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  1. Announcement!

    February 24, 2021 by ThePieMan

    We at Villa Tempest are proud to announce that, the Australian, “Pie Minister” is now in residence at Villa Tempest.

    We’d like to wish the Pie Minister all the very best as he strives to establish new, global polices for all of Villa Tempest’s foreign operations and international interests.

    Although this is a daunting task we have faith that the Pie Minister will prove a resounding success in these endeavours.

    Australian “Pie Minister” at Villa Tempest

  2. The Ever Elusive “Egg Batter Dough”

    November 25, 2020 by ThePieMan

    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.

  3. Introducing…

    November 27, 2019 by ThePieMan

    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.

  4. Technical Difficulties

    November 26, 2019 by ThePieMan

    Apologies to one and all.

    Due to Technical Difficulties our site went offline in August, but we only became cognisant of that fact just the other day and have been busy working behind the scenes to get back online.

    The Internet is becoming more and more a weird, and wild place, in which to have a presence. However, we are glad to be back up and running.

  5. The PieMan is Back!

    July 19, 2019 by ThePieMan

    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!

  6. Australia’s Iconic Dim Sim : A Marathon Quest

    January 23, 2016 by ThePieMan

    Any search of the Internet for “Dim Sims” – an Australian Classic; will pull up no end of recipe suggestions, and lamentations from Expat Australian’s wanting to recreate a little taste of home.

    That being said, almost everything out there is wrong; with many an arm chair expert chiming in and correcting those poor Aussie Expats, telling them that what they’re searching for is, “Dim Sum,” not, “Dim Sim.” Dickheads!

    To add insult to injury, the one person (Elizabeth Chong) known to have provided an authentic recipe via a TV Interview Series – unfortunately the video is not available: a recipe said to be the basis for Melbourne’s once epic South Melbourne Market Dim Sims.

    [Addendum 04.2016 – at a guess based on what was listed above try: 500g meat, 75g prawns, 50g water chestnuts, 40g spring onion, 2 tspn light soy sauce.

    Depending on the State they come from, every Aussie Expat will have a different opinion on what constitutes a “great” Aussie Dim Sim. My search is for something, known to almost every Melbourne School Child: that is, how to make at home, Marathon-style Dim Sims – a classic Aussie staple in Supermarkets, Service Stations and every Victorian Chippie out there.

    After exhaustive searching and testing here is my current recipe (based on this ingredients list.)

    Classic Australian Marathon Dim Sims Recipe 


    130g diced Cabbage

    97g Pre-made Wrappers (flour, water)

    78g cooked Ground Beef (this should be approx. 23% of the total mix)

    2 tspn Water (approx. 21.0g)

    2 tspn Wheat flour(starch) (approx. 4.1g)

    1/4 tspn free flowing Table Salt (approx. 1.0g)

    1/2 tspn Onion Powder (approx. 0.7g)

    1/8 tspn granulated white Table Sugar (approx. 0.4g)

    1/8 tspn granulated MSG (Flavour Enhancer E621) (approx. 0.3g)

    1/8 tspn Chinese 5 Spice Powder* (0.2g)

     * According to Australian Food Standards, “All the ingredients which make up a compound ingredient must be declared in the ingredient list, except when the compound ingredient is used in amounts of less than 5% of the final food.”

    *Chinese 5 Spice is only a guess on my part as it is a compound ingredient, and at the bottom of the ingredients list is the listing, “Spices.” Note, this implies more than one spice. 5 Spice, or Mixed Spice are options, but then so too are proprietary blends. I don’t think this’ll ever be know, but this is my best guess.


    1. Combine all Ingredients into a bowl and mix well
    2. Fill a Food Processor with the mix and pulse until the mixture combines
    3. Empty Food Processor contents into a clean bowl and continue to process the rest of the ingredients
    4. Set mixture aside to rest and meld for 30-60 minutes before using
    5. Take a fresh wrapper, place it on your open, non-dominant hand and put 1-2 tablespoons of mixture in the center
    6. Fold the corners up over the mixtureso that they come together, then flute and fold the sides up s well
    7. Carefully form the Dim Sim into a rectangular parcel and stand on its end until read to steam or fry, or freeze.
    8. When ready, cook the Dim Sims in your prefered way. If deep frying ensure that the oil is maintained between 180°C and 190°C It is the heat that causes the blistering effect on the wrappers.

    Dim Sim Wrappers This is also a contentious area, so here’s my take. There is no egg listed in the ingredients list on Marathon Dim Sims, nor is there any oil! Its just flour and water, with perhaps, a little salt. Given the above recipe the combined weight should be around 97g give or take. In the above links it is mentioned that the “Original Recipe” used a custom siu mai wrapper. If you’ve looked at this kind of wrapper you can clearly see that Dim Sim wrappers are by neccessity thicker – this is the, “Custom” aspect. Dim Sim Pastry Dough Recipe Ingredients:1 cup of plain white flour (dip and shake method) 1/4 cup water (a tspn or two more if the dough is a little dry) 1/8 – 1/4 tspn free flowing table salt (optional) Method:

    1. Season the flour if using salt (optional) and mix well
    2. Add water to flour and combine until it forms a dough, add a scant more water, if neccessary, to produce a soft, non-sticky dough
    3. Cover in cling wrap and set aside to rest for 30 minutes
    4. Either by hand, or with a pasta press, roll the dough into a 12cm wide strip, and approx. 1-2mm thick.
    5. Cut the dough strip into 12cm squares and keep covered until ready to use
    6. Dough can be frozen in stacks if you place a square of non-stick baking paper between each dough wrapper

    So there you have it, my take on the Australian Classic Marathon Dim Sim.

  7. Chiko Roll Revisited

    August 27, 2015 by ThePieMan

    In recent days, I’ve been redoing my recipe collection, and I’ve come to the realisation, that I have three types of recipe books: a) printed books, b) hand written notes,  notebooks and a kitchen diarie, and c) my kitchen scrapbooks – that is books for scrapbooking recipes picked up from supermarkets, snipped from magazines and news papers, and printed copies of online recipes.

     Now, in my hand written nots are my notes for the Chiko Roll. Several pages of them, and it has left me contemplating, in my dreamtime, techniques of cooking the roll. Now, in a previous post i mentioned rolling the pastry onto cannoli tubes and blind baking them, well that didn’t work so I ground to a halt again, need to cogitate.

    In the meantim, here are a few sites of interest of other peoples efforts to reproduce the roll. My main critiscism, if it could be even considered on, is that rolling the filling up like a Spring Roll and putting it in a Chiko Roll Bag, doesn’t make it a Chiko Roll – Tasty! Yes, pretty and parctical, but not the kind of near to result I’m trying to reproduce. 

    This is probably the best attempt I’ve seen so far: Homemade takeaway Holy Grail 

    This mob need to reedit their page for consistence. They list rice as an ingredient and then demonstrate in the Nutritional Info that there’s no rice in it at all, some people… Cooks Info

    The only recipe for an egg dough batter for a Chiko roll that I’ve been able to find. Except for folding the roll like a Spring Roll, this is one of the best dough efforts I’vew seen: Paul’s Cheeky Roll Recipe

    And from a Museum display case, a description of the original process.:

    “The Chiko Roll is an old-fashioned fast food which is still sold in shops today! It was first sold at the Wagga Show over 50 years ago. Wagga was the birthplace of the Chiko Roll. The inventor? A Bendigo boilermaker named Francis Gerald McEncroe. “He made his first rolls on a small hand-fed sausage machine. They were made of boned mutton (lamb), celery, cabbage, barley, rice, carrots and spices. This combination was then wrapped in a thick egg and flour dough, then fried. Both ends were hand-painted.”  (source)

    Addendum: To increase the thickness of a Spring Roll Wrapper, whilst “I” don’t advocate using them: one can brush a wrapper lightly with water then lightly dust with flour and stack the next wrapper on top. Separate the stacked sheets with wax paper and lightly weight the stack when finished and let them rest fo 20 min. or so. Alternatively, join the sheets together using a cornstarch paste.

  8. Gemüserolle auf vegetarische Art – Vegetarian-style mixed vegetable roll.

    December 17, 2012 by ThePieMan

    In recent times I’ve had pretty good success with my “Piebase” [a shortcrust style pastry typically used in Australian-style handheld savoury pies) so much so that making it is no longer a chore – I enjoy the process and the results. Now, I’m experimenting with grinding my own flour. This means my piebase is morphing into a wholemeal pastry, but at present I’m still wrestling with grit that is noticeable to the tooth. If I can get this sorted, I’ll be very happy.

    Meanwhile, I was thinking about my pietops and sausage roll pastry – a puff or rough puf pastry. Now, it was mentioned to me, by a great bvaker in Tasmania, that I could take ordinary piebase and use it as the détrompé for making rough puff pastry, but like usual I forgot that little detail in the mass of many things happening at the time.

    However, today I was researching vegetarian dishes, in particular Indian and Turkish as some of the vegetarians in my German language class are vegetarian, Indian or Turkish. I came across a great website that had a listing for Puff Borek, a Turkish style vegetarian sausage roll, so to speak and reading through the recipe details reminded me of what I’d been earlier told, so… having some leftover piebase in the fridge, I pilled it out and followed the details for Puff Borek Pastry. Two turns later, some chilling and filling with an ad hoc vegetarian filling, and here’s how the pastry looked, out of the oven.

    The layered structure is clearly visible. Looking good so far, but what about the crispness, lightness, flakiness? Cutting it open and I couldn’t be more happy.

    Basically, what I did was pass the piebase through my dough sheeter until it was about 1 mm thick. I then took melted margarine and laid down a coating on a section of pastry, folded the pastry over itself and repeated the process. This produced three layers of dough with two layers of fat in between. I then butter half od the top of the dough and folded it over itself again. The edges were sealed and the pastry wrapped and placed into the fridge. Turn One Complete (6 layers of dough, 5 of fat). I repeated this process a second time (36 layers … ) and after chilling, rolled the pastry out to 3mm thick, filled it and then baked low in the oven at 250C for 25min.

    “Very Happy” with the results. Not hard to do, takes a bit of time, but in the intervals I was able to make the filling, drink tea and do other things. No Problem. This is very easy pastry making at its best. Love it!

  9. Free Range Chickens & Eggs

    July 8, 2011 by ThePieMan

    One of the core philosophies guiding the selection of ingredients in the Villa Tempest Kitchen is the choice to use the best possible products available at the time. For example through the “Friends” network we have acquired Kampot Black Peppercorns and Kampot White Peppercorns so that we can grind fresh spice when needed.

    We use Vietnamese Sea Salt because of it’s outstanding savoury flavour. When the need arises we use Tahitian Vanilla Beans as a flavouring and flavour-melding agent,  we use Rau hữu cơ Thanh Xuân Organic Vegetables, and our meat, supplied by Hanoi Small Goods, is usually Halal certified, Australian Beef and Lamb.

    In line with this philosophy to use the best quality ingredients we are proud to announce that we are now purposely selecting our chickens & eggs from Naturally Vietnam. These are wonderful products. They are Free Range birds and are produced according to Fair Trade Principles and are traceable back to the producer.

    Here are a couple of flyers about these new products being used in our kitchen.

  10. Pancake Parlour-style Pancakes Tabriz

    July 4, 2011 by ThePieMan

    A long time ago, I used to live in the suburbs of Melbourne. Each time I or my family travelled to the countryside by train, we would stop in at The Pancake Parlour. I used to love the olde worlde feel of the place, it’s decoration, the giant chess peaces and boards, it was like being in an Alice in Wonderland theme park. 

    My all time favorite dish was their Pancake Tabriz. The menu described it as, “Ground beef cooked in red wine with herbs, bacon, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, and other delights.” 

    To me, it was kinda exotic sounding, and was always flavourful, if somewhat salty from time to time. Since those times, I try to take my son there whenever we go back to Australia for a visit. I still order the Tabriz, it still has the same salt issues, but I love it. However, childhood memories, as dear as they are to me, still taunt me with an unattainable past. 

    I make my own crepes now, and occasionally take a tilt at the Tabriz Sauce, which is at it’s core, a Boeuf Bourguignon with tomatoes, made with ground beef. But there are also some specific herbs and aromatics that make this sauce a Tabriz and not a Bourguignon. These are: tarragon, dill, parsley, tumeric, and leeks.

    This recipe is another “pinch and dash” recipe, one of those that you can play with endlessly.

    Pancakes Tabriz


    • 250g Ground beef
    • 100g Whole bacon or bacon rashers
    • 1/4 cup Diced Onion
    • 1/4 cup Diced Mushroom
    • 1/2 cup Diced, seeded, skinned tomatoes (optional) or
    • 1 tbsn Fine diced carrots (optional)
    •  2 tspn Tarragon
    • 2 tspn Parsley
    • 1/2 Leek
    • 1/4 tspn Tumeric (optional)
    • 1 tspn Coarse ground back pepper
    • 1 tspn Rough crushed sea salt
    • 400ml Beef/Chicken Stock
    • 1/4 cup Red wine
    • 1-2 tbsn Olive oil &/or butter


    1. Cut bacon into batons (or rashers into coarse dice) and sweat off in a dry nonstick pan until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, set aside and retain the fat.
    2. Sweat the onions and mushrooms (and carrots) in the bacon fat. Tip off into a stewing pot, add stock and boquet garni bag made of leek, parsley & tarragon.
    3. Brown the beef in the pan with some extra fat, add the pepper and tumeric (optional) and mix well. Deglaze the pan with wine, drop the heat to a simmer and reduce by half.
    4. Add meat mixture to the stewing pot and bring to boil. Finely dice/shred the bacon and add to the stew pot. Simmer uncovered for 20 min. Or until the liquid becomes the consistency of a thin sauce.adjust the seasoning with salt and, if necessary, thicken slightly with cornflour.

    Take two freshly cooked pancakes (crepes) add some of the Tabriz Sauce to the center, roll (or fold over) and top with more sauce. Garnish and serve, with a fresh garden salad if you like.

    And there you have my, “Pancakes Tabriz.”

    That’s all from the Bait Layer today,

    Get that int’ ya!