Rotisserie Double-take

I recently posted a recipe for a fool-proof pie crust.  I’m sure all of you put that extra crust in the freezer for another use right?  Well, here you are; a cap for a delicious, rich chicken pot pie.  If not, the recipe is added here.  Remember to freeze half of it for your next adventure.  I remember the pot pies my mother used to buy on sale at the grocery store in their individual tins.  The crust was as dry as dust, and the contents inside made you want to skip it altogether.  This one will not only turn your head, but will end up on a regular rotation in your kitchen.  It’s so good you can even feel confident serving it to guests.  The really good news is that you save yourself extra time by picking up a rotisserie chicken on the way home, and your half way there!

BRICKYARD FARMS CHICKEN POT PIE

INGREDIENTS FOR MAMA JAN’S PERFECT PIE CRUST:

  • 3 cups flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill Fine Pastry Flour)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, divided
  • ¾ cup butter. cut in pieces
  • 1/3 cup shortening, cut in pieces
  • ½ cup ice water

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Pulse flour, 2 tablespoons thyme leaves, sugar and salt in a processor.  Add butter and shortening; pulse until crumbly.  Add ice water and pulse until it forms a ball.  Dust silicone baking mat with flour; place ball on mat and cut in half.  Wrap one half in plastic wrap.  If using for this pot pie, you may roll it out immediately; place other half in freezer for future use.
  2. Roll out in a circle a little larger than the dish you are using for your pot pie.  A large souffle dish works well.  Cut a small opening to let steam out (I use a small cookie cutter)  Refrigerate rolled out crust for 15 minutes.  Roll loosely around your rolling pin and place on top of your pot pie when you are ready to use it.

INGREDIENTS FOR FILLING:

  • 4 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cups red-skinned potatoes, cut in 1/2 inch chunks
  • 4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces on the diagonal
  • 1 large leek, white and pale green parts only, sliced thin & washed
  • 6 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced 1/4 inch
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon thyme leaves
  • 5 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream

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INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F.  In large, high-sided skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat.  Add potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally for 4-5 minutes, or until the potatoes start to turn golden.
  2. Add leeks, carrots and mushrooms, and cook for an additional 4-5 minutes more.
  3. Add your flour and cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute.  Add your milk and chicken stock and bring to a simmer.  Cook until thick and bubbly, stirring constantly, about 3-4 minutes.
  4. Add reserved chicken pieces, parsley, remaining 1 tablespoon thyme leaves, lemon zest, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.  Mix thoroughly.
  5. Fill you souffle dish, or ceramic dish with pot pie filling.
  6. Make your egg wash of 1 egg yolk and 1 tablespoon heavy cream.
  7. Roll your crust around a rolling pin and drape over pie.  I then use my rolling pin to trim off extra crust.  You may fold extra crust underneath the border, if you prefer that type of look.  If you have used your cookie cutter, place removed piece next to opening.
  8. Brush crust with egg wash.  Place dish on cookie sheet and bake for 35-40, until crust is golden.  Serve hot.

Serves 6

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“Sometimes a little comfort food can go a long way.”

Roll On!

Involtini is an Italian word for various small bites of food consisting of some sort of outer layer wrapped around a filing.  It can be made with a wrapeer of meat, poultry, seafood, or vegetables, with fillings like cheese, vegetables, cured meats, and nuts.  In this case the wrapper is zucchini and the filling is ricotta, pesto, and fontina.

For me, the definition of comfort food is smelling something luscious coming together in the kitchen.  Since I consider the kitchen to be the heart of the home, I love making dishes that catch people’s attention when they come in from outside.  This dish packs a flavor punch, yet won’t weight you down.  I make it with my homemade roasted tomato sauce, but you can easily substitute canned crushed tomatoes.  If you can, try to find locally raised grass-fed lamb; it’s leaner and more flavorful.  This dish can be made ahead up to 12 hours and reheated.  It can also be doubled for a crowd.  Serve with a simple salad tossed with vinaigrette and you’re in business.

STUFFED ZUCCHINI INVOLTINI

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 pound ground lamb or sweet Italian sausage
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can crushed tomatoes (I like San Marzano)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped (2 teaspoons dried)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (2 teaspoons dried)
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (slightly more if you enjoy more heat)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 large zucchini
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup shredded fontina cheese
  • 1/2  cup basil pesto, homemade or store-bought
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Fresh basil, ribboned for serving

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DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Lightly oil a 9×13 baking dish or dish of similar size.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a 12-inch non-stick skillet on medium-high heat.  Add Italian sausage or ground lamb, breaking it up with a wooden spoon.  Cook until no longer pink.  Reduce the heat to low, add the bell pepper, tomatoes, oregano, thyme, crushed red pepper flakes, along with salt and pepper.  Simmer for 10 minutes or until sauce thickens slightly.
  3. Meanwhile, using mandolin or vegetable peeler, slice the zucchini into 1/4 inch wide strips and lay them flat on a paper towel lined counter.  You should have about 30 strips.  Sprinkle the zucchini with salt.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, fontina, and 1/2 cup pesto.
  5. To assemble, spoon the tomato meat sauce into the bottom of the prepared baking dish.  Place two zucchini ribbons on cutting board side by side, and slightly overlapping lengthwise.  Spoon about 1 tablespoon of filling onto the zucchini.  Roll into a coil and place each seam-side down in the dish as you go.  Repeat with remaining zucchini.  Top with mozzarella.  Cover with foil.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes or until the cheese has melted.  Remove foil and broil for 3-5 minutes to lightly brown.  Cook 5 minutes and top with ribboned basil and thyme leaves.

Serves 6

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“If you cook Italian food, why should you go to a restaurant?”  –Martin Scorsese

The Flavorful Earth

Many years ago, when I was 10 years old, I made my first pie crust.  I had read the ingredients incorrectly and accidentally switched the salt and sugar amounts, making the pie virtually inedible.  Since then I have used refrigerator pie crusts with similar results;  they too were tough, tasteless and inedible.  I love tarts, pies and galettes and wanted to master these at home.  My reluctance to make homemade pie crusts continued until 2 months ago when my surrogate mother Mama Jan Burian offered me a solution.  I had always admired her baking skills and shared with her that pie crusts intimidated me.  She gave me her perfect pie crust recipe.  “It’s virtually foolproof!”, she told me.

Although slightly skeptical, with the encouragement of Mama Jan, I knew I had to try again.  After making the very first one, I regretted getting stuck in the refrigerator section of the grocery store.  My god, it was foolproof!  I am now delighted to report that there is no turning back!  I’m obsessed with savory galettes.  This one has become a favorite; and can be served for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  It comes together quickly and has had favorable reviews.  Thanks Mama Jan!!

SAVORY MUSHROOM GRUYERE GALETTE

MAMA JAN’S PERFECT PIE CRUST

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 cups flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill Fine Pastry Flour)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup butter
  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • ½ cup ice water

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Pulse flour, sugar and salt in a processor.  Add butter and shortening; pulse until crumbly.  Add ice water and pulse until it forms a ball.  Dust silicone baking mat with flour; place ball on mat and cut in half.  Wrap each half in plastic wrap.  If using for a one crust pie or galette, place one half in refrigerator for one hour; place other half in freezer for future use.
  2. Remove wrapped dough from refrigerator and let stand for 10-15.  Unwrap and place on lightly floured silicone baking mat.  Roll out in a circle of about 16 inches in diameter.  Roll loosely around your rolling pin and place on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

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FOR FILLING:

  •  2-3 medium sized shallots, minced
  • 2 12 ounce packages white button or crimini mushrooms, or a mixture of both, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup white vermouth
  • Kosher salt and freshly grated black pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 8 ounces finely shredded Gruyere or Comte cheese
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  In a large non-stick skillet, melt butter over medium heat.  Add shallots and saute until soft, about 6-8 minutes.  Add mushrooms, then thyme leaves and continue to saute as the mushrooms start to sweat out their moisture.  After about 10 minutes add your white vermouth, salt and pepper.  Continue sauteing until most of the moisture is evaporated from pan.  Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Place your finely shredded Gruyere cheese in a 12 inch circle in the center of rolled out crust; leaving a 2 inch border.  Place your mushroom mixture on top of Gruyere.  Gently fold over border making occasional pleats where necessary.
  3. Brush with beaten egg.  Place in over for 35-45 minutes; or until crust is golden and mushrooms are bubbly.  Let sit for 10 minutes before cutting.  Garnish with chopped parsley.

Serves 2-4

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“I learned that a galette is sort of the offspring of a pie and a tart- halfway between homespun and fancy- but easier to make than its parents. The biggest difference is that a galette is a free-form pastry, baked without a pie pan or tart ring. It’s rustic. And it’s forgiving. You just roll it out flat and then fold it in roughly around the filling.”                       —Viola Shipman

Shepherding In Comfort Food

When I think of comfort food, it’s usually something warm and savory that I can place in a bowl and eat out of hand in my lazy girl.  Mac and cheese fits into this category as do soups, stews and shepherd’s pies.  Traditionally, a shepherd’s pie consists of ground meat under a layer of mashed potatoes.  Mmmm….sounds a little boring doesn’t it?  In an effort to get out of that box, I was inspired by the elements of piccadio which include ground meat (in this case lamb) tomatoes, olives and spices.  My favorite home-made spice mixture called ras el hanout (inspired by North African cuisine),  along with golden raisins to add a sweet element.  Top with mashed sweet potatoes and you have a meal at once, savory, sweet and satisfying.

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NORTH AFRICAN SHEPHERD’S PIE

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1  pound grass-fed ground lamb
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup green olives, pitted and halved (I use Castelvetrano)
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1 tablespoon ras el hanout
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste, plus 1/2 cup water
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2 inch chunks
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • Fresh thyme sprigs for garnish (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a medium non-stick skillet over medium heat, saute onion and garlic until soft.  Add ground lamb and break up with the back of a spoon.  Add ras el hanout and brown completely about 8-10 minutes.
  2. Add tomato paste and water and combine, cooking until slightly thickened.  Add olives and golden raisins.  Stir to combine.  Take off heat, let cool slightly, then spoon into a gratin dish or 9×9 casserole dish.  Set aside.
  3. Heat oven to 375 degrees F.  Place sweet potatoes in pot with water to cover and salt.  Bring to a boil, and simmer until tender when pierced with a paring knife (about 10-15 minutes.
  4. Drain potatoes and mash with butter and half and half (adding more half and half if needed, but not enough to make it soupy).  Spread sweet potato mixture over lamb mixture for about a one inch depth (you may or may not have left over sweet potatoes).   Bake for 25 minutes or until hot and bubbly.
  5. Let rest for 10 minutes.  Serve.

Serves 4

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“Food is the most primitive form of comfort.”

Anyway You Slice It

I absolutely love Mediterranean food.  No matter if it’s from Italy, Morocco, Turkey, Spain or France, I love it all.  Fresh vegetables, legumes, olives, olive oil, cheese and an array of spices make for endless savory meals.  I find that if something you eat is truly satisfying and delicious, you eat less not more.  This Middle Eastern Tart can be served as an appetizer or entree, depending on whether or not you use both sheets of puff pastry, and how many you are serving.  Served with a salad, it is easily a complete meal.  It comes together pretty quickly and is showy enough for company.  The first time I made it there was left-over filling, which I stuffed into peppers and baked the next day.

MIDDLE EASTERN LAMB TART

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 or 2 sheets puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, choppped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (15 ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup cooked chick peas (I use canned and drained)
  • 2 teaspoons ras el hanout (page    , or alternatively 1 teaspoon each ground cumin and oregano)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 kalamata olives, pitted
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped

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DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a saute pan over medium heat add olive oil, onion and garlic until soft, about 3-4 minutes.  Add ground lamb, breaking up the lamb with a spoon and brown, about 5-6 minutes.  Add the tomatoes, chickpeas, olives and spices.  Simmer for about 5 minutes or until heated through.  Remove from heat and allow to slightly cool.
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (two baking sheets if using both puff pastry sheets).  Roll out slightly, then make a one-inch rimmed line on the inside edges with a knife, taking care not to cut all the way through.  Prick the dough with fork all over in center area.  Place in oven and bake for 10 minutes, remove from oven and spoon mixture evenly in the center of each pastry sheet.  Top with feta cheese, brush pastry edges with beaten egg (optional) and bake for another 8-10 minutes or until puffed and edges are golden brown.
  4. Top with chopped parsley and cut into desired portions; 4, 6 or multiple if serving as appetizer.  Serve.

Serves 2-4 as entree

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“Cooking is like love.  It should be entered into with abandon, or not at all.” –Harriet von Horne.

 

Big Bowl of Luscious

We’re expecting 2-5 inches of snow this evening.  What better than to make something warm, comforting and downright luscious; homemade Black Bean Soup.  Typically, the approach is to add savory ingredients, and a little heat.  The solution to this is garlic, wine, spices and peppers in varying amounts.  I seriously recommend using dried beans, rather than canned for two reasons:  1) Canned beans can’t absorb the subtlety of spices and peppers like dried beans over low heat and time and 2) It’s all about texture.  You want a combination of cooked savory beans and bean puree that creates a mouthful of yum.

The heat in this soup is accomplished two ways; canned and pureed chipotles and fresh jalapenos.  Chipotles are intense, so a little goes a long way.  I use a moderate amount with the option for guests to add additional puree if they are so inclined. Every time you consider ingredients, you increase the yum factor.  So for example, homemade chicken stock to canned, Mexican oregano to Italian or Greek.  You might not think it makes a difference, but it does.  Also your garnishes add flavor in an astonishing way.  Quick pickled red onions, avocado, sour cream or Mexican crema and of course fresh cilantro.  This combination of flavors and textures are sure to create a soup of extraordinary depth and flavor.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 small (7-ounce) can of chipotle chilies in adobo
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 medium yellow onions, peeled and chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup red wine (I use Shiraz or Cabernet)
  • 1 pound of dry black beans, soaked overnight (I like Valentine or Black Turtle)*
  • 2 quarts chicken stock, homemade if possible
  • 2 teaspoons Mexican oregano
  • 2 teaspoons Epazote (I find mine at Penzey’s)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Red wine vinegar, to taste

FOR THE PICKLED ONIONS AND GARNISHES:

  • 1 small red onion, peeled and sliced vertically
  • Kosher salt
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • Sour cream or Mexican crema
  • Whole fresh cilantro leaves
  • Sliced avocado

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DIRECTIONS:

  1.  In a small food processor, puree your can of chipotles until smooth, scape into a container, and set aside.
  2. In a large heavy pot, heat olive oil over medium heat until shimmering.  Add carrots, onions and garlic and cook, stirring, until softened but not browned, 5-8 minutes.
  3. Pour in wine and let simmer until pan is almost dry and vegetables are coated; about 8-10 minutes.  Add jalapenos and cook, stirring, just until softened, about 2 minutes.  Push vegetables out to the edges of the pot and dollop 2 generous teaspoons of chipotle puree in the center.  Let fry for a minute and then stir together with the vegetables.
  4. Add drained beans, stock, oregano and bay leaves.  Stir, bring to a boil, and let boil for 10-15 minutes.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, partly covered, stirring occasionally and adding hot water as needed to keep the soup liquid and runny not sludgy.  Continue cooking until beans are just softened and fragrant, 1-2 hours.  Add salt and pepper and keep cooking until beans are soft.
  5. Meanwhile, make the pickled onions.  In a small bowl, combine sliced onions, lime juice and a generous sprinkling of salt.  Let soften at room temperature until crunchy and tart, about 30 minutes.  Drain and rinse with cold water.  Squeeze dry in paper towels and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  6. Adjust the texture of the soup.  Remove 2 cups of beans to a quart Mason jar, and with an immersion blender puree until smooth.  Return bean puree to soup pot.
  7. Adjust seasoning by adding 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, and additional salt.
  8. Serve in deep soup bowls, garnishing with sour cream, pickled onions, cilantro leaves and sliced avocado.

Serves 6-8 with leftovers

“To feel safe and warm on a cold wet night, all you really need is soup.” — Laurie Colwin

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Cabbage Rolls Revisited

Once in a while I like to re-post a blog that seems particularly timely.  This originated back in 2011.  We currently have in our possession a large head of cabbage that was begging to be used in something tasty.  This is it.

I love cabbage rolls.  My mother-in-law Elsa made them for me the first time in the early 80’s.  she mixed beef and pork together with onions and rice, placed them in cabbage leaves and tied them with thread.  She called this peasant-food.  Her son John and I called it heaven.  The first time I tried making cabbage rolls I was surprise just how bad I was at getting the leaves separated from the head in one piece.  I kept saying, “It can’t be that hard!”  I decided to get out of the box and approach it differently.  Why not turn it into a casserole I thought?  It would be less time-consuming and we could enjoy it more often.  While I was getting out of the box, I decided to use ground lamb, different spices and feta for a different take on it completely.

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Assembling the ingredients

Doing the cabbage ‘rolls’ as a casserole allowed me to follow my own whimsy.  I could shake it up a bit with non-traditional spices and be able to enjoy more cabbage in the process.

Lots more cabbage!

Lots more cabbage!

Cabbage and Lamb Casserole:

  • 1 medium head green cabbage (about 2 lbs), core removed, halved and sliced into 1/2 inch sections
  • 1 lb grass-fed ground lamb
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large farm-fresh egg
  • 8 oz (1 cup) crumbled local feta
  • 1/2 cup short-grain rice, such as Arborio
  • 1 Tbsp fresh oregano, finely chopped (11/2 tsp dried)
  • 1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes (I use our own canned tomatoes)
  • 1 cup chicken stock (I also used homemade)
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Grease a 13×9 inch casserole dish with ghee.
  2. Cut cabbage in half, core, then slice in 1/2 inch wedges.  Place the wedges in casserole dish so they overlap each other in two rows.
  3. In a large bowl, use your hand to combine the lamb, onion, egg, rice, parsley, oregano, lemon juice, feta, cumin, fennel, salt and pepper.  Place mixture on top of cabbage, leaving a 1 inch space round the sides of the casserole so that the cabbage shows through.
  4. Combine the tomatoes and chicken broth in a medium bowl, then pour the mixture over the meat.  Cover with foil (shiny side down).
  5. Bake covered for 45 minutes.  Uncover and bake an additional 30 minutes.  Let stand 15 minutes.

Serves 6

Ready for the oven

Ready for the oven

New Traditions!

New Traditions!

“A smiling face is half the meal.”  —Latvian quote

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