Friday, 31 May 2013

Great British Bake Off Challenge: Mini Pork Pies with Quails Eggs

I know it's been a while since I last posted an attempt at one of the Great British Bake Off Technical Challenges, but I have still been making my way through them slowly. I'm just too lazy to blog about them! As soon as I showed John the list, he requested the pork pies straight away. However, I'd never used hot water pastry before, I almost never cook with pork and I barely even knew what gelatin was. It was definitely a recipe that made me panic! However, they've made two different pork pie style pies on the GBBO, and so I knew I had to overcome my fear! I started with the mini quail's egg pork pies, as they were made in a tin, rather than being hand raised. 

The recipe I used was this one, straight from the Great British Bake Off. The recipe was pretty easy to follow. The only slight issue I really had was on sizings. I found that the sizes of pastry discs to cut out that the recipe gave were much too big for my muffin tin, and there would never ever have been enough pastry if I'd done them all that size. As it was, I used all the pastry, and less than half the filling. Maybe do 1 and a half times the pastry, or less of the filling. In the end, I mixed up some more pastry used the rest of the filling to make another large pie that we had warm for dinner with veggies and gravy, so it all worked out for the best! 

The hot water pastry was easier than I thought actually. It was odd having hot pastry to work with, but it behaved itself well. I didn't roll it out quite thin enough, but I think that was my fault rather than the pastry! The rest of making up the pies was quite easy, just mix up the filling, boil and peel quail's eggs, then put it all inside the case and put another pastry disc on the top. 

Making up the pies 

Ready to go in the oven


The next difficult thing was getting the jelly into the pies. you mix gelatine with stock, then pour it in through the hole in the top of the pie. I don't know what I did wrong, but in almost all of my pies, there wasn't any space really between the filling and the pastry for the jelly to fill. A bit of wiggling did allow it to sort of pour in, but after they'd set and I cut it open, the jelly went in between the meat rather than round the edges. It didn't stop them tasting nice, but I'd love to try and get it right next time. 

I need 3 hands for photographing cooking. 

Finished pork pie the next day, after being left to set. 

Despite my misgivings with the jelly, they still made a delicious part of our picnic! 

So, pork pies successful (mostly). Not looking forward to the scary hand raised ones still on my list though! 

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Foodie Penpals May

All the foodie penpal parcels I've received have been lovely, but this month's was extra fantastic! It was a combination of Stephanie putting in such a lot of thought, and the fact that it was the first parcel I've got from abroad. Stephanie is an American, living in Switzerland, and I requested anything local, things I might not have tried before, some of her favourite bits and lots of little things if possible. And she definitely didn't disappoint!

Going clockwise, starting from the top, we have...
Spitzbuben cookies: These were the first things I opened, and they are delish. Just like grown up jammie dodgers! 
Blevita tomato and basil crackers: These were part of a picnic we had last week, and they definitely provided a tasty crunch! 
Set of 3 jams from Stephanie's local bakery: I haven't opened these yet, because I haven't finished the jams Kathryn sent me last month, but I am sure they will be good when I do.
Toblerone and Strawberry Cheesecake chocolate bars: As Stephanie said, you can't have a parcel from Switzerland without chocolate, and these were both scrummy!
Selection of little boiled sweets: These are now living in my handbag, from when I need a sugar rush on the go!
Homemade lollipop: This is still sitting on the side in the kitchen, because it is far too sweet to eat! 

And on the packaging, there was this cute little drawing! I wonder if people would be impressed if I got my 25 year old boyfriend to draw a picture on their package? I'm not sure his art ability is any better than Stephanie's little son! 

I just had to put the cookies on this plate John's Mum recently bought us. They look too too sweet! I only did this for the photo opp then put them straight back in the tin, after eating one. Or two. Or three. The things I do for my blog!

Isn't the packaging on this strawberry cheesecake chocolate bar amazing? As if strawberry cheesecake flavoured chocolate wasn't enough to make you love it, it also introduces itself so nicely. 

Thanks for a gorgeous package, Stephanie! 

I sent my parcel this month to Maria in Cyprus. I sent her a combination of English goodies (cereal, cadbury chocolate) and some of my favourites (curry powder, green tea, sumac, wasabi peas). Unfortunately, neither Maria or Stephanie have a blog for me to share with you, but I certainly enjoying my foodie penpal experience with them both! 

If you're interested in becoming a foodie penpal, check out for more info!

Friday, 17 May 2013

Scotch Eggs Bento

John and I like good food and we usually like to try and eat pretty healthily. However, we both have certain junk foods that we love! Mine are pretty much all sweet foods, especially anything smothered in chocolate. John's are all savoury, and while we were still in Japan, I wanted to see if I could make one of his favourites, Scotch Eggs. I have no idea how popular these are in the rest of the world, but I rather think they're a fairly British institution! They are an egg (traditionally a chicken's egg) hard boiled and peeled then wrapped in sausage meat, dipped in raw egg, rolled in breadcrumbs and deep fried. There is nothing healthy about them at all, but homemade ones taste fantastic, hot or cold. This makes them a perfect bento item, especially when made mini with quails eggs like these ones. You can commonly buy them everywhere in England, and lots of people (John included!) don't really consider a picnic complete without them!

Following this Jamie Oliver recipe, I successfully made a batch when we were in Japan (although I just used pork mince and flavoured it, rather than sausage meat) and then more recently, I made a batch for a bank holiday picnic. They're a bit fiddly, but taste so SO much better than shop bought ones. Definitely worth a try!

Fried and draining off the excess oil.

A very British picnic. Scotch eggs, pork pies (blog post on them coming soon!), strawberries, bananas, chocolate and salad. 

A bento made while still in Japan. Scotch eggs with cucumber, edamame, sweet potato, lettuce and salad dressing. 

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