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Piecaken

Piecaken

Photo by David Burke Fabrick

On this Thanksgiving, I have to share what has to be one of the most whacked out culinary ideas ever. Ever! Piecaken!

Think turducken – but with pie and cake! How does it work?

Essentially envelope a layer of cake batter around a fully cooked pie, bake it up and then frost the whole thing. It’s a deeply illogical Frankensteinian creation and seems wrong on all sorts of levels, but also kind of right. Of course, I must eat this. Maybe something to work up to next Thanksgiving?

At any rate, happy Thanksgiving! For those celebrating, have a wonderful turkey day with family and friends!

So hi, hi, American pie

Apple pie

I did something very American last weekend. I baked some apple pie.

I’m not a pie maker, but the whole autumn-ness of this season struck me and I decided I needed to eschew crumble for something doughy, flaky and piping hot. My husband picked up some really good pie crust from the Co-op – so much better than Pillsbury (hey, don’t judge me, I don’t judge you) and it proved to make all the difference.

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Jam tarts

When we visited my mother in law in Devon, she made a lovely pie for dessert and had some extra pastry. What did she do with it? She whipped up a batch of jam tarts!

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The kids loved them. All you need is some pastry and a dollop of strawberry jam (or really any flavor you like). Easy peasy! Aren’t they pretty?

Celebrate Pi Day with chicken pie

Jamie Oliver's chicken pie

In honor of Pi Day, I wanted to share with you my favorite fast pie recipe, courtesy of Jamie Oliver’s “Meals in Minutes: A Revolutionary Approach to Cooking Good Food Fast.”

Ingredients
For chicken pie:
4 6-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts
A pat of butter
A bunch of scallions
6 ounces button mushrooms
1 heaping tablespoon all purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
2 teaspoons English mustard
1 generous tablespoon heavy cream
1-1/4 cups organic chicken broth
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
1/3 of a nutmeg for grating
1 large sheet of all-butter puff pastry
1 egg

Directions
Turn the oven on to 400ºF. Put the chicken breasts on a plastic board and slice into 1/2 inch strips. Put a lug of olive and a pat of butter into the hot large, wide pan. Add the chicken and cook for 3 minutes or so. Meanwhile, quickly trim the scallions and wash the mushrooms then slice together in a food processor. Add to the pan with 1 heaping tablespoon of flour and stir. Add 2 tablespoons of mustard, a generous tablespoon of heavy cream and 1-1/4 cups chicken broth. Stir well. Pick the thyme leaves and stir into the pan with a few fine gratings of nutmeg and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Leave to simmer.

Lightly dust a clean surface with flour and unroll the sheet of puff pastry. Use a small kitchen knife to lightly crisscross and score it. Take the pan of chicken off the heat. Tip the filling into an ovenproof baking dish slightly smaller than the sheet of pastry (approximately 9×13 inches). Cover the filing with pastry sheet, tucking in at the edges. Quickly beat the egg then brush it over the top of the pie. Put into the oven and cook on the top shelf for around 15 minutes or until golden and gorgeous.
Serves 4.

BTW, this cookbook has a lot of great shortcuts for preparing a full meal (starter, main course and dessert) in under 30 minutes. I’ve timed a few of these meals and it always takes me a while longer than that (I’m a slow chopper!) but turns out beautifully!

Why do Brits love American food?

Cheeseburger“Juicy burgers, stacks of fluffy pancakes, Cobb salads festooned with crispy bacon, and cherry pie topped with whipped cream: American food is glorious. Especially in America. But why is it becoming Britain’s go-to cuisine?”

The Guardian newspaper has posted an interesting piece about Brits’ love affair with American food. It’s actually a concept that I’ve clearly missed – the novelty of American burgers and American breakfast in particular, perhaps because it’s not a novelty for us, it’s dime-a-dozen. Personally, I’m much more of a Mexican food or sushi fan – or at least that’s what I miss most when I’m out of the U.S.

What do you think? What’s your favorite American food?