Friday, March 8

As Easy As Pie

Recently university has been mental.
Everybody is panicking with the looming deadlines next week and running around like lunatics in an attempt to finish everything in time.
It is always a worrying moment when you do not see your friends for a few days; inevitably drowning amongst a sea of books in the deepest, darkest depths of the library.
A treat was needed. A comforting 'hug' to give everyone that sweet taste of home while they eagerly count down until the Easter break.
My idea? Simple. An epic feast.
This suggestion didn't get very many objections, at all; and so I had the task on my hands of cooking a meal for 14 hungry, homesick students in a kitchen that is beyond basic.
Never fear! Behold "My Pie Night"; 3 simple solutions that always go down a treat and can be whipped up quickly, for a large group, and (for a student most importantly...) cheaply!
Since the lads are ever so slightly addicted to chicken; this seemed like the best option. So here you go my lovelies, here is:

...Emily's Chicken and Mushroom Pie, Cheats Banoffee Pie, and a Fruity Foolproof Pavlova...

First, time to get cracking on with the Cheat's Banoffee Pie! A fantastic recipe adapted from Jamie Oliver's 30 Minute Meals.

I whipped this up first thing in the morning before my hockey match- perfect for a quick fix if short on time!
All you will need is:
- 4 heaped tbsp golden caster sugar
- 5 ripe bananas
- 100ml milk
- 1 pre-bought sweet pastry case (approximately 200g)
- 300ml double cream
- 2 tbsp camp coffee (Or dissolved instant/ a shot of coffee if you do not have this in the cupboard)
- 100g chocolate

Mash up 2 of your bananas to as fluid as you possibly can with a fork and mix with your 100ml of milk. Pop a saucepan onto a high heat, add you sugar and watch it bubble and caramelise! Keep stirring to make sure it does not stick, but watch out, CARAMEL IS VERY VERY HOT! Once it is a luscious dark, chestnut brown, stir in your banana/milk mix.

Tip this into your pastry case, (yes I know I should probably have made my own pastry, but I didn't have the time and if Mary Berry, Nigella, and Jamie Oliver all use them then they must be okay!) and pop this into the fridge/freezer to cool down completely.

Meanwhile, whip up your double cream until thick and full. Fold in your coffee essence to create beautiful, marbled swirls.

Slice up your remaining 3 bananas at a slant. Take your now cooled pastry case and caramel out of the fridge/freezer and cover it completely with your sliced bananas.

Top your bananas with the swirled, coffee cream and sprinkle on top with your grated chocolate.

Dust with some cocoa powder for a light, decorative touch and pop back into the fridge until time to serve up. Pudding number 1.... Done!

Now everyone loves a good meringue, those little white clouds that crumble with the touch of your lips! This firm favourite works in summer or winter and is brilliant if the main course was a bit heavy.
To make a man sized Pavlova you will need:
- 3 egg whites
- 175g caster sugar
- 300ml double/whipping cream
- 225g raspberries or strawberries

(This recipe is perfect if you are on a budget or only have a few ingredients. Plus it feeds the whole crowd!)
To start, preheat your oven to 130C fan and separate your egg whites from the yolks.
Whip up the egg whites with a mixer on a high setting until very fluffy, thick and when you tip the bowl upside down (or over your head!), the egg whites stay in the bowl.
While you constantly keep on beating the whites, add 1 tbsp of your caster sugar to the bowl and mix for a couple of minutes in between. Keep up this process until all of the sugar is used.
Yes, it does take a while to mix in all of the sugar, but beating well will stop your meringue from separating!

The meringue clouds should be very glossy, smooth and produce some cracking stiff peaks that hold their shape!

Using a spoon, sculpt a ring of mixture onto a lined baking tray. Then just continue to pile up the sides, like building a wall until you have a coliseum styled wreath! Use your spoon to create a couple of spiky bits too as this is all part of the charm!

Pop this into the oven for 1 hour until golden, crunchy on the outside but chewy on the inside! Meanwhile, whip up your cream until thick and pop this into the fridge until the pavlova is out of the oven and cooled.

All that is left to do is to spoon the whipped cream into the hole in the centre. Pile it up high with your chosen fruits and dust with some icing sugar snow. Serve it up with some vanilla ice cream and you have a winner right here!

However, the mayhem continues. I might have two scrummy puddings ready in advance for my hungry throng of friends, but the boys are going to cry if I do not give them some sort of meat and two veg.
Once again, this recipe is from Jamie Oliver's 30 Minute Meals, ( A cracking book! This and the Ministry of Food are two purchases worth keeping on your book shelves!)
Each golden topped pie will serve a good 4-6 plates, so I had the epic task of making 3 pies in only a few hours. Good thing I like a challenge!

To make a single pie you will need:
- 4x 180g skinless chicken breasts
- knob of butter
- bunch of spring onion
- 150g button mushrooms
- 1 heaped tbsp plain flour
- 2 tsp English Mustard
- 1 heaped tbsp Creme Fraiche
- 300ml chicken stock
- A few sprigs of fresh thyme
- 1/3 of a nutmeg, grated
- 1 sheet of pre-rolled puff pastry
- 1 egg

Preheat your oven to 200C fan and pop a very large, wide pan onto a high heat. Add a lug of olive oil and your knob of butter. Slice up your chicken into 1cm stripes and tip into molten oil/butter. Cook for a couple of minutes, giving it a good stir every now and again. While this is all happening, slice up, wash and prepare your spring onions and mushrooms before adding to the steaming chicken.

Add the flour, mustard, creme fraiche and chicken stock to the pan; stirring well in between. Pop in your fresh thyme, a few gratings of nutmeg and some salt and pepper for seasoning. Leave this to simmer for a couple of minutes before tipping into a pie dish.

Lightly flour a work surface and roll out your pastry. Cut and size the square so that it is a little bit bigger than the dish, then pop the pastry blanket on top of the chicken filling. Tuck the sides underneath so that you will develop a thick, crumbly pastry edge when it comes out of the oven.
Here is where you can get creative! I used the excess pastry to create a couple of designs on mine! Once you have chosen your pie decorations, beat the egg and using a pastry brush, give the pastry a good dosage for that golden shine!

I chose 3 different design; a simple heart pattern, "Mmmm...Pie...", and the classic, "I heart Pie".
These just got popped into the oven for around 25 minutes until golden and flaky on top.
I served the pies with some vegetables and baby new potatoes; simplistic but oh so yummy!
Finally, after a whole day of cooking... It was time to gobble it all up!!

Safe to say that from the empty plates, the long periods of only munching sounds, and a few recipe requests... The chicken pie went down a treat!

But alas, desert was where my faith was lying and I could not wait to serve up my pavlova and banoffee pie!

After each of us had devoured at least 3 helpings of the puddings; trouser buttons were being undone, and the groans of content were being met with wishes of a comfy bed.

 All in all, a very busy day with no work done what so ever...But, not only did I get to do some proper home cooking (you really do miss this being a catered student in university halls!); but we finally managed to get the whole crew around for a needed catch up.
Now just time to go and snuggle in bed with a life threatening food coma; that mountain of dishes the size of Everest can wait until morning!


  1. OMG wow, just eaten but already desperate to try out one of these recipes! All look fab!

    Lovely meeting you too and have enjoyed scrolling through your blog!


    1. Aww thank you Reena! Start with the pavlova! That's my personal favourite, I could eat that for an eternity!
      So nice to meet you yesterday, hope your final year goes well. Can't wait to read your posts about travelling! Very very jealous!! xxx


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