Sunday, March 29, 2009

Ginger Cookies

Ginger cookie1_edited

I have loved watching Ina Garten’s show The Barefoot Contessa on the food network, but its become very hard to catch reruns now as it seems to air randomly.  One of my absolute favourite cookbooks is her Barefoot Contessa at Home.  The following  is my adaptation of her “Ultimate Ginger Cookie” recipe from the book. I found it was just too spicy for my husband and I, to the point our tongues were burning quite a bit after the cookie was gone.  Among the changes,  I cut the cloves down to a third, as I felt like it was overwhelming the other flavours.  I doubled the amount of ginger,  halved all the other spices, and cut the amount of flour.  It also  called for crystallized ginger, but its not something I usually have in the house, so I left it out.

One thing I love about these cookies is that the dough is really easy to work with and the ingredients are those you most likely have in your cupboard and spice cabinet.  Kids would love rolling the dough in the sugar and pressing them with the fork.  They also contain no dairy products which is great for those with lactose intolerance or milk allergies.

These cookies are thick and have a fabulous soft ‘chew’, with a delicious spicy flavour that is not overwhelming.  The smell when they are baking fills your house with the wonderful warm aroma of ginger and spice.

Ginger cookie2_edited

Ginger Cookies

Makes approx. 24 cookies


  • 2       cups all-purpose flour 
  • 1        teaspoon baking soda
  • 1        teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2   teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4   teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1        teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4   teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1         cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/4    cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3    cup molasses
  • 1          egg
  • granulated white sugar for rolling cookies

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line two sheet pans with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger and salt.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the brown sugar, oil, and molasses on medium speed for 5 minutes.  Turn the mixture to low speed, add the egg, and beat for one minute.  Scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula, and beat for one more minute.  With the mixer still on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the bowl and mix on medium speed for two minutes.

Scoop the dough with two spoons or a small ice cream/cookie scoop.  With your hands, roll each cookie into a 1 3/4 – inch ball and then roll completely in sugar.  Place cookies on sheet pans and then flatten them lightly with the tines of a fork.

Bake for approximately 8 minutes*.  The cookies will be crackled on the top/sides and soft inside.  Let the cookies cool on the sheet pans for a minute or two, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container to prevent cookies from hardening.

*The original recipe calls for the cookies to be baked for exactly 13 minutes, but I found they were perfect at 8.  Times can vary according to your oven, watch for the crackling on the top, cookies will still be soft to the touch until cooled.

Ginger cookie3_edited

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Eggless, Milk-free Pancakes

One of the many things I have had to reluctantly give up is pancakes, since every time I would eat them I would feel sick. There are milk ingredients in the boxed mix, the kind that you just add water to, which of course never dawned on me until about the third or fourth time feeling funky after a pancake breakfast. I feel the same way after Eggo waffles. Whether it was the milk, or the egg (I am assuming there would be powdered egg as well) or just the heaviness of the pancake itself, I’m not sure. I am sure there are lactose intolerants that can eat pancakes or waffles with no problems.
I have had this recipe from The Milk-Free Kitchen, sitting on my computer for a long time, but have been too afraid to try it, thinking there was just no way it could work.
I made a couple of changes but they were surprisingly good. They were fluffy and moist, and you can taste the cinnamon without it being overpowering. It has also not left me with a stomach ache. I think you could almost fool someone if you didn’t tell them there was no milk or egg in it.
That said, the way the recipe is written, its not dairy-free, as it calls for margarine. Some brands can contain some milk ingredients. I can handle butter and margarine, but for severe lactose intolerance, milk allergies or vegans, you can substitute the margarine in the batter for applesauce, and a very light oil for frying. This recipe will also work if you have a craving for pancakes and you just happened to have run out of milk and eggs!

Eggless, Milk-free Pancakes

  • 1 cup white flour (can substitute half or all for whole wheat)
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons margarine or butter (can be substituted with applesauce)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 egg or 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (or other fruit), optional
  • pinch cinnamon
  • (If not using margarine or butter, small amount of light oil to grease pan)
Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together into medium mixing bowl.
Melt 2 1/2 Tbsp margarine in frying pan until melted. Be sure to tip the pan side to side to coat/grease all over.
Pour melted margarine in a small bowl, add water, vanilla and egg (if you are using), Mix well.
Mix blueberries or other fruit with dry ingredients, just before adding the liquids.
Stir liquid mixture into the dry ingredients until it is thoroughly moistened; It is OK if this batter is lumpy.
Cook the pancakes over medium-high heat on the stove-top (or 375F on electric frying pans). Cook pancakes until the tops are bubbly and the bottoms browned. Turn the pancakes over to cook other side (*Approximately four minutes per side).
Serve hot with margarine, honey, brown sugar or maple syrup.
*Actual cooking time will depend on the size of the pan you are using
Adapted from the Milk-Free Kitchen
I didn’t have any blueberries on hand so I left them out. These would be great when blueberries come into season in the summer, as I find frozen will turn the entire pancake purple, and you don’t get that lovely texture of fresh. I see no reason you could not use strawberries or raspberries tossed in there instead.
The original recipe didn’t call for cinnamon, but I found it really added something extra. I would love to try these with some apples chopped or thinly sliced in the batter…like an apple pie pancake.
Pass the syrup, and Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Chocolate Swirl Bars

Chocolate Swirl squares1

It tastes as good as it looks.

Yesterday I was craving something sweet, but other than applesauce, we were plum out.  I didn’t really have the patience for making cookies, so this was the perfect compromise.  These are almost like a cross between a chocolate chip cookie bar and a  blondie (a non-chocolate brownie).   My dentist would not be impressed with me after all the work I am still recovering from, but hey Mr. Dentist, at least its easy to chew, right?

Chocolate Swirl squares4

When getting the batter into the pan, I found it much simpler to just use my hands to pat it down.  Although it says to “spread it” I was afraid I would be there forever as it just seemed to keep bouncing back from the knife. 

This is one of those things that you’re eyeing it while its baking thinking, “this is not going to work” and then magically it comes together into something glorious. 

Chocolate Swirl squares2


Chocolate Swirl Bars

Preparation time:  15 mins
Baking time:  28 mins
Makes:  24 squares
Freezing:  excellent


1 cup butter , softened 250 mL

1 cup brown sugar , packed 250 mL

1/2 cup granulated sugar 125 mL

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla  5 ml

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour 550 mL

1 tsp baking soda 5 mL

1/2 tsp salt 2 mL

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips 500 mL

PREHEAT oven to 375ºF (190ºC). Grease a 13" x 9" (33 cm x 23 cm) cake pan. Beat butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, vanilla and eggs together until creamy. Add flour, baking soda, salt and nuts. Mix well. Spread in prepared pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips evenly on top.
BAKE in centre of 375ºF (190ºC) oven for 2-3 minutes or until chips are soft and shiny. Run knife through batter to marble. Bake 20-25 minutes longer, or until set. Cool in pan on rack then cut into squares.
TIP: Replace half or all the flour with All Purpose Whole Wheat Flour.

Adapted from Robin Hood

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Honey Wheat Bread


There is just nothing quite like homemade bread.  As much as I love chocolate, I am a bread lover through and through. 

We purchased a Bread Bag today that is supposed to help your homemade bread stay fresher longer(as otherwise fresh bread can stale in as little as a day or two), and I am hoping it makes a difference.  I will most likely cut the loaf in half, and slice it then put it in a freezer bag and keep it in the freezer to be taken out when needed.  Bread can be frozen for 2-3 months. 

As there is only the two of us, its hard for us to eat a whole loaf of bread before it can stale, and the storage problem has been the only thing stopping me from baking it more often.

It may seem intimidating to make your own, but its actually surprisingly simple.  The most time is spent waiting for the dough to rise (two separate one hour rises).  When I first made my own yeasted bread two years ago it was for the Bread and Honey Festival baking contest.  I won second places for my whole wheat bread and my apple cinnamon bread, although I had never made bread before (save for one or two “test loaves”).  It was incredibly hot that summer, and the loaves still turned out. 

The only problem I did have with baking bread in those test loaves, was the loaf appearing finished, but still being doughy in the middle.  You can avoid this by rapping on the side, the loaf should sound hollow.  If you have a thermometer,  finished bread should read between 205F and 210F in the middle…this is a fool proof way to know your golden brown bread is not uncooked inside.

This recipe is my go-to white bread recipe, from Ina Garten’s cookbook Barefoot Contessa at Home.  It has a delicate crumb, and a wonderful crust.  With this batch I switched out 2 cups of the all-purpose flour for whole wheat flour to increase the nutrition, and it turned out wonderfully.

Honey White Bread

Makes 2 loaves

1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees)
2 packages dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 1/2 cups warm whole milk (110 degrees)
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 Tbsp honey
2 extra-large egg yolks
5-6 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp kosher salt
1 egg white, lightly beaten

Place warm water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment. Add yeast and sugar; stir and allow them to dissolve for 5 minutes.

1 Yeast before proof

Before dissolving

2 Yeast after proofing

After dissolving, the mixture is thick and bubbly

Add the milk, butter, and honey. Mix on medium speed until blended. Add the egg yolks, 3 cups of flour and the salt. (I switched out 2 cups of the all-purpose flour for whole wheat.) Mix on low speed for about 5 minutes. With the mixer still on low speed, add 2 more cups of flour. Raise the speed to medium and slowly add just enough of the remaining flour so the dough doesn’t stick to the bowl.

3 dough after flour before kneading

After adding 5.5 cups of flour.  Though its still very slack, most the dough has lifted from the bowl, ready for kneading

Knead on medium speed for about 8 minutes, adding flour as necessary.

4 dough after kneading

After 8 minutes of kneading.  No or very little dough should be stuck to the bowl at this point.

Dump dough onto a floured surface and knead by hand for a minute, until the dough is smooth and elastic.

5 dough done kneading 

Grease a bowl with butter, put the dough in the bowl, then turn it over so the top is lightly buttered. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and allow to rise for 1 hour, until doubled in volume.

6 dough before first rise

Before first rise

7 dough after first rise

After first rise

Grease two 9×5 inch loaf pans with butter. Divide the dough in half, roll each half into a loaf shape and place each in a prepared pan.

8 rolled out dough

Roll dough out into a large rectangle, with the short side about as long as the side of your pan, in this case about 9” or 10”.  Roll from the short side up like a jelly roll.  Tuck ends under, and roll to close seams.

9 dough rolled up

Place in pan seam side down.

10 rolled cake in pan

Cover again with the damp towel and allow to rise again for an hour, until doubled in volume.

12 in pan after second rise

After second rise

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees. When the dough is ready, brush the tops with egg white and bake for 40-45 minutes, until they sound hollow when tapped. Turn them out of the pans and cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.





The scent in the house while these were baking was absolutely AMAZING!  Instead of making two loaves, I made the second half into dinner rolls. 

13 buns finished1

14 buns finished2

15 buns finished3

16 buns cut open

Source: Adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home by Ina Garten, Clarkson Potter, 2006

I popped the rolls into an airtight freezer bag and put in the freezer.  When we want them for dinner we’ll wrap them up in foil and pop in the oven at 350F until warm and crispy.

My husband stole about three or four(that I counted) before I could usher them to the freezer, exclaiming it was the best bread I’ve ever made…definitely what you want to hear!


Happy Baking!

Friday, March 20, 2009


Morden Blush1

Happy First of Spring!  I know, if you live where I do, its still cold.  Definitely better than it was, no more –20C days, but we’re not outside in shorts yet (well I heard there were a few when it went to 12C but I’m not that brave!)

This rose is Morden Blush during its first summer last year.  I became curious about roses two years ago, and last winter met a wonderful friend through a popular rose forum.  He has helped me through the trials and tribulations of rose growing, and made me realize it doesn’t have to be snobby or serious!  I gaze upon this picture and sigh, waiting for next month when I can dig my hands into the earth again.  There is something so satisfying about getting down and dirty(in the garden of course), and soon having something so amazing to show for it.  I only got a few blooms from it last year and it became leggy (a great attribute in us girls but not what you want in a rose!), a side effect of too little sun in my very shady backyard.  So shady in fact that we can’t even grow grass back there.  It will be moved to the more sunny front of our little townhouse to join my other roses like Out of the Blue,  I think I’ve finally given up on plants needing sun in the backyard unless they can grow in a lot of shade.


Out of the Blue

Last year we grew a large pot of herbs on our front porch.  I remember excitedly going through tables and tables of choices at the nursery, trying to decide what would smell best all together.  I hate to admit, I never used even one leaf of our choices in our cooking.

Pot of Herbs

From front centre going clockwise – chocolate mint, lemon grass, lemon thyme, rosemary, basil.

I would sit on the front steps, and crush a couple of leaves between my fingers and inhale the scent.  All of them smelled so wonderful, and they were attractive all bushy and green together.  I wish I had known how to utilize them then!  I get afraid of spices as they can wreak havoc on my reflux, but I am finding small amounts may be tolerable.  This year we plan on getting herbs again, but actually using them this time.  The lemon grass would be lovely steeped in tea, or an iced tea…or used in a simple syrup for a sorbet.  The rosemary for my husband’s favourite use of roast beef,  Beef Dip or a pureed bean soup I have been curious about from the Barefoot Contessa cookbook.

What are you looking forward to most about spring?  What is your favourite dishes for using fresh herbs?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Paddy’s Day!

In honour of St. Patrick’s Day, the Food network Canada website ran a poll for their March Cooking Club Challenge with three beer containing recipes. Ricardo Larivee’s Beer Batter Onion Rings won and I’m excited as this will be my first time joining the challenge.

I already have a favourite onion ring recipe though it contains milk and egg, so I am up for a change, and I knew my husband would be more than happy to be a co-taste tester!

Riccardo's Beer-Battered Onion Rings
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Yield: 4 servings


Onion Rings

  • 1 large Spanish onion, sliced into 1-cm (1/2-inch) rounds and separated into rings (if desired, set aside the small centre rings for another use)
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch


  • 1 cup pastry flour
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup pale ale
  • Oil for frying


Onion Rings

  1. Preheat the deep fryer to 190°C (375°F). Place a cooling rack on a baking sheet or line a baking sheet with paper towels.
  2. In a paper bag or large bowl, toss the onion rings in the cornstarch to coat well. Set aside.


  1. In a bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt. Whisk in the beer.
  2. Using your fingertips or a wooden chopstick, dip the rings in the batter, 4 or 5 at a time. Shake off excess batter and deep-fry for about 3 minutes, turning half way through cooking. Drain on the baking sheet. Season lightly with salt. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.

1 Oil bottle

I used a light canola oil, a plus is that at high temperatures needed for frying such as this, it doesn’t smoke

2 pan of oil

I used a large heavy pan, and put about an inch of oil, enough that the rings would not touch the bottom when dropped in

3 Whole Onion

4 Onion Sliced

I then sliced a large onion we had leftover from the turkey meatballs. It really is okay if some of the rings are broken as you see here, it still tastes great and no one minds that its not a perfect O!

5 Onion cornstarched

Rings all coated in cornstarch and ready for dipping

6 Dry Ingredients

Mix all dry ingredients together. I used some of the cornstarch leftover from coating the onions. I do not usually have pastry flour in the house so I used all purpose flour instead.

7 Beer bottle

Although the recipe calls for a pale ale, I used one of my husband’s favourite beers. I would try the pale ale next time for sure, as the beer gives the batter its flavour I think it needs to be stronger than the honey can give.

8 batter too thick

1 cup of beer as you see was not enough. I ended up using almost the entire bottle save for a bit at the bottom. This may have something to do with the fact that I used all purpose flour instead of pastry flour.

9 Batter perfect

Here is the batter at the right consistency, slightly thinner than a pancake batter (it should hold onto the onion without all sliding off)

10 Onion over oil

Drop in the hot oil, it should bubble instantly

11 Onion rings in oil

Here the ring to the front left has already been turned over, it turns a nice pale brown. The ring to the right has been coated in bread crumbs like my other recipe calls for, I was interested in if this would prove to be a big difference.

12 Onion Rings Finished

Crispy brown and ready for eating! The ones to the right are the ones that I coated in dried bread crumbs. My husband and I both prefered the texture and crunch they give, although even without they do have a nice crunch, and were not extremely greasy as I thought they might be.

I felt that I still prefered my original recipe, which I will have to post (soon!) but as I am not a beer drinker I could be biased. My husband (who loves beer) thoroughly enjoyed them, and he might have me adding beer to my other onion rings(maybe because he gets to drink the leftovers? For someone with allergies to milk and eggs, this is definitely a fantastic alternative to the normal battered variety.

Actually I must say here I detest beer, but you don’t end up feeling like you’re eating onions dunked in it, and I did steal a couple before handing the rest over. My husband agreed it would be improved with a stronger beer such as Guiness or as the original recipe calls for, a pale ale.

Happy St. Patrick’s day and happy frying!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Turkey Meatballs



I came across a recipe for turkey meatloaf in my Barefoot Contessa cookbook recently, and it inspired me to attempt some turkey meatballs,  in the name of  my variety-craving tastebuds.  As my husband and I found out the hard way last week, ground turkey can be incredibly bland.  We decided it needed a definite kick so don’t be afraid to be liberal with the spices.  We tried just baking them in the oven last week, but they never got a nice brown crust, and although not dry, they weren’t exactly juicy either and were a sort of unappetizing colour.   We decided to fry them this time, with cooking being finished in the oven.  These were so good my husband exclaimed these might be the best thing we’ve ever made.  I couldn’t stop mmmmmm-ing, and as someone who never cared for the texture of ground meat, these are simply amazingly tasty and moist.

Turkey Meatballs

1 lb ground lean turkey

Half  of 1 medium onion, chopped finely

1 package stovetop stuffing for chicken

1/4 cup chicken broth (or other liquid such as tomato juice, or even water)

1/4 cup ketchup

1 egg

1 tsp garlic powder (or 1 clove garlic minced fine)

1  tsp salt

1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper

Vegetable oil for frying

Preheat oven to 400 F.  Heat oil in large heavy frying pan over medium heat, you want enough oil to just cover the bottom of the pan.  Its important you have the oil hot before adding the meatballs, so that they do not become soggy.  You know its hot enough when the oil bubbles madly when a drop of water is dropped into the pan (careful if you do this as it may splash up!).

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, set aside.  Combine ground turkey, finely chopped onion, contents of 1 package of stovetop stuffing, chicken broth, ketchup, egg and spices in large bowl.   Roll mixture into uniform balls approximately the size of golf balls or slightly smaller between your hands.  Try to keep them all roughly the same size so that they will cook evenly.

Add to the hot oil, in batches if necessary.  You want enough room that you can turn them over.  Brown the meatballs on both sides, this does not take too long if the oil is hot enough, a couple minutes or so per side.  Scoop out meatballs with a slotted spoon to lined baking sheet as batches finish.

When all meatballs have been browned and are on the baking sheet, pop them in the 400F oven until thoroughly cooked through, to a temperature of 170F.  My most loved kitchen gadget, a dual digital probe thermometer makes this easier as it can stay outside the oven while the probe is in the oven in fattest meatball.  If you don’t have a thermometer, this took about 10 minutes, and a meatball split in half should be cooked thoroughly in the middle.

Digital therm1

(It took several attempts to get a good picture, which explains why it climbed past 170 while I was trying!)

And there you have it!  Very good served with sliced white mushrooms and sliced onions fried in some butter till browned according to my husband (I don’t do mushrooms). 

fried mushrooms with onions

They are also great the next day, just keep covered in the fridge, and put in a sandwich or simply reheated.



Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Oh Comfort Food

On Monday I had dental surgery that I am still recovering from, in a haze between pain pills, sips of iced tea and spoonfuls of applesauce.  On Sunday, knowing full well I would be chowing down on mush  this week, I decided to make something that always makes me feel warm and satisfied.  The kind of food that is like a big fuzzy blanket wrapped around you.

Lately that big blanket has been a big generous hunk of Chicken Pot Pie.

CPP sliced_edited-1  

There is just something about veggies and chicken smothered in a yummy sauce covered with pastry to put a big smile on your face.  Usually chicken pot pie consists of veggies, chicken, and a cream sauce.  Being lactose intolerant, I can’t do the milk or cream.  I wish, because then I would have the perfect excuse right now for knocking back the pints of mint chip!   For a long time I was missing this dish because I knew I couldn’t handle all the dairy crammed into it.  This was before I moved out and started to make my own gravy.  Then it clicked.  This is just something we started throwing together, and have about where I want it now.    The pastry is Crisco’s recipe except I have replaced the shortening with all butter.  The amount of butter doesn’t bother me, but of course if you too are lactose intolerant and can’t handle butter, it can be replaced with shortening as per the original recipe.

Chicken Pot Pie

Pastry for two 9" (23 cm) pie shells or 1 double-crust pie (Adapted from Crisco)

There is two different ways to make the pastry, I’ve included both.

2 cups (5oo mL) All Purpose Flour

3/4 tsp (3 mL)     Salt

1 cup (250 mL)    Butter (or Shortening)

2 tbsp (30 mL)    Water, cold

1 tbsp (15 mL)     White vinegar

1                                Egg

Food Processor Method:

Add dry ingredients into the bowl fitted with the dough blade, add cold butter in cubes, replace top and pulse until it forms crumbs the size of large peas.  Then add the blended wet ingredients through the intake tube (is that what it’s called?) and pulse until it forms into a large clump.  This has produced a tender pastry for me every single time, and saves SO much time!

Pastry blender or two knives Method:

Combine flour and salt in mixing bowl. Cut room temperature butter or shortening into flour with pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Beat egg, water and vinegar together to blend. Pour all the liquid over flour mixture. Stir with fork until mixture is moistened.

For Either Method:
Divide dough in half and shape each into a ball. Flatten each into a circle and  wrap and chill dough 15 minutes for easier rolling.  If you are using a 9 inch pie plate/dish, you will only need one disc.  The other can be well wrapped in foil or a freezer bag and frozen.  If you are using a larger dish, such as a 9 x 13 pan, you may need both.

While the dough rests, turn on the oven 375F to preheat, and move onto the filling.  The dough can also be done ahead of time and refrigerated,  or frozen and just thawed the day before you need it.

Chicken Pot Pie Filling:

Chicken Breasts

2 handfuls baby carrots

1 medium onion

2 stalks Celery

1 Can peas

Chicken stock or broth

flour or cornstarch

oil or fat for sauteing

salt and pepper

1 egg for pastry wash

I should say haven’t included exact measurements because this can easily be adjusted according to how many people are you feeding.  There is only me and the husband at home, so you could add more according to your crowd.  You could of course use any vegetables you liked as well.  I like the baby carrots because they’re bite size and I don’t have to peel them, and I find them sweeter.

Cut the baby carrots into bite sized pieces and steam.  I have found that they take at least 20 minutes if not longer to soften, so I like to start this early.  Sometimes I will also do this earlier and leave them in the fridge so they’re ready for me.  While they’re steaming, chop the onion and celery finely.  If you like bigger pieces of onion and celery feel free to make them larger.  On a separate cutting board or plate, cut the chicken into bite sized pieces.

In a large deep frying pan or saucepan, heat a small amount of oil or butter, and throw in the celery and onion.  I like to cook them until they are nice and translucent as I find this takes some of the “bite” out of the onion, which I find hard on my stomach, and can be a bit overpowering in the pie.  If you prefer a stronger onion taste, you could even skip this step.

When the onions have sweated and are softened, spoon out onto a plate or bowl, set aside.  Add chicken to the heated pan.  Add a bit more fat or oil if the pan has become dried.  Brown the chicken on all sides until cooked through.  Spoon out onto plate with the onion and celery.

Pour chicken broth/stock into the hot pan, and using a spoon or spatula scrape all those wonderful brown chicken bits from the bottom of the pan.  You want enough broth to make enough gravy to cover your vegetables and chicken.  So the more vegetables and meat you are adding, the more broth you will want to use.

While whisking briskly, sprinkle flour lightly over the broth.  Add only a light sprinkling at a time, as its easier to add more than take it out.  Let the broth come to a simmering boil after each addition until its thickened.  You can also mix flour or cornstarch with water in a measuring cup to make a sort of gruel, and while whisking add this in additions until thicken.  Ideally the gravy will coat all the ingredients, but if its a bit runny its not going to ruin it I promise.  If there are lumps or bits, you can strain with a fine mesh strainer.  Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Do not worry if it tastes a bit bland at this point, when the ingredients are added back it will flavour it as well.

Add all the ingredients back into the pot with the gravy.  Using a wooden spoon, stir to coat everything.  Add canned peas  and fold gently (You could also use frozen, I just prefer canned).  I usually let this simmer for 5 minutes or so, to let the flavours mingle.  Take off heat.  Pour mixture into a casserole dish or pie plate (as long as its oven safe and can hold the filling and be covered with pastry, it works!).

Remove one disc of pastry from the fridge.  To minimize mess, I roll the pastry between a piece of parchment paper folded in half.  Placing the disc between the papers, roll out into a shape large enough to cover your dish.  Inverting the pastry still on the paper over your dish, lift the paper off.  Using a sharp knife, cut so that pastry fits, fitting the edges against the dish (as there may be a bit of shrinkage while baking).

Beat egg with fork in small bowl, and brush over pastry.  Using sharp knife, cut vent holes to allow steam to escape while baking.  If you have leftover pastry, you can also cut out little shapes to put on top.  I usually do, only because its extra pastry to eat;)

CPP uncooked pasty-1

Bake until pastry is a nice golden colour, usually about 20 minutes or so, I usually start checking  after 15 minutes.

CPP baked-1

And there you have it.  It isn’t a 20 minute meal, but the end result is so well worth it.  It also tastes amazing the next day (cold or reheated!)

I now have to go find me some applesauce.