It’s that time of year again and the expat exodus has started.
For some it’s a summer exodus and there are mad dashes around the markets to buy presents for friends and family and huge excitement at holiday plans in far flung places. The prospect of missing the worst of the heat and humidity is a bonus too.
For others it’s more final and there are tearful goodbyes and last minute emails to do one last lunch/dinner/drink together before we all go our separate ways. Our little mahjong group which has been our social and Shanghai lifeline for the last 18 months is well and truly being flung to the four corners of the world.
It’s time to start interviewing for new friends:)
But all that can wait until after I return from my own exodus. I’ve managed to wangle six weeks away and it starts next week with a quick layover in London and then on to Poland with my folks for 2 weeks before returning to London to wait for Rich to arrive. Then we drive down to Cornwall to see his sisters and nephew and nieces. The youngest one decided to arrive 6 days after we left two years ago and since FaceTime doesn’t count we can’t wait to meet her for the first time.
In return for getting this all signed off I decided the least I can do is lift my game and leave something other than chilli and bolognese in the freezer for Rich for the 4 weeks he has to ‘survive’ on his own.
This is one of his favourites and even though it’s summer and there’s 75% humidity outside, out of the goodness of my heart I threw this together for him with the leftovers from the Sunday roast.
It’s an old recipe I’ve been using for years – the original goes by the rather long long title of ‘Lamb and pearl barley casserole with mustard and parsley dumplings‘ but it’s different every time I make it. This time it happened to be chicken and cheesy dumplings.
It’s a hugely adaptable recipe and usually I make it up as I go along. If you haven’t got the exact list of ingredients I have don’t worry – add whatever you have in the fridge or freezer.
It’s perfect for using up leftovers from a roast – I chuck everything in including meat, veg and gravy and then just top with the dumplings. Everything is done in a wok on the stove top and it takes 45 minutes from start to finish – less if you don’t have to chop and fry up veggies.
- Roast chicken, beef, pork or lamb all work.
- Sometimes I forget the mustard in the dumplings, sometimes I use English mustard.
- Leave the cheese in or out.
- If you have parsley in the house for the dumplings then great but don’t go out especially for it.
- Add chopped preserved lemon and olives if you want to jazz it up a bit.
- Throw in a handful of pearl barley or brown rice if it takes your fancy. It doesn’t matter.
The only thing that stays constant is the flour, butter and water in the dumplings and you need enough gravy in the wok to create steam to fluff up the dumplings. If you don’t have enough stock, top up with water it won’t hurt the finished product.
Do you have a favourite recipe for using up leftovers?
Chicken casserole with cheesy dumplings
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion chopped
- 2 carrots chopped
- 1/2 cup each sweetcorn and frozen peas
- 1 lotus root peeled and chopped
- 330 g cold chicken from a roast
- 400 ml gravy or stock
- salt & pepper
- few sprigs thyme or rosemary
- 125 g self raising flour or plain flour plus 1 tbsp baking soda
- 50 g butter softened
- 25 g grated cheese gruyere or cheddar
- salt and pepper
- small handful flat leaf parsley chopped
Heat the oil over a medium heat in a wok or casserole and sauté the onion and carrots for 5 minutes. Add all the other ingredients and cover and warm through on a simmer for 10 minutes.
In the meantime, you can get on with the dumplings. Mix all the ingredients together using your fingers and add water a tablespoon at a time until you get a soft dough - it's normally somewhere between 3 and 4 tablespoons for me. Roll into rough tablespoon sized balls - you should get 12 - and place on top of the chicken in the work or casserole. Cover and cook for 15 minutes over a medium heat - the gravy should be bubbling away but not 'spitting'.
P.S. I rather stupidly decided to change the blog theme and then got distracted with a few last lunches/drinks/dinners/fake shopping etc. so it’s still a work in progress……