Apple Brie Chicken

“Out of the mouth of babes” is a very apt phrase.  Obviously it’s important to listen to your children.  Aside from the fact it’s healthy for them and can be a lot of fun for all, you never know when they will be a source of inspiration.  

One of my son’s chores is to help me walk the dogs.  It’s my favourite “task” to have him do as it means one on one time with him.  I get to listen about his day, find out how things are going for him, etc.  We also, surprise, surprise talk about food.  He mentioned trying a frozen stuffed chicken with apples and brie/camembert.  Ooh, I said, that sounds really good.  It promptly went on my list of thing to make.

Technique for Apple Brie Chicken:

This is a quick easy meal to put together with breaded chicken and a mushroom garlic sauce.

Sweet apples with brie is a lovely flavour combo.

Preheat the oven to 375F/190C.

Slice pockets into the chicken breasts and fill with the apple and brie.

Coat the chicken with beaten egg and dredge in panko bread crumbs.  Heat the olive oil in a large skillet.  Brown the chicken on all sides.

Finish cooking the chicken in the oven.  In the same skillet add the mushrooms.  Sauté for a few minutes before adding the garlic and rosemary.

Add the butter and wine and simmer for a few minutes.  Once the chicken is finished cooking serve with the mushroom sauce spooned over the chicken.

I served this with corn and roasted potatoes.  See, it does pay to listen to the kids. 🙂  

Apple Brie Chicken

A quick meal with apple and brie. 

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword Apple Brie Chicken
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4 people
Author Our Growing Paynes

Ingredients

Chicken

  • 2 boneless chicken breasts
  • 6 slices brie or camembert
  • 1 apple, sliced
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Mushroom Garlic Sauce

  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 3-5 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tbsp chopped rosemary
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine 3oz
  • 1 tbsp butter

Instructions

Chicken

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F/190C.

    Slice pockets into the chicken and stuff with the brie and apple.  Dredge in the beaten egg and Panko bread crumbs.  Heat the olive oil in a skillet.  Brown all sides of the chicken and finish cooking in the oven.

Mushroom Garlic Sauce

  1. Sauté the mushrooms in the olive oil in the skillet for a few minutes.  Add the garlic and rosemary.  Cook for a few more minutes.  Add the wine and butter. Simmer for a minute or two.  

Serving

  1. Slice the chicken and spoon the sauce over the chicken and serve.  

Cheesy Pasta with Pan Seared Filet of Beef

I’ve been in a definite comfort food mood this week, what with winter settling in and the holiday season having started.  Now that Thanksgiving has passed I’m well into the Christmas mood.  We had the perfect day this past weekend to find our tree.  Just above freezing with gorgeous blue skies.  Our daughter will be heading off to university next year so the traditions are a bit poignant this year. She just got her first notice of acceptance to the University of Manchester and we are very proud.  We just need to hear from all the ones she applied to then we’ll know where she ends up being.  It is an exciting time but it will be good to have it all sorted.

I did a rummage through our freezer and found a filet of beef that was the perfect size for my husband and I.  I’m getting ready for a craft fair this weekend so I needed an easy meal to make.  I came up with a cheesy pasta to go along with the pan seared filet of beef.

Technique for Creamy Pasta and Pan Seared Filet of Beef:

Cooking the Beef:

Preheat the oven to 350F/175C.

Melt the butter in a hot skillet.  Season the beef and brown on all sides.

Cook in the oven until it is the desired doneness.  We prefer it medium rare on the rare side.  Cover and let the meat rest.

The Pasta and Sauce:

Prepare the pasta according to instructions.

In the same skillet used for the beef, sauté the onions, mushrooms and garlic.

Once the mushrooms begin to brown add the brandy and the beef stock.  I took a page from Conor Bofin and had reduced my beef stock and created “ice” cubes out of them.  Certainly does save space.  Bring the sauce to a simmer.

Add the rosemary and cream.  Once that is heated through add the grated cheese.

Add the pasta.  Slice the steak and grate a bit more cheese over the dish and serve.

Perfect for when you need a fix of comfort food.  Makes getting snow a lot easier!

 

Cheese Pasta with Pan Seared Filet of Beef

An easy and flavourful comfort food with cheese and filet of beef.

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 2
Author Our Growing Paynes

Ingredients

  • 8 oz Filet of Beef
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 1/2 cup pasta, cooked
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 3-5 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tbsp brandy
  • 1/2 cup beef stock 4oz
  • 1/3 cup heavy/double cream 3oz
  • 2 tsp chopped rosemary
  • 1 cup equal part cheddar and jarlsberg
  • pinch sea salt
  • pinch freshly ground pepper

Instructions

Cooking the Beef

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F/175C.

    Melt the butter in a skillet.  Season the beef with sea salt and pepper.  Brown all sides of the beef.  Finish cooking in the oven until desired doneness.  Cover and rest before slicing.

Pasta Sauce

  1. In the same skillet you pan seared the beef sauté the mushrooms, onions and garlic.  Once the mushrooms start to brown add the brandy, rosemary and beef stock.  Simmer for a few minutes then add the cream.  Once it is heated through add the cheese.  Add the cooked pasta once the cheese is melted.  Stir well.

Putting it together

  1. Serve the pasta and sauce onto the plate.  Slice the beef and place on top of the pasta and grate fresh cheese over the dish.  

Italian Meatball Skewers

Winter has rolled in uninvited.  Unfortunately it hit on my husband’s birthday so he wasn’t overly impressed to be snow blowing that day.  Something tells me it’s going to be a rough winter but hopefully I’m proved wrong.  Normally I hate being wrong but I’d love to be in this case.  Fortunately the storm was through and done before we had our annual potluck game night to celebrate his birthday.  Though I have to say, we have hearty friends, they would have come anyway. You can’t stop fun! Because it was game night, finger food was a must so I made Italian Meatball Skewers.  Tasty and easy to eat.

This is also super easy to make!

Technique for Italian Meatball Skewers:

Preheat the oven to 400F/200C.

The key for this dish is to use fresh ingredients.

In a mixing bowl add all the ingredients and combine them with your hands.  It’s always a weird feeling but it’s the best way to get everything incorporated without overworking the meat.

Roll the mixture into 1in/2.5cm balls.  Place on a baking sheet and bake 10-15 minutes.  For the last few minutes put the oven on convection/fan to brown the outside.

Slice the grape tomatoes in half and layer the meatballs, tomatoes, cheese and basil onto the toothpicks.

Serve immediately.  And let the games begin!

 

Italian Meatball Skewers

A flavourful party food.

Course Side Dish
Cuisine Italian
Keyword Italian Meatball Skewers
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 8 people
Author Our Growing Paynes

Ingredients

Meatballs

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 small handful fresh oregano, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
  • 1 tsp coarse sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

Remaining ingredients

  • grape tomatoes, sliced in half
  • small mozzarella balls
  • fresh basil, torn into pieces

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F/200C.

  2. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl with your hands.  Roll the mixture into balls 1in/2.5cm in diameter.  Place on a baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes.  In the last few minutes change the oven over to convection/fan to crisp up.

  3. Layer the meatballs, tomatoes, mozzarella and basil onto toothpicks.  Serve immediately.  

Apple Tart with Crème Pâtissière and Toffee Sauce

The wind has been howling this week, getting as many leaves as possible off the trees and wreaking havoc with the existing leaf piles waiting for pickup.  It’s nearly Guinness cold where our old pup starts getting a pep in his step on the way back from our walks.  A salve against the cold is baking.  As we still have apples to use up I thought it would be fun to make a decadent Apple Tart with Crème Pâtissière and Toffee Sauce.  If you are going to go the guilty pleasure route, you might as well go all the way!

Technique for the Apple Tart:

There are a few steps to this dessert but it’s worth it.

Tart crust:

I used the basic recipe from “Baking with Mary Berry” with the addition of a pinch of salt.  Preheat the oven to 400F/200C.

Butter needs to be quite chilled!

Use a pastry fork or your fingers to blend the butter into the flour and salt.  Try to keep your fingers on the cool side if you use your hands.

Once the mixture becomes like fine bread crumbs and they stick together when gently pressed.  Gradually add a bit of water, using your fingers to incorporate the water into the mixture.  Be careful not to overwork the dough.  When it comes together turn it out onto a floured countertop.

Roll out thinly and place into a 9″/23cm tart pan.  Allow the pastry to be higher than the tart pan as the pastry will shrink during the blind bake.  Lightly prick the base of the pastry.

Line with tin foil and fill with dried beans or baking beads.

Bake blind for 10 minutes.  Remove the tin foil and beads.  Trim the pastry edges to the height of the tart pan.  Pop back into the oven for another 10-15 minutes until golden and flaky.  Set aside.

Fillings:

Prepare the crème pâtissière as I did in this Merinque Nests recipe and let cool a bit.

Peel the apples and slice them thinly.  Melt the butter and begin to sauté the apples.  Add the brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Cook until the apples have softened but still hold their shape.

Make the Toffee Sauce but half the recipe as you don’t need too much for the tart.

Putting it together:

Spoon the crème pâtissière into the pastry.  Top with the apple mixture then drizzle the toffee sauce over the apples.

Remove the tart ring, slice and serve!

Decadence is served.  🙂

Apple Tart with Crème Pâtissière and Toffee Sauce

A decadent dessert to use up all those apples from apple picking.

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword Apple Tart
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 8
Author Our Growing Paynes

Ingredients

Pastry Tart

  • 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 6 tbsp chilled butter
  • pinch salt
  • 3-5 tbsp cold water

Crème Pâtissière filling

  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 cups boiling milk (don't scald!)
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract

Apple Filling

  • 2 apples
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar

Toffee Sauce

  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp brandy
  • 1 1/2 tbsp heavy/double cream

Instructions

Pastry Tart

  1. Preheat oven to 400F/200C.  In a mixing bowl add the flour and salt.  Mix then add the chilled butter.  Using your fingers or a pastry fork work the butter into the flour.  Work it until the mixture is like fine bread crumbs.  Then gradually add the water a bit a time while incorporating it into the pastry.  Don't add it all at once!  You might not need all the water.  Stop once the pastry becomes a ball.  

  2. Turn out the pastry on a floured surface.  Roll out thinly then place into a tart pan 9in/23cm.  Gently press the dough into the fluted sides.  Allow the dough to be higher than the sides as it will shrink while baking  Prick the bottom with a fork.  Line with tin foil and fill with dried beans or baking beads.  

  3. Bake blind for 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and remove the beads and tin foil.  Trim the sides to the height of the tart pan.  Bake for 10-15 minutes more until golden and flaky.  Set aside.  

Crème Pâtissière filling

  1. Add the egg yolks to a mixer with a whisk.  Beat on medium.  Gradually add the sugar.  The colour will change to a pale yellow.  Once the sugar is incorporated, beat for another 2-3 minutes and it forms "the ribbon".  Don't go past this point as the sugar will re-granulate.  

  2. Boil the milk.  While this is coming to a boil add the flour to the egg mixture.  Then gradually add the milk while beating on medium speed.  

  3. Add the mixture to a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Keep whisking through this step!  It will thicken up quite a bit but then it will smooth out.  Once this happens cook for 2-3 minutes to cook the flour.  

  4. Remove from the heat and add the butter and vanilla.  Stir well and set aside to cool.  

Apple Filling

  1. Peel and thinly slice the apples.  Melt the butter and sauté the apples in the butter.  Add the cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar.  Cook the apples until they start to soften.  Remove from the heat.

Toffee Sauce

  1. In a saucepan melt the butter.  Add the remaining ingredients and heat thoroughly until the sugar is incorporated.  

Putting it together

  1. Spread the crème pâtissière into the tart, top with the apples.  Drizzle the toffee sauce over the tart.  

 

The Grand Canyon to Clear the Mind

After several days in Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon proved to be the salve we needed.  We needed a break from the craziness, not to mention all the cigarette smoke.  My poor asthmatic lungs were gasping for fresh air.  The hire car was a convertible Mustang, which by the way, is probably the most popular hire car there.  You’d of thought a giant convertible Mustang car club had taken over the southwest.  They were everywhere!

Our first stop was the Hoover Dam.  What a crazy feat of engineering in the middle of nowhere.  It’s just massive.  We knew we were getting close with all the electric lines snaking their way across the sky.  In order to get a proper picture of the dam we had to walk along the Memorial Bridge, which is freaking high up.  I hate heights, well more of a fear of falling, so anything to do with bridges, cliffs, etc really doesn’t sit well with me.  At all.

Hoover Dam

View from the Hoover Dam

Time for the trek to the Grand Canyon.  It’s amazing how far you can drive and see nothing except road.  A great swath was like a moonscape.  Luckily we got to the Canyon before the sunset.  After we checked into the hotel we headed up to the South Rim.  On the way we saw the first of the elk.  Beautiful animals but I was saddened to see the people who were trying to distract them and getting too close.  There are only signs everywhere saying not to do that.  We stayed on the road as it’s not our home.

Years ago I visited the Canyon for a few hours with my dad but I was excited to see it again and as it was the first time for my husband, the sunset was the perfect first impression.

After the long drive it was wonderful to just walk around in the gorgeous weather.  A perfect end to the day.  Of course we wanted to see the views in the sun rise as well.  So a few hours later we were back on the rim to watch the sun come up.  99% of the people were great, enjoying the quiet and taking loads of pictures.  But there was a couple going right out on an outcrop to do their own “photoshoot” but essentially inserting themselves in everyone else’s pictures.  I mentioned outloud how selfish that was and there were a few people within earshot nodding their heads in agreement.  Not to mention they were awfully close to the edge.  I mean, is taking a picture of your feet over the edge really worth the risk of falling?  On average 12 people die each year due to risks being taken.  The next day were a couple of people barely keeping their balance in the wind, holding up a huge flag near the edge.  I couldn’t watch.

But I digress.  Soon it was time for the sun to come up.  A glorious sight.

Sunrise

Sunrise

After breakfast we went back up to the rim and took advantage of the shuttle buses to check out several points along the way.  We also decided to walk between points for awhile.  Boy was I nervous, we were now away from the protective railings.  I said as long as I’m a distance that matches my height away from the edge I’ll be good.  So if I trip I’m far enough from the edge.  Which worked until we came to a short section that was only a couple of feet from the edge.  There was an old tree that was well polished from people gripping it on the way by.  I did get some strange looks as I would brace myself when people passed.  At one point we went to I was less than relaxed and a woman just looked at me and said something in Spanish.  It was pretty clear she had a mixture of pity and wondering why I was there!  🙂  A couple of times on the hike we came across benches where we would sit.  It would be dead quiet as if we were the only two people on earth.  It was incredible.

As we were pulling into our hotel we saw a couple of bucks just eating along.  We stayed in the car while I took a photo but there were two guys behind him getting closer and closer.  Honestly what they were thinking, I don’t know.  The buck comes equipped with several knives on its head!  In the park, while we were on the bus, the driver yelled out the window to a young woman to get away from a buck.  He said one step and it could kill you.  She seemed surprised at that.

A young buck

The last day was spent going up to Desert View before the long drive back to the airport.  Point after point had amazing views.  The average width of the Canyon is 10 miles though the brain can’t wrap itself round that fact.  It’s just so vast.

We would go back in a heartbeat.  It really clears out the cobwebs in the brain.

Las Vegas Observations

Las Vegas is a hell of a place.  I’m not sure I mean that in a good way.  The word my husband and I used most frequently was surreal.  We had an opportunity to go as my husband had a conference to attend so we figured we’d make a holiday of it.  I mean, it’s one those places you visit at least once.

We all wish for flights to be boring and once we were in the air it was but the nuttiest thing happened on takeoff.  We were first in line to barrel down the runway, we’ve been told to stay seated and now they mentioned to the crew to buckle up.  Just as the pilot “hits the gas” a woman stands up in the aisle to remove her jumper.  The flight attendent was yelling at her to sit down and she wouldn’t listen.  We were all watching in disbelief.  How she wasn’t hurt is beyond me.

The trip out gave us some incredible views once we got to the Rockies.

Amazing how the Rockies suddenly rise up.

Best view of Lake Mead!

As I heard it was crazy expensive (shocker, I know) I did a lot of research to see what I could do on the cheap.  Not easy!  A small bag of snack mix was over $7!

If you aren’t into gambling, which I’m not, it can get a bit tricky finding things.  But I did go to the Bodies exhibit and the Titanic exhibit.  Aside from spending time with my husband, these were the best bits of Vegas for me.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to take any pictures, they ask you turn off mobile phones, etc.  I can understand with the Bodies as they are actual humans but definitely a shame about the Titanic exhibit.

I did try to see daylight at least once a day because this was the round the clock ambiance:

Yes, they do this on purpose to keep the gamblers at the slot machines but add this to the awful cigarette smoke it got a bit much. The pool area was my refuge in the morning while the shade lasted.

I did explore the strip, thank goodness for the bus system as the strip is 5 miles long!  It doesn’t seem it as all the resorts are massive.  You’d be amazed at the miles you can walk just staying in one resort.

I headed to the Bellagio as I heard they had a flower conservatory and a blown glass ceiling display.  Not only did it not disappoint, it was free!  The conservatory wasn’t massive but they are really creative with the display.  Well worth stopping by.

Their lobby ceiling was full of colour.

This made me want to hop a plane to Paris.

My husband was invited to an event at the top of Mandalay Bay and what a view!  I have to say that was quite something.  We chuckled as we had to go through security and they took my popcorn I got at dinner.  Because it was free I was saving it!  But I was out of luck.

To close out our stay before we headed to the Grand Canyon we headed to Fremont St and the surrounding area.  I enjoyed it much more.  No one seemed intent on emptying your bank account on a bag of crisps but you got to see the old casinos and they have the Container Park where all the shops and restaurants are made from shipping containers.  Plus you have the Preying Mantis out front.

Fremont St

At night flames come out of the antennae.

I am grateful for the opportunity to visit Las Vegas but I can honestly say once was enough.  Everyone was extremely nice but the felling of a vacuum sucking the money out of my pocket got old and stressful.  I can also honestly say it was quite the experience!

Cream of Mushroom Soup

Quick as a flash we are firmly in soup weather.  Last night we had a frost and surrounding towns had a dusting of snow.  I am so not ready for winter but Mother Nature doesn’t want to listen to me.  She doesn’t want to listen to the pepper plants either.  I will be pickling and preserving as much as I can this week so they won’t go to waste.  My Hot Pepper Jelly is first up.

At the end of my in-laws visit we did a tapas night and I planned way too many dishes, enough for an army, so there were many mushrooms leftover and I needed to use.  I thought cream of mushroom soup would fit the hearty bill for the cold weather.  This is so incredibly easy to make and the flavours are so good!  Perfect to have in your dinner “toolbox” when life gets crazy.

Technique for Cream of Mushroom Soup:

Prep all your ingredients before cooking.  Slice the mushrooms so that they are somewhat chunky.

In a saucepan, melt the butter and begin to brown the mushrooms.  Do this for several minutes, the longer you do it the more flavour you will get.  Once they start to brown add the onion.  Allow them to become translucent.  Then add the garlic and fresh thyme.

Cook for a couple of minutes.  If the mushrooms have sucked up too much butter add a bit more to make a roux with the flour.  Add the flour and cook for another couple of minutes.

Slowly add the beer as it can get really fizzy.

Add the veg bouillon and bring to a simmer.  Season with sea salt and pepper.  Simmer until just before dinner.

Add the cream and serve immediately.

My husband made delicious Ciabatta to go along with it.

 

Cream of Mushroom Soup

A hearty soup for the cold nights.  Perfect when you are having a busy week.

Course Soup
Cuisine American
Keyword Cream of Mushroom Soup
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 6 people
Author Our Growing Paynes

Ingredients

  • 2 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup onion, sliced
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
  • 2 heaping tbsp flour
  • 1 cup wheat beer 8oz
  • 2 cups vegetable bouillon
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • pinch sea salt
  • pinch ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan.  Add the mushrooms and cook for several minutes to brown the mushrooms.  Then add the onions.  Cook until the onions are translucent.  

  2. Add the garlic and thyme and cook for a couple of minutes.  If the mushrooms have soaked up too much butter add a bit more before adding the flour.  Cook again for a few minutes then add the beer.  Bring to a simmer.

  3. Add the vegetable bouillon.  Season with the sea salt and pepper.  Simmer until it's near dinner time.  Add the cream then and bring back up to a simmer.  Serve with crusty bread.  

 

Pork Pie with Apple and Thyme

Those that have followed my blog for awhile know I have a list of food I like to eat when we go back home to the UK.  Fish and chips, sausage rolls and pork pie.  Obviously I don’t eat them the entire time we’re there, I have to fit in the plane seat on the way back.  But I do get through the list!

It’s been on my to do list to make homemade pork pie for quite awhile now.  When my father in law mentioned that he loves pork pie as well I decided now was the time.  They’ve gone home now and it’s strange not to have them here.  We really enjoy visiting with them.  Holidays seem to go by way too fast.  We are already planning the next few visits and the way time flies, well it won’t be long.

Technique for the pork pie filling:

Now, I won’t lie, this is a time consuming dish.  Worth it, but yes it will take awhile.  Mainly because of finely chopping the meat.  I didn’t want to use mince for this.

The recipe I used as a guide was from the BBC for Raised Pork Pie but with my twist.  As it is apple picking season, any excuse to use up the apples will do.  Pork goes really well with sage, thyme and apple.  Finely chop the meat, apple and garlic. When you chop the meat remove any hard fat.  You do want a balance of fat but you want that fat to render into the meat when cooking.  Add the herbs, sea salt and pepper.

Mix well and set aside.

Technique for pastry:

Next prepare the baking tin.  I used an 8″/20cm springform pan and lined the bottom with parchment paper.  In a saucepan melt the butter in the water.  Bring it to a high simmer but don’t boil.

In a large mixing bowl add the flour and make a well.  Carefully pour the liquid into the flour.

Mix well with a spatula or wooden spoon.  When it becomes cohesive turn it out on a floured surface.

This will be fiddly!  Make no mistake.  Knead for a minute or so then divide it 1/3 and 2/3.  Cover and set aside the 1/3.  Flour the rolling pin to minimise the stickiness.  Roll out the pastry out thinly.  Fold it into a quarter.

This helps get it into the pan a bit easier.  Gently unfold it and press it up the sides.  Make sure there aren’t any holes or cracks.  Use your knuckles as nails are not your friends here!  Add the filling pressing it firmly into the pastry.

Roll out the remaining pastry then lay it on top of the pie.  Pinch the ends together and take a wooden spoon and poke the end in to make a hole in the top.

Bake for 30 minutes at 350F/180C.  Reduce the heat to 325F/160C and bake for 90 more minutes.  Beat the egg and brush the top of the pie with the egg.

Bake for 20 more minutes.  Let cool.  In a small saucepan add the chicken stock and thyme.  Bring to a boil and add the gelatin.  Allow to cool to room temperature.

Remove the thyme. Using a funnel, gradually add the stock liquid to the pie.  This takes awhile as you don’t want the liquid to overflow.

Allow the whole pie to chill in the fridge overnight.

Serve with a side salad.  On the table we had salad cream, brown sauce, coleman’s mustard and branston pickle.  Can’t get more English than that!  🙂

 

Pork Pie with Apple and Thyme

A classic English dish with a twist of apple and thyme

Course Main Course
Cuisine English
Keyword Pork Pie
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 1 hour 50 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 50 minutes
Servings 8
Author Our Growing Paynes

Ingredients

Filling

  • 2.25 lbs pork shoulder/butt 1000 grams
  • 1/2 lb pork belly 200 grams
  • 1 large apple
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme
  • 2 tsp fresh sage
  • pinch sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper

Pastry

  • 575g all purpose flour
  • 200 grams salted butter
  • 220 ml water

Remaining ingredients

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 packets gelatin a packet equals 3 leaves
  • 300 ml chicken stock
  • handful thyme sprigs

Instructions

  1. Finely chop the meat, apple, garlic and herbs.  Mix well and set aside.  Make sure you remove the hard fat.

  2. Preheat the oven to 350F/180C.

    Heat the water and butter until a high simmer.  Add the flour to a mixing bowl and create a well.  Pour the hot liquid into the bowl and mix well.  Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for a minute or so.

    Line the bottom of an 8"/20cm springform pan with parchment paper.  Divide the pastry in a 1/3 and 2/3.  Cover the 1/3.  Roll out the rest thinly and place into the pan.  Press the pastry up the sides, make sure there aren't any holes or cracks.  Press the filling into the pastry.

    Roll out the remaining pastry and place it on top of the filling.  Pinch the ends together.  Use a wooden spoon end to create a hole in the top.

  3. Bake for 30 minutes then reduce the temperature to 325F/160C and bake for 90 minutes more.  Brush the beaten egg over the top and bake for 20 more minutes.  Let cool.

  4. Bring the chicken stock and thyme to a boil.  Add the gelatin and let cool.  Using a funnel, carefully pour the gelatin liquid into the pie.  Chill overnight in the fridge.  Serve with a side salad.  

 

New England Clam Chowder Brings Back Memories

New England Clam Chowder, or Chowdah if you want to get it right, brings me back to our family trips to the seashore in New England.  There is nothing like the sound of the sea and the smell of the ocean.  We would spend a day wandering round and it would invariably include a lobster meal with New England clam chowder.  Back when a lobster dinner didn’t require a mortgage to get!

With my in-laws visiting, I try to make meals that are a treat for them so when my father-in-law mentioned how much he loves New England clam chowder I knew I had to make it for him.  It’s been years since I had it so it was a treat for me as well.

Technique for New England Clam Chowder

As this doesn’t take long to cook, prep the ingredients up front.  Finely dice the potatoes and onions.  If you can find a large onion, you only need one.  For some reason we’re still getting tiny onions.

Coarsely chop the salt pork and brown in a saucepan.  Do this on medium heat as you want to render the fat a bit but don’t want to burn the meat.  After a few minutes add the chopped onion with the butter and bay leaves.

Cook until the onions start to become translucent.  Then add the flour to make a bit of a roux.  The goal is to have a hearty soup, not a watery soup.  Then add the potatoes and sautè for a minute.

Add 2 cups/16oz of chicken stock and 10oz of clam juice.  Bring to a simmer.  Add the fresh thyme and season with sea salt and pepper.  Add the clams.

At this point, if the soup is still watery, make a slurry of flour and water and add that to the pot.  Later when you add the cream and white wine it will thin it back out so it’s ok to go thick here.  Allow this to simmer for about a half hour to reduce a bit and to get the flavours going.  Just before you serve remove the bay leaves and add a cup/8oz of heavy/double cream and a third of a cup/3oz of dry white wine.  Don’t bring it to a boil but rather allow it to simmer.

Perfect with crusty bread

Serve it with some fresh baked bread.  Not surprisingly this was even better the next day.  It was very much enjoyed and it did bring back some lovely memories of when I was a child.

 

New England Clam Chowder

A delicious stick to your ribs soup for the cool nights.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 6 people
Author Our Growing Paynes

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup salt pork, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped or two small onions
  • 5 tbsp butter
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 1 large potato, cubed
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 10 oz clam juice
  • 28 oz clams
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme
  • sea salt
  • white pepper
  • 2 cups heavy/double cream
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine

Instructions

  1. In a sauce pan, brown the salt pork on medium heat.  Add the butter, onions, and bay leaves.  Cook until the onions are translucent.  Add the flour to create a roux.  

  2. Add the potatoes and cook for a minute then add the stock and clam juice.  Bring to a simmer.  Add the thyme and season with the sea salt and white pepper.  Add the clams.  Cook for a half hour.   Add a slurry of flour and water if the soup needs to be thicker.

  3. Just before serving add the cream and wine.  Bring to a simmer but don't boil.  Serve with crusty bread.  

Kai Phat Khing (Chicken with Ginger) and Will There Be Progress?

Once again the world watches.  Watches while a woman testifies about sexual assault in front of powerful men whose first reaction is to say boys will be boys.  When I was my daughter’s age I remember the world watching as well.  The message was the same then as it is now.  That breaks my heart.

I want better for my kids.  It seems a reasonable ask to for those who have been assaulted to heard and to raise boys to men who know “boys will be boys” is outdated and dangerous.  I’m inclined to believe Dr Ford, given the timeline of who she told.  Whether or not it’s true, I believe a proper investigation needs to be done.  I’m surprised things were delayed and today they are hearing her given how many have seemed to come to a conclusion already.  I don’t believe the proper venue is in the senate.  I’m curious what the result will be but I’m doubtful as much hasn’t changed since Thomas was confirmed 27 years ago.  On the flip side, Cosby has been sentenced so maybe, just maybe the tide is shifting.

Thai Food:

It is a quiet week as my in-laws drove to New York to visit old friends.  I don’t envy them doing the 8+ hour drive.  It is not a very exciting highway, straight and dull.  Hopefully they will have a good trip.

That leaves just my husband and I.  I’ve gone to cooking up a storm for 6 people to 2.  You wouldn’t think it would be difficult to adjust but I always find it hard to do that.  I either end up making too much or too little.  Because we did a traditional roast this past Sunday I had leftover chicken to use up so I thought it would be great to make a Thai dish.  We are both fans of the cuisine and luckily it’s very easy to cook.

Kai Phat Khing (Chicken with Ginger) Technique:

I have a cookery book called The Complete Asian Cookbook by Charmaine Solomon.  In it, there is a recipe for Kai Phat Khing (Chicken with Ginger) that was a great choice to use up the chicken.  The interesting thing is the first ingredient in her recipe was wood ear fungus.  But the directions never mentioned putting it in the recipe!  At any rate, I used it as a light guide so I could use what I had on hand.

Hen of the Woods and Chicken of the Woods are great meaty mushrooms.

The co-op had hen of the woods and chicken of the woods mushrooms and I wanted them to be the highlight the dish.  Because I wasn’t sure when my husband would be home I prepped all the ingredients first as it only, when using leftover chicken, takes a few minutes to cook.

You can make this in a skillet but it’s better in a wok if you have one.  Heat the peanut oil.  The 2 tablespoons may sound like a lot but when the mushrooms get tossed in, it’s needed.  But first cook the onions for a few minutes.  When the onions start to become translucent add the garlic.

Keep an eye on the garlic!  The oil is very hot and you want the garlic to be golden, not burnt.  If you are using uncooked chicken, start cooking it now.  Add the mushrooms to the wok.  This needs to be cooked for a few minutes given how hearty the mushrooms are. While this is cooking add the ginger and stir well to coat the mushrooms.  The book mentioned making the ginger less “pungent”.  No way!  The ginger is a great flavour, I have no desire to dull it.

Allow the mushrooms to start to brown a bit.

Add the soy sauce/vinegar mixture along with the leftover chicken.

Near the end of cooking add the scallions.  I don’t like them full on raw but you don’t want these mushy or overcooked.

Garnish with a bit more scallion and serve right away.  As per my usual, I asked my husband how he liked it.  He really liked it but then said though you’ll probably not make it again.  Not true, but someone needs to remember and request.  Fingers crossed one of us doesn’t brain cramp.  🙂

Kai Phat Khing (Chicken with Ginger)

A flavourful Thai dish with chicken, ginger and mushrooms

Course Main Course
Servings 2
Author Our Growing Paynes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Mushrooms, coarsely chopped I used Hen of the Woods and Chicken of the Woods
  • 2 tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 2 tbsp peanut oil
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup cooked chicken If using raw, use about 1/2 lb cubed
  • 1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 1/2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 scallion, sliced

Instructions

  1. Mix the soy sauce, fish sauce, rice vinegar and brown sugar together and set aside.  

  2. Heat the peanut oil in the wok.  Cook the onions until they start becoming translucent.  Add the garlic.  Cook for another minute before adding the mushrooms.  If you are using raw chicken, add it now.  Add the ginger and stir to coat the mushrooms.  

  3. After cooking for a few minutes add the soy sauce mixture.  Stir well.  Allow the mushrooms to begin to brown a bit.  Near the end of cooking add most of the scallions to cook a minute or so.

  4. Serve immediately and garnish with the remaining scallions.