Chicken and leek pie

I leave for Edinburgh on Thursday and from there I go straight to starting my new job, so I have been cramming in more baking before I go. I decided to bake something savoury today as I have eaten far too many sweet things recently, and since there was a lot of leftover chicken from a recent roast I needed to find something to use it up.

The filling of this pie is delicious especially with the crème fraîche added as it added a lovely sharpness to the flavour rather than it just being over creamy. It was quite a runny filling which I enjoyed with mashed potatoes but if you want a thicker filling then I would recommend lowering the stock to around 200ml. The only problem with this dish that I found is my puff pastry failed to puff up like I expected it to, and I am not entirely sure why. It may have been because I ended up leaving it in the fridge for around 30 hours as it was eaten a day later than expected, or maybe too much egg wash….does anyone else have any ideas as to what could have caused it?

This recipe is adapted from one found here

Ingredients:

  • 1tbsp Olive oil
  • 1tsp Lazy garlic
  • 1 Chopped onion
  • 600g Leftover cooked chicken
  • 2 Large leeks
  • 80ml White wine
  • 142ml Double cream
  • 200ml Crème fraîche
  • 400ml Chicken stock
  • Tarragon
  • 200g Puff pastry
  • 1 Small egg

Serves 4

Preheat oven to 200C

Method:

  1. Sweat the onion and leeks in a frying pan with oil and garlic for around 4 minutes, or until they are soft and translucent.
  2. Add the chicken and wine to the pan and cook for a further 3-4 minutes to allow the wine to reduce slightly.
  3. Pour in the stock and leave this to cook for 10 minutes to allow a further reduction to occur, before adding the crème fraîche, double cream, tarragon and any other desired seasoning.
  4. This mixture now needs to be poured into the pie dish and left to cool for 20-30 minutes.
  5. Then roll the pastry out so it is large enough to cover the dish you are using, brush water around the edge of the dish and firmly apply the pastry. Trim the pastry edges and pierce a hole in the middle of the pastry to allow air to escape. The pie can then be left to chill until you are ready to cook it.
  6. Before baking, the pastry needs egg washing. Bake for 50 minutes or until the pastry is risen and golden.
  7. It is lovely served with creamy mash and fresh vegetables.

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Jam and Buttercream Whoopie Pies

For Christmas I was bought a Sweet Treats Whoopie Pie Maker and for some reason have only just got round to using it. I have never even eaten a whoopie pie before let alone making one, so, I can’t really say if these taste as a whoopie pie should, as I have no idea. However, what I do know is that they are delicious and everyone that has tried them agrees! The machine is great, they were cooked in less than 7 minutes, and the non stick worked perfectly so it was very easy to clean.

The recipe I used came with the machine for a vanilla whoopie pie, they came out great but the quantities were a bit off. The recipe stated it made 14 but it actually made 24.

I have made them a couple of times now the first time I used their buttercream recipe, but found this far too sweet and instead I used 140g butter and 200g of icing sugar, this made enough for about 20-22 whoopie pies. This was just whisked using an electric hand whisk until it looked creamy. The pies were then put together by spooning jam on one half and buttercream on the other and sandwiching them together.

I also received a recipe book dedicated to whoopie pies for Christmas and so am planning on trying lots of different flavours, the next is likely to be carrot cake pies with a sweet cream cheese filling.

Fruity Scones

It’s been a while since I last baked anything and I fear this sporadic baking may continue for a while. I have recently been offered a job and so have been sorting everything out as this means moving to a new town and being a lodger for a while. But today I decided I have had enough of sorting things out for my move and instead I spent the morning baking. I have been meaning to try and bake scones for a long time, as I was told they were very simple but had never got round to it. For a first attempt at scones these were absolutely delicious, soft and light with a nice crisp crust, I didn’t even need any cream with them, the taste of the scone with some butter and jam was perfect.

This was adapted from a Mary Berry recipe out of her Baking Bible (Special Fruit Scones, page 322), which is an invaluable book for a fail safe recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 116g Plain flour
  • 2 tsp Baking powder
  • 15g Sugar
  • 25g Butter
  • 1 Egg
  • Milk
  • 25g Currants (or any mixture of dried fruits that you have)

Makes 4 scones

Preheat the oven to 220C

Method:

  1. Combine the flour, baking powder and butter in a bowl and rub this together using your fingertips until fine breadcrumbs are formed. Then add sugar and fruit to the mixture and combine.
  2. Place a bowl on to scales and crack in a small egg, add enough milk to make the mixture up to 75g – this can be done in a measuring jug as well, but mine doesn’t show measurements any lower than 100ml so using the scales was easier.
  3. Combine the dry and wet mixtures and lightly knead, but do not over handle or they will not be so light and fluffy.
  4. Place the dough onto a floured surface and pat down to around 1.5cm, don’t roll as this is also likely to result in over-handling. Place a 2.5inch circular  cutter into flour and then push straight down into the dough and pull straight up, do not twist the cutter at all or it will prevent rising
  5. Place the scones onto a lined or greased baking sheet and brush the tops with a little milk, where possible try not to allow the milk to run down the sides of the scones.
  6. Bake for around 15 minutes or until they look well risen and golden brown. Allow them to cool slightly on a wire rack before eating, they are best eaten on the day of baking but can be stored for a few days in an airtight container. To re-fresh them after a couple of days they can go back in the oven for 4-5minutes and then will taste as good as a fresh one, this also works well if you freeze them.

Banana and caramel cheesecake

Well my plan to eat healthily didn’t last for very long…especially after I noticed I had some over ripe bananas and lots of cream cheese that needed using up. I scoured the internet for recipes and didn’t find anything I fancied, until I remembered a dessert I used to eat out at an Italian restaurant that was a vanilla cheesecake with a layer of banana and caramel in the bottom. Well, I couldn’t find a recipe for anything like this on-line, so took some rough quantities from this recipe and decided to adapt it to how I remembered the dessert but with a banana cheesecake on the top as well instead of vanilla.

It was delicious with a lovely strong taste of banana! At first I thought the bowls I had used were slightly too big, but they were emptied by everyone in one sitting. The cheesecake was firm yet nice and light, and two layers of caramel did not overpower the banana in the cheesecake at all.

Base:

  • 90g Digestive biscuits (crumbled)
  • 40g Butter (melted)

Caramel layer:

  • 180g Caramel (I used half a tin of carnation caramel)
  • 1 Banana (sliced)

Cheese cake topping:

  • 90g Banana (mashed)
  • 150g Full fat cream cheese
  • 100ml Double cream
  • 40g Caster sugar

Makes enough to fill 3 200ml bowls

  1. Mix together the crumbled biscuits and melted butter and firmly press into the dishes. This should then be chilled for 20-30 minutes.
  2. Spoon a layer of caramel on to the biscuit base and top with a layer of sliced banana, the banana can then be topped with more caramel (if you love caramel as much as the people I made this for do). This can be chilled further while you make the cheesecake topping.
  3. Combine all of the cheesecake ingredients and mix using an electric whisk until it looks smooth and glossy, then test the mixture to check the taste, it may need slightly more cream cheese or sugar depending on how you prefer it.
  4. The topping then needs spreading evenly over the banana/caramel. This needs chilling for at least 4 hours, although I always leave mine in the fridge for at least 24hours.


Falafel and sweet chilli wraps

Now while these don’t technically have to be baked, I thought I would post the recipe as I am trying to be a bit healthier; since I never stopped eating rubbish after Christmas! I decided to try and make these as a certain American fast food chain offers something very similar at the moment and I am slightly addicted, though I’m sure this home-made version must be healthier or at least less greasy. This is not the quickest dinner to make, so maybe it should be saved for a weekend, but they are yummy and the sweet chilli sauce really adds to the overall flavour.

Parts of this recipe are based on this BBC Good Food website recipe.

Falafel:

400g Tin chick peas
1 tsp Ground coriander
1 tsp Ground cumin
1.5 tbsp Red lentils boiled as per instructions
1.5 tbsp Plain flour
1 tbsp Sunflower oil
0.5 tsp Chilli powder
60g Breadcrumbs

4 Tortilla wraps
Lettuce
Cucumber
Sweet chilli dipping sauce

Makes 4 wraps/ 8 falafel pattys

  1. Put the chick peas, coriander, cumin, chilli and oil in a food processor until the chick peas are puréed, then add the flour. Remove this mixture from the food processor and mix in the lentils.
  2. Form this mixture into small burger like patty’s, and coat them in breadcrumbs – they should be slightly sticky so that the breadcrumbs stick without any need for an egg.
  3. Leave them to rest in the fridge for a couple of hours, where they will become slightly firmer
  4. Shallow fry them for around 8-10 minutes on each side, turning occasionally, but not too often or they will break up. Or bake them for 15-20mins at 180C, until the breadcrumbs become golden brown and they are hot throughout.
  5. Serve them in a wrap with the lettuce, cucumber and sweet chilli sauce.