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Ham, Leek, Cheese and Walnut Pies

I was given a present a while back of some beautiful ceramic bowls, great for serving soup in, but also a perfect receptacle for individual rustic pies.

This is a really simple recipe, the filling for which can be adapted to suit your individual taste.

I had some chunky ham pieces and a leek in the fridge so decided that they would be the basis for some simple pies. I also had a lovely washed rind cheese, soft and melting, that I thought would go beautifully with the ham and leek. I’m a huge fan of nuts, so it was a no-brainer that I decided to put some walnuts in the pies as well. They added a lovely crunch and texture to the pies.

All these ingredients were stirred into a white sauce, piled into the bowls, topped with puff pastry and baked in the oven.

I made my own puff pastry, which was a little time consuming. I’m not including the recipe here, I actually can’t remember where I sourced it from!! Looking back on past posts on my blog, I see that I usually make rough puff pastry. So I’m not quite sure why I decided to go the full puff on this occasion. I recommend using a good bought butter puff pastry for the recipe.

I decided I would put a rim of pastry around the edge of the bowls, but this didn’t really work. I’m not quite sure what I did wrong. I have included the photo, as I like to be honest about what works and what doesn’t in my cooking. I’ll know next time to do some more research about how to fix this issue!

The recipe makes two substantial deep bowl pies. You could double the quantities for a larger pie in a conventional pie dish.

Ingredients

1 large leek
A knob of butter to cook the leek
Salt
200g ham chunks
50g any soft washed rind cheese
A small handful of walnuts or to taste

White sauce
25g butter
25g plain flour
600ml milk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 sheets of butter puff pastry or the equivalent ( I normally use the Careme brand, readily available in Australia, when not making my own)

1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon milk, for glazing

Method

Cut the leek into small slices. Melt the butter in a frying pan and add the leek with a good pinch or two of salt. Cook on a low temperature until the leek slices are soft, about 10-15 minutes.

Chop the ham into bite sized pieces and roughly slice the cheese. Chop any whole walnuts into smaller pieces.

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C.

For the white sauce, melt the butter in a medium, heavy bottomed saucepan. Add the flour and stir for 1-2 minutes, to make sure the raw flour taste is cooked out.

It’s important to do this and the subsequent stirring in of the milk with a wooden spoon.

Gradually stir in about a third of the milk, making sure the milk is incorporated and there are no floury lumps. When the sauce has noticeably thickened, add another third of the milk and repeat the process. Add the last third of the milk and cook until the sauce is nice and thick. Simmer gently for 5 minutes and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Stir the ham, leek, cheese and walnuts into the white sauce in the saucepan. Pile the mixture into the individual bowls.

Cut out circles of puff pastry that are larger than the diameter of the bowls and will be enough to completely cover the tops. Brush the tops of pies with the beaten egg.

Place in the preheated oven and cook for about 20 minutes until the top of the pies are golden brown and puffed up.

Serve piping hot straight from the bowls!

Hunter Chicken or Chicken Chasseur

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32DE12DD-1A2B-4BFB-AEDE-149E7A6EC50DAn old favourite from the 70s, this is a really simple dish based on the French classic. I prefer to call it Hunter Chicken – it sounds earthier and more rustic than the French original!

My version is loosely based on a James Martin recipe for Chicken Chasseur.

Ingredients

2 chicken breasts and 2 chicken thighs, skin on (or any combination of chicken pieces to make up the equivalent of 1/2 chicken)
Salt and ground black pepper
25g plain flour
1 tbsp olive oil
50g butter
50g bacon rashers, chopped into pieces
100g button mushrooms
3-4 shallots, thickly sliced
1 tsp caster sugar
100 mls white wine
200 mls chicken stock
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp thyme leaves, finely chopped
1/2 tsp rosemary, finely chopped
1 tbsp flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

Method

Place the chicken in a large ziplock bag and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper then add the flour and toss to coat.

Heat a large frying pan until hot, add the oil and half the butter then fry the chicken pieces, skin side down, for 1-2 minutes until golden-brown. Turn the chicken and fry on the other side for another 1-2 minutes.

Heat another frying pan until hot, add the remaining butter and fry the bacon and button mushrooms until they are brown. Add the shallots and then the caster sugar and fry for 2-3 minutes until brown and caramelised.

Pour the wine into the frying pan, stirring to deglaze, making sure you scrape all the goodness from the bottom of the pan.

Spoon or carefully pour the bacon and mushroom mixture over the chicken in the other frying pan. Add the stock and tomato paste to the chicken and bring to the boil.

Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 30-40 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the liquid slightly reduced.

When the chicken is cooked, scatter the dish with the thyme, rosemary and flat leaf parsley and serve.

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Slow Cooked Beef Cheeks in Pedro Ximinez

 

It’s the start of winter in Sydney. A lovely time of the year, cold and clear, with blue skies and bright sunshine!

A ex-pat friend, Amanda M, is visiting from Cleveland, Ohio.  She remarked that it was “Fall” weather for her! I guess we are lucky in Australia to have relatively mild winters.

I’m posting this 2014 recipe again, to remind myself that it’s time time to get out the Le Creuset casserole and start making some lovely slow cooked beef dishes!

This recipe hails from MoVida Bar de Tapas, restaurants in Melbourne and Sydney, from the cookbook MoVida: Spanish Culinary Adventures.

http://movida.com.au/slowly-braised-beef-cheeks-in-pedro-ximenez-with-cauliflower-puree-carillera-de-buey/

I cooked the beef cheeks in the oven rather than on the stove top as the original recipe suggests. The temperature needs to be low and the cooking time long.  This is slow cooking at its best!

Ingredients

1.5 kg beef cheeks
125 ml olive oil
3 carrots, roughly chopped
1 garlicky bulb, halved
1 brown onion, sliced
500 ml Pedro Ximenez sherry
500 ml red wine
3 bay leaves
3 tablespoons thyme leaves
1 teaspoon fine sea salt

Method

Preheat the oven to 140 degrees C or even lower if your oven is hot (like mine).

Trim the beef cheeks to neaten them up and remove any sinew and silver skin. Season well.

Heat half the olive oil in a large heavy-based baking dish over high heat. Brown the beef cheeks for 2 minutes on each side, or until golden, then remove from the pan.

Add the remaining olive oil, then add the carrot, garlic and onion and sauté over high heat for 12-15 minutes, or until well browned. Stir in the sherry, wine, bay leaves, thyme, sea salt and 500 ml water.

Reduce the heat and add the beef cheeks.  Cover and place in the oven to cook for 3-4 hours, or until the cheeks are beginning to fall apart.

The sauce from the beef cheeks should by now be reduced and glaze-like. If it needs further reducing, remove the cheeks from the baking dish, cover with foil to keep them warm and simmer the sauce over high heat on the stove top until nicely reduced. Gently reheat the cheeks in the sauce if necessary.

I served the beef cheeks with slow baked yellow, orange and purple carrots, and grilled corn tortillas to soak up the sauce – mash or pappardelle or rice would also be good.

R

 

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