Friday, January 22, 2010

Happy Friday!

It's Friday and I'm going to post my happy ON the day this week! :) (For The Next Chapter - Happy Book!)

This week, my happy Friday is about cooking. I love to cook, and I've done some fun experimenting recently. Right before Thanksgiving (the day before, in fact) I took a class at our local culinary center. It was to make pies. I've never made pies before! I've actually never done much in the way of baking, and pie crust always seemed scary.

The class was SO much fun, and I came home with a great pumpkin pie, and a hazelnut chocolate pie. So decadent. The better news was that I learned how to make wonderful, flaky pie crust. And it's just not that hard!!

Since Thanksgiving, I've made my crust recipe a couple times. My husband's birthday was December 15, and he requested a pie. He even found the recipe he wanted me to use. It was a Paula Deen recipe for Grits Pie... Hmmm... It sounded odd, but it turned out SO yummy! It was a custardy sort of pie - we ate the first pieces warm, with *real* whipped cream. The next pieces, we ate cold - and it was even better that way!

The next experiment was a savory pie. Mike requested a chicken pot pie. Let me tell you - that was YUM! I found a recipe online for the filling, and of course, I experimented with my own additions/changes. The filling was a little soupy, but man, this was a tasty pot pie.

I made this again just this week, and it turned out even better! The filling wasn't as soupy, and the crust was super flaky! Yummy! Mike told me it was the best pot pie ever. :)

Here is the recipe with my modifications:

Chicken Pot Pie Filling
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cubed
1 cup sliced carrots (about three carrots, coins)
1 cup frozen green peas

1 yukon gold potato, diced (skin on)
1 portabello mushroom sliced
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Fresh rosemary, thyme, sage - chopped fine. (Don't know quantity - whatever looks good to you! I only had rosemary the second time. It was better with all three!)
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
2/3 cup milk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C.)
In a saucepan, combine chicken, carrots, and potato. Add water to cover and boil for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, drain and set aside. (I also put in a whole sprig of rosemary at this point, and tossed it once the mix was done.)
In the saucepan over medium heat, cook onions in butter until soft and translucent, along with portabello. Stir in flour, salt, pepper, and herbs. Slowly stir in chicken broth and milk. Simmer over medium-low heat until thick. Remove from heat and set aside.
Mix the broth mixture with the chicken and veggies. Place into par-baked bottom pie crust. Cover with top crust, seal edges, and cut away excess dough. Make several small slits in the top to allow steam to escape.
Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.
Crust Recipe (that I learned in my class!)
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour (plus more for dusting)
6 1/2 oz. (13 Tbsp.) Unsalted butter, cold - cubes
2 1/2 oz. (5 Tbsp.) vegetable shortening, cold
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. sugar
4-5 oz. cold water
I use a food processor, but this can be done with your hands too.
Put dry ingredients in the processor bowl. Add the butter and shortening. Pulse the machine 4-5 times. Pour in 4 oz. water all at once and immediately pulse several more times. The dough should begin to form a ball on the blade. If not, drizzle a little more water and repeat. It is done when it begins to come together. Don't over mix.
After the dough is mixed in the processor, do Fraisage - final blending. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface. With the heel of one hand (not the palm, it is too warm) rapidly press the pastry by 2 spoonful bits down on the board and away from you in a firm, quick smear of about 6". With a scraper gather the dough into a mass, knead briefly into 2 fairly smooth round balls. Sprinkly lightly with flour and wrap separately in plastic wrap.
Place in the freezer for 1 hour or the refrigerator for 2 hours (or overnight).
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Rolling out the dough - place the dough on a lightly floured surface. If it is hard, beat it with the rolling pin to soften it. Knead it briefly into a fairly flat circle. Lightly flour the top of the dough. Starting from the center, roll away from you. Lift the dough and turn, repeating the rolling. Flour as necessary. Roll until it is 1/8" thick and 2" bigger than your pan.
Place the dough in the pan (I fold the dough in half and then again - and move the center point to the center of the pan and unfold.) Fit it into the pan. Trim excess dough, leaving a 1/2" overhang, then fold under pastry and press into pan to reinforce edge. Decoratively crimp (I skip this!) the edge and lightly prick the bottom and side of shell with a fork. Line shell with foil and fill with pie weights (I use foil filled with dry rice)
Bake until set - 8-9 minutes. Remove weights and foil and prick bottom with a fork to keep from rising. Return to oven for 2-3 more minutes. When shell is starting to color... Then fill as you plan and cook according to those directions. Enjoy!
Good food does make me happy. And cooking that good food makes me even happier. I am waiting impatiently for our local farmer's markets to open again for our yummy fresh produce.


  1. Thanks for sharing your happy! Um... my tummy's grumbling now, I think I need to go get a snack.... :)

  2. Looks delicious. Ahrg, I think I have to find my way into the kitchen for some bliss ;)
    Have a great weekend!

  3. Wow, that looks like a whole bunch of delicious! That's so cool you took a class - and look at all the happy it's creating. Yum!

  4. mmmm pie mmmmmm!!! The chocolate one looks especially yummy! Thanks for sharing!

  5. You've discovered pie is the secret to happiness! Now you have the power!

  6. My mouth is watering. Oh what wonderful looking crusts. I think it is wonderful that you took a class and now enjoying what you've learned. I love that your husband sought out the recipe for his birthday pie.

    Have a delicious weekend!

  7. Way to go Tammy! Amazing that less than six months ago you had never made a pie before and now you are a happy and unstoppable pie-maker which warms my heart.

  8. I love to bake but I've never been good at pies. Maybe your recipe will do the trick. All your pies look delicious and I know my hubby would love the chicken pot pie.

  9. Those are gorgeous pies - and the recipe looks super! It really does make you happy when you can feel accomplished at doing something, especially if it was something that you shied away from before! Happy week!

  10. Oh wow!! Thanks for these awesome recipes. I've never made chicken pot pie before...maybe I'll give it a go this week.
    Yummy pics - omg!!!

  11. That's gorgeous, Tammy. Especially the chicken pot pie (oh, yeah, and the views). I love the fog settling in among the hills around us here in the Bay area. Different than those wide open spaces in CO, but still beautiful. Though there is something in my that just aches to see a big sky again.