You will be pleased to know I did manage a front row seat at the recent concert where the little guy sang Danny Boy.
How I managed it was miraculous.
I arrived 40-minutes early and there were a few other anxious mothers waiting outside the doors. One of them, (the doctor who raced in the relay with me), said, ‘They won’t let you in; we’ve all tried. We have to wait outside until they open the doors.’
That won’t do.
So I edged ever closer to the bolted doors and when I’d maneuvered myself right up to the door handle I peered in through the window and I could see a few volunteers helping to set up the hall.
I may not do a lot of volunteering but I can pass myself off as one. While their backs were turned, I silently turned the door handle and opening the door a crack, I slid through to the other side.
Once in the hall I pretended to be surveying the scene doing things like making sure the rows of seats were straight and orderly and that the aisle was wide enough to allow for two people to be passing. A few of the more astute volunteers started looking at me suspiciously and just when my cover was about to be blown, the choir conductor, (who loves Alfie and therefore loves me), gave me a welcoming smile.
Seizing on this stroke of good fortune, I said, ‘Oh hello, you’re looking lovely, what do you think the chances would be of me being able to sit up front and centre for Alfie’s solo?’
And she said, ‘Come this way’, and pointed to a few seats in the front row. ‘If you sit here you’ll see him clearly’. And then she pointed to the stage saying, ‘He’ll be standing about here so over there’s the best spot’. It wasn’t just me who wanted to be up front and centre and so, behaving like a German tourist, I took off my jacket and threw it on one seat, then took out my car keys and put them on another seat, and then I put my scarf across two more seats for my parents, and then as the poor GP had looked so forlorn, I bagged her a seat as well. I thanked the conductor very much and then slipped back outside to wait with everyone for the doors to be officially opened.
I was thrilled.
Then the concert started and we sat through Alfie playing his tenor saxophone in the Training Band and that was a little excruciating, and after another dozen or so items plus a few speeches, it was time for Alfie’s choir to take to the stage. The little guy was a bag of nerves but he soldiered on regardless. I was very proud of him and here’s a little snippet for those who are interested…
Now…about these pies…I’m not going to lie to you and say they can be whipped up in a matter of minutes; these pies do take some time but I can tell you now, they’re worth every minute of effort. And some of the more painful aspects of dealing with pastry aren’t necessary with these pies. There’s no need to rest the pastry and you don’t need to blind-bake it either so there’s a couple of wins.
The time consuming part is that you first have to make the filling (it’s easy though), and then you have to deal with both shortcrust and puff pastry and keeping the pastries at a workable temperature, (not too frozen/not too warm), is also a consideration.
But I can’t stress enough how worthwhile these pies are. The recipe is from the very reliable Australian Women’s Weekly and I’ve adapted it very slightly. The pies are suitable to freeze and are excellent pass-around food for parties. As I sank my teeth into one of these pies I thought, ‘If only every pie I bought in a shop was as good as these’.
I made these for the all-consuming up-coming event where I’m certain they’ll be a huge hit.
- ¾ cup chicken stock
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 500g single chicken breast fillets
- 20g butter
- 1 medium (350g) leek, finely sliced
- 1 stick (75g) celery, finely sliced
- 1 tbs plain flour
- 2 tsp fresh lemon thyme leaves
- ½ cup (125ml) cream
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 4 sheets shortcrust pastry
- 3 sheets butter puff pastry
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- extra lemon thyme leaves
- Combine stock and wine in a medium saucepan; bring to the boil.
- Add the chicken, return to the boil.
- Remove from heat; stand chicken for 10 minutes or until it's cooked through. Reserve ¾ cup cooking liquid. Chop chicken finely.
- Melt butter in a pan; cook leek and celery, stirring until soft. Stir in flour and thyme and stir until bubbling. Gradually stir in reserved liquid and cream; cook, stirring, until mixture boils and thickens. Stir in the chicken and mustard. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
- Preheat oven to 220C fan-forced.
- Grease 2 x 24 mini pie tins.
- Using a 6.5cm cutter, cut 40 rounds from the shortcrust pastry. Press into prepared pans. Spoon 1 tbs of chicken mixture into each pastry case. Using a 6cm cutter, cut 40 rounds from the puff pastry. Top chicken mixture with the pastry lids, brush with lightly beaten egg and sprinkle with extra thyme leaves.
- Bake on lowest shelf in oven for 15 minutes or until lightly browned.