StancePosted: September 16, 2010
Blogs are funny little things. I find them to be revealing of the person behind it; not just from the content but by little things like the attention to detail in photos, the language used and my own little pet peeve: the transparency of the author’s reach for “stardom”.
Let’s just say I’ve been doing this blogging thing for a while now. Back before Blogspot was cool, when the most popular blog sites were run by people who wrote beautifully and it touched my adolescent mind in ways I can’t describe. They made me aspire to be more eloquent and to paint my life in vibrant colours. I was thirteen and impressionable; blogs were called online journals and the most popular host sites were diary-x and Diaryland. LiveJournal wasn’t even trendy yet.
…That’s how long I’ve been on this scene.
I miss those days before people decided to brand bloggers with this ridiculous celebrity tag, before advertisers found their new cash cows and milked them for every last drop, and internet trolls found new ways to unleash their cruel sentiments on unsuspecting individuals. The days before self-indulgent prima donnas took 350 pictures a day of their face from a high angle and over-Photoshopped them so you wouldn’t recognise them on the street even if they wore a flashing neon sign that screamed their URL.
As a tweenager, I chased this crazy rainbow of Internet Celebrity and was actually eager to have my blog read by people from all over the world. But there was so much negativity to it that I found my virtual self sitting in a corner, rocking back and forth with my knees drawn to my chest. I soon eliminated strangers from reading my innermost processes and only maintained online relationships with people I enjoyed reading and who seemed genuine. It was one of the wisest decisions I ever made and I gained many treasured friends from this intimate circle. My housemate is someone I originally met through her Diaryland and she is one of my best friends, my other best friend Sheena was also an Internet friend first (she’s a beautiful writer, btw), and I have so many more fellow blogger friends across the world whom I’ve been following since my teenage years.
Which brings me to Hey, Sugar! It’s my little glass box in the vast empire of the Internet and it strangely brings me solace. I do not actively seek readers (I’m ridiculously bad at leaving comments on other people’s blogs and following up on the ones posted here!) but I am grateful to all of you who share in my love for cooking and use my little soapbox on the Internet as inspiration or a guide.
Making food is one of the few things I truly enjoy in life and is a source of joy when I’m feeling down. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before on here, but I suffer from depression and it is a constant struggle to keep my Black Dog leashed and away from my yard. But cooking… producing food and making something with my hands and the satisfaction that it brings me and others that eat it truly gives me reason to get up each day. I’m unashamed to admit that I’m on anti-depressants that have helped me so immensely and have made me so functional that I wonder what took me so long to go on them (perhaps the stigma that one is batshit CRAZY or UNSTABLE if they take them, or how the pills make you a zombie).
My point is: I have no agenda with this blog. The updates are not here to please an audience. There will be no paid advertisements. I will not review restaurants as if my word is worthy to judge the army it takes to run a restaurant and I truly believe that some food bloggers are too busy feeding their own egos to realise that the moment they put something negative on the Internet, it will damage a restaurant’s image. I am uncertain I am ready to put another person’s blood, sweat and tears at the mercy of my amateur opinions. The pen is mightier than the sword, after all. I am only here to document my own little adventures in the kitchen and I thank you for wanting to be a part of that.
*takes a huge breath and steps off her emotional soap box*
Chicken pot pies remind me of my sixteen year old self and her friends who thought they were so adult and cool when they dined at Dome without their parents, dolled up in tiny miniskirts and 3-inch heels, toting tiny little canvas handbags. My favourite dish was always the Chicken Pie at Dome with the pastry top which was always a delight to break into and eat dunked into the creamy sauce in the bowl.
I still get hit by a wave of nostalgia when I order this dish in any restaurant but I guess I’m the sort of person who places significance and memories on food. Most people place it on mementos and music but I’ve always been in pursuit of good food so I guess food is a better memory associator for me. Do I hear an oink and a piggy squeal?
Chicken, Leek & Mushroom Pot Pies
Adapted from Delicious September 2010 magazine
1.5 L vegetable stock
1 packet dried porcini mushroom
100g unsalted butter
35g plain flour
60ml thickened cream
2 leeks, white and light green part only, sliced
2 sprigs rosemary, leaves only
300g Swiss brown mushrooms, thickly sliced
1 chicken breast, diced
1. Bring stock and porcini to the boil in a saucepan, then simmer over medium heat until reduced by two-thirds. Preheat the oven to 200˚C.
2. Strain reduced stock into another saucepan. Chop porcini and set aside.
3. Melt 25g butter in a small pan, then add flour and cook, constantly stirring until smooth. Remove from the heat then gradually stir in stock. Return to medium-low heat and simmer, stirring constantly until slightly thickened. Stir the cream into the sauce.
4. Melt half the remaining butter in a pan and cook the chicken, leek and rosemary, for 3-5 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the leeks are softened. Add to the sauce.
5. Melt the remaining butter in another pan (or clean the one you used), add porcini and Swiss brown mushrooms, and cook over medium-high heat for 3 minutes until the Swiss brown mushrooms start to colour. Stir the mushrooms into the sauce, season to taste, then leave to cool slightly.
6. Divide the pie mixture amongst six bowls and top with either frozen puff pastry sheets that will fit and hang over the rims of the bowls, or as I have done, made a simple pastry using Ruhlman’s pastry ratio. Brush the top of pastry with a beaten egg and bake in oven for 25-30 minutes or until golden. Serve with a side of salad of your choice.
I know it seems almost illogical not to buy frozen puff pastry but I never seem to find an occasion where a whole packet gets used and it just takes up too much prime real estate in my tiny freezer. I always end up throwing it out and anyway, my pastry is just as good as a puff pastry. It’s flaky, it’s salty, it’s buttery; what’s not to love?
On this night, our refrigerator was unfortunately almost completely divested of any greens and all we had was semi-wilted rocket leaves which I made do with. They were lightly dressed with a white wine vinaigrette and pathetically topped with a few pieces of parmesan shavings.