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…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cauliflower and Ginger Soup

A new Farmers’ Market has opened up near my Mum and Dads place in Canterbury in the last month or so. It has been such a treat being able to stock up on fresh organic fruit and veg. for the week. There’s artisan breads, a couple of cake stalls, a few hot food trucks, a fresh flower vendor and even pony rides to keep the kids happy. I love being able to speak with the farmers about their produce and where the farms are. It’s good to know that a lot of my purchases didn’t have to travel thousands of kilometres and most of the produce is harvested fresh for these markets.
My stash from a couple of weeks ago….

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Anyway….Cauliflower Soup….

I’ve only recently acquired the taste for cauliflower soup. Can’t believe it’s taken this long…. I tried it with some fresh ginger the other night and it was divine so I thought I’d share….

 

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Cauliflower and Ginger Soup.

30g butter or 1 Tblsp olive oil
1/2 brown onion – thinly sliced
1Tblsp fresh ginger – finely chopped (more or less depending on your taste).
1 medium potato – peeled and diced
1/2 head cauliflower – roughly chopped
Salt, pepper to taste

Melt butter in a medium saucepan then add the onions and cook for a few minutes over medium heat until the onions are soft. Add the ginger and cook for a minute more before throwing in the potato and pouring in enough water to cover them. Bring to a simmer until the potatoes are tender.
Add the cauliflower and a little more water (enough to mostly cover the cauliflower) and allow to steam until mushy.
Carefully blitz the lot and season with salt and pepper.
It doesn’t get any easier than that….

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I served the soup with some cheese and avocado bread roll toasties. Perfect for a chilly winters night.

Enjoy…
We did….

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Breakfast for Dinner – Baked Eggs with Spicy Beans and Tomato

This is a twist on the ever growing popular breakfast dish Shakshuka. A bowl or dish of eggs baked in a spicy tomato sauce. It’s hard to get a straight answer as to the origins of this dish as everyone claims it as their own so let’s just say it originated in the Middle East and everyone has their own version of it.
My sister travelled through Israel a few years back and sampled different versions of shakshuka as she went. Her conclusion – they’re all delicious.
I consider this spicy bean and tomato casserole a base recipe. To it I either add more spice and cook it out longer to serve as a filling for tacos, burritos, nachos etc. or as a topping for baked whole potatoes or as is on crusty toasted bread.

We usually have this for dinner with lots of buttered crusty bread and, depending on the mood, either a glass of red wine or a good cup of tea.

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Of course any beans are suitable for this recipe but we love black beans and I added a can of mixed beans as well.

 

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What you’ll need:-

2-3 Tblsps olive oil

5-6 big cloves garlic – grated or finely chopped

1/2 brown onion – finely diced

2-4 red chillies (depending on how spicy you like it) – finely chopped

400g can diced tomato

2 cans or 800g of whatever cooked beans you have or like

1/4C red wine (optional)

1 tsp brown sugar

2 Tblsps balsamic vinegar

1 Tblsp worcestershire sauce

2 bay  leaves

1 tsp each ground cumin, smokey paprika and ground black pepper

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

salt

eggs

a little feta cheese (optional)

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In a medium saucepan heat oil over medium high heat then add the onion, garlic and chilli and saute for a minute or two. Add the tomato and wine and cook for about 5 minutes.

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Add the beans, seasonings and sugar and bring to boil then reduce heat and simmer gently with the lid on for about an hour and half, stirring occasionally.

Once the beans a soft and the sauce has thickened a little stir in the balsamic vinegar and worcestershire sauce and take off the heat. If the sauce hasn’t thickened much then leave on a simmer with the lid off for another 15 minutes or so.

Ladle beans into individual heat proof deepish dishes, crack a couple of eggs on top of the beans and crumble a little feta cheese over the top of the eggs then place on the bottom shelf under a preheated grill for 2 – 3 minutes or until the eggs are cooked to your likings.IMG_2142IMG_2143

Serve with crusty bread for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

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…

 

 

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…

Spicy Tomato Soup

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I do try to follow a recipe as it is written, I really do, but the way I see it is a recipe is there as a guideline or idea. You take that idea into your kitchen and let it inspire you to cook something magnificent.

Sometimes that recipe is just what your looking for, except for that one ingredient that you don’t like or don’t have handy. 

For example, I don’t like cooked capsicum. I can easily eat a fresh capsicum and love it but once you add heat to the capsicum, I can’t eat it. Don’t judge me on that, every one has their own little quirks. I just leave it out.

This months The Cookbook Guru‘s chosen book is Neil Perry‘s – The Food I Love and Spicy Tomato Soup was exactly what we felt like for dinner.

Now, I didn’t make any major changes to the recipe, I added a little extra chilli and garlic, and didn’t have any smoked paprika so put in hot paprika and a little cayenne pepper, and of course  some fennel seeds.

The recipe does call for a herby, garlicky paste but it is well worth that little extra effort.

Here’s my version of Neil’s Spicy Tomato Soup:-

For the paste:-

4 cloves garlic – roughly chopped

1/2 red onion – roughly chopped

1 handful flat-leaf parsley

1 handful coriander leaves

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp fennel seeds

1/2 tsp tumeric

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes

Throw everything in a food processor with a couple tablespoons of water and puree. Set aside.

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For the soup:-

2 Tbls olive oil

2 ripe tomatoes – diced

1x400g can diced tomato

2 celery stalks – diced

1 small carrot – diced

1/2 Tbls sherry or red wine vinegar

1 tsp sugar 

salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a medium saucepan and add the celery, carrot and herb paste. Cook for a few minutes, stirring it often so it doesn’t burn, then add the diced tomato, canned tomato, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper and 300ml water. Bring to the boil, lower heat and let simmer,covered, for about an hour.

You can serve it as is, chunky style or you can puree it so you get a thick and smooth soup.

 I served it with a spoonful of Greek yoghurt, a generous sprinkle of chopped fresh coriander leaves and some fresh homemade bread.IMG_1308

Baked Butter Beans with Onion, Tomato and Parsley

My first choice from The Cookbook Guru book of the month, Tessa Kiros’s ‘Falling Cloudberries’ is a baked beans recipe.

I have been wanting to make my own baked beans for ages, the thing is, I have absolutely no reasons or excuses to offer as to why I haven’t yet.

That’s all about to change.

I borrowed a copy of the book from one of the local libraries though having had a look at it wouldn’t mind owning a copy.

Such a diverse collection of recipes and so well set out. I have little bits of paper poking from between the pages as bookmarks for the recipes I want try and the beans are first off the rank.

Now, I couldn’t help myself and have altered the recipe a little (maybe one day I’ll follow a recipe to the letter, maybe???)

What you’ll need is…

1 x 400g can of butter beans – drained and rinsed well

1 Tbls olive oil

1/2 onion – thinly sliced

3 cloves garlic – finely chopped

1 stalk celery – finely diced

200g canned diced tomato (diced fresh tomato will work too)

2 Tbls bread crumbs

2 – 3 Tbls finely chopped parsley

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Heat the oil in a fry pan and add the onion. Saute until soft and just starting to colour around the edges.

Take off the heat, add the garlic, celery and tomato and season well with salt and pepper.  Stir in 100ml water.

Put the drained beans in a deep ovenproof dish and pour the tomato sauce over it. Give it a gentle stir, cover it with foil and bake at 180oc for 40 minutes then remove the foil and give it a gentle stir adding  a little more water if the beans are getting too dry.

Sprinkle with a couple of dashes of worcestershire sauce (totally optional) and the bread crumbs and return to the oven, uncovered, for another 30 minutes.

The beans should be very tender and golden on top and the sauce should be thick and sticking to the beans.

Sprinkle the parsley on top and it’s ready.

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This makes a great accompaniment to roast or grilled meats or just spooned over lightly grilled sourdough bread.

I served it with grilled lamb chump chops and a mint and garlic yoghurt sauce.

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Enjoy…