Archive for January, 2011

Chicken Mushroom Pie

I’d just taken a helping of Jennifer’s incredible mushroom pie filled with creamy mushrooms, and topped with a lovely potato crust.

It was delicious!! I told myself then that I had to learn how to whip up treats like that.

It’s been years since Jennifer shared her recipe with me, and I’ve baked the pie more often than I can remember. What I like about pies is that the recipes can be modified easily according to preference or what’s available in the market.

This gives a new slant to the saying, ‘Give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.’

Thanks, Jennifer, for showing me that baking a pie is really simple after all.

Mushroom Chicken Pie

2 chicken thighs, deboned, cubed
400 gm eryngii bunch mushrooms, substrate removed, cubed
2 big onions, cut
5 pips garlic
150g cream of mushroom (I use Campbell’s) or substitute
Italian herbs
olive oil

Potato crust

3 big russet potatoes, boiled, peeled and mashed
milk or milk powder
Italian herbs
dried parsley

Here’s how:

  1. Heat olive oil in pan and sauté the crushed garlic.
  2. Add chicken cubes, then mushrooms.
  3. Add cream of mushroom and herbs
  4. Cook till gravy thickens. Dish out onto pie dish.
  5. Add butter, milk and herbs into mashed potatoes.
  6. Pat potatoes onto chicken and mushroom in pie dish.
  7. Make slits in potato crust.
  8. Bake for about 40 minutes at 400°F till golden brown.

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My bay needed another haircut. It was growing every which way but I was determined to get it into shape. What I really want is a beautiful bay standard; a perfect sphere. But it’s doesn’t look like the lollipop I long for yet.

A trim always means handfuls of bay leaves and we already have more than we need. I looked around, saw my neighbor and asked if he wanted any.

Soon I was stuffing leaves from the wayward bits into a bag expecting my neighbor to lower a pail down with a rope. Their garden is on higher ground; about 15 feet above ours, and this was our normal practice. Bunches of herbs and vegetables and numerous seeds have been passed back and forth over the years.

My neighbor soon appeared, not with the usual pail or rope, but with a long, stout bamboo. “I can’t find the rope,” he explained. “This should do.”

I secured the bag to one end of the bamboo and my neighbor swung it back up. He was all smiles as we talked about ways to use the bay.

I never thought that one day I’d actually have enough bay leaves to share; especially not with my first bay. That was scrawny, unlike the more vigorous one I had just pruned.

The more robust ones were started from seed. They were fragile to start with but are no longer so. And there’s no need for us to get store-bought dried bay leaves anymore. What a bonus.

But the standard I’m hoping to shape is still a long way off. If the bay is still determined to remain unruly, I may just let it grow out and prune it into something else; a pyramid perhaps.

Suggestions, anyone?


Care and propagation: Partial to full sun; well drained soil; water moderately. Propagate using seeds and cuttings

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It’s supposed to be a spicy combination of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves; perhaps even more.

I couldn’t believe the price tag, but I had been looking for the allspice for the longest time, so I refused to think how expensive it was.

I also tried not to think too much when I pruned it two weeks later.

My dad once thought he was doing me a favour by pruning it. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I came home and saw the bare branches.

You can bet I spent the next half an hour riffling through the contents of the garden refuse bag, determined to rescue every precious leaf and stem.

before and after pruning

But I guess it’s worth enduring the pain of a bare plant as it became bushier and is even bushier now. Anyhow, it definitely has more than its initial 100 (plus or minus) leaves.

new shoots

And more leaves mean more joy to pass around … and more delightful aromas from the kitchen.

May this new year be a blessed and delightfully fragrant one.


Care and propagation: partial to full sun, garden soil, water moderately, can be potted. Propagation using cuttings is tough – no wonder they charge an arm and a leg for the plant!

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