Chicken potpie

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In short, this is such a good chicken pie,  it is totally worthwhile to endure cooking process. It is arguably one of the best I have ever had. It is hard to believe this dish actually start from, God forgive, leftovers…

A few shortcuts, though: I used pre-made pastry. I know – home made pastry is not that hard to do. But, I didn’t feel brave enough for it… and, the one in the supermarket is also perfectly fine for this purpose…  If you don’t have any chicken leftovers, and need to cook it from scratch, add some herbs and vegetables when boiling it (this recipe work just fine). Everything else is so tasty, it is a crying shame to put in some bland rubbery chicken.

Chicken potpie (adapted from Thomas Keller‘s Ad hoc at home)

Ingredients

2 sheets of basic pie pastry

Chicken Pie Filling

  • 1 cup of potatoes cut in about 6cm  pieces
  • 1 1/4 of carrots cut diagonally in 6cm pieces
  • 12 white pearl onions
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • 24 black peppercorns
  • 1 1/4 cups of 4-6cm of pieces of celery,  cut on the diagonally
  • 2 cups of shredded cooked chicken

Béchamel sauce

  • 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups of whole milk
  • 1 salt and freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped thyme
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • 1 egg, beaten

Method

Roll out the dough and line the baking tray with one of the sheets. Put the other one a plate. Refrigerate both.

Place the potatoes, carrots and onions in a saucepan with the bay, thyme and peppercorns.  Top with cold water to cover. Gently bring to a simmer. Cook  until just tender, about 8-10min (the original recipe asked for each vegetable to cooked in individual pans, but I just put everything together in the same one). Once cooked, drain the water and discard bay, thyme, and peppercorns. Cut the onions in 2 and set aside to cool.

Blanch the celery for just over a minute in a large pot of boiling salted water, until they are tender/crispy. Drain and let it cool in a bowl of iced water. Set aside with the other vegetables

You can now start the béchamel. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, adjusting the heat as needed so the mixture does not brown. Whisk in the milk, lower the heat to keep the bechamel at a gentle simmer, and cook, whisking ofter to ensure it doesn’t burn. It should take about 30-40minutes until the sauce has thickened and reduced to about 2 cups. Season to taste with salt, pepper, parsley, thyme, and cayenne.

Put the oven racks in the lower third and center of the oven and preheat the oven to 190 oC (about 375oF).

Remove the pastry sheets rom the refrigerator. Scatter the vegetables and chicken into the pie shell. Pour the béchamel over them. Moisten the rim of pie shell with some of the beaten egg. Cover the filling with the top crust and press the edges of the dough together to seal. Trim away the excess dough that overhangs the rim. Brush the top crust with the egg. Cut a small vent in the center of the dough with the tip of a paring knife to allow the steam to escape.

Bake on the lower oven rack until the crust is a rich golden brown, 50 minutes to 1 hour. If necessary, move the pie to the centre rack during the last 10 minutes of baking to brown the crust. On the other hand, if crust is browning too quickly, cover with aluminium foil.

Transfer to a cooling rack and let rest for 10 minutes.


Roasted beetroot with chestnuts, red onions and balsamic vinegar

roasted beetroot with chestnuts and red onion

I was not joking: here it goes #beetrootgate dish number 3. I tried this recipe once, out of one of favorite cookbooks long before I had a blog. As beetroots were pulling up in the fridge, it seemed like a good idea to try it again.  And, it was as lovely as I remembered it, with lots of different flavors and textures. A perfect side dish for you winter roasts…

Roasted beetroot with chestnuts, roasted red onions and balsamic vinegar (adapted from Carlos Horrillo and Patrick Morcas’ Tapas: Simple Flavours, Striking Combinations)

Ingredients

  • 3 large beetroots washed and cooked, sliced (pay attention not to pull the vinegary ones from the shelf)
  • olive oil to taste vinegar to taste
  • 3 red onions cut into quarter
  • 8 roasted chestnuts, crushed with a mortar and pestle
  • balsamic vinegar
  • salt and black pepper to taste

Method

Pre-heat your oven to 190oC/3750F/mark 5

Place the sliced beetroots* in a roasting tray, and drizzle them with a generous amount of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Roast for about 25min. Reserve.

Put the quartered onions in a small roasting tray, drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Place them at the bottom of the oven and roast for about 20min. Reserve.

When everything is ready, place a large heavy-based non stick frying pan on a medium heat and  put in enough olive oil to coat the bottom. When is piping hot and begins to smoke, drop in half the onions and  season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 3 min, until the beetroots start to get dark, stirring occasionally, Add half the roasted onions and dash of balsamic vinegar. Mix well, and add the half the chestnuts. Cook together another 3min. Reserve.  Repeat whit what is left of the ingredients.

Just when the second batch is about to get ready, put in the reserved portion. Drizzle again with olive and let it cooked until everything is well mixed.

*If you cannot find cooked beetroots, cook them by bringing them to boil in a large pan with salt and water and bring them to simmer for about 3h. After allowing them to cool, peel of the skins.


Baked onions and potatoes with romesco sauce

Autumn flavors – roasted potatoes and onions with a nutty sauce to go with it….. hearty food with rich flavors, different textures and enough substance to satisfy your appetite. And, once you have enough romesco sauce on stock, very easy and quick.

Romesco sauce  (adapted from Ferran Adrià’s The Family Meal)

Ingredients

  • 1 ripe tomato
  • 1 whole head of garlic
  • 60mL of olive oil
  • 70g toasted blanched hazelnuts
  • 200 of sliced white country-style bread
  • 50 mL of sherry vinegar (fifty, not five hundred)
  • 240g of roasted peppers (Adrià recommends Chorizero pepper paste, but I was not able to source. I replaced it an equivalent quantity of with preserved roasted peppers)

Method Pre heat the oven to 200 oC Put the tomato and head of garlic in a roasted tray and cook for about 45min or until is tender and blackened. Peel the tomatoes and garlic cloves and put into a big bowl (more likely, you will have to squeeze the garlic). Roast the hazelnuts in a pan with a bit of olive oil over medium heat, until they are dark golden. Remove, drain with a kitchen paper and set aside. Fry the bread with a bit of olive oil, and break to small pieces with your hands. Add the vinegar, nuts, bread, fried bread and peppers to the bowl where the tomato and garlic are. Process with a hand held blender to make a coarse paste. Blend in the olive oil until smooth. Baked potatoes (adapted from Ferran Adrià’s The Family Meal) Ingredients 

  • 1 baking potato per person
  • 2 small onions per person
  • Salt to taste

Method Pre heat the oven to 200 oC Wrap each potato in aluminum foil Put in a roasting tray and bake for about 45min or until the potatoes are soft  and onion skins are charred. Cut the potatoes and the onions in half. Season with salt to taste. Serve with the romesco sauce.


Idiazábal cheese and caramelised onion tapa

Nowadays, you can get decent (and indecent, for that matter) Manchego cheese in almost every supermarket. But, Idiazábal cheese is only to be found in high end delicatessen shops, at the price of an arm, a leg, and your children corneas.  I only remember having it once in the 9 years I have been living in Switzerland, and truth to be said, it was a Spanish acquaintance who smuggled it in  gruyère -land.

In case you are wondering, Idiazábal  is a  Denominación de Origen [Protected designation of origin] hard sheep cheese  from the Basque and Navarre regions, which has a rich smoky flavor. Apparently, the Basque shepherds used to store the cheese in their huts over Winter. The smoke coming out of their fireplaces eventually permeated their dairies, giving it a new flavor that the shepherds preferred. All I can say is that the flavor (and aroma) is strong. Very strong…

In fact, so strong I thought my suffering testers dinner guests wouldn’t appreciate it to its full splendor. I resorted to Simone and Inés Ortega’s The Book of Tapas for help, and as it turned out, it was actually a very good idea to serve this tapa rather than the pure thing. The sweetness of the onion and honey complement to perfection the slightly less smokey and hot-ish flavor the cheese, for complete delight of guests and cook.

Idiazábal cheese and caramelised onion tapa (adapted from Simone and Inés Ortega’s The Book of Tapas)

Ingredients 

  • 200g Idiazábal cheese, rind removed and sliced
  • 1 cup (=250mL) milk
  •  2 teaspoons black peppercorns, slightly crushed
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely sliced
  • 6 slices of French baguette
  • 1 teaspoon honey

Method

1. Put the cheese in a bowl, add the milk and the crushed peppercorns. Let it sit for about 30min (until it is a bit softer)

2.In the meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a non-adherent frying pan until it shimmers. Drop in the onion, and let it caramelise, stirring every now and gain.It should take about 15min.

3. Fish the cheese out of the bowl and pat dry with kitchen paper.

4.Place each slice of cheese on top of the bread and drop about 1 teaspoon of the caramelised onions over it. Finish the tapa by drizzling a little honey over it.