We Have Pies for Dinner???

Aaahhhhh…Pies….

What’s not to love?

There’s a crisp shortcrust shell holding the filling of your choice which is then covered in a buttery flaky pastry and baked to perfection. My mouth waters at the thought.

The task is to get a meatless pie filling that will satisfy a meat eater as well as a vegetarian and as they say “mushrooms are the meat for vegetarians”, and so began the hunt for the perfect mushroom pie recipe.

A little from this recipe and a little from that recipe and according to my husband we have a winner…

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Mushroom, Red Wine and Onion Pie

This is my big batch so some get eaten for dinner now and the rest get frozen for another time.

You’ll need a couple of sheet of Puff Pastry for the top.

For the shortcrust pastry:

600g plain flour

300g salted butter – cubed

1 egg yolk

6-8 Tblsp cold water

Rub the butter into the flour until it’s a breadcrumb consistency. A few little lumps of butter are okay. Mix the water and egg yolk together and add to the flour. Mix it all together until you get a ball then flatten into a circle, wrap in cling film and put in the fridge while you get the filling ready.

For the Onion Filling:

4 Tblsp olive oil

700 g onion – diced (whatever size you like)

1 Tblsp thyme leaves

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup balsamic

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a large fry pan or saucepan and add the onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, over medium high heat for 12 – 15 minutes or until the onions are soft and starting to brown.

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Stir in the thyme, sugar, salt, pepper and balsamic and cook, stirring occasionally, for another 10 – 12 minutes until the vinegar is absorbed. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.  Set aside to cool.

For the Mushroom Filling:

100 g salted butter

1 Tblsp olive oil

1 kg mushroom (I love Portobello or Swiss browns for this) thickly sliced

2 Tblsp thyme leaves

1 tsp salt

1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1/2 tsp smokey paprika

3 Tblsp plain flour

150 ml red wine (I used some left over Merlot)

100 ml water or veg. stock

200 g crushed tomato or passata

Heat the oil and butter in a wide based saucepan then add the mushrooms. Stir over medium high heat until the mushrooms are starting to brown, about 10 – 12 minutes.

Add the thyme, salt, pepper, paprika and flour and stir for a minute to cook the flour a little then add the red wine, water or stock and tomato. Give it a good stir and let it cook for a few minutes , stirring often, until it’s all thick and glossy and yummy. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.

I managed to get 10 single serve pies out of this batch but you can make mini pies or larger family sized pies.

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Roll out the shortcrust pastry to cover the base and sides of your pie tins then put back in the fridge for about 15 minutes. (This helps minimise pastry shrinkage)

Blind bake pastry cases for about 20 minutes (place a sheet of baking paper over the pastry and add some dried beans or rice). Remove the paper and beans.

Spoon some of the mushroom filling into the par-baked pastry cases. Top with a couple of teaspoons of onion the cover with some puff pastry using a fork to seal the puff pastry onto the shortcrust.

Bake for 30 – 40 minutes in a 200 C oven until golden brown.

The mushroom and gravy together with the sweetness of the onion is amazing.

Serve with peas or broccoli and wedges of fresh tomato and a squeeze or two of your favourite tomato sauce.

A winner.

Enjoy…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Avocado Mango Salad

1 nice looking mango? Check.

1 handsome avocado? Check.

A little red onion? Yup.

Okay then….

Well it’s way to warm to cook anything so lets make a summer salad and serve it with a few little open sandwiches for dinner shall we?

This has become one of our favourite salads during the last few summers.

Mangos are plentiful and avocados are everywhere.

I made this for the first time several years back and served it with chicken schnitzel.  It has since made an appearance on the dinner table many times (though we no longer eat meat so it’s now served as the main part of our meal).

It’s really simple:-

1 ripe (but not soft) mango – peeled and cut into bite size pieces

1 ripe (but not too mushy) avocado – peeled and cut into bite size pieces

2 Tblsp finely diced red onion

2 Tblsp fresh lemon or lime juice

2 Tblsp olive oil

a few sprigs fresh mint – finely chopped

a little (or a lot) of very finely diced red chilli

a sprinkle of sea salt

a scattering of pomegranate seeds (optional)

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Here’s the difficult part….

Gently toss all the above ingredients in a bowl or on a serving dish.

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Serve…

And because it was 42 o C today, we had little open cheese, tomato, cucumber, beetroot and basil sandwiches (and a chilled glass of white wine).

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Dinner was definitely good.

Enjoy…

 

 

Fun Food Friday – Baked Eggplant Slices

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Gotta love a Friday afternoon. After all, for most it means no getting up early for work tomorrow. It’s that wonderful feeling of unwinding and having a drink (or 3) with a simple long lasting dinner.

Then, it’s Saturday. Time for a nice leisurely breakfast in your favourite cafe, on the balcony or in bed. At least that’s our Saturday mornings, especially since we both stopped going to work on them.

But back to Fridays…

I’m lucky enough to finish work pretty early in the afternoon so I get time to think of something fun to make and eat for dinner. Hence the name Fun Food Fridays.

I stopped off at our local supermarket on the way home and found the prettiest looking Eggplants and decided that baked spiced eggplant, fried haloumi and fresh tabouleh in crunchy lettuce leaves was exactly what I felt like (and a glass or two of a wonderful wine we bought back with us from the Barossa in South Australia.)

Eggplant cooked this way is easy, healthy and delicious. You just season it any way you like, bake it and serve it as part of any meal. It goes perfectly with haloumi…

All you’ll need is:

1 medium eggplant
Olive oil
Salt
Pepper
Cumin
Cayenne

Slice the eggplant into 1cm thick slices. Brush lightly on both sides with olive oil the sprinkle on your fave seasonings.

Place in a single layer on a baking paper lined baking sheet and bake in a preheated 200oC oven for around 30 – 40 minutes.

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While the eggplant was cooking I made a bowl of tabouleh and I pan fried some thick slices of haloumi.

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We grabbed a lettuce leaf each, filled it with some tabouleh, a piece of haloumi and a slice of eggplant then rolled it up and dug in.

Mmmmm…..Delightful….

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Hope you Enjoy…

Long Time No Post but I Did Bring Quiche…

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Wow! It’s been 2 whole months since a post from me. I know. That’s pretty bad but when inspiration doesn’t hit it really doesn’t hit. Not that I haven’t been creating and cooking, it’s more like….um…okay….it’s laziness….

I haven’t been writing things down as I do them or taking photos of what I’m doing while I’m doing them.

Part of this here personal laziness stems from having a new job. Most of my creativity is used up between the hours of 7am and 2pm where I’m in someone else’s kitchen baking away so by the time I finish work and get home I don’t have an awful lot of creativity left.

I did however manage to document this recipe (only because I had a couple of days off)

Zucchini and Sweet Potato Quiche.

There they were…all green and bright sitting just so on top of each other. How was I supposed to walk by them. In the shopping trolley they went. Next, the sweet potato. We love sweet potato everything in our home.

Then I thought…

Why not bring these two fantastic veggies together and make one fantastic meal…

So I did.

To make it even more fantastic I added some sheep’s milk feta that we bought home with us from a weekend away at Mudgee in central west New South Wales. What a winning combination.

Zucchini and Sweet Potato Quiche

Shortcrust pastry pie case – blind baked- (recipe here)

4 large zucchini – coarsely grated

1 medium sweet potato – coarsely grated

2 spring onions – thinly sliced

6 free range eggs

100ml cream

salt, pepper – to taste

1/2 teaspoon curry powder

80 – 100g Feta cheese

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Squeeze out as much moisture as you can from the zucchini and sweet potato. Put in a large bowl and add the spring onion.

In a separate bowl whisk together the eggs, cream,salt, pepper and curry powder. Pour this over the veggies, give it a really good stir then pour the whole lot into the pre-baked pastry case.

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Crumble the cheese over the top and bake in a pre-heated 170oC oven for about 55-60 minutes or until the middle is no longer wobbly.

Let it cool for about 10 minutes before you slice it up and serve.

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Here’s hoping it won’t be another 2 months before I manage another post.

As always…

Enjoy…

Kale, Spinach and Haloumi Quiche.

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I love making pastry and dough. This recipe uses a really simple shortcrust pastry which can be doubled or halved very easily. It’s pretty much half the amount of butter to flour with a few tablespoons of cold water added at the end to bring it all together.

For a 23cm quiche tin I used:-

200g plain flour

100g wholemeal plain flour

150g butter – cut into small cubes

6-7 Tblsp cold water

Mix the two flours together then rub in the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the water and mix until combined. You don’t want to over mix or you’ll end up with a tough crust instead of a melt in the mouth crust. Turn the dough out onto a large piece of plastic wrap, flatten it a little then wrap and put in the fridge to rest for about 30 minutes.

Now roll  the dough out large enough to cover the base and sides of your tin. If you’re feeling creative you can crimp the edges.

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If not, don’t.

Put it back in the fridge for another 20 minutes to rest again (it’s very tiring being dough).

Next, cover with a sheet of baking paper, weigh down with baking beans or rice and bake for 20 minutes at 180oC then remove the beans and paper, prick the bottom with a fork and bake again for another 15 minutes until lightly browned all over

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While the crust is baking make the filling:-

7 free range eggs

200ml thickened cream

2 stalks of Kale – leaves stripped off the stalks

a couple of handfuls of baby spinach

250g haloumi cheese – cut into strips or cubes

2 Tblsp freshly grated parmesan cheese (optional but tasty)

1 tsp sweet paprika

1/2 tsp ground cumin

Salt and pepper

Lightly blanch the kale in hot water, drain well the roughly chop.

In a large bowl whisk the eggs and cream together. Season with salt, pepper, paprika and cumin  then add the kale.

Take the crust out of the oven scatter the haloumi over the base, then the spinach leaves and finally pour over egg mix. Flatten down a little with a spoon or palette knife and bake at 180oC for about 50 minutes or until the centre of the quiche is firm and the top a lovely golden brown.

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Serve with a fresh salad and a glass of wine.

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The combination of texture is great. You have the creamy eggy and spinach bits, the chewy haloumi bits and the flaky, crunchy pastry. Lovely…

Perfect for lunch boxes the next day…

Enjoy…

Sauteed Mushrooms on Soft Polenta

“The mind is willing but the flesh is weak”…

That’s what it’s like this morning for me.

My head is saying ‘it’s time to exercise. Get up! Move it! NOW!!!’

But alas here I am, sitting at the computer, looking out the window at the drifting fluffy white clouds and the sun reflecting off the neighbours TV aerial. For now, the laziness wins.

In my defense there are still many hours left of this day so my head will get it’s way. Besides, I need a couple of things from the local supermarket, which happens to be at the end of my usual walking route so exercise  will be done at some time today.

Until that time comes though, I thought I’d share with you what we had for dinner last night…

Sauteed Mushrooms with Soft and Cheesy Polenta

First make the polenta.

You’ll need:

1/2 cup polenta

1 cup water

1 cup milk

1 tsp thyme leaves

1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

50g butter – cut into small pieces

a little salt, a little pepper

In a medium saucepan bring to a boil the milk and water then slowly sprinkle in the polenta while whisking continuously. Turn the heat to it’s lowest and let the mixture cook for 30 minutes, stirring often so it doesn’t stick.

Stir in the butter, cheese and thyme and season with salt and pepper. Cover and leave to rest while tending to the mushies.

For the Sauteed Mushrooms you’ll need:

300g of whatever mushroom you like (I used swiss browns this time)

50g butter + 1 Tblsp olive oil

2 large garlic cloves – finely grated or crushed

2 tsp thyme leaves

a handful fresh parsley – chopped

a dash of white wine

2-3 Tblsp cream (although I didn’t have any so I used greek style natural yoghurt)

salt and pepper

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In a large fry pan melt the butter with the oil. Add the mushroom and saute for a few minutes until they’re soft then add the garlic and thyme. Cook for a couple more minutes before adding the white wine and cream(yoghurt). Finally stir in the parsley and season with salt and pepper.

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To serve spread some of the polenta on a plate then spoon on the mushrooms and some of the cream sauce.

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Really simple but really tasty.

(I believe it’s now time for that walk…)

Enjoy…

Warm Roast Veg.and Quinoa Salad

I’m pretty sure just about everyone goes through the “What shall we have for dinner tonight?”  scenario all too often.

There we are standing in front of an open fridge, looking at what’s inside. What needs to be used up? What can do with this little bit of whatever? How can I turn that into a satisfying meal?  And the biggest question of all…What does my stomach feel like today???

Well yesterday my stomach felt like some roast veggies.

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I went through the fridge and the pantry and came up with a chunk of pumpkin, some sweet potato, a zucchini and other bits and pieces. So after looking at all these ingredients I got an image in my head and I acted on it…

I chopped up some pumpkin, a couple of potatoes, a zucchini, half an eggplant, a few chunks of sweet potato, a red onion and a tomato. (If I’d had some beetroot that would have gone in too. I wish I’d had some beetroot….oh well…)

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Into a large bowl went all the veg. along with some grated garlic, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and a good glug of olive oil. A toss around to coat the veggies in the garlicky goodness then onto a baking tray. A sprinkle of salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, ground cumin and a scattering of fennel seed. Into a hot oven, 230oC for about 30 minutes until veggies are cooked.

While waiting for the veggies to cook I put 1/2 cup of quinoa into a saucepan with 1 and a bit cups of water. I added a little finely sliced onion and a couple of garlic cloves. This was brought to the boil then the heat was turned right down, the lid put on and it was left to gently cook for 20 minutes.

On the serving plate was arranged some baby spinach, a little green and purple kale. Then the quinoa IMG_1818

and finally the roast veggies. A drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar and if you like some feta cheese.

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Oh and the left overs make a great lunch…

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Enjoy…