Posts Tagged ‘flaky pastry’

Chicken Pie - inspired by Maggie Beer

Chicken Pie - inspired by Maggie Beer

My home is located at the bottom of a very hilly area. Each morning, I get up and take my dogs for a walk up and down a series steep inclines to reach the peak. The task is arduous and always leaves me out of breath. But it’s worth it since I know that once I reach the bottom at the other side, lies the most amazing view of the harbour and the city as the sun greets Sydney good morning. The first time I climbed the hill was torture and even worse when I had reached the bottom knowing I had to climb the same rolling hills to get back home. If I miss a few days, I still find myself out of breath and need to stop along the way for a rest. My lack of fitness is a far cry from years back when I managed to run eight kilometers without breaking a sweat.

Early on, I would see runners pass me by, easily scaling the inclines that leave me gasping for air thinking “One day… I’ll get back into shape and run all the way up and down like they do!”

That was more than two years ago. For some reason, I always had an excuse not to follow through – I was too tired, too lazy, No time, maybe after Christmas, maybe after Easter… and then I stopped bothering to make excuses and decided to keep walking.

And then one day some one told me to stop with the excuses and “just get over it”.

So the next day, I put on my running shoes and ran.

I stopped to rest eight times that day. My legs felt like lead and my chest like it was about to burst. Halfway through I contemplated walking home but somehow I managed to make it home swearing I would never do it again.

The next day, I ran again.

Tomorrow – rain or shine… will be day five.

I am sure we all have our demons holding us back but sometimes we just have to “get over it” and put on our running shoes, climb those hills, knowing that the view on the other side will be worth it.

Chicken Pie inspired by Maggie Beer

Chicken Pie inspired by Maggie Beer

Chicken Pie inspired by Maggie Beer

This chicken pie was one of those dishes that I needed to “get over” as well. This dish is influenced by Maggie Beer’s Pheasant Pie which I had been meaning to make months ago after watching her on Masterchef.  I finally, managed to make it over the weekend.  I’ll be upfront – this dish takes a lot of effort, the pie crust, roasting the chicken, making the filling, baking… but I have never ever tasted a better pie.  My husband says he can’t eat any other chicken pie after this.   Toasted walnuts, fresh herbs folded through a creamy chicken and mushroom filling lifted by hints of orange is unforgettable!

Also, the pastry is quite easy to work with and tastes amazing.  I am already thinking of other fillings to go with it!
For the chicken and marinade

  • 1.2 to 1.4 kilo whole chicken
  • 60 ml olive oil
  • Juice of one orange (separate the zest for the pie)
  • 8 sprigs thyme
  • 4 bay leaves

For the filling

  • 60 grams butter
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 350 grams portobello mushrooms, finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 40 grams flour
  • 200 ml hot chicken stock
  • 80 grams creme fraiche (or fresh cream)
  • 40 grams walnuts, toasted
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • zest of 1 orange (see above)

Sour Cream Pastry

  • 200 grams unsalted butter, chilled
  • 250 grams plain flour
  • 125 ml sour cream


  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 tablespoon milk
  • good pinch salt

To make the sour cream pastry

  1. To make the sour cream pastry, pulse the butter and flour in a food processor until it looks like breadcrumbs. Add the sour cream and continue to pulse until the dough starts to incorporate into a ball. Wrap in plastic film and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
    Roll the pastry to desired thickness and cut 2 circles, 1 for the base of the pie, at approximately 27cm , and 1 for the lid at approximately 21cm. Line a pie tin with the larger dough then rest both in the refrigerator.

For the pie

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 C. To prepare the chicken, with a sharp knife, cut the tips off the wings. With the chicken breast up, make a small cut on each side in between the leg and the breast and dislocate each leg at the socket by bending them back. Then to break the back of the bird, hold the ‘parson’s nose’ end of the bird and apply pressure to snap the backbone. Twist the legs 180 degrees, so the breast of the chicken and the skin side of the legs are facing up. Separate the legs from the body of the chicken.
  2. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Place the chicken (skin side up) and the marinade ingredients in a roasting pan and allow the mixture to marinate for at least 10 minutes (I let mine marinate for 30 minutes).
  3. Place the chicken in the preheated oven for around 40 to 45 minutes until cooked through. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. When cool enough to handle, debone the chicken.
  4. Increase the oven heat to 230 c.
  5. In a large frying pan, melt the butter, then gently fry the garlic, rosemary and then add the mushrooms. Sauté until mushrooms are soft and have reduced by half in size. You may need to add some extra virgin olive oil for frying. Season with salt. Add the flour to the pan and cook out for around 3 minutes, then pour in the hot chicken stock. Bring the mixture to the boil, then stir in the crème fraiche and reduce to a simmer. Cook the mixture for 15 minutes until it has thickened, check the seasoning
  6. Add the chicken and walnuts, lemon and orange zest, land allow to cool for at least 15 minutes in the refrigerator.
  7. To make the glaze, beat the egg yolk, milk and salt together.
  8. To assemble the pie, remove the pastry from the refrigerator, spoon the filling into the pie tin and cover with the pastry lid. Crimp the edges to seal and brush with the glaze. Take a sharp knife and score the top of the pie into a criss cross pattern.
  9. Place the pie back into the refrigerator and allow to rest for a further 10 minutes.
  10. Place the pie in the oven and allow to cook for 5 minutes at 230 c (fan forced), drop the temperature down to 220 c and allow the pie to cook until golden and cooked through. If the top is browning too much, cover with some foil until the dough is cooked through. Remove from the oven and allow to rest while you make the jus.
  11. To make the jus, take the temperature down to 180 c and place the roasting pan back into the oven with 500 ml stock. Cook in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove the roasting pan from the oven and strain into a sauce pan and cook until further reduced to a nice sticky glaze.

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Family Secrets & Empanadas

Empanada "Kaliskis"

Empanada "Kaliskis"

Filipinos are funny about their secrets.  They are also notorious gossips.  So some things they divulge in a blink of the eye while other secrets they keep to their graves.

Ask a Filipino to tell you about their family history and you might hear him talk about of how an aunt of the family got pregnant at 16 with the family driver and gave birth to a child who was adopted by her mother and this child grew up as the aunt’s daughter.  Or how their best friend had a one night stand with the fiancee’s best friend  the night before the wedding and how nine months later the little bub looked strikingly similar to the now husband’s best friend.  Confusing isn’t it?  But makes for great family conversations!

In fact, Filipinos are so open about these so called “family secrets”, or most secrets in general, that my English brother in law once remarked that there are NO FILIPINO SECRET AGENTS.  For the simple fact that they would have failed the psychological portion of the exam that determines how willing you are to give up super top secrets!  Can you imagine a Filipino secret agent being dragged to a room to be interogated by a the CIA  and before they enter the room the Filipino tells the CIA “by the way, did you hear about the little atomic bomb the terrorists in the South are looking to build?”…


BUT never ask a Filipino to share a family recipe.  NEVER.  They simply won’t.  These are the secrets they take with them to their grave.  These are the recipes that are passed on from one generation to another and another and yet another but will never be shared outside the confines of the family.

I remember in my university days a funny conversation I had with a schoolmate.  She had just shared with me a very sad family problem over afternoon tea.  We were having empanadas which we bought in the bakery across school.  Between sobs she mentioned that the emapanadas were similar to what her aunt made and they were a family specialty.   I asked if she could share the recipe with me and she replied that her mother swore her to secrecy.  I found it funny how she was willing to tell me about her father’s affair with her brother’s school teacher but not willing to share the empanada recipe!

See how neatly pleated they are?!  Thank you Ellie for the tips!

See how neatly pleated they are?!

The empanadas we had that afternoon were something that I have always been meaning to recreate.  They were not the typical empanadas as they were very flaky and tender and  called “kaliskis” which in Filipino refers to it looking like fish scales.  It took awhile before I found out how to make them but many years later here they are!  Luckily for me, there is a vast resource over the internet as well as great cookbooks such Andrea Nguyen’s Asian Dumplings which details the procedure of how to make this flaky pastry which I found out has Chinese origins.  Her site, Asiandumplingtips.com is an excellent resource.

The recipe for the pastry below is adapted from Andrea’s book which can be purchased on Amazon.  It is a fantastic resource and if you love dumplings (which I do in all shapes, sizes and forms!), this is a must have.

The recipe for the filling is my own.  I decided to use adobo flakes, salted red eggs and some mayonnaise as filling because I wanted to sure there was no mistake that this was a Filipino snack!

Adobo, salted eggs and mayonnaise

Adobo, salted eggs and mayonnaise

Flaky Pastry

Outer Dough

  • 125 grams flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 15 grams lard
  • 5 tablespoons warm water

Inner Dough

  • 85 grams flour
  • 85 grams lard, cut into 1/2 inch pieces


  • 2 chicken thighs (with skin on)
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 peppercorns
  1. To make the outer dough, combine the flour, salt, sugar and lard in a food processor.  Blend until it resembles a sandy consistency.
  2. Transfer the mix to a bowl and make a well in the center and add the water one tablespoon at a time.  Use a wooden spoon to combine the ingredients.  Toss the contents to a lightly floured surface and knead for around two minutes. This should create a soft, smooth and slightly elastic dough.  Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for about 30 minutes. (note: you can add more flour if it feels too wet)
  3. For the inner dough, mix the flour and lard again in a food processor for around 10 seconds to blend the mixture.  Transfer to a bowl and mix to combine.  It should resemble soft cookie dough.
  4. Gather and pat the dough into a rough ball and place on a lightly floured work surface.  Gently pat the dough and form into a smooth ball and set aside.
  5. To encase the inner dough in the outer dough, roll the outer dough into a 16 cm circle.  Center the ball of the inner dough on top and then gently pull up and press the outer dough, pinching the ends together to completely encase the inner dough.
  6. Use a rolling pin to gently roll the dough into a square (Andrea uses an oblong shape but I didn’t read it properly at first and used a square!) about 21 cm wide and 31 cm long.  Once done, fold the dough into thirds like a letter. DSC_0004
  7. Turn the dough 90 degrees and roll out again 21cm wide by 31 cm long, and then fold into thirds like a letter.
  8. Wrap in plastic wrap and let the dough rest at least 1 hour before using.
  9. When ready to use the pastry, roll it out into a square measuring 30cm by 30cm.  Then, roll the dough from the bottom all the way to the top like a jelly roll.  DSC_0010
  10. Cut the dough into 16 equal parts and to use each part, flatten the dough with the palm of your hand to make a disc, then use a rolling pin to increase the diameter of the dough.

    Cutting the dough into equal portions

    Cutting the dough into equal portions

  11. Fill each dough portion with mayonnaise, adobo and salted red egg.
  12. Deep fry the dumplings at 180c for 5 minutes.  Drain on paper towels and serve.
  13. To use the pastry, the best resource for me was this site form Corner Cafe.  This site shows you the various techniques on how to fold and shape the pastry.

For Adobo

Mix all ingredients for adobo and simmer the chicken for 30 minutes.  Once done, remove the chicken and cool.  Once cool, shred the chicken and fry in some oil until crispy.

Special thanks to Ellie and Lorraine for teaching me to pleat!


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