Archive for the ‘Pie’ Category

Mini Silverbeet, Egg & Ricotta Pies

In Baking, Egg, Pastry, Pie on September 5, 2012 at 6:49 am



I’ve had a pie craving all winter (especially since I discovered this new pastry method) yet I just haven’t had the time or occasion to make all the pies I wanted to. However, a small series of events (visiting my parents, a shared lunch) meant that I finally got my chance. I made a batch of this ricotta using raw milk from my parents’ farm with an idea in mind of making spinach and ricotta pie. Once I’d made the ricotta, returned to Auckland and actually got around to cooking, I decided that making numerous small pies would be an infinitely better idea, especially for a shared lunch! I also figured that silverbeet would made a good substitute for spinach, seeing as I still have lots of silverbeet in my garden. And then, top it all off, I saw a recipe that included whole egg yolks with the ricotta and spinach which made me think of Italian Easter Pie, similar to this improvised version I made a while back.

I was really pleased with the end result – though definitely was a bit short on the silverbeet filling. I still have some pastry left, so may even make a couple more pies tonight!

If you are keen on making these, the method is quite simple.

Make pastry using this method and recipe, or else use bought pastry (Ek!)

Set pastry aside.

Take a head of fresh spinach or silverbeet (or use equivalent frozen), rinse and steam briefly for a few minutes until wilted. Drain and squeeze out excess moisture. Chop with kitchen scissors or a knife. Set aside.

Peel and chop 1 green onion and a garlic clove. Sautee until softened in a little olive oil. Add silverbeet to pan, along with some salt and pepper, chopped herbs (I just used parsley) as well as a pinch of nutmeg. Remove from heat, cool slightly and beat in 1 egg. Mix ricotta (around 300-400 g, depending on your ricotta – mine is super thick) with some chopped herbs, salt and an egg.

Oil some ramekins (I used 3 around 11 x 6 cm in size) using a small bowl of oil and a pastry brush. Divide pastry dough into small balls to match size and number of ramekins –  it’s likely there will be some leftover pastry, so store in the fridge or freeze or for later use. Roll out on a floured bench until thin. Line ramekin with pastry, trimming off any excess. Fill with a layer of silverbeet, then ricotta, then silverbeet again. Make a small well in top of silverbeet. Separate an egg and place egg yolk in well. Roll out enough pastry to make a lid for the pie. Crimp edges together and brush with olive oil. Do the same for the remaining ramekins.

Cook for roughly 45 minutes in a preheated 180 degrees oven. Eat and enjoy!


Hare, Hare, Hare! And pie.

In Main meals, Pastry, Pie on August 6, 2012 at 3:33 am

I was lucky enough to be presented with another hare from my parents and decided to give cooking it another go. I more or less ended up doing the same two things with it that I did last time, but I definitely think this was a improvement! Though perhaps a bit more work. I got the recipe for civet of hare (or jugged hare) from this blog, which I will definitely look to in future if I find myself endowed with a hare or rabbit again. The recipe itself is seriously involved, but well worth the effort and packed full of flavour. Like last time, I didn’t find the meat to be tough at all, and despite the many steps in the recipe, I didn’t find it too hard to follow either. The only thing that I don’t think I fully nailed was the thickening part at the end, but it wasn’t really ruined like the recipe suggests is possible if that doesn’t quite work.

I’m afraid I didn’t really photograph the hare during the civey process, except for what the pot looked like just before marinating the meat for a night. Look at the beautiful colour! And that isn’t just from the red wine and brandy marinade…

After the civet, which I served to my friends, I wanted to find a different way to use the leftovers. I was torn between a recipe I’ve been wanting to try ages, which was for a hunter’s risotto, but also was craving a hare pie, similar to the one I made last time. In the end I decided I didn’t really have the meat called for in the risotto recipe, so went for pie again. How can you go wrong with pie? Besides, I’m getting rusty, I haven’t made one for a while. I also had a new pastry recipe and technique in mind – so decided to combine them with the leftover civet, without any other alterations.

The pastry recipe comes from 101 cookbooks, and the technique from here, via 101 cookbooks.

This was what the pie looked like before going into the oven. I am actually really excited about this new technique for making pastry (well, new to me anyway) and will definitely be using it in the future. It just makes the pastry so much stronger and easy to use, so is definitely worth the extra time. I will probably make a double batch to freeze next time I do it. I also like the rye flour variation suggested by 101 cookbooks, I thought it would compliment the hare well. However, I ended up with more pastry than I expected and got really excited, so I used my giant pie dish (which never happens) but unfortunately didn’t quite have as much hare as I thought, which is why the shape is a perhaps a bit odd. There was also a bit too much liquid in the civet, so I really had to wait until the pie had cooled completely before it could really be eaten. The photos at the top were actually taken the following morning, which is why the colour is somewhat bleached out. It made a lovely, rich, hearty breakfast. I have put half of it in the freezer, so I can treat myself with it later. All up, can’t wait until I can have another round with some hare! This is what the pie looked like out of the oven:



Hare galore!

In Baking, Main meals, Meat, Pie on April 11, 2012 at 3:04 am

Hare Pie

A while back my parents gave me hare to cook. I was quite taken with this idea, but having very little experience with cooking meat – I was a little nervous about doing so. However, a few days ago I decided to be bold and gave it a go. Today, after undertaking a few different hare dishes, and having eaten a criminal about of each – I decided it was high time I posted about the whole affair. Especially as I am too full to do anything else productive, like work on art or reading or hieroglpyhics…or anything remotely useful. But oh well!

My initial recipe came out of this gorgeous medieval cookbook that I found in the University of Auckland’s Fine Arts Library (of all places!).

Recipe (in its original format)

“Hare yn cyve. Smyte a hare in small pecys; perboyle hem yn swete broth with hys oun blode. Cast hym yn a cold watyr. Peke hym clene; do hym in a pott. Clarifye the broth clene; do thereto onyons & herbes mynsyd. Take hole clovys, macys & powdyr, & drow a thyn lyour of crustys with red wyne. Boyle hit tyl hit be ynowghe; sesyn hit up with powdyr of gynger, venyger & salt, & loke hit be a good colour of blod.”

(Don’t worry, they provided a ‘translation’ for this below the original)

I was able to follow it easily enough, but was a bit disappointed with the lack of instruction about how to actually cut up the hare. When you have no experience with cutting, preparing or cooking dead game animals and are faced with a floppy, juicy dead body….well, it’s a little intimidating. But in the end I just applied some common sense and made it up as I went along.

My dad had kindly already skinned the hare as well as removing its innards, so fortunately I did haven’t to deal with removing the feet and head (I don’t think I’m quite up to that yet) but I did find a few internal organs inside it that he had missed. Ooops! I then had to saw through the bones, removing the four leg joints and cutting down the middle of the spine, just before the hare’s ‘saddle.’ The recipe suggested that the rib cage was to be discarded (there’s not much meat there) but from memory I then sliced the remaining part of the torso in half again. There’s probably a much better and efficient way of slicing up a hare, but when you don’t own any decent meat knives (given that the majority of people living in my flat never cook meat) chances are it will be difficult irrespective of the method used. Apparently at this time one should also check for a membrane like covering around the back of the hare, but I think my dad must have already removed this because I couldn’t find any membrane to remove.

I then followed the recipe, the rest of it going smoothly enough. I’m afraid it’s not the most beautiful thing to look at, but here’s a photo of what it looked like in the pot.

I was freaked out by the lack of liquid in the recipe, and probably added a little more than was necessary…so it turned into even more of a stew. We ate this over mashed potatoes – sadly I don’t have any nice photos of that…..but it was surprisingly tender (I’d been told horror stories about chewy nasty hare) and the flavour wasn’t too strong either. So apart from it perhaps being a bit too liquid, I was pretty pleased with the meal overall. As a first attempt, anyway!

I had heaps of hare leftover, so was racking my brains of other tasty ways to use it. And then I reached the obvious conclusion – hare pie! I’m a self confessed pie fiend, so I got quite into making these pies – and as a result have stuffed myself silly with them today. Where are flatmates when you need them?

Hare mini pies

I made two types of pie, one large one and a set of mini pies. I’m not going to bother posting the recipe here, as I just made it up as I went along. Basically it was the hare stew, combined with some mashed potato, cooked mushrooms and some mushroom sea salt flakes. The pastry was just your general buttery pastry – I think I looked as a chicken pot pie pastry recipe as a reference, but ended up changing it…not quite sure about the exact proportions, but it did the trick!

Now for the larger pie!

So…in conclusion, would I cook hare again? Hell, yes! Most definitely. I like the flavour, I don’t know what people are talking about when they say the taste of hare is too ‘gamey’ or too strong. It was pretty tasty to me, especially when combined with buttery pastry. Next time I think I will try and turn it into a pasta sauce, seeing as I have an Italian recipe for one somewhere….

Elvis Style Pie #1: Banana Coconut Chiffon Pie

In Baking, Dessert, Entertaining, Pastry, Pie on March 29, 2012 at 6:13 am

Banana Coconut Chiffon Pie

A while ago I discovered “Are You Hungry Tonight?” by Brenda Arlene Butler. The book is comprised of a selection of Elvis’ favourite recipes (including how to make his wedding cake) and supplemented with these adorable (yet dated) comments and descriptions which accompany the recipes. It’s from 1992, if that helps. Being a big pie fan, I thought I’d start with the pie section of the cookbook. There’s about 5 that I want to make, hence why this post is Elvis Style Pie #1. I chose the Banana Chiffon as we had some bananas sitting around the flat getting increasingly ripe, so they were just crying out to be used….along with some leftover cream. Unfortunately this pie is one of those dishes that tastes fantastic, but unfortunately doesn’t look as beautiful as some other pies, so photographing it was a bit of a challenge. I did the best I could – but I have to say, irrespective of how it looks it’s pretty hard to go wrong with banana, coconut, egg whites and beaten cream.

I feel compelled to post the description that accompanies the recipe in “Are You Hungry Tonight?” as it really is quite endearing. It reads as follows:

“Imagine you’re driving through the South in the 1950s. Your way is marked by the old white US Highway interstate shields, not the red, white and blue of the Interstate signs. The place names crop up on little white signs, not those huge green things. Memphis. Jackson. Tupelo. Shreveport. It gets awfully hot in the car, so you swing into one of those little roadside cafes for a glass of iced tea. My, but it’s cool inside. They’ve got one of those little glass cases with all the pies displayed, and goodness, doesn’t the banana coconut chiffon look good!

As you leave, and push through the screen door, a big Cadillac with a bunch of boys in it pulls up. You chat a bit and they tell you they’re headed to Shreveport to sing on the radio – on the Louisiana Hayride. You wish them well and promise to tune in.”


Recipe is as follows:

baked 9 inch pie shell

1 envelope unflavoured gelatin (about 2, 1/2 tbsp)

3 eggs, separated

1 cup mashed ripe bananas

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup cream

1/3 cup finely grated coconut

Soften gelatin in 1/4 cup cold water. In the top of a double boiler (2 saucepans), slightly beat the egg yolks. Stir in the bananas, sugar and salt. Cook over boiling water, stirring constantly, until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and add the softened gelatin to the banana mixture. Stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Chill the mixture until it begins to thicken.

In a large bowl, beat the cream until stiff. Beat the egg whites until stiff, but not dry. Fold first the egg whites, then the cream, then the coconut, into the banana mixture. Pour into pre prepared pastry shell (cooled). Chill the pie until firm and set, about 4 hours. Garnish with additional whipped cream or slice bananas. I chose to serve my pie with a little extra grated coconut and a good dollop of Greek yoghurt!

My first slice...

Two slices down already...

Check out that texture!