Saturday, 28 February 2015

Wee Willie Winkie Sausages and Salad Pitta Bread Pockets

A Tasty Way of Serving a Scottish Kids' Food Classic

Wee Willie Winkie cocktail sausages and salad filled pitta bread

Wee Willie Winkie sausages evoke for me many warm memories from childhood. In fact, until a couple of years ago, I thought they had long since been consigned to the annals of history and didn't for a minute imagine they were still available. It was actually only by pure coincidence that I saw them one night in my local supermarket - still sold in what is at least similar packaging - and I knew immediately that I had to buy a pack and try them again for old times' sake.

While Wee Willie Winkies are aimed at and widely enjoyed by children, I decided to try experimenting with the sausages. They are commonly served cold as part of buffets on cocktail sticks so at the time I came at my experiments from the angle of producing serving ideas for cocktail sausages at parties. That's something I may develop further in future but in this instance, I wanted to come up with a modern way of serving a classic Scottish children's favourite and the following is what I devised.

Wee\Willie Winkie Sausages

Ingredients per Serving

5 Wee Willie Winkie cocktail sausages
Vegetable oil for frying
Small handful of mixed salad
1 pitta bread (garlic and coriander in this instance)
Salad dressing of choice
Chopped chives to garnish

Starting to fry Wee\Willie Winkies


The first step is to get the Wee Willie Winkie sausages on to fry. It is important to fry them over a very gentle heat in a little oil, turning them frequently. They will take about five to seven minutes to cook and beautifully brown. They should also be ever so slightly crisp on the outside.

Mixed salad is washed under running cold water

When the sausages are on to fry, add the salad to a colander and wash thoroughly under running cold water. It is imperative that this be done in all instances, even where the pack claims the salad is washed and ready to eat. Sit the colander on your draining board to let the salad drain.

Blue cheese salad dressing and pitta breads

Although I've used garlic and criander pitta breads and a blue cheese and garlic salad dressing, you can of course use your variety of choice in both instances.

Wee\Willie Winkie sausages are almost ready

When the Wee Willie Winkies are ready, turn off the heat and push the pan to a cool part of your stove. They will stay warm for the maximum two minutes it will take you to get everything else ready to go.

Pitta bread is carefully cut open to form a pocket

Heat the pitta bread(s) following the instructions on the pack. Cut carefully along one long side with a very sharp knife and open it up like a pocket. Note that I used some kitchen paper to protect my hand from the heat.

Starting to fill pitta bread with cocktail sausages and salad

Shake any remaining water from the salad and fill the pitta bread alternately with some salad and the sausages. Don't overfill.

Wee\Willie Winkie and salad filled pitta bread pocket

Squeeze some dressing over the pitta bread filling and scatter with the chopped chives.

Tucking in to Wee\Willie Winkie salad pitta bread

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Griddled Scottish Chicken Thigh Fillets and Chorizo Sandwich

A Simple but Tasty Alternative to a Basic Chicken Sandwich

Griddled chicken thigh fillets and sliced chorizo sandwich

A chicken sandwich prepared at home for your own consumption will often be a pretty bland affair. This could be true whether you're in Scotland, Australia or virtually anywhere in between. It may just be some leftover chicken and a bit of salt between two slices of bread in a worst case scenario. When I had a couple of chicken thigh fillets leftover recently however from the Chicken Bhuna Curry Pie Recipe which I prepared and featured on this blog, I decided to think a little bit out of the box and use not only the leftover chicken but anything else I had lying around in the fridge which needed using up on my sandwich.

Chicken thigh fillets

Ingredients per Sandwich

2 skinless chicken thigh fillets
Vegetable oil
Salt and white pepper
6 thin slices Spanish chorizo
1 soft bread roll
1 tablespoon soured cream
Few leaves of coriander (cilantro), roughly chopped

Starting to griddle chicken thigh fillets


If you don't have a griddle pan, you could of course fry the chicken thigh fillets. Be aware, however, that they will take a good bit longer to cook.

Open up the chicken thigh fillets and season with salt and pepper. Brush all over - on both sides - with vegetable oil.

Chicken thigh fillets griddling on second side

Bring your griddle pan up to a smoking hot heat before carefully laying in the chicken thighs. These thighs took two minutes on each side but do make sure they are properly and fully cooked.

Griddled chicken thigh fillets

Lift the griddled chicken thigh fillets to a plate and let them sit and rest for a minute or so while you assemble the rest of your ingredients.

First griddled chicken thigh is laid on bread roll

Cut the bread roll open and lay one of the chicken fillets on the bottom half.

Chorizo slices are laid on chicken thigh fillet

Lay the chorizo slices on top of the chicken fillet.

Second griddled chicken thigh is added to sandwich

Sit the second chicken thigh fillet on top of the chorizo. Spoon on the soured cream and scatter over the coriander before closing to eat.

Griddled chicken thigh and chorizo roll is ready to eat

One unexpected benefit I found from this delicious creation was that the heat of the chicken thighs almost instantly slightly crisped the chorizo, giving it an almost streaky bacon like texture.

First tasty bite is taken from griddled chicken thigh and chorizo sandwich

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Chicken Bhuna Curry Pie with Crushed Turmeric Tatties

A Chicken Curry Pie Raised to a Whole New Level

Chicken bhuna curry puff pastry pie with crushed turmeric tatties and chickpeas

A chicken curry pie in Scotland (see photo below) is normally just a variation on the traditional Scotch pie which sees the pie filled with a basic chicken curry rather than with minced lamb or beef and onions. While it is a perfectly enjoyable creation, it's not perhaps the most imaginative or visually appealing of foodstuffs. What I decided to do a couple of days ago therefore was play about with the general concept and see if I could raise it to new levels of scrumptiousness.

Conventional Scottish chicken curry pies

The first decision I made was to make the pie similar to a steak pie rather than simply a Scotch pie. This meant it would be made in an ashet (deep pie dish) and topped with puff pastry to serve more than one person, rather than made in to individual pies using hot water pastry. I then thought about what curry to prepare and decided on an Indian bhuna. The first proper curry I ever tasted was lamb bhuna and this probably remains my favourite to this day.

Skinless chicken thigh fillets

When I'm making soup with chicken, I prefer to use chicken thighs as I believe the meat offers the right texture for best results. It's exactly the same when I'm making pies. You could if you wish use breast meat but be aware the results may not be nearly so good.

Ingredients (Serves Two)

1 pound (450g) of skinless chicken thigh meat
1 medium white onion
1 large garlic clove
1 red bell pepper
1 medium strength green chilli pepper
8 ounce (220g) can of chopped tomatoes in tomato juice
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon medium chilli powder
1 teaspoon medium curry powder
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
Salt and pepper
1/2 pint (270ml) fresh chicken stock
Small bunch of coriander (cilantro), equating to about three tablespoons when chopped
1/2 pound (220g) puff pastry
Flour for dusting pastry rolling surface
1 small beaten egg for glazing pastry
8 to 10 baby potatoes, or as desired
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 ounce (25g) butter
1 small (8 ounce/220g) can of chickpeas in water

Chicken thigh fillets roughly diced


The first job is to get all your ingredients ready for making the chicken bhuna. That is because things will be happening pretty quickly once you start cooking and you won't have time to be chopping as you work.

When I'm going to be using chicken thigh fillets, I usually buy the thighs whole and skin/fillet them myself. That is simply because already filleted thighs can be up to twice the price! On this occasion though, the thigh fillets were on special offer so all I had to do was chop them in to roughly one inch pieces.

Bhuna sauce vegetable ingredients

The can of tomatoes of course simply has to be opened, while the onion and garlic should be peeled and finely sliced.

Sliced onion and garlic

I didn't seed the chilli pepper as I was aware it wasn't especially strong. If you do have strong chillies, however, you may well want to remove the seeds and their membrane before you slice it. The seeds were of course removed from the red bell pepper before it was sliced in to strips.

Sliced bell pepper and chilli pepper

Pour the vegetable oil in to a large pot. Add the spices only at first and put the pot on to a low heat. Stir fry the spices gently for a minute or so just to cook them through and release their full flavours. Be very careful not to burn them or they will turn bitter and waste the entire dish.

Bhuna spices

The onion and garlic should go in to the pot next to be stirred around for about a minute until the onion is just softening.

Onion and garlic added to bhuna spiced oil

Put the chicken in the pot and turn up the heat slightly to brown and seal all the pieces of the chicken. This will take two or three minutes of constant stirring with a wooden spoon.

Chicken thigh meat added to spiced onions

The peppers can be added next and briefly stirred through the chicken mix.

Sliced peppers added to chicken and onions

Pour the canned tomatoes in to the pot, followed by the chicken stock. Turn up the heat until the liquid starts to simmer then reduce the heat to achieve a very gentle simmer (uncovered) for half an hour, stirring occasionally.

Chopped tomatoes added to spiced chicken and vegetables

When the chicken is cooked and the sauce has thickened beautifully, switch off the heat.

Chicken bhuna mix is brought to a simmer

Roughly chop around two-thirds of the coriander.

Fresh coriander

Put the coriander in to the pot and carefully stir it through. Taste and adjust the seasoning as required with salt and pepper.

Chopped coriander is added to chicken bhuna

At this stage, it is vital to leave the bhuna to cool before incorporating it in the pie. If you construct the pie using hot curry, the pastry will immediately become soggy before it can rise and crisp. You could simply cover it and set it aside for a couple of hours but in addition to this, I then refrigerated the bhuna overnight. This means you are not eating an incredibly late dinner and also that the flavours will have extra time to really infuse and become ultra delicious.

Chicken bhuna is ready to be cooled

Spoon the cooled chicken thigh bhuna in to the ashet (or similar). It should approximately three-quarters fill the dish.

Cooled chicken bhuna is added to pie dish (ashet)

The pastry should be removed from the fridge about twenty minutes in advance of being rolled. Also get your oven on to preheat to 210C/425F/Gas Mark 7.

Premade puff pastry

Roll out the pastry on a floured surface that it is slightly larger than the pie dish and will overhang all around when laid on top of the pie filling.

Rolled pastry is carefully laid on top of pie dish

Crimp the pastry all around the edges of the dish and trim. Glaze with beaten egg and cut a steam vent in the centre.

Pastry is trimmed and glazed

Sit the pie on a large roasting tray (to contain any potential spills) and put it in to the oven for thirty-five to forty minutes, until the pastry is risen and golden.

Potatoes are boiled in turmeric water

About ten minutes before the pie is ready, add the potatoes unpeeled to a large pot of cold water. Season the water with salt and the ground turmeric. Put on a high heat until the water starts to simmer and then reduce.

Cooked chicken bhuna curry pie is allowed to rest

When the pie comes out of the oven, I know: it won't look particularly attractive as the pastry will have shrunk. I believe, however, that this makes for better final presentation when it is plated. Leave the pie to rest for fifteen minutes before cutting in to it.

Canned chickpeas are washed under running cold water

Open the can of chickpeas, pour them in to a colander in your sink and rinse under cold running water.

Coriander is added to buttered and crushed turmeric tatties

When the potatoes are softened (twenty-five minutes in this instance but time will vary with different types of potatoes), drain them and return them to the pot. Add the butter and crush them gently (don't mash!) with the back of a fork. Chop the remaining coriander and keeping a little bit back to garnish, stir it through the potatoes with a teaspoon.

Pastry is carefully removed from chicken bhuna curry pie

Cut the pie pastry in half and lift it carefully to a holding plate with a large slotted spoon.

Chicken curry bhuna pie filling ready for plating

The same slotted spoon should be used to divide the chicken bhuna pie filling between two serving plates.

Chicken bhuna curry pie filling is plated

Lift half the pastry on top of each serving of chicken curry.

Pastry is laid on top of chicken bhuna curry pie filling

Arrange the crushed turmeric tatties and chickpeas on the plate.

Crushed turmeric tatties and chickpeas are plated with chicken bhuna curry pie

Garnish the tatties and chickpeas with the last of the coriander.

Tucking in to chicken bhuna curry pie and turmeric tatties