Mini Beef Pies for Picnic Day

Oh, summer, you’ve been eating up all my time with swimming, adventures, bridesmaid duties, house renovations, among other fun things. Today is picnic day and I am currently blogging in my bathing suit. Just keeping it classy, you know. Having said that, here is a quick recipe for a great picnic lunch. Something other than the ubiquitous sandwich-that-sits-in-the-sun-all-morning. To break up the time spent in a steaming hot kitchen, I made the filling the night before and assembled and baked the pies this morning. Enjoy!

Mini Beef Pies for Picnic Day

yields 12 mini pies

1 package prepared pie crust (I use pillsbury, 2 crusts per package)

1 lb extra lean ground beef

1 medium onion, minced

1 medium carrot, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 knorr homestyle beef stock cube (or 1 bouillion cube but they are just not as good!)

1 cup water

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tbsp dijon mustard

2 tbsp BBQ sauce of your choice

2 tbsp flour

1/2 cup frozen green peas

1. Brown ground beef in a skillet until no longer pink. Drain excess fat, return beef to skillet, and add onion, carrot, and garlic. Cook over medium heat until veggies begin to soften, about 4-5 minutes.

2. Add stock, water, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and BBQ sauce to the beef mixture. Stir until well combined, turn heat to low, and let simmer 15-20 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated. Sprinkle flour over the beef mixture and stir until well combined. The flour will absorb the excess liquid and thicken the mixture. Set aside.

3. Roll out one prepared pie crust so that you increase the size of your crust by 50%. This gave me enough crust to make 12 mini beef pies in my muffin tin. Using a large, round cookie cutter or plastic container, cut out 6 circles of crust and fit them into your muffin pan. Put your your pastry scraps aside and repeat with second crust, reserving pastry scraps, so that you have the shell for 12 mini pies. The remaining pastry will form the lids.

4. Fill muffin cups with your beef filling. For me, this meant one large spoonful per muffin cup. Roll out your remaining pastry and, using a small, round cookie cutter or a drinking glass, cut out 12 pastry circles. Place pastry circles on top of your mini pies and, using your fingers, pinch together the pastry so the pies are sealed. Cut a slit in each mini pie to vent.

5. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Serve hot or cold or on a picnic.

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Chicken Soup with Chicken-Chickpea Dumplings

Sometimes you want to be comforted by your meals. In winter, this often means reaching for another serving of a cheesy casserole or curling up on a stormy day with a big plate of nachos – and there is nothing wrong with that, on occasion.

Making this recipe only further convinced me that there are gratifying, stomach-filling recipes that fit the comfort bill without necessarily bogging you down under thousands of calories.

I came across this recipe purely by accident and found it to be both delicious and very filling – not to mention being egg free, dairy free, low carb and just good for what ails you! It was so filling, in fact, that I could not finished the bowl above. I fed this soup to quite a few friends who dropped by for a visit and 4 dumplings were an average sized portion, 6 for a very hungry person.

Try not to skip the fresh herbs, they really elevate the soup to another level.

Oh, and my recipe is loosely based on this one. I actually found the dumplings to be a bit too dense for my taste. The recipe below will have my adjustments so they are a little more tender.

To make the dumplings, you will need chickpea flour. Before you groan about hunting down an unusual ingredient, let me tell you: chickpea flour is super easy to make. You simply whizz dried chickpeas in your food processor/blender/coffee grinder/whatever. I used a magic bullet and it worked a treat, my only complaint being that it was so loud!  Dried chickpeas can be found at your local grocery store, health food store or bulk store.

Chicken and Chickpea Dumplings (Gundi) in Chicken Soup

Adapted from Encyclopedia of Jewish Food by Gil Marks

Dumplings:

  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1.5 cups chickpea flour 
  • 2 medium yellow onions, grated
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil or 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • About 1 teaspoon salt
  • About 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • About 2 tablespoons water

Soup:

  •  2 quarts/boxes chicken broth
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon ground tumeric
  • Salt to taste
  • Assorted chopped fresh herbs: any combination of basil, parsley and cilantro

1. In a medium bowl, combine all the meatball ingredients, adding enough water to form a mixture that is smooth but not sticky. Refrigerate until firm, at least 3 hours. Using moistened hands, shape into smooth 1-inch balls, about the size of golf balls.

2. In a large pot, add the olivie oil, sliced onions and celerey and cook until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes.  Add the chicken broth to  lemon juice, turmeric, and salt and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the gundi, cover, and simmer until the gundi are tender, about 40 minutes.

3. Add some chopped fresh herbs to your soup bowl. Spoon dumplings and broth over herbs and serve.

Add chickpea flour (easy to make at home!) and  grated onions

Spices and fresh herbs flavour the dumplings and the soup

Add your ground chicken and blend thoroughly with your impeccably clean hands

Make sure your mixture is well blended – it will be dense

Form your chilled mixture into balls – ready for a long simmer in hot broth

Add your fresh herbs and serve