Saturday, 23 March 2013

Chicken pies and Mashawa Farm

Leaving Hesselwood House really hurt.  I lost my enchanting childhood playground.  The orchard, the rose garden, the driveway ‘island’ where I’d spend hours day dreaming, whilst lazing on the garden swing under the shade of a Jacaranda tree. Not only did I have to leave Hesselwood House, but I had to leave Mama and Bumps and move to South Africa.

Mama and Bumps soon moved further north.  Close to the Zambia border to a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it town called Centenary – a tobacco farming community and 150 kms from a decent town. They moved into a large, unattractive and dull looking farm house with a cracked and empty swimming pool and a dry dusty garden.  My heart broke.  I hated it when I first saw it.

Mama, always the trooper with true British resolve, rolled up her sleeves and put an army together to transform the house into what our family lovingly knew as Mashawa Farm.  Mashawa means rainbow in Shona, and with the myriad of flowers and trees Mama planted, it was a rainbow – an oasis in the surrounding tobacco fields.

I left a run down farm house and returned in the summer holidays, to a fresh white farmhouse with lush green lawns, flower beds bursting with agapanthus with massive purple flowers, and blossoming honey suckle and jasmine trailing through the garden fence.

When I’d arrive for my summer holidays, Mama often prepared a ‘welcome meal’ for me – chicken pie and homemade tomato relish.  They were delicious cold, and the relish a perfect partner.  Here is Mama’s recipe for chicken pie…the only thing I’ve changed is add the lazy step of shop bought puff pastry.

Ingredients (makes four pies)

§         2 chicken breasts
§         500 ml full fat milk
§         2 finely chopped leeks
§         1 grated carrot
§         1 tablespoon butter
§         2 teaspoons corn flour mixed in a little water
§         Salt and pepper
§         1 beaten egg
§         Role of puff pastry

How to make

§         Heat the oven to 180 degrees, and grease a baking tray with a little butter.
§         Poach the chicken breasts, grated carrot and leeks in the milk until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken and chop finely.
§         Add the corn flour mix to the milk and allow to thicken – stirring all the time.  Return the chicken to the sauce, add salt and pepper to taste and add in the butter.  The mixture will be quite thick.
§         Use a saucer to cute rounds out of the puff pastry, egg wash around the edges and spoon the chicken mixture into the middle of each pastry round. Fold over, and crimp the edges with a fork.  Make a cross in the top of each pie and brush with an egg wash.
§         Bake in oven until golden – around 30 minutes.