Recipes of the week: cheat’s lasagne & chicken pot pies

Welcome to another instalment of the HotHouse Kitchen. I’m finding it can be stressful cooking for another family, as you worry that you haven’t nailed it.

This week, my child tasted my pot pies, screwed up her nose, said they tasted funny and told me not to make them again.

I was a little freaked out, as I’d just delivered four of them to my friend’s doorstep. I texted to apologize and she said her family had wolfed them down. Go figure.

NB I used the leftover stock and chicken from the dish to make a Chinese chicken noodle soup that the youngest loved. I just added some ginger, soy and egg noodles. Mmmmmmm.

This week I also made cheat’s lasagne, which takes some of the hell out of the process by using fresh lasagne sheets and making the white sauce with cornflour instead of all that fiddly flour and butter mixing. I made the mistake of using dried lasagne sheets and they were a total pain. I almost lost my mind trying to make them fit into the casserole dish properly – they kept shattering into shards. Fresh sheets are easier because you can cut them to fit.

The recipe includes hidden veggies: a stick of celery, a carrot and a zucchini. They add to both the flavour and the vitamin content!

I stole the photo from the Latina Fresh page.

The pot pie recipe is the one the youngest didn’t like – she prefers her dad’s ones, which are made with beer. The photo is from the Pampas website, and actually features turkey carbonara pot pies, which also sound pretty good!

And I cooked a saag paneer curry, but that’s still in the experimental stages, so I won’t include the recipe for it.

OK, better start thinking about what to make next week …

Cheat’s lasagne

1 stick celery, chopped

1 large carrot, chopped

1 large zucchini, chopped

Olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed

1kg beef mince

1 jar passata with Italian herbs

2 cups chicken stock

2 cups milk

Cornflour

1 & 1/2 cups freshly grated mozzarella

Pkt Latina Fresh lasagne sheets

1 cup Perfect Italiano Perfect Bakes Cheddar, Mozzarella & Parmesan

Salt & pepper

METHOD: Place celery, carrot and zucchini in a blender with 1/2 cup chicken stock and blend into a pulp. Heat olive oil and saute onion until soft. Add garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add mince and saute, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until browned. Add passata, pulped veggies and remaining chicken stock, salt and pepper to taste and simmer until most of the moisture has steamed off and the mixture is thick and red. Bring two cups of milk to a simmer in a saucepan, mix a tablespoon of cornflour in a little warm water to form a paste. Mix into the milk, stirring constantly to avoid lumps. Remove from head and stir in freshly grated mozzarella until melted, then add salt and pepper to taste. Spread a thin layer of mince across the bottom of a rectangular casserole dish. Add a layer of pasta, then another thin layer of mince and a thin layer of cheese sauce. There should be three layers of pasta, ending with a cheese layer. Sprinkle with mixed cheese and bake at 180C until the top is golden and bubbly.

Chicken & bacon pot pies

1 whole chicken

1 celery stick, roughly chopped

1 carrot, roughly chopped

1 onion, roughly chopped

1 clove garlic, roughly chopped

Salt

1 onion, chopped

2 rashers streaky bacon, chopped

Butter

250ml Philadelphia Cooking Cream

1 celery stick, diced

1 carrot, peeled and diced

1 cup frozen peas & corn kernels

Cornflour

1 sheet Pampas puff pastry, defrosted

I egg, beaten

METHOD: Place chicken in a large pot and cover with water. Add celery, carrot, onion, garlic. Bring to a gentle boil and let simmer until chicken is cooked. Remove chicken from stock and pour liquid through a sieve to remove the veggies etc, add salt and pepper to taste. When chicken cools, strip the meat from the carcass. Dice the chicken breast meat for the pies and use the rest for another dish. Melt a tablespoon of butter in a pan and saute onion and bacon until softened. Add celery and carrot and saute until softened. Add frozen peas and corn and two cups of the chicken stock. Simmer for a few minutes. Stir through the cooking cream. Mix 1 tablespoon of cornflour with a little warm water to form a paste. Add to the simmering creamy mixture to thicken it. Stir through the diced chicken. Salt & pepper to taste. Divide mixture among ramekins. Cut pastry into quarters (or circles if you’re feeling fancy). Place on top of the ramekins and brush with beaten egg. Bake in oven at 180C until crisp and golden. Serve with mash if you like.

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