What is Pastry?
Pastry comes in many varieties. It has many similarities to bread but the difference is quite obvious; cooks who wanted a wrapping for meat, vegetables or fruit to be baked inside, added fat or oil to a flour and water mixture and flattened it into sheets.
Pastry and History
Food historians believed that the origins of pastry traced back to the Middle East, which developed the multi-layered filos that we know today, thin layers of alternating pastry and syrup or butter. That idea was later adopted by European chefs who started making puff pastry leading to creations like cream puffs. The Romans, at first use basic dough to preserve and transport meat but later enhanced the creation into an edible material which then evolved into short pastries. India enclosed dough mixed with ghee to enclose savoury fillings like curry puffs although they are usually deep-fried rather than baked. Chinese also came up with their own use of pastry in forms of moon cakes.
But in the end, almost all pastry is made with combination of salt, fat and flour and combined with water to form a dough or paste. Pastry these days varies in texture and taste. It differ in terms of proportion of fats used, they way it is introduced with the flour and methods in shaping the dough.
Some pastry tips :
1. Fat content in pastry give its flaky and crumbly texture.
2. Flaky of puff pastry is made by layering water-based unleavened dough with butter-based dough. It is then folded and rolled out (instead of mixed) to preserve the layering. As the water evaporates into steam during the baking process, it creates steam pockets that separate the layers.
3. To store left overs, wrap in a cling film and keep in the fridge for 2-3 days before using it. If frozen, you can keep it for up to 2 months.
My love towards pastry
I love pastries especially savoury ones. When I was in primary school, I remembered the tasty pies that my cousin baked at the COOP supermarket bakery.
(In case you were wondering where in the world is COOP supermarket, it is located at the Keramat Supermarket, Chow Kit Road. If you frequent Hankyu Jaya and Batu Road Supermarket, you would know what I mean.)
When I was in Australia, I continued enjoying vegetable pies and making some once in a while using the ready made Pampas pastry (yes I remember the brand name!).
These days, I get my dose of pastries at Delifrance but recently I haven’t had much pies since the outlet nearby my workplace was closed a year ago.
It is a bit of a challenge to find a ready made puff pastry that have HALAL logo on it. Fortunately, somebody suggested “Kawan” brand, which I happily purchased at Giant Supermarket later this evening. So my chicken pie project is ON!
Here, I would like to share my recipe with you, my treasured readers.
On another note, I am using shiitake mushrooms as I love the its’ great earthy flavours. You can substitute any mushrooms if you like.
In this recipe too, I used leeks instead of the more popular peas, corn kernels and carrot. Leeks are a member of the onion family, yet have a milder, mellower taste.
What you need:
2 tablespoon of olive oil and butter
2 chicken breasts (diced)
3 red onions (sliced)
2 cloves of garlic (chopped)
6 pieces of shiitake mushrooms (sliced)
3 sticks of leeks (sliced)
Half cup water
2 tablespoon of plain flour
Half cup milk
salt and pepper to taste
Puff pastry (hey, I don’t have the time to make one, ok?)
1 egg (slightly beaten to glaze the pies)
What you need to do :
1. Heat olive oil and butter.
2. Toss in the onions and after a minute toss in leek. Saute for a minute until tender.
3. Add in chicken and saute until cooked or brown.
4. Add in mushrooms, and saute until tender.
5. Mix water and flour to form a paste. Add in the paste and milk into the mix and cook for about 5 minutes.
6. Add salt and pepper to taste, your pie fillings are ready!
7. Line pie dish with the puff pastry (actually shortcrust works better)
8. Spoon in the fillings and top with another layer of puff pastry.
9. Make air holes using a fork. Press edges to seal and trim any excess pastry (you can make nice little leaves and flowers to decorate your pies)
10. Brush with the egg.
11. Bake for about 25-30 minutes in a pre-heated oven 200 degrees Celcius or until puffed and golden.
Makes about 10 pies
Estimated cooking time : 45 minutes
Kawan Puff Pastry RM 10 (2 packs)
Chicken Breast RM 10
Mushroom RM 5
Leeks RM 2.50