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 recipe came about on a lazy sunday night when there was nothing in the fridge and I couldn’t be asked going out shopping. With the help of a bit of garlic, chilli and a bit of fresh herbs, you can turn a last minute improvisation into something quite delicious — and worth preparing even if the fridge is full!
2 cloves garlic
1/2 bunch fresh basil, leaves picked
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp dried red chili flakes
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 cup parmesan cheese grated
Salt & freshly ground pepper
2 egg yolks (optional)
1. For the pasta, use the ratio of 1 litre of water to 100g of pasta and 10g of salt, and cook as per packet instructions.
2. The traditional way of making pesto is with a mortar and pestle. Start by adding basil, garlic, salt and a pinch of garlic flakes to the mortar and bruising them to a paste. Whisk in the oil until you have the desired consistency. If in a hurry or if you’re making large quantities, you can also use a blender or food processor.
3. Once the pasta is cooked, start heating up the pesto in olive oil for 20 seconds or so. Drain the pasta, add to the frying pan with 1 tbsp of the cooking water. Toss well and cook for a few minutes. Add the lemon juice and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
4. Add a little olive oil, sprinkle chili flakes and freshly grated parmesan. Place an egg yolk on top if you would like a bit of extra richness.
If you fancy something a bit more substantial, add prawns to the pan before the cooked pasta.
San choy bau is a beautiful Chinese classic, of tasty mince mixture wrapped in a fresh and crunchy lettuce leaf. It’s all about contrast, texture and dimensions – the intensity of the juices, crunch of the nuts, freshness of the herbs – so keep it in mind if trying to adapt the recipe. This dish can be served either by itself as a starter or as a main with a side of rice.
Ingredients (serves 4 as a starter):
2 tsp sesame oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp ginger, finely chopped (julienne)
1/2 onion, finely sliced
400g lean pork mince
100g mushrooms, finely sliced
2 tbsp Shao hsing wine
1 tbsp white sugar
2 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp oyster sauce
1/2 cup coriander, finely chopped
1/3 cup macadama or cashew nuts, roughly crushed
8 iceberg lettuce leaves, trimmed
1. Heat oil in a wok over medium heat. Add garlic, onion and ginger. Stir-fry for 1 minute or until onion has softened.
2. Increase heat to medium-high. Add mince. Stir-fry for 3 to 4 minutes or until browned. Add mushrooms, nuts and continue stir-frying for 30 seconds.
3. Pour in hsing wine, sugar, soy sauce, oyster sauce and stir until the pork is fully cooked through. Stir in the coriander, just before taking it off the heat.
4. Spoon the mixture with its lovely juices into a hot bowl and serve in a large platter, surrounded by lettuce leaf cups and garnish with an extra sprinkle of coriander, as well as a few slices of red chilli if you fancy it!
Fancy cooking something French and really special? Try this iconic French dish of beef, stewed with lovely vegetables and herbs in wine which are then strained off, reduced and thickened to create a densely flavoured, smooth and silky sauce. Yes, if you’re feeling lazy, you could technically skip the sauce straining steps, but then it would just end up being a lovely stew, not a true boeuf Bourguignon! I personally think the extra step makes all the difference!
Ingredients (4 people)
200g bacon, solid chunk cut into lardons
800g braising steak, cut into cubes
2 tbsp flour
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
12 shallots, peeled and sliced
3 cups red wine (ideally Bordeaux)
2-3 cups beef stock (enough to cover)
1 tbsp tomato paste
4 garlic cloves, mashed
2 sprigs thyme, leaves picked
1/2 bunch parsley, finely chopped
1 bay leaf, preferably fresh
200g mushroom, quartered
50g unsalted butter
salt & fresh ground pepper
Potatoes, roasted or mashed (to serve)
Crusty bread (to serve)
1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat in a large frying pan, sauté the lardons for 2 to 3 minutes until lightly browned and set aside on a plate.
2. Coat the pieces of beef in flour, season with salt and pepper, and brown on all sides in the bacon fat and olive oil. Set aside with the bacon. Again, in the same oil/fat, sauté the shallots, garlic and the carrot until softened. Set aside with the meat.
3. Deglaze the frying pan with the wine, pour it into an oven-proof casserole along with the meat, lardons, shallots, garlic, carrots and add enough stock to almost cover the mix. Stir in the tomato paste and add the parsley, sage and half the thyme. Bring to a simmer on the top of the stove, cover and place in the oven. Reduce heat to 120 degrees and simmer slowly for 3 hours to 4 hours, or until a fork pierces the meat easily.
4. In the meantime, start preparing the mushrooms. Heat a spoonful of butter and a spoonful of oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. As soon as the foam begins, add the mushrooms and a sprig of thyme, season with salt and pepper, toss and sauté for about five minutes until brown and set aside until ready to use. You may also want to start preparing the side of potato at this stage.
5. When the stew meat is tender, remove all solids from the sauce by draining through a sieve set over a saucepan. Return the beef and bacon to the casserole, discarding the bits of carrot, shallots and herbs which remain in the sieve.
6. Skim the fat off the sauce and simmer it for a minute or two. You should be left with about 2-3 cups of rich, dark sauce, thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If the sauce is too thin, stir in a spoonful of flour and boil it down to reduce to the right thickness. If it’s too thick, add a bit of stock.Taste for seasoning before serving.
7. Pour the sauce over the side and garnish with fresh parsley to serve.
If serving later, simply allow the casserole to cool before placing it in the refrigerator. Place over medium heat and simmer very slowly for ten minutes, occasionally stirring the meat with the sauce.
The first time I had Pavlova, or even heard of it as a matter of fact, was 3 years ago as I was celebrating my first Australian Christmas. And I have to say, good on ya Aussies! It may be dead simple, but it’s bloody tasty!
Ingredients: (serves 6)
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp cornstach
1 1/3 cups caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup thickened cream
3-4 kiwis, peeled and sliced
2 bananas, peeled and sliced
100g fresh or frozen raspberries
1/2 small bunch of fresh mint (to serve)
1. Preheat oven to 200°C. Whisk the egg-whites with cream of tartar in a large bowl using an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating constantly until fully dissolved and the mixture looks thick and glossy. Finish the last spoon of sugar with the cornstarch. Fold in the vanilla extract.
2. Draw one large 24cm or 6 small circles on a sheet of baking paper and place it on a baking tray. Spoon meringue onto the circle on the baking paper and shape it into a circle, using the pencil mark as a guide.
3. Reduce oven to 100°C and bake for 90 minutes or until dry and crisp. Turn off the oven, open the door slightly and let the pavlova cool completely to avoid it to sink during cooling. In the meantime, whip the cream until thick and rich.
4. Slide pavlova onto a serving plate, cover with cream, top with sliced fruit and a sprig of mint. Serve.
I like to make little individual pavlovas instead of a large one because it tends to be a bit crispier and also looks really elegant on the plates. You can prepare the meringue base a couple days ahead and store it in an airtight container and put it together in 5 minutes just before serving!
China Doll is one of my favourite and also one of the most elegant restaurants in Sydney. It’s located in a fantastic spot on the Wolloomooloo finger wharf. However the stunning harbour views shouldn’t detract from the exquisite experience about to unfold right in front of you! The up and coming chef, Frank Shek, is from a multicultural background and shows great flair when combining delightful Asian flavours in a magical new way. It’s good to know that all produce used in the kitchen are also carefully picked, organic and sustainable.
I would recommend kicking off with a few starters to share – including the steamed Prawn & Green Soy Bean dumplings, the Sashimi of Hiramasa Kingfish & Ocean Trout and the Chilli Salt Squid. The dumplings are juicy and delicious, the kingfish fresh & fragrant, and the chili Squid crispy and spicy, which make it the absolute best combination! For mains, the signature dish is the melt in your mouth Crispy Pork Belly, but the Curry of Slow Braised Wagyu Beef Shin was probably our number one favourite! If you prefer seafood, the Steamed Mulloway Fillet was pretty popular too. I would also strongly suggest you save a bit of room for the desserts. If only just for one – then it would have to be the the condensed milk tart with it’s gorgeous strands of fairy floss. If you can squeeze another one in, then the Sago with coconut milk and passionfruit was also a delight. If it’s only two of you, you may want to opt for one of the two banquet options on offer. This way you still get a chance to sample a good selection of those wonderful dishes.
While on the expensive side, the portion sizes are generous and the service friendly and attentive, making the overall experience worth every penny. All together a really memorable experience and a great spot for a special night out! If you feel like going somewhere else for a few more drinks, you could try the nearby Tilbury or even cocktails at Water Bar @ Blue to end the night in style!
Overall, I would probably give it a 8.5/10 Nibbles!
Shop 4, 6 Cowper Wharf Road
NSW Australia 2011
This is the perfect winter comfort food, rich and flavourful mix of fresh herbs and spices, with the perfect balance between sweet and zesty. If you take the time to marinate the meat the day before and cook it slowly for at least 2 hours, the meat will literrally fall off the bone. Serve with cous cous for a complete meal.
Ingredients: Serves 4
4 lamb shanks, excess fat trimmed
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp chilli powder
4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
3 onions, roughly chopped
1 red chilli, seeded and chopped
1 bunch of coriander
2 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
6 chat potatoes, peeled and cut in half
4 vine ripened tomatoes, thickly sliced
75 g dried apricots
2 tbsp clear honey
3 bay leaves
1 cup chicken stock
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Couscous (to serve)
Lemon (to serve)
Greek yoghourt (to serve)
1. Place the ground ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, paprika and chilli powder into a bowl and mix together. Season the lamb shanks with a splash of olive olive oil, a good pinch of salt, freshly ground black pepper and rub in the spice mix. Set aside for at least 2 hours or overnight in the fridge if you can.
2. Pre-heat the oven to 150 degrees. Place the garlic cloves, coriander stalks (save the leaves), 2 onions and 2/3 of the red chilli in a blender or food processor and blend to a smooth paste.
3. Heat olive oil in a large frying pan, add lamb pieces to brown and set aside. Add the spice paste to the remaining oil and fry gently for 3 minutes.
4. Add carrots, the remaining onion, potatoes, tomatoes, apricots and turn over a few times in the spice mixture. Season with Salt and pepper.
5. Transfer the mixture to a Tagine dish if you have one or a large air tight and over proof dish. Place the lamb on top, add the bay leaves, honey and enough stock to almost cover the meat. Cook in the oven for 2 hours.
6. Serve with couscous and sprinkle with coriander leaves, red chili, a couple of lemon wedges and a dollop of Greek yoghourt.
Click here if you would like to see the Nibblish Beef Tagine Recipe!
This Donna Hay inspired pudding looks absolutely gorgeous, yet it’s so easy to make you will really struggle to mess it up! ;0) The only trick is to start on the jelly early to give it enough time to set.
Ingredients: (4 serves)
1 raspberry jelly sachet
100g fresh raspberries
4 macarons (store bought)
1 cup (250ml) thickened cream
1 tbsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp sugar
Coconut flakes to serve (optional)
1. Make the raspberry jelly according to the packet’s instructions. Arrange 4-5 raspberries in the bottom of each of the 4 serving glasses and pour over the raspberry jelly. Place in the fridge to set for at least 4-5 hours.
2. To assemble, place a macaron in each glass on the jelly. Whisk the thickened cream with the sugar and vanilla until it holds peaks and layer over the macaron. Top up with a couple of fresh raspberries and a sprinkle of coconut flakes. You’re done!
Ice-cream hidden in a crispy choux pastry ball, covered in chocolate sauce. Can you think of anything better, seriously?
25g unsalted butter
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup flour
1 pinch of salt
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 pinch of salt
1.Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees. Bring butter, water and 1 pinch of salt to boil, stirring well until the butter is melted.
2. Pour the flour all at once in the butter mixture and use a wooden spoon to beat until well combined and until it forms a ball. Set aside for 5 minutes to cool slightly.
3. Whisk in the eggs, but one at a time until well combined.
4. Cover a large tray with baking paper. Transfer the mixture to a pastry bag and pipe the profiteroles onto the baking tray. If you don’t have a pastry bag, use a ziplock bag and cut off the corner.
5. Bake for 25 minutes or until the profiteroles are puffed and golden. Try not to open the oven until it’s cooked or your pastry may run rise as desired.
6. Remove from oven and turn the oven off. Using a skewer or a small knife, prick each profiterole once and return the to the oven for 15 minutes to dry out.
7. To prepare the sauce, break the chocolate into rough pieces and melt it in a pan. Pour the cream in and mix with a wooden spoon until smooth and fully combined. Remove from the heat, add a pinch of salt, a splash of cognac if you wish and mix well.
8. To assemble the profiteroles, halve each choux horizontally, fill with a ball of ice-cream. Place 3 on each plate, over some whipped cream and drizzle generously with chocolate sauce.
The same choux pastry recipe can be used for eclairs.
Kids absolutely love ice-cream sandwiches, and so do most grown up men! Why don’t you try this out next time to make a batch of cookies?
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 Chocolate chips
1. Make chocolate cookies according the recipe instructions, but replace the macadamia nuts for chocolate chips and use a round mould to shape the dough before baking to ensure all cookies are identical.
2. Fill the round mould with Ice cream using a spatula to form a layer of the same size as the cookies. Place it between two cookies and return it back to the freezer!
I usually store them in individual freezing bags for up to a few weeks!