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


lamb casserole with mustard dumplings

I love a slow cooked meat stew packed with vegetables, taste & earthiness and a lot of love. The secret to any good stew or casserole is time, patience and attention.
I had a fair amount of cooked leg of lamb in my freezer, which was perfect for this dish. The meat cooked slowly at a low heat in a thick beef & wine broth with a mixture of carrots, leeks & celery.
Good substitutes for the leg of lamb are lamb shoulder, stewing beef, lamb neck and even brisket.
The dumplings make the perfect accompaniment here, soaking up all that wonderful flavour and bringing that extra little something to an already perfect meal.

ingredients | serves 6 | easy
900g cooked leg of lamb (or any other cut, raw)
3T olive oil
3T butter
350ml good red wine
1 large onion, chopped
5 garlic cloves, sliced
3 carrots, sliced diagonally or 200g baby carrots
3 celery ribs, sliced diagonally
2 large leeks, halved and sliced
3T tomato puree
3T all purpose flour
3T worcester sauce
6 sprigs thyme
2T brown sugar
500ml chicken or lamb stock
1t salt
1t black pepper

dumplings
150g self raising flour
130g plain / Greek yogurt
1.5T english or dijon mustard (or a mixture)
handful parsley, finely chopped
handful chives, finely chopped
1/2t salt
1/2t black pepper

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Slice the cooked lamb to the desired size and set aside.
Alternatively, if using uncooked meat, cut it into the desired size. Heat oil in a large skillet and brown the meat all over. Remove and set aside.
Heat the olive oil & butter in a large skillet. Fry the onion until glossy. Add the carrots, celery & leeks and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the tomato puree, stir and cook for two minutes.
Now add the flour and stir through. Deglaze the skillet with the red wine and cook the mixture for about two minutes, while stirring. Tip the meat back into the skillet and stir to mix.
Add the worcester sauce, thyme, garlic, salt, pepper & brown sugar. Stir.
Pour the stock into the pot and bring the mixture to the boil.
Turn the heat down, cover with a tight fitting lid and carefully place the skillet into the preheated oven for two hours.

Meanwhile, make the dumplings.
Mix all the ingredient together to make a wet dough. Roll the dough into equal sized balls and set aside.

Carefully remove the casserole from the oven. Place the dumplings on top of the meat mixture and cover with the lid. Place the skillet back into the oven and cook for a further 20 – 25 minutes.

Garnish the dish with fresh parsley or chives or thyme leaves and serve with a side or couscous or rice.

From my kitchen to yours, with love x




pulled pork & zucchini tart – another great meal using leftover meat

I am always thinking about the next dish, using food that was left over from the previous day / evenings’ meal. I cooked a beautiful large pork belly on Sunday, which obviously cannot be devoured by only two people. Please don’t think I didn’t try.
With my very simple three ingredient shortcrust pastry that I made ahead of time on Sunday evening, this dish was on the table in almost no time at all. I often make two batches of shortcrust pastry as it freezes really well. Thus saving time when you quickly want to whip up a tart or quiche.
This is also a great way to get the kids to eat their veggies!
I don’t think there are any rules when it comes to savoury tarts. It really depends on what you like and what you have on hand. Quiche is the perfect dish for using all the vegetables that are really just lying around in your fridge and then adding an egg custard to a very simple tart shell.
Thank me later.

ingredients | 1 standard size tart | easy
for the tart shell
225g plain flour
100g butter, chopped
pinch salt
1/4c cold water

Place the flour, salt & butter into a food processor and blend until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. (You can also do this by hand by rubbing the butter into the flour until it resembles bread crumbs.)
With the processor running, slowly add the water until the dough comes together so that it can form a ball without crumbling.
(You do not have to use all of the water and can add more if necessary.)
Dust your work surface with flour and gently knead the dough by pushing it back and pulling it forward again. Repeat this for about three minutes.
Form the dough into a disc, wrap it in clingfilm and refrigerate for a minimum of 30 minutes.
Should you wish to freeze the dough, place the wrapped disc into a freezer bag or freezer container, date it and freeze for up to one month. When ready to use, thaw in the refrigerator overnight.

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C.
Dust a flat work surface and roll the pastry out to fit your tart tin. Grease a tart tin with non stick spray.
Press the dough into the tart tin and into the sides. Trim the edges with a sharp knife. Dock the pastry with a fork a few times and place a large piece of baking paper on the pastry shell. Fill the shell with uncooked rice, beans or baking weights.
Place the shell into the oven and blind bake for 12 minutes.
Remove the pastry and gently remove the baking paper and weights. Place the pastry back into the oven for a further ten minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. (Keep the tart shell in the tart tin for baking the quiche later.)

For the filling
1/2 white onion, chopped
2tbs olive oil
2tbs butter
1tsp chopped garlic
300g cooked, pulled pork or any other meat like chicken, bacon or sausages
300g zucchini, half sliced and the remaining half chopped
100g onion marmalade
1.5tsp dijon mustard
5 sprigs thyme, leaves only
100g grated parmesan (optional)
1/2tsp salt
grind of black pepper
3 large eggs
1c cream, full fat
1/2c milk, full fat

heat the oil & butter in a large skillet. Add the chopped onion and cook until glossy. Add the chopped zucchini & garlic and cook for one minute.
Add the cooked pork or your choice of protein and cook for about two minutes or longer if your meat is uncooked. (Cook until the meat is fully cooked.)
Add the thyme, salt & pepper, stir through and cook for one more minute.
Put the tart tin on an oven tray and sprinkle the base of the tart shell with the parmesan. Turn the heat of the oven up to 175 degrees C.
Break the eggs into a large jug, add the cream, dijon mustard & onion marmalade and whisk until combined well.
Spoon the meat & zucchini mixture into the tart shell. Pour the egg custard into the tart shell and very gently stir move around with a fork.
Place the sliced zucchini on top and gently, taking care not to spill the egg custard, place the tart into the oven and bake for about 30 – 35 minutes until the egg custard is set and the top has browned lightly.
Remove the tart from the oven and leave to cool for about fifteen minutes before slicing into wedges.

Serve the tart with salad or tossed, buttered greens.








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







veg packed chicken pie

food for thought – lemons float, limes sink. It all comes down to density.

what’s happening?

i was raised in a home where we were taught not to waste food and i am very thankful for that. there is so much you can do with ‘extra ingredients’ rather than just push it into the bin. it is also sometimes hard to cook for just one or two people. when i roast a whole bird i always have some leftover chicken that is perfectly suited for a pie as delicious as this one. so when you have some leftover chicken from a roast, make a chicken pie or freeze the chicken meat for a future pie. i added loads of veggies, which is cooked in the chicken stock and finished it off with a good glug of cream. for this recipe i used skinless, deboned chicken breasts that i cooked in the pressure cooker for about half hour. the end result was perfectly tender, juicy chicken breast meat, easy to pull apart.
delicious comfort food the whole family will enjoy!

ingredients | serves 6
1 roll puff pastry, room temperature
1 egg, beaten
3 skinless deboned chicken breasts, sliced and cut into small pieces
2tbs olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2tbs plain flour
2tbs butter
350g butternut, cubed
2 carrots, cut into blocks
1 1/2c mushrooms, sliced
1/2c frozen peas
2tsp paprika
4 thyme sprigs, leaves only or 1 tsp dried thyme
salt to taste
black pepper
1/2c white wine
1 1/2c chicken stock
1/4c cream
handful fresh parsley, chopped

preheat oven to 180 degrees c. grease a standard size pie dish and set aside.
in a large skillet, heat olive oil & butter together until melted and hot. add onion & garlic and sauté until translucent. brown the chicken breast pieces on all sides and add the spices, herbs & brown sugar. stir through and cook for about 1 minute. add the veggies except the peas and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. deglaze the skillet with the white wine and reduce by half. sprinkle the flour over the mixture, stir through and cook for 1 minute. slowly pour the chicken stock into the skillet while stirring.
cover and simmer on low heat for about 15 minutes. remove the lid and simmer until the mixture has reduced and thickened. add the peas, cream & parsley, stir through and cook for a further 5 minutes.
take off the heat, pour the mixture into the prepared pie dish and cool for about 15 minutes.
meanwhile, roll the pastry out on a floured surface to fit the pie dish. once the mixture has cooled slightly, cover with the pastry and press the sides down with a fork. brush the pastry with the beaten egg and bake for 25-30 minutes until the pastry is crisp and golden.
serve with white rice or creamy mashed potato and or salad.

from my kitchen to yours, with love x