One of my favourite British traditions is that of the Sunday roast. Not only is it an excellent excuse to have a big, rustic meal; it’s also a great reason to have friends and family around to enjoy it with you. Last Sunday Mr O requested roast lamb, which is something I have never cooked before. I’m not shy of a challenge though so I invited some friends, turned to Jamie Oliver and just went for it. Please excuse the sparse picture but this was all I managed to get before the meal was demolished! Read more…
I made this recently for a girls’ dinner with my bestie, Dawn and it was the best kind of wintery comfort food you can imagine. Not only was the pie amazing but I swear I am never going to prepare peas in any other way. I don’t even like peas and I couldn’t stop eating them. This recipe is adapted from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals so as always be prepared to run around the kitchen to get everything done on time.
Chicken pie with carrot smash and peas
For the pie
4 x skinless, boneless chicken breasts
a knob of butter
a bunch of spring onions
150g button mushrooms
1 heaped tablespoon of flour, plus extra for dusting
2 teaspoons English mustard
1 heaped tablespoon of creme fraiche
300ml chicken stock
a few sprigs of thyme
1/3 nutmeg for grating
1 sheet pre-rolled puff pastry
For the carrots
a few sprigs of thyme
For the peas
2 little gem lettuces
480g frozen peas
a knob of butter
1 tablespoon of flour
300ml chicken stock
a few sprigs of fresh mint
1/2 a lemon
Turn on the oven to 200 C and fill and boil the kettle. Peel and slice the carrots. Wash and slice the mushrooms. Trim and slice the spring onions. Remove the outer leaves from the lettuces, wash and slice them. Set all the prepared veg aside.
Place a large pan over a medium heat and a large saucepan with a lid over a low heat.
To prepare the pie slice the chicken into 1cm strips. Put a lug of olive oil and a knob of butter into the large frying pan. Add the chicken and cook for about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and spring onions to the pan with the tablespoon of flour and stir. Add the mustard, creme and chicken stock and stir. Strip in the time leaves, grate in the nutmeg and add a good sprinkle of salt and pepper. Leave to simmer.
Now prepare the smash. Put the carrots in the saucepan with a lug of olive oil a good pinch of salt and pepper and a few thyme tips. Just cover with boiling water, then cover with the lid, turn up to high and allow to cook for 15 minutes.
Now back to the pie. Lightly dust a flat surface with flour and unroll the pastry onto it. Use a small knife to lightly score it in a crisscross fashion. Take the chicken off the heat and tip it into a baking dish about 20cm x 30cm. Lay the pastry over the chicken and squidge it around the edges so it fits. Beat the egg and spread it over the top of the pastry. Bung in the oven for 15 – 2o minutes until golden brown on top.
Onto the peas. Return the chicken pan to a high heat. Add a knob of butter and a tablespoon of flour to the pan and stir. Then add the chicken stock. Tear in the mint leaves and mix with a balloon whisk until you have a smooth, bubbling sauce. Add the peas and sliced lettuce. Squeeze in the lemon and add a splash of boiled water. Season with salt and pepper and put the lid on.
Check that the carrots are fork tender and then drain them and return to the pan. Smash using a potato masher. Remove the pie from the oven and serve with the peas.
I am a really big fan of salads so I couldn’t resist making this unusual carrot salad. I absolutely loved the spicy North African flavours but I have to admit that Mr O didn’t like it – apparently too many carrots. So if you’re not a carrot lover this one might not be for you but I ate almost the entire salad over a few days as it keeps really well. I can imagine it would be great as a side at a braai.
Spiced carrot, chickpea and feta salad
Adapted from Scrumptious South Africa
200g tinned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
75g feta cheese
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
3 tablespoons finely chopped mint
3 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
For the dressing
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely grated
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Juice of half an orange
Juice of a lemon
1/4 cup olive oil
Make the dressing by whisking together all the dressing ingredients in a large bowl.
Place the pumpkin seeds in a dry frying pan over a medium heat and toast. Keep tossing so that they don’t burn. Set aside.
Trim and peel the carrots. Slice the carrots into 3mm slices. I used the mandolin side of my box grater. You could also use a food processor or slice them by hand (although that might take a while).
Bring a pot of salted water to a rapid rolling boil. Add the carrots and immediately set a timer for five minutes. When the five minutes are up test a carrot slice to check if it is tender. It should be just about al dente. If it’s not give it a couple more minutes. Drain the carrots in a colander and then add them to the bowl with the dressing. Mix in the chickpeas, cover and set aside at room temperature for a couple of hours or in the fridge if you’re planning on serving it the next day.
Just before you serve the salad mix in the parsley and mint. Pile the salad onto a pretty platter, crumble the feta over the top and sprinkle over the pumpkin seeds. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Serves 2 – 3 as a main or 6 as a starter or side.
One of the things I have learned in my cooking adventures is that there is nothing quicker or easier to make than soup and you’ll be surprised at how tasty something made from such simple ingredients can be.
Carrot and coriander soup
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 large carrots, peeled and sliced
1 1/2 teaspoons of ground coriander
2 cups of chicken stock (or vegetable stock if you’d prefer a vegetarian alternative)
3 tablespoons of low fat creme fraiche
1/2 bunch of fresh coriander, stalks and leaves, finely chopped
Heat a little olive oil in a medium sized pot. Add the onions, carrots and ground coriander and fry for about five minutes. If you like your soup spicy you could also add a pinch of chilli powder in with the ground coriander.
Add in the stock and simmer gently for 20 minutes uncovered.
Blend the mixture, either by transferring to a standing blender or in the pot using a stick blender. Stir in the creme fraiche and fresh coriander and blend again. Serve immediately with crusty bread.