Chicken Pot Pie

October 27, 2011

Margaux says…

After 15 years in Chicago, I’ve come to really dread winter.  I think it was last winter that did me in, and they say that this winter is going to be even worse.  I used to love winter!  The biggest problem is having to bundle up a toddler in a million layers, and buckle all those layers into a car seat, etc, etc, etc.  Bah humbug, right?  Plus, towards the end, I really start to get those end-of-winter blues, and it doesn’t help that the winters seem to keep getting longer in this town.

The up-side to this sad problem of mine is that I cook A LOT in the winter.  Winter seemed to officially kick-off here last week (60 mile-an-hour winds, temps in the 40s, and rain for 3 days straight), and the serious cooking started: I made beef stroganoff, this amazing turkey stew that I’ve made several times in past winters, brown sugar cookies, Granny’s apple cake (which I promise I will post soon…apples never tasted so good), applesauce, chicken stock (of course!), roast beef with mashed potatoes and gravy….and I topped off the week with these chicken pot pies.  I think I gained 10 pounds, (and I kind of felt like Paula Deen with all the butter I used) but the cooking and baking frenzy kept my spirits up!  Luckily we eat a lot of salads to counter-balance all the fat.  Of course, also like typical Chicago, after 4 days of really crappy weather, it was beautiful again for several days…totally teasing me!

These pot pies are nothing like the gross frozen ones of our childhoods (at least my childhood-I had a mother who didn’t like to cook).  Last month’s Martha Stewart has the most beautiful pot pie on the cover, and several more inside, and I decided that this will be the winter of pot pies in our house, starting with this classic.  My husband is totally on board…while eating these he said he wished I made pot pies more often.  Wish granted!

For the chicken, the recipe called for 2 1/4 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts and thighs, cut into 1-inch cubes. Instead, I made a pot of chicken stock the day before with a whole chicken, and just used the cooked chicken in the recipe, cut into the cubes. It ends up being about the same amount of chicken (maybe a little less, but it still turned out great). And then you have chicken broth on hand for other recipes!

For the pie crust, I found I needed more than a half-recipe of pie dough, so I used the remainder of the dough to make a couple apple hand-pies for our dessert since I happened to have apples on hand.  The unfortunate part about pie dough is that you can’t re-roll out the extra after cutting out the crusts because it will get really tough.  So make sure you’re being very conservative when cutting out the pie circles so that you waste very little dough.  Also, I didn’t make an all-butter crust for this recipe because I thought it would be too rich (can you believe I just said that??), and instead did one stick of butter and 1/2 cup of Crisco.

Chicken and Mushroom Pot Pie

makes eight 4-inch potpies, serves 8
make ahead: you can refrigerate the filling for up to 3 days in an airtight container

for the filling:
1 1/2 oz. bacon, finely chopped (about 2-3 strips)
1 tbsp EV olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
8 oz. cremini mushrooms, quartered
3 medium carrots, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tsp all-purpose flour
3 cups chicken stock
2 1/4 lbs. chicken, cubed
3 tbsp heavy cream

for the topping:
1 recipe pie dough (but using 1/2 cup butter and 1/2 cup Crisco in place of the 1 cup of butter and 1/4 cup Crisco, and omitting sugar)
1 large egg, for egg wash (which I forgot to do, and it turned out just fine)

1. Make the filling: Cook bacon in a large skillet over low heat until crisp, about 10 minutes. Transfer bacon to a plate using a slotted spoon. Raise heat to medium, and add oil. Add onion, and cook until translucent, about 8 minutes. Add mushrooms, carrots, and celery, and cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in flour.
2. Add stock, and bring to a simmer. Cook until thickened, about 5 minutes. Add chicken and cream. Simmer until chicken is just cooked through, about 5 minutes (if using cooked chicken, there’s no need to cook 5 minutes). Return bacon to saucepan. Let cool.
3. Divide filling among 8 4-inch (12 oz.) ramekins.
4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Make the topping: Roll out dough to 1/4 inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Cut out 8 circles that are 1 inch wider than the ramekins. Top ramekins with dough, and crimp edges with a fork to seal. Brush dough with egg wash.
5. Bake until toppings are golden and fillings are bubbling, about 40 minutes.

I can’t let good pie dough go to waste, so I made a couple apple hand pies with it (luckily I had apples on hand).

Peel, core and slice a good baking apple, like Jonathan, Golden Delicious, Macintosh or Granny Smith. Place apples on one side of the pie dough, leaving about an inch or so on the edge for crimping. Cover apples with about 2 tablespoons of sugar, and about 1/4 tsp. cinnamon. Dot with about a tablespoon of butter, cut into small pieces. Fold dough over the apples and crimp the edges (it should be pretty full and packed in there…the apples will shrink when baked). Sprinkle sugar on top, and cut a few small holes in it. Bake for about 30 minutes or so…keep a close eye on it because baking time will vary based on the size of your pies. Take out and cool completely before eating!

 

Margaux says…

When I saw the recipe for this pie, I had to make it.  I’ve never had apricots in pie before, and the combination of coconut and apricots was intriguing.  The combo does not disappoint…it’s really delicious!  I love the tartness of the apricots with the sweetness of the crumble.  The pie is pretty easy to make, too; the crumble can be made in a food processor and you don’t have to peel the apricots, so prep time is minimal.  The Martha Stewart version also has shaved toasted coconut piled on top in the center for a lovely decorative touch (which I did not take the time to do).

 

Apricot Pie with Coconut Crumble
from Martha Stewart Living

For The Topping
3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Coarse salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sweetened shredded coconut (3 ounces)
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into pieces
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons packed light-brown sugar
For The Filling
1 3/4 pounds apricots, cut into 3/4-inch-thick wedges (6 cups)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
Coarse salt
Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Make the topping: Whisk together flour and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Pulse coconut in a food processor until finely ground. Add butter and brown sugar, and pulse to combine. Add flour mixture, and pulse until clumps form.

Make the crust: Roll out pie dough to a 1/8-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Fit dough into a 9-inch pie plate, and trim crust to a 1-inch overhang using kitchen shears. Fold edges under, and press to seal. Crimp as desired. Freeze for 15 minutes.

Make the filling: Stir together apricots, sugars, cornstarch, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Pour filling into piecrust. Sprinkle with topping, squeezing some of the mixture into medium to large clumps and leaving a 1-inch border.

Bake pie on middle rack, with a foil-lined baking sheet on bottom rack to catch juices, until vigorously bubbling in center and bottom crust is golden, about 1 1/2 hours. (Loosely tent topping with foil after 30 minutes to prevent burning.) Transfer pie to a wire rack, and let cool for at least 2 hours (preferably longer) before serving.

Peach Custard Pie

July 23, 2011

Margaux says…

Various peach-custard pie recipes have really been catching my eye this year, and it looked so simple to make that I decided to just take the plunge and make one, even though we had no plans for company or anything.  Now that I’m working full time, it’s hard enough for me to be able to cook dinner, let alone give in to my baking desires.  But peaches are one of my favorite fruits, and I just couldn’t let the season pass me by without indulging just once!  And I’m so glad I gave in.  This pie is so good!  You must have good, in-season, juicy peaches for it to be good.  And for you pie-for-breakfast people out there, this one is perfect!  I had it for breakfast two days in a row!

If you don’t have a pie ring, and you are an avid pie-baker, I highly recommend it.  To me, there’s nothing worse than wrestling with a piece of tinfoil to try to get it to adequately cover the edges without burning yourself.

Peach-Custard Pie

1 recipe single pie crust

4 medium ripe (but firm) peaches, peeled
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg

1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Make the crust: Roll out dough to a 1/8″ thickness on a lightly flour surface. Fit dough into a 9-inch pie plate, and trim crust to a 1-inch overhang. Fold edges under, and press to seal using the tines of a fork. Prick bottom of pie all over with fork. Freeze for 15 minutes.
2. Line crust with foil, shiny side down, and fill with dried beans or rice. Bake for 20 minues. remove from oven; remove beans and parchment. Bake crust for another 10 minutes, until lightly golden. Let cool.
3. Meanwhile, make the filling: Peel peaches by boiling them for one minute, then allowing to cool enough to touch and peel the skin easily off. Quarter the peaches, but leaving one half intact (for the center).
4. Whisk together eggs, sugar, butter, flour, salt and nutmeg. Pour filling into pie crust. Place peach half in the center, and surround with wedges.
5. Bake for 45 minutes. Tent foil ring around crust edges after 15 minutes to prevent burning (or use a pie ring). Transfer to a wire rack; let cool for 1 hour. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

Aunt Suzy says . . .

My Mom, a.k.a. Granny, is a great pie baker of the traditional persuasion.  What I mean is that she had a few basic pie recipes – nothing fancy – that she was well known for because they were so outstanding.  Growing up I didn’t appreciate this because I definitely liked cake better than pie.  If I did like pie, it was the cream or custard variety where I’d eat the filling out and leave the crust. Now it’s the opposite!  I prefer pie, love the crust and fruit filling trumps cream/custard.  When rhubarb season rolls around it heralds the fruit pie-baking season for me.  Last year, we posted all kinds of fancy rhubarb dessert recipes.  Time to appreciate the basic approach of this timeless and classic rhubarb pie.

Margaux says…

This is one of my favorite pies!  I don’t think I’ve ever actually made it, but mainly because I haven’t needed to…you can usually bet that there will be one of these at my Dad’s house this time of year, and more than once, sort of like apple pie in the fall.  So if I get a craving, I can just invite myself to dinner.  But I completely agree with Aunt Suzy…sometimes a basic, classic pie just totally hits the spot.  And this one fits the bill!

This recipe is geared to a 9-inch pie plate.  Adjust quantities up or down for other sizes.  Line the oven bottom with foil and preheat to 425°.

Ingredients

Your favorite pie crust for a 2-crust pie (see Margaux’s)

3-4 cups rhubarb

1 scant cup sugar

1 teaspoon grated orange zest

2 tablespoons flour

2 tablespoons butter, in chunks

NOTE ON THE AMOUNT OF SUGAR:  We like our rhubarb pies on the tart side, adding less sugar to the filling and then sugaring the top crust. You will want to add a little more sugar to the filling if you like things on the sweeter side.

Instructions

Roll out half the crust and line the pie plate with it.  Mix the rhubarb, sugar, orange zest and flour in a bowl and turn into the crust.  Dot with the butter chunks – don’t forget!  I can’t tell you how many times Granny or I have had to poke the butter through the holes in the top crust.  🙂

Place the top crust over the filling.  Crimp the edges and then cut slits in the top crust.  If you want to get fancy, you can cut a beautiful pattern into it.  Margaux’s other Grandma had a lovely traditional family pattern that she used.  My Mom took a more practical approach, cutting a few slits to make sure the steam escaped.  Sprinkle sugar over the top crust.

Place the pie in the pre-heated oven.  Bake at 425° for 15 minutes, then turn the heat down to 350° and bake for another 30-45 minutes until done.  (Electric ovens seem to finish closer 30 minutes, gas ovens take longer.  Start checking after 30 min.) Don’t forget to turn the heat down after the 15 minutes!

Enjoy warm or room temperature, plain or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  And don’t forget to leave some for breakfast (of champions)!

Aunt Suzy says . . .

When my guy Tatum told me he was making a pie for Pi Day (today, March 14) to take to his workplace, I thought he meant Pie Day.  I had never heard that there was a day set aside for ∏!!  And to think it’s also Albert Einstein’s birthday, making this a true day for smarties.  Then he told me he was making his famous chocolate cream refrigerator pie which is made with a surprise ingredient – tofu!  I had never had this pie and I had my doubts, but it is super-chocolaty and delicious. Lucky co-workers!

Margaux says…

This pie is sooo delicious!  It’s very rich and tasty…it almost makes me think of chocolate cheesecake more than a traditional pudding pie.  If you want to make it vegan, just substitute agave syrup for the honey.  I made it with my own granola recipe, and the slightly-saltiness of the granola really paired perfectly with the super sweet and rich filling.  This is a great pie to make when you want something sweet but don’t want to have the oven on for more than 30 minutes!

Granola Crust

1 1/2 cups granola, without dried fruit (he used one with orange flavor this time – great contrast to the chocolate!)

1/3 cup melted butter or canola oil

1 tablespoon honey

Process the granola for 15 seconds in a food processor or with a stick blender.  Add the melted butter or canola oil and the honey.  Press into a 9-inch pie plate.  Bake at 400° for 5–7 minutes.  Keep an eye out so it doesn’t burn.  Remove from oven and set aside to cool while making the filling.

Creamy Chocolate Filling

1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips or discs

3 tablespoons honey

2- 10 1/2-ounce packages silken firm tofu

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler until smooth.  Stir in the honey and blend thoroughly.  Process the tofu in a food processor or with a stick blender until smooth.  (Note:  some tofu is sold in 12-ounce packages.  In this case just use 21 ounces.)  Add the melted chocolate mixture and beat by hand till smooth and creamy.  Pour the filling into the reserved crust.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.  Be judicious with serving size – this is a very rich pie!

Sweet Potato and Pecan Pie

January 6, 2011

Aunt Suzy says . . .

There is a lot of press about pie lately, especially that it’s the new cupcakes.  Indeed the name of this article (with recipes!) is Pie to Cupcakes:  Time ‘s Up.  I’m not sure about that – cupcakes have a huge fanbase – but I love pie and will choose it always over cake.  (I think my blog partner would say the opposite!)  This is an especially rich and fabulous pie that I first had years ago when a friend of mine served it at a New Year’s Day celebration.  Ever since, I make it for our New Year’s Day meal.  It’s the only time that I make it, and each New Year’s Day I wonder why I don’t make it more often!  The original recipe is from Paul Prudhomme and uses a very rich egg-based crust and a cake pan.  I have always made it with my regular pie dough in a deep dish pie plate – seems simpler.  In any event, I think this is the type of pie that is fancy enough to warrant a special occasion or a holiday!

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Line a deep dish 9-inch pie plate with your favorite dough.

Sweet-Potato Filling


2 – 3 sweet potatoes, baked
¼ cup light brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 egg, vigorously beaten until frothy
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl. Beat on medium speed of electric mixer until the batter is smooth, about 2 to 3 minutes. Do not overbeat. Set aside.

Pecan Pie Syrup


¾ cup sugar
¾ cup dark corn syrup
2 small eggs
1½ tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
Pinch of ground cinnamon
¾ cup pecan pieces or halves

Combine all the ingredients except the pecans in a mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly on slow speed of elec

tric mixer until the syrup is opaque, about 1 minute; stir in pecans and set aside.

Assembly

Spoon the sweet-potato filling evenly into the dough-lined pie plate. Pour the pecan syrup on top.

Bake in a 325° oven until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, 1 1/2 to 1¾ hours.  (Note: the pecans will rise to the top of the pie during baking.) Make sure you check after 1 1/2 hours given variability in ovens and pie plate types.  This time I made it, while it tasted great, I wish that I had taken it out of the oven about 10 minutes before I did!

This pie is great plain or with whipped cream.

 

 

Margaux says…

Every year I make Granny’s Peach Pie at least twice.  It’s always been my absolute favorite pie, over all pies.  But every year, I say that I want a FRESH peach pie, one that celebrates the sweet, juicy, wonderfulness and deliciousness of the peach, a fruit that I absolutely adore, and that is only around for a nanosecond.  Not that Granny’s doesn’t…hers definitely has a huge peach flavor, and it is a wonderful pie (obviously, since I make it so often).  But my mom always talks about her mom’s peach pie, and how it’s like eating fresh peaches with whipped cream, and the thought of that appeals to me.

It took me so long to make this for a few reasons.  For one, I know I love Granny’s pie, and good peaches are in short supply usually, so I just stick to that recipe.  Secondly, my Grandma Major wasn’t particularly known for her pies (she made beautiful cakes, though!), and my Granny is…her pies are the best in town.

But this year I found a good source for peaches, and have been buying them in bulk weekly for about 4 weeks now, so I decided to give it a try.  I actually tried another fresh peach pie recipe earlier in July, but it was WAY too sweet and had way too much of the peach mixture that you pour over the fresh peaches.

Then my mom reminded me about Grandma’s recipe, and wrote it down for me.  OH MAN, is it good.  There’s still a few days left to get good peaches…you should definitely use them for this.  Next year, I’ll be making both Granny’s and Grandma’s peach pies, that’s for sure!

Grandma’s Fresh Peach Pie

One 9″ baked pie shell
7 peaches
1/2 cup water
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons corn starch
2 tablespoons butter, cut into 2 pieces
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice

Peel peaches by dropping them into boiling water for about 1 minute, then taking them out and gently peeling the skin off.  Crush one cup peaches.  Combine water, sugar, cornstarch and lemon in a saucepan.  Add peaches, bring to a boil.  Cook over low heat, constantly stirring, until thickened and clear..2 to 3 minutes.  Turn off heat, and add butter.  Cool slightly.  While cooling, slice remaining peaches into pre-baked and cooled pie shell.  Pour peach mixture over sliced peaches.  Chill for at least 3 hours.  Serve with fresh whipped cream.