Rustica.

I’m going to make this one short and sweet, unlike the recipe below, but I’m all about irony and opposites, so who cares.

I’m going to guess that this is going to be my last post for a while. We are headed to Greece (GREECE!!!!!) on Saturday, and you best believe, I won’t be bloggin’ over there. Plus, I swear I haven’t cooked much of anything lately, and I had to dig into a rough draft of this recipe from like, I dunno, a couple of months ago, to have something to share with you today.

Don’t get me wrong – I’ve made some stuff – but typically it’s a piece of toasted bread, a fried egg, some cheese, and a couple of slices of avocado (you don’t need a recipe and pictures for that, right?!) or maybe a throw-together version of the best thing in my life food-wise, chilaquiles.

We even went to Portland the other week, and camping/backpacking again (first time since the Lost Coast!) this past weekend, and I could probably share some pictures with you, but I didn’t take that many.

Man, I’m slack.

But if I had a little time on my hands, a little snippet of a morning where I could plan a little, I’d totally make this pie again. If I had any veggies in my fridge, it would totally be the way to use them all up, but I doubt a bunch of celery would be all that good by itself…

I’m hoping you do have a little more time at home this week to make this, because I promise it’s totally worth a little bit of preparation. When I made this thing ages ago (or at least it seems like ages), I made the dough the day before, and when it came time to roll that stuff out and stuff the pie, I added every little piece of veggie that I had left into that thing. Lots of cheese, too. It was marvelous, and we ate it for three days straight, which might be boring to some of you, but to me, it was just delightful each and every time.

And with that, adio! I promise to take pictures in Greece, and maybe make some baklava again, or in the least, something with a good Greek olive oil ;).

Pizza Rustica
adapted from Cooking Light, April 2012; serves 8

time commitment:  2 hours, 30 minutes (about 1 hour active time, includes refrigeration of dough and baking time)

printable version

ingredients
crust
7 3/4 oz all-purpose flour (about 1 3/4 cups), divided
1/2 t salt
1/2 t baking powder
1/3 c extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 c water

torta
2 medium red bell peppers
2 T extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 lb kale, trimmed and thinly sliced
2 T chopped shallots
2 t minced garlic
2 (8-ounce) packages cremini mushrooms, sliced
8 oz part-skim ricotta cheese
2 oz fontina cheese, shredded (about 1/2 cup)
1 oz Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated (about 1/4 cup)
1 T chopped fresh thyme
1/2 t kosher salt
1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 large egg white
Cooking spray
1 T fat-free milk

instructions
To prepare crust, weigh or lightly spoon 7.25 ounces flour (about 1 2/3 cups) into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine 7.25 ounces flour, 1/2 t salt, and baking powder in a food processor; pulse 2 times to combine. Combine 1/3 cup olive oil and 1/4 cup water in a small bowl. With processor on, slowly add oil mixture through food chute, and process just until dough begins to form a ball (dough will be crumbly). Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead 3 minutes; add enough of the remaining 2 tablespoons flour to prevent dough from sticking to hands. Divide dough into 2 equal portions. Press each portion into a 5-inch circle on plastic wrap. Cover with additional plastic wrap. Chill at least 30 minutes.
To prepare torta, preheat broiler to high. Cut bell peppers in half lengthwise; discard seeds and membranes. Place pepper halves, skin sides up, on a foil-lined baking sheet; flatten with hand. Broil 10 minutes or until blackened. Place in a ziploc bag and seal. Let stand 10 minutes. Peel and coarsely chop.
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil; swirl to coat. Add kale to pan; cook 1 minute or until greens begin to wilt. Place kale and bell peppers in a large bowl. Return pan to medium heat. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add shallots and garlic to pan; cook for 1 minute. Add mushrooms; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Place mushroom mixture and kale mixture in a fine sieve; let drain 5 minutes. Place vegetable mixture in a large bowl. Add ricotta and next 7 ingredients (through egg white) to vegetable mixture, stirring to combine.
Preheat oven to 375 F.
Slightly overlap 2 sheets of plastic wrap on a slightly damp surface. Unwrap one dough portion, and place on plastic wrap. Cover dough with 2 additional sheets of overlapping plastic wrap. Roll dough, still covered, into an 11-inch circle. Place the dough in freezer for 5 minutes or until plastic wrap can be easily removed. Remove top sheets of plastic wrap; fit dough, plastic wrap side up, into a 9-inch pie plate coated with cooking spray. Remove remaining plastic wrap. Spoon vegetable mixture into prepared pie plate.
Repeat with remaining dough and then place over vegetable mixture. Remove remaining plastic wrap. Press the edges of dough together. Fold edges under, and flute. Brush top of dough with milk. Cut several slits in top of dough to allow steam to escape.
Bake at 375° for 45 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Cool 30 minutes. Cut into 8 wedges.
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For the un-holidays

I’ve never aspired to be one of those bloggers who preps you for the upcoming holiday by testing recipes in advance and posting them all during the month. I started this blog as a way to share things that I make because I want to make them, and as much as I love turkey and stuffing, I only want to make it once in the month of November.

However, I do appreciate the bloggers who operate in the way that I don’t; while our Thanksgiving menu is usually pretty set, I do occasionally draw inspiration from a few of you holiday bloggers. So, thank you, Pioneer Woman, and thank you The Bitten Word.

As such, it shouldn’t surprise you that we’re talking about a quiche today. Sure, you could plop a quiche down on that Thanksgiving table. Scoot that gourd over, or move that big honkin’ centerpiece, or the candles you put on the table because you really don’t need them anyway. And toss this quiche into the mix. You’d get a few stares, I bet.

My guess is that this quiche might be more appropriate for say, breakfast, or any day other than Thanksgiving; the un-holiday days. You could even use leftover turkey and make a turkey quiche, if it suits you.

Apparently, I bought an inordinate amount of Mexican chorizo last weekend, but I suppose I couldn’t resist when the tienda sells it for $1.99 a pound. Some of it found a crevice in the freezer (which, by the way, is l.o.a.d.e.d. with meat, even a ginormous turkey from our CSA that we didn’t realize we were getting until after we’d already placed our order for the fancy heritage turkey. I sense a lot of turkey pot pie in our future.), but a portion of it got an egg bath.

And so, even though it’s almost Thanksgiving, and even though some of you might be searching for the perfect cranberry sauce or green bean casserole, or the absolute best way to cook a turkey (which would be a simple brine, and a roast), I bring you custard in a shell instead.

But I bring it to you hoping you’ll find inspiration, hoping you’ll take a crust – be it spelt flour, regular flour, or even store-bought – some milk and eggs, and of course, some cheese, and make whatever kinda quiche you damn well please.

You can be thankful for all the extra food you’ve got in your fridge that allows you to make a quiche to call your very own. How’s that for appropriate?!

Mexican Chorizo Quiche
chiknpastry recipe; serves 4-6

quiches are a good way to get rid of anything in your fridge. for us, that meant leftover chorizo (although some got frozen, too). you can use any crust you want, but i liked the heartiness of the spelt dough, plus i already had it in the freezer :).

printable version

ingredients
crust (the other half of this; recipe below makes enough for 2)
1 1/4 c all purpose flour
1 1/4 c whole-grain spelt flour
1 T sugar
3/4 t salt
1 stick (8 T or 1/2 c) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
4 T (1/4 c) chilled vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
up to 1/2 c ice water

filling
8oz Mexican chorizo
¼ c onion, chopped
1 anaheim pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
1 ½ c sharp cheddar cheese
2 T canned green chiles, minced
2 T cilantro, chopped
4 eggs
1 c milk
½ t cumin
½ t chipotle chili powder
1 t salt
2 t pepper

instructions
crust
pulse flours, sugar, and salt in a food processor to blend. Add butter and shortening and pulse repeatedly until small pea-size clumps form. Add 1/2 of ice water and pulse until dough holds together when small pieces are pressed between fingertips, adding more water by teaspoonfuls if dough is dry. (alternatively, this can be done by hand or using a pastry blender, but it’s gonna take longer!) Gather dough together; divide into 2 pieces. Form each piece into ball, then flatten into disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes or until needed. (You can keep it in the fridge for 2 days, or even freeze it and let thaw overnight. But, let it sit out for a few minutes to soften before you are ready to roll it out.)

putting it together
Preheat oven to 350 F. Roll out pie crust and place in greased pie plate. With tines of a fork, poke a few holes in the crust and bake for about 10 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat skillet over med-hi heat; saute chorizo for ~2 minutes. Add onion, anaheim pepper, and jalapeno; cook until vegetables are soft and chorizo is cooked through. Drain well using paper towels. Place cheese in crust then add onion, pepper, chorizo, green chilies and cilantro.

Beat eggs and milk together until slightly foamy then add cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper. Pour into pie shell until not quite full (you may have some extra – discard).  Bake at 350 until brown and domed, ~50 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack.

See ya, Swanson’s

I have to tell you all something, something I’ve decided this year: having pregnant friends is just plain weird. We’re supposed to be late-20/early-30 somethings having the time of our lives – partying late (but not too late, because that can get trashy), hanging together on the weekends (but also spending a little time with the spouses), playing Rock Band during Thanksgiving, and doing one of my personal favorite things – vacationing to quiet islands, wine country, and Europe.

When kids get in the mix, a lot of those things, I’m guessing, fall by the wayside. I’d go into vacation withdrawal, and that probably wouldn’t be pretty. But I realize here, that we are in fact the weird ones.

But I’ve also learned that we’re all different, and while it will never not be weird to see a friend pregnant, or to hold their teeny tiny cute-as-pie baby (yes, Nora – you!), I know one day I’ll get used to it. One day I’ll learn how to buy onesies and baby books and all those little booties that are the most adorable things I’ve ever seen, and one day I won’t laugh at the idea of a friend breastfeeding, and so on and so forth. Until that time (yes – the time when I become a mature adult), I’ll cook for them instead.

My friend, Lindsay, is about to bust at the seams she’s so pregnant. And since she still keeps up with her blog amidst preparing for being a mom and working at a nutso children’s hospital, I’ve been able to keep up with all the happenings over the last 8 months. When I thought about how to contribute, I reverted to food. It wasn’t a bad idea though – wouldn’t you love to have a freezer full of meals after creating life? Seems reasonable to give the new mom & pop somewhat of a break, right?!

Enter ‘chicken pot pie’, THE quintessential freezer meal, though some may retort with an argument for lasagna, which is also valid. I’d actually never made a chicken pot pie before, probably because I grew so tired of those cyan blue Swanson’s boxes that were piled high in our freezer throughout my childhood. The gooey peas, the carrots that squished between your snaggled teeth, and the chewy colorless chunks portraying chicken, I habitually scraped the veggies to the back because the crust and the gravy were somewhat edible, or at least I remember them to be…

Of course, you can try and forget those freezer meals with all your might, but when you see a recipe in one of Thomas Keller’s cookbooks you tend to forget all the ickiness, and you remember the flaky crust, the gravy, and most of all, the comfort – and you want it all over again.

Needless to say, it wasn’t long before I procured the remainder of the ingredients I didn’t have at home and set out to make not one, but two pot pies a la Keller. As it turns out, chicken pot pie is extremely versatile, which makes for plenty of variation. The first version included some shitake mushrooms from our CSA and some cannellini beans I made and froze eons ago, and for Lindsay’s I ‘autumnized’ the dish and threw some squash in. Fortunately, I had just enough leftover filling and crust for some miniatures, so as you can imagine I ate my fair share of pie last week.

Meanwhile, there’s one ready to be baked in my buddy’s freezer, so when the ‘little punk’ introduces herself to the world, at least her parents won’t be stuck eating Swanson’s and Stouffer’s – they can instead focus on all that other stuff (otherwise called parenting), like the onesies, her cute little toes, and the jealous cat. 

Autumn Chicken Pot Pie
Adapted (rather loosely, actually) from Ad Hoc at Home

I’m aware that Thomas Keller can do no wrong, at least in the kitchen. I’m aware that his recipes are probably tested a thousand times, and that if he doesn’t put nutmeg in his bechamel it’s likely with good reason. that said, i still like to tinker around with recipes, and this was no exception. while i almost switched out the bechamel altogether for the more familiar gravy, I refrained, and I’m glad – bechamel filling is where it’s at. you can easily swap in or out meat & veggies – add peas, root veggies, or beans, remove potatoes, use beef instead of chicken – whatever. and if you have leftover filling, i’m sure there are plenty of ways to use it up.

as an FYI, the pie crusts can be refrigerated for a few days (or frozen), so it’s never a bad idea to double the crust recipe. if you’re making this to freeze, do everything except bake it, and wrap it in plastic wrap and tin foil. i’ve heard some say not to include potatoes in a frozen pie, but it should be fine as long as you use the smaller versions that arent as waxy.

printable version

ingredients
pie crusts
2 1/2 c all purpose flour
1 1/4 t kosher salt
2 sticks butter, cut into 1/2″ pieces and chilled
4 T shortening, cut into 1/2″ pieces and chilled*
~5 T water

filling
1 c red-skinned potatoes, medium dice
1 1/2 c winter squash, medium dice
3 bay leaves
3 thyme sprigs
15 black peppercorns
1 T olive oil
1 c carrots, medium dice
1 small onion, medium dice
1/2 c celery, medium dice
2-3 c shredded cooked chicken (thighs or breasts)**

bechamel
3 T unsalted butter
3 T all purpose flour
3 c milk
1 t kosher salt
black pepper, to taste
pinch of cayenne pepper
pinch of nutmeg

1 egg, beaten

instructions
pie crusts
combine flour and salt in mixer. add butter and shortening, and pulse constantly until butter and shortening pieces are about the size of a pea. drizzle 1 T water at a time into the bowl and pulse until mixture comes together, adding water by the tablespoon. if dough is dry and gritty, add more water. when dough comes together dump out onto a floured surface and knead a few times until mixture is uniform.

divide dough in half (one piece a little larger than the other), shape into a disk and refrigerate at least an hour. [remove from refrigerator about 5-10 minutes prior to rolling out.]

filling
fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. add bay leaves, thyme, peppercorns and potatoes and simmer over med-hi heat until just tender, 8-10 minutes. spread out on sheet pan to cool. repeat process with squash.

in a skillet, add olive oil and over med-hi heat, saute carrots, onion, and celery until tender. spread all veggies out on sheet pan to cool.

bechamel
in a large pot (you can use the same one you cooked potatoes/squash in, to save dishwashing!), melt butter, and whisk in the flour for about 2-3 minutes ensuring it does not brown. whisk in the milk and lower the heat to a gentle simmer, whisking often, until the sauce has thickened and reduced to about 2 cups (30-40 minutes). strain the bechamel through a fine strainer into a spouted measuring cup. season with salt, pepper, cayenne and nutmeg.

putting it all together
while simmering the bechamel, preheat to 375 F, make sure one rack is at the bottom of the oven and the other in the middle. prepare pie. remove pie dough and let stand for 5-10 minutes to soften. then, roll out both pie crusts – roll one into 13-14″ round and the other to about 12″. place larger one in the bottom of a 9″ pie plate, and place the other back in the fridge on a sheet of parchment paper. trim away any excess dough that’s hanging over the rim of the pie plate (save it for mini pot pies, if you have leftover filling). refrigerate if bechamel isn’t ready, or if you need to finish it.

[finish the bechamel.] combine chicken and veggies in a large bowl. scatter mixture into the bottom of the pie plate to fill (you may have extra, which is great for the mini pot pies). moisten the rim of the pie with some of the beaten egg. remove top crust from the fridge and place over the filling and press the edges of the dough together to seal, trimming away any excess. using the rest of the beaten egg, brush the top of the pie, and cut a couple of small slits into the top to allow the pie to vent.

bake on the lower oven rack until the crust is golden brown, about 50 minutes. move to center rack during the final 10 minutes if not browning enough. transfer to cooling rack and let rest for 10 minutes. cut into 6 wedges and serve.

*i’m not sure why you’d want to, but you can omit shortening if it freaks you out. keller’s original crust didn’t call for it, but i adhere to the “pie crust has to have shortening” rule. I won’t lie – this crust is un-be-freakin-lievable.

**for cooked chicken, I poached it in water, thyme, bay leaves, and peppercorn, let it cool and then shredded it. i used about a pound and had plenty of leftover chicken, which is great for more pot pies or other cooked chicken dishes ;).

Battle Tomatoes: Jazzed-Up

What’s your favorite type of music? Rock & roll, or pop? Rap, or R&B? Classical? Post-rock? Indie rock? You get the point, I’m assuming; I could go on and on listing the styles of music until you hear the one that sings to you. Music reminds me of food, in a way, because of the potential for it to bring people together, to connect them via that common thread of a song, or genre – similar to a cuisine, a restaurant, or a family recipe.

This weekend, we were brought together because of food, but we were united by something different: smooth jazz on the lakefront.

It was a typical Iron Chef battle in many ways: a great ingredient (thanks to, ahem, the three-time reigning Iron Chef), great people, and truthfully, killer food. Jenn, a semi-newbie, and her hubs, Mark, graciously hosted in their ‘hood, Rogers Park. Their building just happens to be right on the lake, and for our listening pleasure we were graced by the presence of a summer party out on the patio and the sensual rhythms of smooth jazz on the speakers.

Last time I checked, Wilco, Gaslight Anthem, and Bruce Springsteen were not part of the smooth jazz genre. And I won’t lie, I (rather, we) were all a little reluctant to let smooth jazz into our hearts. But after a little wine, some good conversation, and a lot of tomatoes, we were mystified. The sequins and brightly-colored attire worn by some of the party-goers didn’t hurt.

Our little romantic rendezvous for 7 on the balcony lasted until midnight, and sadly the smooth jazz died out about an hour before that time which really dampened the mood, but we chatted on a bit longer, hoping we’d be enlivened with an encore which unfortunately just wasn’t in the stars that night.


(dishes listed at end of post)

As was fitting, Hope nailed her 2nd win at her final battle, given her upcoming move to the Deep South. As such, she’s the second repeat winner and a bonafide Iron Chef. Her tomato pie was out of this world, or maybe just Southern instead of from the Midwest, and it was certainly a winner in my eyes. Hopefully she’ll get her own IC group started down there, that is, after she chooses the ingredient for Battle 12 – her final obligation.

The Top Three:

  1. Hope’s Green Tomato Pie (gluten-free & vegetarian)
  2. Terri’s Smoked Salmon Bruschetta
  3. my Hushpuppies w/ Green Tomato Chutney (gluten-free, dairy-free, & vegetarian)

Green Tomato Pie
Hope’s winning recipe; serves ~8

printable version

ingredients
1 9″ prebaked pie crust^
4-5 green tomatoes
1 T mayonnaise
1 c pepper jack cheese
1 c sharp cheddar cheese
salt and pepper

instructions
preheat oven to 350 F. slice tomatoes to 1/4″ thickness & place layers on paper towel to soak up some of the water. mix cheese together in a medium bowl with mayo and a little salt and pepper. place prebaked crust in pie dish. layer 1/3 of tomatoes onto bottom of crust, then 1/3 of cheese mixture. repeat this twice, using remaining tomatoes and cheese/mayo mix. bake for ~30-45 minutes, until brown.

^regular or gluten-free, depending on your eaters!


the “life” of the party!

The dishes pictured earlier, from right to left: my hushpuppies and green tomato relish, Rachel’s tomato, basil, & brie sammies, Jennifer’s tomato, mozzarella & basil pasta salad, Rachel’s polenta tart with tomatoes, Terri’s smoked salmon & tomato bruschetta, Hope’s green tomato pie, Jenn’s leek and roasted tomato pizza, Mark’s double salsa combo, and Terri’s lamb & rice stuffed tomatoes.

Bada Bing!

If you were to ask me what I did this week, I wouldn’t have too much to report, quite frankly. Work, go home, wash clothes, pit cherries, pick up CSA box, pit cherries, cook, pit cherries. The theme, you see, is that I pitted a hella lotta cherries. Hubs seems to think that’s really funny; talking about cherries seems to make boys laugh.

But when you find them being offered for $2.50 a pound, you really do feel inclined to load up and by load up, I mean fill up two big ol’ buckets worth of self-picked Michigan sweet cherries. Bada bing, bada boom! Fortunately, the weather was great and we had 4 pickers, because I’m quite certain that for every 5 cherries I picked, one ended up in my mouth rather than the bucket (if you look closely, you can see the red stains on my fingers – busted!)…

Notwithstanding, we still managed to head away from Lemon Creek with about 10 pounds of cherries, and if you can believe it, we didn’t even go for wine-tasting (not there, at least!). I wasn’t quite sure what I’d do with them all, although I knew many would be eaten in raw form, and some would turn into jam because I have a thing for preserving those Michigan fruits, and although I’m supposed to be eating “healthy” foods I couldn’t for the life of me stop thinking about making my first (fresh) cherry pie. And let’s face it – pie from fresh berries is a bazillion times better than the canned “mix” and the frozen varieties and really, do you think I have space in my freezer for the rest of these cherries? Negativo, especially when I just shoved 20 pounds of meat in there earlier this week from our CSA delivery.

Plus, this weekend we just happen to be heading up to Minnesota to visit Cheryl & Luke and since Cheryl is usually the pie master (she makes 3 of them every Thanksgiving for all of us to consume), I thought it’d be mighty swell of me to pay her back, a little bit, for all her years of rolling dough and toting pies across two states. That way, we’re not sitting around here with fresh cherry pie staring us in the face, calling to us from the kitchen, and truthfully, making it difficult to see straight, let alone get anything accomplished.

It’s really a win-win situation: I get pie, I get to see Cheryl & Luke, I get to, weather-permitting, play on their boat and doggy-paddle around the lake, and in sharing, I don’t have to stuff my face with all 8 slices of this beast. Wait a cotton-pickin’ second… maybe that’s not such a bad thing after all! Over the next few hours, I’m really gonna have to sit down and think through this whole sharing business – they’d never know, would they?

Cherry Pie with Lattice Crust
Adapted from Bon Appetit, June 2008, via Epicurious; serves 8

since this pie hasn’t been eaten yet, i can’t vouch for the taste of it, but reviews of the original recipe were stellar. this is a GREAT pie recipe, and because i think cherry and vanilla belong together, i did double up on the extract. also, i don’t believe in pie crust without shortening AND butter, so that change was made too. the crust itself was the best smelling crust i’ve ever smelled in the oven, with plenty of butter and shortening, which i think is key to a good crust. the lattice topping might look hard, but i’ll be honest and admit it really wasn’t (i probably should have continued to make you think it was hard, huh?!). i found an awesome tutorial from the Simply Recipes blog and would suggest you use that as well, unless you’re already “in the know”.

printable version

ingredients
crust
2 1/2 c all purpose flour
1 T sugar
3/4 t salt
1 stick (8 T or 1/2 c) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
8 T (1/2 c) chilled vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
7+ T ice water

filling
1 c granulated sugar
3 T arrowroot powder*
1/4 t salt
5 c whole, pitted, dark, sweet cherries (~2 lbs)
3 T lemon juice
1 t vanilla extract
1 T (about) milk
1 T turbinado, or “raw” sugar**

instructions
crust
pulse flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor to blend. Add butter and shortening and pulse repeatedly until small pea-size clumps form. Add 7 T ice water and pulse until dough holds together when small pieces are pressed between fingertips, adding more water by teaspoonfuls if dough is dry. (alternatively, this can be done by hand or using a pastry blender, but it’s gonna take longer!) Gather dough together; divide into 2 pieces. Form each piece into ball, then flatten into disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes or until needed. (You can keep it in the fridge for 2 days, or even freeze it and let thaw overnight. But, let it sit out for a few minutes to soften before you are ready to roll it out.)

filling
position rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 425 F. Whisk 1 cup sugar, arrowroot powder, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Stir in cherries, lemon juice, and vanilla; set aside.

roll out 1 dough disk on floured surface to 12-inch round (i like to roll mine out on the plastic wrap it was refrigerated in so i can more easily transfer it and not worry about the dough sticking to the counter). Transfer to 9-inch glass pie dish, making sure to push dough to bottom edges of dish. Trim dough overhang to 1/2 inch. Roll out second dough disk on floured surface to 12-inch round. Using large knife or pastry wheel with fluted edge, cut as many strips from dough round as you want for your filling (I think i did 12). Transfer filling to dough-lined dish, mounding slightly in center. Arrange dough strips atop filling, forming lattice (see above); trim dough strip overhang to 1/2 inch. Fold bottom crust up over ends of strips and crimp edges to seal. Brush lattice crust with milk. Sprinkle lattice with turbinado sugar.

Place pie on rimmed baking sheet and bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375 F. Bake pie until filling is bubbling and crust is golden brown, covering edges with foil collar if browning too quickly, about 1 hour longer. Transfer pie to rack and cool completely. Cut into wedges and serve.

*arrowroot powder is similar to cornstarch in that it’s a thickener, but it’s much better for pies because it’s more clear, thus your pies will be prettier if you use it. also, if you ever make pies to freeze, arrowroot holds up to freezing while cornstarch dosen’t. the down side? it costs a little more and is harder to find. i got mine at Penzey’s, but you can also find it at The Spice House (Chicago area for both) or online.

**turbinado sugar is great for pie toppings because the crystals are bigger than granulated. if you don’t have it, you can certainly use regular sugar.

Something Else to Root For

root vegetables


Allow me to introduce you to a new friend of mine. A new kind of pie. And I’m not talking about some weird combination that you’ve never tried in a dessert pie. Although I did find a recipe for a red wine and pear pie that I need an excuse to make. But seriously. Savory pie. Oh yeah – that’s it. You know what time it is. Now, you may be skeptical. And you may be even more skeptical when I tell you that the pie was full of root vegetables – specifically the subtype with taproots. Meaning – rutabaga, turnip, parsnip, carrot, celeriac. At this point, you may be about to head your little mouse (or finger if you are the laptop kind) to the back button. Don’t be so fast to leave. I almost did the same thing. In fact, I did. It took me a couple of smaller likable root veggie dishes (like a rutabaga & potato mash) to even consider giving this a chance. Would it help if I told you that this particular friend of mine has a particularly starchy accessory with ingredients including butter & buttermilk? No? What if I added the earthy, woodsy, almost minty herb, rosemary? Now you’re hooked eh? Thought that might do it.


baked veggies

I should warn you – this dish is not a “throw together during the week” dish. It’s gonna take some time, a little knife skill, a good peeler (unless, unlike me, you can peel with a knife without paring away half of the inside while still managing to leave peel intact), and some good tunes in the background. You’d like a recommendation? Ok…. try the new Chris Isaak album, Mr Lucky. Nice and chill, a little jazzy, great background music. It also helps if you have a good husband or wife, or even friend around to help with the peeling. Mine suddenly realized how much fun it was to surf the web when I asked. But that’s ok – I strangely enjoy coming home from work and working in the kitchen. Peeling vegetables. Even washing a few dishes. Especially with a nice glass of wine waiting. Which it was. I even peeled some veggies and did the first part the night before, while I was making Friday night’s dinner. Not a bad idea either.

biscuit addition
So, without further adieu – Friend, meet Root Veggie & Mushroom Pie. Root Veggie & Mushroom Pie, meet Friend. Oh, and the sidekick – Rosemary Biscuit Topping. How could I forget?!


all done

Root Vegetable & Mushroom Pie w/ Rosemary Biscuit Topping
Adapted from Bon Appetit magazine; serves 8 as meal, 10-12 as side dish


So, what might I do differently if I made this dish again? This dish has proven to me that I am not a huge fan of celery root. I’d leave that big honkin’ thing out and add another rutabaga. But if you like celery root, by all means leave that thing in there. One piece of advice – I’d highly recommend that you put a ridged baking sheet underneath the baking dish. This dish will practically pop out of the baking dish while in the oven, especially after the biscuits are placed atop. Unless you want a house full of smoke, put the tray underneath. Not that that happened, or anything. But just that it might :). Oh, and if you do have this as a main dish, all you need in addition is a small side salad such as arugula with shaved parmesano-reggiano and champagne-lemon vinaigrette.



ingredients

Filling:
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons vegetarian bouillon base
  • 2 very large carrots, peeled, quartered lengthwise, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 large celery root (celeriac), peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 large parsnips, peeled, quartered lengthwise, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 large rutabaga, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 turnip, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms,* broken into 1/2-inch pieces, rinsed
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 cups chopped onions
  • 4 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons imported dry Sherry
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

Biscuits:
  • 2 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter, diced
  • 1 1/3 cups (or more) chilled buttermilk

instructions

 

For filling:
Bring 6 cups water and bouillon base to boil in large pot over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve bouillon. Add carrots and next 5 ingredients. Simmer until vegetables are tender, about 7 minutes. Drain; reserve vegetables and broth.

Melt butter in same pot over medium heat. Add onions; sauté until beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Mix in garlic and rosemary; stir 2 minutes. Add flour; stir 1 minute. Gradually whisk in reserved broth, then cream and Sherry. Cook until sauce is thick and reduced to 4 cups, whisking often, about 8 minutes. Mix in reserved vegetables and parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer filling to buttered 13x9x2-inch baking dish. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover with foil; chill.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Bake filling, covered, until bubbling, about 50 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare biscuits.

For biscuits:
 

Stir first 4 ingredients in large bowl to blend. Add butter. Using fingertips, rub in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Gradually add 1 1/3 cups buttermilk, tossing with fork until dough is evenly moistened and adding more buttermilk by tablespoonfuls if dry.

Drop biscuit dough atop hot filling by heaping tablespoonfuls; sprinkle with pepper. Bake uncovered until tester inserted into center of biscuits comes out clean, about 45 minutes.

 Cool 15 minutes. Then dig in.