Maggie Beer’s Country Chicken and Mushroom Pie

Today is the first birthday of Penguin says Feed Me and we’re celebrating with a new banner and PIE! It really does not feel like it’s been a year since I started this humble blog of my eating adventures, and I still remember starting up this blog and writing up the very first post thinking that no one was going to read it anyway. I never in my dreams thought that anyone would even read my blog, let alone meeting new people through it, but probably one of the best parts about blogging is meeting and forging friendships with the other awesome Sydney food bloggers (I love you guys!).

I’d like to think that I’ve come a long way since that first post. Reading other blogs and marvelling at their photographs or cooking prowess has inspired me to improve my own photography and challenged me to further my cooking and baking skills. I’ve gone from simple apple crumbles to rainbow layered buttercakes, and although there’s been a few disasters along the way, I think this blog is what gets me to push the limit of my abilities. Hopefully one day I will master the art of baking as I keep trying new things (why oh why did I choose to take on macarons?!)

One new thing that I’ve learnt to do is make pastry from scratch. When I first started this blog, making pastry from scratch seemed like the most daunting task – I mean, isn’t pastry something you buy from the freezer aisle in the supermarket? But once you get the hang of it, it’s not difficult at all, and it is truly satisfying when you can proudly present a pie or a tart and say that you made it all by yourself (or in this case, with the help of Sir D).

Since seeing Maggie Beer’s pheasant pie on Masterchef, I’ve been wanting to make her sour cream pastry and it is so easy to work with and very forgiving. I didn’t know where to get a pheasant from so I used another of Maggie Beer’s recipes and made her Country Chicken and Mushroom pies with the same flaky and buttery pastry. It was so nice to be able to take a beautiful golden pie out of the oven and very satisfying to eat it, knowing that I had made it from scratch. This is what keeps me cooking and blogging :)

EDIT: Just realised this is also my 100th post!

Country Chicken and Mushroom Pie

Adapted from this recipe by Maggie Beer

25g unsalted butter, softened
6 chicken marylands
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
450ml chicken stock
7 large mushrooms, sliced
¼ cup (35g) plain flour
200ml cream
2 tbsp oregano, thyme, flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 egg
¼ cup (60ml) milk

For the pastry:
200g chilled unsalted butter
250g plain flour
125ml sour cream

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Season the chicken marylands with salt and pepper and place in a buttered baking dish. Roast for 20-25 minutes, and rest for 15 minutes. The meat should still be slightly pink. Discard the skin, remove the meat from the bones and shred.

2. Heat the chicken stock and reduce by one third. Meanwhile, in large saucepan, fry the mushrooms in butter, sprinkling flour over them and stirring to coat evenly. Gradually stir in the hot stock and cream and simmer gently until thickened. Remove from the heat, fold chicken meat and herbs through mushroom mixture and season. Refrigerate until chilled.

3. Increase the oven temperature to 220°C. To make the pastry, pulse butter and flour in a food processor until it looks like coarse breadcrumbs. Add the sour cream and continue to pulse until the dough starts to incorporate into a ball. Divide the pastry into two portions, with one twice as large as the other. Wrap in plastic film and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.

4. Make the egg wash by mixing the egg and milk together with a good pinch of salt. Take the larger portion of pastry and roll to 3mm thick. Cut to line the base of the pie dish, leaving a ‘lip’ over the edge. Brush the ‘lip’ with egg wash and fill the pie with chicken mixture. Take the remaining pastry and roll out to 3mm thick, and cut a circle for the lid. Place on top of the chicken mixture, fold over the bottom pastry ‘lip’ and crimp the edges to seal, trimming off any excess pastry. Score the top of the pie and brush with egg wash. Refrigerate for 5 minutes.

5. Remove pie from the fridge and bake for 10-15 minutes or until the pastry is turning a light golden colour. Reduce the oven temperature to 180°C and bake for a further 30-35 minutes until the pastry is golden and cooked through. Cover the top of the pie with foil if your pie is browning too quickly. For an even colouring of the lid, turn the pie halfway through cooking if desired.

The Tea Room Gunners Barracks, Georges Heights

I love high tea! I’m not sure what it is about it – maybe it’s the delicate little cakes and finger sandwiches, or maybe it’s the cute little sugar cubes. But whatever it is, it is nearly always much better enjoyed in the cosy warmth of the indoors in this cooler weather we’ve been having.

However, on this windy, rainy day which was booked months in advance (thanks Leona!), seven foodblogging, high tea lovers and myself headed out to the Tea Room, Gunners Barracks, only to be seated outside on the balcony in the cold and the wind. Luckily we were provided with blankets which helped to fight the chilly temperature but the wind still whipped through our hair and made our tea cold.

View from the balcony

Not to worry though, because there was food to be eaten and tea to be drank. We all ordered the Traditional Afternoon Tea which was $40 and includes cakes and pastries, finger sandwiches, scones and a wide selection of teas. There were so many teas to choose from it was difficult to decide, and in the end I went with the Rose Tea with Petals which was a nice mild tea with flowery notes.

Plate of scones and savoury pastries

We were presented with a silver three-tiered stand of sweet cakes and pastries to be shared amongst 4 of us, as well as a plate of finger sandwiches and a plate of scones and savoury pastries. I think a good scone is paramount for a successful high tea, so we dug into these first which were served with cream and blueberry conserve.

Scones with blueberry conserve and cream

These were perhaps the biggest scones I’ve ever seen, and luckily this was a good thing because they were delicious and I wished there was a never-ending pile of scones for us to devour. We slathered on the blueberry conserve which still had whole blueberries in it and dolloped on the cream and crunched through the exterior of the scone through to the soft insides. So good!

Savoury pastries: (left) asparagus tartlets and (right) samosas

The little savoury pastries were also pretty good, and I particularly liked the asparagus tartlet with the crispy puff pastry case. The samosa was also nice, with a mild curry filling and a few flecks of salt on the pastry to give it some flavour. Unfortunately we missed out on the yoghurt dipping sauce which was supposed to go with these, and by the time we realised we’d already eaten them all.

Plate of finger sandwiches

There were three types of sandwiches on our plate: smoked salmon with cucumber and cream cheese, egg and mayonnaise, and roast beef with rocket and horseradish cream. The bread was a little bit dry, probably from being blown at by the wind, and they weren’t as delicate and small as I envisioned but they did serve the purpose of filling us up before we moved onto the sweets.

Plate of cheesecake and apricot cakes

We started on the bottom tier which had little squares of cheesecake and apricot cakes. I wasn’t really a big fan of the cheesecake because the base was a bit soggy but the cheesecake filling was nice and light. The apricot cakes were one of my favourites, being moist and buttery with a sweet, glazed top.

Plate of chocolate-orange macarons and chocolate and coffee layer cake

The second tier had chocolate orange macarons and slices of layered chocolate and coffee cake.

Sweets: (left) apricot cakes and cheesecake, (right) choc-orange macaron and chocolate coffee layer cake

The macaron was surprisingly good with a nice crisp orange-flavoured shell that was filled with a rich dark chocolate ganache. I also loved the cake that had coffee and chocolate layers sandwiched between the cake layers and was topped with a shiny chocolate glaze. The cake stayed moist even in the windy environment and I liked the subtle bitterness from the coffee flavour.

Mango pudding with sago

The top tier of our sweets stand held little ramekins which were filled with a golden mango pudding and topped with pearls of sago. The pudding was silky smooth and super mango-y and although I don’t usually like sago, this time it went so well with the mango pudding and provided a nice textural contrast with the smoothness of the pudding. I’m one of those people who like to save the best thing for last so I was happy that this was the last dessert because it was my favourite by far!

Despite the cold and the wind, it was one of the best high teas I’ve had in Sydney, mainly because they had awesome scones! It costs a bit more than other high teas but the views are amazing and the service is also very friendly and welcoming. Make sure you book in advance because it fills up quickly and of course if it’s winter, try and get a table inside so you don’t freeze!

The Tea Room Gunners Barracks
End of Suakin Drive
Georges Heights NSW 2088
Ph: +61 2 8962 5900
Traditional morning and afternoon tea available daily from 11am
Lunch available from 12pm Monday to Friday, and 11.30am Saturday and Sunday
10% surcharge on weekends and public holidays

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Milo Cupcakes with Condensed Milk Icing

I remember the first time I baked a cake from scratch. It was a chocolate cake from a kids cookbook and I was so excited because I was baking it for my grandpa’s birthday. But I was also lazy and so I skipped an instruction that my 12-year-old brain deemed unimportant – I didn’t sift the flour. As a result, my cake batter was lumpy with little clumps of flour that no amount of beating could seem to get rid of, and instead of being gorgeously chocolatey, the cake had a bit of a flour taste to it.

Since then I’ve learnt to follow baking recipes pretty much word for word: if it says to sift the flour I will sift the flour, if it says to use 125g I will use not 124g or 126g, but 125g. And if it says to use icing sugar I will use icing sugar instead of something else.

I’ve also learnt that you can have a bit of leeway with recipes if you have good reason for it. If the dough seems far too wet to be able to be rolled out nicely, add some flour. If a batter doesn’t taste like what it should, add some more flavouring to it. For me, when it comes to baking, following instructions, tasting your dough/batter and a bit of common sense usually leads to a good result :)

When I read a recipe for Milo cupcakes with condensed milk icing on raspberri cupcakes, I instantly wanted to make them and taste the awesome combination of Milo and condensed milk in cake form. Even though it was so easy (just dump the ingredients in a food processor and away you go!), I made sure I followed the recipe carefully so I didn’t end up with a floury, lumpy cake. And it paid off, because I was rewarded with the smell of Milo wafting through the kitchen and soft fluffy cupcakes that had an awesome crunchy top. The cupcake is also the perfect vehicle for the sweet condensed milk icing and these were so addictive that they were polished off in a couple of days! (I swear I didn’t eat them all….)

Continue reading Milo Cupcakes with Condensed Milk Icing

Cavallino Ristorante Pizzeria, Terrey Hills

It’s not everyday that you see “Margherita with hot chips” under the pizza section in the menu of an Italian restaurant. However, with Giovanni Pilu as the executive chef here at Cavallino we’re hoping that it can’t go too wrong.

Once we enter the restaurant, we’re greeted by a reception desk which makes it seem like a fancy hotel. The restaurant itself is a spacious stone building with lots of mahogany tones and windows, but luckily we’re seated near an open fireplace which keeps us toasty and warm on this chilly night. We select a few entrees, pizzas and pastas to share, including the hot chips pizza (for research purposes of course!)

Naia: margherita with hot chips – $19

We see a standard margherita pizza sitting in the service area, alongside a bowl of fries. Queen Chu wonders if they are going to dump the fries on top of the pizza, and lo and behold that is exactly what they do! We’re a bit alarmed but we dig in anyway. Most of us pick off the chips from the top of the pizza and eat them separately from the pizza itself, but Sir D notes that the salt from the chips ruins what might have been a nice margherita pizza. There isn’t much tomato sauce on the pizza to balance out the saltiness from the chips and the cheese, and we all agree that we probably wouldn’t order this again.

Burrata, pancetta croccante e pomodori (Burrata with crispy pancetta and truss tomatoes) – $16

The burrata is a bit small, but delicious nonetheless. When we break it open, the cream oozes out and the waitress suggests that we top the cheese with the crispy pancetta. So we do, and it is absolute heaven, with the creamy, stretchy mozzarella with the salty, crunchy pancetta. If only there was more on the plate!

Ghiotta: Tomato, mozzarella, ham, mixed mushrooms, porcini, black truffle paste and Parmagiano Reggiano – $23

We go for something a little bit more mainstream for our other pizza and choose the Ghiotta, which has ham, mushrooms, black truffle paste and Parmagiano Reggiano. This one is also quite salty, and although the toppings are quite nice it still needs a bit of sweetness and acidity from the tomato base. JC finds the bases of both pizzas to be too soggy, and while they’re not falling-apart-soggy they’re not crispy at all except for the crust.

Gnocchi di patate con ragu di scorfano (Potato goncchi with rock cod and tomato ragu) – $25

The pastas on the other hand are much more well received by our group, with myself and Sir D particularly liking the gnocchi. The soft pillows of potato are coated in the slightly sweet tomato sauce and there are nice chunks of rock cod and bursts of cherry tomatoes throughout the pasta.

Pappardelle al sugo di coniglio (Large ribbons of egg pasta with Tuscan style rabbit ragu) – $25

The pappardelle is delicious and the rabbit ragu is also lovely and rich without any gamey taste. All the pastas are made fresh every day and they’re cooked perfectly with a nice bite to the pappardelle.

Frittura di calamari: Lightly floured and fried calamari with chilli, salt, lemon and mayonnaise – $15

Our final dish is the calamari which is coated in a very light batter and is super tender. These are so addictive and the salty, slightly spicy batter is the perfect complement with the creamy mayonnaise and a squirt of lemon. I probably ate more than my share of these but they were so good I just couldn’t stop! We were sad pandas when the waitress took away the dish and there was still one piece of calamari left.

The entrees and pastas were excellent and enjoyed by everyone but unfortunately the pizzas weren’t as good as we’d hoped. We found them a bit too salty and I think most of us would have enjoyed a crispy crust a bit more but the pizza toppings were quite tasty. It’s a beautiful restaurant though and it won’t burn a hole in your wallet either, so I would definitely come back to try more of their pastas and mains, and more burrata and calamari as well!

Cavallino Ristorante Pizzeria
Corner McCarrs Creek Road and Yulong Avenue
Terrey Hills NSW 2084
Ph: +61 2 9450 1777
Lunch: Wednesday to Sunday (except Saturday), 12pm-3pm
Dinner: Tuesday to Friday, 6pm – 10pm, Saturday, 5.30pm – 10pm, Sunday, 6pm – 10pm

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Takeru, Chatswood

Competition is pretty fierce in Chatswood for Japanese restaurants with new ones opening left, right and centre all the time. But Takeru is a little different. Tucked away in a little corner in Victoria Plaza, it offers modern Japanese food with strong Western influences – think Japanese-style pasta and pizza, as well as more traditional favourites like ramen and agedashi tofu.

It’s open all day which is great for a late lunch, early dinner or afternoon snack, and prices are very reasonable with most of the dishes under the $15 mark. Today I’m here with a bunch of hungry boys for a late lunch, so as soon as we are seated in the booth we start poking away at the touch screen ordering system (which is the same as the one at Wagaya and Poporo).

Mentaiko potato salad – $7.20

The food arrives in no time, and soon the table is filled with dishes that we ordered only minutes earlier. A big dollop of creamy potato sits on a bed of lettuce leaves, cucumber, cherry tomatoes and corn kernels. The potato is mashed roughly so that there are still small chunks of potato, and the mixture is ever so slightly pink from the addition of mentaiko (cod roe).

Agedashi tofu with soft shell crab – $7.50

Something I order every time I come here is the agedashi tofu with soft shell crab. With the dancing bonito flakes, and the crunchy battered soft shell crab sitting loftily above the silky pillows of tofu and soy dashi broth, what’s not to love? One serving comes with two pieces of tofu and one soft shell crab.

Wafu spaghetti – $10.90

The boys are starving so we order up on some carb-laden dishes. The first of these is the wafu spaghetti, which is a creamy pasta dish with scallops and mushrooms, garnished with dried seaweed and toasted sesame seeds. To my surprise, the pasta is cooked really well, and the cream sauce is quite light. A shaker of grated parmesan is also brought to the table along with this dish.

Hotate ebi garlic cha-han – $11.50

One of my requests was the hotate ebi garlic cha-han (scallop, prawn and garlic fried rice) which I had tried and loved at Wagaya. The rice arrived steaming in a stone pot and we waited a while before digging in to let the rice on the bottom form a nice crispy crust. Unfortunately this never happened, probably because the stone pot wasn’t hot enough which was a bit disappointing. Regardless, it still tasted great, with a nice garlic flavour and a good amount of seafood.

Chicken nanban hiyashi ramen – $12.50

The chicken nanban hiyashi ramen had pieces of fried chicken scattered in a bowl of cold ramen with mayonnaise and nanban sauce, a spicy and sour sauce. This was an interesting dish with the cold ramen being a nice base for the spicy sour flavour of the nanban sauce and the creaminess of the mayonnaise. It was also served with a small side of shredded cabbage.

Mentai spaghetti – $11.50

We were still hungry so we ordered some more pasta. This time we opted for the mentai spaghetti which had the same creamy sauce and mushrooms, but this time it also had the addition of calamari, spicy cod roe and a few slices of okra. The boys had fun playing with the stringy, slimy okra and it reminded me of natto but luckily it didn’t taste like it! (yes, natto is an acquired taste I’m told)

Ika butter shouyu – $9.90

Lastly we ordered ika butter shouyu which was sliced squid on a hot plate with butter and soy, accompanied by a few vegetables just to make it look healthy hehe. I was worried that the squid would be tough and rubbery but to my surprise it was soft and tender, with a nice charring from the hotplate. The squid rings also had a nice flavour from the soy and butter sauce – it was addictive!

Finally we were full and the best part is we left only $15 poorer each! Takeru is a great place to get together with a few friends that won’t break the bank. There’s something for everyone – traditional Japanese food, some interesting fusion dishes and of course there’s a touch screen that everyone loves to play with :)


Shop 10, 369 Victoria Ave
Chatswood NSW 2067
Ph: +61 29412 1203
Open Monday to Sunday, noon – 10pm

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