Thursday, September 27, 2012

Chicken Pot Pie Sandwiches

My sense of timing is a little off.
It always has been.
I've ruined many a good joke with an ill-timed punch line.
If a traffic light is green, rest assured, it will turn red as my car approaches.  

True to form, right in the middle of the most hectic, over-scheduled week, I get a craving for my favorite comfort food, chicken pot pie,
But a homemade pie crust is just not in my cards this week.

Fortunately, I had a culinary epiphany as I was eyeing the morning pastries at Crossroads Bake Shop in Doylestown. 
A flaky croissant would be a nice stand-in for pie crust.
A handful of vegetables and a grated onion cook up in just 15 minutes.
Melting butter in the same veggie pan makes this a one pot meal. This is especially appealing if you are the one who does the dishes.
A little flour.....a little stirring.....and a roux is born!
Pour in some chicken stock and cook until thickened.  We are at the finish line.  Add some leftover chicken.....
And make a sandwich.  Sit.  Eat.  Be comforted.....but not for too long, Back-to-School night begins in 10 minutes.
Crossroads Bake Shop is an artisan bakery with bread that is so amazing, it will eliminate the words 'low carb diet' from your vocabulary. They frequently feature local ingredients and bake with the seasons.  I love the fact that this bakery does not use artificial food coloring. Be sure to check them out if you are in the Doylestown area.  They are open every day except Monday.

Chicken Pot Pie Sandwiches
Print This Recipe!
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped celery, plus 2 teaspoons celery leaves
1 small yellow onion, grated
salt and pepper to taste
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken stock or broth
4 cups cooked chicken, shredded
4 croissants

Heat olive oil in a large skillet.  Add carrots, celery, and onion.  Cook 5 minutes.  Stir. Season with salt and pepper. Place a lid on the skillet and lower the heat to medium/low.  Cook until vegetables are just fork tender, about 10 minutes .  Remove lid.  Stir.  Increase heat to medium and cook vegetables until nicely browned. Remove vegetables to a plate and keep warm.

Melt butter in the same skillet over medium heat.  Whisk flour into butter until smooth.  Let cook 2 minutes.  Whisk in chicken stock until smooth.  Season with salt and pepper.  Bring sauce to a boil and cook for 2 minutes until thickened.  Reduce heat to low and add chicken and 1 tablespoon of celery leaves.  Stir.  Let cook until chicken is warmed through and coated with the sauce.  Return vegetables to the pan.  Gently stir and cook for a minute.
Divide warm chicken mixture evenly among the four croissants.  Garnish with remaining celery leaves.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Lemon Curd - My Way

Today I'm getting my British on
By whipping up a batch of lemon curd.

It takes less than 10 minutes. 
There are no complicated instructions like temper the eggs
or fancy equipment such as a bain-marie. 
There is something to be said for simple,
And local......these lovely, bright yolks are from Rick's Egg Farm in Kintnersville.  Happy, cage-free hens lay the most beautiful eggs.
I don't use egg whites in my curd.  It makes it taste 'eggy'.
I also don't use butter because I like a clean, full blown lemon flavor.
This is lemon curd, my way.

The yolks give it a velvety texture, along with a few tablespoons of milk to balance the acidity.

You will know the curd is done, when a clear track is left on your stirring utensil of choice.
Strain the curd into a bowl.  You can eat it right away.  It is already thick and luxurious, or cover and refrigerate for later.  

And what would lemon curd be without a J. Scone? Located in Doylestown, this tiny little bakery makes scones that are flaky yet tender. I can honestly say that these are the best scones I've ever eaten. 
My favorite flavor is blueberry lemon.
Lemon Curd - My Way
Print This Recipe!
4 egg yolks
zest of 1 lemon
1/3 cup lemon juice (from 3 lemons)
2/3 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
3 Tablespoons whole milk or half-and-half

  • Whisk together yolks, zest, juice, and sugar in a medium saucepan.
  • Cook over medium heat until bubbles appear around the edges, about 3-4 minutes.
  • Combine cornstarch and milk with a fork until no lumps remain.
  • Add cornstarch slurry to lemon/yolk mixture and cook, stirring, until thickened, about 3 minutes.
  • Strain into a bowl. 
Makes 1/2 cup of curd.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Flaky, Puffy Pie Crust From Scratch

Pie Crust.
It should be light and flaky.
It should have butter.
Lots of butter. 
And no shortening.
I don't do shortening.
Or lard.  It leaves a funky taste in my mouth, plus the vegetarians in my life would revolt.

Oh, and one more thing.....A pie crust should taste so good that you could eat it alone.  No filling required.
My pie crust starts with Daisy All-Purpose Flour.   I  ♥  that it is locally milled in Annville, Pennsylvania near Lancaster.  I ♥ the texture of the flour and the fact that it is organic. 

I use the food processor to make a quick pie dough,
One that stays cold. 

It has the usual ingredients...flour, salt, a smidge of sugar, and butter.  Along with some unusual ingredients like cream cheese and lemon.  The cream cheese makes the dough a breeze to roll out.  A little lemon juice helps to relax the dough.  

After the final mixing, the dough may look a little dry but it will hold together if you pinch some dough between your fingers.  
The flaky part takes a little effort but nothing too taxing. Do you trust me?
Place the dough on the counter.  It will look like a big pile of sandy pebbles.  Gather the dough and shape into a mound.
Scatter flour on the counter and roll out the pie dough. Press some butter on top of the dough but leave the bottom third butter free.
Fold the bottom of the dough up to the middle.
Fold the top of the dough down to the middle.  Fold the dough in half again. 
Roll out the dough one more time.  See the big chunks of butter? Soon it will be layer upon layer of flake.
Roll up the dough, jelly roll style, and wrap it in plastic.  Now chill-lax....both you and the dough for a few hours.
When you are ready to bake pie, cut the chilled dough in half.
Make it pretty.
You will have enough dough for two single pie crusts or one double crusted pie. 

Flaky Puffy Pie Crust
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 Tablespoons cream cheese
3/4 cup cold, unsalted butter, cubed
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 cup ice water
  • Pulse flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor.  
  • Add cream cheese, and half of the butter. Pulse a few times until coarse crumbs form.
  • Add lemon juice and water. Pulse.
  • Place dough on counter. Knead a few times and form the dough into a mound.
  • Roll out dough on a floured surface to a length of at least 14 inches. It doesn't have to be exact.  
  • Press remaining butter gently into the top 2/3 of the dough leaving a 1-inch border around the edges.  Leave the bottom third of the dough without butter.
  • Fold the bottom third of the dough up to the middle.  Fold the top half of the dough down to the middle.
  • Fold the dough in half and roll out the dough lengthwise into a a rough 16 inch rectangle.
  • Roll up the dough like a jelly roll. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour and up to a few days, or freeze for up to 3 months.

Pointers for Pie Crust Success
  • Butter and cream cheese should stay cold. Warm butter does not contribute to flake. 
  • Add only enough water for the dough to hold together.  Don't be tempted to add more because too much water leads to a heavy, dense crust. 
  • The dough needs time to relax and must be properly chilled. Don't rush the process.  Unrested dough tends to shrink when baked.
  • While you are waiting for the oven to preheat, place the pie crust in the freezer for 20 minutes.  It will be extra cold.  The slower the butter melts, the more layers of flake you will achieve.
  • To prevent a soggy crust:  Place a cookie sheet on the lowest rack of the oven.  As your oven preheats, the cookie sheet will get very hot.  When ready to bake the pie, place it directly on the hot cookie sheet  The bottom crust will begin to cook even before you put it in the oven.
  • Bake the pie in the lower third of the oven closest the heat source.  Your bottom crust will be golden brown and crisp.

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