust you have enjoyed viewing my garden 
and I will do my best to keep everything watered and alive.
Please have a look at the other Garden Share Collective members gardens this month.

Buon appetito, Enjoy, Merryn.

Merryn's Menu: Chicken, Leek and Mushroom Pie

Merryn's Menu: Chicken, Leek and Mushroom Pie: Full of flavour Chicken and Leek Pie I often plan dinners ahead, although food being an emotional enjoyment is also often decided daily...

Chicken, Leek and Mushroom Pie

Full of flavour Chicken and Leek Pie

I often plan dinners ahead, although food being an emotional enjoyment is also often decided daily.
On this Monday I had planned to cook a chicken and leek pie that evening, after work.
On this day while having my morning caffe latte and browsing the day's emails 
I was fortunate to find and read Billy Law's latest post featuring 
game-of-thrones-faux-pigeon-pie and I highly recommend you have a look as well.
I was not quite inspired enough to cook all of the trimmings, time is precious after work!
Billy's recipe was adapted to suit my ingredients and the time available.  It was a huge success.

Short crust pastry with Lard
500g all-purpose plain flour, extra for dusting
150g cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
100g lard
1/4 cup cold water
Place flour, butter and lard into a food processor.  Blend until it just looks like breadcrumbs.
Lightly pulse, adding the water in a stream until it comes together as a ball.  
Place in bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Chicken and Leek Filling
2 tablespoons butter
2 big leeks, white part only, thinly sliced
350g  white mushrooms, thinly sliced
900g chicken thigh fillets, diced into 1 - 2cm cubes
2 tablespoons butter, extra
¼ cup all-purpose plain flour200ml Chicken Stock
200ml cream
1 tablespoon flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme (or 1 tablespoon dried)
salt and white pepper
1 egg
Melt butter in a large heavy based  frying pan over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons butter, the leeks and mushrooms, sauté for 5 minutes.  Add the chicken pieces and fry another 10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.  Sprinkle the flour over this mixture and cook for a further couple of minutes. Gradually stir in the hot stock sitrring constantly, then add the cream. Add herbs and simmer gently over low heat until the mixture has thickened.    Season with salt and white pepper.  Allow to cool slightly.
Preheat oven to 200 celsius.
Take 2/3 of the lard pastry and roll pastry out until it is wide enough to cover the bottom and sides of a 20-cm springform tin. Place a sheet of baking paper on top of the pastry and fill with baking beans (weights to stop pastry rising) then cook for 20 minutes.  
Remove and take away the paper and weights.  Bake for another 10 minutes.  Remove from oven.
Fill pastry case with chicken, leek and mushroom filling.
Roll out the remaining pastry and cover the pie with this lid, squeezing the lid to the sides to seal the pie.
Beat an egg with a little milk and brush the pie with this egg wash.
Place the pie on a baking tray, bake pie in oven for 35 - 40 minutes. 
Remove and let rest for 5 - 10 minutes.

Buon appetito, enjoy. Merryn

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Paris Brest

A delightfully stunning dessert

This is a simple yet elegant dessert.
Everyone likes pastries and filled with creme patisserie
this is  gorgeous.

There is so much fun in baking to keep one amused and the family, well fed.


Choux Pastry:

1 cup plain flour

pinch of salt

6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter

1/2 cup (125 ml) whole milk

1/2 cup (125 ml) water

4 large eggs, lightly beaten

For glazing:

1 egg, beaten

1/2 cup (50 grams) shaved almonds  (I used chopped almonds)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) and place the rack in the center of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Draw an eight inch (20 cm) circle on the parchment paper to use as a guide when piping the choux pastry.  Pipe the pastry onto the unwritten side of paper and place on a baking tray.

In a bowl sift together the flour, sugar and salt. Set aside.

Place the butter, milk, and water in a heavy saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and, with a wooden spoon, quickly stir in the flour mixture. Return to heat and stir constantly until the dough comes away from the sides of the pan and forms a thick smooth ball.  Let cool.
When the dough is lukewarm, start adding the eggs, one at a time, and beat with a spoon until it is incorporated.  Continue until all eggs have been added and the dough is smooth

Transfer the dough to a large piping bag fitted with a large plain nozzle.  Pipe a 2.5cm  thick ring of dough on the paper 20cm circle.  Pipe another thick ring inside the first ring, making sure the rings of dough are touching. Pipe another dough ring on top of both of the lines, continuing until all mixture is used.  Brush the top with beaten egg. Sprinkle with the shaved or chopped  almonds.

Bake for 15 minutes and then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Bake for a further 35 to 45 minutes or until the Paris Brest is a golden brown color, puffed, and crisp. Turn the oven off and, with the oven door slightly ajar, let the shell dry out for 5 minutes. Remove from oven place on a wire rack and split in half horizontally.  Let dry.

Creme Patisserie

2 cups milk
4 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornflour
1 whole vanilla bean.

Place the milk and vanilla bean in a saucepan and bring almost to boiling point.  Remove from heat.
Place sugar, cornflour and egg yolks in a bowl and whisk together until well combined.
Pour the hot milk in a steady stream into the egg mixture, stirring continuously.  Remove vanilla bean.
Pour this back into a clean saucepan through a sieve and bring to a simmer.
Continue to simmer for about 5 minutes until the mixture is thick.
Turn off heat and place glad wrap onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming.   Let cool.

To Assemble:  Spoon the creme patisserie onto the bottom half of the pastry.  Place the top half of the pastry shell on top and dust with powdered icing sugar.

Makes one large 8 inch (20 cm) Paris Brest.

So tell me please,
where would you suggest to holiday this year .... Thailand or Vietnam?

Buon appetito, Enjoy, Merryn