Thursday, 28 April 2011

Vegetable and Mushroom Pie

Talking about pie always brings me back to years and years ago when I ate my first pie. I don't really remember how old I was at that time, around 12-13 y.o. maybe. Well, back then, pie was not a common dish in this country and nobody sold pies. So, the only way to eat pies was to bake it yourself. No no no, I wasn't the one who baked... it was my sister A. She found the recipe from a woman magazine 'Femina' and I remember we enjoy that pie much. In fact it might be the first pie baked in my family. The filling was a litle bit unique and maybe that was why my sister decided to give it a try. It had rice and shrimps filling, and tasted great! Unfortunately, none of us remembered to keep save the recipe.
Several years passed before I have enough courage to bake my first pie. And it was an Apple Pie from Mrs. Fields Cookie Book. Having more confident after baking one, I made another and shared the pies with my neighbours and my friends from work, and they liked it (and even asked for more :)).

Actually, I don't bake many different pies, even though I know we can have almost anything for its filling. Sweet or savoury. One of my favourite is vegetable pie. This time, I decided to add mushrooms that turned out giving very nice flavour to this pie.

Vegetable and Mushroom Pie 

For the crust : 

250 grams of all purpose flour 
150 grams salted butter, cut into small pieces and slightly softened 
1 egg, lightly beaten with a fork
1 tbsp of cold milk or cold water 

Put the flour on a big bowl. Make a well in the center, and put the butter and egg in it. Using your finger tips, start from the center slowly incorporate the butter and egg with the flour. 
Add cold milk/water and continue mixing. Be careful not to over-work the dough or it could become tough.Form a thick disc and wrap in clingwrap plastic and put in your fridge for 20-30 minutes. 
At this point, reheat your oven to 180 Celcius degree. 
After 20-30 minutes, take the dough from the fridge and roll out the dough to about 4-5 mm thin, and line a pie dish with it. Prick the base with fork, top with parchment/baking paper and fill it with rice/beans/baking-beans. Bake with the beans for 15 minutes, take out the paper and beans. Brush the egg on the base, the sides and the edges of the crust (keep the left-over egg to brush the decoration on top of the pie), and continue baking for another 10 minutes. This is called as blind baking. 

While the crust is baked, make the filling : 
1 carrot, sliced 2-3 mm 
1 eggplant, cut lengthwise in two and slice 3-4 mm
1 onion, chopped
4 cups of fresh spinach leaves 
4 cups of roughly-chopped portabella mushroom (or any mushroom of your choice) 
3 eggs 
1 cup of heavy cream
salt & pepper
about 150 grams of salted butter 

Keep your oven temperature at 180 Celcius degree.
Separately cook all vegetables, except the spinach, in a frying pan with the butter.
Line the base of the half-baked crust with the fresh spinach, top with cooked carrot, eggplant, onion and mushroom.
Lightly beat the eggs in a bowl and mix it with the heavy cream, season with salt and pepper.
Pour the eggs-cream mixture onto the pie, use the left-over crust dough for decoration, brush with egg and bake in the oven for 40 minutes.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Chocolate Macarons and Matcha Green Tea Macarons

One day in 2008 I received a box full of different kind of sweets from my colleague Arnaud who finished his mission in Indonesia. It was his farewell gift. My eyes fixed on three round cookies that looked so cute and yet so appetizing. When I bit and tasted how delicate and delicious it tasted, I suddenly fell in love with those cookies. I asked Arnaud about it and he said: It's Macarons, cookies from Paris.
Being challenged, my journey began. Thanks to modern technology, we can find information almost on anything from the internet, including macaarons' recipes. Then the first attempt resulted in what I called as amoeba-type macarons. Odd shapes. My macarons' shells had protruding "feet" reaching the other shells on the baking tray... just like amoeba! No real macarons feet.

Second try. The protruding "feet" had feet!
Hah! what a strange world! (now I regret for not taking pictures on those amoeba macarons)
Well, those failures challenged me even more. In this case, the internet became so helpful giving me a lot of information for my macarons research. Hours and hours was spent to simply study macarons-making. Tartelette, Syrup & Tang, David Lebovitz..., those are only a few from so many blogs and websites I read. My big thanks to all of them.
Third try. The result? No protruding "feet"... they were round-shaped macarons with the real feet. But..., they were not perfect. The feet raised only in half part of the cookies. Again, what a strange world.

Being not easily discouraged, macarons research was continued. I cannot tell how many hours I have spent for this. Well, at least my friends in my office happilly ate all the bad and the not-so-bad macarons. I started to realise that I was obssesed to master the macarons making.

Then the bright day came when I managed to make perfect macarons on my fourth attempt.

Now, still obssesed with macarons, experiment goes on for different flavours for the shells and the fillings... all natural flavours, no chemical flavours. Chocolate, green tea, strawberry, carrot, vanilla, those are the flavours for the shells I managed to make. I want to make macarons shells flavoured with litchi, jackfruit, mango... There are lots and lots of flavourful fruits in this country all year long. Yes, I understand, we cannot add fluid to the ingredient for macarons shell, so somehow they have to be dried whitout loosing their rich flavours. I promise to tell you more about this.
For the filling, the choices are endless... and it's not as difficult as making the shells.

For this time, I am going to share the result from my experiment for Chocolate Macarons and Matcha Green Tea Macarons. Both with bitter chocolate ganache filling.
Basically, those two have similar recipes.
For Matcha Green Tea Macarons, simply substitute the 25 grams of chocolate powder with 10 grams of Matcha Green Tea powder.

Chocolate Macarons

For the shells:
(make about 25-30 macarons)

110 g ground almond

185 g powdered sugar

100 g white eggs (aged 1-2 days in room temperature)

25 g dutch chocolate powder

50 g caster sugar

Blend together ground almond, powdered sugar, and chocolate powder in a food processor, put aside. Sieve, if you want a very smooth surface on your macarons. Put aside.

Using a mixer, beat white eggs and add caster sugar gradually, continue beating until hard-peak consistency. Be careful not to over-beat.Add almond ground/powdered sugar mixture, 1/3 at a time. Incorporate until well-mixed to a lava-like consistency.Line two baking tray with silpat or parchment paper.Using pipping-bag with a round big nozzle, pipe round discs of 3cm diameter.Tap the baking tray on hard surface a couple times to remove the bubbles, and let the surface dries a little bit for approximately 30 minutes.Preheat the oven to 160 Celcius degree. Double the baking tray and bake the macarons shells for 20 minutes in 140-150 Celcius degree.Let it cool before removing them from the lining baking paper/silpat.

For the filling:
Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache

230 g dark chocolate (60% or more), finely chopped, put in a bowl
150 ml heavy cream
50 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
Boil the heavy cream, and pour it onto the chopped chocolate.Stir from the center, slowly widening in a cocentric circles, incorporate all the mixture until all chocolates are melted and the mixture is smooth.Leave to cool down the mixture a little before adding butter in two additions. Stir until well-mixed and smooth.Put in a fridge to thicken before putting it in a pipping bag for your macarons filling.

To assembly :

Friday, 8 April 2011

A working place called home

Wake up in the morning, check what's in the fridge while waiting the coffee brewed in a 2-cup espresso kettle, think of what could be brought to the office for lunch, grap some vegetables and eggs or fish or chicken... some garlic, spices, herbs... I think I am blessed, cause in my office we have a big well-equipped kitchen and we are allowed to cook during lunch break. I like to call our office: the second home. Yes... I know, not many have a working place like ours. The non-profit organisation I work with rents two big houses for our office, so it has everything for a place called home except... beds! (too bad!)OK, back to the kitchen. Not everybody cooks his/her lunch in the office. Many simply reheat their lunch, bring or buy lunch to be eaten in our big kitchen, where we have nice interesting chats over nice meals. Only me and Atiah cook in the office, plus Rosy who sometimes boils her tomattoes, Dwiyana who sometimes cook vegetables and a couple other friends who reheat their lunches.

makan siang

In contrary with that big kitchen, at home... my real home, I only have a small kitchen... about 2.5m x 4m. But, no matter how big or how small, I love those two kitchens. They are my homes inside homes!