My husband was out of town last week so I used the opportunity to look into the depths of our freezer and use up food that has been in there for quite awhile. I happen to come across two frozen chicken thighs. After much pondering, and taking into account the cold rainy weather, I decided that those thighs were destined for chicken pot pie.
I have never actually made chicken pot pie before, so I glanced over a few recipes online to get an idea of how to put it together, and came home that evening ready to embark on creating it totally from scratch.
Normally this would be a good meal to use leftover already cooked chicken, but my chicken was not cooked. So, I poached the thighs in chicken broth and saved the broth to use in the sauce. I used a combination of veggies that were in my fridge: lima beans, green beans, corn, peas. A bag of mixed frozen veggies would be the easiest way to go, but I absolutely hate cooked carrots, so I buy veggies individually. I added pesto to the filling and it was all the herb flavoring needed to make this delicious.
I also made a homemade pie crust for the top. Some people swear that pie crusts are extremely hard to make, but for some reason I have always had really good luck. You just have to remember to keep everything cold and to work quickly. I make my pie crusts in the food processor. When done properly I think they can be put together much faster and kept cooler than trying to do it by hand. It is important to make the crust dough before the filling so that it can be put back into the fridge to chill before going on top of the pot pie.
This recipe does take a little time, but it is well worth the effort. If you can plan ahead, say make the pie crust the night before then it will be that much quicker. I was able to put the whole thing together in about 45 minutes and it took another 45 minutes or so to cook in the oven. This is enough filling for a 10 x 7 inch pan which made about 4 servings.
Hope you give this one a try.
1 ¼ cup flour
1 teas. salt
5 tbs. cold butter, diced
3 tbs. vegetable shortening
1 tbs. vinegar
3 tbs. cold water, more if needed
1. Place four, salt, butter and vegetable shortening in food processor. Pulse the processor on a few times to chop up the butter. The mixture should look like coarse meal.
2. With the motor running, stream in vinegar and water until just incorporated (about 10 seconds). The dough is finished if when you squeeze a handful of dough it stays together. Add more water by the teaspoon full if needed and pulse again. The dough will not be formed together in one cohesive ball at this time.
3. Dump dough onto a floured board and press together to combine. The dough will be a little crumbly, but that’s okay.
4. Form the dough into the relative shape of whatever pan you plan to make the pot pie in. I used a rectangle pan, so I formed by dough into a rectangle. You will roll the dough out later into the proper size.
5. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
Note: If you don’t have vegetable shortening then you can use 8 tbs. cold butter.
Chicken Pot Pie
3 tbs. oil
1 ½ cups potatoes, peeled and diced small
½ cup diced shallots or onions
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups frozen vegetables (any combination you like)
2 cups chopped cooked chicken
4 ½ tbs. flour
3 cups stock (I used a combination of chicken and vegetable, but use whatever you have on hand)
2 tbs. pesto
½ cup milk
1 egg, beaten
1. Heat a medium sized pot on medium heat. Add oil. Add shallots and garlic. Sauté until translucent, about 4 minutes.
2. Stir in potatoes, cook another 7 minutes. Stir often so potatoes don’t stick.
3. Stir in mixed vegetables and chicken. Cook 1 minute.
4. Add flour, stir well to combine and cook 1 minute.
5. Pour in stock. stir well to get rid of any lumps of flour. Bring this mixture up to a simmer. It should begin to thicken. Add a little more stock if it gets to thick.
6. Stir in pesto and milk.
7. Pour mixture into a 10x7 inch pan.
8. Roll out pie crust large enough to cover pan with a little overhang.
9. Brush edge of pan with the beaten egg then place the crust on top. Push the crust down around the edges to seal. Cut off any extra crust. I you want to get fancy you can pinch the crust edge like you would for a pie.
10. Brush top of crust with the beaten egg. Sprinkle top with a little salt.
11. Cut a few vent holes in the crust to let the steam escape.
12. Place on a cooking sheet and cook about 45 minutes in a 350 degree oven.
13. The pot pie is done when the crust is brown and the filling is bubbly.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Monday, March 24, 2008
makes one 8″x2″ flan
-Put a metal 8″x2″ round cake pan– not a nonstick one– in the oven to heat while you prepare the caramel. (If you are using individual molds or ramekins, then skip this step.)
To Make the Caramel:-Stir the sugar, water and lemon juice together in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan. Put the pan over medium-high heat and cook until the sugar becomes an amber-colored caramel, about 5 minutes-remove the pan from the heat at the first whiff of smoke.
-Remove the cake pan from the oven and, working with oven mitts, pour the caramel into the pan and immediately tilt the pan to spread the caramel evenly over the bottom; set the pan aside.
To Make the Flan:-Bring the milk and heavy cream just to a boil.
-Meanwhile, in a 2-quart glass measuring cup or in a bowl, whisk together the eggs, yolks and sugar. Whisk vigorously for a minute or two, and then stir in the vanilla. Still whisking, drizzle in about one quarter of the hot liquid-this will temper, or warm, the eggs so they won’t curdle. Whisking all the while, slowly pour in the remainder of the hot cream and milk. Using a large spoon, skim off the bubbles and foam that you worked up.
-Put the caramel-lined cake pan in the roasting pan. Pour the custard into the cake pan and slide the setup into the oven. Very carefully pour enough hot water from the kettle into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the cake pan. (Don’t worry if this sets the cake pan afloat.) Bake the flan for about 35 minutes, or until the top puffs a bit and is golden here and there. A knife inserted into the center of the flan should come out clean. (Small, individual molds will take less time– start checking for doneness around the 25-minute mark).
-Remove the roasting pan from the oven, transfer the cake pan to a cooking rack and run a knife between the flan and the sides of the pan to loosen it. Let the flan cool to room temperature on the rack, then loosely cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
-When ready to serve, once more, run a knife between the flan and the pan. Choose a rimmed serving platter, place the platter over the cake pan, quickly flip the platter and pan over and remove the cake pan–the flan will shimmy out and the caramel sauce will coat the custard.
Storing: Covered with plastic wrap in its baking pan, the flan will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. However, once unmolded, its best to enjoy it the same day.
Serving: Bring the flan to the table and cut into wedges. Spoon some of the syrup onto each plate.
Friday, March 21, 2008
Friday, March 14, 2008
Caramel, Pear and Almond Tart
adapted from Bon Appetit, February 2005
Sweet Tart Dough
adapted from "From My Home To Yours", by Dorie Greenspan
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (9 total tablespoons) very cold or frozen unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk
Preparation: In the bowl of your food processor, pulse flour, confectioner's sugar, and salt to combine. Scatter pieces of butter over dry ingredients and pulse until butter is coarsely cut in (some pieces will be the size of oatmeal and some will be the size of peas). Stir the yolk to break it up and add it little by little, pulsing after each addition. When the egg is in, process in long pulses, around 10 seconds each, until the dough forms clumps and curds. Alternatively, you can cut the mixture in a large bowl with a pastry blender until you have clumps and curds. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead dough very lightly to incorporate any dry ingredients that escaped mixing.
Prepare your tart pan by buttering all inside surfaces. Press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Press the crust in so that the edges of the pieces cling to one another, but not so hard that the crust loses its crumbly texture. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer prior to baking.
To Bake Crust: Center a rack in the oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust. The crust can be baked without pie weights since you froze it prior. Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 25 minutes. Remove foil. Inspect your crust and press down any puffed up parts with the back of a spoon. Bake an additional 10 minutes until it is firm and golden brown. Transfer tart pan to a cooling rack and cool crust to room temperature prior to filling.
Prepare Almond Filling
2/3 cup blanched slivered almonds
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
7 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
Finely grind almonds and flour in processor. Mix in 7 tablespoons sugar, then butter, blending until smooth. Mix in egg and almond extract. Transfer filling to medium bowl. Cover and chill at least 3 hours. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.)
4 cups water
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 medium-size firm but ripe Bosc pears, peeled (each about 7 ounces)
Bring 4 cups water, sugar, and lemon juice to boil in large saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add pears. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until pears are very tender, turning occasionally, about 20 minutes. Cool pears in syrup. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
Make Caramel Sauce:
Adapted from The Pie and Pastry Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/4 liquid cup water
1/2 liquid cup heavy cream, heated in microwave for 1 minute
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
In a heavy saucepan, stir together the sugar, syrup, and water until the sugar is completely moistened. Heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves and the syrup is bubbling. Stop stirring completely and allow it to boil undisturbed until it turns a deep amber*. Immediately remove it from the heat and slowly and carefully pour the hot cream into the caramel. It will bubble up furiously.
Use a high-temperature heat-resistant rubber spatula, or a porcelain or wooden spoon to stir the mixture until smooth, scraping up the thicker part that settles on the bottom. If any lumps develop, return the pan to the heat and stir until they dissolve. Stir in the butter. The mixture will be streaky but become uniform after cooling slightly and stirring. Allow the sauce to cool for 3 minutes. Gently stir in the vanilla extract.
To Store: Room temperature, up to 3 days; refrigerated, at least 3 months. To reheat: If the caramel is in a microwave-safe container at room temperature, microwave it on high power for 1 minute, stirring twice. If cold, it will take a few seconds more. Alternatively, place it in a bowl in a pan of simmering water and heat, stirring occasionally, until warm, about 7 minutes.
* I cooked the caramel on medium-low heat and it took about 18 minutes to turn the deep amber I was striving for. Read David Lebovitz's post on creating the perfect caramel.
To assemble tart:
Position oven rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread almond filling evenly in cooled, baked crust. Pour 3/4 of the warm caramel over almond filling. Stem pears and cut each in half lengthwise; scoop out cores. Cut each half crosswise into thin slices. Gently press each pear half to fan slices but keep slices tightly overlapped. Slide spatula under pears and arrange atop filling like spokes of wheel with narrow ends in center.
Bake tart until golden and tester inserted into center of filling comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Cool tart in pan on rack. Push pan bottom up, releasing tart from pan. (Can be made 8 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.) Cut tart into wedges; sprinkle with powdered sugar, and/or reserved caramel sauce, if desired, and serve.
Friday, March 7, 2008
I just can’t take this horrible winter much longer. Really, I don’t mind the cold weather, but if there is going to be cold weather then some significant amount of snow needs to be included in the package. This year in Maryland the winter weather has been terrible. Cold and rainy. That’s it. Maybe we have gotten 5 inches of snow this year total. We had some ice, but who likes ice. Right now, cold and rainy. Tomorrow, cold and rainy. Day after that, cold and windy!
Needless to say, I am dying for some spring. So, when I saw a beautiful package of blueberries at Trader Joe’s the other day I just had to buy them. I know, I know… they came from Chili, carbon footprint, etc. But I just couldn’t take the cold weather anymore. I needed to create some form of spring in the house and blueberries fit that bill.
The recipe for Lemon-Lime Blueberry Squares has been in my pile of “recipes to make” for awhile now. In the past I rarely have lemon and limes in the house at the same time. But this week I was in business.
The recipe is pretty straight forward. Make and blind bake the crust first (Blind bake means to bake a crust without filling). Then pour in the filling and bake until set. Top with blueberries, bake a few more minutes, then cool in the fridge. It all worked at great, except that when I put the blueberries on top of the filling they didn’t stay on top as I would have liked. The filling was already set, so the berries just kind of rolled around. Next time I will put the blueberries on top earlier so that they can be pressed into the filling. The appropriate adjustments have been made to the recipe below, so you shouldn’t have the same problem.
So, did these squares give me hope that spring is around the corner? Sure did! They were great. Reminded me of lemon squares, not quite as tart, with the nice sweetness of blueberries on top. The key to making these great is fresh citrus. Yes, those little plastic containers of lemon and lime juice are easy to keep in the fridge, but if you don’t use freshly squeezed lemon and lime juice then I don’t guarantee the results. It truly makes all the difference.
Lemon-Lime Blueberry Squares, adapted from Gourmet Magazine
½ cup flour
¾ cup yellow cornmeal
6 tbs. confectioners’ sugar
½ teas. salt
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3 large eggs
½ cup sugar
1 ½ tbs. all-purpose flour
½ teas. finely grated lemon zest
½ teas. finely grated lime zest
1 tbs. fresh lemon juice
1 tbs. fresh lime juice
2 tbs. milk
2 cups blueberries
3 tbs. apricot jam, warmed
Preheat over to 375 degrees
1. Line 8-inch square pan with 2 sheets of foil, overlapping them in opposite directions so that there is overhang on all 4 sides.
2. In food processor, pulse together flour, cornmeal, confectioners’ sugar, salt and butter until mixture resembles coarse meal.
3. Press onto bottom of baking dish and 1-inch up sides.
4. Bake about 20 minutes, until golden brown.
While the Crust Bakes Make the Filling:
5. Whisk together eggs, sugar, flour and zests.
6. Whisk in juices, milk and a pinch of salt.
7. When crust has baked, pour in filling and bake 15 minutes.
8. Toss blueberries and apricot jam
9. Gently spoon berries over top of filling and bake an additional 4 minutes.
10. Transfer to baking rack and cool for about one hour.
11. Chill, covered for about 6 hours.
When ready to eat, lift dessert out of dish and cut into squares. Squares can be kept in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
Sunday, March 2, 2008
After the dough rested overnight I formed it into a log, cut it into pieces and cooked away. These are cooked on a cast iron grill pan. I only have a cast iron skillet and it worked fine. The smell of yeasty bread filled the entire house.
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
½ teaspoon sugar
1 cup warm water
½ cup warm milk
2 1/3 cups bread flour
2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teas salt
1. In a small bowl combine yeast, sugar and ½ cup water. Whisk until yeast is dissolved. Let rest for at least 5 minutes. The mixture should start to foam. Add the remaining water and milk and let rest another 5 minutes.
2. In a large bowl, combine flours and salt. Pour in yeast mixtures. Mix with a rubber spatula until a just barely combined. Pour onto a floured work surface and knead for 8 minutes. Dough should be very soft.
3. Place dough into lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. All to double in size, at least 90 minutes or rest overnight. I kept mine on the counter, but on a particularly cold night you could put it in the fridge.
4. After the dough has risen, turn it out on a floured work surface. Gently form the dough into a log, it should at least a couple inches thick. Cut the log into 10 pieces.
5. Roll each piece into a ball and roll them in cornmeal. Place each piece on a cookie sheet. Once all pieces are on the cookie sheet place another sheet on top so that the weight of the cookie sheet slightly flattens the balls of dough.
6. Let dough rest with cookie sheet on top for 20 minutes.
7. Heat griddle pan of cast iron skillet on medium low. Allow pan to preheat for about 5 minutes.
8. Spray skillet with cooking spray and place dough in the skillet. I was able to cook 4-5 English muffins at one time.
9 Let the muffins cook about 10 minutes on each side. They will begin to puff up and the side being cooked will get turn golden brown. Keep an eye on them. If they brown to quickly turn the heat down. Tongs are the easiest and most controlled way to flip the muffins.
10. When both sides are golden brown they are done and ready to eat. Enjoy!