leftover chicken & veg packed pocket pies

It is hard cooking for two (and a little 1 year old) and not have any leftovers. Especially with dishes like roasts. In our industry we waste nothing and so i recycled the chicken meat for these lovely, tasty puff pies. They are so easy to make and are a great way to sneak vegetables in for the kids.
These pocket pies freeze really well so i usually make a whole batch, freeze them, and then bag them for later use. Simply pop them into a hot oven straight from the freezer and you have a great lunch or light dinner when time is of the essence. The size of the pies depends on yourself. I used a fairly small tea saucer to cut out my rounds but you can use a side plate or any other round mould.
Grated cheese is another ingredient that works well in these pies although i did not add it this time.

ingredients | makes about 10 – 12 | easy
2C chicken, deboned and roughly chopped
2T olive oil
2T butter, & extra if needed
1 onion, chopped
1t crushed garlic
2 medium zucchini, grated
1 large carrot, grated
2C mushrooms, sliced
1C frozen peas & corn mix
2T flour
1C chicken stock
1/4C cream
5 sprigs thyme, leaves only
salt to taste
black pepper
2 rolls puff pastry, thawed
1 egg, beaten
flour for dusting

how to do it
In a large skillet, heat olive oil & butter and sauté the onion until it has a nice gloss and is almost tender. Add the sliced mushrooms the pan & an extra tablespoon of butter. Cook for about five minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a minute, while stirring.
Add the grated carrot & zucchini and cook for about two minutes. Stir the flour through the mixture, cook for one minute and pour the stock into the skillet.
Allow the mixture to simmer for about five minutes until reduced and thickened. Add the chopped chicken and fresh thyme, stir it through and cook for a further five minutes.
Pour the cream into the skillet and add the pea & corn mix. Stir and cook for five minutes more. Season with salt & pepper.

You don’t want a very wet mixture so ensure you cook and simmer the mixture enough to allow the juices to evaporate.

Set the mixture aside to cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, place the first batch of pastry on a lightly floured surface. Roll the pastry out, extending it by about 2 – 3cm on each side. Using a small plate, cut out circles and place it onto a floured baking tray.
Repeat this until you have used all of the pastry.
Now spoon the mixture onto the centre of each pastry round, taking care not to overfill the pastry. Lightly brush the egg around the edges and press one side down on the other side.
Press a fork into flour and gently press around the edges of the pastry to seal the pocket.
Using a sharp knife, make little incisions in the top of the pastry to allow steam to escape while it bakes.
Brush the pocket pies with the beaten egg and place the tray into the freezer. Freeze overnight. You can bag the pies and mark it with the date and ingredients.
Once ready to use the pies, heat the oven to 180 degrees C. Place the pies into the hot oven on a baking tray and bake until the pastry is beautifully crispy and browned.
Serve the pies with a garden salad and homemade mayonnaise.

From my kitchen to yours, with love x

leftover leg of lamb – open lasagna of lamb & mushroom

I do not waste anything in the kitchen. Quite honestly, no good Chef wastes any food produce. And minimal waste equals great saving. Simply freeze items in freezer friendly containers or resealable freezer bags, name and date it and safely reuse it in the not so distant future. Easy.
I had some leftover leg of lamb from Sundays’ roast and since pasta is another one of my secret romances, last night was undoubtedly pasta night in my home. Use whatever meat you prefer or may have tucked away in your freezer. Or fry some bacon or sausage, like chorizo and add it to the dish. Even leftover oxtail will make an amazing alternative to the lamb.
There is great effort in making a lasagna…a good lasagna, that is. So this is my take of a lazy lasagna when I actually don’t have the time to make all of the elements to the traditional lasagna we all love so much.

ingredients | serves 4 | easy
10 lasagna sheets
2tbs olive oil
700g leftover lamb (or any other red meat that you would like to use)
3tbs olive oil
3tbs butter
1 punnet wild mushrooms, halved
4 leeks, washed and sliced at an angle
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 white onion, quartered
1.5c cream (full fat)
1c beef stock/broth
8 sprigs thyme, leaves only
2 sprigs rosemary, leaves chopped
1/4c brandy
1tsp dried oregano
1/2tsp salt
black pepper
parmesan (garnish)
fresh chives, garnish
handful fresh parsley, chopped
150g creme fraiche

how to
run water in a large pot and add two tablespoons of olive oil & salt. set aside.
heat the two tablespoons olive oil & 2 tablespoon butter in a large skillet / pan and fry the mushrooms until just cooked. about five minutes. set aside.
in the same skillet, add the remaining one tablespoon olive oil & one tablespoon butter. sauté the onion & garlic until translucent. add the brandy and cook until the alcohol has evaporated, about two minutes. (or flambé if you feel gutsy.)
add the herbs (thyme, rosemary oregano) & the leeks and cook for one minute. add the beef stock and mushrooms and cook until reduced by almost half and slightly thickened. about five minutes.
pour the cream into the mixture and cook for about three minutes. turn down the heat and get on with the meat and the lasagna sheets.
bring the pot of salted water to the boil. add the lasagna sheets one by one and give it a gentle stir. cook for about 8 minutes.
using tongs, pick the sheets out of the water directly into the cream mixture, twisting the sheets to sit, folded, in the creamy sauce, making space for all then sheets. (the starchy water will give a beautiful shine to your sauce.)
in a separate pan, heat a little olive oil and toss the meat until warmed through and slightly crispy on the outside.
turn the heat of the cream mixture on a low simmer and very gently move the lasagna around so to cover it with the sauce.
once warmed through, garnish with the chopped chives and parsley and liberally top with parmesan shavings.
top the lasagna with the meat or serve the meat separately.

from my kitchen to yours, with love x

dinner for one – creamy chicken pasta

i sometimes have to cook for myself only and this can prove to be quite challenging. however, since i do some meal prep when i have the opportunity, things are simplified. whenever i buy chicken breast, i buy in bulk. this way i can cook a meal for lunch or dinner and roast the remaining breasts for future meals. and this is exactly how it played out last night. i had thawed a chicken breast overnight and turned it into a very easy, delicious pasta. my favourite staple.

ingredients | serves 2
1 cooked chicken breast, sliced or chopped
linguine pasta, cooked according to package instructions
4tbs butter
drizzle olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2c mushrooms, sliced
1tsp fresh thyme leaves (or dry if you don’t have fresh thyme)
1/4c white wine
1/2c chicken stock
1/2c cream
black pepper
pinch chilli flakes
fresh parsley, torn
parmesan cheese
truffle oil (optional)

in a skillet, heat the butter & olive oil and sauté the onion & garlic together until translucent. add the mushrooms to the onion mixture, stir through and cook for about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. add the white wine and reduce by half. add the thyme leaves, chilli flakes, chicken & chicken stock and cook until reduced by a little more than half. taste and season with salt & pepper.
(meanwhile, cook the pasta.)
stir the cream through the mushroom mixture and reduce until thickened. add 1/2 (half) a ladle of the pasta water to the chicken & mushroom mixture and stir through. tip the drained pasta into the mixture and mix through until combined.
top with the fresh parsley and grated or shaved parmesan and a few drops of truffle oil.

from my kitchen to yours, with love x

Baked chicken & mushroom pancakes

This was a “what I have in my kitchen” meal and it turned out really great! There are certain things I just always have in my pantry like flour, canned tomato, pasta, baking ingredients and so on, which makes things like pancakes fairly easy. And what I love about pancakes is that you can serve them sweet or savoury, rolled or folded, flavoured or plain, for breakfast or lunch…the list goes on! Use any vegetables you have on hand as a filling or the left over chicken or lamb of last night. There really are so many fillings that will make this quick meal a memorable one!

Ingredients (I got 6 pancakes out)
1 C Flour
1/2 Tsp salt
1 Tsp Baking powder
1 C Milk
2 Eggs
Non-stick spray
2 Chicken Breasts (I had chicken leftover from a roast)
1/2 Yellow onion, quartered
2 Garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 Punnet button mushrooms
1/3 C Canned chopped tomato
1/2 Tsp Brown sugar
Thyme leaves
Cottage cheese (I used smooth cottage cheese)
1 C Cheddar cheese
1 C Mozarella
1C Yogurt
1/4 Cucumber, cut into blocks
Juice of 1/2 lemon

How to do it
Preheat oven to 190 degrees. Mix yogurt, cucumber & lemon juice together and season with salt & pepper. Set aside.
Sift dry ingredients for the pancakes. Add the wet ingredients and mix well with a handheld mixer. Heat a little olive oil and butter in a pan and sauté onions & garlic until translucent. Add mushrooms and toss until just cooked. Add the chicken & tomato and stir. Simmer for about 4 minutes. Add brown sugar, salt & pepper and stir through. Simmer for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
Grease a skillet with non-stick. Pour about 1/4 C of the batter into the skillet, swirl to cover pan and cook for about 2 minutes before flipping over. Cook for a further 30 seconds. Repeat until you have used all the batter. Using a knife, spread cottage cheese onto pancakes and top with a little bit of grated cheese. Add chicken mixture and roll the pancakes tightly. Trim the ends of the pancakes and place into an oven-proof dish that was greased with non-stick. Bake in the oven until cheese has darkened in colour. Serve topped with coriander leaves and yogurt & cucumber sauce.

From my kitchen to yours, with love x

Venison sausage & veg one pot wonder

Instead of shopping daily for more dinner ingredients that end up sitting in your cupboard or fridge, I like to cook from my fridge / freezer at least 4 times a week. You will be amazed at what dishes you can come up with, given the amount of produce we have on hand! Venison is a healthy meat and the sausage in this recipe was given to us by a friend who went on a hunting trip. The perfect accompaniment to this one pot wonder.
Beef, lamb or a vegetarian sausage will work just as well.
For a great carb clever dish, packed with goodness, earthy flavours & root veggies, this is the dish for you! A large skillet of absolute deliciousness that can be served with “mieliepap,” which is an old South-African favourite that goes really well with meat, traditionally sausage. I served pearl barley as the side dish but other great alternatives will be polenta or mashed potato.
In my home, we try to cut out carbs where and when we can. Not the easiest task as I have a secret love affair with bread, potatoes and pastry! I did miss a creamy, buttery mash with this dish last night…

Ingredients (Serves 4)
Venison sausage, 8 pieces
3 Tbs Olive oil
1 Large red onion, quartered
4 Garlic cloves, sliced
1/2 Butternut, cubed
3 Sweet potatoes, peeled & cubed
1 Aubergine, cubed
2 Large zucchini, sliced
3 Tbs tomato paste
2 Large tomatoes, chopped
1 Can chopped tomato
Fresh thyme, leaves only
2 Rosemary sprigs
2 Tbs Paprika
1/2 Tsp chili flakes
1/2 Tsp Cayenne pepper
150ml Beef stock
1/2 C Red wine
2 Tbs Brown sugar
Black pepper
Fresh parsley to garnish
2 Tsp Corn flour (Optional)
Dash of water

How to do it
Preheat oven to 190 degrees. Heat a little olive oil in the skillet and brown the sausage. Set aside. Using the same skillet, heat the olive oil and add onions & garlic. Saute for 2 minutes. Add tomato paste, paprika, chilli flakes, cayenne pepper, rosemary & thyme, stir through and saute for 2 minutes. Add the vegetables and stir through. Add the chopped tomato, canned tomato, red wine & beef stock. Stir and simmer on low for 5 minutes. Season with brown sugar, salt & pepper.
Nestle the sausage amongst the veggies and place the skillet in the preheated oven. Bake for an hour, turning sausages once and stirring sauce. If the sauce looks a bit watery, mix the corn flour with a little water to make it just pourable and pour into two sides of the skillet half way through cooking. Stir through and bake for the remainder 30 minutes.
Garnish with parsley and serve with your choice of starch or garlic ciabatta.