Butter Chicken & Pea Pies #tastypies

This recipe combines 3 delicious things, my version of lite butter chicken curry, peas and puff pastry. My theory goes that skipping cream in the chicken filling recipe makes up for the butter in the puff pastry!

Lovely with just salad on the side and also great picnic food.

Prep time: 40 minutes Cooling: 20 minutes Baking: 20 minutes

Ingredients for 4 pies

  • 400g chicken thigh fillets cut into small pieces
  • 1 onion finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon crushed garlic
  • 1 teaspoon crushed ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cummin seeds
  • 1/2 piece of cinammon bark or quill
  • 1 teaspooon nigella seeds
  • Handful of curry leaves (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon cummin powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon chilli powder
  • I cup of water
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 1/4 cup of plain yoghurt
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup of frozen peas
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped coriander
  • 3 sheets store-bought puff pastry
  • 1 egg beaten for brushing pastry

Method:

A. Begin by turning on oven to preheat to 220 degrees Celsius and take out 3 sheets of puff pastry to allow to thaw.

B Make filling and pies

1. Heat vegetable oil in a heavy based pot over medium heat.

2. Add cummin, seeds, cinnamon stick and curry leaves if using and stir until fragrant. Ensure cummin seeds don’t burn.

3. Add onions and cook gently until transparent and soft. Add ginger and garlic paste and mix through the onions.

4. Add cummin powder, turmeric and chilli powder and stir though onion mixture until just heated through. Take care not to burn the spices.

5. Add chicken, salt, nigella seeds. Stir fry until chicken is sealed, then add water and simmer for 15 minutes.

Nigella seeds add an earthy sweetness.

6. While chicken is cooking line pie tins with baking paper, then cut out circles of puff pastry to fit into bottom of pie tins, prick bottom of pastry with a fork. Line with another layer of baking paper, add pie weights or dried beans and blind bake in oven for 10 minutes until pastry is cooked and just turning golden. remove from oven and set aside.

Blind bake bottom layer of puff pastry to form cases for pies.

6. Add yoghurt and butter to the chicken curry mixture and bring back to a simmer, then add peas and cook for further 5 minutes until peas are just tender. The chicken should be cooked by now and the sauce reduced to create a moist filling without too much extra sauce left.

7. Sprinkle generously with chopped coriander and set aside to cool for 15-20 minutes.

8. When chicken mixture has cooled to lukewarm, remove pie weights/beans and top layer of baking paper from pastry cases but leave them in the pie tins.

9. Heap chicken mixture into pie cases to form small mounds, don’t forget to remove the cinammon stick.

10. Cover tops of pies with a larger circle of puff pastry crimping edge of uncooked pastry onto the pastry cases, prick top or make a small cut in top to allow steam to escape, use the back of a fork to Mark the edges, then brush with egg yolk and place in oven for 10-15 minutes or until tops are golden and puffed. Don’t worry if they are a bit untidy, they look nice and rustic when done.

11. Allow to cool/rest for 5 minutes or so and serve with salad. If packing for a picnic best to allow to cool for at least half an hour before packing.

Amazing Chicken Maryland with tomato, thyme, garlic, and eschallots

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chicken marylands with tomato, thyme, garlic, eschallots and chilli ready for oven

The combination of these classic ingredients cooked slowly in the oven creates a succulent chicken dish that is healthy and full of flavour. Of course, I can’t resist adding some chilli for a bit of a kick but it is just as lovely without. You can also add large cubes of potato which absorb the juices as they cook. (You might need to add a bit more stock during the cooking if you use potatoes.)

Served with a simple green salad and some crunchy bread to mop up the juices, “amazing chicken”, as our family calls it, is a great staple for weeknight dinners or as a main dish for casual lunches.

Preparation time: 30 minutes Cooking time: 1hr-1.5hrs
Ingredients:
4 chicken marylands or 6 chicken thigh fillets
6 cloves of garlic
1 large tomato cut in large chunks
2 red chillies sliced in half(optional)
8 eschallots
Half a bunch of thyme, leaves stripped off stalks
Salt and crushed black pepper
1/2 cup chicken stock or water
1/2 cup dry white wine
3-4 tablespoons Olive oil
Parsley to garnish

Method:
Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius
Heat oil in large frying pan and brown chicken marylands on both sides to a golden brown colour

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fry chicken marylands until golden brown

Remove chicken and place in a flat,deep casserole dish in one layer
Add eschallots and cloves of garlic to frying pan and fry to create a caramelised finish to eschallots and garlic cloves
Remove from oil and spread over chicken in casserole dish
Add tomato, chilli, if using, and thyme leaves to chicken
Sprinkle liberally with salt and black pepper
Pour over stock and white wine
Place dish in oven uncovered to cook until chicken is tender, onions and garlic cloves are cooked and liquid is well reduced.(at least 1 hour)
Turn up oven to max or to top grill for about 5-10 minutes, to further brown and crisp up the top of the chicken
Remove from oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes or so before serving with salad and crunchy bread to mop up juices

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Make sure you have crunchy bread to mop up the amazing chicken juices

Serves 4

Javanese dining in Ubud – Warung Mendez Penestanan

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Display of spices at Warung Mendez

After a wonderful Christmas eating lots of delicious traditional English and Australian food, we are now in Bali for a fortnight of feasting and relaxation up in the hills of Ubud. There won’t be too much cooking but certainly a lot of eating planned.

We have been regulars to Bali over the last ten years and can’t help but feel instantly relaxed when we get here through the combination of the warm Balinese hospitality, heat of the tropical sun and diversity and quality of the food.

This visit we are staying in the village of Penestanan on the edge of the rice fields, once quite a sleepy part of Ubud but which has now been populated with great cafes and restaurants, spas and villas.

We started our first day here lazing by our pool before choosing to lunch at Warung Mendez, a restaurant specialising in Javanese cuisine. From tempting appetisers and soups to specials such as slow cooked goat’s leg and Tempe fried in a special spring onion batter, deciding on what to eat is not an easy task so we immediately ordered Bintang beer to cool us down as we made the tough choices.

Adrian often talks about Rawon soup which he had previously enjoyed in Jakarta. The dark almost black, beef soup is made that colour and given it’s unique earthy flavour from the use of the kelucak seed. It is traditionally served with steamed rice and chilli sambal, which is known as Nasi Rawon. At Warung Mendez, we ordered it just as a soup to shar alongside our individual mains of Nasi Goreng and Rica Rica Mackerel.

Rawon black beef soup at Warung Mendez
Rawon black beef soup at Warung Mendez

Whilst the Rawon soup was delicious, it felt like it had been “toned down” to suit the largely tourist palate of the diners that frequent the restaurant. However the nutty taste of the ground kelucak seeds did shine through and with the addition of some of the tasty homemade chilli sambal we had certainly would get Warung Mendez at least 3.5 stars for their version.

Of course it is difficult to pass by a Nasi Goreng or the Balinese version known as Nasi Campur when in Bali. The Warung Mendez version comes with the traditional fried rice, freshly bed chicken satays, pickled carrot, crispy shredded cabbage, a perfectly fried egg and prawn crackers. Adrian’s verdict is that it was “very nice”. We could see, smell and hear the rice being wok tossed and the stays being barbecued!

My Rica Rica Mackerel was not quite as I expected having had the more “tomatoey” Chicken Rica-Rica before. The Warung Mendez Mackerel version omits the tomatoes but features delicious grilled and then shredded fish mixed with the spicy chilli and shallot Rica Rica spice paste. The inclusion of small pieces of tangy Balines lime and the accompaniments of the fern and coconut salad and turmeric rice made for a light and tasty lunch dish.

Rica Rica mackerel at Warung Mendez
Rica Rica mackerel at Warung Mendez

All in all we would recommend Warung Mendez if you’d like to get an authentic taste of Javanese food in Ubud at an extremely good price. Our lunch cost us less than AUD$20. We will definitely be returning for dinner to try the goat’s leg and tempeh, and some desserts.

Christmas Turkey Stuffing

It’s been a very busy lead up to Christmas so there hasn’t been much time to post recipes but there has been a lot of cooking going on! We have already celebrated Christmas with family  in Melbourne and Sydney. And the now the requests are coming in for the ham glaze and turkey stuffing recipes are coming in so I thought I’d share with everyone.

This stuffing recipe has been in my family forever and I don’t know where it originated from. It doesn’t have fruit or nuts in it but the carrots and onions add sweetness and the finely chopped chicken liver adds texture and an almost gamey flavour. White pepper is essential and adds a tangy spiciness quite different to black pepper.

I use the stuffing in full turkey roast, turkey breast roll and also whole chicken roast. Highly advisable to make a seperate dish of it in the oven at the same time as it goes pretty quickly.

Prep time: 15 minutes  Cooking time: depends on what you are stuffing but at least 1 hour in the oven.

Ingredients:
4 carrots grated
2 brown onions finely diced
4 cloves of garlic crushed to a paste
200g chicken livers with skin and sinew removed and very finely chopped, almost minced
1.5-2 cups white breadcrumbs freshly torn in little chunks from 1/2 a baguette, can include crusts
100g butter
1/2 bunch of thyme leaves stripped from stalk
2 sprigs of sage finely chopped
salt to taste
1.5-2 teaspoons white pepper

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Finely chopped liver

 

Method:

Melt butter in non-stick frying pan over medium heat
Add onions and cook slowly until transparent
Add garlic and sauté for 2-3 minutes
Add chicken livers and cook slowly until browned and colour changes

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Sauté chicken livers over medium heat until colour changes

Add carrots, thyme and sage and pepper and cook until carrots are softened
Remove from heat and put into a bowl, then add breadcrumbs and salt to taste, mix well so the bread absorbs the juices and butterCool thoroughly before stuffing bird
Put extra stuffing in a ovenproof dish and bake alongside the roast

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Thai flavoured chicken and vegetable noodle soup

I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather with the flu and the only thing I felt like eating was a light but flavoursome chicken soup. This version of chicken soup combines Thai flavours like galangal and lemongrass with fresh green vegetables and poached chicken and is full of goodness but omits the traditional coconut milk which often features in Thai chicken soups like Tom Ka Ghai.

Prep time: 5 minutes  Cooking time: 1 hour
Ingredients

Poached chicken and stock
4 thigh chicken fillets on the bone, skin and fat removed
1 carrot peeled and chopped in large pieces
4 celery stalks chopped in large pieces
Large knob of fresh galangal peeled and chopped
Large knob of fresh ginger peeled and chopped
1 stalk lemongrass bruised then chopped roughly
4 cloves garlic
4 stalks spring onions chopped roughly
1 red chilli chopped
2.5-3 litres water

Soup
1/2 brown onion sliced finely
2 handfuls of honeysnap peas
5 button mushrooms sliced thickly
1 stalk bok choy finely chopped
4 cloves of boiled garlic retained from the stock and crushed into a paste
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
Shredded chicken
Handful coriander chopped
1 lime
125g vermicelli rice noodles
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, 1 tspn sesame oil

Method
Place chicken and stock ingredients in large stock pot and bring to a boil
Lower heat and simmer for 40-50 minutes, skimming surface to remove any “scum” that appears
Remove chicken pieces from stock and set aside to cool
Strain remaining stock to remove vegetables, reserving the loves of garlic for the soup
Shred the chicken and discard the bones
Heat vegetable and sesame oil in seperate saucepan
Add onion and cook gently until transparent
Add paste of crushed garlic cloves and mix through onions
Add honeysnap peas, fish sauce, pepper and stir fry for 2 minutes
Add bok Choy and mushrooms and stir fry for 1 minute
In the meantime bring stock back to a rolling boil, add vermicelli noodles and shredded chicken and cook for 1 minute, add vegetable mixture and cook for another minute or so.
Garnish with coriander and fresh chilli.
Squeeze over lime juice and add extra fish sauce to taste.

Serves 3-4

Spicy shredded chicken salad

This is a light, healthy salad that is spiced up with some fresh chillies and chilli oil. Use the leftover herbs and vegetables in your fridge for the poaching to add flavour to the chicken. The leftover Singapore style poached chicken is perfect to use for this salad.

Prep time: 5 minutes  Cooking time: 20 minutes
Ingredients

2 chicken thigh fillets, fat removed
1/2 brown onion
1/2 carrot
leftover aromatics e.g fennel pieces, celery, coriander stalks and/or ginger
4-5 cups water
3 tablespoons Mint leaves and coriander chopped
2 green chillies finely chopped
2 cups watercress leaves
salt and pepper
2-3 teaspoons Asian Chilli oil
1/2 a fresh lime

Method
Bring water to boil with aromatics
Add chicken and reduce heat to medium to allow chicken to poach for 20 minutes
Meanwhile chop mint leaves, coriander and chillies
Shred chicken with 2 forks
Add still warm chicken to watercress, mint, coriander and chilli.
Add 2 tablespoons of poaching liquid and mix through
Season well with pepper and salt to taste
Drizzle with chilli oil and a squeeze of lime