Chicken and ham filo pie

Chicken and ham filo pie

There’s nothing more comforting on a colder day than a homemade pie. There’s just something about the hearty filling and crisp pastry which makes it a favourite in our household (and across Yorkshire). Filo pastry makes this slightly lighter and less calorific than your average pie without compromising on the pie. I had to bat D’s hands away when I was photographing this as he kept stealing pieces of filo pastry to eat. Chicken pies are also a great way to use up leftover cooked chicken and to use cheaper bits of meal, I tend to use boneless chicken thighs in pies are the meat doesn’t dry out during cooking.

To make a filo pie you will need:

Approx 6 sheets of filo pastry

20g butter

6-8 filleted chicken thighs, cut into small pieces

1-2 handfuls leftover chicken (optional)

A large handful of cooked ham

1 onion, diced

2 leeks, sliced

1 clove garlic, crushed

Half a head of brocoli

200ml chicken stock

1/2 glass white wine

2 sprigs rosemary

Salt and pepper

1 large teaspoon low fat crème fraîche

Fry your onion, garlic and leeks on a medium heat until soft. Add your chicken, salt and pepper and cook for about 5 minutes until the chicken starts to look pretty much cooked. Add the ham, stock, wine and rosemary and cook for a further 10 minutes on a low to medium heat. Cut your brocoli into small pieces and cook for about 2 minutes (too much longer and it will be squishy in the pie). Take the filling off the heat and stir through the crème fraîche.

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During this time preheat your oven to 180°C. Put your pie filling into a pie dish. To top your pie brush a thin layer of butter over your filo pastry, then scrunch up the pastry so that it partially covers the pie. Repeat until the whole pie is covered.

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Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes. Here is my pie baking in my brand new oven! (Major household appliance excitement!)

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Once the pastry looks crispy and golden remove from the oven and serve. This pie is extremely pretty and doesn’t take too long. Perfect for those nights when you want to make a bit of effort, but you also sort of want to sit in your slippers watching tv.

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What’s your favourite kind of pie?

Goats cheese, ham and rosemary tart

Goats cheese, ham and rosemary tart

IMG_0607 So at the risk of sounding like a broken, pastry obsessed, record; tarts are pretty standard weeknight fare for us. Although pastry is not particularly healthy I feel that the amount of vegetables makes up for this somewhat. Anyway, this is perfect for when you fancy something delicious in less that 30 minutes.

To make ham, goats cheese and rosemary tart you will need:

1 puff pastry sheet (or 1 block of puff pastry)

1 -2 large handfuls fresh spinach

About 10g butter

3 eggs

A splash of milk

Salt and pepper

1 sprig fresh rosemary

1 handful ham (I used Yorkshire ham)

2/3 courgette

Approx 100g goats cheese

Preheat your oven to 180°C. Roll out your pastry to the size of your baking tray and use a fork to pierce holes in it. Melt the butter and brush over the pastry. Cover with the spinach and use a peeler to make thin slices of courgette over the tart. Tear your ham and rosemary into small pieces and scatter over the tart. Beat your eggs and milk and pour over the tart. Cut your cheese into small pieces (about 1cm) and top your tart with this along with the salt and pepper. Bake the tart for 20-25 minutes or until the pastry is golden and crisped up.

Ferrero Rocher Tart

This is one of those post festive period posts that feels a little late to the party. I ended up making this dessert when we had friends round on New Years Eve and its one that’s a little bit special. All the chocolate makes this a pretty decadent dessert – it’s actually a bit of a rehash of the  Chocolate and salted caramel hazelnut tart I made last year as the chocolate pastry and basic ganache recipe is pretty much the same. The praline in the Ferrero Rocher goes well with the chocolate and pecan nuts in the ganache. I must admit though, although the chocolate pastry is pretty difficult to work with, overall this recipe is easier than the original (both are good for a special occasion, this one is better if you’re pushed for time).

This time I made my pastry using my food processor as it is less time consuming. If you want to make the pastry by hand, there are instructions in the original recipe.

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“Monsier Ambassador you are really spoiling us with these Ferrero Rocher”

To make your own Ferrero Rocher Tart you will need

For the pastry

175g butter

75g caster sugar

2 egg yolks

250g plain flour

20g cocoa powder

35ml water

For the ganache

200g good quality dark chocolate (I used a mixture of 70% and 85%)

200ml double cream

200g soft brown sugar

70g chopped pecan nuts

For the topping

Approx 16 Ferrero Rocher

Chop your butter into small pieces and add to your food processor along with the caster sugar. Mix thoroughly – keep scraping the sides while using the food processor to make sure everything is evenly mixed. Add the egg yolks and water and mix well. Then gradually add the flour and cocoa powder. Once your pastry has come together gather into a large ball, wrap in cling film and put in the fridge or freezer for an hour until the dough is firm.

Roll out the pastry on a floured surface to a half cm thickness and line a loose bottomed tart tin or cake tin. Leave the pastry to rest again in the fridge for a few minutes. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Bake your pastry lined with baking beans for 20 minutes and blind for a further 6 – 10 minutes.

While your pastry is cooling make your ganache by heating your sugar and cream and allowing to simmer for 2 minutes. Take off the heat and melt in your dark chocolate. Allow to cool slightly and add your chopped pecan nuts. Top your pastry with the chocolate ganache and leave to cool – the ganache will thicken as it does so.

Half your Ferrero Rocher and decorate your tart. I did this at random and added the crumbs I made while chopping the chocolates, but if you want you can eat these (nobody will know!).

This tart works very well with cream, ice cream or creme fraiche – D prefers his served on its own. We ate slices of this after approximately 3 hours of drinking and playing games so you can imagine the high spirits going on.

If anyone wants to see the old advert for Ferrero Rocher click here.

What to do with leftover roast chicken – chicken, bacon and leek pie

Buying a whole chicken and using it to make different dishes is so much more economical than buying, say, individual packs of chicken breasts. Whether you joint your chicken and use it that way, or cook if first and use the leftovers to make different things you cannot deny that is works out cheaper (and sometimes the brown meat just works better in some things).

This pie recipe can be knocked up in around 45 minutes with minimal effort and is incredibly tasty. I made this for my boyfriend and every time my back was turned he couldn’t resist having a bit more pie.

To make your own pie you will need:

1 pack puff pastry

A knob of butter

1 onion

2 leeks

Approx 200g streaky bacon diced

Around 1/2 a small cooked chicken, it depends on the size of the bird, cut into small pieces

2 teaspoons cornflour

150ml chicken stock

1 tablespoon low fat mascarpone or creme fraiche

 

Peel and slice your leek and onions and fry in your butter until soft.

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Add your bacon and fry for a couple of minutes and then add your cooked chicken for another couple of minutes.

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Add your chicken stock and allow to reduce for about 5 minutes. Add your cornflour and mix well. The sauce should have chickened by now.

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Stir in your mascarpone/creme fraiche once your chicken sauce mixture has thickened and add to your pie dish.

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Roll out your pastry and use this to top the pie. Remember to add steam holes to the pie and decorate the pie as you wish. Beat your egg and use this to glaze your pie.

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Bake in a 180°C oven for about 20-25 minutes until the pastry is golden brown. Serve with the vegetables of your choice – we had this with green beans and brocoli.

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If you have any leftovers these can be taken to work (or your partner’s work) to be eaten while watched by envious pie admirers.

Two tarts perfect for the Summer – Lemon Tart and Easy Fruit Tart

I seem to gone on a bit of a pastry bender over the last few weeks. Forgive me – but tarts of all kind are perfect summer foods. The Company Sophie Conran who make some exquisite stuff very kindly sent me some products to review.

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The most adorable mini chopping board and oven glove. Having used cheap plastic chopping boards for so long it is wonderful to finally have something so beautiful and tactile. It also works well to serve things on in what my Aunt calls a “bit of everything” meal. I will definitely be buying more from this range in the future. The oven glove is such a sunny colour; I thought it would look put me in an instantly sunny mood while I was making my first tart (the lemon one).

Anyway, as the pastry recipe makes 2 things I froze half of the pastry and made a red fruit tart exactly a fortnight later.

To make your tarts you will need:

For the pastry

500g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

140g icing sugar

250g unsalted butter, frozen and grated

4 egg yolks

1 – 2 tbsp cold water

(Makes 2 tarts, at least)

For 1 lemon tart filling

5 eggs

140g caster sugar

150ml double cream

The juice and zest of 2 big lemons

For the fruit tart filling

Your favourite soft fruits

1/4 of a pomegranate

250g marscapone (I used lighter marscapone)

Runny honey

Vanilla paste or a vanilla pod

 

Grate your butter and add to your icing sugar and flour. Either use your hands to rub together or whizz up in your food processor.

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Add your egg yolks and whizz up again. If the mixture isn’t binding very well add the water.

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Separate your pastry into two. Chill one in cling film for an hour and freeze the other for another day (or chill it and make 2 tarts at once!)

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Roll out your pastry and put it in your tart tin without trimming and chill again for half an hour. Press the pastry into the sides and trim it to size. Preheat the oven to 160°C. Prick your pastry with a fork.

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Bake the pastry for 10 minutes with baking beans and 20 minutes without. While this is baking make your lemon mixture by whisking together all the ingredients but the lemon zest. Sieve this and then add the zest. Add the lemon mixture to your tart and bake for a further 30 minutes.

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The oven glove in action

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Allow to cool and serve chilled. Dust with icing sugar before serving.

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To make the fruit tart roll out your pastry following the instructions above. Preheat the oven to 160°C. Bake the pastry for 20 minutes when lined with baking beans and 15 minutes without the beans.

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While your pastry base is cooling make your creamy base by mixing together the marscarpone with your vanilla pod or 1 tsp vanilla paste. Add your runny honey to taste (I used approx 1 tbsp). Spread this generously across the pastry.

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Oh honey, you’re so fine
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What cheese should you use to hide a horse? Mascarpone

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Prepare your fruits and arrange them across your tart in a charming yet casual way (ha!)

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Serve with whatever you choose – I like it on its own but cream, sorbet or ice cream are all delicious with it.

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There’s still time to enter my giveaway below if you like. But mostly I hope you attempt your own tarts if you fancy.

 

Also a massive thank you to Sophie Conran for sending me these product to review (which actually arrived on my birthday!). I loved them both and I found the single oven glove especially useful when I was trying to do several things at once in the kitchen. Also both have really brightened up my kitchen! I am a fan.

To purchase the exact oven glove and chopping board I was sent click on the links provided. The rest of the chopping boards in the set are definitely on my wishlist.

Tomato, feta and filo tart

I don’t know why filo pastry makes pastry based goodies look so much prettier; but I think it does. It also works well in this recipe as it is light and an excellent carrier of the different flavours of tomatoes and feta. My mother used to make a similar tart from her French cookery book (which I will blog about at some point as its wonderful) but in this case as with most of my recipes I decided what I fancied and went with it. This is the result.

To make your very own tart you will need

4 sheets filo pastry (you may need more)

Assorted tomatoes of your choice

2 shallots

Approx 150g Feta cheese cut into cubes

Wholegrain mustard

Melted butter

Balsamic vingar

Olive oil

Dried chives

 

Preheat your oven to 180°C. In a lose bottomedtin arrange your sheets of pastry into a base shape brushing the melted butter on the pastry sheets between layers.

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Spread the wholegrain mustard into the base of your tart.

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Chop the tomatoes and shallot and arrange over your pastry base with the Feta cheese.

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Top with the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and dried chives and bake for approximately 15 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown.

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Remove from the tin and serve while still warm with salad or green vegetables. A perfect midweek meal.

Chocolate and salted caramel hazelnut tart

Christmas is well and truly upon us. If, like me, dried fruit based desserts leave you uninspired, try this gem of a dessert. This one is perfect for a special occasion; it looks impressive, packs a real punch in the flavour department and although making it is time consuming, it isn’t a difficult thing to bake. I did get a bit of pastry shrinkage with this recipe, but I mixed mine by hand and I’m sure this won’t happen as much if you made it using a food processor. When making this you need to allow time for your pastry to chill in the fridge and allow time later for the chocolate to set. If you’re going to make the effort with a dessert like this, really take the time to let things rest and set properly. The other benefit is that you will enjoy making this far more if you’re not running around the kitchen in a flap, up to your elbows in melted chocolate.

I made this as an early birthday dessert for my housemate A. Her birthday is boxing day so I wanted to treat her to a special dessert and I knew she would adore this. (I was right, I got a big hug and a kiss when I produced this!)

To make this tart you will need

For the pastry

175g butter

75g caster sugar

2 egg yolks

250g plain flour

20g cocoa powder

35ml water

For the ganache

200g good quality dark chocolate (I used a mixture of 70% and 85%)

200ml double cream

200g caster sugar or light brown sugar if you prefer

5g sea salt

For the hazelnut topping

100g caster sugar

1 teaspoon sea salt

100g hazelnuts

 

To make the pastry cream together your butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

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Add the egg yolks and the water and mix well.

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Gradually add the flour and cocoa powder until all the ingredients are bound together. This step is way easier using a food processor but it is possible to do this by hand.

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Wrap in a plastic bag and allow to chill in the fridge for at least and hour, if not longer.

Roll your pastry out onto a floured surface and use it to line a loose bottomed tin that is about 24cm in diameter and at least 2.5cm thick. Allow your pastry to rest for 15 minutes in the fridge before trimming it. Patch any bald patches in your tin with excess pastry. Preheat your oven to 180°C. Before baking prick your pastry with a fork.

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Line your tin with greaseproof paper and baking beans and bake blind for 20 minutes. Remove the beans and bake for another 6 minutes.

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While your pastry is baking make your ganache by melting together your cream, sugar, chocolate and sea salt in a heatproof bowl over a boiling pan. Usually I’m a great advocate of zapping stuff like this in a microwave, but its best to keep an eye on ganache.

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Melt together until thick and glossy.

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Pour into your pastry and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

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To make the topping warm a small saucepan over a medium heat. Add your sugar and melt together until golden brown. Add the salt and mix well before taking off the heat and adding the hazelnuts. Mix thoroughly. Lay over a piece of greaseproof paper to cool. Once cool separate the nuts by smashing them.

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Top the tart with your hazelnuts. Serve.

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Candles and a beautiful rendition of “Happy Birthday” or “Santa Clause is coming to town” entirely optional.