Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Garden Party

Our new garden provided the perfect theme for Little Miss's first birthday party on Sunday: a garden party! With a house still in a certain disarray, we had to keep things relatively simple. An abundance of bananas determined the cake we were going to serve. An abundance of eggs and bacon... egg and bacon pies!

My husband couldn't host a party without making fairy bread and chocolate crackles - staples of Australian birthday parties from our era. Another Australian birthday party staple, sausage rolls, became sausage caterpillars! I served grilled, roasted and fresh vegetables in keeping with the 'garden' theme and made some ever-popular hummus. I look forward to the time when we are able to serve our own 'garden fresh' vegetables.

Bananas were turned into banana cupcakes with a cream cheese frosting. A heavy hand with food dye late at night resulted in some garish looking cupcakes (not the subtle coloring I had in mind!) I rescued these with some garden and bug decorations.

I remembered a recipe from Jill Dupleix's New Food cookbook for egg and bacon pies as a picnic food. This seemed perfect. I adapted this with a few additions and omissions. Here is my version:


Filo pastry
4 rashers bacon, cut into small pieces
12 eggs
1 egg (extra), beaten
¼ cup cream
¼ cup butter (melted)
¾ cup grated cheddar cheese
salt and pepper
handful of baby spinach leaves (washed and finely shredded)
snipped chives (for garnish)

Preheat oven to 400℉ (200℃). Grease a 12 cup muffin pan.
Fry bacon in small pan until crispy. Drain on paper towel.
Cut filo pastry into approximately 4½" (12cm) squares. You will need 48 squares. Brush one square of filo with butter. Add another square and brush. Repeat until you have 4 squares of pastry together. Carefully drape these into a muffin cup. Repeat for remaining sheets of filo. For a more rustic effect, place second two sheets of pastry diagonally upon first two sheets. Roughly trim edges if too much overhang.

Divide cut spinach and bacon evenly between each pastry cup. Mix beaten egg and cream together. Season. Spoon egg mixture evenly over spinach and bacon. Carefully break open and place an egg into each cup (without breaking yolk). Sprinkle cheese over each small pie.

Place muffin pan in oven and cook for 10 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350℉ (180℃) and cook for a further 5 to 10 minutes or until cheese has melted, egg has set and pastry is a golden color.

Carefully remove pies from tin, sprinkle with snipped chives and serve, or let cool on a wire rack before taking on a picnic.

I refrigerated the pies overnight, then heated them the next day in a 300℉ oven to warm them through and crisp the pastry a little. These would be lovely served as a brunch item or with a simple green salad for a lunch. I hope to experiment a little more with other ingredients.
Take care with filo pastry as it dries out quickly and will split. Keep pastry under damp cloth until ready to use. More butter might be required for brushing pastry.

We shared the day with our lovely friends. It was SO wonderful hosting a Summer party, at home, with space for kids to run, surfaces made to soak up spills and lovely shady trees to sit under. After hosting a number of Winter parties in a two bedroom apartment with no outdoor space... it was sheer bliss!

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