Chicken Pot Pie

Pie! Pot pie! Cutie pie! Joel and I can’t  say the word “pie” without shouting it, I guess to show off our enthusiasm for pie. We sound like Cartman from South Park.

A savoury pie makes for a great one-dish meal in the winter time.  This recipe doesn’t include a homemade bottom and top short-crust because I have little patience. In effect it’s a casserole topped off with yummy puff pastry. I adapted this recipe from Martha Stewart, but have  made a considerable number of modifications, particularly in cutting down the amount of chicken and increasing the veg.

Ingredients:

  • 500 g boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 2″ chunks
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • Two carrots, peeled and sliced 1/4″ thick
  • 1 cup (approx 200 g) peeled and cubed sweet potato (or parsnip, turnip, swede, etc.)
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large leek, washed and trimmed (white and light green parts only), split lengthwise and chopped roughly
  • 2-3 shallots, peeled and chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon each thyme & rosemary*
  • 2 TB all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp paprika (I use pimentón de la Vera)
  • black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 300 ml semi-skim (1%) milk
  • 1 cacito de caldo de pollo (or 1 chicken stock cube)
  • 2 cups frozen peas
  • 1 TB fresh lemon juice
  • 1 package masa de hojaldre (puff pastry)

* I have rosemary and thyme plants, so I used a sprig of each (stem removed and coarsely chopped) but dried works just fine. You can even use 1/2 tsp of herbs de provence.

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 200ºC/400ºF. Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the chicken and brown lightly on all sides. When the chicken is browned add the chopped onion, leek, shallots, herbs, spices, carrots and potatoes. Sauté until the carrots are crisp tender, about 8-10 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring for 1 minute. (The flour will become pasty like a roux.) Gradually add the milk, stirring until the mixture is smooth. Add the frozen peas and stock cube, and then cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mix starts to thicken.

Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice. Pour mix into a 8×8 square casserole dish or a deep round pie plate. Unroll the puff pastry and lay over the top of the chicken and veg mixture. Don’t worry if there’s excess pastry that flops over the side of the casserole dish – the pastry will contract as it bakes. Prick the pastry in a couple of places with a fork so that steam can escape.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden and bubbling. Let the potpie set for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Servings: Four. 540 calories, approx.

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Lemon Poppy Seed Pancakes & Earl Grey Syrup

Do you detect a theme? Pound cake, pancakes – I bought a kilo of lemons and a big bag of poppy seeds, you’ve got to use them up somehow! These pancakes are pretty straight forward. I adapted them from this recipe, cutting it in half and making some minor substitutions. It’s the perfect brunch recipe. The pancakes are delish but a big gold star goes to the pancake syrup. I thought a subtle Earl Grey flavour would go wonderfully with lemon-infused pancakes, and indeed it made a for a delightful pairing.

For some reason the cat was at the table begging while we were eating the pancakes, we had to explain to him that cats don’t eat pancakes. I don’t think he believed us.

Ingredients:

  • 1 TB brown sugar
  • 1 TB lemon zest
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 125 ml (one pot) natural yogurt
  • 100 ml milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 TB fresh lemon juice
  • 2 TB sunflower oil
  • 1 TB poppy seeds
  • butter or sunflower oil for frying
  • Optional: 1 cup fresh or defrosted berries – if you use the berries increase flour by 1 TB
  • Earl Grey maple syrup*

Instructions:

In a mortar or small heavy bowl combine sugar and lemon zest.  Use the pestle (or a spoon) to grind the sugar and lemon zest together until sugar is fragrant.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Stir in the lemon sugar.  Set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk together yogurt, milk, eggs, vanilla extract, lemon juice and sunflower oil.  Pour the wet ingredients all at once into the dry ingredients.  Add the poppy seeds and stir to combine, don’t worry if the batter has a few lumps. (If you’re adding berries gently fold them in at this point.) Let the batter rest for 10 minutes while the griddle heats.

Place a griddle or a nonstick frying pan over medium heat.  Add a bit of butter or sunflower oil to the pan. Dollop batter (about 1/3 cup) onto hot griddle/pan.  Cook until golden brown on the bottom and and bubbling on top.  Flip once and cook until golden brown on each side.

Place cooked pancakes on an oven-proof plate and place in a warm (about 70ºC/160ºF) oven until all pancakes are cooked and ready to serve.  Serve with butter and warm Earl Grey maple syrup.

*Earl Grey maple syrup: Steep a bag of Earl Grey tea in 3/4 cup of boiling water. Let it steep for at least 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, so that the tea is very strong. Then, in a small sauce pan add the tea, 1 1/2 cups of brown sugar and 1 TB butter. Bring to a low boil, stirring occasionally (keep an eye on it so it doesn’t boil over!) for 2 minutes. Take off heat and stir in 1 tsp of maple extract. If you can’t find maple extract vanilla extract works nicely as well. Serve warm – syrup will also keep in a sealed container in the fridge for up to three days.

Servings: Two (4 five-inch pancakes per serving). 442 calories per serving.