Leftovers again? What was I to do? Time to get a bit creative in the kitchen…..

I shared with you a recipe from a young friend who had lived in a student flat on a meagre income while he was studying. It was a delicious and heartwarming chicken stew made from the leftover roast chicken from Sunday night.

That 300 grams of leftover roast chicken made a really tasty dinner which we enjoyed very much – the chief tester declared it a keeper which is always a good sign. Great I thought – I’ll file the recipe away for another time. But what do you do when there is leftover chicken stew? This was becoming one of those ongoing dilemma’s for this household of just two.

I was lacking inspiration and very nearly resorted to making hot buttered toast and reheating the stew and calling that dinner. Nothing wrong with that as an option – but I’m one of those souls who prefers to eat something different every night. I’m not that enamoured of a meal repeated unless it is Lemon Croissant Pudding for two – Decadent Indulgence! of course and I could happily have this twice in a  row!

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I’m going to call this ‘Rustic Chicken Filo Pie’ – for the sake of my reputation within the family as a ‘not too bad cook’! Sounds fancy eh?

Seriously I took some store-bought filo pastry from the refrigerator, and that leftover chicken stew from the night before and voila!

Filo or phyllo is very thin sheets of pastry commonly used in Greek, eastern European and Middle Eastern cuisines. It can be used for sweet dishes and savoury, and is known to be a healthier alternative to a flaky pastry. The pastry is made from flour and water with fat in the form of melted butter, spread or oil brushed on the layers as they are assembled for your recipe.

Lay a sheet of filo on a clean bench and take a pastry brush and brush olive oil on the sheet – I find this easier than melted butter.

Fold a sheet in half and lay in the bottom of a pie dish – repeat with another sheet of filo pastry to ensure the bottom the pie dish is covered.

Spoon in your leftover chicken stew.

Oil another sheet of filo pastry and then ‘scrunch’ it up in your hand, and place it on top of the stew. Repeat s-3 times depending on the size of your pie dish.

Sprinkle with sesame seeds, and pop into a hot oven for 30 minutes or until hot through.

And thankfully this was the leftover roast chicken, transformed to that delicious chicken stew and then finally into the ‘Rustic Filo Pie’ finished!

Kidding aside, this is the sort of cooking our mum’s and nana’s did when we were younger. A Sunday roast chicken fed the family, and their was always something leftover for another meal. The carcass became stock for soup, and the leftover chicken meat made its way into a risotto or if we were really lucky into our school lunch box. A chicken sandwich was always so much nicer than jam or peanut butter one!

In this season of saving towards first homes, and one income while at home with the children, it’s not a bad thing to know how to save a few dollars. With a little thought it’s possible to do this with family meals if you get back to basics.

Happy leftovers xx

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What to do with leftover roast chicken – make a chicken stew of course!

The household numbers just the two of us these days with the children all grown and living away from home.   So the days of cooking a roast chicken and making sausage meat balls to make the chicken go further are long gone and replaced with the other end of the scale issue – leftovers!

I have made a chicken risotto, chicken soup – and chicken enchiladas with the leftovers before. Some time ago a young work colleague told me about his favourite thing to do with his leftover chicken and I thought I would give it a go. 

Ingredients

  • 1 leftover roast chicken, stripped of meat (approx 300 grams)
  • Olive oil
  • 4 rashers of bacon, finely sliced
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 3 large carrots, sliced
  • 2 potatoes, diced into 2 cm pieces
  • Fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 200 grams button mushrooms, halved
  • 1 heaped tablespoon flour
  • Salt & pepper

Place the carcass in a large pot and break it up with a potato masher – cover with 1 litre of water, bring to the boil, then simmer for at least 30 minutes.

I used my Corning Ware casserole dish for the next stage of the cooking – I was given this as a wedding gift from my Uncle and Aunty in 1984 would you believe? It has been a great dish to own as you can cook with it on the stove top or in the oven – a super versatile dish which has been a well used over the years.  

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Splash some olive oil in your pan, and add the bacon to cook for a few minutes. Add the onion, carrots, potatoes along with the fresh thyme and bay leaves. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring regularly. Stir in the mushrooms, and chicken, along with the heaped tablespoon of flour.

Pour the stock through a sieve straight into the pan, and let simmer for 40 minutes, or until thickened. Season with salt & pepper to taste. IMG_0222.png

I served the stew on a mash of sweet potato for a quick and simple dinner during the week – if I had more time I would have made old-fashioned dumplings and popped these on top of the stew in the last 20 minutes of cooking time for a change, with a side of green beans!

A glass of red wine and you are set for a heartwarming meal that really is delicious – and a lovely change from using the leftover roast chicken in a risotto 🙂

Happy winter meals xx


Pinot Noir Chocolate Cake – yes really!

Does your letterbox get flooded with loads of retail brochures, and real estate flyers? Ours too – and after the long weekend of Queens Birthday there were even more than normal!  As an aside I did wonder how the retailers would feel if they knew that the flyers arrived ‘after’ the weekend when the sales were advertised for as I browsed through them 🙂

In amongst the paper recycling were the normal Real Estate advertising  ‘ I’ve sold more houses in your street’ flyers which I generally give no more than a cursory glance too, however I did spy something a little different from the norm – a recipe.

Clever agent I thought – as I unfolded the whole flyer to see what else I might find amongst the housing news.  “Housing market flat – Auckland values down – restricted lending by banks” – nothing new in there. So back to the recipe I went.

Pinot Noir Chocolate Cake

Ingredients

  • 90 grams softened butter
  • 170 grams brown sugar
  • 60 grams caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup Pinot Noir
  • 3/4 cup cherries
  • 150 grams plain flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate, chopped

Preheat the oven to 180°c – and line a 20cm cake tin with baking paper.

Cream the butter and two sugars together until light and fluffy.

Beat in the eggs one at a time, and then add the vanilla – ( I like to use vanilla paste however essence is just fine).

Mix in the red wine gently, and then sift into the mixer all of the dry ingredients. Add the chopped chocolate in next. Do not over mix, as you fold in the cherries.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until your cake skewer is clean from mix when you test the cake.

Now the Real Estate agent calls this a ‘lavish cake, velvety and moist’ and she was not wrong. The Pinot Noir compliments the cherries with complex fruit undertones – goodness now I sound like a wine connoisseur not a humble home baker 🙂

Serve with an unsweetened thick yoghurt to cut through the sweetness; trust me you’ll need it if you ice the cake like I did. 
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A nice hot black coffee or if you feel like continuing the indulgence, a glass of that Pinot Noir will be a lovely accompaniment in front of a roaring fire, and a candle-lit room….oops sorry day dreaming just a little!

Oh, and the moral of the story? read those pesky flyers from cover to cover as you never know what useful information or recipe may be lurking amongst the propaganda 🙂

Happy baking xx


Lemon Croissant Pudding for two – Decadent Indulgence!

Last weekend I met my girlfriend at La Cigale Market in Parnell – she lives out South and I live on the North Shore, so nearly a half-way point, and a great place for a nice weekend brunch, and a catch-up.

I enjoy the markets and La Cigale is no exception. Every Saturday from 8am to 1.30pm you will find the an amazing selection of wonderful products from New Zealand artisan producers and growers as well as overseas. You can buy fresh produce, fresh breads and pastries – and lots of fresh fish, cheeses and chutney’s. So much, you really need to go there and experience it!

The croissants were too  good to pass by and I paid for just two, and thought they would be lovely for a late lunch with fresh cheese and a slice of champagne ham with the chief tester later in the day.

By the time I got home after a late brunch and a delicious hot chocolate the fresh croissants were packed away in the pantry for another time – someone’s eyes were bigger than her tummy!

Sunday came and I looked at the brown paper bag with those croissants, as I considered dinner for the evening ahead. I remembered making a bread & butter style pudding with croissants some years ago, and thought – why not? It was about time I made something nice for desert in our house – the chief tester would be impressed 🙂

Ingredients

  • 2 large croissants
  • 1/4 cup lemon curd
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1//4 cup cream
  • 1/4 cup caster sugar
  • finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste
  • 2 eggs

To Serve

  • icing sugar for dusting
  • thick plain yoghurt
  • berry coulis (recipe below)

Preheat the oven to 180°c.

Cut the croissants in half. Spread the cut sides with lemon curd and arrange in a baking dish.

Whisk all the remaining ingredients together and pour over the croissants. Leave for 15 minute, regularly spooning the egg mixture over the pieces of croissant so they are all soaked in custard.

Place the pudding in a roasting dish and pour in enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the dish. (This will ensure the lemon custard is lovely and silky when cooked).

Bake for 25-30 minutes – the custard should bow just set around the croissants.

To serve: Dust the pudding with icing sugar and s serve with yoghurt and berry coulis.

Lemon Croissant Pudding

Raspberry Coulis – I keep a jar of home-made raspberry coulis in the refrigerator all year round. It comes in very handy and has turned a simple dessert into something a bit more special on more than one occasion.  Here’s my version for you:

  • 4 cups raspberries, frozen
  • 1/4 cup caster sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons cornflour
  • 2 tablespoons water

Place the berries in a large pot and add sugar, water and lemon juice and bring to a gentle simmer.

Blend the cornflour with water to make a smooth paste and add to the berries.

Bring to the boil, stirring constantly to ensure the mixture does not catch on the bottom of the pot. Cook for 5 minutes.

Pour into a bottle when the mixture has cooled, and store in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks.

I call this ‘decadent indulgence’ and any pudding made with french flaky pastry is I suppose? But really we should all treat ourselves once in a while – you know you deserve it!

Happy indulging xx


Crisp Roast Pork Belly

You can’t best a good roast pork belly. The lovely thick layer of fat on pork belly keeps the meat moist as it roasts and also gives you an incredible even layer of delicious crackling.

Still a relatively cheap cut, pork belly is simple to prepare and will impress your dinner guests for sure.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5kg pork belly
  • Rock salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, peeled, and halved
  • 2 carrots, peeled and halved lengthways
  • 2 sticks of celery, chopped in half
  • 1 bulb of garlic, skin on, broken into cloves
  • Small bunch of fresh thyme, leaves picked
  • 600ml water or stock

Preheat the oven to its hottest temperature, it needs to be at lest 220°C

Place the pork on a clean work surface, skin upwards. Score the skin at about 1 centimetre intervals, making sure you only cut through the skin not into the meat.

Rub the skin of the pork belly with plenty of salt and olive oil.

Season the underside of the meat with a little salt and ground black pepper. Place the pork, skin-side-up, in a roasting pan, and place in the hot oven.

Roast for 1/2 an hour until the skin of the pork has started to puff up and you can see it turning into crackling. Turn the heat down to 180°C and set the timer for 1 hour.

Take out of the oven and add all of the vegetables to the pan and stir them into the fat. Place the pork on top of the vegetables and place back in the oven. Roast for 1 hour further.

Remove the meat and cover to rest while you make the gravy.

Add the water or stock to the pan, and place on the element – bring to the boil and simmer for a few minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Use a potato masher and mash the roasted vegetables to get as much flavour as you can from them into the gravy.  Make sure you taste the gravy and add a little salt and pepper if it needs it. Pour the gravy through a sieve, mashing the vegetables with the back of a spoon

Serve with mashed potato, and freshly steamed vegetables.

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As delicious as this was, there are left-overs! Pork belly is fatty, and a girl does not need seconds as much as she would have liked to have indulged 🙂

I’m thinking the left-overs could do well in Pulled-Pork Nachos ? or maybe Sweet and Smoky Pulled Pork Quesadilla’s? I don’t think it will be a problem to devour the left-overs – the problem will be choosing how!

Happy roasting xx


Parsnip & Macadamia Nut Loaf

I love winter root vegetables – especially parsnip!  The parsnip is a root vegetable related to the carrot and parsley. It was interesting to learn that parsnip contains more sugar than carrots, and has a calorie count equal to a banana!

At the same time it is an excellent source of dietary fibre, and is full of vitamin C, and other healthy minerals like iron, calcium which we all need.

So last week when I was sitting in the North Shore hospital waiting room for my follow-up appointment, I was delighted to find a recipe using my favourite root vegetable in some very old but fancy magazine!

Ingredients:

  • 100ml vegetable oil
  • 75ml olive oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 60g brown sugar
  • 60g liquid honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • 1 orange, finely grated zest
  • 100g each: plain and wholemeal flours
  • 1 tsp each: baking soda, baking powder,ground ginger and cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 200g parsnip, peeled and grated
  • 50g macadamia nuts, lightly toasted, & roughly chopped

Topping  (optional):

  • 1 tbsp melted butter
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 20g macadamia nuts, roughly  chopped
  1. Heat the oven to 160°c. Grease and line a 23cm x 12cm loaf tin.
  2. Place oils, eggs,brown sugar, and honey in a bowl and beat until thick and pale (about 5 minutes)
  3. Stir in vanilla paste and zest.
  4. Sift over the dry ingredients and mix well. Add the ground almonds, chopped macadamia nuts and parsnip. Mix well, and spoon into the loaf tin.
  5. Combine topping ingredients (is using) and sprinkle over the loaf.
  6. Bake 45-50 mins or until the cake skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Allow the loaf to cool for 15 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.
  7. Serve warm from the oven with a dollop of Greek Yoghurt 🙂

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**The topping which is optional was quite delicious, but the loaf can stand up to not having this extra if you want to reduce the sugar content.

I’m heading back to the waiting rooms of the publich hospital so I will rummage through the old magazines and see what else I can find to share!

Happy baking xx


‘Quark?’ I hear you say – what on earth is that? Quark means ‘curd’ in German and is thought to have originated in Central Europe–in fact it has been made since the Iron Age!

Quark is a fresh, white cheese, very similar to Ricotta. It can be used in baking for both savoury and sweet pies, mousse and cheesecakes. It is also a good low-fat replacement for butter in scrambled eggs. The flavour is mild and milky; not surprising when you learn that it is made from pasteurised milk which has a starter culture added to it then some rennet to form the curd. It is then hung in cheesecloth to drain some of the whey off.

I discovered Quark last weekend at my favourite food store Farro Fresh on the North Shore here in Auckland. I love Farro because the store showcases the very best and finest of New Zealand food, which means you can always find something new and delicious to try. IMG_0203.png

I chatted to the maker of this Quark who was in the store demonstrating the product.

The Cheese Barn can be found on the Hauraki Plains of New Zealand in a little town called Matatoki. They specialise in certified organic cheeses and yoghurt’s that are gluten-free, have no artificial additives, antibiotics, growth hormones and no chemical sprays.

The ‘chief tester’ and I tried a little piece of this No-Bake Lemon Quark Cheesecake in the store and we loved it! I bought several tubs of the Quark and could not wait for the long weekend to make one for dessert 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 80-100g plain biscuits
  • 50g melted butter
  • 200g icing sugar
  • 200g soft cream cheese
  • 500g quark
  • Zest of 2 lemons & juice of 3 lemons
  • 3-3 1/2 tsp gelatin
  1. Crush the biscuits, mix in the butter and the press not a 20cm spring form tin.
  2. Whisk the cream cheese, quark and icing sugar in a large bowl, and then fold in  the zest.
  3. Soak the gelatine in the lemon juice, then melt on a low heat.
  4. Beat into the cheese mix – until smooth. Spoon in to the biscuit base.
  5. Chill until set (approximately 3-4 hours) in the refrigerator.
  6. Serve with chopped pistachio’s, and a dollop of cream

Now if you can’t source Quark, you can use Ricotta for this recipe however I do recommend that you hunt the stuff down – it  has a smoother texture and a brighter flavour than ricotta.

I’m sold and will be restocking to ensure I can whip this cheesecake up again, and feel slightly guilt-free for eating dessert 🙂

Happy ‘Quark’ day xx

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No-Bake Lemon Quark Cheesecake


One Pan Spanish Wild Rice

I cook without meat at least once a week: as I have got older I find red meat especially less agreeable with my tummy. At the same time it is often quicker to put together a nice tasty vegetarian dinner.

During the week having something quick and easy to create for the family is always a bonus. This One Pan rice dish gets a big ‘taste tick’ – and covers off a couple of food groups too. Vegetable, carbs, and protein – now I call that quite well-rounded!

Nothing easier to clean up after then a meal in one pan!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Wild Rice (or 1 cup white rice)
  • 2-3 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 2 large tomatoes, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 cup beans (rinsed & drained)
  • 2 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock or water if vegan)
  • 1 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a large pan (I used my wok!). Add garlic and sauté until the kitchen is smelling of garlic 🙂

Add diced onion and cook until soft. Add diced tomatoes and cook them until they soften for about 4-5 minutes.

Add spinach, beans, rice and cook for a few minutes, mixing well. Add chicken stock, vegetable stock or water and bring to the boil.

Season with curry powder, salt & pepper.

Simmer the rice mix for 25-30 minutes (or until the rice is tender) on a low heat with a lid on the pan.

Turn off the heat and serve warm.

*Notes:

1. I used this very cool ‘Wild Rice’ – this is blended red, black and brown rice. I have been trying to use brown rice rather than white to reduce the carbohydrates at our place. It did take longer to cook than white rice-use whatever rice you have in the pantry for this recipe.

2. As tomatoes get more expensive (out of season) swap out for a can of tomatoes and reduce the amount of liquid you add.

Do give this one-pan dish an opportunity to give your palate a taste sensation – and a 30 minute mid-week meal option gives you time for the important stuff of life. A cup of tea and an episode of Grey’s Anatomy!

Happy cooking xx


Caramel Oat Slice – decadent and delicious!

The weather was not great over the weekend with thunderous rain that just covered the country – so like lots of others I chose to stay indoors and do a little baking! 

Now I have to say straight up that this recipe is a little naughty 🙂  it is not on any diet plan so don’t kid yourself with the oats and think that will excuse you from indulging….if you have enough self-control to have just one piece at a time, then go ahead and bake away!

Ingredients:

Base

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup each: self-raising  flour, desiccated coconut
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 150g butter, melted

Filling

  • 100g  butter, melted
  • 395g can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla paste

Preheat the oven to 180°c. Line a 30cm x 20cm slice pan with baking paper.

Base: combine the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add the egg and butter and mix together to combine well. Press three-quarters of the mixture into the line slice pan.

Combine the filling ingredients in a pot and stir over a low heat until the mixture is thick. Pour the mixture evenly over the base and then sprinkle with the remaining base mixture as a topping.

Bake in the preheated oven for abut 30-35 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.

*Note that it may still be a bit wobbly in the middle but it will set as it cools.

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 This will satisfy even the sweetest tooth and for me I am happy for just one slice with my cup of tea. The ‘chief tester’ however…..mmmm we’ll see when I get home from work what damage has been done to the cake tin!

Happy baking xx


Sweet Potato & Carrot Salad with Mint Cream 

Are you looking for something a little different to do with the humble carrot? Then do I have the answer for you!

This yummy salad is actually a warm one-you roast the vegetables and then top them with salad greens and a lovely creamy feta and mint sauce!

Let’s get it underway 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 medium pumpkin
  • 3 large golden kumara (sweet potato)
  • 3 medium carrots
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp tuscan seasoning (or your favourite all-purpose seasoning)
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 tbsp pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds
  • sea salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 50g creamy feta, mashed
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 50g mesclun/green salad leaves
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Preheat the oven to 180°c fan bake. Deseed & skin the pumpkin. Peel the kumara and carrots, cutting all the vegetables into chunky, bite-sized pieces.

Toss the vegetables with the olive oil, crushed garlic and seasoning so they are all coated. Arrange the vegetables on a baking paper lined tray in a single layer. Roast for 30 minutes, or until golden and tender.

In a small pan, heat a drizzle of olive oil and toast the seeds until they are toasted and popping in the pan!

Combine the sour cream, mashed feta and mint in a bowl, and mix until smooth.

Arrange the vegetables on a large serving platter and top them with the salad greens, Sprinkle over the toasted seeds and drizzle with he mint cream just before serving.

Serves 6

And there you have it, a tasty and nutritious warm vegetable salad that goes well with a barbecued sausage, or a fancy baked stuffed chicken breast with a mushroom sauce….mmm. I feeling hungry! And thirsty…it must be time for a glass of wine to wind the weekend down and get ready for another busy week at work.

Happy week everyone xx