Tag Archives: pie crust

Steak and Blue Cheese Hand Pies

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A hand pie, I will have you know, is when you put fillings in little circles of pie crust, fold it over, and then bake it like a turnover.  In Michigan, we call these pasties (that’s pronounced PAHS-ties, as opposed to PAYS-ties, and you are all filthy if you thought the other thing).

Oh wait. First I want to address the fact that neither Sue nor I have written a blog post since July.  Well, we have the following to say for ourselves: we were busy, and apologize for the long delay. I CAN say that we cooked many interesting things while we’ve been away, including peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with potato chips on it, a Christmas yule log, crab jambalaya WITH CRABS THAT I MYSELF CAUGHT FROM THE OCEAN, KILLED* AND CLEANED, a turducken and a devil’s food cake, but we didn’t blog about any of it. (Hint on the PB&J: you put the chips right on the sandwich!!!)

*I didn’t kill them, my boyfriend did. Crabs are a lot harder to kill than you’d think, and also if, say, you try to kill one and just piss it off instead, it gets verrrrry fighty.

So, hand pies/pasties, which are basically the same thing. Pasties originated in Cornwall, and arrived in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan with Cornish immigrants who came for the UP copper mining.  They can be filled with savory or sweet things, though traditionally it would be beef and root vegetables.  The crust is a traditional shortcrust pastry, a basic pie crust with a 1:2 fat to flour ratio. We filled ours with some leftover jerk chicken, and made some with steak, blue cheese and caramelized onion. That’s the recipe I’ll post, because it’s going to make you cry, it’s so good. This recipe makes about 7 hand pies.

Crust:

2 cups flour

1 cup cold butter, diced

3/4 cup very cold vodka

1 tsp salt

Egg wash (whisk together one egg with 2 tsp of cold water and set aside)

Filling:

1 lb or so of sirloin steak, salted and peppered on both sides

1 yellow onion, diced

2 tbsp butter

1/4 cup wine, any kind will do

salt and pepper

blue cheese

Method:  In a food processor, pulse the flour, salt and butter until the mixture is grainy like sand. Drop in the cold vodka about a teaspoon at a time until the mixture JUST holds together. DO NOT OVERMIX. Remove the dough from the food processor, shape it into a ball, wrap it in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. This resting process is extremely important and I think has something to do with gluten but I forget, so just do it, or else watch this video.  Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees.

While the dough is resting in the fridge and the oven is pre-heating, make the filling.  In a cast iron pan on medium-high heat, melt 1 tbsp of butter and sear the steak for 2-3 minutes per side, then remove to a plate and let rest. In the same pan but heat reduced to medium, melt the remaining tbsp of butter and cook the onions until browned and even lightly charred, scraping up all the delicious beef bits.

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After maybe 6 or 7 minutes, deglaze the pan with whatever wine you have and cook until the liquid is absorbed, then turn off the heat. Dice the steak into cute little bite sized pieces.

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good luck not eating this before you put it in the hand pies.

After resting and preparing the filling, unwrap the dough, separate it into as many balls as you want to have hand pies (we  made 7 with this amount of dough), and on a lightly floured work surface, roll each dough ball out into a  little circle.

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my boyfriend ends up doing most of the gnarly jobs. rolling out dough, killing crabs, etc.

Pile a little steak, a little onions and some blue cheese bits onto the circles, fold them over into a half moon shape, pinch the ends together with your fingers (or use the tines of a fork to crimp them) and lay them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush them with egg wash and bake them for 20-25 minutes or until browned.

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egg wash SEEMS stupid and pointless, but it gets the crust all brown and delicious. a good idea would be to feed the leftover egg wash to your dog. i bet he would like it.

You can reheat these in the oven as long as they last, which will be zero days. I took these to work for lunch and I didn’t heat them up, I just kept it on my desk so when I ate it it was room temperature and the crust was crisp and fantastic and I wish I still had some of these but I don’t because we ate them all. Also, MAY I SUGGEST eating the steak ones with a little dollop of raspberry jam. Good GOD they’re delicious.

– Cat

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Filed under Appetizers, Baked Goods, Meat, Recipes

Strawberry & Balsamic Galette

You  know when you were a kid, and every day at dinner your mom would be trying to feed you meatloaf or tuna casserole* or some other real horror, and you’d say “when I’m an adult I’m going to eat candy for dinner and stay up all night playing Sonic the Hedgehog, and instead of going to school I’m going to found a pirate colony in the backyard”?  It’s a shame that now, as an adult, I have evenings where I eat a sensible dinner made up of vegetables and lean protein followed by a piece of dark chocolate (Antioxidants! Moderation! PHOOEY!), then fold laundry and go to bed early.  My child-self would be appalled, not to mention seriously bored.

*I would like to issue an apology to my mother because she was right about meatloaf being good, but also demand one from her because she was NOT RIGHT about tuna casserole being good.  When is hot mayonnaise a good idea?  Oh!  Maybe when you put peas in it.  Blech.

*Note from Sue-I love tuna noodle casserole AND hot mayo, I think it’s fair to say we all just hate the cream of whatever soup. Mmmm hot mayo dips.

So, I made a strawberry galette for dinner.  BECAUSE I CAN.

For the crust:

1 1/2 cups flour

1 tbsp powdered sugar

pinch of salt

1/2 cup cold butter, diced

1-3 tbsp ice cold water

Method: Pulse the dry ingredients in a food processor until combined.  Add the butter and pulse until the dough forms a thick crumbly mess.

any recipe where the butter can be cold is a recipe i can get behind.

this was much sandier and finer than the recipe led me to believe.

Add the water a tablespoon at a time, pulsing very briefly between, until the dough JUST holds together.  Smush the dough into a big disc, wrap it in plastic wrap and let it rest in the fridge for an hour.

don’t smush it too much, though, because it’ll get chewy instead of flaky.

For the filling:

2 cups  fresh strawberries, quartered

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp honey

1 tsp brown sugar

1 tsp corn starch

Method: Mix strawberries with vinegar and honey and let sit for an hour or so.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thick circle.

someday maybe i’ll get a rolling pin. until then, there’s metal waterbottles!

Lay the dough on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet.  Sprinkle the brown sugar/cornstarch mixture around the whole circle, about 1/2 inch from the edges.  Strain the strawberries, reserving the liquid. Arrange the strawberries, artfully, this isn’t a hoedown, and fold over the edges of the galette.

ARTFULLY.

Bake the galette until golden brown and bubbly, about 40-45 minutes.  Let it REALLY cool until you cut it, or the strawberries won’t have had a chance to solidify and you’ll have a runny, sad mess.   In the meantime, pop the reserved strawberry liquid into a small saucepan and reduce it by half or so, until it’s thick.  To serve the galette, cut it into pretty slices and drizzle it with the sauce. I didn’t photograph the sauce, because I took this picture at 7am.  But I did eat it for dinner and it was fantastic.  The strawberries cook down into concentrated strawberry perfection.  You know when you eat a strawberry, and it’s sublime and transcends the way that normal strawberries taste to become a sort of strawberry archetype, informing your opinion forever on what a strawberry SHOULD taste like?  This is like that.  Also, the crust baked perfectly- crispy on the bottom and flaky and buttery. Plus, look how attractive it is.  This is the kind of thing that people who live in Italian villas whip up when they have visitors and then eat while drinking chilled wine from the estate on a stone patio at sunset.

And let me say: DO NOT SKIP the sauce.  You want the sauce.  Really.  Trust me.

– Cat

pretty, huh.

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Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken pot pie is a bit of a production, but it’s worth every ounce of effort. You have to make a pie crust, roast chicken, make the filling, and then assemble the pie. It’s quite an ordeal, but it’s fantastic. Of course, there are a lot of cheater methods for chicken pot pie including buying pre-made pie crust, or even puff pastry. You can substitute cream of chicken soup instead of making the filling from scratch. You can even use biscuits as a topping…but I’m telling you right now, if you make it my way, you won’t regret it. In fact, if you have someone you want to impress (a boyfriend or girlfriend by chance) you might want to consider making this for them. This was one of the first meals I made for my boyfriend, and I’m fairly confident it sealed the deal for me.

Classically, chicken pot pie is a cream based filling with chicken, carrots, onions, celery, peas, and potatoes; which is exactly how I make mine. Many recipes add things like mushrooms (which I do love, but my boyfriend doesn’t), bell peppers, and even green beans. Bells peppers and my stomach don’t get along, and I think there is no worse crime than an overcooked mushy green bean, but you can add whatever you like. If you want to add or omit any vegetables in this recipe, you can do it without making any adjustment.

Now, there are a few things I should tell you about this recipe:

–          This is a recipe for a full double pie crust. Depending on how you make your final product you might have left over. If you have left over you can roll out an extra pie crust and freeze it in a disposable pie tin for use later.

–          This recipe makes more than enough filling. My boyfriend calls it “chicken stew” and he loves to eat it alone as much as he loves it in pie form.

–          This can be made in various ways: In a pie plate with both a top and a bottom crust, in a pie plate with just a top crust, or in ramekins or small crocks topped with crust.

–          I made the original in the traditional way with a top and a bottom crust in a pie plate. With the leftovers for picture (and round two eating) purposes I made a small one in a ramekin. One was prettier, but they were both equally delicious.

The filling for this recipe is my own, but the pie crust recipe comes from America’s Test Kitchen.  I have a number of different pie crust recipes under my belt (including the secret family recipe), but this one was excellent for this dish.

Pie Crust Ingredients:

2-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons sugar (I left this out since I was doing a savory preparation and this dough is quite sweet)
12 tablespoons (1-1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into 4 pieces
1/4 cup cold vodka  (Don’t skip this, see the note at the bottom of the post)
1/4 cup cold water

1 egg, for egg wash

Pie crust method:

Process 1½ cups flour, salt and sugar in food processor until combined, about two 1-second pulses. Add butter and shortening, and process until homogenous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 15 seconds (dough will resemble cottage cheese curds, and there should be no un-coated flour). Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add remaining cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into medium bowl.

Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Divide dough into two even balls and flatten each into a 4-inch disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.

Filling (a.k.a. Chicken stew) ingredients:

1 ½ to 2 lbs of chicken, roasted  and diced (or shredded) *See notes at bottom*

1 onion, diced

1 Tbs olive oil

4 Tbs butter

¾ cup flour

4 cups (1 box) chicken stock

2 large carrots, peeled and sliced into ¼” rounds

2 large stalks celery, slice into ¼” pieces

1 medium to large russet potato, diced and par boiled

1/3 cup frozen peas

1 Tbs Better Than Bouillon chicken flavor, or 1 bouillon cube

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

¼ cup heavy cream or ½ and ½

Filling method:

Preheat oven to 350.

In a large pot or sauce pan heat olive oil and sauté onions over medium heat until translucent. Add butter and let it melt. Add flour and whisk into butter and onions, cook over medium heat until a thick paste has formed and has started to lightly brown, about 2 minutes.

Whisk in chicken stock and bullion, bring to a boil. The sauce should be significantly thickened, turn heat back down to medium and add the carrots and celery, and chicken. Cook for about 10 minutes until the carrots and celery have begun to soften. Add peas and potatoes and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes. Add a generous amount of salt and pepper, about a tsp. each, or more to taste. Whisk in heavy cream and remove from heat.

Chicken Pot Pie assembly:

For full crust: Assemble the bottom crust of the pie and rub with butter (yes, more butter, but this will help the crust from becoming soggy).  Add the filling and top with an additional crust. Crimp edges.  And cut 3-4 vents in the top. Whisk one egg and brush lightly over the entire crust. Sprinkle lightly with coarse salt and ground pepper.  Bake at 350 for 45-55 minutes or until top is golden brown and the filling is bubbling

For individual pot pies: Spoon filling into 4-6 ovenproof bowls (depending on their size). Roll out dough and cut into strips to create a lattice top, or cut into rounds large enough to drape over the edge of each bowl.  Brush the edge of the bowls with egg wash and top with crust. If you are using rounds, cut 2 vents in each. Brush the tops with egg wash and sprinkle lightly with coarse salt and ground pepper. Bake at 350 for 18-25 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the filling is bubbling.

A few notes:

You can buy roasted chicken, or roast your own. I used two large bone-in chicken breasts with skin on. I like to buy skin on because it keeps the breasts moist. My method is to rub each breast with olive oil, place them in a roasting pan skin side up and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Roast at 375 for about 35 minutes until they are cooked through and have an internal temperature of at least 170 degrees. Let the chicken cool , then remove the meat from the bones and discard the skin, cut into a large dice.

Vodka in pie crust?! No, I’m not crazy. There is some science behind this.  Essentially the alcohol adds moisture without aiding in gluten formation, because gluten does not form in alcohol. For good flaky pie crust you want layers of fat and layers of gluten, and much of this is achieved by using cold ingredients and not allowing too much gluten to form too quickly. One other note- don’t skip that step about folding in the water/vodka, it makes a HUGE difference, trust me. There are a LOT of things I have learned about dough making over the past few years, but that’s a whole different post.

-Sue

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Filed under Baked Goods, Meat, Poultry, Recipes