The pickle man

Monday, December 31, 2012

Turkey Pot Pie

Was it cold where you live today?

Today it was cold enough this monkey wore his hat while playing on the monkey bars.

In Louisiana, it was perfect weather for pot pies and footie pajamas from Santa.  And we have left-over turkey in our fridge... here's betting you might, too.

And let me apologize in advance for the cell phone pics.  You see, we are still living at my parents' house.  Here's to a 2013 that brings a new kitchen (and new house!) into my life.  But no more excuses for not blogging.  This pot pie DEMANDS to be shared.

It comes together in less than 30 minutes and bakes in another 30.  And if you tell your picky 6-year-old that the top is made from croissants, he will eat it all.  Your 2 year old won't need trickery... or at least, mine didn't.

This recipe is loosely adapted from my brand-new, much-loved Smitten Kitchen cookbook (my mother-in-law got me an autographed copy, because she is definitely the best mother-in-law in the universe, for many reasons other than this).  Basically, I am really looking forward to making Deb's version, with white beans and pancetta, but I had left-over turkey.  And I had frozen puff pastry.  So I adapted.

2 carrots, diced
1 small onion (or 1/2 of a large one) diced
1 rib celery, diced
1 tsp minced garlic
1 Tbs olive oil
3 Tbs butter
3 Tbs all purpose flour
2 cups chicken stock (I used homemade because I had it, but I would definitely substitute with Kitchen Basics and be just as happy).
2 cups (more or less) chopped leftover turkey (white or dark meat, or a mixture)
1 sheet frozen puff pastry (I used Pepperidge farm), defrosted.
1 egg white

Remove the puff pastry from the freezer and allow to warm enough that you can work with it (about 15 minutes on the countertop).

Preheat the oven to 375.

Dice the vegetables and saute them in the olive oil in a heavy pan over medium high heat for 8-10 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper and stir frequently.

Remove the vegetables and scrape out the pan (no need to wash).  In the same pan, melt the butter and add the flour, stirring until there is a little color (2-3 minutes).  Slowly whisk in the broth.  Cook over high heat, stirring frequently, until slightly reduced to a gravy-like consistency.

Meanwhile, roll out the puff pastry (but not too thin).  This will be the lid for your pot pie.  You can use a rectangle to cover a standard baking dish, or cut individual circles if you are making individual pies.  The lid should be slightly larger than the baking dish you are using.

Add the vegetables and meat to the gravy on the stove and stir to combine.  Pour the mixture into the baking dish.  Brush egg wash around the sides of the dish so that the lid will stick.  Press the lid onto the top of the dish.  Cut vent holes in the lid with a sharp knife (my kids like for me to carve their initials).  Brush with egg wash and bake at 375 for 35 - 40 minutes, until the crust is browned.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Christmas Sugar Cookies

 It's December 2 and my kids are wearing sandals and shorts with their Christmas shirts... but we can still dream of snow and make sugar cookies!

So, here are the cookies:
First, make the dough.

4 sticks (1 pound) butter at room temperature
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt (may need a pinch more if using unsalted butter)
1 Tablespoon vanilla

Cream the butter and sugar until smooth (2-3 minutes).  Add eggs, mixing well after each, and vanilla.  Add flour, baking powder, and salt, mixing just until combined.

Wrap in plastic wrap and chill at least 3 hours, or overnight.

Sprinkle your work surface with flour and powdered sugar, generously. Only work with a portion of the dough at a time; leave the remainder in the refrigerator to stay cold.  Roll out the dough to 1/4 inch.  Cut cookies.

Bake on parchment paper at 375 until slightly brown around the edges.   These cookies contain baking powder, so they will spread slightly.  If you want extra-sharp edges, use a recipe without any leavening, such as shortbread.

Mine got a little too brown... I was looking at tile for the master bath...
While the cookies are cooling, prepare the Royal Icing.  Sound fancy? It's remarkably easy.

2 egg whites
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
Food coloring

Beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry.  Add the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add the lemon juice.  If you want more than one color, separate the icing into bowls and dye each bowl a different color.  You can add water to thin the icing, but be very cautious -- a few drops go a long way!

Place the icing into a piping bag (or a ziploc bag) with a tip inserted into the end (put in the tip before you put in the icing!).  I like a star tip with my kids -- you can't do as fine of a detail, but it is much more forgiving for little hands.

Once the cookies have cooled, pipe on decorative designs.  You can also add sprinkles while the icing is still soft.  The icing will dry hard (it's the same kind I use on gingerbread houses), so the cookies travel extremely well.  I sent some with both my kids to school last Friday.