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.
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.
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.
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.
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.