Chicken Pot Pie with Cheddar Cheese Crust

baked chicken pot pie

Chicken pot pie is one of those comfort foods from my childhood I always craved. A local restaurant, “Assemble”,  features one with a delicious cheddar cheese crust, which inspired this recipe. This is not your pop-in-the-oven Swanson’s pot pie; it involves a few hours of chopping and stirring. But your reward will be a fresh-tasting delicious pie that’s worth all the trouble.

This deep-dish pot pie serves 6. I only make a top crust.

veggies for pot pie

Vegetables and Chicken Filling

Chop the chicken and vegetables ahead of time. You can shell the peas while the veggies are cooking.

Place the cubed carrots, potatoes, celery and chicken in a separate bowl to cook together. Quarter the mushrooms and place in their own bowl. Place the boiled onions, cubed zucchini, the shelled peas in separate bowls as well.

2 ½ cups chicken stock. Use Roz’s Jewish Chicken Soup for best results
8-10 small or 20 tiny white pearl onions

2 large boneless, skinless chicken half-breasts, cubed
3 large Yukon Gold potatoes, cubed
3 large carrots, cubed
5 outside stalks of celery, cubed
About 10-12 medium white mushrooms, quartered
2 small zucchini, cubed

½ lb English peas, shelled

Heat chicken stock to boil. Place pearl onions in boiling stock for 3 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon to cool on a plate or cutting board.

Stir cubed potatoes, carrots, celery and chicken into boiling stock. Cook until vegetables are tender, about 8 – 10 minutes. Remove from stock with a slotted spoon, into a large bowl. Add mushrooms to stock and cook for a couple of minutes. Add zucchini to mushrooms and cook for just one minute. Remove vegetables with a slotted spoon in to the bowl with the other vegetables.

Cut the root end off the onions and squeeze the onion out from its skin, and put in the bowl.
Mix all the cooked vegetables and chicken together with uncooked shelled peas in the large bowl, then set aside.

Remeasure the stock, adding more if necessary. Set aside to cool.

Next make the pie crust.

dough disk

Cheddar whole wheat Pie Crust
½ cup whole wheat pastry flour (white whole wheat flour)
¼ cup white all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt (I use sea salt)
1 Tb cold butter
3Tb frozen vegetable shortening (such as Crisco cubes)
2 Tb ice water. I fill up a small cup with cold water and ice cubes and let it sit a few minutes, then measure it out.
¼ cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
Add flours and salt to food processor and pulse a few times to mix. Add butter and shortening and pulse a few times. Add grated cheese and pulse again. Add ice water and pulse a few times until dough begins to come together. The dough will be moist. Gather it into a ball then flatten into a disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 10 minutes. Roll between two sheets of plastic wrap out to approximately 1 ½ inches beyond the edge of the casserole edge. Let it rest while you make the gravy.

pot pie without crust

Gravy
1 Tb butter
3 Tb olive oil
1/3 cup flour
1 1/2 cups chicken stock

3/4 cup milk
1 Tb white wine or dry sherry
½ tsp dried thyme or 1 tsp fresh thyme, minced
Several grinds black pepper
¾ to 1 tsp sea salt, to taste
In a medium saucepan, melt butter with olive oil. Whisk in flour and continue whisking over medium heat for several minutes. Add pepper and thyme and continue to whisk. Whisk in cold chicken stock, milk and wine. Add salt to taste, starting with ½ tsp then slowly up to 1 tsp, depending on the saltiness of your broth and your taste. Cook over medium-high heat until gravy thickens, then cook a few more minutes, whisking constantly.

Assembling the pie

unbaked pot pie

Heat oven to 425◦

Pour the gravy over the mixed vegetables and chicken in the large bowl and stir until the gravy is mixed in with them. Grease or spray a 2.5 liter (10.5 cup) casserole bottom and sides with nonstick spray. If you have a pie bird, place it in the middle. Pour the chicken and vegetables into the casserole, making sure the gravy is mixed well. With a large spoon, make a mound in the middle of the filling, so that the sides are lower than the middle.

If you are using a pie bird, cut a small hole or slot for it in the middle of the crust. Carefully lift the crust so that is centered over the pie. Crimp the edges of the crust with your fingers. If you aren’t using a pie bird, cut a few slits in the crust so that the steam can escape. Place the casserole in the middle of the oven. To avoid burning the edges of the pie, place a pie shield over them or cover them with foil. (I obviously did not do this, resulting in burnt edges.) Bake for 30 -35 minutes until crust is crispy and browned. Let the pie cool a bit before cutting it. The gravy will thicken as it cools.

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Mac and Cheese with Cauliflower and Broccoli

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This version of the classic comfort food gets heat from cayenne, white pepper and dry mustard, and sharp flavor from extra sharp cheddar and Parmesan, and a kick from the Chardonnay. I add cauliflower which is good on its own with the cheese sauce, and if you like, broccoli for extra color.
Preheat oven to 375◦

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Serves 10

½ large onion or 1 small onion, chopped
1 large head cauliflower
1 head broccoli
2 Tb butter
Melt butter in heavy frying pan. Chop onion and stir into butter over medium-low heat until soft. While the onions are cooking, slice cauliflower and broccoli and cut into flowerets. Stir into onion mixture and cook for 20 minutes until vegetables are tender. Alternatively, you can roast the cauliflower in the oven and add to the onions and broccoli. I use a food processor with a grater attachment to grate the cheese.
1 lb elbow macaroni
1 tsp salt
Boil a large pot full of water. Stir in salt and macaroni and cook for 10 minutes over medium heat. Drain. Pour back into the pot. Stir the cauliflower and broccoli into the macaroni.

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roux:
¼ cup butter
¼ cup all purpose flour
a few shakes cayenne to taste
¼ tsp dry mustard
1 bay leaf
¼ tsp white pepper
½ tsp salt
1 ¾ cups milk (I use 1%)
¼ cup dry white wine such as chardonnay
1 ½ cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Melt butter in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour until it makes a thick, smooth paste. Cook the roux for 5 minutes, whisking constantly. Slowly whisk in one cup milk until smooth. Whisk in the rest of the milk. Stir in cayenne, mustard, bay leaf, salt and white pepper. Cook this béchamel sauce for 15 minutes, whisking constantly. Turn off heat. Remove bay leaf. Whisk in grated cheese until fully incorporated in sauce. Stir in ¼ cup wine. Adjust salt if desired.
Pour cheese sauce over macaroni and vegetables and stir until it is well combined. Spray a large casserole with non-stick spray. Pour mixture into casserole.

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Bake at 375◦ for 30 minutes, until the top is nicely browned.

Steel-cut oats oatmeal with apples and nuts

???????????????????????????????This fiber-rich, creamy and crunchy oatmeal will stick to your ribs on these cold winter mornings when you need something to warm you up and keep you going.

I used the quick-cooking steel cut oats from Trader Joe’s. They cook in only 8 minutes. Nuts add crunch and protein, and apples and/ or raisins add sweetness and fiber. This recipe serves 2, but you can double or triple it to store some for those weekday mornings when you need a quick warm-up before work. It’s all-natural, so much better than those instant oatmeal packets.

Serves 2

1 1/2 cups water

a few shakes salt

1/2 cup quick-cooking steel cut oats

2 Tb ground flax seed

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 apple (I used a honey crisp apple)

1/4 cup raisins

1/2 cup walnut pieces

1/2 cup sliced almonds

1/4 cup milk

1 Tb cream (optional)

pure maple syrup or brown sugar (optional)

Peel and chop the apple into bite-size pieces. Bring water to a boil. Add salt, oatmeal. flax seed, cinnamon, apple and raisins. Lower heat and cover pot, and cook for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn off heat and stir in nuts and milk for one minute. Pour into bowls and add a tablespoon of cream for a treat. If you desire added sweetness, add maple syrup or brown sugar to taste.

Gluten-free Cornbread

???????????????????????????????To make gluten-free cornbread, I substituted masa harina, the corn flour used to make tortillas or tamales, for wheat flour in my cornbread recipe. The result was a fluffy textured cornbread which had a taste of tortillas. I added a bit more salt. You can put rosemary in it if you like.

Ingredients:

masa harinamasa harina

1 cup 1% milk

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

1 cup cornmeal

1/2 cup masa harina

¼ cup ground flax-seed

1 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary (about a one-inch sprig) optional

3/4  tsp salt

1 Tb sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup applesauce

1/4 cup olive oil

2 eggs

Preheat oven to 425’

Add vinegar to milk and let it curdle while you mix the other ingredients.

Sift baking powder and baking soda. Stir in the rest of the dry ingredients and rosemary if using, and mix well.

Mix eggs with milk in a separate bowl, then stir in applesauce and oil until well mixed. Pour into dry ingredients. Mix with a large spoon only until ingredients are combined.

Spray an 8 inch square pan with olive oil spray. Pour in batter.

Bake for 20-25 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Delicious out of the pan, or use for making Low-fat cornbread sage stuffing with chestnuts and apples.

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2 Spinach & Vegetable Quiches

What do I do when I buy a huge bag of spinach leaves on sale for only $1.87?
First I make a lot of spinach salads including Raspberry Pecan Salad, then spinach over easySpanakopita, Lebanese Spinach Pies, and throw it in Linguine with Prawns, and then I make spinach quiche. 
Since there’s so much spinach, I made a few quiches and experimented with the ingredients. I used 6 cups of spinach per quiche, and added half the spinach at a time so it would fit in the pan. It wilts quickly so you can add the rest after a couple of minutes. Of course you can make these quiches with frozen spinach. I won’t tell anyone.
 
I made the crust using pie crust and the same custard for Broccoli and Veggie
 
Quiche
First make the custard. You can use this custard for either quiche.
 Custard:
Whisk together until well blended:
3/4 cup warm milk (heat in microwave in a glass measuring cup)
2 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
a few shakes pepper
For each quiche, I used 6 cups fresh spinach. Here are two variations:
 quiche w slice out
Spinach Quiche with mushrooms, bacon and red bell pepper: (This can be made without bacon and still satisfy!)
2 tsp olive oil
1 large red onion, chopped
½ red bell pepper, chopped
3 large white mushrooms, sliced
2 pieces crumbled bacon (discard fat)
2 one-inch sprigs finely minced rosemary
1 cup grated Jarlsberg cheese
1 egg for painting crust
 
Preheat oven to 425◦Sauté red onion and red bell pepper in olive oil until they soften. Add sliced mushrooms and rosemary. When mushrooms are soft, transfer vegetables to a bowl.

Add 6 cups spinach to the pan, cooking over low heat until spinach wilts. Transfer to a colander and press the water from the spinach. When spinach is cool enough to handles, pick it up and squeeze all the water out of the spinach. Mix it with the bacon and the other vegetables.

Cover the pie crust with parchment or foil and weigh it down with pie weights or beans on top. Blind bake crust for 15 minutes at 425◦

Remove from oven and paint an beaten egg on the bottom of the crust to prevent sogginess. Add leftover egg to custard. Bake for another 5 minutes to set the egg and brown the sides of the crust.

Lower oven temperature to 375◦

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Place the pie crust on a jelly roll pan or cookie sheet lined with foil. Sprinkle 3/4 cup of the Jarlsberg cheese on bottom of pie crust, reserving a few tablespoons.

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Put the vegetable mixture on top. Pour the custard over it until it’s about 1/2 inch below the top of the crust. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Pour custard over vegetables. Sprinkle with reserved Jarlsberg cheese. Cover with a pie shield to protect crust from burning.

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Bake for 40 min in 375◦ oven until top begins to brown and an inserted knife comes out clean. Cool before eating.

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Spinach Quiche with Rainbow Roasted Vegetables and feta
 quiche in tart pan
You can make this in a pie pan or a tart pan.
 6 cups fresh spinach or 1 cup frozen spinach
I cup Rainbow Roasted Vegetables, chopped
3 Tb crumbled feta cheese
1/3 cup grated Jarlsberg cheese. (You can substitute Swiss cheese, but I like the nutty taste of Jarlsberg)
1 egg for painting crust
Custard:
Whisk together until well blended:
1 cup warm milk
2 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
a pinch of white pepper
 Preheat oven to 375◦
Wilt spinach and remove with a slotted spoon, squeezing out liquid, and place in a medium bowl. If using frozen spinach, microwave with a little drizzle of water, then drain in a sieve, squeezing all the liquid out. This is important if you don’t want a waterlogged quiche!
Stir in roasted vegetables and crumbled feta cheese.
 pie crust with parchment and pie weights
Place parchment paper or foil on top of the crust and cover with ceramic pie weights or beans to prevent the crust from puffing up.  Blind bake the crust for 15 minutes at 425. 
Remove the pie weights and parchment.
Paint an egg on the bottom of the crust to prevent sogginess. Add leftover egg to custard.
egg baked on crust
Bake again for 5 minutes to set the egg.
Let cool on a rack for a few minutes.
 Sprinkle most of the Jarlsberg cheese on bottom of pie crust, reserving a few tablespoons.

Add spinach,vegetable and feta mixture

Pour custard  over vegetables.Sprinkle reserved Jarlsberg cheese on top.Cover the edges of the pan with a pie sheld to prevent the edges from getting burned.Bake for 30 min in 375◦ oven until top begins to brown and an inserted knife comes out clean. Cool to room temperature before eating.quiche slice

kneydlekh קניידלעך Matzo Ball Soup

I make Matzo balls, what my mom calls kneydlekh קניידלעך in Yiddish ki -NAY- dl-ekh (make the last sound (ekh) by clearing your throat), for special occasions like Passover and Rosh Hashanah, or just to help the heal a bad cold. Serve them in

Are you wondering if adding baking powder is kosher for Passover? All I can say is that the Manischewitz matzo ball mix which is kosher for Passover contains sodium bicarbonate and monocalcium phosphate which are the active ingredients of baking powder. So if they can make their matzo balls light and fluffy with that, so can I!

Makes about 15 medium matzo balls
4 large eggs
2 tsp schmalz (rendered chicken fat). Use the fat that rises to the top of the soup
(vegetarian version: use 1/4 cup oil only)
3 Tb  canola oil
1 tsp garlic infused olive oil
1 cup matzo meal
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp white pepper
1 tsp baking powder
1 Tb minced parsley leaves
1/2 tsp dried or 1 Tb fresh minced dill weed
 
1 TB schmaltz added to boiling water
1/4 cup soup added to boiling water
 
 

Whisk eggs in a medium bowl with schmalz and oil.

Mix herbs, matzo meal, baking soda, salt and pepper in a separate bowl. Gently fold into the egg mixture.

Cover bowl and refrigerate for 1/2 hour

While dough is resting in the fridge, boil a large pot of water (at least a gallon). Add a tablespoonful of schmalz (unless you’re making vegetarian ones) and 1/4 cup soup. This will give the kneydlekh more flavor. If you have plenty of soup, you can just boil the kneydlekh in the soup.

Wet your hands and roll  about 12 golf-ball sized matzo balls.

Drop them in the boiling water. Cover pot tightly and lower heat to simmer. Cook for 30 minutes. Balls will double in size and should be soft. If you are going to store them for later, place them in a container with just enough broth to cover.

You can sprinkle more dill and parsley on the soup when serving.

Olive Oil Cornbread

olive oil cornbreadThis light cornbread is super moist from olive oil and applesauce. You can add fresh rosemary for a savory cornbread, or dust with cinnamon-sugar for a sweeter cornbread. I added ground flax seed for its Omega-3 benefits.

Ingredients:

1 cup 1% milk

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

1 cup cornmeal

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

½ tsp salt

1 ½ tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 Tb ground flax seed

2 eggs

½ cup applesauce

¼  cup olive oil

1 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary (about a one-inch sprig)(optional)

1 tsp sugar mixed with ¼ tsp cinnamon (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425’ Add vinegar to milk and let it curdle while you mix the other ingredients. Sift white flour with baking powder and baking soda. Stir in the rest of the dry ingredients and mix well. Whisk eggs with milk in a separate bowl, then whisk in applesauce and oil. Add rosemary if desired. Pour into dry ingredients. Mix with a large spoon only until ingredients are combined. Grease an 8 inch square pan with olive oil. Pour in batter. Bake for 20 minutes.  If you like a sweet -tasting cornbread, sprinkle lightly with cinnamon-sugar. Cool on a wire rack. Nice with soups or stews.

Rosemary and olive oil cornbread