Posts Tagged ‘maggie beer’

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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Potato Gnocchi with Prawns, Sage and Burnt Butter

Potato Gnocchi with Prawns, Sage and Burnt Butter

Do you ever feel like yelling “STOP!”?

Time to myself has been scarce for a number of months.   There was moving house, holidays with the family, preparing the  other house to be sold… Then, for the last month or so it’s been the new job.  Working crazy hours has been tiring but I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy it.  I’m interested, challenged and motivated all at the same time.  But getting home late has been taking it’s toll and things get neglected.  Bills forget to be paid, clothes remained piled up waiting to be washed, friends wonder why I’ve stopped calling,  cooking less, blogging declined, visiting blogs I love at a standstill…

And then last weekend I found sometime on my hands and it felt strange.  I thought it would be a welcome change to sit infront of the TV and watch reruns but the funny thing is that it took the whole of five minutes for me to get the urge to do something else.  So this gnocchi was the result of that weekend impulse – I decided to pick up Maggie Beer’s cookbook, “Maggie’s Kitchen”.  I’ve had this book for a few months already and had never cooked from it.  It was a late discovery but an important one.  I found myself thinking “Yes, yes I’ll make this!” as I flipped through the book’s pages.

Of all the dishes, that day, the potato gnocchi dish stood out.  I like how Maggie recalled how she went through three or four techniques before finding her preferred method – don’t you love it when they do all the experimenting for you?  So thanks to Maggie Beer – here is the best gnocchi I’ve tried – crispy on the outside but delightfully delicate inside.

It isn’t hard to make gnocchi – just remember these simple tips to a perfect gnocchi:

  • Use waxy potatoes
  • Steam (not boil) the potatoes
  • Use a potato ricer (instead of masher/fork)
  • Only add enough flour to bring the potato dough together, there is no need to add everything in the recipe
  • Use a pastry scrapper to bring the dough together and handle the dough as little as possible

The dish is made with a burnt butter and sage sauce, topped with pan fried prawns.   Instead of roasting the gnocchi and sage, I have pan fried mine but I have also added a link to Maggie Beer’s original recipe below.  Either way you choose to follow – this will be delicious!

Potato Gnocchi with Prawns, Sage and Burnt Butter

Potato Gnocchi with Prawns, Sage and Burnt Butter

Maggie Beer’s Potato Gnocchi with Prawns

Adapted From Maggie’s Kitchen (Original recipe can be found here)

  • 750 grams nicola or other waxy potatoes, scrubbed (I used kipfler)
  • 2 free range eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 125 grams plain flour
  • 50 ml olive oil for frying
  • 100 grams cold unsalted butter, chopped into small pieces
  • 80 ml verjuice (I used good quality balsamic vinegar)
  • 40 sage leaves
  • extra virgin olive oil for cooking
  • 12 raw king prawns, peeled, cleaned, tails intact
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Steam unpeeled potatoes for 30 minutes or until cooked through but not falling apart. Set aside until just cool enough to handle and then peel the potatoes. Pass the potatoes through a ricer in a bowl and then add the eggs and salt. Place the flour on a work surface and spread the potato mixture on top. Working quickly, use a pastry scraper until it comes together for form a dough. You may not need to use all the flour on the surface, stop incorporating the flour when the dough is smooth and does not feel sticky to the touch. Handle the dough as little as possible to ensure a light gnocchi.
  2. Divide the dough in quarters and shape each quarter into a long sausage, around 15 cm in length. Cut off 1.5 cm pieces and gently press the tops with the back of a fork tine or gnocchi maker.
  3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and and a hand full of salt. Add the gnocchi and cook until they float to the surface (it shouldn’t take very long, around 30 seconds). Drain well.
  4. Heat the olive oil and half the butter in a frying pan and pan fry the gnocchi, just until golden and place in a serving plate. Pan fry the prawns and place over the gnocchi.
  5. Wipe the frying pan clean and add the remaining butter. When the butter starts to smell nutty and brown, remove from the heat and add the sage leaves. Fry off for a few seconds until crisp then add the balsamic vinegar. Pour over the prawns and gnocchi. Serve warm.

Note: Gnocchi can be made ahead of time, shaped and frozen.  If cooking from frozen there is no need to thaw – just drop in boiling water.  When they rise to the surface they’re done.

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