Australia Day has come to a close, and my project is complete. I present to you an, “Aussie Meat Pie.” A beef, onion and black pepper puff pastry pie, in the shape of a stylised Map of Australia.
For a long time, I’ve been wanting to do a pie like this. On Australia Day, some copper metal banding that I bought online arrived, so I soldered it together, and then hand folded it into the shape of Australia. In hindsight I probably should have shaped it first before soldering it. However, job done. It certainly took me far less time than trying to get various, “Text to Image” AI-bots to draw a photo-realistic facsimile (I spent days on it and got nowhere fast.)
Now, this is a fiddly pie. The pastry was rolled and placed into the form and pressed carefully into the edges and put back into the freezer several times to keep it all together. I made the filling, chilled the filling, and then filled the pie. As there is no rim on the top, I have to rethink the crimping design. Pressing with a fork, whilst it did work, is not optimal, and I didn’t leave enough pastry hanging over to do a propper finger crimp.
After a 40 minute bake, I gingerly removed the copper ring, and put it back in for another 10 minutes. I then cut Tasmania off from the mainland (but didn’t forget it, like they did in a past Commonwealth Games,😜 😜 😜 ) and used some tomato sauce to create a rough outline of Lake Eyre: Australia’s fabled, and mythical, inland sea. Did you know that Lake Eyre, at it’s deepest point is 15m below sea level? Neither did I.
Now, here it is, my take on a real, Aussie Black Pepper Beef Pie. Now that’s one… “Great Australian Bite!”
The PieMan is now a Tea Master. All jokes aside, what has been an exploration into all things “Tea” over the past 3+ years has culminated in graduation from the Dilmah School of Tea, Certified Tea Master Certificate program. Starting off with the ITA Tea Sommelier Milestone Program back in 2019, and extensively focusing on Chinese Tea, COVID pandemic management got in the way of completing the Mastery Level Program. In spite of living in China, it now looks like that program will not be operating again, any time soon. Be that as it may, it led to the development of my Tea Blog, 茶笔 Chá Bǐ – The Tea Pen.
Looking around at what was available, Dilmah Tea, recognising the difficulties the pandemic presented in accessing tea schools, took their programs online and offered significant discounts on all their programs. This, in and of itself represents a significant benefit to the aspiring tea professional. The program is a self-paced study system, and I took just over 12 months to complete the program. You can definitely complete it in a much shorter time, however there were a few challenges that I needed to dwell on until I was more comfortable with completing certain tasks.
The program is interesting, and mentally challenging, it is also highly unforgiving. You get one go only at the quizzes and some a sufficiently short enough that a single wrong answer can penalise you heavily.The program culminates in a practical presentation where the student needs to present, on video either a food or drink inspired by tea. My presentation can be seen here:
“This Jasmine Green Tea Flummery contrasts the grassy astringency of the tea, against the sharp acidity of the fruit, and the sweetness of the shortbread biscuit. It blends the aromas of the fruits with the floral bouquet of the tea, and counterpoints the temperature and texture of the mousse against conventional conceptions of how tea looks and presents on the palate.”
Tsc Tempest, DCA. Shanghai, China. 2022.12.31
Make a strong green tea:
250ml hot water
4 tea bags of Dilmah Jasmine Green Tea
Steep for 5-7 min. and remove the tea bags
Bloom the Gelatine:
place one sheet of gold leaf gelatine in some cold water
when fully hydrated, squeeze out the water and use immediately.
Make Tea Jelly:
combine tea, reheat if necessary, and gelatine
stir until gelatine is dissolved
place in refrigerator and chill for 20-25 min.
Make a Dairy-free Flummery (Whipped Jelly):
Remove jelly from refrigerator, it should be thick but not set
beat into a foam with a whisk until light and airy
pour flummery into glass cups and place aside in the refrigerator until firmly set
Shortbread Biscuit Wafer:
coarsely crush 70g of shortbread biscuits
add 1/2 – 1 teaspoon of dried passionfruit pulp (blot the pulp with kitchen towel)
melt a tablespoon of coconut oil
combine oil with the biscuit mix and spread out thinly on a plate or platter
cut into wafer shapes
place in refrigerator to chill
slice kiwifruit into 1-2mm thick pieces
cut out small circles from the firm flesh with a smooth piping bag nozzle
take a slice of firm sweet mango
peal and cut into thin slivers
add soy lecithin (6g/l) to strained passionfruit juice
blend with stick blender until foamy
expedite use quickly
remove flummery cups from fridge and place on saucers
garnish with a shortbread wafer, kiwifruit circles, mango slivers, and a teaspoon of passionfruit foam
My Inspiration for this Creation
I started with the simple idea of Tea with Shortbread Biscuits, and fruit. A play on Afternoon tea, if you will, using an old memory of a non-dairy flummery from my childhood.
Flummery, also known as whipped jelly, is an old technique which surprisingly fits well into today’s Modernist cooking techniques. It is a whipped, cold set, foam that provides a blank canvas for a modern chef’s creativity whilst retaining tangible links to a storied, 400 year old, pedigree.
Flummery originated as a starch based set jelly. Over time its flavour has varied between sour, and sweet, increasingly included a dairy ingredient, and the setting agent had varied between starch, innisglass, and gelatine.
I was fascinated with the idea of turning a drink into a desert and initially thought of making a kind of cheesecake-like presentation. However, feedback was not very flattering so after discussions with my Mum, always infomative, I decided on a presentation using a cup, reinforcing the idea of a drink but not a drink.
“Concept is good, biscuit base needs a darker contrast, the fruit topping could use red grapes, strawberries, dark berry fruits, or passionfruit pulp rather than the passionfruit foam, for more colour. This is worth revisiting.“
Now, Modern Cooking science has expanded the range of possible setting agents for various gels, foams, mousses, and airs, expanding the potential for making both hot and cold, sweet or savoury, flummeries.
A Flummery in the 21C, ought to be considered a class of foods made with similar whipped gel techniques, that has a history, or pedigree, that extends back in time equally as far as that of the history of Tea in Britain.
In essence, the flummery should be, ought to be, an essential 21C Afternoon Tea element, as a class of food items, rather than a ye olde worlde simple gelatine set mousse.
Imaging if you will:
a Flummery of Tomato Consommé served on a base, or garnished with slices, of tea smoked duck confit; or
a vol-au-vent filled with black tea and lemon infused flummery mousse topped with strawberry liquid spheres or caviar; or
a smoked tea infused potato and leak (and bacon) soup with hot, piped konjac or agar agar flummery islands, infused with black cardamom chai.
This was the basis of my final practical exam submission for the Certified Team Master certificate, and I am happy to say that I fulfilled the requirements and successfully graduated from the program.
The PieMan is now a, Tea Master! 🤣
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This video interview is a fascinating discussion with Calum Franklin, “The King of Pies” and author of the book, “The Pie Room.” What fascinated me was his exploration into British Culinary Traditions and Pie Making Technique in response to the realisation that everyone in his Kitchen Gang had no idea about how to use an old pie form they had found in the cellar of their restaurant.
Culinary tradition is an important aspect of a region’s culture and should be preserved. I have visited this issue before when exploring the background to the making of the Chiko Roll – an issue I still have not resolved to this day. It is still on my to do list. Please enjoy this video interview, it is well worth watching.
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What is a Batter? What is a Dough? And, what is an Egg Batter Dough?
Batter and Dough seem to be mutually exclusive, a batter is liquid and pourable, whilst a dough is malleable, and usually holds its own shape. There are exceptions, such as high hydration doughs, but in essence this is the delineation.
With this foundation, it would seem that and egg batter dough is a nonsense. Yet an egg batter dough is at the very heart of the making of Australia’s iconic snack food, the Chiko Roll.
A batter also has two forms, a) its used in its own right inside a form or allowed to spread as a distinct product goal, and b) as a coating for deep fried foods, either alone on its own or in conjunction with some form of breading, to act as a crisp coating and barrier to oil when fried.
It is this second use that is of interest to us, as the Chiko Roll had a thick paste-like casing that enrobes the filling and provides structural stability to the roll. In essence, this coating is a batter. Yet, its handling and shaping is clearly characteristic of a dough, more akin to that of a pie crust, yet on analysis it is clearly not a fat shortened paste. Nor is it a leavend “soda” bread or yeast dough. Finally it has none of the mouthfeel characteristics of a pasta dough.
So what IS this Egg Batter Dough? Three Words: three different arrangements (with and without punctuation) – Egg Batter Dough; Egg-Batter Dough; and Egg Batter-Dough.
Egg-Batter Dough: what is this? A dough that is essentially an egg batter that has been stiffened until it can be worked like a dough? Plausible!
Egg Batter-Dough: what is this? There is no trace as far as I can find to such a culinary beast, and the two words, by themselves occupy the opposite ends of a spectrum. Then to this should we then add egg? It makes no sense.
An Egg Batter contains, flour egg, and water or milk. The eggs are normally separated, and then folded into the rest of the ingredients. the batter may also contain added seasonings and flavourings depending on whether it is sweet or savory.
The problem with a stiffened batter is that the additional flour and working in order to obtain a “strong” paste that can be worked, rolled, cut, and shaped to keep its form, by necessity knocks the air out of the batter that had whisked egg whites in either soft or stiff peaks, folded in.
This project is still ongoing. It is a thorny problem, because the very classification of the pastry casing of the Chiko Roll, does not, in and of itself, make any sense.
This truly is not rocket science, and the casing was “invented” by a boilermaker. So, it is easy to overthink the problem, or is it? It is clear that there is no such thing anywhere else in the world as an, “Egg Batter Dough” other than the pastry casing used for making Simplot’s Chiko Rolls and Corn Jacks.
In last 3-4 months there have been many activities afoot at Vila Tempest. We are still based in Shanghai but have relocated to a smaller location. This has meant we’ve had to downsize Life in many ways. However, this has opened up some new possibilities to explore.
Allow me to introduce to you some new products and services we are beginning to explore and offer.
I-Reiki: Being a Reiki Master/Teacher since 2015, we thought it was about time to explore offering Reiki to others. You can find out more about this over at I-Reiki.
Intentional Oils: We have begun exploring cold pressed nut and seed oils infused with Reiki Energy and Positive Intentions. This is an exciting product as we believe there is currently no other supplier of such a product anywhere in the market. To find out more visit Intentional Oils.
Black Garlic: This is an exciting product par excellence! Our first commercially available batch is still a bit over a week away, but initial trials have been outstanding!
Black garlic is a transformative product, a respected and desired superfood, and we can’t wait to see how it tastes in some of our new pie recipes. Who knows? You might even see it infused into some of our cold pressed nut and seed oils! So, watch this space.
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Aussie pie connoisseurs rejoice! The PieMan is back! and you can find him in residence in Shanghai.
This summer we will be exploring a whole new world of pie fillings, to bring to you the best pies on offer, to all you true pie connoisseurs, in Shanghai.
Villa Tempest Pies are bespoke, hand made on demand, made to order pies. They offer exceptional flavour, and are the pies you choose for us to make, not what we choose to make that day and then offer to send to you.
Unlike commercial companies, Villa Tempest is a one man show, offering a person to person, personalised service in order to bring you the best tasting pies, outside of Australia or any other pie-oriented culture, today.
For now, relax and rejoice, because The PieMan is back!
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To You and Yours, from Us and Ours, we wish you all the very best for the coming Year, 2019.
We hope that your goals and dreams, this year, amount to being everything you hope for.
Over the coming months we hope to resolve grittiness issues, with our stone flour mills; to successfully make, “On Demand” fresh ground pastry flour from whole wheat berries; to improve our bread and pie baking processes; and to offer something tasty, and new to interested expats in our local region.
All the best from Villa Tempest!
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