Food Memories – Chicken Pot Pie

Today’s Food Memory comes from fellow Big Summer Potluck attendee Jennifer of Bread and Putter.  I had no way of knowing at the time that Jennifer and I would become bff’s on Twitter (@breadandputter).  Don’t tell The Mistah but I think she knows more about me via my twittering than he does after 6 years of marriage.  Is that bad?

Here’s a little of what Jennifer has to say on her About page:

My early cooking adventures were kind of pathetic.  I once cooked a hot dog in a frying pan that was burned on the outside and still frozen in the middle.  I could always bake – I can follow instructions pretty darn well, but cooking always seemed a little more loosey-goosey. There are things about cooking apparently you are just supposed to know instinctively or something, and I didn’t.

Yeah, I can totally understand that.  Maybe she and I are kindred kitchen spirits.

If you still need another reason to skip on over to Bread and Putter and check out what’s going on in Jennifer’s kitchen, I give you this:

I really love cheese and bacon. I hate coffee, Swiss chard, Brussels sprouts, beets and anything that leaves orange cheese powder on my fingertips. Dark chocolate is the best chocolate but milk chocolate is good too if there’s peanut butter in it.  There’s nothing quite like hot crusty bread fresh out of the oven with some good butter on it.

I’m going to pretend that she didn’t include coffee, brussel sprouts, beets, and cheetos on her list of dont’s.

Chicken Pot Pie

For our second date, my now husband invited me to his house for dinner. I didn’t know what to expect.  I arrived with a bottle of wine in hand but he didn’t have any wine glasses. So, we drank it out of regular glasses but in retrospect, who was I to judge? It was white zinfandel.

When it was time for dinner, I was impressed when his creation came out of the oven – a homemade chicken pot pie! This guy was racking up points fast! For our first date, he had invited me to a play.  Classy, right?  And then he bakes up a pie for me. What wasn’t to like? When he cut open the pie and served me a slice, my excitement waned a bit. In addition to the chicken and gravy, there was a lot of broccoli in the pie. At the time, I really was not a broccoli fan.  And all I could taste in that pie was broccoli. But, I was gracious and I ate up my whole serving and I complimented him on that pie.

I would later learn that the pie dough was from a box and the gravy was from a can, but I still give him lots of credit for that pie.  There was still a lot of measuring, preparation and assembly involved. As the years passed and I confessed my non-love of broccoli, the pie took on other incarnations with carrots and peas replacing the wretched broccoli.

And then a funny thing happened. He was a single father and was doing his best to put food on the table for his two daughters and trying to set a good example. So, in turn, when I was dining with them, I tried to set a good example and not be fussy and eat what I was served. And over time, my palate grew in an unexpected way.  I learned to like, if not tolerate, just about everything. Including broccoli! These days we even grow broccoli, in our garden at our home together.

Here is his original chicken pot pie recipe. These days I usually make my own crust and my own gravy if I am making it, but I promise, it is still pretty darn good with the boxes and the cans.  And if you make it for someone else with love, isn’t that what really counts?

B&P Note: I’ve transcribed this exactly as written. It amuses me.

2 boxes –total of 4 Pillsbury or whatever pre-made pie crusts. Take out 15 mins before using

2 ¼ + lbs boneless breast of chicken, trim crap off – cut up, refrigerate

2 medium potatoes diced

1 bunch + broccoli crowns, trimmed of most of stem

3 or 4 carrots cut up diced

 

Boil veggies till soft (nothing falling apart.) Strain.

Open 2 cans Franco-American chicken gravy – cook till hot.

While cooking gravy, prepare two pie shells in pans.

Throw in chicken & veggies into hot gravy. Mix. Fill pies. Cover pies with remaining pie crusts. Baste with butter. Slit pie crust tops to vent heat before putting in oven. Cook covered in preheated 425 degree oven 20 mins. Remove foil cover & cook 25 mins more. Remove & let sit a minute before cutting.

Mr. Bread and Putter’s Chicken Pot Pie

BAH Note: I have to admit that I didn’t exactly recreate the original incarnation of Mr. B&P’s chicken pot pie. I was short on supplies and had a pie crust that was well past its prime.  My loosey-goosey version went something like this:

  • 1 rolled pie crust (premade)
  • 1 jar chicken gravy
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • frozen peas and carrots
  • diced rotisserie chicken (without the skin)

Heat oven to temperature called for on the back of the box of pie crust.

Combine gravy and cornstarch in a medium saucepan set over medium heat.  Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, until the gravy has thickened.  Add the peas, carrots, and chicken and stir to combine.

Transfer the filling to a 9 inch pie plate.  Top with the pie crust, crimping the edges as you go.  Cut four small slits in the top of the dough for steam to escape.  Place on a sheet pan and bake until the filling is bubbly and the top has browned.

If the edges of the crust are browning too fast, cover them with a ring of aluminum foil.

{printable recipe}

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Flashback Friday – Jammin’

Flashback Friday

The following originally appeared on 9/8/08 at Exit 51.

Jammin’

I’ve spent the last god knows how many weeks avoiding sugar.  Frankly, I don’t use sugar a lot.  That is to say that I don’t go adding sugar to things.  But in the course of any given day, sugar would sneak its way into a little bit of everything.  My morning cereal?  It’s there.  OJ?  There too.  And my beloved can of Coke?  Of course.  But a world completely sans sugar is a pretty lofty goal.  One that I am just not ready to adopt.  So I find myself straddling two worlds – Sugar and Splenda. Continue reading “Flashback Friday – Jammin’”

Lemony Seafood Pasta Salad

This winter has been especially frightful.  I can’t even begin to image what it has been like for people living in the midwest or northeast who have been utterly beaten down with snow.  I survived Snomageddon 2010 and know the misery that comes when the forecast calls for accumulations measured in feet instead of inches.  Y’all have my sympathies.

While I can’t personally help you dig out from Snowpocalypse 2011, I can offer you a recipe that will have you imagining a land of picnics and potlucks, warm breezes and sunny skies, and flip flops and halter tops.

Don’t forget to take along some imaginary sunscreen.

Lemony Seafood Pasta Salad

Adapted from Pam Anderson’s Perfect One Dish Dinners

BAH Note:  If you showed up to a potluck at my house with this dish, you would earn a special place in my heart.  I kept tweaking the dressing because the lemons I used were extremely sour.  I had to add agave nectar to balance the extreme puckering produced by my produce.  Feel free to add a minced clove of garlic to the dressing to turn up the flavor. And if you like your dressing with more olive oil, add it.  I purposely scaled the olive oil down to suit my tastes (Pam’s recipes calls for 1/2 cup).

BAT Tip: When you cut up the raw shrimp, you want the pieces to be approximately the same size as the scallops so they cook in the same amount of time. And yes, as unconventional as it may seem to cook your seafood with your pasta, it works beautifully.

  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 pound small pasta
  • 1/2 pound bay scallops
  • 1 pound raw shrimp, peeled, and cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, cut into halves
  • 7 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • dried oregano

In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, mustard, vinegar, and garlic (if using).  Slowly whisk in the olive oil.  Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.  Set the dressing aside.

Cook the pasta according to the package directions until it is just al dente, approximately 10 to 12 minutes depending on your pasta.  Add the seafood to the pasta pot and cook for one to two minutes until the shrimp and scallops are just cooked and opaque.  Drain the pasta and seafood without rinsing and transfer them to a large bowl to cool slightly.

Just before serving, mix the tomatoes, feta, and oregano into the bowl with the pasta.  Add the dressing and stir to combine.

{printable recipe}

You Can bake! with Nick Malgieri

 

Photo by Beth @ 990 Square

Every so often, the Universe sends Opportunity knocking at my door.  I’m usually pretty leery about answering if I’m not expecting company.  Because more often than not, the person on the other side of the door is trying to sell me something…eternal salvation, Girl Scout cookies, or a weekend subscription to the newspaper.  I usually take a gander through the peep hole and then stand there quietly until the knocker goes away.  But recently, Opportunity left me a calling card in the form of an invitation to spend an evening with Nick Malgieri.

Perhaps I should clarify that statement so as not to give anyone the wrong impression of my moral character.  I was invited to join a group of Baltimore bloggers for an evening of food and drinks organized by Dara of Dining Dish.  Nick Malgieri was the guest of honor.

I’ve said before that my knowledge of the culinary world is pretty narrow.  At least I know that I don’t know squat about the culinary Who’s Who.  And that’s really something that I should work on.  Not so that can I drop names left and right in casual conversation but so that I can expose myself to the wonderful talents of the folks who have turned their passion for creating good food into learning opportunities for home cooks like myself.

That’s how it came to be that I fixed my hair, put on mascara and my cute heels, and set out with a dutch oven full of Commitment Chili and a few dozen Puffy Hearts…I had some learning to do.  And what I learned is that people are people.  It doesn’t matter if you have over 30 years of experience and 9 cookbooks to your credit, or you’re a home cook who blogs about your kitchen (mis)adventures.  We each bring our talents and unique perspectives to the table.  How could that be the recipe for anything but a great evening?

My thanks to Nick for sharing his thoughts with us on the culinary world and being gracious and generous with his time, his talent, and his baking.  I have been drooling over the pages of his latest book – bake! – since bringing it home that night.  I think this description sums it up best:

“After 30 years of teaching and 9 cookbooks, Nick Malgieri is finally writing the book he’s meant to write–a collection of over 30 essential techniques, and recipes derived thereof–outlining the easiest ways to learn the essentials of baking. The 20 chapters cover all the main techniques of fine baking, starting with simple pastry dough and moving through puff pastry and Danish pastry, to all sorts of breads, quick breads, cakes, and cookies. The 125 recipes will take all the intimidation out of baking and promise delicious savory and sweet results.”

If you’ve hung around these parts a while, you know that I can get intimidated by the  mere utterance of “yeast”, “dough”, or “pastry”.  But after reading the recipes, I think that even I can produce satisfying cakes, breads, and tarts with Nick’s help.  I’d like to also thank him for including variations on several of the bake! recipes that I can use to avoid  things like seeds and nuts but still work on improving my techniques and enjoying the results.

I hope the next time opportunity comes knocking at my door, it maybe brings me a pair of stretchy pants.  Because I fear that I won’t be able to control myself once I jump into bake!

Nick Malgieri’s Chocolate Bourbon Cake

Reprinted with Permission

Copyright © Nick Malgieri 2011, All Rights Reserved

BAH Note: Not only did Nick share his baking talents with us in person, but he’s given us permission to share one of his unpublished recipes with you.  How does Chocolate Bourbon Cake sound? I tasted this cake and it is heaven on a plate.  Moist, but dense and richly chocolate, it lulls you into its web.  And then it wraps you with a bourbony hug.  You could omit the bourbon, but I can’t imagine why you’d want to.  I asked Nick whether the cake required a water bath in order to achieve its silky texture and you could have knocked me over with a feather when he said no.  Don’t believe me?  Try it for yourself.

Nick says, “The sweet, mellow flavor of Bourbon has a great affinity for chocolate.  Serve this unadorned cake with a little unsweetened whipped cream.”  I could not agree more.

Makes one 8-inch cake, 8 to 10 servings

  • 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces
  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (70%), cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 5 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons best-quality Bourbon
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • One 8-inch round 2-inch deep pan, buttered, bottom lined with a disk of buttered parchment.

1.      Set a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.

2.      Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat, allowing it to sizzle and get really hot.  Remove from heat, add chocolate and whisk smooth.

3.      In a bowl, whisk the granulated sugar, flour, and salt together; add all the eggs and Bourbon.  Whisk together smoothly.

4.      Stir the brown sugar into the butter and chocolate mixture and stir into the batter.

5.      Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.  Bake the cake until the center is still soft, but no longer liquid, 25 to 35 minutes.

6.      Cool the cake on a rack.

7.      To serve the cake, invert to a platter and remove the pan and paper.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap if not serving immediately.

{printable recipe}

Comfort Food

I have always known that food has the power to comfort us.  I am particularly susceptible to the comforts offered by macaroni and cheese, cinnamon rolls, and pie. When I am anxious, nervous, or stressed, my instinct is to reach for carbs, whether they be cheesy and creamy or sugary spiced.  I’m predictable like that.

And when I use food to try and bring some of that comforting power to others, I find that I reach for the same recipes over and over.  There are some dishes that are like the embrace of an old friend, or their reassurance that we will get through the trying times.

I found myself calling upon these old friends recently.  And ever the trusty companions, they did not disappoint.  So I would like to thank Joanne’s Creamy Vegetable Soup, Pam’s Spinach Mushroom Lasagna and Chicken Pot Pie, Beth’s Cinnamon Rolls with Deb’s Cream Cheese Frosting, My Meat Sauce, and Abby’s Emergency Cupcakes with Marshmallow Buttercream Frosting for being with me in the kitchen and providing some much needed comfort.

Flashback Friday – Alt Risotto

Flashback Friday

The following originally appeared on 9/4/08 at Exit 51.

Alt Risotto

One thing I really miss cooking is creamy, tender risotto.  It’s one of my favorite comfort foods.  But the arborrio rice presents a problem.  We’re just not far enough along on our SB journey to have even a little bit of it.  And really, can you honestly just have a little risotto?  No, it calls to you from the pot until you find yourself licking the last bit off the serving spoon.  It’s dangerous business. Continue reading “Flashback Friday – Alt Risotto”

Pam Anderson’s Perfect One Dish Chicken Pot Pie

Today we’re going on a journey of the imagination.  Look at the photo above.  Now close your eyes and imagine quick and easy drop biscuits topping that bowl of appley, chickeny goodness.  That, my friends, is some simply delicious pot pie.

Now, you may have mixed feeling about pot pie.  Those frozen hockey pucks with cardboard crusts and thin, bland filling.  Dear friends, make no mistake, that is not potpie.  If the prepackaged variety is all you’ve ever known, this recipe may change your mind, and your life.

Before you start saying “I can’t make potpie, it takes too much time” or “I love potpie but I have an irrational fear of making dough”, take a moment.  Imagine a potpie that doesn’t require a rolled crust or an all day commitment.  Does that sound too good to be true?  Believe me when I say that it’s for real.

If one recipe could justify the purchase of a cookbook, this is it.  Because if you never made anything else from Pam Anderson’s Perfect One Dish Dinners, her Chicken Pot Pie alone is worth the list price.  With a minimal number of ingredients and the tiniest amount of effort, you too can enjoy potpie as it should be.  Rich and creamy, hearty and filling, in no time flat.  Just imagine the possibilities.

Chicken Pot Pie

Adapted from Pam Anderson’s Perfect One Dish Dinners

BAH Note: I halved the amount of chicken Pam calls for in her recipe because I prefer a high ratio of sauce to chicken in my potpies.  But that’s just me.  I also reduced the amount of flour in the sauce by half because I kept ending up with lumps.  That could have just been me also.  Please don’t be tempted to substitute onions for the leeks.  It just won’t be a good trade off.  I was quite wary of the leek for the longest time…until I used them in this recipe.  What I learned is that the leeks provide a subtle flavor and are the perfect complement to the apple and sage.  I also learned that when you don’t have the ingredients on hand to make the quick drop biscuit topping, you leave it off and call it Chicken Stew. I made this in a 5.5 quart dutch oven.  You could also bake it up in a 9×13 baking dish or two 9 inch pie plates, but I like keeping the number of dirty pans to a minimum.

BAH Tip: Leeks are deceptive.  They may look clean on the outside while the inside is full of gritty sand.  You don’t want that in your dish.  To remove the sand, cut the dark green tops off the leeks and then slice the leeks in half lengthwise.  If there isn’t much sand inside, place the halves under running water and separate the layers to rinse the sand away.  For particularly sandy leeks, fill a large mixing bowl with water, slice the halved leeks, and place the slices into the water.  Use your hands to swish the slices around so that the sand falls to the bottom of your bowl.  Use a slotted spoon or your hands to carefully remove the leek slices from the water, leaving the gritty sand in the bowl.

Base

  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 12 ounces evaporated milk
  • 6 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 2 large leeks, washed thoroughly (see tip above), light green and white parts only, chopped
  • 2 large apples, quartered, cored, and sliced thinly (Granny Smith is especially nice for this)
  • 2 to 3 cups of shredded rotisserie chicken or turkey
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon flour
  • 2 teaspoons dried sage

Biscuits

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 stick of butter, frozen
  • 1 cup buttermilk, cold

Place oven rack in lower middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees.

Microwave the chicken broth and evaporated milk in a large microwave safe bowl for 3 to 4 minutes until it is just steamy.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a dutch oven over medium high heat.  Add the leeks and apples and cook for 7 to 10 minutes until they are just tender.  Transfer the leek and apple mixture to a large bowl.  Add the shredded chicken or turkey to the bowl and set it aside.

Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter in the now empty skillet set over medium heat.  When the foaming subsides, whisk in the flour and sage and cook for 1 to 2 minutes until golden.  Slowly add the warmed milk, whisking until smooth, and simmer, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens.  Add the chicken mixture back to the pot and stir until it is combined.  Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.  Top with biscuits and bake until the biscuits are golden brown and the filling bubbles, approximately 30 to 35 minutes.

To make the biscuit topping, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cheddar cheese in a medium bowl.  Using the coarse side of a box grater, carefully grate the frozen butter into the flour mixture and mix quickly with your fingertips to blend evenly.  Mix the buttermilk into the dry ingredients with a fork until the dough just comes together.  Use your fingers to pinch small rounds of dough and place on top of the filling.

{printable recipe}