When I started making pies in Hanoi, several years back, I always wanted a kitchen mixer, something robust enough to be a semi-professional item but couldn’t afford to sling for the Profi models, even the Chinese made commercial ones. So I settled for a Bomann KM 348 CB [looks exactly like this Clatronic KM 3067 here… do like that pasta dough thingy…],
It’s put in a reasonable job though over the past 4–5 years and I’ve had to modify all the beaters with some space washers to improve the overall performance of the machine, oh! and it didn’t have a Blender. Guess what, not having one meant that I wanted one… 🙁 Other than that, I can’t complain too much about it for being a domestic kitchen item.
My mum still has her Kenwood Chef, like the one below, (A701A I think) with all the gadgets, well many of them…
and I remember her being jealously protective of it, so that us kids didn’t, somehow destroy it. I think it originally had green trims and was later replaced with one with blue trims. So long ago its hard to remember. It always seemed to me to be the Kitchen Crown Jewel. Kenwood still has excellent brand recognition to this day, and the price tag to go with it.
My problem, when in Hanoi, was that I couldn’t access such branded equipment. The choices were limited. After looking at the Kitchen Aid machines in use in professional hotel kitchens, I decided that perhaps the Kitchen Aid 8 Quart Stand Mixer might be the way to go (which can be had on Amazon for around $700 not including shipping and handling.)
…but I couldn’t find a way around to justifying the purchase, then after seeing this,
I was more uncertain than ever. Larger volume bowl meant bigger dough batches but I just wasn’t making enough pies to validate such a purchase especially since all the optional extras, were just, optional and cost extra.
Then, I stumbled across this! I know, I know, its similar capacity and cost to the 8 quart Kitchen Aid, but… I think, this is the one… I think I’m in love 😉
It costs around €856+ for this Ankarsrum Assistant Deluxe (current brand name for it) and comes with almost all the optional extras, much like my Mum’s old Kenwood Chef. I love the idea, also of possibly buying something that can be functionally heirloom, something I can hand down to my son (or his partner) one day.
Now, the challenge… How? As a home-based, non-working, stay-at-home Dad, do I actually buy this?
’cause my wife ain’t gonna go for it – cooking and the kitchen are not her thing…
Thinking… Thinking… What to do? … Time to start baking some pies.
I so want one of these!
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I’ve previously approached this topic, reporting my trials into finding the secret to the ever elusive method of making the dough wrapper for that well known, loved and maligned, Australian deep fried snack, the Chiko Roll.
Much of the history and preparation info is summarized at Cooks Info which is a little more sensible and tempered than some of the outlandish recipes being postulated, like this one from Food.com – I mean, seriously? Spring roll or wonton wrappers? Come on! Asian sauces & spices?!?!
Let’s not go there, but get our heads back in the game. First, It is NOT a Chiko Roll recipe if one is advocating the use of Spring Roll wrappers. That so many do highlights just how difficult it is to get the dough of the Chiko Roll right. What is the true mystery of the Chiko Roll? Well, it ain’t the filling, its the dough!
(Addendum: here”s a more recent site that make a credible attempt at the dough. – 06.2016)
Now, according to a more reputable source than most blogs, including this one 😉 we get the following description of how it was originally made:
“He made his first rolls on a small hand-fed sausage machine. They were a concoction of boned mutton, 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.“
Next, over at the Cooks Info site we get this description of more current practices:
“The Chiko factories make as one long roll which is cooked, then sliced, then pastry ends are added, then the rolls are fried a second time.“
Kind of like this Finger Spring Roll maker, but with different dough:
Looking at the other end of the world and another similar roll like product, we have this preparation of Cannelloni:
And then there is this method:
So why are we looking at these anyway? The reason is simple, different doughs have different tensile strengths and their thickness impacts on the way they bake or fry. The modern Chiko Roll seems to be first baked to set the dough, frozen and then deep fried at point of sale. None of the videos above give an indication of how the ends are applied to the roll, or when in production that might occur.
Before we get too carried away, we need to look at the dimensions of a Chiko Roll: weight – 170g, length – 20cm (8″), diameter – 4-5cm (2″); cooked dough thickness is approx. 4-5mm thick. Now, if we go back to the original description where the dough was filled with a sausage stuffer, we must confront some questions:
Were the dough casings made before filling or after, and if before how were they kept in shape to be successfully filled? I have previously tried to make dough tubes, semi-bake them using cannoli pipe forms – it was a disaster and the texture was all wrong.
Was the filling extruded into fixed lengths then frozen before wrapping the dough around the frozen filling? I tried that too, the dough wrapper kept expanding and became loose around the filling.
Why 20 cm long? Why 5 cm diameter? I suspect the dough was rolled out using a hand operated pasta dough roller, the filling extruded from a sausage stuffer into lengths and then placed down the length of the dough sheet and the sheet folded over and sealed before being cut into approx. 20 cm lengths (the length of a cooks knife blade, also happens to be roughly the length of two hands held together side by side.)
Now, the, “egg batter dough.” I’ve also asked this question a dozen times before and every trial so far has produced the wrong texture. I’ve tried plain egg with flour and salt,no egg, adding baking soda, just using egg yolk… you get the picture, nada, zip, alles kaput!– just another way to make fried bread dough.
Recently however, I was browsing through one of my mum’s old books, a post-war era gem from the Victorian Housewives Association and it described an method for making a batter for coating fish, the method was not something I was familiar with nor did I expect the results it produced. The concept is simple, separate the yolk and the white, beat the white to stiff peaks and fold it back into the thicker batter then allow it to rest for an hour.
There are two take home points in this, often in baking we use beaten egg whites to incorporate more air into a batter, cake mix (especially) or bread type dough. The second point is the resting of dough or batter for an hour or so. We now know that this resting allows the starch to fully hydrate which then cooks more evenly, insufficient hydration of starches in flours results in what is referred to as a “floury taste” something especially disliked in a gravy.
What is clear from all of this is that the Chiko Roll Egg Dough is a batter pastry dough. It is well aerated when cooked and has a chewy, spongy texture. It is definitely not a soda bread dough. So, where does this lead us?
two stiff egg batters: both with beaten egg white, one with yolk, one without; made to the raw consistency and feel of a soft pasta dough or pie base. Well rested before use, perhaps 12-24 hrs.
two processes to explore effects of heat on dough texture: one, biscuit bake the fresh rolls; two, blanch fry the rolls.
So far its been quite the odyssey so I look forward to these next steps. Once this is close to right, then things like Corn Jacks are an interesting sidestep – Corn Jacks appear to be rolled before cooking, in coarse Semolina, to texturise the surface and give a slightly different look to the more or less naked look, of the Chiko Roll.
Stay tuned, and we’ll get back to you on our progress. Watch this spot. Cheers.
Just in Fowlers Vacola are having a 30% Off Sale on their top of the range, Professional Preserving Unit (source)
Fowlers Vacola Professional Preserver, 2016 30% of RRP
Now, this is part of their End of Summer Sale, that’s right, end of Summer in Australia. This is an all-Australian product from a company that has been around since before my Grandma, well, since 1915 at any rate. This, not so little, beastie has a 34 L capacity, revamped electronics and design, and a 2400W element. It can also be used as an urn.
As a Hobby Brewer my only concern would be if the element, copper core & stainless steel coated, is exposed or concealed, if exposed does it float above the bottom of the pot, like the older “Royal Preserver” or ring the side like a Braumeister? Ideally, it has a concealed element so that a BIAB bag can sit fully in the pot without risk of contact with the element.
Unlike the Braumeiseter its not programable, but it is 1/3 of the price; nor does it come with a pump and malt pipe; but, to be fair this product is not primarily targeted at brewers, but at homesteaders, households that grow & preserve foods, preppers, cottage industries, etc.
I remember the excitement in the house when my Mum opened the box of her Fowlers Vacola “Royal” Preserver – a gift to herself, a 30 something litre, 1800W stainless steel kettle. I was even more excited when Mum gifted it to me after almost 20+ years of use. I still have it and its still far better than many of the other, commercially available Preservers I’ve had the displeasure of using – I’ve gone through 4 digital pots in the last three years; but, this one just keeps on going and going (kinda like the Energiser Bunny of Preservers)
Fowlers Vacola “Royal” Preserver, circa early-mid 1980’s
I found the electronics were sufficiently stable enough for it to be successfully used for exploratory Sous Vide Cooking producing reasonably predictable results. However, the control dial needed to be tuned somewhat in order to be certain that the temp on the dial was actually the temp in the pot. Interestingly enough, seemed to be somewhat misaligned, temperature wise I guess this would relate to how carefully its was assembled in the first place. No great biggie.
This thermal stability, was what allowed me to progress to the point of getting a dedicated, Sansaire Immersion Circulator Sous Vide Wand.
(ha ha, I just got it, Sansaire – “Without Air”, Sous Vide – “Under Vacuum” ha, ha, ha… after more than 6 mths? That’s just sad…)
Considering that this Urn design is at least, 30 – 40 years old and its still going strong, (Spare Parts are still available!!!) I venture that anyone contemplating buying the new Fowlers Vacola Professional Preserver could expect many, many years of reliable and dependable service from the unit. It’d be pretty hard to go wrong, with this.
I know, I’d certainly love to have a new one, even if only to, one day, hand onto my son.
I wrote a little booklet back in 2012 about this wonderful Chinese dish.
Today, I just updated it, making a few corrections and changing the recipe a little to reflect an improved understanding of the process of making this dish.
Couple of things to add though, if you have access to Louisiana Crawfish, then feel free to use that instead of the Chinese variety. If you don’t have access to either then one option is to use IKEA Kräftor, which on last check are sourced from China and are of the correct crayfish species. Another alternative is to use some other medium to large, fresh water crayfish, e.g. if you’re in Australia yabbies are a good substitute. If using Kräftor, they need to be rinsed and soaked to reduce the influence of the dill that they are packed with.
Oh and one last thing, when adding water to hot oil, be really careful! The oil has to have had a chance to really cool down so that the temperature is around 100°C or a little lower. This is really important!
We all know that a great pie, first and foremost must taste good. The filling should be tasty, tender, moist, not too runny and not too thick but,
…it ain’t a pie if the pie crust just ain’t right!
I know this. You know this. We all know this, so why is it so hard for so many businesses to get their pie crust or pie base right? (AND, why has it been so damn difficult for me to find out about it and get it right?)
Baking is a skill, a skill that scares a lot of cooks because it’s so damn unforgiving of the, ‘a pinch of this, a dash of that‘ approach to replicating recipes. It requires, rigour, discipline and an even tempered approach on a day to day basis. If you’re the Chef With Flair then you’re probably also, the Frustrated Baker.
Now to add to this, there are so many references to pie and crust on the net, God love the Americans, their indelible stamp has been tramped all over the place making it hard to find any REAL information of value on this topic – pie is made with sweet shortcrust, or its a pizza, and savory pie is a pot pie which has a puff pastry top only… This is truly war of culture, through domination of the available global information on every topic.
Be that as it may, it is finally clear to me that of the little information that is around, this is one area that bakers, commercial bakers that is, are happy to let it slide, i.e. if you haven’t done the apprenticeship, than you just dont know and if you have, well its basic knowledge that everybody, who ought to know, knows, right?
So, here’s a basic run down of Pie Crusts, and a lead into that mysterious iconic pastry known as ‘Pie Base.’
Pie crust is a pastry made basically with flour, fat and liquid. The difference in various types of piecrust pastry depends on the nature of the flour, the nature of the liquids, the nature of the fat, the ratios in which they are combined, AND the way in which they are combined. In Puff Pastry, the fat and flour is folded and layered, a bit like Damascus Steel, and bound with a scant bit of liquid so that when it is baked, if puffs up into a light flaky, crisp crust. In Shortcrust Pastry, the fat and flour is crumbled together like sand or gravel before being bound together with the liquids, creating a denser, textured pastry. The smaller the grains of fat and flour, the ‘shorter‘ the pastry.
Pie Base is a short pastry. It is unlike hot water pastry and it is not like the typical shortcrust pastry known to loving grandmas the world over, either. It is made by what is referred to as the ‘Creaming Method‘ – a method that has been documented, and known to bakers, since at least the turn of the 19th Century – (p336). This method is an alternative method for making pastry, particularly in hot, arid climates.
In essence this method has part of the flour and all of the fat creamed together first with the water until ‘clear‘ and then the final pastry dough is adjusted with the remaining flour, usually by the experienced touch of a skilled Baker. Understand this well, instead of the flour and fat ratios being fixed and the water ratio being variable, here the fat and water ratios are fixed and the flour ratio is varied until the desired result is achieved.
Now, what does ‘clear’ mean? That is hard to explain in words and is something better shown. To get a close idea about this I recommend you look up a few Youtube Videos on a French technique for kneading wet doughs, currently known as the so called “Bertinet Method.’
Here is a method I gave to a friend of mine in New South Wales, after being having my eye opened and being properly educated by a couple of great bakers on the Apple Isle.
Do give it a try and see how this works for you. For me, this marks the end of a long, long search for the Secret to Traditional Australian (Commercial) Pie Base, and the begining of a, hopefully, even longer time of playing with the technique.
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Was in the kitchen today, looking at the fridge and the dramatically reduced kitchen cookware at my disposal. I had this lamb that needed to be cooked, or I’d risk loosing it. So, I thought, “stew!” But I only had one, large pot,an elecric table top bbq griddle plate and a rice cooker. “Sweet!” Use the rice cooker as a stew pot, perfect. The recipe is basically a knock it together idea using what was on the shelf, but it turned out super.
This recipe uses a simple rice cooker as the main cooking pot.
4 lamb chops on the bone
1 tin red kidney beans
½ red onion
6 dry shitake mushrooms
2 large cloves garlic
1 tsp Desert Flakes
1 tsp Savory (or Rosemary)
½ tsp crushed black pepper
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2-3 cups hot water
1 cup dry wine
1. Wash the lamb chops and pat dry with paper towel
2. Brown the chops well on both sides. You are not cooking them here, just aiming for a good crust
3. Slice the red onion and fry
4. Shred leak, and garlic and place into the rice cooker pan
5. Rehydrate the shitake mushrooms in one cup of hot water, remove from the water, add the water to the rice cooker pan, shred the mushrooms and also add to the pan
6. Open the tin of kidney beans and add the entire contents to the rice cooker pan
7. Add the wine, seasoning and sauces to the rice cooker pan and mix everything well
8. Place two chops into the rice cooker pan cover with some fried onions and then the next two chops and the rest of the onions, top up with hot water to cover the chops
9. Place the pan into the rice cooker and switch the cooker onto “High”
10. Bring the cooker to a boil and…
…switch the cooker to “Warm” then, every 15 to 20 minutes switch the cooker back to “High” and bring to the boil again, switch back to “Warm” and repeat until the meat is done; OR after bringing to the boil, switch the cooker to “Warm” and leave unopened for 1 hour, open check adjust, bring back to boil then set to “Warm” for 30 min to 1 hour or until hunger takes over
11. When the meat is starting to fall from the bone, remove the chops and rest them for 5 min. De-bone meat and coarsely dice then add back to the pot until ready to serve. Serve with warm crusty bread, or rice, or mashed potatoes and a malty beer
…and there you have my take on a Rice Cooker Kidney Bean and Lamb Stew.
The wife said this was the best stew she’d ever eaten. It certainly was tasty.
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One: Recently, after a long term of searching, designing, and being told, “No! Can’t be done in Hanoi” we finally took ownership of a manual dough sheeter (Máy cán bột). Having first sighted such an item in the kitchen of Cafe CCCP, we managed to track down and eventually find not only a supplier who knew what we wanted, but was also willing to have it made within a week. No Problem! And they delivered. Here’s what it looks like:
This device was sourced from Nguyen Khuyen Str., and is hand cranked. The roller gap is adjusted by two screws mounted forward of the rollers. Underneath the rollers are two spring loaded pans that are there to stop the pastry rolling around the rollers, but the current mounting system also tends to catch stick pastry from time to time. The stainless steel catch pan was installed by my favorite sheet metal worker in Hang Thiec Str. With this now in the bakery, We plan to use it for making puff pastry and for finishing pastry shells to the correct, set thickness.