Chicken (not in a pot) Pie

c5Well, summer certainly flew by. I had grand plans to stuff this blog with amazing recipes and photos of fresh summer foods made with ingredients grown locally here in the County. Alas, I failed miserably. Today, we finished processing apples for our 2016 Golden Russet Cider and I realized autumn is almost over as well. But what a beautiful few months we’ve had.

Many of my friends love autumn weather. Though I do prefer summer heat, something must be said about crisp cooler days, warm sweaters, curling up on the sofa with a soft wooly blanket, hot baths, hot teas and heartier foods. c2

A chicken pot pie is a perfect autumn meal. While dining out, I will almost always order them if I see them on the menu. It can be risky since they can be bland. Of course, I always hope they will be amazing. Sometimes I win. Sometimes I lose.

Recently, I decided to make chicken pot pie at home. You may already know I have a hard time simply following a recipe. I need to make it my own. Tweak things here, change things there. Remove any hint of blandness. This is my chicken (not in a pot) pie. Quite different from what you may be used to. And why not? 

See you again soon.

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1 package frozen puff pastry – thawed

Poached Chicken:

3 chicken breasts

2 1/2 cups tomato sauce

1 cup water

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 tbsp sugar

Filling:

1 cup brussel sprouts, quartered

1 red pepper

3 cloves of garlic

3 stalks celery

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded

1 tsp curry

1/2 cup dry apple cider

3/4 cup heavy cream

3/4  cup tomato sauce

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

2 apples

salt

pepper

2 cups grated gruyere cheese

1 egg, whisked

In a large sauce pan, Poach the chicken breasts in the tomato sauce, water, vinegar, salt and sugar until cooked through, 15-20 min. Transfer breasts to a plate and let cool, then shred them. Set aside the tomato sauce.

Finely dice the red pepper, garlic, celery and jalapeño pepper. 

In a sauce pan, sauté the vegetables along with the curry in butter and olive oil until soft, 6-7 min. Add cider, cream, tomato sauce (from poaching the chicken breasts) and vinegar. Let simmer for 10 min. Remove from heat and let cool. When cool, peel the apples and grate them into the mixture along with the shredded chicken, stir well. Season with salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 400F.

In two 9” diameter pie dishes, divide the filling equally. Add the cheese. Cut the pastry dough in two equal pieces and roll out. Place the pieces over each dish, overlapping the edge.  

Brush surface with the egg. Poke the dough with a knife a few times to allow steam to escape. Bake in the middle of the oven for 25-30 min until golden brown and puffy. Serves 6-8. c6c1c3

Mise en Place

mise6Countless were the times when I was wrapping up a dish and I’d take one last look at the recipe. Staring back at me was that one ingredient I failed to prepare. Julienned carrots, finely diced fennel or blanched pearl onions. Suddenly I was balancing between dropping that one item or, delaying the completion of the dish in order to correct my oversight. Countless were also the times I was in the middle of cooking when realizing that a vital ingredient to the dish I was making was nowhere to be found. I was certain I had had it at home. These scenarios might not always be crucial or end up a culinary disaster, however, they’re no fun.

mise4I have watched cooking shows on TV for as long as I can remember. One thing that used to annoy me was how everything was always prepared ahead of time. All the ingredients were there, within arms reach. The vegetables were chopped and diced and placed on plates. Dry ingredients pre-measured and added into cute little bowls. How tidy. How ‘mise en place’. I remember thinking it was so ridiculous. I mean, who cooks like that? Slowly but surely I became accustomed to the idea. It’s clearly done to save time and to make sure not to miss any ingredients. One day I thought, let’s try this method and see how well it works. And so I did. I brought all the ingredients out on the counter. I prepared all the vegetables and herbs according to the recipe. I chopped, sliced, diced and minced. I put everything in bowls and on plates. I measured and I weighed. Then I started cooking. 

mise1If you haven’t yet, you really should try it. Not only does it eliminate the chance of missing an ingredient, but it also slims the chance of forgetting to prepare that one ingredient, should it require julienning, dicing, or blanching. At the same time it encourages you to read through the recipe before starting, something you should always be doing no matter what you are planning on making.

Today, years later, the ‘mise’ is my best friend. There will be a few extra bowls and plates to wash up when finished, but it certainly makes cooking so much easier and much more enjoyable. 

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Orecchiette with Pork and Fresh Vegetables

p4I adore pasta. Perhaps I was Italian in a previous life? Who knows. Something I would bring to a deserted island? Definitely. It’s convenient. Something to fall back on when peeling a pot of potatoes seem like an enormous task. It comes in a large varietal of shapes and forms. I have my favourites of course. Orecchiette is being one of them. Bruno gets his fair share of pasta when I’m cooking although he is not as fond of it as I am. Don’t take me wrong, he likes it. I love it. In this recipe I use ground pork rather than ground beef. The more subtle flavours of the pork allows the other ingredients to pop. A great dish whether it’s snowing or sweltering outside. It  goes amazingly well with our Golden Russet Apple Cider!

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2 stalks celery

3 shallots

3 green onions

2 radishes

1 tbsp butter

1 tbsp olive oil

1000g ground pork

4 tbsp soya sauce

2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 1/2 tbsp white wine vinegar

1/2 cup creme fraiche

2 tsp sambal oelek (chili paste)

Ground pepper

500g pasta of your choice

Finely chop the vegetables and put aside.

In a large pot, bring water to a boil for the pasta.

In a frying pan, heat up the butter and olive oil. Fry the ground pork on medium heat until cooked. Add the soya and Worcestershire sauce along with the vinegar. Let simmer until liquid is reduced by half.

In the meantime cook the pasta until Al Dente. Drain.

Add the creme fraiche and sambal oelek along with some ground pepper to the pork and stir well. Toss with pasta, or serve separate. Sprinkle celery, radishes and green onions on top. Serves 4.p1p3p5