hump day

So in my quest to become a shopping mall whore, today we went to a fruit and veg store I’ve been desperate to explore for oh, about 2 years. It’s always been too hard because someone’s sick, someone needs to be somewhere and so on and so forth and where did the last five years go.

So today we went. And again I could feel my happy endorphins scratching and the gates of my brain. Beautiful produce, lovely ambience and so clean*. They also had some great ‘gourmet’ supermarket items as well – great pastas (fresh and dry), Baxter’s Soups (the lobster bisque is a fave and used to be on high rotation when we were dual incomes no kids all care little responsibilty until Woolworths just decided to stop stocking it anymore. Idiots.) and various other items that have now fallen out of my head, just leaving a lovely smiley feeling in their place.

Our original intention was to go there to get some in season fruit for bottling as getting to the markets while also having children who need to go to school is impossible. I had in my head that I’d bottle some quinces with apple and pears. Well somewhere along the way of having Grover I have completely missed the quince season. So no bottling and no quince relish for yet another year. And the pears were expensive.

Regardless, it got the tastebuds stimulated and Chef and I started talking about dinner. So, dinner became quite grandiose**. There was some homemade simple pizzas (one with garlic and rosemary and other tomato and cheese) by Chef followed by pasta with a gorgonzola sauce w/ English spinach and walnuts (by me). The sauce wasn’t delicate enough for my expectations but really, with a toddler asking for “noo noos” at my feet, a baby on the shoulder and big boys baiting each other what could I expect.

But I also made the sourdough*** and turned it into an olive loaf, by kneading in some roughly chopped kalamata olives after the first rise. Get this, we were all too full and it was all mis-timed as Grover decided he needed to feed in the midst of all this, but it tastes fantastic and looks a sensation:
The other thing that really caught my eye at the F&V was their selection of frozen berries****, in particular these large and reasonably priced bags of blackberries. So tonight I made a blackberry and apple pie:

For starters, I make kickarse pastry. It was a new years resolution for me a few years back, to master pastry (although I’m yet to tackle the puff kind) and I did. It’s something I am still quite proud about. Check this out:
Shortcrust pastry
4 cups plain flour
360g butter, cold and cubed
1/4 cup water
- rub the butter into the flour until it’s all incorporated
- add the water gradually until the dough comes together
- refrigerate for half and hour before using.
(This is enough for two 8inch pies or on 9-10 inch)

Tonight’s product was fantastic if I might say so myself. Flaky, buttery, beautiful.
(I froze half of it but with the off cuts once I’d made the pie I made two mini jam rolls, one with raspberry and one with apricot. Just roll out the pastry, put some jam in the middle then fold pastry over and press down the edges. Cook until golden.)

I wasn’t that happy with the filling. I mean, it was lovely, but I wanted something a bit more thick and unctuous. I made it according to the English tradition – diced apple (4 Granny Smiths), blackberries (about 4oog) and sugar to taste (about a tablespoon or two). I’m guessing the Americans will have something which involves cooking the filling first and maybe some sort of thickening agent.
*****
Yeah, and my son doesn’t have any delusions of fame…
*****

* anywhere is clean compared to my house.
** and stressful as Jasper basically didn’t have a day sleep today so he was on the pendulum swining between very ratty and incredibly naughty; Oscar was particularly clingy and aimless tonight, Felix was obviously hungry and tired and no one would do their FUCKING homework.
*** I know how ludicrous that sounds, that I was baking bread on a school night, but it really is that easy to make and I am still absolutely tickled to the tips of my toes that I am baking bread and it has the right texture and taste. I mean, it tastes like a loaf you’d buy. Amazing!
**** these are getting really annoying aren’t they. But one of the big ‘on the positive side of the positive/negative list’ in our sea change concept plan is moving to an area where berry production is possible and readily available. Do you know I saw a punnet of blueberries in the shops the other day for $16. SIXTEEN FUCKING DOLLARS for 250g of blueberries. Harrumph.

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  • Badger

    I actually prefer your method of berry pie-making, but I suspect most Americans would indeed cook the filling, adding cornstarch (I’m not sure what you lot call that — it’s a very fine white powder) and probably a pooload more sugar than you used.

    Blech, sez I.

  • Major Bedhead

    I know nothing about baking pies, but the cornstarch thing sounds right.

    The bread looks delicious. TCBIM is a huge fan of olive bread. I’ll have to give that a try – now that it’s kind of, sort of, cooling down, I may attempt some bread.

  • Joke

    I have a cheater’s version of puff pastry. I’ll rummage for it.

    -J.

  • Sally Forth

    Your pie looks amazing! I totally suck at making pastry and leave it to my husband, with the result that we never have pie. I can make puff pastry for some odd reason, so if I can, I’m sure you’ll have no problems.

  • h&b

    shoes ?

    ( P.S. – believe it or not, I make my pastries according to a cookbook by COLLEEN McCULLOCH ! – it’s really old fashioned stuff, but really, really good. I have never read one of her novels, nor ever seen The Thorn Birds on tele .. )

    I crave Olive bread. Always.
    Yours looks amazing.

  • Surfing Free

    A brand spanking new deli has opened near us and they have all sorts of yummy looking things! i’ve only strolled past once with three kids so I didn’t go in, but the look of it set my heart racing :)

    And, Hubby and I are looking to by a holiday hobby farm in Oberon and high on our list of priorities is growing berries! SNAP!

  • Susan

    The pie! The bread! I am salivating profusely…

  • bec

    I’ve mostly given up on the food processor method for pastry too … mostly. There’s something so productive and soothing about rubbing the butter and flour, isn’t there?

  • Suse

    Whoa, look at my baby all grown up!

    (I’m talking sourdough …)

  • Stomper Girl

    My American baking book randomly puts cornflour into some pie recipes, noticeably the ones with just berries, but omits it totally for the apple / apple-blend pies, preferring to stew the apples prior to baking with butter and sugar, sometimes cinnamon, sometimes citrus zest or juice. I don’t like pies made with arrowroot or cornstarch for the fillings, does something unpure to the texture IMHO.

    Was Jasper asking for noodles? Kidlets called them noo-noos here too, I still do actually I’m embarrassing like that.

  • h&b

    I’m betting he was asking for booby..

  • Anonymous

    I am sure you can grow berries where I live – even though after three years I haven’t got the vegie garden or orchard started yet. But I did have a lash at strawberries in the vegie patch at Tragedy, but I think the dogs and cats and rabbits ate them. Oh yeah – I have one small pot of strawbs in the herb garden at the laundry door and it has done OK – SO MOVE HERE!!!!!!! K