Posts tagged pastry

Beef & Chorizo Empanadas

Every now and again I do love to draw upon my past life as a Nicaraguan coffee farmer’s wife and whip up some tasty Latin American morsels. My kids go mad for them. As soon as I chuck the chorizo into the pan they’ll come running with a hopeful, “Are we having empanada’s for dinner?” The chorizo is the cheat ingredient that gives a tonne of flavour really simply. Traditionally you can shove pretty much any ingredients into them, including beans and eggs, but I find this recipe is the right mix of yum/simple/popular.

Best yet, you can make this in several stages to suit your day. If you’re free in the morning then make the mince mix and even get the empanadas made up. Just cover them with cling wrap or pop them in a sealed container in the fridge until you need them. Then just preheat your oven, brush them with egg and you’re away.

Besterest yeterest, this recipe makes a good amount so I’ve always got a ready-to-go bit of something for the lunchbox for the following day. Doesn’t matter that they’re cold – they’re apparently still completely yum.

vegie-smugglers-empanadas-tall

Beef & Chorizo Empanadas

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
1 chorizo sausage, finely diced
500g beef mince
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 red capsicum, finely diced
1 cup grated pumpkin
2 tbsp tomato paste (or leftover pizza sauce is also good)
1 cup frozen peas
6 sheets shortcrust pastry

1 egg, whisked for glazing

Heat a large frying pan over medium/high heat. Add the oil then the onions. Cook, stirring often for 5-6 minutes until starting to turn golden. Add in the chorizo for a minute or two then also carefully pop in the mince. Use the spoon to break up the lumps and keep it moving around for several minutes until it is all browned.

Chuck in the garlic, capsicum, pumpkin & tomato paste. Stir everything through well. Simmer the mixture for about 5 minutes. Keep an eye on it – there’s not much liquid so make sure it doesn’t burn.

Tip in the peas – mix them through and take the mixture off the heat to cool slightly.

Remove the pastry sheets from the freezer & separate them out onto your bench (a bit of bench space or a large kitchen table makes this easier!)

Preheat the oven to 200C. Line a couple of oven trays with baking paper.

Once the pastry sheets have thawed, use a small bowl or saucer as a guide and use a small sharp knife to cut four circles from each sheet (this gives a nice traditional shape but I’m not gonna fuss if this is all a bit hard & you instead use squares to fold into triangles). Brush half the edge of each circle with egg. Dollop about 2tbsp or so of mix into the middle of each circle. Fold over and seal the edges. Give them a crimp or just squish the edge shut with a fork.

Place on the baking trays, brush with egg and bake for 25-30 minutes until golden.

Makes 24.

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PS. After 5 years and 3 print runs, it looks like I’m about to sell out of the last hard copies of the original Vegie Smugglers cookbook. The good news? There’s still a handful left if you want to grab one quickly. The better news? There’ll be a digital version hitting your i-shelves soon.

Visit the shop here.
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Should we audition for Family Feud?

Grant Denyer is not really my cup of tea. I don’t have anything against him per se, more just a general mistrust of people who are always that ‘on’ (even if that’s what they’re paid to do).

So I don’t watch Family Feud. Midweek TV is rare at our place and when it is on, my kids are so immersed in Adventure Time that nothing else gets a guernsey. But I get the FF idea. Perky host with equally perky families play word games with hilarious results.

Sometimes my family seems quite perky. I’ve seen snippets of FF during ad breaks and wondered if maybe we should ring to audition. But I had a reality check last week.

Ad flash. Smiling Grant with an enthusiastic question, “Name something that gets passed around?”

Within a blink of an eye Mr VS & I were both on the buzzer.

“A JOINT” shouted MR VS.
“HERPES” shouted me.

Who knew we were such naturals at this game! I can practically smell the gameshow riches!

But it turns out we were both wrong. The correct answer?

Hat.

Call the doctor!

Call the doctor!

Chicken Pox Pies

Ok, yes, they’re chicken pot pies. But pox pies, sounds more fun, don’t you think?

1 tbsp oil
600g chicken breast (or thigh), diced
1 onion, finely diced
1 cup mushrooms, finely chopped
1 cup finely chopped cauliflower
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tbsp plain flour
1 cup hot chicken stock
1/2 bunch English Spinach, finely shredded
1 cup peas
125g can corn kernels, drained
125g can creamed corn

2 sheets puff pastry
1 egg, whisked, for glazing

Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Saute the chicken and until browned all over and mostly cooked through. Remove and set aside. Add the onion and saute, stirring quite often for 6-8 minutes until browning. Pop in the vegies for a couple of minutes and once softening, toss in the garlic. When fragrant, return the chicken to the pan.

Sprinkle over the flour and cook this off for a minute or so, then slowly add in the hot stock, stirring the whole time (use a wooden spoon for all this). Bring the mixture to a strong simmer, then lower the heat a bit and simmer for 10-15 minutes until the chicken is completely cooked.

Add in the spinach, peas and all the corn. Combine really well.

Preheat the oven to 180C. Find a bunch of oven-proof pots (or one big pot pie is fine, too).

Divide the mixture between your pots. Line the edge of your pots with 1cm strips of pastry (this will help adhere the lids). Brush with egg, then cut circle lids and press them in place. Brush the entire top with egg and decorate however you like. I made spots with cookie cutters and the kids thought this was just a little bit awesome.

Feeds 2 adults & 2-3 kids.

Did you see my chocolate-free Easter recipe over on Mother & Baby? See the carrot bliss ball recipe here.

vegie-smugglers-carrot-bliss-balls

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Sounds fancy, actually easy. And yum.

By Thursday nights I am tired. The last commitment of the day is picking up big girl from Junior Guides at 7pm. And then we all pop on our jammies and flop together on the lounge for some quality food TV.

Possibly the kids don’t give a toss about world cuisine, but the chance to stay up until 8.30 means they’ve got a new-found love of SBS travel/cooking shows. Over the past couple of years we’ve watched Adam Liaw tour Japan (I’m hoping to retrace his steps some day), Rachel Khoo relishing France and at the moment we’re enjoying Shane Delia travelling Turkey, which takes me back to my own travels there in the 1990s. I remember how new and exotic the flavours and smells were.

As much as it pains me to contemplate them leaving, I hope my kids grow to be curious about the world and want to head off on their own adventures. To encourage them along, I’ve been enjoying making these burek, which sound fancy, but are actually super-simple family food. Just a savoury mince wrapped in filo pastry, coiled up and baked in the oven. The kids just call them ‘fancy meatpies’, which isn’t so culturally sensitive but is pretty accurate.

meat & vegetable burek

Schmancy meat pies. Sauce optional.


Beef & vegie burek

You can make the mince ahead, to wrap and bake later in the day, or make these up and store in the fridge until it’s time to brush them with butter and bake for dinner.

1 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, finely diced
500g beef mince
1 large clove garlic, crushed
1 carrot, peeled, grated
1 finger eggplant, finely diced (peel it first if your kids will fuss about the skin)
1 green capsicum, finely diced
Handful spinach leaves, this stalks removed, leaves finely shredded
2 tbsp parsley (optional)
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp Allspice
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Filo pastry
2 tbsp melted butter
1 egg, combined with a splash of milk for glazing.

The key to success with filo is to make sure it is completely thawed (if frozen) and at room temperature. Then it’s pretty easy to work with.

Heat a large frying pan over medium/high heat. Add the oil and pop in the onion. Cook, stirring often for 4-5 minutes until golden. Carefully place the mince in the pan. Use your spoon to break up lumps and totally brown all the meat (this take about 5 minutes). Add in the garlic and all the vegies for 2-3 minutes before scattering over the spices. Stir well and continue to move everything around regularly for 5 minutes or so. Move the pan off the heat and leave everything to cool for a bit (so that you can handle it easily).

Preheat the oven to 200C. Find whatever round dishes you have – make several small bureks or one large one – totally up to you.

Lay out your block of filo. Brush melted butter over the top sheet. Flip it over and lay it on top of the sheet below. Spoon a line of mince mixture along the length of the filo, about 3-4 cm in from one edge. Lift the top two layers of filo and carefully roll your pastry up into a long snake. Coil it around and squeeze into your round dish. (To make a large burek, just keep adding snakes onto the end until you’ve filled your dish.)

Brush with the combined egg/milk and bake for 25 minutes until golden.

If the filo bit sounds too hard (I promise it’s not), just scoop the mix into a dish, scrunch of some filo sheets and add them to the top, pie-style).

Serves 2 adults & 3 kids

Make a line of mixture along to whole length of pastry.

Make a line of mixture along to whole length of pastry.

Roll into a long cigar.

Roll into a long cigar.

Coil and squeeze into whatever oven-proof dishes you have.

Coil and squeeze into whatever oven-proof dishes you have.

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Do your kids love each other?

Love is all around, just not easily spoken about.

Love is all around, just not easily spoken about.

Possibly suffering from an overactive fourth (heart) chakra the other night, I decided it was time for the kids to express their love for each other.

Earlier in the day it had occurred to me that while I am effusive in my gushing love for them both, they never tell each other any of their feelings other than “you’re hurting me,” or even the odd “I hate you.”

Cosied up on my bed after bathtime, we snuggled away and I listed through my usual love chatter. It goes like this….
“Do you know how much I love you?”
“No” they say in unison.
“I love you more than all the trees in the world.”
“Aaawwww” they say.
“No! Wait! I love you more than all the leaves on all the trees in the world.”
“Awwwww” they say.
“No! Wait! I love you more than all the trees and leaves and bugs on those leaves and bits of dirt that those trees grow in.”
“Awwwww” they say. And it doesn’t matter the area we’re covering (we’ve quantity surveyed most areas of matter over the years), their answer is always the same… “I love you all that PLUS infinity.”
And I say, “I love you all that PLUS infinity PLUS one.”

And then we skew off into a discussion of theoretical mathematics and things descend into general confusion.

But the other night I finished up by saying, “Miss Fruitarian. Do you love Mr Meat & Potatoes?”
Pause.
“Yes” she said.
“Well then, you should tell him.”
Groan.
“I love you sometimes… Mr M&P”.

Mr M&P smirked his way through that exchange, but then it was his turn.

“Mr Meat & Potatoes, do you love Miss Fruitarian?”
“Yes”.
“So you should tell her. It’s important to tell people that you love them.”
He actually giggled before spitting out, “I love you Miss F, when you’re not being annoying.”

Being a MASSIVE tell-people-you-love-them type (don’t come too close after I’ve had a few wines), I was slightly appalled at how difficult they found this simple task.

I’m vowing to enforce more of a love-in so that they can share positive feelings naturally and without me around.

So now I’m curious. Do you tell your siblings that you love them? And do your kids comfortably express love for each other?

Here’s something else they do both love…

Full of love (and tuna, egg & vegies)

Full of love (and tuna, egg & vegies)

Tuna, egg & vegie pastry pockets

180g can tuna in springwater, drained, flaked
2 boiled eggs, peeled, mashed
1 small carrot, grated
Handful green beans, ends removed and finely sliced
1/2 cup spinach leaves (english spinach or silverbeet), very finely chopped
2 tbsp fresh herbs, finely chopped (dill, chives, parsley are all good), optional
1 cup firmly packed grated cheese
5 sheets store-bought puff pastry
1 egg, whisked, for sticking and glazing

Preheat the oven to 180C. Line two oven trays with baking paper.

Separate out your sheets of frozen pastry and leave to thaw.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the tuna, eggs, carrot, beans, spinach, herbs and cheese.

Either cut each of your pastry sheets into four squares, or go all fancy and use a small saucer to help you cut out four circles. Divide the tuna mix between each of the 20 bits of pastry (ends up being about 2 tbsp per piece).

Use a pastry brush to spread some egg mix over half the circle edge. Ease over the pastry. Seal with your fingers then press down on the edges with a fork to secure them. Pop onto your baking trays. Brush with extra egg.

Bake for 25 minutes until golden.

Makes 20

Toddler Recipes: What (and how) to feed fussy eaters

Advice on how to get your toddler eating a wide variety of vegetables with 26 clever recipes that smuggle the healthy ingredients in.

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Because wrapping stuff in pastry makes it yum

vegie smugglers beef triangles with vegetables and puff pastry

Yum.

There are several universal truths when it comes to raising Australian children.

1. Getting them into and out of cars is going to be a painful and long-winded exercise. Shoes will be missing; toys lost and drink bottles astonishingly empty (and car seats wet).

2. The more disgusting the public toilet that you find yourself in, the longer your contented child will wish to languish (“the poo is almost here mummy”). And the bigger the incident, the fewer tissues you will have handy.

3. If they are to be struck down with a sudden and violent episode of projectile vomiting, it will be between 3-6am, usually just before you are due to do some incredibly crucial work thing.

On a brighter note, it is also true that things covered in pastry are yummier and much more likely to be eaten by your delightful youngsters.

Which is why the Vegie Smugglers cookbook features quite a few recipes making the most of the adored, yet not exactly healthy stuff. Being a mum, not a dietitian, I have the advantage of not freaking out at the idea of utilising some less healthy ingredients for the greater nutritional good.

Puff pastry though, is very high in fat – even the 25% reduced fat stuff. Use it occasionally and make sure that you make the most of it by cramming in all sorts of good ingredients – like my sausage rolls, which are full of mushrooms and lentils. (In the book I’ve got salmon pots full of broccoli and a fruit treat jammed full of apples, pear and prunes – which may help speed up your public toilet visits considerably).

Today’s recipe is a glorious Indian-inspired dish. Just a hint of spice gets the kid’s palettes keen for more exotic flavour and opens the door to a whole new cuisine (unless you’re Indian, in which case you might prefer a bolognaise or lasagne for a bit of cross cultural goodness). This mince filling is also good on baked potatoes and freezes perfectly for a couple of months.

Beef triangles

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
500g beef mince
1 tsp curry powder
1 carrot, peeled, grated
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
½ red or yellow capsicum, deseeded, finely diced
½ cup beef stock
1 tbsp soy sauce
Black pepper
5 sheets frozen puff pastry
1 egg, whisked, for glazing

Fruit chutney, to serve

Preheat oven to 190C.
Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until onion is soft. Add mince and brown, breaking up lumps as you go. Add curry powder and all the vegies and mix well.

Add the stock and soy sauce and simmer vigorously over medium-high heat until most of the liquid is evaporated and the vegies are soft. Season with pepper.

Cut each pastry sheet into four squares. Place 2 tbsp of mixture in the centre of each square. Fold diagonally to create triangles, pressing firmly on the edges to seal well.

Brush with egg and bake on oven trays lined with baking paper for 10-15 minutes until golden. Serve beef triangles with chutney.

MAKES 20

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Bring a plate

It’s night after night of celebrations this week. Picnics, carols, swimming parties. It seems never ending. So to avoid the kids eating 16 straight meals of chocolate, chips and candy canes, these little swirls provide a vague notion of health on these balmy evenings.

Have a great party season, I’ll see you all next year…

Vegetables hidden in these traffic light swirls.

Stop, go, stop, go, stop go, slow down!!!!!

Traffic light swirls

3 sheets frozen puff pastry

Red
1/2 cup roasted capsicums
1/2 cup semi-dried tomatoes

Amber
125g creamed corn
1 small carrot
Handful grated cheese (mozzarella or pizza cheese is good)

Green
Store-bought pesto
1 small zucchini, grated

Egg, for glazing

Preheat the oven to 200C. Cover two baking trays with baking paper. Separate out the pastry sheets and leave to thaw.

For the red: blitz together the capsicums and tomatoes. Spread over the entire pastry sheet.

For the amber: blitz together the corn and carrot. Spread over the entire pastry sheet. Sprinkle cheese over the top.

For the green: Spread the pesto over the entire sheet. Scatter over the grated zucchini.

Use the plastic backing on the pastry sheets to help you roll them up into a swirl. Cut through the roll into 15-20mm slices. Place on the trays (so they look like little sushi rolls). Brush with egg. Bake 15-20 minutes until golden.

MAKES 30

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That’s not a sausage roll Gary, THIS is a sausage roll

Anyone in Australia watching the current series of Masterchef last Friday night (about 1.5 million of us according to www.mumbrella.com.au) might have seen Gary whip up a ‘healthy’ kid’s sausage roll.

Looked gorgeous and apparently tasted ok but I wasn’t impressed. Calling it healthy’ was a bit of a stretch.

True. There were carrots in it. But to get them there, they were grated, slowly sauted, mashed, mixed with the meat and then baked. It’s a pretty popular way to smuggle vegetables into kids and one that I can’t quite get my head around.

According to this method, at some stage during the day when I’m not doing the washing, cleaning, school runs, freelance work, buying the new undies because the old one were pooed in, unstacking the dishwasher, watering the plants that are gasping their last breaths and helping build the lego bird for ‘b’ homework, I’m supposed to cook vegetables to death and mash them.

Some helpful books such as Jessica Seinfield’s ‘Deceptively Delicious’ recommend doing mashed vegies in large batches and freezing them in small portions ready to drop into tasty treats.

So to successfully smuggle vegies I’m supposed to boil, mash, freeze, thaw and cook again. And will there be any ounce of nutrition left at the end of all that? Maybe you’re a nutritionist or food scientist and can let me know, but I’m suspecting not much.

In the mean time, I can’t be bothered with all that. Here’s my sausage roll recipe complete with four vegies and lentils…

Vegie Smuggling chicken sausage rolls

THIS is a sausage roll! Complete with carrots, zucchini and lentils.

CHICKEN SAUSAGE ROLLS

5 sheets frozen puff pastry
500g chicken mince
1 carrot, peeled, grated
1 zucchini, grated
1 onion, grated (or you can whizz these 3 ingredients to save time, but avoid pulping out all the texture)
3 medium mushrooms, finely diced
125g can brown lentils, rinsed, drained
1 egg
2 tbsp chopped fresh herbs (basil and chives are good)
Salt & black pepper
1 egg, whisked, for glazing

Preheat oven to 200C. Lay out your pastry sheets on a bench. Cut each in half to make 2 rectangles.

Mix together all the remaining ingredients until combined.

Spread the mixture lengthwise along the middle of the rectangles. Ease pastry over from one edge, brush egg along top side then roll other edge over to seal.

If cooking immediately, cut each stick into 4 pieces, place on an oven tray lined with baking paper, brush with egg and cook in middle of the oven for 25 minutes until golden and cooked through.

MAKES 10 STICKS (40 PIECES)

Sausage rolls and chips

Cut potatoes into fries, toss in oil and cook at the same time.

FREEZING & DEFROSTING INSTRUCTIONS
Prepare these quickly. Wrap uncooked sticks of sausage rolls in plastic wrap. Freeze immediately on oven trays to maintain their shape before transferring to plastic bags for an extra layer of protection. Defrost in the fridge (still wrapped in plastic) for 24 hours before cooking. Ensure they are completely thawed before cooking. Cut into four, brush with egg and cook for 25 minutes until steaming hot in the centre.
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Want more?
Also check out these pastry recipes
Beef Triangles…YUM!
And for a sweet pastry idea, try these apple & pear squares.

And try these lentil recipes…
Delicious Lentil Burgers
Pumpkin, corn and lentil soup
Seriously good Beef & lentil fajitas

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