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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Fresh Berry Custard Pie

Nick loves custard, not any kind of custard, but custard made with Bird's custard powder purchased in the UK.  Bird's custard powder in the UK is different from ones sold in Canada or the US.  In the UK, it's made with cornflour, while in North America, it's made with Cornstarch.  The result, they tastes completely different...the UK version is much MUCH better.  Whenever anyone goes to the UK this is usually the item we get them bring back, and at 57p a can, it's super cheap, it just takes up luggage space.  If you can get your hands on Bird's custard powder from the UK, do's definitely worth it.

If you follow the recipe on your Bird's custard can (UK or the North American version)...please take note:  On the can of custard, the instruction's calls for 2 tablespoons of custard powder to 1 pint of milk...this makes a soupy version which is a good topping for bread pudding, cakes or eaten as pudding.  In order to get a thick custard consistency for a pie you will need to almost double the custard powder as we have done below.

Fresh Berry Custard Pie
Makes 1 pie
approx prep time: 30 min
approx cook time:15 min
approx set time: 1 hour

1 pie shell (I use Tenderflake Deep Dish pie shell)
3 tablespoons of sugar
3.5 tablespoons of Bird's Custard Powder
1 pint of milk (2 cups) (we prefer homo milk as it makes thicker custard)
2.5 cups of strawberries
1 cup of blackberries

- Bake the Tenderflake pie shell according to the instructions on the box and then let it cool completely.
- Put 3.5 tablespoons of custard powder and 3 tablespoons of sugar in a large bowl with 4 tablespoons of milk. Mix thoroughly until all the lumps goes away and it's a smooth paste.
- Heat the remainder of the milk on medium in a saucepan on the stove until it's just about to boil (not actually boiling), and pour the hot milk into the large bowl with the custard paste mix, stirring well.
- Return the mixture to the saucepan and bring to the boil over a gentle heat, stirring constantly and as soon as it starts to boil (take it off as soon as it bubbles or it will burn), take it off the heat.
- Pour custard into a bowl and let it cool completely.
- Wash blackberries and strawberries and dry with a towel or paper towels, slice strawberries into equal proportions.
- Pour cooled custard into the baked pie shell, top with berries, and let it set in the fridge.

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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Burger with Mushroom and Onions

I've been eating burgers that Nick creates for more then 2 years now.  I can say with extreme confidence....that they are freaking awesome!  We like our burgers and are sad to say that most the gourmet burger joints that have popped up in Toronto in the past year or so have been very disappointing.  The only place that continue to have decent burgers is Webers (I will post review later), and that's nowhere near Toronto, and nor is it gourmet in any sense of the word.  

Nick always gets requests to make these for friends and family.  They are so popular that he get's slightly annoyed when everyone always seems to request burgers and baked potato wedges (recipe here)....but I guess that's just proof of how great his burgers are.  The addition of sauteed sweet white onions and meaty portabello just takes it over the top!  :-)

Burger with Mushroom and Onions
Serves: Makes 4 Large burgers
approx prep time: 20min
approx cook time: 15min

INGREDIENTS (Makes 4 burgers): 
- 2 1/4 lb Lean ground beef
- 6 slices of Thick Sliced Bacon (I prefer PC Old Fashioned Thick Sliced bacon), or 12 slices of the regular thin bacon.
- 1/3 of a large sweet white onion, finely diced
- 2/3 of a large sweet white onion, sliced.
-  1 large portobello mushroom, sliced
- 1/4 cup of diced sweet pickles or gherkins 
-1.5 cups of shredded Cheddar Cheese (I prefer extra old)
- Toppings of choice (Pickles, Tomato, etc..)
- 4 large kaiser rolls

- Heat up a non stick frying pan with a little dab of olive oil.
-  Add sliced onions and after a minute, add the sliced portobello mushrooms and sautee till brown, and set aside.
- Fry bacon in a cast iron pan on medium heat till crispy, set on a paper towel to drain and set aside.
- Mix ground beef, diced onion, diced pickles and steak spice thoroughly
- Shape beef mixture into 4 patties, roughly 1" thick.
- Cook patties to desired doneness in a frying pan, on an indoor grill or BBQ.
- Serve patty with bacon, shredded cheese, and topped with sauteed onion and mushrooms on a freshly sliced Kaiser of choice.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Creamy Mushroom Mini Pies

It's been a year since the acquisition of our Breville Mini Pie Maker and we still love it.  We've had many savory pies made of leftover meals such as Beef Stew Mini Pies (recipe here), and Mini Turkey Pot Pies (recipe here), so this time, we decided to stop using leftovers and make mushroom mini pies.  
My brother and I grew up remembering eating tasty mushroom cream filling in puff pastry.  They were sold in the freezer section of the supermarket, but over the years, somehow our supermarket stopped carrying them.  My brother loved them so much he's been experimenting lately and made this recipe up from scratch.  It tasted DELICIOUS, and super simple, especially in the Breville Mini Pie Maker.  :-D  Super crunchy thin crust and gooey mushroom filling is hearty and really hits the spot.

Creamy Mushroom Mini Pies
Makes 3 Mini Pies (machine has the ability to make 4 pies)
approx prep time: 10min
approx cook time: 20min

1 roll (1/2 a pack as PC puff pastry has 2 rolls per pack) of butter puff pastry, thawed.
1 medium onion, minced.
4 cloves of garlic minced or grated
2 lbs of fresh mushrooms (white button mushroom or mixed), diced.
1 lb of fresh white mushroom, diced
125g of cream cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil and butter
Breville Mini Pie Maker

For the Creamy Mushroom Filling:
- Heat olive oil in a nonstick frying pan, brown onions and then add garlic.
- Add a pat of butter and all of the mushrooms.
- Brown mushrooms until the liquid evaporates
- Stir in block of cream cheese till melted and combined

To make Mini Pies:
- Preheat the Breville Mini Pie Maker (Red light means it's heating, Green light means it's ready)
- Roll out the puff pastry crust, make sure to flour both sides before starting to roll it out thinly or it will stick.
- Stamp out 2 tops and 2 bottoms.
- Recombine the remaining pie crust, roll it out thinly, and stamp the last bottom and pie crust (you should now have a total of 3 tops and 3 bottoms)
- Place bottom crust into the machine, use the black push wedge from the pie maker to set it into the pan, fill each pie up to the top with the creamy mushroom filling and a bit more, making a mound on the top.  (You need really over full filled pies in order for the top crust to brown and cook evenly, otherwise the crust can get undercooked because it doesn't fully touch the top heating element.)
- Top pies with the top crust.
- Lock machine, bake for 5-7 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.   Time to bake really depends on your filling, if it's cold, it will take more time to cook, if you put in hot filling, it will take less time to bake.  Puff pastry takes less time to bake then standard pie crusts.
- Serve immediately

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Aunt Geri's Magic Cookie Bar

I was fortunate enough to visit Nick's Aunt while we were traveling and even luckier to be invited to dinner!  She made delicious cornbread, homemade mac and cheese, and dessert was a plate of homemade shortbread and these Magic Cookie Bars (which I couldn't get enough of).  I enjoyed them so much that I ate 2 and happily said "yes!" to taking 3 more with me for breakfast (Note: NOT a healthy breakfast) the next day.

There are several things I can never resist and chocolate and condensed milk being two of them.    This recipe combines both in the best possible adds a butter graham cracker crust, pecans and coconut into the mix to become the most addictive square that goes perfectly with a cup of tea or coffee.  Aunt Geri sent me the recipe soon afterwards and I was glad to find out they are surprisingly easy to make.  This is definitely dangerous for my waistline.  :-D

Aunt Geri's Magic Cookie Bar
Makes One 12 x 9 cookie sheet, about 24 bars.
approx prep time: 20 min
approx cook time: 20-25 min

2 cups graham wafer crumbs (I used a food processor)
3/4 cups  (175 ml) melted butter
1 can (300 ml) regular or low fat Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cups (375 ml) of chopped pecans, semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups (375 ml) of semi-sweet chocolate chips (I prefer PC decadent chocolate chip brand)
1 1/2 cups (375 ml) of flaked coconut

- Preheat oven to 350 F (180 Celsius ).
-Combine graham cracker crumbs with the melted butter.
- Press the mixture evenly over parchment lined 13 X 9 inch (3.5 L) baking pan
- Pour Eagle brand evenly over crumbs.
- Sprinkle with pecans, chocolate chips and coconut. press down firmly.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned.
- Cool thoroughly (and I'm seriously about this as I usually don't have the patience, it cuts and comes out of the pan a lot cleaner if you wait) and cut into approximate 24 bars or 2 inch squares for bite size..
- Store loosely covered at room temperature or put in fridge or the freezer for later.  It's best the 2nd day, but I like to eat them warm and gooey.  :-)

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