Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Culinary Alchemist's First Blog Post - Stilton Pie

Hello, and welcome.

My name is Shane aka: Culinary Alchemist. I have never Blogged before, so this is a new experience all the way around for me.  Not only do I have NO idea how this all works as far as HTML code goes, or how this is classically done for ease of usage by the reader (my recipe formatting may change a couple of times over the next few posts) but I am now armed with an 8.2 Megapixel Fuji Finepix J10 Digital Camera. Woo Hoo!! having finally joined the 21st century.  And I have no idea how to work the camera... So please bear with me, the pictures may be a little fuzzy and the lighting might be off... Like I said, this is a whole new experience. 

I thought it would be a grand idea to "break in" my new camera by doing a step by step photo shoot for the construction of one of my favorite decadent foods... Stilton Pie. Too bad I didn't think of it until I had already started... not being use to having instant photography at my finger tips.  So, I will being with the completed potato lined casserole dish and the previously sauted mushrooms.

6 cups of Mashed Potatoes
Kosher Salt
4 medium Onions, segmented like an apple into 12 segments
12 oz slices button mushrooms (I prefer brown, aesthetically)
4 oz Unsalted Butter
8 - 10 oz Stilton, crumbled
1 oz grated Parmagiano-Reggiano, Pecorino Romano or Grana Padano

Melt the 2 oz butter in a heavy skillet or saute pan over medium flame.
Add the mushrooms and saute until they have given up their liquid and start to brown.
When mushrooms are evenly brown, remove from the pan and set aside.
Lower the flame to medium-low - low and add the remaining butter.
Add onions and sweat until translucent.
Continue cooking, stirring occasionally until they begin to brown and become sticky; about 20 minutes.
Add the mushrooms back in to reheat them.
Preheat the oven to 400F degrees.
Remove onions and mushrooms from flame and add salt an fresh ground pepper.
Butter a 2.8 Liter casserole dish. (Mine is Corningware Part F-2-B In French White from 1991 - Before the switch to stoneware - THANKS MOM!)
Spread half of the mashed potatoes over the bottom and up the sides of the casserole.
Spoon in the onion/mushroom mixture.
Crumble the Stilton over the top of the onion/mushroom mix.
Fill a pastry bag, fitted with a large star tip, with the remaining potatoes and pipe large stars over the top of the casserole. (alternatively you can simply spread the potatoes over the top)
Sprinkle the Parmagiano over the top and bake for about 20-25 minutes or until the top "crust" begins to turn golden brown and the Parmagiano has melted and browned.
If you used the piping bag, you will see bubbles coming up in between the Potatoes.

OK, so here goes the "almost" step by step.

First, make mashed potatoes. You will need 6'ish cups. Use about 1/2 of the potatoes to line your casserole dish... I use a 2.8 litre Corning ware casserole.

Now as I had mentioned, I had already sauteed the mushrooms in a little butter and set them aside. Then I lowered the flame and sweat the onions.

This continued for about 25 minutes until they became soft, sticky and slightly browned; then I added the mushrooms back in to re-warm them.

After the onions and mushrooms were ready, I piled them into the potato crust and crumbled Stilton cheese over the top.

Then I filled a pastry bag with the remaining potatoes (Using a rosette tip) and piped rosettes over the top.

Why go to all that trouble and not just spread the potatoes over the top...? Well I have 4 reasons for this, only 1 of which is for presentation, the other 3 are steeped in science.

1. The rosettes create a top "Crust" with more surface area for browning...

2. This also leaves gaps in the crust so that and wayward water left in the onions can escape during baking and keep the interior from becoming a soggy mess... and

c. The cheese has the ability to bubble up through these gaps and coat the rosettes with blue cheese goodness.

After this, I sprinkled the top with grated Pecorino Romano, I prefer Parmagiano-Reggiano for this, but to my surprise, I was out.
Then I baked it at 400 for 25 minutes and Voila!!

Crusty, cheesy, gooey deliciousness!!