I'd like to think that I've come a long way since that first post. Reading other blogs and marvelling at their photographs or cooking prowess has inspired me to improve my own photography and challenged me to further my cooking and baking skills. I've gone from simple apple crumbles to rainbow layered buttercakes, and although there's been a few disasters along the way, I think this blog is what gets me to push the limit of my abilities. Hopefully one day I will master the art of baking as I keep trying new things (why oh why did I choose to take on macarons?!)
One new thing that I've learnt to do is make pastry from scratch. When I first started this blog, making pastry from scratch seemed like the most daunting task - I mean, isn't pastry something you buy from the freezer aisle in the supermarket? But once you get the hang of it, it's not difficult at all, and it is truly satisfying when you can proudly present a pie or a tart and say that you made it all by yourself (or in this case, with the help of Sir D).
Since seeing Maggie Beer's pheasant pie on Masterchef, I've been wanting to make her sour cream pastry and it is so easy to work with and very forgiving. I didn't know where to get a pheasant from so I used another of Maggie Beer's recipes and made her Country Chicken and Mushroom pies with the same flaky and buttery pastry. It was so nice to be able to take a beautiful golden pie out of the oven and very satisfying to eat it, knowing that I had made it from scratch. This is what keeps me cooking and blogging :)
EDIT: Just realised this is also my 100th post!
Country Chicken and Mushroom PieAdapted from this recipe by Maggie Beer
25g unsalted butter, softened
6 chicken marylands
Freshly ground black pepper
450ml chicken stock
7 large mushrooms, sliced
¼ cup (35g) plain flour
2 tbsp oregano, thyme, flat-leaf parsley, chopped
¼ cup (60ml) milk
For the pastry:
200g chilled unsalted butter
250g plain flour
125ml sour cream
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Season the chicken marylands with salt and pepper and place in a buttered baking dish. Roast for 20-25 minutes, and rest for 15 minutes. The meat should still be slightly pink. Discard the skin, remove the meat from the bones and shred.
2. Heat the chicken stock and reduce by one third. Meanwhile, in large saucepan, fry the mushrooms in butter, sprinkling flour over them and stirring to coat evenly. Gradually stir in the hot stock and cream and simmer gently until thickened. Remove from the heat, fold chicken meat and herbs through mushroom mixture and season. Refrigerate until chilled.
3. Increase the oven temperature to 220°C. To make the pastry, pulse butter and flour in a food processor until it looks like coarse breadcrumbs. Add the sour cream and continue to pulse until the dough starts to incorporate into a ball. Divide the pastry into two portions, with one twice as large as the other. Wrap in plastic film and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.
4. Make the egg wash by mixing the egg and milk together with a good pinch of salt. Take the larger portion of pastry and roll to 3mm thick. Cut to line the base of the pie dish, leaving a ‘lip’ over the edge. Brush the 'lip' with egg wash and fill the pie with chicken mixture. Take the remaining pastry and roll out to 3mm thick, and cut a circle for the lid. Place on top of the chicken mixture, fold over the bottom pastry 'lip' and crimp the edges to seal, trimming off any excess pastry. Score the top of the pie and brush with egg wash. Refrigerate for 5 minutes.
5. Remove pie from the fridge and bake for 10-15 minutes or until the pastry is turning a light golden colour. Reduce the oven temperature to 180°C and bake for a further 30-35 minutes until the pastry is golden and cooked through. Cover the top of the pie with foil if your pie is browning too quickly. For an even colouring of the lid, turn the pie halfway through cooking if desired.