Tag Archives: stock

Christmas Pie

Christmas is tradtionally a time of leftovers.  We’ve got just about all of the sandwich suitable turkey off it now so now it is time to think of other things to make with the bits and pieces left over.  There are lots of options available but few I’d actually enjoy.  Pie seemed the way to go.  Not only can you use the turkey but there’s nothing stopping you from using up some stuffing or leftover vegetables or even a few dollops of cranberry sauce.  Got a ham? Pop it in too!  Whatever is left or takes your fancy, within reason, then in it goes!  I usually keep things simple.  I might do turkey, stuffing and cranberry but I’d leave out the vegetables.  Ham, turkey and vegetables go well together too.  If you’ve got a lot of mash then why not skip the pastry and use that?  It really does depend entirely upon what you have and what you like.  If you’ve only got turkey to play with then a simple turkey and mushroom pie is great too. 

Makes 1 average pie dish serving 4 people. 

For the pastry:
225g plain flour
pinch of salt
50g butter, chilled and diced
50g Trex (white vegetable fat), chilled and diced
3-4 tbsp chilled water

– Mix together the flour and salt.
– Add the butter and Trex and rub into the flour with your fingertips until it looks like breadcrumbs. 
– Add 3 -4 tbsp cold water by sprinkling it evenly over the surface fo the mixture.  (I used 3 tbsp and a bit.)
– Using a flat bladed knife mix it together until it forms a dough. 
– Gather it together with your hands and lightly knead for a few seconds to bring it together. 
– Form the dough into a ball and wrap it in clingfilm.  Place it in the fridge for 30 minutes. 

For the filling:
1 onion, chopped
Turkey/ham/vegetables/stuffing/etc.
a good splash of olive oil
2 tbsp cornflour
1/2 pint chicken stock

– First saute your onion with a pinch of salt in a little oil in a frying pan.  Add whatever leftovers you’re using and stir gently to combine. 
– In a separate small pan add a good splash of oil, at least enough to cover the base of the pan. 
– Gently heat this until it just starts to shimmer a bit then add the corn flour.  Whisk rapidly to combine. 
– Pour in your chicken stock, still whisking and keep stiring until it is a smooth sauce. 
– Pour this sauce into the other pan and stir well to mix. 

To make pie:

– Lightly flour the worksurface and the rolling pin, not the pastry. 
– Turn out the chilled dough onto the worksurface and roll it out in one direction, turning it as you go until it reaches about 3 mm thick. 
– Place your pie dish upsidedown on top of the pastry and cut a line around the dish about 1 cm out to leave room for shrinkage. 
– Cut a second line around this about 1.5 cm thick.
– Fill the pie dish with the filling.
– Moisten the edge of your dish with a finger dipped in water then press the 1.5 cm thick strip round the outside of the dish trimming the length to fit.   
– Moisten this pastry with water again then lay the rest of the pastry over the top using the rolling pin to help lift it across. 
– I fluted the edges of this pie.  It’s very simple.  You basically place the thumb and index finger of one hand on the ‘inside’ of the pie and with the index finger of the other hand press the edge of the crust inwards between the two fingers of the other hand.  Move round the pie and keep going until the whole edge is fluted. 

– With any spare pastry I like to make decorations for the top of the pie.*  I went for a Christmassy snowman and Christmas trees.  Again just dampen any pastry you’re pressing together to make it stick. 
– Once you’re done brush the top of the pie with beaten egg and cook in an oven preheated to gas mark 7 for 40 minutes until the pastry is a golden brown and the contents heated through.  If it starts to look too brown then cover with foil or butter papers** for the remaining cooking time. 

* And any spare spare pastry I stamp out shapes with cutters, brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with grated parmesan to make cheesy biscuits. 

** I keep the butter papers when I’ve used a block for covering things like this.  It saves on foil and is a great little recycling tip!

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Japanese Hamburger

This is based on a dish I used to have at a restaurant in Tokyo and loved!  You don’t technically have to serve it in the foil parcels as I have but it does give the meat time to take up a little of the flavour of the sauce and you can get on with other things while you leave them in the oven so it’s a good prep ahead then pop it in the oven meal.  This was usually served with a baked potato but I chose to have chips tonight as I was in the mood.  I’ve also had the burger wrapped in bacon and served with a different sauce or may be no sauce but I can’t for the life of me remember!  I’m working on it. 

This is a good basic hamburger recipe too and I’m sure would make an excellent burger in a bun on its own.  I love Japanese  style Western food.  So often they take a staple Western food and do wonderful things with it that we would never have thought to do because we’re so used to doing something particular.  Although I am informed that this is similar to a Salisbury Steak in America.  What I do know is it’s delicious!

I’m dying of cold at the moment so if anything doesn’t make sense here drop me a line and I’ll fix in once I am able to breathe and think again!

Makes 6

For the burger:
1 small onion, finely chopped
500g minced beef
200g sausage meat
100g breadcrumbs
1 egg
1/2 tsp ground or freshly grated nutmeg
pepper to taste

For the sauce:
150g baby button mushrooms, sliced
red wine*
1 beef stock cube made up into stock*
3 tbsp ketchup
corn flour

– First lightly fry the onion in a little oil until soft.  Allow to cool a little. 
– Put everything in a bowl and mix it together with your hand. 
– Divide the mixture roughly into 6. 
– Gather a portion of the meat in your hand.  Roll into a ball then throw the ball forcefully back and forth in your hands to force out the air and flatten it into a patty. 
– Gently shape the patty to a circle and create a small hollow so the patty is thinner in the middle.  (This allows you to get a flat burger as it compensates for any swelling during cooking.)
– Place the patties on a large plate or chopping board and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, preferably about an hour. 

– Melt a small knob of butter in a frying pan and fry the mushrooms until just browning.  Set aside. 
– Sprinkle the burgers with a pinch of salt and prepare the foil sheets. 
– Fry the burgers in a large frying pan or griddle.  Give about 4 minutes each side.  Don’t move the burger about once you’ve placed it in the pan until it’s time to turn it or it will fall apart. 
– Place the burger in the centre of the sheet of foil and top with a spoonful of mushrooms. 

– Deglaze the pan with red wine (tip it in and scrape off any cooked on bits). 
– Add the stock and reduce until starting to thicken. 
– Add the ketchup and stir in continue to reduce. 
– If necessary add a little cornflour slaked in a little water to thicken the sauce.  It needs to be quite viscous slow moving. (Make sure to taste the sauce as it can need a little more ketchup to cut the saltiness of the stock cube.) 
– Pour a little sauce over each burger.

– Fold the foil up into a tent and fold together the edges to seal.  Then fold in the sides to seal those. 

– Place the parcels on a baking tray and place in the oven at around gas mark 5 for 10-15 minutes until everything is piping hot again.  (If preparing ahead cook for around 30 minutes to ensure food is piping hot all through.)
– When you’re ready simply put the parcel on a plate to serve. 

* I only cooked sauce for 1 tonight so I can’t speak as to actual quantities.  I just poured!

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Spicy Butternut Squash Soup Recipe

I’m in a very autumnal frame of mind at the minute.  I’m home alone this week so I’m not so keen on the howling wind and getting dark early part but I do love walking through the leaves and huddling up inside in the warm.  I find that although I’m happy to eat sandwiches for lunch throughout the summer come autumn I feel the need for soup.  The warmth you can gain from a bowl of soup and lovely buttery bread is better than the central heating sometimes!  I’ve usually been a Heinz fan but this autumn I’m really enjoying making my own soups.  The latest one is this Spicy Butternut Squash Soup.  It’s not actually what I would call spicy, the chilli comes as a lovely wash of heat over your tongue and complements the mellowness of the butternut wonderfully.  Plus I like the colour!

Spicy Butternut Squash Soup

Serves 4

1 butternut squash (about 1kg)
2 onions, diced
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 chilli, finely chopped (mine was quite hot, if yours are milder then add 2)
1 1/2 pints hot vegetable stock
4 tbsp creme fraiche

– Heat the oven to gas mark 6. 
– Peel and chop the butternut squash into chunks.  (I slice mine in half above the seeds then quarter it vertically, scoop out the seeds in that half and then chop into slices no bigget than 2 cm thick.  Then I use a vegetable peeler to take off the skin.)
– Place in a roasting tin and toss in a little olive oil. 
– Roast in the oven for 30 minutes. 
– In the meantime prep your onions, garlic and chilli then put it all in a large pan with a knob of butter and a splash of oil. 
– Keep on a very low heat for about 20 minutes until the onions are completely soft. 
– Take the squash out of the oven and tip into the pan. 
– Add the stock and creme fraiche and stir a little to start mixing it.
– Then take a hand blender and blend the soup until smooth. 
– Reheat it when you’re ready to serve.

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Low Fat Chicken and Mushroom Filo Pie Recipe

As the nights draw in I’m trying to find more recipes that come from the traditional comfort food genre but that don’t pile on the stodge and calories.  Tonight’s effort was supposed to be cooked with a low fat shortcrust recipe I’d seen, however, as I was still an hour away from home when I should have started making that I whizzed into Tesco and grabbed a packet of filo pastry.  I usually use olive oil instead of butter in any event so I saved on the fat there too.  As for accompaniments I had a quick whip round the freezer and found some oven chips, again a healthier alternative.  We were going to have peas too but they have gone AWOL so no peas. 

Chicken and Mushroom Filo Pie

Serves 4

7 sheets of filo pastry
1 onion, chopped
250g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
3 chicken breasts, in chunks
a good splash of olive oil
1 tbsp cornflour
1/2 pint chicken stock

– Heat the oven to Gas Mark 6. 
– Select your pie dish and brush with oil. 
– Line with 4 sheets of filo pastry, brushing lightly with oil between each layer.  The pastry should over hang the dish. 
– Heat some oil in a large frying pan and cook the onion with a pinch of salt until soft.
– Add the mushrooms and brown then add the chicken and cook until just browning.
– In a separate pan heat the oil then add the corn flour and rapidly whisk together. 
– Add the chicken stock to this mix and cook for a few minutes until it starts to thicken. 
– Stir together the contents of the two pans. 
– Spoon this into the pie dish on top of the pastry. 
– Fold the filo sheets over the top of the filling and brush lightly with oil. 
– Scrunch up the remaining 3 sheets and arrange on top of the pie then brush with oil. 
– Place in the oven and cook for 15 minutes or until lightly browned.
– Serve and enjoy!

(I also made mini pies in a muffin tin with the leftover filo and a fresh batch of filling, just follow the same process in minature!  I then froze them for later use in lunches.)

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Mushroom Soup Recipe

Well the wind is howling today and there are branches coming off trees left, right and centre.  I love this kind of weather, it just feels so exhilarating walking outside and makes being snuggled up inside even better.  This kind of autumnal bluster seemed like the perfect day for soup.  All my other soups have been tomato based so I tried something different and went for mushroom.  I’m not crazy about how much salt this needed as I try to keep salt content down but it just didn’t taste any good without it.  There was also a mix up with the shopping so I got regular closed cup mushrooms instead of the chestnut I wanted.  To compensate I added more dried porcini and although the flavour is still good I think it would be even better with more flavoursome mushrooms. 

Mushroom Soup

Serves 6

8 slices dried porcini mushrooms
700g mushrooms, sliced
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
4 sprigs thyme
1 litre chicken or vegetable stock
4 heaped spoons of creme fraiche

– Soak the dried porcini in 200ml cold water until soft. 
– Heat a knob of butter and a few tbsp of oil in a large pan. 
– Add the sliced mushrooms and stir until browned. 
– Add the chopped onion, garlic and the leaves from the thyme and stir until softened. 
– Add the porcini mushrooms and the liquid they soaked in, straining out any grit. 
– Stir well and then add the stock and stir again. 
– Bring to the boil and then simmer gently for 10 minutes. 
– Allow to cool a little (nothing worse than accidental flying soup burns!) then use a stick blender to blend the soup until smooth but still reatining a bit of texture. 
– Add the creme fraiche and a good amount of salt.   Keep tasting and adding, you’ll know when you get there, it took at least 14 grinds of my salt mill.  Then stir well to combine. 
– Reheat before serving with fresh bread and butter.

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Pork Ramen

Pork Ramen

Serves 4

1 pork fillet (I’d give you a weight but I threw away the package.  Mine was about 6″)
sesame oil
1 tbsp chilli flakes
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tsp mixed spices
1 litre chicken stock*
1 clove garlic, bruised (press down on it with the flat of your knife)
1 chilli, cut in half
1″ chunk ginger root, cut into smaller chunks
3 pak choi
2 packets instant miso (Mine has tofu in it too)
5 tbsp soy sauce
2 bundles of ramen noodles if you can find them or 2 nests of egg noodles if you can’t
1 carrot cut into matchsticks or julienned
1/2 can bamboo shoots (select the best looking ones)
2 hard boiled eggs

– Heat the oven to Gas mark 7.
– Drizzle sesame oil oven the base of an oven proof dish then put in the chilli flakes mixed spices and sesame seeds. 
– Roll the pork fillet in this until it is coated all over. 
– Leave it to stand for about 10 minutes to absorb the flavours and then roast it for 25 minutes. 
– Let the meat stand for 10 minutes then slice into thin slices. 
– Take the chicken stock and add the garlic, chilli and ginger.  Bring to the boil in a large pan for 5 minutes. 
– Fish out the bits so you’re left with a clear stock.
– Slice the pak choi into quarters and cook in the stock for 7 minutes.  Drain and put 3 quarters in each bowl.  
– Add the instant miso and soy sauce to the stock.  Stir until it’s combined. 
– Cook the noodles as per the packet instructions then divide equally between the bowls. 
– Divide the carrots, bamboo shoots, half a boiled egg** and sliced pork between the bowls. 
– Arrange everything nicely then ladle the stock over the top. 
– Serve with a dash of chilli oil. 

* See next post for how to make chicken stock from scratch. 
** Obviously you see no hard boiled egg in that photo.  That is because they are still sitting in the fridge.  I forgot them, oops!

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