Saturday, August 11, 2012

Cauliflower Leek & Ham Pot Pie

It's kind of weather for pot pie, but verging on not. Part of me wishes it was cold enough to enjoy a steaming hot pot pie, but the other part is longing for the warm sunny days of Summer to continue. Actually, all of me is waiting (not very patiently) for the sunny days of Summer to return.

Cauliflowers are in all the grocery stores right now, albeit not locally grown yet, they are all beautiful and large and white. I also saw leeks today as well so they hit my basket rather quickly too. Ham, I already had, yes, in my freezer left over from a baked ham dinner earlier in the year. I hate leftovers, I don't know why. Maybe it's because I grew up on lots of them, and this is my way of rebelling - HA to you, mum and dad! But, my husband has challenged me to clear out the freezer, instead of just buying more food. So, this is one way. Plus, I absolutely hate throwing away good food. There's no reason for it, if you buy it (or grow it) you should not waste it - simple.

That being said, I throw out my fair share of food. I try so hard not to, I shop every other day so I am not stockpiling, but inevitably something finds it's way to the back of the fridge and I miss it. Right now there's some suspicious looking apple juice I saw today. Not sure how long it lasts once it's opened, and then I am not even sure what to do with it....let me think about it and I will see what I come up with.

I made my pastry (rough puff dotted with pink peppercorns) and made a basic white roux with chicken stock and cream to bind the filling. It's rather simple, but so delicious all together.
It's my kind of comfort food - belly filling and heartwarming.

I do warn you, if you make your own puff pastry, this recipe will take some time. I did make my own "rough puff", but you can use the pre-rolled sheets that are sold in the freezer section at the grocery store.

Cauliflower Leek and Ham Pot Pie
Makes 4-6 serves (depending on the size of your ramekins)

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 head cauliflower, cut into bite-size florets
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

3 tablespoons butter
2 leeks, chopped fine
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 1/2 tablespoons flour
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup cream
150g ham, roughly chopped (I used leg ham)
1 cup (125g) shredded cheddar cheese (I used 2 year old cheddar)
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon pepper

4-6 rounds puff pastry, cut to fit your ramekins
1 egg, lightly beaten (add 1/4 teaspoon salt if using store-bought)

Preheat oven to 375F. Combine oil, cauliflower and salt in a large bowl. Toss to combine. Place cauliflower, in a single layer, on a baking sheet and roast 15-20 minutes until softened and beginning to brown. Remove from oven and set aside.

To make filling: melt butter in a large saucepan. When melted, add leeks with salt and cook gently until softened. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Stir in flour and cook for 2 minutes, stirring. Slowly stir in stock, being careful to stir out any lumps.

Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook gently for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened. Add cream, and stir through ham, cheddar, parsley and pepper. Remove from heat, and stir through cauliflower. Cool for 30 minutes.

Divide pie filling evenly between your oven-safe ramekins. Top with puff pastry and brush with egg wash. Bake at 375F until pastry is golden brown and you can see the filling bubbling below. Remove carefully from the oven and serve. Remember to warn your guests - the ramekins are HOT!

Note: You can make this a day ahead. Portion the pie filling and chill. On day of baking, preheat oven to 375F. Top ramekins with puff pastry, brush with egg wash and bake as above.


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