Chicken Pie – trying out guten-free puff pastry

When I was browsing the store for gluten-free things the other day I first time noticed they even have a full ‘Frozen gluten-free food’ section there! Heaven! This was really THE discovery of that day. Taking a closer look the frozen puff pastry automatically caught my eye. I LOVE puff pastry, no matter if sweet or hearty and I’ve really missed it since going gluten-free. So of course I bought a pack even if it was really pricy compared to regular frozen puff pastry. Anyway. I bought it, took it home, stored it in my freezer and started hunting for a good recipe to use the pastry. I found one on the internet, a pie. A chicken pie. I’ve always wanted to make a pie, even when I wasn’t even gluten-free, so this was my chance. Just let me tell you: It was the easiest thing to make and everyone loved it.

Here’s what you’ll need for 3-4 people:

– 500g chicken breast, no bones, no skin, cut into 3×3 cm pieces (approximately….)

– 250g fresh mushrooms, clean and sliced

– 2 onions, finely chopped (so the kids won’t notice…)

– a bit of cream (I used Creme Fraiche), ca. 100g

– herbs, if you like

– 1 sheet of puff pastry – it should be defrosted by the time you need it

– 150g diced bacon

– 1 tablespoon gluten-free all purpose flour

– 300ml vegetable stock (watch out for gluten-free stock!)

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In a large pan, heat some olive oil and insert mushrooms, onions, bacon and chicken. Let it stew for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the stock and bring to a boil. In a very small bowl mix the flour and 1-2 tablespoons of water to get an even paste. When the mix is boiling in your pan, add the flour-paste and stir thoroughly, so the sauce will become thicker. Remove from heat and add the cream as well as salt, pepper, herbs to taste.

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Fill the mix into an oven-safe dish and cover it with the puff-pastry, just like a lid. You can now mix an egg yolk and some milk and ‘paint’ the pastry’ with it, it makes a nice tan when the dish is done.

Put in your oven on medium heat (170 degrees) for about 20-30 minutes, you’ll see when the pastry is done.

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Serve some fresh salad or cooked veggies as side dish and this makes a perfect, quick and easy family dinner. Voilà!

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A classic for a reason: Asparagus

I am just enjoying the end of a wonderful weekend and putting in some blog work, finally typing and editing at least some of the new recipes.

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It’s been the first really warm weekend of the year and to make the most of it we spent it in the cottage with my in-laws seeing that hubby was off working saturday anyway so the kids and I weren’t all alone. It was warm as in “Take your jackets and sweaters off”-warm and we were able to go down to the beach on saturday spending almost 3 hours by the lovely and beloved sea. I still remember last year when the littlest monkey was all but excited about sandy beaches – a fact that was actually spoiling numerous beach days for the rest of us back then. But now? He LOVED it. Yippie! As soon as we got down to the beach and Miss Monkey had taken his shoes off he was beyond thrilled.

In the evening we had a nice barbecue – and I decided to collect some of my family’s BBQ-favourites to publish here on the blog. We are mostly going rather plain and simple, rather less than more and mostly things are naturally gluten-free anyway so I think it will make a good collection for you all.

To wind up this sunny, warm and perfect weekend we’ve had the first Asparagus of the season and here we also kept it plain and simple:

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I peeled it outside in the sun and even though I was actually postponing this unloved job several times today it was eventually done in no time. For the 5 of us – considering that the boys would each have only a very small share – I used:

– 2kg white Asparagus

– 1kg fresh (new) potatoes

. 200g butter

– 2 tbl. spoons breadcrumbs

– 4 egg yolks

I cooked the potatoes in the skin and peeled them after cooking. For the Asparagus I used a big pot of warm water, 2 teaspoons salt and sugar each, 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg and a splash of lemon juice. Just insert the Asparagus and bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling you have to be carefull not overcook the Asparagus as this goes really quick. I like it to be rather al’dente, so I’d say 5 minutes actual cooking time is sufficient.

As my family is devided into “Sauce lovers” and “Butter lovers” when it comes to Asparagus I usually make both: For the butter I heat a small pan and add the breadcrumbs (which were not gluten-free, but I’m on the sauce side anyway). Stir regularly so they get a nice “tan”. 🙂 Then add ca 75gr of butter into the hot pan and let it melt. The crumbs and the butter will combine and make a nice ‘dip’ for the veggies (can be used with any other veggies than Asparagus as well).

Finally it came down to Hollandaise Sauce which is way easier made than it’s reputation and basically done in 4 steps:

1. Add 4 egg yolks, a pinch of both sugar and salt and 4 tbl. spoons of water into a stainless steel pot or bowl and whisk until everything is well-blended.

2. Add 125gr of butter to another small pot and let it melt on low heat.

3.. Put the bowl/pot with the egg yolks above another pot with very hot (preferably not boiling) water (= bain marie) and whisk, whisk, whisk, whisk, whisk… It really is all about whisking!!! The warmth and the whisking will make the egg yolks thicker, just like a sauce.

4. When the egg yolks have become really creamy slowly add the liquid butter by pouring it into the mix and still whisk, whisk, whisk…

Now you only have to season the sauce with salt, pepper and lemon and you’re done with it. Note: Hollandaise Sauce is only lukewarm when you make it and you cannot heat it up again, so it should be last on your cooking agenda. Also, the sauce becomes firm once it totally cools down. I like to use it as a spread on roasted bread, it’s really nice.

Voilà! This is one of our favorite dishes in April and May as this is the best season for local Asparagus. I hope you enjoy!

Salad discovery of the week // Holiday reminder

We spent the last day of our Italy-getaway in Nice, as we departed from Nice Airport towards home. It is a lovely, lively, boutique city. I really liked it there though the differences to my beloved Italy were omnipresent even if it’s just a stone throw away. We found it for example very, very hard to settle for some lunch. The cafés and restaurants were pretty expensive, pretty crowded and – pretty French. I don’t know French.

Anyway when we finally decided for one restaurant I chose “Salad Nicoise” which I have never heard of before – bad gap in my education! 😉 It was delicious and as soon as we got home I started to research the web for this salad. I found thousands of hits and read a few dozens – eventually mixing all those variations into one recipe that fit me. I tried it out at the weekend when we had my brother over for dinner. Usually men are not very excited when it’s salad for dinner and hubby and my brother were – say, skeptical. But this salad is a real whopper and it even convinced the two of them.

Here’s what you’ll need to feed 3-4:

– 6-8 small young potatoes, cooked and cut in quarters

– 150g green beans, cooked and cut in halves

– 4 eggs, cooked and cut in quarters

– 250g ripe cherry tomatoes, cut in halves

– 2 cans of tuna, drained

– 1/4 of an iceberg salad

– 1/2 red onion, sliced

– green or black olives

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In a flat bowl fill in the ingredients as follows: iceberg salad – tuna – tomatoes – potatoes – eggs – beans – onions – olives.

For the dressing, fill into a high jar:

– 4 tbl spoons olive oil

– 2 tbl spoons balsamico bianco

– 1 tbl spoon mustard

– 1 tbl spoon honey

– 1 tbl spoon mayonnaise

– some salt (not too much)

Use the puree-unit of your food processor to get a smooth, soft, well-blended dressing. Add some table spoons of water if you think it’s too thick (I did so) and taste to season with salt and pepper. Add to the salad and Voilà!

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I cooked the potatoes, eggs and beans in the morning already and kept them in the fridge. This way the salad is really very quick-assembled. It is really delicious and satiable. Enjoy!

One-pot-pasta – sensational!

Time for another gluten-free, quick and easy dinner recipe. Today I’d like you to meet ‘One-pot-pasta’. When I heard about it first (I think watching Jamie Oliver?!) I really couldn’t believe that a pasta meal can be just as simple as that. Already the first try turned out to be a full hit and I’ve tried numerous variations since. On last week’s dinner table was Spaghetti Bolognese: I put everything into a pot, brought it to boil, let it simmer on low heat and once I’ve set the table – dinner was ready:

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What I used for this one-pot-pasta:

– 500g minced beef

– 1 onion, diced

– 1 carrot, diced

– 2 tblsp. tomato paste

– 700ml tomato passata (or 2 small cans of diced tomatoes)

– 250ml water

– 300-350g gluten-free pasta

– salt, pepper, rosemary… to season

Add some olive oil to your pot, heat it up and add onion, carrot and beef. Sauté for some minutes until the beef begins to cook. Fill up with tomato paste, passata and water and bring to a boil. Add pasta, stir thoroughly. Let it cook for 3 mins and then cover it with the lid, turn the heat on low and let it simmer 5-8 mins (gluten-free pasta needs a little longer than regular pasta). Stir occasionally. Serve with grated cheese and / or basil leaves.

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It was really yummy and the kids loved it, even my hubby was wowed. Next time around I will use shorter pasta instead of spaghetti though – as long as the spaghetti are still hard it’s really difficult to stir. 🙂 Enjoy! Voilà!