This time last year I was working in Brisbane, staying with a friend through the week, and returning home on weekends. It was tough, but sometimes you have to do what you have to do.
Over the course of four months, I actually stayed in three vastly different households, starting with housesitting for my friend Denise while she was away, moving in with Yvette and her two little girls when Denise returned, and finally, spending the last four weeks with our daughter Kate.
But this isn’t a story about what I was up to 12 months ago. It’s more about accidentally reaching a destination I didn’t even realise I was seeking.
While staying with Yvette, I helped out with the cooking as much as possible, but that’s not to say I cooked every meal, every night. One evening Yvette prepared chicken vol au vents from one of the 4 Ingredient cookbooks written by Kim McCosker and Rachel Bermingham. These books contain some wonderful, easy recipes.
I enjoyed that meal so much, I had to make it for Dean, but – and sometimes that is always a but (and not necessarily always mine either) – the next time I made them, I was without one of the key ingredients. No, it wasn’t the vol au vent cases or the chicken, but it was essential and, too lazy to drive down to the supermarket, I thought “So what! I can still whip these up”.
And so began another kitchen odyssey where I take someone else’s recipe, and make it my own.
After almost 10 months of experimenting, finally, I’m happy with the result. I feel as though I’ve finally reached perfection. I’m “Tickled Pink” as a matter of fact and sharing my recipe for Becky’s ‘In the Pink’ Square in September photo challenge. They were so good, I had to write up the recipe so I could make them again and again.
Heads up though, I have taken a recipe that has four ingredients and turned it into one with seventeen. Seventeen! I hear you gasping.
Trust me, each one is needed and by investing a little time in preparing all the ingredients before you begin, the cooking process itself is rather quick.
– ⋅ o ♥ o ⋅ –
Spicy Chicken Vol Au Vents
350g diced chicken breast
1 small onion
¼ cup of diced red capsicum
¼ cup of diced green capsicum
8 large vol-au-vents cases
¼ cup sliced broccoli florets
¼ cup sliced cauliflower florets
¼ cup of diced mushroom cups
¼ cup asparagus cut into 1 cm pieces
50g Danish feta crumbled
½ 300g jar of Old El Paso salsa – mild or hot
½ tsp fresh minced chilli
½ tsp fresh minced garlic
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste
step one: DO NOT pre-heat the oven. By placing the vol au vents into a cold oven the process of heating the oven distributes the heat better without burning the delicate pastry. Spray a large enough oven tray and arrange the cases on the tray and set aside.
step two: Sauté the diced onion and capsicum in a pan. Add salt and pepper to taste, and when the onion is almost translucent, add the diced chicken. Keep the pan relatively hot and stir frequently to ensure the chicken doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. The trick here is to cook the chicken, not overcook it, so before all the juices evaporate, add the other diced vegetables and stir through, cooking for another 2 or 3 minutes.
step three: Add the chilli, garlic, salsa and feta. Stir to combine and allow the feta to melt as the salsa heats up, making a sauce. If there appears to be too little sauce, add a bit more salsa or a few tablespoons of water, but don’t allow it to be sloppy. The sauce should just coat the chicken and the vegetables. Remove from the heat and distribute evenly between the eight vol au vent cases.
step four: Top each vol au vent with grated cheese and place into the oven. Turn the oven temperature to 180°C (350°F).
step five: Bake for approx. 15 – 20 minutes or until the cheese on top is golden brown. Serve with some fresh vegetables or salad or enjoy them on their own.
- You can make your own cases, but I choose not to as the packaged ones are relatively inexpensive.
- You can add any combination of vegetables. Personally, like the ones I’ve listed.