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  1. Kitchen Mixers – I think I’ve finally found the one!

    March 10, 2016 by Villa Tempest

    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 the Kitchen Aid 8 Quart Stand Mixer might be the way to go…

    …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.

    However, today I stumbled across this, I know I know, its similar capacity to the 8 quart Kitchen Aid, nut… 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.

    Now,  the challenge, how to, as a home-based, non-working, stay-at-home Dad, do I actually buy this, ’cause my wife won’t go for it, cooking and the kitchen are not her thing… thinking… thinking… what to do… time to start baking some pies. If you’re in Hamburg, Germany and you’d like to help me out, I’m happy to do a €450 mini-job for a couple of months, as well as accept any donations via Paypal.




    I so want one of these. Cheers.


  2. The Search Goes On – Egg Batter Dough for Chiko Roll & Corn Jacks

    March 9, 2016 by Villa Tempest

    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 summarised 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?!?! The only thing they get remotely right is that the ends are capped with a simple dough, however, coarse Semolina would be more accurate than the use of coarse Polenta (Maizola).

    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!

    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 the 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.

    I’m gonna hazard a new concept, based on what I saw in the last video above. McEnroe used a press form to shape the tube into a semi-tubular shape and to hold everything together. The filling was then extruded into lengths and either frozen or dropped directly onto the moulded dough. The edges were then glazed, perhaps with water and then pressed together finishing with an upper shaping mould to press everything together. After this the rolls were de-moulded and the ends with piped in or pasted in with a spoon. Once done, they got their first fry (blanching, this later in commercial production became an in line baking process) like double cooked chips. Well, that’s my, “fantasy story” on this process, but it is very easily doable at the home kitchen level and takes care of the tube forming process – gonna have to do a bit of mould making to explore this further… (…think manual pie press, like this, this, or this.)

    Next, 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?

    1. 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.
    2. mock some copper half pipes to make a top and bottom mould for shaping and forming the rolls, if it works, look into making them out of HDPE II at a later stage.
    3. 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.


  3. Fowlers Vacola Preservers End of Summer Discount on Pro Model

    February 25, 2016 by Villa Tempest

    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

    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 mid-late 1980's

    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.


  4. Free E-Book: Chángshā Kǒuwèixiā 长沙口味虾

    April 15, 2015 by Villa Tempest

    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!

    Have fun.

    Changsha Kǒuwèixiā


  5. 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!


  6. On Traditional Australian Pie Base

    October 1, 2012 by Villa Tempest

    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.

     


  7. Free Cook Booklet

    September 27, 2012 by ThePieMan

    Hi folks, just a quick update.

    What do you do when you’re not doing anything?

    Write a cookbook!

    I’ve been chasing the holy grail of Hunan Cuisine for some time now, and I think I’ve finally got it after a 12 year odyssey.

    Chángshā Kǒuwèixiā (长沙口味虾) is a spicy, fiery street food dish of, cooked on the spot, freshwater crayfish which is fantastic with beer on a sultry summer evening spent with friends.

    The booklet is freely available for download, no questions asked, not signups, not trackbacks, etc. Feel free to grab yourself a copy, try it out and let me know, over on our Facebook Page, what you think.

    regards,

    Tsc Tempest

    Download Free Ebook Now – (hosted by tsctempest.com – they handle all our photography)


  8. Rice Cooker Kidney Bean & Lamb Stew

    June 1, 2012 by Villa Tempest

    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.

    Ingredients

    4 lamb chops on the bone

    1 tin red kidney beans

    ½ red onion

    ½ leak

    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

     

    Method

    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.

     

    Enjoy!

     

    Addendum:

    The wife said this was the best stew she’d ever eaten. It certainly was tasty.


  9. Following Instructions

    May 23, 2012 by Villa Tempest

    The other day I had a rather unremarkable start, to an otherwise challenging day.

    No mater what I did, I just couldn’t seem to get anything right.

    Perhaps you can see where I made my mistake…

    The Instructions said,

    …in a large pan, reduce one bottle of white wine, with a few coarsely chopped mushrooms, half an onion, two garlic cloves, and a sprig of fresh basil…

    Which I did.

    I put all the ingredients in a large pan,

    ….. switched on the heat;

    ………. the fresh ingredients burned, and

    …………… the bottle exploded!

     

    Terror in the Kitchen!

     

    I still don’t know quite what went wrong…

     

     


  10. New Digs

    January 28, 2012 by Villa Tempest

    It is sad to say that Villa Tempest will be relocating from Vietnam, but our time in Hanoi, is coming to a close.

    If you’re interested in taking up and developing the Villa Tempest Pie Concept in Hanoi, please feel free to contact us for some mutually beneficial offline discussions.

    We are happy to note though, that we have finally found a suitable new location in Poppenbüttle, Hamburg, Germany and that we are making the final arrangements neccessary to purchase the house.

    For your forward planning, last orders will be fulfilled by the end of February. If you’ve been a past customer, we thank for your patronage, and wish you well.

    Best Wishes one and all from Villa Tempest.