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Tuesday"s Letters Eat 21: 'M' is for Mushrooms en Papilliote

It almost seems too MasterCheffy or Jamie Olivery, but since Stephanie Alexander does it, so can I. En Papillote means 'in parchment' and food cooked this way is placed in a parcel or pouch and then baked.

The recipe calls for a mixture of mushrooms, but the Shitakes looked a bit iffy and because I can, I won't buy already sliced mushrooms, even if they are Portobello: I think it quadruples the price and I don't know who has touched them. Surprisingly, there was no fresh tarragon in the shops, so I used the dried herb instead.

I used baking paper to parcel up the mushrooms, I cut a circle as the recipe said, but in fact it was easier to crimp and wrap if the paper was square. I couldn't fit half the mushroom mixture into the square or the circle, so I made 4 parcels.

 

 Mushrooms en Papillote   serves 2 to 4

  • 500g mixed mushrooms,
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup cream of creme fraiche
  • 1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped tarragon (1 tspn dried)
  • 2 cloves finely grated garlic
  • salt, lots of black pepper
  • 20-30g unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 200*C.

Mushrooms
Wipe the mushrooms with a cloth if needed, the break off and slice the stems. Chop the caps into halves or quarters, or leave them whole depending on their size.

Chopped mushrooms
Combine the mushrooms with the oil, cream, herbs, garlic, salt and pepper.

Mixing
Cut circeles or squares of baking paper, and brush with the melted butter.

Paper
Place 1/4 to 1/2 of the mushroom mixture into the centre and then bring the edges together and crimp and fold the edges, twisting the ends tightly. I was worried I hadn't closed the parcels tightly enough, but the process seems to be quite forgiving.

Filling
Place on a tray and bake for 20 minutes.

Baking
The paper will puff up with steam but I was happily surprised to see that my inexpert crimping and twisting held fast till the end. Be careful opening the parcels as steam will probably whoosh out.

Done  

I think this would be a delighful entree or brunch snack. I served mine immediately with freshly buttered sourdough toast.

And done


Smashing Cupkins

Damn and blast, I just broke one of the really nice cups that match my dinner plates. Still, I have managed not to break the other three of them in the six months since Christmas, and it was empty, so it's not too bad. I caught the handle with my sleeve and precognitive-ly, I saw it all happen: the catching of the sleeve, the toppling of the cup and then the smashing on to the floor. I did just google Smashing Pumpkins to make sure it was the name of a band and not a phrase from the Urban Dictionary which meant something really inappropriate. I am not up with the lingo. As you can tell.

I am very happy to have had Judy-May's guest recipe this week with her delicious Lemon Meringue Pie.  I haven't really cooked at all. Peri wasn't well, she has some little convulsions. Luckily it was 6-40pm and so I rang The Vet and because we live close by she was able to see Dr Malcolm. She very nicely had a little convulse in front of the nurse. Dr Malcolm gave her some injections of cortisone and Valium, and said her pulse and temperature were both normal and being the gannet she is, she probably ate something weird. He thought it was a one off. And so far, he has been proved right.  Poor Gilly was left Home Alone, but coped very well.

Peri is dopey
We all had a big sleep and then after a short walk spent most of yesterday in bed too. She seems to be back to normal now, though I am watching her like a hawk. Peri and Gilly played their usual rowdy rebel games with a plastic cup after tea tonight, and Gilly won the Cup. She usually does.

Gilly wins the Cup
Today I sorted out a few issues: I bought a card reader so I can transfer photos from my camera to my computer. I uninstalled the Kodak Software, it used up waaaay too much of my ever diminishing hard drive space. Cost? $9, but priceless because I don't have to try and find any drivers or fuss about with my camera.

Priceless solution 1
In transporting my machine for the jelly roll adventure the bobbin winding apparatus broke off. I thought of a metal pin and glue or maybe a proper machine shop fix. Instead, an electric bobbin winder. Cost? $25, but priceless because I don't have to leave my machine anywhere to be fixed and I can wind bobbins to my heart's content.

Priceless solution 2

I am White Rabbit late for MrsDrWho's birthday but I have been working on gifts, and now I have a bobbin winder I can finish some sewing. I have been doing a special cross stitch.

A cross stitched thing to be sewn
I have been knitting too. This is not really green, but I used the free online Photoshop editor and I turned it green just because I could.  It is inside out.

Not really green
Now I've talked for an hour to MrsDrWho on the phone and made another cup of tea in another cup. I didn't have my rest today, but I did manage to solve two problems, so we might just go to bed soon. I forgot to take a picture of the finished Jelly Roll quilt, Peri has decided it is hers and she must have it flung over her while she lounges on the bed!!! I bought three Alistair Maclean novels for $10 at the supermarket check out. An excellent impulse buy, so I shall have some comfort reading: When Eight Bells Toll, Ice Station Zebra and Where Eagles Dare. I am a big fan of MacLean, Hammond Innes and their ilk, but Desmond Bagley is my very favourite!!


Tuesday"s Letters Eat 20: 'L' is for Lemon Meringue Pie

Today's Post is brought to you by Judy-May, and the letter 'L'.

 

Lemon Meringue Pie.

Hello. I’m Judy-May and I love Lemon Meringue. My Gran used to make it for Dad and now so do I.

 

IMG_1043
My recipe comes from the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook

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I use their Key Lime Pie biscuit base for the pie crust as I am far to lazy to make my own pie dough and sometimes I can’t be bothered zesting so I replace some zest with lemon essence, but shh! I don’t want anyone to clue on.

Ok so here we go.

 

You will need:

Crust

500g Milk Coffee (or digestive) biscuits.

200g (I sometimes use more) unsalted butter. Melted

 

Lemon Filling.

8 lemons zested and juiced for all they are worth!

2 tins of condensed milk. 397g is the recommended but I get 400g because that’s what the supermarket sells.

8 egg yolks.

 

Meringue

6 egg whites

300g castor sugar

 

Method.

Before you get too excited about making this pie tonight it’s best if you make it in stages over 2 days. By that I mean bake your base, let it cool. Fill and cook, leave over night yada yada yada.

Stage one. The Base!

IMG_1047
I love this stage! It’s my favourite part because I bash my biscuits! You can food process them until they are nice and crumbly then add the melted butter and whiz them again until it combines, but where is the fun? So I bash the biscuits with my rolling pin in an Elmo lunch bag.

IMG_1048
Start by preheating the oven to 170C or 350F if your oven is as old as mine.

Melt your butter.

 

IMG_1045

Now put 5 or so biscuits in the bag and zip lock it and bash away! Repeat until all biscuits are crumbly like crumbs.

Stir through the melted butter to make the crumbly crumbs stick together. Eat some if you like, it’s quite tasty and no one is looking.

IMG_1049 IMG_1050
Now put a third of your biscuity yumminess into your pie dish.

IMG_1051

IMG_1052
Use a glass or the ball of your hand to press the biscuit into a thick layer along the bottom and up the sides. Aim for at least 1 finger width, 2 if your fingers are skinny. Add more biscuit as necessary. Never mind the leftovers it keeps well and is good for a cheesecake base later in the week.

Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes until it looks deliciously golden and crunchy.

IMG_1053

Leave it alone for a good long while, like a sulking teen that has broken their iPhone. It needs to cool down. Go out for a coffee, you deserve it after all you just bashed a lot of biscuits.

 

Stage Two. Filling.

I hate stage two because I have to zest lemons. I hate zesting. But I love the result so I make my peace and move on.

Preheat the oven to 150C.

I start by separating my eggs. I put the yolks into one bowl and the whites into another. I’m so clever.

“But there are two extra whites Judy-May!” I know. Put them in a different container we can talk about them overnight.

Once that’s done I empty both tins of condensed milk into the bowl with the yolks and sigh because I now have to zest. 

I prefer to zest at the dining table where I can sit down and not hunch over the kitchen bench (I’m tallish). So I take my zester and my bowl and all the lemons to the table and sit down and watch some MacGyver while I zest.

Yay zesting done! Ok so here’s my little cheat taking from the advice of the joy of baking and I have only done it on occasion when the lemon zest looks particularly dicey. 1 tsp of zest = 1/2 tsp of essence. Ah! But how much zest in a lemon? About 1 tbs. So how much essence? 1.5 tsp essence per lemon. Because there are 3 tsp to every tbs and you need half that. See.

Ok juice the lemons and then stir. They say to use a whisk but mine broke so I use a spoon. Stir until everything looks combined and the colour of shortbread cooked perfectly.

Pour your yummy filling into your yummy biscuit crust and bake for 20 mins.

IMG_1054
Once this is done it is best to leave it to cool over night.  

Aside: Those extra egg whites make a great omelette for breakfast or can be used to make French toast (yum!). Or you can stir it into the dog’s food, they love it!

 

Stage Three. Meringue

Stage three can break your heart. Seriously, it’s heart wrenching but when you get it right it’s brilliant.

Pull your egg whites out of the fridge and let them get to room temperature. I don’t know why but it helps.

Preheat your oven to 150C again.

Measure your sugar on a very clean scale or in a clean bowl.

Beat the egg whites until they are foamy like a carbonated beverage head.

IMG_1055
Add the sugar in stages, 2 tbs at a time beating for about a minute between each load.

Once you’ve added all the sugar beat the living daylights out of those whites! They need to be beaten until they are silky and smooth and form nice stiff peaks.

This is the part that will break your heart. You’ll look at those whites and think that they’ll never stiffen, and sometimes they won’t. Persevere. If you used clean utensils (don’t get anything other than the sugar in there, it’ll flatten those whites faster than a steam roller) and room temp whites, it’ll happen. And the relief when it does.  

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Bake in the oven until the meringue is golden and lovely! I like to look for little cracks in the top.

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Allow to cool. Celebrate the destination you have reached with a glass of pinot gris or other beverage.

Serve.

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This is a super sweet dish, not for the faint of heart.

IMG_1060I hope you enjoy!

 


Food and Leverage

Winter has set in and it has been quite cold (3*C) and today very wild, windy and rainy. We've had lots of warnings and I made sure I have the candle and matches ready in case the power goes off. I know it is cold because when I go out Peri waits for me at the back door on her rug, and spurns the garage. Lorelai Gilmore just spurns me altogether and sleeps inside on the comfy chair.

They do love the cold weather and run and leap and play with vigor. The creek is really full so they can achieve Total Saturation in no seconds flat.

Pups playing
Pups in the creek
I have spent the last week watching the first two series of Leverage. It is Very Good Indeed. I can highly recommend it, and I don't know why it hasn't been on 'real TV' here. I watched the second season lying in bed but I have saved the very last episode to eke out the excitement.

Leverage
I did do some WW Knitting in Public a week or so ago and I accidentally turned up a week early on Saturday for our Knitting in the Library. Oh dear!! I like to think I was just very prepared for this Saturday. I knitted a square for Save The Children, but it will definitely need blocking. The decrease half is not as tight as the increase half. Which is strange. It's less of a square and more of a rhombus.

Not really a square
It is MrsDrWho's birthday today, but she is home ministering to the kitten, Muppin, who is recuperating form her little operation. Muppin likes me again now, I think she was so happy to see a familiar face when I collected her from the Vet, though all the nurses were keen to adopt her as she is so cute!!!

I shall be having a Guest Post tomorrow for Tuesday's Letter's Eat: Judy-May. We are both very excited!!! As you can tell. I am looking forward to cooking her recipe!!

Last week my computer had only 4MB of memory left. I have now deleted everything except the things it needs to actually run, I can't even open PDFs, and I had to custom install my new printer. I was going along quite well again until two Microsoft Updates ate up lots of memory. I have a back-up hard-drive that I bought from school that I can plug in and use, it's just a question of doing it. Apparently I always put off till tomorrow what I could do today.

Right now I am going to take my tablets with a nice cup of peppermint tea, and we will go to bed and listen to the rain on the roof. Jimoein tells a joke about a can opener, the ones that always do a lap of honour around the tin before they actually start any kind of can opening. Lorelai Gilmore likes to do a lap of honour before she goes to bed. When they have been outside and we are turning off lights and computers and TVs, she runs to the back door, and looks expectantly at me. I open the door and she goes out, walks in a little circle under the porch, and then runs into bed. It seems she has made sure all is really right with the world!!! And so, to bed.........


Tuesday"s Letters Eat 19: 'L' is for Lemon Melting Moments

I'd never really heard Melting Moments called anything else. Now they are Yoyos apparently. I prefer Melting Moments, the name describes them: you pop the short little biscuit in your mouth and it gently melts away to reveal the lovely lemony filling. Nothing better, well, passionfruit is nice too, and vanilla and white chocolate ganache!!

These are quite easy biscuits: quick to make and bake and fill. You could be eating them in less than 40 minutes from Now!!!

I think the real trick is to make sure the butter is nice and soft. Since the dog door was open and 2*C was wafting in, I opted to soften my butter in the microwave. There are recipes with custard powder, but I prefer the clean crisp taste of flour and cornflour, it goes nicely with the lemon. I used a dessertspoon to measure out my biscuits. I took a level spoonful and so the biscuits are relatively uniform. A dessertspoon is two teaspoons.

You can make tiny elegant biscuits that are just one teaspoon of mixture. I make them quite often!! You can just pop one in your mouth!!!

 

Lemon Melting Moments   makes 20-25 completed biscuits

  • 200g plain flour
  • 100g cornflour
  • 225g softened, cubed butter
  • 80g pure icing sugar
  • zest of 2 1/2 lemons - You need 3 lemons in all
  • 60g softened cubed butter
  • 110g pure icing sugar
  • zest 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tbspn (20ml) lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 170*C and grease and line two trays.

Citrine
Cream the butter and icing sugar till pale and creamy then add the lemon zest.

Lemon
Sift the flours together well. then add to the wet ingredients and mix gently till a kind of dough forms.

Blonde
If the weather is warm, it pays to put the biscuit dough in the fridge for half an hour. Roll 2 teaspoons or 1 dessertspoon of the dough into balls and arrange on the tray. Leave room between them for squashing. Dip the tines of a fork into cornflour and gently flatten the ball of dough. It makes a nice traditional pattern on the biscuit.

Bake for 12 minutes, swapping and turning the trays after 6 minutes. The biscuits shouldn't really brown at all, they should be a nice pale colour. Cool on a rack.

Canary
To make the filling, cream the butter and icing sugar and when it is light and fluffy add the zest and lemon juice. Match up the biscuits and then join them together with the lemony filling. You can also dust them with extra icing sugar. The plain unfilled biscuits will keep in an airtight container for a week or so, but once they are filled, they should be eaten quite quickly.

Melting moments


'Cause Making Up Is Hard To Do

I think I am recovered from my mum's visit. My mum always carries a scarf in her bag, just in case she wants to put on a clean top, or try on a new one. That way she doesn't get make up on anything. Except the scarf. And I do wonder when she uses it a few times in one day if it isn't impregnated with make up and so ceases to perform its task??

Boo
My mum also can't understand why anyone would leave their home to travel overseas, because it is just not necessary, and neither are computers.

Everyone should carry a little rain bonnet so your hair doesn't get wet.

All cups and cutlery in cafes must be wiped clean. Not even surreptitiously!!

Never a dull moment!!!

I did have a lovely time with my mum and aunt but I needed almost a week to feel back to normal. It's all the having to be bright and cheery and entertaining for three days. I don't usually have to be entertaining for so long.

MrsDrWho and I entertained ourselves today when we made a quilt top in 56 minutes. This does not count the first step where you sew the strips together which took 32 minutes. It's the Jelly Roll 1463. It sounds better in yards: Jelly Roll 1600.

We used my 20% off card at Esme's and purchased Jelly Rolls and batting and cotton and then we were away.

Jelly rolling
To begin, you mix up the jelly roll and then pick up a strip at random and sew it to the next. You sew a diagonal seam across the ends.You do this for all 40 strips and cut 40-45cm off one end.

Then comes the real beginning: pick up both ends and put right sides together and sew along the long side. It takes ages, it is about 2 kilometres. We called this The First Pass. (It amused us because in Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of PERN books a year is a Pass. We are easily amused) You cut the fold at the end, and then repeat the process making strips of 4, then 8, then 16 and finally 32.

Jelly Roll top
I accidentally deleted the photos of MrsDrWho's quilt with Cleo the cat lolling about on it. Perhaps she will post one?? It is school holidays so she might.

Over the next few days I will sandwich the batting between the top and the backing and then I am going to hand quilt along the centre of some of the strips in green, of course. The binding will be the final step. We are already eyeing off Jelly Rolls overseas, where they cost far less even with postage. We saw a very green one!!

So for us, after preparing the initial long strip, it was 56 minutes, interrupted by tea breaks and some chat, and we had made our quilt tops. Very satisfying.

Softie panel
My lovely Saffron Craig Softie panel arrived. Look away ToddlerElectric's rellies,  I am going to make it for her birthday. It is just lovely and I know you can buy them online and at Esme's too!! Thank you Saffron Craig for the lovely prize!!!

Winter is truly here, it was only 5*C yesterday and we had so much rain there were floods in town and power outages. The road to the ski lodge on Ben Lomond was blocked by snow!! On our walk it was an icy wonderland, all the grass was stiff with ice and frosty white. Peri and Gilly have the best time playing in the cold.

Icy grass
I was late for my counselling appointment today. All the other appointments are on Fridays except this one. I have been prescribed a rest for half an hour every day. A relaxing rest free of worry, where I just lie down in the late morning in the hope of feeling less fatigued in the afternoon and I can perhaps complete a task or two. As you can see, Peri and Gilly are being supportive already!!

Napping in the Sun
I am looking forward to finishing my quilt over the next day or so, I'm very excited!!! I am eager to make another one. MrsDrWho and I think Jubbly'sMum could bring her sewing machine next time and we could make three quilts.


Tuesday"s Letters Eat 18: 'K' is for Kiss Biscuits

I don't normally repeat a recipe if I can help it, or remember, but K for Kiss Biscuits was just too hard to resist, and they are MrsDrWho's favourites. It was almost four years ago, so I'm giving myself a free pass.

This is my mum's recipe and before her, my nan's. The measurements were in ounces and pounds so I converted them to metric. I used a 6cm diameter cutter and made 45 complete biscuits.

If you don't like Hundreds and Thousands, you can use some toasted coconut instead. I also add lemon juice to the icing, but it can be plain vanilla. I used my mum's raspberry jam: 2011 batch. Traditionally the jam is raspberry or blackberry in our house, but never apricot.

Jammed Kiss Biscuits improve with keeping, but you can keep them iced and un-jammed in an airtight container for many weeks.

 Kiss Biscuits  makes 40-50

  • 225g softened butter
  • 225 caster sugar
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 450g plain flour
  • 1 tspn baking powder
  • 1 tbspn (20ml) cornflour
  • Hundreds and Thousands
  • jam

For the icing

  • 100g pure icing sugar, juice of half a lemon
  • enough water to make an icing consistency

 

Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla until it is pale, light and fluffy. The sugar should be dissolved. Then add the egg and beat briefly but well.

Violet

Sift the flours and baking powder together. Add the flour to the creamed ingredients and mix to combine. It needs to be done thoroughly but gently, trying not to overwork. I usually bring it together at the end with my hands. (Clean) Form the dough into a round-ish shape, wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Indigo
Remove the dough from the fridge and then preheat the oven to 180*C. Line two trays with baking paper.

 Roll out a quarter of the dough between two pieces of baking paper or, bravely, on a floured board, to a thickness of about 3 mm. Using a 6cm diameter cutter dipped in flour, cut out biscuits and place on the tray. They can be quite close together as the biscuits really don't spread very much.

I re-roll the left over pastry with a new piece of cold dough and keep doing this until the very end.

Blue
Bake the biscuits for 12 minutes. The trays should be rotated and swapped after 6 minutes. If the biscuits are too thin they will brown. They should be a very pale, pale creamy colour.

Green
Cool on a rack. When they are cool they are ready to be assembled.

Yellow
Choose the second best biscuits and spread some jam on the 'bottom', so the public side is underneath.

To make the icing, sift the icing sugar and then add the lemon juice and enough water to make it an icing consistency. It needs to be runny enough to spread, but stiff enough so it stays on the top of the biscuit.

Put the hundreds and thousands in a bowl and then as each biscuit is iced, press it gently into them and push the icing into shape if it has oozed over the edge of the biscuit. Top the jammed biscuit with an iced one and you are done.

Orange
Kiss Biscuits!!!

Red