Category Archives: Baking & Desserts

Perfect Night for Pie

chicken pieChicken pot pie is one of the most cozy meals I can imagine. Flaky crust sheltering tender bits of chicken and vegetables all gathered together with a light gravy.  When I was a kid my Mom would buy the little frozen chicken pies and stow them in the freezer as a treat for me.  While it is nice to have a meal that is just heat and eat,  part of the comfort for me now is the slow process of making a savory pie.

Today I woke to cold, wind-whipped rain slamming against the bedroom windows. Despite the downpour, I ran way too many errands getting soaked in the process.  After a trip to two banks, the dry cleaners, and delivering jam to several stores;  I stopped into Whole Foods and they had chicken parts on sale.  I already had some root vegetables from the winter farmers market and I decided it was the perfect time for staying home the rest of the day and making pie.

Here is my Chicken Pot Pie recipe which yields extra stock and extra chicken for another recipe.  Stay at home days don’t come often for me so later in the week I can use the chicken for chicken tacos and the stock to start a quick soup.

Stock
8-10 cups of water
1 whole chicken breast and 2 chicken thighs (both bone-in) chicken stock
4-5 carrots
2 parsnips
1 small turnip
1 onion
1 tablespoon coriander seed
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon kosher salt
a few springs of rosemary, parsley, and thyme

Peel onion, carrots, parsnips, turnip and cut into large chunks
Split chicken breast in half
Place all ingredients in a large stock pot and bring to a boil
Simmer for an hour or until chicken is tender
Strain stock and let chicken and vegetables cool slightly
Separate the chicken meat from the bones
Slice the carrots, parsnips, and turnip into bite-sized pieces
Reserve about 4 cups of stock and 3 cups of chicken and the vegetables for the pie filling.  Store the rest of the chicken and stock for another meal.

Pie Crust
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cold butter cut in about teaspoon sized pieces chicken pie sliced
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
6 tablespoons cold water
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix flour, salt, and baking powder in food processor or mixer bowl
Add shortening and butter and mix until pea sized crumbs form
Pour in cold water and mix just until the dough comes together.
Gather dough in a ball and wrap in plastic wrap.
Chill for 30 minutes or up to overnight

 
Pie Filling
3-4 cup chicken
1 small onionchicken pie filling
1 cup sliced mushrooms
4 cups of stock
1/4 cup cream
2/3 cup frozen peas
carrots and parsnips from stock
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon instant flour such as Wondra

Slice the onion and cut slices in half
Heat olive oil in a large frying pan and saute onions and mushroom until onions are just translucent
Add stock and simmer until reduced by about one-third
Add carrots, parsnips, turnip, and chicken
Add instant flour and cook until very thick
Add frozen peas and cream and set aside to cool slightly

Making the Pie
Prepared and chilled pie dough
Prepared pie filling
1 egg yolk plus 2 tablespoons of water for egg wash
9″ deep dish pie pan

Heat oven to 375 degrees
Divide the pie dough in half
Roll half of the dough to about 1/4″ thick 12″ circle and place in the pie pan, pressing gently into the pan and leaving edges overhanging
Pour filling into the pan
Roll remaining dough to 1/4″ thick circle and cover the filling in the pie pan
Cut off any extra dough and crimp the edges by using a pie crimper or pressing between thumb and forefinger all around the edge
Cut a few slits for steam to escape during baking
Brush top with egg wash
(optional) use the leftover dough to make decorations using a cookie cutter and attach using a bit of the egg wash
Bake for 1 hour until nicely brown and cooked through

Spooky Farmers Market Treats

Apple CreaturesWhen asked to do a Halloween cooking demo at the Winchester MA Farmers Market, I wanted to make something a bit more healthy and fresh then the typical candies and cupcakes and it had to be FUN.   How about Crazy Apple Creatures, Apple Ghosts, and Creepy Finger Sandwiches! These are  super easy to make and are fun to do with even young kids. There are many versions of similar treats online but it is fun to give them a local food twist.

For the Crazy Apple Creatures you need some nice big apples (I used Cortlands from Kimball Fruit Farm), a sharp knife,  creamy peanut butter, creamy nut butter, or cream cheese, plus jam and an assortment of nuts, seeds, raisins, and dried fruit (a used a bag of Fastachi nut mix that I bought at the farmers market). You will also need a about two cups of water mixed with a teaspoon of lemon juice in a small bowl.Apple quarters
Start by cutting the apple into quarters and then remove the core.
Cut a V-shaped piece out of the skin side of the apple as shown here. apple slice
Dip the cut apple in the lemon juice mixture and they are ready for the kids to decorate.  For the Apple Ghosts just peel the apples, cut the same as for Crazy Apple Creatures and decorate nuts or currants for eyes.

The Creepy Finger Sandwiches start with a few slices of whole wheat bread, a rolling pin,  local goat cheese (I used Crystal Book Farm) or cream cheese, a few sliced almonds, and a bit of red  jam, such as strawberry, raspberry, or cranberry (you know we used Doves and Figs).
Cut all of the crust off of the bread and roll flat with the rolling pin.
Spread the cheese on the bread and roll up tightly as you would a jelly roll.
Cut a few shallow slashes to look like knuckles
Place a dab of cheese at one end and top with a sliced almond for the fingernail
At the other end smear a bit of jam for the super creepy blood (eeeewwww)
HAPPY HALOWEEN!!

Cold Summer Pudding

summer puddingI love deserts that are simple to make but look wonderful and are layered with delightful surprises; ice cream bombs, trifles, parfaits, etc.  When I heard  Linda Wertheimer interview cookbook author Sophie Grigson on WBUR link here  there was much discussion about the delights of English Summer Pudding.  This was my kind of dessert and all that is needed to make it is bread, summer berries, and a bit of sugar.
I ran out and bought a big loaf of farmhouse style bread and, well, if you know me or read my blog you will know there is never a shortage of fruit around here.  Instead of making one big pudding, I decided to make little ones in custard cups.  I added a bit of Cointreau and a layer of jam to the basic recipe but these are optional. The tiny puddings were so easy and delicious and light that this recipe will become a summer favorite in my house.

To make Summer Pudding:
Chop up about a pound of  berries-strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, etc. (I used a quart of fall strawberries and a handful of black raspberries and red currants from my garden.
Put all the fruit and a  1/3 cup sugar and a splash of Cointreau in a big skillet and cook for about 5 minutes until the juices run freely and the fruit begins to soften.  Strain some of the juice off into a shallow bowl. Let cool slightly.
Cut 5 rounds of bread (about 1 inch thick) to fit tightly in the bottom each of the custard cups and another 5 rounds to fit the bottom.
Dip the top round in the fruit juice and place in the custard cup juice side down.
Spread a layer of raspberry jam on the bread and then spoon in about a heaping tablespoon of cooked fruit.
Dip the bottom layer in fruit juice and place in the cup juice side up this time.
Cover with plastic wrap and weight down with a can or heavy jar.  Place in the refrigerator overnight.
To unmold, run a knife gently around the edge of the pudding.  Invert onto a plate or shallow bowl and lift the custard cup.
Serve with whipped cream and fresh sliced berries or just plain.

Hamentashen or Popentashen

HamentashenMy family loves Purim with the telling of an exciting story and the wearing of wild costumes.  How could anyone dislike a holiday that features theater, drinking wine, and eating delicious cookies called Hamentashen. Purim celebrates the ancient Jews of Persia’s victory over their enemies. The tale held in the book of Esther includes King Ahasuerus, Esther the brave woman who becomes queen but never forsakes her people, Esther’s cousin Mordecai,and a wicked man named Hamen (for whom the cookies are named).  Why, you might ask, would we name these tasty holiday treats for the bad guy?  Well, I’ll tell you-I don’t know.  Various stories I grew up with included that the cookies were named for Hamen’s three-cornered hat, they were named for his pockets that were filled with bribes, they were named to remember his evil deeds. So nu, they couldn’t have named them Esther’s Goodies or something a little more enticing?  Anyway who cares!  Our costumes are put together and the cookies are baked.  Instead of normal hamentashen, we made tiny little cookies (filled with our homemade jams) that you could pop in your mouth in one bite so we are calling them popentashen.  It is after all a holiday that is celebrated with pride and joy and a healthy dose of silliness. Happy Purim!

Tiny Hamentashen (Popentashen)
2 sticks (1 cup) butter
2/3 cup powdered sugar
2 cups flour
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp vanilla paste or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
dash of cinnamon
several flavors of jam

In a stand mixer bowl or food processor, place the slightly softened butter cut into chunks and the powdered sugar
Mix until sugar is just blended in (it is OK if there are some lumps of butter)
Add the egg yolk and vanilla and mix until the egg is incorporated into the butter
Add the flour and cinnamon to the bowl and mix until the large pieces of dough begin to come together (do not over mix!) the dough will be a bit ragged.
Scoop the dough onto a floured board and press the pieces together to form a smooth dough.
Roll the dough out to a thickness of about 1/4″.  If the dough is too sticky use a bit of flour or if it is too soft to roll you can wrap it in plastic wrap and chill for an hour.
Using a small round cookie cutter or a cordial glass measuring about 1 1/2″ inches across, cut circles of dough.
Place a drop of jam in the middle of each circle
Press two edges of the circle together and then pull the remaining piece up and press together to form a triangle shape and a nice little pocket to hold the jam.
Cook at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes or until the edges brown slightly
Cool (jam gets very hot in the over) and pop in your mouth!


 

 

No-Bake Jam Jar Cheesecake

fat-free cheesecake in a jarFor holidays and celebrations, I love spending a day baking, filling and frosting cakes; whipping egg whites into fluffy meringue; crafting fancy cookies but sometimes you need a light and easy treat to share.  This jam layered no-bake fat-free cheesecake is simple to make and travels well.  Perfect for pot-luck suppers or community events.

1 8 oz package fat-free cream cheese
2 cups fat-free Greek style yogurt
1/2 cup reduced fat Graham cracker crumbs
2 teaspoons honey
2-3 teaspoons apple cider (or apple juice)
several flavors of jams or preserves
4 8 oz canning (mason)  jars and lids

Blend an 8 oz package of fat-free cream cheese with 2 cups of fat-free Greek-style yogurt.  Add 2 teaspoons of raw honey and a pinch of cinnamon to the yogurt mixture.  Mix  Graham cracker crumbs with a few teaspoons of apple cider.
Layer the Graham cracker crumbs in the bottom of each jar.  Add a layer of the cheesecake mixture and then a layer of jam.  Add another layer of cheesecake mixture and jam.  Cover jar and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Small but Mighty-Petite Sweet Rolls

cranberry pecan biscuitsThe holidays are over and finally a bit a cold weather has arrived after an unusually warm start to the winter in New England.  I awoke early to a dusting of snow on the ground and a chilly breeze outside my window and headed for the kitchen.  My favorite time to bake is morning and I thought it would be a nice treat to bring something sweet to nibble on to my client meeting.  I had tucked away a few jars of Holiday Table jam (cranberry & pecan with cranberry honey) since my family complains that sometimes I sell every jar of a flavor they like and it also it seemed like a great flavor to use in baking.  I made up some buttermilk biscuit dough (recipe below)and patted it out in a long rectangle.  I spread some melted butter on the dough and then warmed the jam and spread it on the dough leave a bit of a clean edge on one side.   Them I sprinkled a cinnamon sugar mix over the jar and butter and tossed on a handful of chopped pecans.  I carefully rolled it up jelly roll fashion (the long side gets rolled) and cut it into one inch chunks.  The little rolls were placed in a buttered mini muffin tin and baked at 400 degrees for about 12-15 minutes.  While the rolls baked, I made a quick glaze of one tablespoon orange glazefresh orange juice, one teaspoon honey, and 1/2 cup of powdered sugar all mixed together until smooth.  When the rolls when done, I turned them out onto a cooking rack and drizzled them with the orange glaze.

Petite Sweet Rolls
2 cups flour
4 tablespoons butter melted
1/2 buttermilk
2/3 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons baking powder

Mix baking powder and flour in a mixing bowl
Mix melted butter, buttermilk, and milk
pour wet ingredients into the dry and mix just to combine

Filling
3 oz jam (always plenty of jam around here)
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons cinnamon/sugar mix
1/4 cup chopped nuts or raisins if desired

 

Summer Corn Butter Biscuits

corn biscuitMuch (OK all) of my kitchen time this summer has been spent happily making jam. Last week I developed a longing to bake again.  Perhaps it was the first cool breeze heralding the end of summer that was to blame for this desire but the oven went on and then I surveyed the pantry and fridge.  Pies and tarts came to mind but all the fruit I had was destined for jars.  My eyes fell on a stack of corn from the farmers market.  I snatched two small ears leaving plenty for dinner and shaved the kernels into a bowl.  I added the corn to one of my favorite drop biscuit recipes and reveled in the smell of warm butter pouring from the oven.  I broke one open as soon as they were baked and ate it hot at the kitchen counter.  Hmmm…maybe I should bake some plain biscuits too.  I do need something to go with all this jam.

Summer Corn Biscuits

1 stick butter
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
2/3 cup fresh corn kernels
1 Tbs snipped chives

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix together flour and baking powder in a large bowl.  Cut in cold butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs using hand pastry blender, food processor or stand mixer. Do not over mix.  Stir in buttermilk until just combined. Stir in corn and chives gently.  Scoop out 12 lumps of dough onto an ungreased baking tray leaving an each between.  Bake until light brown and cooked through, about 20-25 minutes.