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Chicken, Ham & Leek Pie

We love a chicken pie, particularly with sweet leeks and a rich creamy sauce.

Wine Suggestion: the classic suggestion, and our first thought, was to drink a lighter chardonnay with this, but we found a great alternative in the Salwey Weissburgunder “RS” which is a Pinot Blanc from Baden in Germany. An amazing wine with lovely fruit and a texture that holds it all together giving it a long finish and makes a good match with the creamy sauce and pastry. Every time we taste this wine we are impressed and think it is one to put Pinot Blanc back on the wine drinkers lists.

Chicken, Ham & Leek Pie – serves 4

For the filling: 

  • 450ml chicken stock
  • 3 chicken breasts fillets
  • 75g butter
  • 2 leeks, cut into 1cm slices
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 50g plain flour
  • 200ml milk
  • 2-3 tbsp white wine
  • 150ml double cream
  • 150g piece thickly carved ham, cut into 2cm chunks

For the pastry: 

  • 350g plain flour
  • 200g butter
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp cold water, plus an additional egg, beaten, to glaze

Heat the chicken stock in a saucepan. Add the chicken breasts and bring a gentle simmer. Cover with a lid and cook for 10 minutes. Remove the chicken breasts and set aside, then pour the stock into a jug.

Melt 25g of the butter in a large heavy-based saucepan over a low heat. Stir in the chopped leeks and fry gently for a couple of minutes, stirring now and then, until softened. Add the garlic and continue to cook for another minute, then set aside. Add the rest of the butter and stir in the flour as soon as it has melted. Cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly.

Slowly add the milk to the pan, stirring well between each addition. Then gradually add 250ml of the reserved stock and the wine until the sauce is smooth and slightly thickened. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 3 minutes.

Season the sauce, remove from the heat and stir in the cream. Pour into a large bowl and cover with cling film to stop a skin forming on the top. Set aside until cool.

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6 and put a baking tray into heat.

To make the pastry, put the flour and butter into a food processor and pulse until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs. Keep the motor running while you add the beaten egg with water and blend until the mixture comes together in a ball. Carefully remove from the processor and set aside about 250g of the pastry to make your lid.

Roll the remaining pastry out on a lightly floured surface, turning frequently until about 5mm thick and larger than your pie dish. Lift the pastry over your rolling pin and gently place into the pie dish. Press firmly up the sides of the dish and make sure no air bubbles remain. Leave the excess pastry hanging over the sides.

Cut the cooked chicken into 3cm pieces. Stir the chicken, ham & leeks into the cooled sauce, then pour into the pie dish. Brush the rim of the dish with beaten egg and roll out the reserved pastry to make a lid.

Cover the pie with the pastry lid and press the edges together firmly to seal. Trim off any excess pastry.

Make a small hole in the centre of the pie with the tip of a knife. Glaze the top with beaten egg. Bake on the hot baking tray in the centre of the oven for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown and piping hot.

(Original recipe from The Hairy Bikers’ Best of British).

Honey, orange blossom and pistachio ice-cream

This is hedonistically rich and full of flavour; Jono thought it was devine and Julie thought it was all a bit much. A conversation piece at least to end your next Middle Eastern feast.

Pistachio, Honey & Orange Blossom Ice Cream – 4-6

  • 200g pistachios
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 600ml full-fat milk
  • 600ml double cream
  • 3 tbsp clear honey
  • 200ml orange blossom water
  • 400ml unsweetened evaporated milk
  • finely grated rind of 2 oranges

Whizz 150g of the pistachios with the sugar in a food processor until finely ground.

Put the milk, cream, honey, orange blossom water and the pistachio mixture in a saucepan and bring to a gentle boil. Simmer gently for 20-25 minutes or until reduced by a quarter. Keep stirring to prevent it boiling over. Set aside and leave to cool.

Chop the remaining pistachios. Add the evaporated milk to the cooled mixture and stir in the grated orange rind and chopped pistachios. Mix well, then chill in the fridge overnight (or for a minimum of 2 hours).

Pour the chilled mixture into an ice cream machine and churn for 25-30 minutes. If you don’t have an ice cream machine, pour the mixture into a large shallow container and freeze for 2 hours. Remove the container from the freezer and fork through to break down the ice crystals, then freeze again until firm.

(Original recipe from Persiana by Sabrina Ghayour, Mitchell Beazley, 2014.)

 

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A classic recipe that we always find full of flavour and very satisfying. A good veggie dish for a cold night.

Spinach & ricotta cannelloni – serves 4

  • 60g butter, plus a bit extra
  • 300g spinach
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 425g ricotta cheese, drained
  • ½ tsp grated nutmeg
  • 16 dried cannelloni tubes
  • 45g plain flour
  • 450ml whole milk
  • 40g Grana Padano cheese (or use Parmesan)

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.

Grease a medium-sized, shallow, oven-proof dish with a little butter.

Bring a large pan, containing 1cm depth of water, to the boil, add the spinach, and stir until wilted. Drain and press out the excess water, then chop.

Melt 15g of the butter in a medium pan and sauté the garlic for a couple of minutes. Stir in the spinach and season well. Take off the heat and stir in the ricotta cheese and nutmeg. Fill the cannelloni with the spinach mixture and arrange the tubes in a single layer in your buttered dish (use both ends of a teaspoon to help fill the tubes).

Meanwhile, melt the remaining 45g of butter in a large pan. Whisk in the flour over a low heat and cook for a couple of minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and gradually whisk in the milk. Return to the heat and cook, stirring, until thickened.

Reduce the heat to low and continue to cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season the sauce generously with salt and pepper and pour over the filled cannelloni tubed. Sprinkle the cheese over the top, place on a baking tray and bake for 30 minutes.

(Original recipe from Family Kitchen Cookbook by Caroline Bretherton, DK, 2013.)

Thai-styled stir-fried minced beef

A tasty mid-week supper full of zip, flavour and freshness. This is low in calories and a very easy way to perk up minced beef.

Thai-style stir-fried minced beef – serves 4

  • 100g broccoli florets, cut very small
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • bunch of scallions, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3cm piece of fresh root ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped coriander stalks, plus a handful of coriander leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 400g minced beef
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • steamed rice, to serve

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and blanch the broccoli florets for 1 minutes, then drain and refresh under cold water.

Heat the oil in a wok or deep frying pan. Add the scallions, garlic, ginger, coriander stalks, and chilli, and fry for a couple of minutes or until starting to colour.

Add the beef and continue to fry over a  high heat until it is well browned.

Add the broccoli, fish sauce, soy sauce, lime and sugar. Mix well and continue to cook for another couple of minutes or until the broccoli is hot. Stir in the coriander leaves and serve immediately with some steamed rice.

(Original recipe from Family Kitchen Cookbook by Caroline Bretherton, DK, 2013.)

Comfort Food Chilli

Chilli with Chickpeas

We’ve tried loads of recipe for Chilli Con Carne. This is a good hearty version and we loved the addition of chickpeas and plenty of spice. Perfect for a cold night!

Wine Suggestion: Go juicy, red and with a bit of spice; youthful Cotes du Rhone would work, but so would other Grenache based wines such as a Spanish Garnacha. Alternately think Primitivo or Zinfandel but make sure the wine you choose isn’t too big as extra tannins might fight the spice in the Chilli; juicy is best here with depth and personality. Our choice was a Lirac from Domaine Joncier – their “le Gourmand”, which had juicy plum flavours, hints of mocha, a touch of rosemary and warm velvety spices.

Chilli Con Carne – serves 6

  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 sticks of celery, finely chopped
  • 2 red peppers, deseeded and roughly chopped
  • olive oil
  • 1 heaped tsp of chilli powder
  • 1 heaped tsp of ground cumin
  • 1 heaped tsp of ground cinnamon
  • 1 x 400g tin of chickpeas, drained
  • 1 x 400g tin of red kidney beans, drained
  • 2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 500g minced beef
  • small bunch of coriander, leaves picked and stalks chopped
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • rice or baked potatoes to serve
  • natural yoghurt and/or guacamole to serve
  • lime wedges to serve

Heat about 1 tbsp of the olive oil in a large casserole and add the onions, garlic, carrots, celery and red peppers.

Add the chilli powder, cumin and cinnamon and season well with salt and pepper.

Cook, stirring regularly, for about 7 minute or until the vegetables are softened and lightly coloured.

Add the chickpeas, kidney beans and tinned tomatoes.

Next add the mince, breaking it up with a wooden spoon.

Fill one of the empty tomato tins with water and add this to the pan too along with the chopped coriander stalks, the balsamic vinegar and some more salt and pepper.

Bring to the boil and turn the heat down to a simmer and cook, partially covered, for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then, take the lid off and cook for a further 15 minutes. Add a splash of water at any stage if it starts to dry out.

Serve with rice or a baked potato and some yoghurt or guacamole and lime wedges.

(Original recipe from Jamie’s Ministry of Food by Jamie Oliver, Michael Joseph, 2008.)

crab & chilli risotto

We’d been eyeing this recipe up for a while and when we stumbled across some really good crab meat we had our excuse to make it. It was luxurious and delicious as we expected.

Wine suggestion: Go for a rich white like an oaked Chardonnay, which will also have a good freshness and texture to balance the rich risotto. Our choice was the Rustenberg Chardonnay from Stellenbosch in South Africa which never lets us down.

Crab & chilli risotto  – serves 2

  • 1 litre light chicken stock
  • ¼ tsp saffron threads
  • 2 garlic cloves, bashed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 scallions, finely sliced
  • 1 fresh red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
  • 200g risotto rice
  • 75ml dry white wine or vermouth
  • 100g brown crabmeat
  • 100g white crabmeat
  • zest and juice of ½ a lemon, plus wedges to serve
  • 50g rocket

Heat up the stock, add the saffron threads and keep hot over a low heat.

Heat the oil in a heavy-based pan (which you have a lid for) and add the bashed garlic cloves. Leave to sizzle for a couple of minutes, then remove and discard the garlic. Add the scallions and most of the red chilli and cook over a medium-low heat, stirring, for about a minute.

Turn up the heat and stir in the rice so that the grains become coated in the oil.

Add the white wine/vermouth and let it bubble up until it has been absorbed. Add a ladleful of stock and cook, stirring, until it has been absorbed.

Turn the heat down and continue to stir and add ladlefuls of stock, allowing each one to be absorbed before adding another. After about 18 minutes the stock should have all been absorbed and the rice should be al dente.

Remove the pan from the heat and add the crab and the lemon zest and juice, then season. Add the rocket, cover with the lid, and let stand for a minute.

Serve the risotto with the remaining chilli over the top and a squeeze of lemon.

(Original recipe from Nigellissima by Nigella Lawson, Chatto & Windus, 2012.)

Chiang Mai Turkey Noodles

We really meant to post this recipe before now, but we’re sure some of you still have a bit of turkey lurking in the freezer. Such a revitalising boost to the tastebuds after all the Christmas feasts. If the turkey is all done then try this the next time you have leftover roast chicken. Tone down the curry paste if you’re not so mad on the heat. The recipe comes from our obligatory Christmas cookbook which this year was ‘Food from Plenty’, by Diana Henry, and we highly recommend it!

Chiang Mai turkey noodles – serves 4 

  • groundnut or other flavourless oil
  • 1 onion or 6 shallots, sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tbsp red Thai curry paste
  • 400ml tin coconut milk
  • 200ml chicken stock (from a cube or stock pot is fine)
  • 350g leftover cooked turkey or chicken, in chunks
  • ½ tsp soft light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • juice of ½ lime
  • 400g egg noodles

To Serve:

  • 2 scallions, chopped fine on the diagonal
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and shredded
  • 2 tbsp chopped coriander
  • lime wedges

Put a tbsp of the oil into a saucepan and sauté the onions until golden. Add the garlic and cook for another couple of minutes, then add the turmeric and curry paste. Stir for about a minute or until the spices are fragrant. Add the coconut milk and stock and bring to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes.

Add the turkey and heat thoroughly.

Season with the sugar and fish sauce to taste (you may need to adjust the amount of lime/sugar).

Cook the noodles according to the pack. Divide between 4 bowls and spoon over the turkey and garnish with scallions, chilli and coriander. Serve lime wedges on the side.

(Original recipe from Food from Plenty by Diana Henry, Mitchel Beazley, 2010.)

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