Monthly Archives: February 2012

Giant Pikelets

Pikelets are usually smallish palm-sized (or even a bit smaller) things that I remember Mum making, and then I would make, back home in Oz when growing up.  We’d use the big square electric frypan and cook a thousand odd shaped things that would then sit on a tea-towel draped plate for the hour or so it’d take us to eat them all, dripping in butter and jam.

Grown up version (ie: BIG) as follows, nice for brekky.  Also, easy.  Also, involves fruit so points for health.  Also, involves maple syrup, so points for high fructose corn syrup and memories of New York.

You  could have this with bacon and banana of course, if you like.  We didn’t.

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1 cup milk

1 cup SR flour

1 egg

(so far so complex, eh?)

vanilla (personal touch, nice with the sugar-free mix)

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Chuck all the ingredients into a bowl.  CHUCK THEM.

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Whisk.  It’s very complicated, this recipe, I’m not sure if you’re going to be able to make it without totally ruining things.

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Get into your coat and sort yourself a reusable shopping bag.  Craftily hide your last-night’s-wine eyes behind a pair of sunglasses and just blag the bed-hair like it’s deliberate.

Go to the shop.

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Buy some yoghurt, some berries, some syrup.  Also buy something that was billed as passionfruit, but looks like no passionfruit you’ve ever seen before.

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In a pan melt a little butter over a moderate heat, then spoon in about 3 or so tablespoons of the mixture.

Cook till the bubbles come to the surface, as demonstrated above.  One or two will pop – that’s your cue to get the egg-flip out and turn that thing over.

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Voila.  Cook for about another minute or so then flip onto a plate.

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If you leave your phone at just the right spot on the kitchen counter, you might get a photo like this, a photo of a dog begging the shit out of everything.

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Serve as you wish, I prefer a pile of yoghurt and fruit and syrup.  The weird passionfruit tasted oddly ok but was, as the boyfriend accurately described, somewhat ‘frogspawny’.  Won’t be having it again.

Risotto, mushroomed

Hi.  Tonight we’re making risotto with mushrooms and bacon.  It’s absolutely everything we shouldn’t be eating.  It’s GREAT.

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Get together:-

arborio rice

olive oil

onion

few rashers of bacon

dried mushrooms (mixed or porcini)

fresh mushrooms

white wine.  I couldn’t find a bottle of white wine so pretend the bottle of  water in the above photo is wine.  Thanks.

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Shit.  I forgot.  You’ll also want some butter, garlic and parmesan.  Also some parsley, ideally, although I forgot that tonight.

I’ve also just remembered you’ll want some chicken stock.

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Soak the dried mushrooms for about half an hour in some warm water.

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Drain them well, keep that brown juicy juice.  Ooooh yeah.

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Finely dice the onion and garlic, and chop up both kinds of mushies, and the bacon.

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At this point the boyfriend will come home.  Remember that he’s a bit Italian and therefore likely to be a risotto expert?  Let him stir through the onions and garlic over a low heat, in some warmed oil and a bit of butter.  Let him do this and add the bacon.

Then tell him he can do no further cooking, after he’s added the rice and a good generous slosh or two of white wine, coating the rice nicely.

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By the way, I ended up finding this in the fridge. Not classy but it’ll do.  I used it.

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Stir and stir and stir while the wine absorbs.

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Add the mushroom juice in bits.  Stir.  Stir some more.  You’ll be doing a lot of stirring.  Get over it.  As the liquid is absorbed add more, moving onto the stock after you’ve used up the mushroom juices.

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It’ll start looking a bit like this.  Strangely it starts to go a bit creamy, that’s good, means you’ve been doing a good amount of stirring and helping the rice let go of all those starches it’s been holding onto, resentfully.

There’s no absolutes with risotto.  You need to keep stirring, adding more stock, stirring.  Keep on at this for at least 20 mins or so.  You’ll know when it’s ready as the rice will have a little bite left to it but the risotto moves a bit lazily but well as you move it about.  Taste it.  Add some black cracked pepper.

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When it’s a couple minutes from done, add a bit more butter and some grated parmesan.  Take off the heat and stir through.

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Not sure if you can tell but there is a small white core to this rice grain.  I sucked all the risotto sauce off it to take this photo.  You’re welcome.  Hope you enjoy my chipped nailpolish, too.  That happened in a meeting earlier this afternoon.  It was a long meeting, I started chipping, I couldn’t stop.

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Risotto, complete.  Debloodylicious.

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Thought you may enjoy the selection of brilliant autobiographies at the local library.  Quality.

Nana’s Yo-yos

Yo-yos are family lore.  My Nana Gaye can make them perfectly and no-one else can get them right even though they are, to be frank, the most straight-forward cookies in terms of ingredients and method.  They’re sweet and very, very short and therefore deliciously snappy.

In order to annoy myself, I decided I’d have a go.  Obviously it was a farce.

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Pre-heat the oven to moderate, about a low Gas Mark 4 or so.

Get together :-

9 tablespoons plain flour

9 tablespoons butter (about 1 250g block and another 175g or so)

3 tablespoons custard powder (the above, Nurses, is the stuff of West Australian legend, these have never been made with any other custard powder so I take no responsibility for your failures if you don’t bother going to WA to get some of this before attempting this recipe)

3 tablespoons icing sugar

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The butter must be softened but NOT melted.  Chuck the dry ingredients into a bowl and whisk together, then add the butter.  It’ll look like a lot of butter.  That’s cause it is a lot of butter.

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Mix together.  Nana uses a whizz, I used my handbeaters which, at the above stage, were moaning like small children do halfway through school holidays.  Keep going.  It’ll combine eventually.  I imagine if you had a KitchenAid or similar this bit would be easy.

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This is how things looked at my place when I’d got to the properly combined stage.

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Anyway it should be a beautifully pale gold pasty and dryish mix, very satisfying when taken raw, a teaspoonful at a time.

Get yourself a saucer of flour and a fork.  Sort the baking trays with a bit of greasing and some baking paper.

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Flouring your palms each time, roll out teaspoon-sized balls and place on the tray, about yea apart, then with the floured fork press gently a little way down, on each bikkie.

Nana puts a slivered almond or a chopped up glace cherry on hers.  I had some sprinkles or some gold and silver food spray to hand, so I decided to leave these unsullied this time around.

Stick in the oven for about 10-12 mins, depending on your oven, and rotating as required if your oven is shit.  AS MINE IS.

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Voila!

They are well yum with cold glasses of milk or hot cups of other stuff.

I’ve just offloaded a few to visitors and am instantly regretting my generosity.

Mum’s Cheesecake

I love my Mum’s cheesecake.  It’s an uncooked cheesecake which I know sends some people into a vomity spin, but it’s only uncooked cause it’s not got any ingredients which require cooking.  And, if you like, you can cook the base a bit  just to get the oven involved.

There is room for cooked and uncooked cheescake in this world.  If you’re going uncooked and you like lemony sharp flavours, then this’ll be right up your street.  Or road.  Or avenue.  Whatever.

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Get together 3 tubs of Philly cheese (you’ll note I’ve got 4 here, that’s cause in Oz Philly comes in blocks, like butter, at 250g but the measly tubs here are at 200g so I bought 4 just in case)

Butter, bout 75g

small packet of digestive biscuits, or Granitas if you are reading in Australia

Lemons, to taste.  Lots, if you come from my family.

Tin of condensed milk (not evaporated, yeah?)

Springform tin, greased, or just a pie dish, depending on what you have/what you prefer.

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Mulch the biscuits.  There are various ways to do this, in a whizz is the easiest but my handheld version is absolutely shit so I assault the biscuits whilst still in their packet, using the bulk of the condensed milk tin to do the majority of the work for me, and then crumble the rest into a bowl with my fingers.

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When crumbled, add the melted butter.  Combine.

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Press into the tin.  Here is one way.  It’s a bit cackhanded.  Make sure you press it down firmly.

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Look!  A Buttery Biscuit Base!  At this stage you can just refrigerate it or stick in an oven at gas mark 4 or so for 8 mins.  Entirely up to you.  If you go the oven route, which I did today, when you take it out of the oven chuck it in the fridge for 5 mins or so before putting the filling in.

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In another bowl throw in three tubs of Philly cheese and the whole tin of condensed milk.  Bloody hell condensed milk is amazing stuff.  It gives life, I swear.

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It’s time for lemons.  In my family, lemons are GOD.  This is a cool lemon juicing thingy my mate Fi gave me and it’s my new favourite reason to cook.  Get squeezing in the juice, no pips or pulp if you can help it.

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I squeezed in this many lemon halves, then got the boyfriend to check the mix.  He said it was fine, so I of course added in another half of juice.  The amount you’ll want in there is entirely to your own tastes.  When I have a slice of this cheesecake, if my lips don’t shrink like an old lady when she sees a young girl in a too-short skirt , then it’s not got enough lemon in it.

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Mix it all up – I used a hand-held double beater thingy for that (sounds rude, isn’t), getting all the lumps out of the cheese, getting it all nice and smooth.

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Pour onto the base.  I have made a bit of sides to the buttery biscuit base today.  I believe this was probably an error but no matter.  Stick the stuff in, refrigerate for a few hours.

Eat.

In my family we have been known to not bother making the base, we just stand around a bowl of newly-made filling and snarl whilst our spoons jostle for access.

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If you’ve got a dog, like this one, they’ll be quite happy to help with the washing of the recyclable items.

Meatloaf (not the singer)

This is the first time I’ve ever made meatloaf.  In my mind it’s a foodstuff that belongs firmly in the camp of the Americans, and has populated numerous books of youth fiction I consumed as a teenager.  There was one with the character CC Pointdexter – never forgotten her, but have forgotten what book she was in.

Anyway Hugh F-W’s recipe for meatloaf was in today’s Guardian magazine, and here goes my attempt.

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Set the oven to heat at Gas Mark 4 or about 180C.  Get together:-

30g butter

2 onions, finely chopped

1 bay leaf

2 tsp chopped thyme

1 celery stalk, chopped finely (HFW says ‘one celery’ – I went with the one stalk VS one bunch option)

2 garlic cloves, chopped finely

1kg ground beef

300g minced pork

3 eggs, lightly beaten

70g coarse breadcrumbs

200ml tomato ketchup

1 tbsp worcestershire sauce

4 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (didn’t have any so used mild chilli powder instead)

nutmeg

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the magazine version.

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Gently fry off the onions in a frypan you’ve already melted the butter in.  Add the thyme and the bay leaf.  Cook this off but do not burn it.  You’ll ruin it.

You ruin everything.

Fry it off till it’s transluscent.  HFW says 15 mins but I did it for about 10.

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Add the carrots and celery, cook a bit more, then add the garlic.

Cook for a few minutes and then take off the heat.

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The recipe says coarse breadcrumbs.  I didn’t have any stale bread to make any, and Sainsburys could only offer me the above option – seems to have worked ok.

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Nutmeg is aces.

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In a big bowl put the meat, eggs, half the tomato ketchup, breadcrumbs….the list is endless actually.  It’s easier to say put everything in it that’s left in the ingredients list, but only 100ml of the ketchup.

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Mush it up with your hands.  Hopefully clean.  Enjoy the sensation and the slightly gory appearance.

Then add in the vegetables.  You’re supposed to have let them cool right down.  I didn’t.  I just chucked ’em in, smooched ’em in and was ready to go.

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So you should have a bowl of meat, basically, make sure you’ve seasoned well.

A truckload of meat.  Seasoned.

Oil and line a baking tray, then lightly oil the top of the baking paper as well.

Shape your meat mountain upon the tray.  I experimented with various shapes.

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The Uluru.

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The Anna-Nicole.

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Finally I went with  the Big Fat Tongue.

Squirt over the rest of the ketchup and bung it in the oven.

This one took  just over an hour (40 mins in the bottom shelf, 20 mins on the top), and if you can bear it let it stand for 10 mins.  HFW says so.

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It looked like this on the tray.  That yellow stuff came out of it.  It looked FOUL.

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Taken off the tray it looked marginally better.  We ate it with roasted zucchini and leeks.

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We had this much left.  Bloody nora.

Anyone want meat?

Boyfriend Slice

So, the usual writer of this blog has decided to let me write an entry. I’m the boyfriend referenced previously, and I’m an acceptably mediocre cook when I give it a go. Fortunately, everything that appears on this blog is basically piss easy so the odds of me royally screwing up are minimal. More on that later.

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So here’s the recipe for chocolate caramel slice – I eat it so you don’t have to (though apparently this serves 16. 16 church mice, maybe)

3/4 cup plain flour

1/3 cup dessicated coconut

1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar

90g melted butter

60g more butter

400g can sweetened condensed milk

2 tablespoons maple syrup (or golden syrup, if you’re tight like we are. Maple syrup’s really dear!)

200g dark eating chocolate, chopped coarsely

2 teaspoons vegetable oil

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It does say tightly packed brown sugar, right? Tip – sharp knives can have several uses with only small-medium risk of injury!

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Here are the dry ingredients for combining, sugar tightly packed TO THE EXTREME. The sharp-eyed among you may have realised that actually the mixture isn’t supposed to be dry. Though this didn’t stop me combining (what does that even mean?) for 5 minutes before twigging that the butter should have been melted.

“Start over then” says the expert. But am I going to let myself be beaten by such an early setback? Uncharacteristically, no. And with a spark of inspiration, I discover what the “low” setting on a microwave oven is for.

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Yep, I bunged the whole mixture on in the microwave for 90 seconds on low until the butter was essentially melted but nothing was actually starting to cook. Just think, if I wasn’t such an idiot I wouldn’t have been able to prove what a genius I am.

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Anyway, that’s what it looks like combined. Quite a lot like oats for something with no oats in it.

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And there it is, pressed firmly into a pan (lined and greased by your regular correspondent, and I must say she did a very good job, considering). The size of the pan isn’t quite right – the recipe suggests a 22cm square pan but I reckon we’re within an acceptable margin of error here.

This then gets baked for 15 minutes at 170 C, giving me ample time to prepare the heart attack layer.

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Shh, no-one will notice the “and here’s one we prepared earlier”-ness of this photo. Look at the sugar and fat! Look at it!

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The condensed milk, remaining butter and golden/maple syrup then are combined on the hob while the buttery biscuit base is cooling in the fridge, then poured over the same. You may be worrying that it all looks a bit thin and gloopy. (sorry if you’re expecting reassurance here – for all I know it WAS too thin and gloopy. We’ll find out in a couple of hours)

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Any health and safety inspectors reading should probably look away now. In our defence, the dog has to enjoy the sugary, milky leftovers as she ain’t having the chocolate/dog-poison ones later. Apart from anything, I’m going to be eating them.

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Although the recipe said dark chocolate, I wasn’t sure I was man enough for a topping of 70%, so I mixed it half and half with Dairy Milk. Half for the pot, half for my tummy. Not really.

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Is our tea towel prescient? Seemed like it early on… But with a bit of luck we’re back on track once the base + caramel comes out of the oven.

Hmm. At this point I wasn’t feeling too positive – the jigsaw-piece shape in the middle is where B’s patent foil method for preventing burning stuck to the sauce and lifted it clean off.

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But hey, it might be okay. The chocolate is chopped and heated gently with the vegetable oil (we used groundnut, which is good as it’s tasteless and its massive saturated fat attack will be swamped by the rest of the ingredients anyway) and stirred until silky.

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And here is what it looks like when poured over the (cooled) biscuit ‘n’ caramel. It sort of looks how it’s supposed to, which obviously teaches an important lesson about how a layer of chocolate hides all culinary sins.

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Anyway, as I type the whole shebang is in the middle of a frankly unreasonable three (3!) hourse cooling and setting in the fridge. Watch this space for the verdict…

Update. I don’t think this needs words. *fistpump

Belated ANZACS

As a proper Australian I should’ve made this last week (or the week before or whenever the 26 January was) for Australia Day but I was busy working and still pretending to myself I was on Health, so I didn’t.  Today I’ve cancelled my PT session at the gym for a baking session at home.

ANZAC biscuits are kind of like the Aussie version of what UK flapjacks would hope they could ever be – crunchy and chewy and oaty and golden syrupy.  Brilliant, basically.  They’re also the proverbial piece of p*** to make, ready from start to go in 30 mins.

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This recipe is very reliable because, of course, it’s an Australian Women’s Weekly recipe.

Put the oven on to pre-heat at around 140C or gas mark 4-ish, then get together:-

1 cup rolled oats

1 cup plain flour

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 cup desiccated coconut

125g butter

2 tablespoon golden syrup

1 tablespoon water

1/2 teaspoon bicarb soda

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In a small saucepan, over a low heat, melt together the butter, golden syrup and water.

While it’s melting, put the oats, sugar, flour and coconut together in a bowl and mix thoroughly, getting rid of any brown sugar lumps.

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Then add the bicarb soda to the melted butter mix and stir through. Sadly it won’t get all dramatically foamy but it will change its appearance a bit.  That’s fun.

Anyway you’ll now have a bowl of dry stuff and a bowl of wet stuff.

Combine.

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Mix till it looks like this.

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Then roll about a tablespoon-ish size scoop into balls and place about 5cm or so apart on a greased and lined baking tray.  Stick’em in the oven.

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Use this cooking time to replenish the shopping list.  One item out of the cupboard, one item on to the shopping list.  It’s my nana’s method, works a treat.  Mostly.

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After 15-20 mins the cookies will be done.  They’ll go into dome-shaped things in the oven, don’t worry, leave them.  Then they’ll, very soon after, collapse into flat cookies.  That’s good.  Take them out and let them cool on the tray for 5 mins or so.  Then transfer to a cooling rack.  They’ll be crunchy and chewy all at once, like I said, and when warm quite irresistable.

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This is the boyfriend sampling the first of many newly baked cookies as a lunch replacement.

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And here you go, a treat.  A picture of the dog in the snow at the park.  Lucky youse.

Chicken in Pie

The boyfriend requested pie.  Cause we’re on health I decided to make pie with pastry only on the top.  I care about our hearts.

This pie is chicken with leek and mushroom.  It’s bloody good.

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Get yourself together:-

a sheet of pre-rolled puff pastry.  use Jus-Rol.  I am not paid to say that, it’s just the best.

tray of chicken thighs, boned

tray of mushrooms (I used chestnut, I like them)

four smallish leeks, or three medium

butter

flour

bout 500ml of chicken stock

thyme (I wanted tarragon but bloody Waitrose had none, so I had lemon thyme.  Was quite nice)

egg for glazing

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Get yourself a wine cause it’s Friday.  Or any other day of the week but for me it’s cause it’s Friday.

Don’t look too happy, people will talk.

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Finely slice the leeks, chop up the mushrooms if they need chopping, and chop the chicken into chunks.  See above for reference.  S’not rocket science, is it?

No.

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Fry off the chicken in those annoying batches.  Put to one side.

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Then fry off the leek and mushrooms for 3-4 minutes or so, till they soften.  Put in a bowl, to one side.

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Melt a tablespoon of butter in the pan, then add a tablespoon of flour.  Whisk it into a paste, cook off for a minute or so (if you don’t do this cooking off bit your sauce will taste like flour and it’ll be all your fault).  Pour in a bit of the warm stock and whisk.  Then pour in a bit more and whisk some more.  It’ll look like the above at some point. Panic not.  Continue with the whisk-stock-whisk-stock process till all the stock has been added.

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Keep whisking till it thickens to a point that you’d be happy to eat in some kind of pie-type foodstuff.  Bit thicker than demonstrated above, ideally.

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Put the chicken and leeks and mushrooms back in, along with the herb of your choice.  It should be pretty well salted from the stock but a good round of cracked black pepper at this stage will do you no harm at all.  Cook it over the heat for a few more minutes to combine.

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Pour into your pie dish.  I am sure this will work as a pie with pastry top and bottom and if you do that then line the greased dish with your pastry and chill in the fridge for a bit before putting the cooled filling in.  I threw in the hot mix as-is cause we’re going pastry-free when it comes to bottoms tonight.

The bird thing is for letting the steam out when it cooks.  I’m using it cause I have it.  If I didn’t have it I’d just cut some holes in the top of the pastry.  Tech.

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Holes like this.

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Lay the puff  pastry over the top of the pie dish and decorate as you fancy.  The above crust-crimping technique is how it goes in my family.  Delicate, huh?

Put in a pre-heated oven at Gas Mark 6 for around 30 mins or so.

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You may be driven to further bad-tempered drink due to your bloody shit oven.

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Your bloody shit oven that requires foil-based shennanigans such as the above.

Anyway, it’ll come out good, I promise.

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See?  The filling is well yum.  We ate it with broccoli and new potatoes.  The bird thing died, obviously, from hot oven burns.

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This is Zombie Dog.  She will eat your face, and then your soul.