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Bake like you mean it Recipe Shed Stuff that doesn't fit in another category

Pierogi / Pyrohy / Piroshki or hand pies to that effect

Back at the Warwick Folk Festival again – fantastic music (Man the Lifeboats, Trials of Cato, Banter, Glory Strokes) and amazingly good food. As per my blog post from last year, some of the stand-out food of the weekend came from The Old Granary Pierogi. Just the most wonderful yeasted-pastry pies/pasty things you can imagine. Wonderful fillings, tasty to the end. So this year, getting home, I figured I’d try to make them myself.

Don’t put them too close together!

Turns out that most every country in the Russia/Ukraine/Poland type region has a variation on this dish. Not only that, but it bears a striking resemblance to Chinese steamed dumplings. So pretty much every culture in the world has developed a Cornish pasty-type thing of some kind. Fillings vary, obviously.

Essentially, though, they boil down to 2 things. The dough and the filling. My culinary adviser and Google-fu expert found me half a dozen different dough recipes, I found a few more, and we distilled them down to this, which makes roughly 20 pierogi:

The Dough

  • 2 tsp dried yeast
  • 60ml warm water
  • 2tsp sugar

Put into the bowl of your Kenwood mixer (other stand mixers are available, we’ve got a K to do the heavy kneading work here). Give it a quick stir and leave it for 5 minutes. Then, in another bowl, mix together…

  • 360ml warm milk
  • 50g melted butter
  • 1tsp salt

Add that to the yeast mixture you first thought of, along with

  • 450g / 1lb strong white flour.

First time through I thought I only had plain flour, so used that, and needed another 150g or thereabouts to get the dough to the right consistency.

Stick the bread hook on the Kenwood, turn it on medium, go away and have a cup of tea. Give it at least 10 minutes. It should be pulling away from the sides of the mixer and forming a nice ball. Add more flour if too sticky, more warm water if too dry. It’s a very soft dough you end up with but it’s lovely to work.

Cover the bowl with a cloth, leave it to double in size – about an hour. Plenty of time to make your filling. Always make more filling that you think you’ll need. Easy to store and use later, harder to stop everything and make up another batch!

The Filling

I went for a classic pork/chorizo/pepper pie filling we’ve made before, knowing that the kids will eat it whether this works or not, and that I can always knock up a batch of rough puff pastry and make a real pie should everything go pear-shaped. You’ll need:

  • 2 large onions, coarsely chopped
  • 1 red pepper, 1 green pepper, finely chopped
  • Some cloves of garlic (more than 2, less than 10, you know how much garlic you like), finely chopped.
  • 1 chorizo sausage (~250g), finely cubed (there’s a pattern here)
  • Pork loin, 3-4 steaks, finely cubed
  • Oil, salt, pepper, chilli flakes
  • Fresh parsley

Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil over a medium/low heat and fry the onions slowly for about 10 minutes. Low and slow is the key here. Sprinkle of salt, grate of pepper. While you’re frying the onions, prep the peppers and garlic.

Add the peppers and garlic, mix it all up, give it another 15 minutes. And while this is all frying, prep the pork and chorizo

Add the pork, the chorizo, the chilli flakes (as much or as little as you want heat-wise) and give it about 5 minutes, enough to colour the pork. Take your filling off the heat.

Ah, this stuff smells fantastic. Simple and gorgeous.

Pierogi, Assemble!

And this is where the story really starts…

Roll the dough out into a long sausage, about 5cm diameter. Divide it up into 20 equal pieces. Grab the first one and a rolling pin, roll it out into a disc about 5mm thick, maybe a bit thinner. Whack a tablespoon of the filling into the middle and close it, pinching and twisting like a Cornish pasty. Put in onto a baking try, grab the next one. Roll, fill, place, repeat. Don’t place them too close together, they’re going to rise…

Basic pinch and twist to seal them. And, FYI, these are set way too close together

Let them stand for about half an hour, heat your oven to 180C, bake them for about half an hour.

The challenge then is to let them cool before eating them.

And a final word of advice. Whatever I’ve written for quantities up there? Double them. You’ll thank me.

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Recipe Shed

Baked Chocolate Cheesecake, New York Style

Every once in a while you come across a recipe that’s perfect. Just bloody perfect. Well, it is when you hit the Mk IV, anyway. And my New York cheesecake was just that. Or so I thought. Sure, I’ve added a few ingredients, dropped some crystallized ginger into the biscuit base, added half a jar of marmalade in the main cheesecake mix. And yet, I figured it was pretty much spot on.

And then…

“Can you make a chocolate cheesecake?” I was asked. One quick discussion with my technical advisor (my wife, baker par excellence, and source of most of my good ideas) and yes. Yes, I think I can…

You’ll need…

  • 7oz Bourbon biscuits (or as near as you can get, better over than under), blitzed to a fine crumb
  • 3oz butter, melted

Mix those 2 together, press into the base of your 9inch (23cm) spring-sided pan and bake at 180C for 10 minutes.

Then you’ll need 2 bowls. Into 1…

  • 750g full fat cream cheese (2 x 375g pots)
  • 250g ish Marscapone (1 1/2 of the Tesco 180g pots, I can’t usually find them in Sainsburys)
  • 9oz caster sugar (see how I’m mix and matching grams and ounces? It’s the consistency that matters and this works every time)
  • 4 eggs
  • 3oz cocoa powder, sieved to remove lumps.

Mix together the cream cheese, the Marscapone, and the caster sugar. Once you’ve got a nice smooth, even mix, add in the eggs one at a time. Mix thoroughly but don’t over-beat it (that’s one of my notes from the Mk II). Finally, mix through the cocoa powder.

In the 2nd bowl…

  • 300ml soured cream
  • 40g cornflour, sieved

Mix those two together to a smooth blend. Then fold that into the main cheesecake mix.

By about now, the 10 minutes should be up and the base baked. Leave the oven on, you’ll need it in a mo.

Pour the mix into the spring-sided tin, smooth over the top. You should have something that looks like this:

One on the shelf, ready to go.

Into the oven it goes, middle shelf, bake for 45 minutes and this is where it gets techincal…

Switch off the oven, crack the door open a fraction, and leave it to cool down for a couple or 3 hours. Take it out of the oven, run a blunt knife around the inside of the tin to separate it from the metal. Take the spring-side away. Now make the ganache…

Final ingredients:

  • 150ml double cream, heated to near-boiling
  • 140g dark chocolate. Bourneville is perfect, chopped into tiny little bits.

Pour the hot cream over the chocolate in a bowl, stir until it’s all melted together, then place the whole thing into a large tub of cold water to cool it down and thicken it up.

Once it’s cooler and thicker, pour it over the top of the chesecake, whack the whole thing in the fridge overnight to chill. This is what turns it from an excellent dish into something truly amazing. Something happens with that overnight chill that gives it a final creamy texture, really finishes the job properly. It’s amazing.

Then cut yourself a slice and enjoy the breakfast of champions.

Oh, yeah.

Categories
Recipe Shed

Harira – Moroccan Chicken Soup

There are about as many variations on this recipe as there are families in Morocco, or so I’m told.  This one came to me through a book on world street food and takes a little preparation – but some of that can be short-cutted if you’re in a rush.

It’s rich, hearty, winter-warming, and I can’t make less than a small vat of the stuff.

Serves a family of 7 comfortably.  If you want to make more, use the quantities in brackets to serve a churchful of hungry lent-lunchers and still have enough left over to feed the family that night and over the weekend to come.  Seriously, I can’t seem to make a small quantity of this stuff.

Quick spin round the ingredients, Clive, then back to me.

  • 1 (2) Medium chicken (1.5kg ish)
  • 2 (8) tbsp butter
  • 2 (8) tbsp olive oil
  • 2 (6-7) large onions, sliced
  • 6 (all the garlic in the house) cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1tsp (4) ground turmeric
  • 1tsp (4) ground cinnamon
  • 2 (8) large, ripe tomatoes, diced
  • 1 (4) cup dried chickpeas
  • 1 (2-3) cup short-grained rice
  • 1/2 (2) cup plain flour
  • Parsley
  • 2 (6) eggs
  • Lemons

The night before you want to make the soup…

Pressure cook the chicken.  Put in the pressure cooker with enough water to cover, add a carrot (broken into chunks), a quartered onion (skin still on), 2-3 tsp salt and a dozen or so whole black peppercorns.  I like to sling in a teaspoon or so of ground turmeric at this point.  20 minutes on high pressure, allow to cool.  Strain off the stock and keep it, separate the meat from the bones – shred the meat and save that, all the squidgy bits of carcass (including the soft, pressure-cooked bones) can go to the dog.  He’s now your bestest friend in the whole world EVER.

You can shortcut this by buying cooked chicken and using chicken stock you’ve already got, but if you make your own stock you can control the flavours so much more.

Dissolve the 1/2 cup plain flour in a cup of water and leave it to stand overnight.  Not found a way to shortcut this one.  Answers in the comments below, please!

Put the chickpeas in a bowl and cover with water until they’re about 3-4cm under.  They’re going to absorb the water and expand, so check on them and make sure they’re still covered at some point.  You can bypass this by using 2 tins of chickpeas as they’re pre-soaked for your convenience.

The Main Method

Big, deep, pan.  We’re talking stock pot, jam pan, that sort of thing.  Well, we are if you’ve quadrupled the ingredients.  You can probably get away with something smaller, but not a lot.  Heat the butter and oil, fry the sliced onions and garlic until soft and translucent.  Add the turmeric, cinnamon, salt, pepper, and diced tomatoes.  Simmer this until it reduces to a gorgeous thick sauce.  Smells fantastic at this stage.  Add the drained chickpeas, rice, chicken stock.  Simmer until the chickpeas are cooked through.  This takes about an hour, less if you’re using pre-soaked chickpeas.

If it starts to stick and looks really gloopy, add more stock.  The final consistency is pretty thick and sticky, but you want to serve it by the bowl, not by the slice.  It’s amazing how much liquid the rice soaks up, so just keep adding a cup or 2 of stock as required.  Each time you add stock, check the seasoning of the mix.  Chicken is remarkably bland, it’s amazing what a pinch of salt and a grate of pepper will do.

2 man job, this stage.  One to stir, one to pour.  First, pour in the flour and water mix into the soup in a thin, steady, stream.  The second person at this stage is to keep stirring to ensure it’s thoroughly mixed as it’s added in.  If you can persuade them to keep stirring for the next 15 minutes, go for it.  Otherwise, dismiss them for now, but let them know they’ll be needed again in a quarter of an hour.  Stir frequently throughout the next 15 minutes.

Add the shredded chicken meat back in, mix thoroughly, give it a couple of minutes then take it off the heat.  Chop the parsley, add and mix.  Finally, beat the egg and get your assistant back.  Just as with the flour, pour the beaten eggs into the soup, stirring all the while.

Last, but not least, juice the lemons and stir the juice in.

Serve with chunks of fresh bread.

You can adjust and adapt this recipe with whatever you happen to have on hand.  Got a load a lovely, fresh, chillies?  Add them in!