Chicken pies and pies in general are the perfect feel-good food. Rich and flavourful, it’s the perfect home-cooked meal for your friends and family. It’s also pretty quick and easy, especially when using ready-made pastry. Once you’ve tried this classic, you will find yourself try all sorts of tasty variations of your own!
1 tbsp olive oil
300g chicken breast, chopped into bite-sized chunks
1 brown onion, roughly chopped
2 medium clove garlic, peeled and crushed
100g shortcut bacon, finely diced
½ leek, finely chopped
6 mushrooms, chopped
2 tbsp flour
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup milk
1/3 cup thyme sprigs
Salt and pepper, to taste
20g grated cheese (optional)
1-2 sheets shortcrust pastry
1 sheet puff pastry
1 egg, lightly beaten
1. Preheat oven to 200°C and heat the oil in a large frying pan. Place the chicken in the pan, season with salt & pepper and cook for 5-7 minutes or until golden brown. Cook in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan if necessary. Remove and set aside.
2. Add the bacon to the same pan and cook until lovely & crisp. Add the onion, garlic, leek to the pan and sauté for a few minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook until golden brown.
3. Add the flour and cook, stirring continuously for 1 minute. Gradually stir in the stock, then the milk. Return the chicken to the pan and simmer for 30 minutes or until thickened & creamy. Season to taste.
4. Grease a round baking tray and dust it with flour to make it non stick. Flip it over the puff pastry and cut around it to form the lid of the pie. Set aside. Repeat with the shortcrust pastry, but this time cut circles about 1.5cm from the edge of the tin.
5. Ease shortcrust pastry circle into pie the tin, spoon in the chicken mixture, sprinkle with a bit of grated cheese if you fancy it.
6. Top with the puff pastry. Cut a small cheminee on top to allow the steam to escape while cooking, press edges to seal, trim any excess pastry using a sharp knife and brush with the egg glaze.
7. Bake for 30 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown.
Serve with a side of salad for a summer dish or with vegetable, mash and gravy for a heartier winter meal! If you don’t have short-crust pastry, you can simply use puff pastry for the pie base as well as the lid, it’s just not as traditional!
This basic gnocchi recipe is really easy to follow and will give you the perfect, delicate, super soft and heavenly gnocchi which can be dressed in many different ways! A simple tomato sauce and grated cheese is a very delicious and authentic way to serve it, but you may prefer tossing it with other classic flavour combinations, such butter & sage, parm ham & ricotta, garlic & wild mushrooms, or peas & mint.
Ingredients: serves 4
6-8 large potatoes
2 egg yolks
3/4 cup plain flour
1 pinch nutmeg, grated
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Classic Tomato Sauce
5 ripe tomatoes, chopped or 1 can diced tomatoes
3 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
1 onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1 handful Basil, thinly sliced
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Parmesan, freshly grated
1. Boil potatoes in salted water for about 25 minutes or until tender, drain and let is cool down for 10 minutes or so. Peel and mash the flesh while still warm and place into a large mixing bowl. Fold in the egg yolks and the flour, season with salt, pepper and nutmeg, and gradually add a little more flour if the mixture is still too wet and sticky to form a ball.
2. Divide the mixture in 4-6 portions, roll each piece into a sausage shape on a floured surface and cut each into thick slices.
3. To shape the gnocchi, place it against the back of a fork, press in and down the length of the fork. Repeat with the remaining gnocchi, dust with a bit of flour and cover with a wet cloth for up to a couple of hours or until ready to cook.
4. To prepare the sauce, pre-heat a splash of oil in a frying pan, add the garlic, onion and season with salt and pepper. Add tomatoes and cook gently for 5 minutes and stir in the chopped basil.
5. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees. Boil the gnocchi in small batches in salted water for 2-3 minutes, scoop out with a slotted spoon as they start floating to the surface and continue until all remaining gnocchi have been cooked. Place the cooked gnocchi in the sauce and place in a baking tray. Sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan and bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.
While a little fiddly, gnocchi can be really rewarding to make fresh as the soft little pillows will taste amazing, honestly nothing like the supermarket bought version! One last little tip, be careful not to add too much flour though as the more flour the firmer the gnocchi will be. Adding some salt to the water will prevent the gnocchi from sticking and disintegrating while cooking. When the water starts boiling, reduce the heat to moderate. Try and add small batches of gnocchi at a time to ensure the temperature remains stable. If you wish to freeze the gnocchi, do so before they’ve been cooked and start by laying them on a tray to prevent them from sticking together. Once frozen, you can stick them in a freezing bag to store.
This elegant Asian inspired dish will be a hit served as a snack or as a starter. The beautiful contrast between the crispy sweet potato and the sharp and creamy wasabi Mayo will take you by surprise and make you come back for more! Nom, nom, nom!
Ingredients: (2 as a starter)
1 large sweet potatoes, peeled
2 tbsp sesame or walnut oil
1 tbsp vegetable oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tbsp sesame seeds
4 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tbsp wasabi
1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Slice the sweet potato into very thin slices, using a vegetable peeler. Soak in salted water for 20-30 minutes.
2. Prepare the wasabi mayonnaise dip by whisking the mayonnaise in the wasabi cream and season with cracked pepper.
3. Drain and pat dry the sweet potato slices with paper towel and coat with sesame or walnut oil and season with salt & pepper. Transfer and spread seasoned potato slices on an oven tray lined with baking paper and bake for 10 minutes. Using a large spatula, turn, sprinkle with the sesame seeds and bake for another 10 minutes until crisp.
Serve immediately with an extra sprinkle of sesame seeds!
The good news is that these little tasty treats are also much healthier than traditional crisps!
It’s also the perfect starter, before a sushi platter!
These rich and chewy double chocolate cookies will satisfy any chocolate craving…although you may have to satisfy them more and more frequently…oh, well – we all know chocolate makes us happy!
Ingredients: (makes 16)
125g dark chocolate, melted
50g cocoa, sieved
1 cup flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
125g soft butter or margarine
1 1/4 cups raw sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg, lightly beaten
100g macadamia nuts
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Mix the flour, sugar, cocoa, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a bowl.
2. In a separate bowl – whisk the butter and once combined, mix in the melted chocolate, vanilla extract and egg.
3. Whisk in the flour mix and finish with the macadamia nuts.
4. Line a flat baking tray with baking paper. Shape 16 equal-sized cookies and place on the tray, roughly 5 cm apart from each other as they will expand with the cooking. Bake for 20 minutes or until set.
5. Leave to cool for a few minutes and transfer to a cooling rack to harden.
These are absolutely delicious served with vanilla or coconut ice-cream! You can also freeze individual portions of the dough, ready to be baked as soon as the next craving hits you! Naughty…:-)
This traditional French recipe makes a wonderful side for roast chicken, pork or lamb and is for sure the tastiest way to prepare peas. Try it, you will be surprised!!
Ingredients: (serve 4)
2 onions, finely sliced
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tbsp oil olive oil
2 bacon rashers, finely sliced
500g frozen peas
1 cup chicken stock
1 bunch watercress, leaves picked
1/2 small bunch of mint, chopped
50g parmesan cheese, freshly grated
Sea salt flakes and freshly ground pepper
1. Heat butter and oil on medium heat in a large non stick pan. Cook the onions and garlic for a couple of minutes until soft. Stir in the bacon and cook for 5 minutes until nice and crispy. Season with salt & pepper.
2. Add the frozen peas and half the watercress to the onions and bacon. Add stock and sugar and cook over a low to medium heat for 5-10 minutes – or until they are cooked through but not too soft.
3. Stir in the remaining watercress, the mint and most of the grated parmesan. Serve immediately, topped with a sprinkle of the remaining parmesan and a few extra mint leaves on top!
This is a delicious old-fashioned lemon meringue pie, just like Grandma’s, with the lemon zest added to the juice. If it seems a bit too tricky for you, skip the first step and purchase short crust pastry sheet instead of making it yourself!
Ingredients (8 slices):
1 1/4 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
80g unsalted butter, cold and cubed
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
6 large egg yolks
1 1/2 cups water
1 pinch salt
1 tablespoon lemon zest
3 lemons, juiced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 large egg whites
3/4 cup caster sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1. Start by making the pastry. Place the flour, caster sugar and salt in a food processor. Add 2/3 of the butter and blend it into the mixture.
2. Shape dough into a ball in your flour coated hands, and then flatten it into a round, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. In the meantime, start preheating the oven to 180 degrees and coat a 23 cm round baking tray with a thin layer of butter and a sprinkle of flour to make it non stick.
3. Roll out pastry on a lightly floured board, lift and gently press it into the baking dish. Trim pastry overhanging the sides. Prick with a fork and bake for 20-25 minutes or until slightly golden.
4. For the lemon filling, whisk sugar, cornstarch, salt and eggs together in non stick saucepan. Then gradually whisk in the water.
5. Bring mixture to a simmer over medium heat and whisk continuously until thickened. Remove from heat, whisk in zest, juice, and finish with the remaining butter.
6. To make the meringue, beat egg whites on high speed until at soft peak stage. Add the sugar gradually, the vanilla extract and beating continually until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is thick & firm.
7. Pour lemon filling into the crust, spread the meringue evenly over the top, making sure it attaches to the crust. Create peaks in the meringue using the back of a spoon.
8. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Let it cool before serving.
Store leftovers for a few days in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freeze it as a surprise for later!
These marinated lamb chops will be everyone’s favourite at your barbecue! The lovely summery flavours of the lemon, rosemary and garlic will make your tastebuds tingle! It’s a really quick and easy one to make, but you may just have to plan it ahead as you need to allow enough time to bring the distinct flavours in the lamb
Ingredients: (serves 4-6 people)
1 lemon, juiced
3 tbsp whole grain mustard
2 tbsp fresh Rosemary, chopped or blended
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 small shallot, thinly sliced
Freshly ground pepper & sea salt flakes
1/4 cup Olive oil
12 Lamb chops
1. To make the marinate, whisk the lemon juice and mustard, into a mixing bowl. Mix in the garlic, rosemary and shallots, before gradually whisking in the oil. Season with Salt & pepper.
2. Coat the meat into the marinate and transfer to a large plastic bag or plastic container. Leave it to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or even overnight if you can!
These chops will go really well with a spinach or potato salad.
Allow for 2/3 per person! If you don’t have a barbecue or if the weather is crap, you can still follow the same recipe and grill them instead!
This is such a simple and classic dish, perfect as an Italian appetiser, brunch or as a snack. The trick is to rub the hot bread with a raw clove of garlic and then brush it with olive oil for an amazing flavour…It’s bold, fresh and delicious!
Ingredients (serves 4 people as a starter)
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 small bunch of basil, chopped
300g vine ripened tomatoes, diced
white wine vinegar
Sea salt flakes and freshly ground pepper
garlic cloves, peeled & cut in half
4 thick slices round rustic bread, cut in half
1. Preheat grill on high heat. Mix chopped tomatoes, onion and basil into a bowl and season with salt flakes, freshly ground pepper, olive oil and white wine vinegar. Toss well.
2. Toast both sides of bread slices. Rub each slice with a garlic clove while hot and brush it with a bit of olive oil.
3. Spoon tomatoes onto bread and serve immediately!
The secret for this dish to be a hit is to use the freshest ingredients you can find and keep it simple and bold. The only extra add on would be to shred a few pieces of creamy buffalo mozzarella and place it on top! You can also swap the white wine vinegar for a good quality balsamic vinegar.
Risotto is a really quick and versatile dish, which can make either a beautiful hearty main course, or an indulgent side to a Mediterranean meat/fish. In this version, the roasted mushrooms garnish adds a delicate nutty touch to the dish and elevates it to… something else!
Ingredients (serves 4 as a main)
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
400g risotto rice
1 cup white wine
6 cups hot chicken stock
75g butter, diced
1 bunch parsley, finely chopped
300g wild mushrooms (eg. shiitake & oyster), cleaned and sliced
1 lemon, juiced
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Pre-heat oil and a knob of butter on low/medium heat in a large non stick heavy bottom pan, add the onion, half the garlic and slowly cook on low heat for 10-15 minutes until nice and soft. In a separate pan, start warming up the chicken stock on medium heat.
2. Turn up the heat and add the rice to the onion mixture and fry until the grains look translucent. Stir in the wine and cook until fully absorbed into the rice. Season with salt & pepper.
3. Start adding the warm stock to the mixture, one ladleful at a time. Carry on adding more as it cooks into the rice, until soft. It should take around 20 minutes.
4. In the meantime, let’s get started on the mushrooms. Pre-heat the oven on medium heat and heat up a bit of oil in a frying pan. Fry the mushrooms with the rest of the garlic, salt and pepper for 3 minutes or until it starts colouring. Transfer to the oven and roast for 6-10 minutes. Chop about half of the amount and mix it into the risotto.
5. Take the risotto off the heat and stir in the rest of the butter (should be around 70g) and chopped parsley. Mix well. Stir in the chopped mushrooms and lemon juice. Finally, add the Parmesan and season to taste. If it looks a bit too dry, add a bit more stock at that stage to make it really creamy.
6. Serve with a garnish of the remaining roasted mushrooms.
There are countless variants of risotto, some with meat (chicken, bacon), some with seafood (mussels, prawns) and some with vegetables (Asparagus, pumpkin)… for which the base recipe can still be used, but just bring in the extra ingredients (cooked & seasoned) at stage 4.
Ragù is a beautiful alternative to a bolognese sauce, especially during the cooler months of the year. I like to make it with lamb, but you could make it with beef instead. While it take a little while to cook, it’s actually really easy to make and it will taste delicious!
Ingredients (serve 4)
400g lamb, diced
1 onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1/2 parsley bunch, finely chopped
2 sage leaves
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 red chilli, finely chopped
1 courgette, diced
2 tomatoes, chopped
2 cups white wine
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Pre-heat 2 tsp. of olive oil on high heat in a heavy non-stick oven proof sauce pan and fry the garlic, chili and sage for 30 secs before adding the onion for 5 minutes or until nice and soft. Add the meat to brown and then the red pepper and courgette for another 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. In the meantime, start pre-heating the oven at 200 degrees.
2. Add tomatoes, parsley, wine and cook in the oven on low heat for 4 hours, checking the texture every hour or so to ensure it doesn’t dry out.
3. When the meat is tender and soft, shred any remaining chunks of meat. Taste and season if necessary with additional salt and pepper. To serve, mound the pasta in individual bowls and top with plenty of the ragu and a sprinkling of cheese and chopped parsley.
As an alternative to chunky pasta you can also serve it with mash or polenta. I managed myself to change my mind between the time the ingredients were shot and the dish was ready! You can also transfer the mix to a slow cook dish at step 2 if you’re not using an oven proof pan. The lamb ragù can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.