Ham & Vegetable Pastry Puffs

22 January 2014

Post image for Ham & Vegetable Pastry Puffs

My mother is someone who can effortlessly create a delicious three-course meal from a simple fridge raid, with an uncanny ability to never let anything go to waste. Sadly, I didn’t inherit this talent, nor did I inherit the palate to eat leftovers. There have been periods of frugality where I would re-serve and reinvent leftovers, but these moments have often been brief, especially once I would inevitably arrive at a point where each meal was always incorporating something leftover and I was forever feeling burdened by any excess food.

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Now I am a mother to a fussy little toddler who currently subscribes to a diet of meat, bread and bananas. In an effort to make him eat more vegetables, I have been serving a garden variety at each meal in the hope that he will one day regard his broccoli in the same way most children react to chocolate cake. Several months have now passed with little success, and what bemoans me as much as his disinterest in vegetables are the said rejected vegetables glaring at me each time I open the fridge.

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So I find myself, yet again, receptive to recipes using leftovers. And this recipe from Rachel Khoo’s latest book, My Little French Kitchen, is a godsend.

These Ham & Vegetable Pastry Puffs are essentially little puff pastry parcels filled with ham and vegetables swathed in a savoury and cheesy Béchamel sauce. Comfort food in a little package.

What’s really lovely about this recipe is that you can use whatever leftover cooked meat and vegetables you have, provided that they would go well with a cheesy Béchamel sauce. The ham could be substituted with some chopped roast chicken or flaked cold fish, and cooked vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, peas, corns, broccoli (the list could go on and on) would work really well in this recipe.

For this reason, I haven’t stipulated quantities for the meat and vegetables in the recipe below. I’ve mentioned the same ingredients from Rachel Khoo’s recipe, but you could use whatever ingredients you like. My tip is to add just enough Béchamel sauce to bind everything together comfortably; the pastry puffs will leak if there is too much sauce, or they will be too dry if there is not enough sauce.

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I originally intended to try this recipe as something for hubby and I to enjoy at dinner, but we were both surprised to discover that our little one was also happy to munch on some mini-sized pastry puffs I had made for him, oblivious to the vegetables which were masked by the savoury Béchamel sauce. I guess he’s like his mother after all – we both have a soft spot for anything wrapped in puff pastry.

Ham & Vegetable Pastry Puffs
Recipe adapted from My Little French Kitchen by Rachel Khoo
Serves 4 as a light meal with a salad

ham-vegetable-pastry-puffs-recipe-2

Cook’s Notes

Take care not to overfill the pastry puffs, otherwise they will burst and leak in the oven.

You can make these pastry puffs ahead of time (omit the egg wash) and freeze them in freezer bags for a couple of months. Brush with egg wash just before baking, and bake them from frozen.

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Jennifer @ Delicious Everyday 23 January 2014 at 12:41 am

Gorgeous photos Thanh! Your pastry puffs look stunning too. Your pastry work is so neat. Oh how I wish it wasn’t so ridiculously hot and humid here that I could work with pastry much more easily.

I can understand how frustrating it is dealing with children’s likes and dislikes. The rule with my stepsons is that whatever we serve for dinner is what we are having, there is nothing else, and that they have to try everything on their plate. If they don’t like it, fine, but they have to try it with an open mind. Of course I won’t make something that contains something they genuinely don’t like, but they have to try things. I remember before my husband and I were married there were quite a few things that they didn’t eat, and that my youngest stepson absolutely refused to touch mushrooms, until one day I told him to try them and to try them without deciding he wasn’t going to like them. Now my mushroom spaghetti is one of his favourite things to eat. Good luck! :D

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eat, little bird 23 January 2014 at 5:46 pm

Thanks, Jennifer! I think I would melt in the current heat in Brisbane!

I’m not sure at what age we can start being strict about mealtimes? My philosophy is much like yours, except it’s a little difficult to negotiate with a 14 mth old at the moment. We’ve stopped offering many alternatives and he generally only has the choice of what we’re serving him. There are some meals where he will hardly eat because it’s mostly veg on offer, but I’m quietly hoping that he’s smart enough to not starve himself! But our first rule is to not make mealtimes a stressful ordeal and hopefully, in time, he will be more adventurous like his parents :-)

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Anita Menon 23 January 2014 at 7:30 am

My daughter likes her veggies – all of them except brinjals/ egg plant.So i was always quite content knowing she is a lot like me :-)
I looooove your photos! Gorgeousness and perfection.

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eat, little bird 23 January 2014 at 5:47 pm

Thanks, Anita! Maybe our kids could have a playdate?? ;-) Sounds like you did something right very early on!

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Paula 23 January 2014 at 11:11 am

Moms are always so good with leftovers! I’m a mess! I make a dish with leftovers, and then I buy 20 new things that I don’t need to prepare that leftovers dish. Terrible me!!

I guess the secret is being a mom :P

Recipe is great, and I like the idea of using béchamel, to give it that creamy touch. So, you don’t even think that you’re eating leftovers :P

They are really nice, I always use too much or too little filling in pastry.

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eat, little bird 23 January 2014 at 5:52 pm

Yes, things change a bit when you become a mother … you become a lot like your own mother! It’s rather scary sometimes, LOL!

I think what annoys me most about leftovers is being restricted with what I can cook next, especially if I have to buy lots of new ingredients just to use up some leftovers. It sort of defeats the purpose, no? Admittedly, some meals are better suited to leftovers than others. But I’m happy to make a Béchamel sauce – I always have the ingredients on hand and it makes everything taste better :-)

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Rushi 23 January 2014 at 3:05 pm

Such beautiful presentation Thanh and I must say that’s such a handy recipe to have up your sleeve. I’ve made a similar version but minus the béchamel sauce. This might sound stupid but did you put the pastry in a little mould before you baked ‘em to get that pretty star print on it.

I’m hopeless when it comes to leftovers, I just make enough for myself & hubby. I’d get bored with leftovers, I guess I inherited that from my mom :D

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eat, little bird 23 January 2014 at 5:54 pm

Hi Rushi,
I simply cut out a star from some scrap pieces of pastry and stuck it on top of each parcel with some egg wash :-) I stole the idea from Rachel Khoo’s book as her pastry puffs were also decorated with stars. Normally I wouldn’t bother but they do look prettier! Hope you are well :-)

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Rushi 6 February 2014 at 8:55 am

That’s such a clever idea. You could do hearts for Valentine’s… Anyway I found the pâte feuilletée so I’m all lined up to make ‘em this afternoon. I have some cold roast chicken which I’ll be using up instead of ham. Hope all’s well on your end. :D

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eat, little bird 11 February 2014 at 11:45 am

Hearts are a lovely idea! Glad you found the pâte feuilletée (sorry, meant to respond to your email sooner!). Roast chicken would be great in a dish like this. Hope you enjoyed it!

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Yead 23 January 2014 at 8:01 pm

This looking so beautiful. i love this food. Great idea/

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The Food Sage 25 January 2014 at 6:59 am

Now i know what to do with the last of the Christmas ham – which is begging to be used up in something other than pasta salad! Lovely work – thanks for sharing.

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eat, little bird 29 January 2014 at 12:23 am

Leftover Christmas ham would be perfect in this recipe!

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Anna's Kitchen Table 29 January 2014 at 4:39 pm

Beautiful. Just beautiful. Really, who could possibly turn these gorgeous little things down.

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eat, little bird 29 January 2014 at 5:02 pm

Thanks, Anna! And I agree … even our little one couldn’t resist these pastry puffs :-) In fact, I’m making them again tonight! Slightly different filling this time, though.

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Cecilia 30 January 2014 at 12:57 pm

I understand your dilemma! I have it threefold(the youngest is 5 and the oldest is 9), Mealtimes are often a minefield each child and their dad with their own preferences. Sadly, one finds the things that they will all eat and the menus can get a bit monotonous. In frustration, I do serve new things and not always with great success. However, I will say it does get better as they get older and more adventurous. School dinners help, they are served a wide variety of foods that they must try and that they would turn their noses up when at home. We live in the south-west of France so the school dinners are usually quite good. I will try these just for the fun of it and to use up those pesky leftovers! BTW, your photos make the food very inviting. Well done!

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eat, little bird 31 January 2014 at 1:09 pm

It’s good to know that things will get better as the kids get older. I used to feel frustrated when our son would ignore most of the food on his plate, but I now quietly feel that he’s smart enough not to starve himself :-) At most meals, he will eat the same food as us, but sometimes he will just eat very little. I’m hoping that, once he goes to playgroup or daycare and sees other children eating, he will also be more curious about food. I know I was a picky eater when I was a child …

Hope you will enjoy this recipe :-)

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