Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Chicken Pie

While the pie bakes it smells buttery and savory; birthday smells. It’s a special dish, not something one whips up on a weeknight for fun. It’s not fast. While not particularly hard, the recipe has several steps.

That’s what it makes it special and what makes it taste of birthday – it’s trouble. There is love in that chicken pie. My mother’s hands rolling out the pastry – how many times have I watched her do that while she and I stood in the kitchen chatting. I helped or watched her cook while we talked.

1 1/2 - 2 pound chicken
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup shortening
1/4 to 1/3-cup ice water
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
4 boiled eggs
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 9x13-inch dish and set aside.

Cook the chicken in enough salted water to cover chicken until tender, but not until meat falls off the bones. Remove chicken from bones, shred into small pieces, and set aside; reserve broth.

Combine flour and salt in a large bowl. Cut in shortening and add ice water, a tablespoon at a time, until the dough forms a ball. On a lightly floured surface, roll out about half of the dough.

Cut the dough into long strips, about an inch or two wide, to line the sides of the casserole dish.

Put half of the chicken pieces over bottom of pan. Cut half of the stick of butter in small pieces and place the butter over the chicken. Layer the chicken with egg slices and salt and pepper. Top with the rest of the chicken pieces. Pour chicken broth over chicken.

Roll out the remaining dough; cut into strips and put over the top. Cut the remaining butter into small pieces and dot the pastry with the butter.

Bake about 20 minutes or until lightly browned.

Monday, January 18, 2010


It's winter and I know that because we're cooking gumbo. Jeffrey and I spend lots of Sunday afternoons in the kitchen making gumbo. We cook a big batch and freeze it. There's nothing easier than pulling it out of the freezer and cooking a pot of rice to go with it.

Chicken, Andouille and Shrimp Gumbo

· 1 pound of chicken thighs (Chicken thighs have more flavor but you can also use chicken breasts, a whole hen, or turkey.)
· 2 pounds andouille or smoked sausage, cut into 1/2" pieces (We've used smoked turkey sausage, venison sausage, in addition or instead of andouille, combinations of all three - it all works.)
· 1 cup oil
· 1 cup flour
· 2 bell peppers, chopped
· 2 white onions, chopped
· 4 ribs celery, chopped
· 3 tablespoons of minced garlic
· 2-3 quarts chicken stock
· 2 bay leaves
· 2 tablespoons Creole seasoning
· Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
· 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
· 1 bunch of green onions, tops only, chopped
· 2/3 cup fresh chopped parsley
· FilĂ© powder to taste

Season the chicken with salt and pepper and brown over medium high heat. Brown the sausage, pour off fat, and reserve meats.

In a large, heavy pot, heat the oil and cook the flour in the oil over medium to medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until the roux is almost the color you prefer – anything from peanut butter to chocolate milk to coffee will do.

Add the vegetables and stir quickly. This cooks the vegetables and also stops the roux from cooking further. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, for about 4 minutes.

Add the stock, seasonings, chicken and sausage. Bring to a boil and cook for about one hour, skimming fat off the top as needed.

Add the shrimp, chopped green onions, and parsley. Heat until shrimp is pink.

Serve over rice.

Recipe can be doubled or tripled; it freezes well.

Bread Pudding with Praline Sauce

I did a cooking demonstration over the weekend and this was the dessert I served. Everyone seemed to love it!

Bread Pudding

1 (1-pound) loaf of French bread
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/3 cup toasted chopped pecans
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Slice bread into cubes and place in a 9 1/2 x 13” baking dish. Drizzle with melted butter and top with pecans.

In a medium bowl, combine eggs, milk, sugar, and spices until well-mixed. Pour over bread, making sure all the bread cubes are soaking in the egg mixture.

Bake in preheated oven for about 50 minutes. Serve warm.

Praline Sauce
I haven't tried it yet but I bet this would be good with a slug of good bourbon added to it.

1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup chopped pecans

In a small saucepan combine brown sugar, evaporated milk, and butter over low heat. Cook and stir praline sauce until sauce is smooth, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract and pecans. Serve praline sauce warm over bread pudding or ice cream.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Tomato Canapes

Our friend, Sherrie, made these tasty little appetizers for New Year's Eve. She also made this really good salad and a delicious potato casserole. One day soon I'll post about those, too.

Tomato Canapes

These are good. Make a lot: The batch that Sherrie made disappeared in about two seconds.

3/4 cup finely diced tomatoes
2 teaspoons finely diced onions
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon The Lady's House Seasoning, recipe follows
1 package mini phyllo shells
1/2 cup packed shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup mayonnaise
4 tablespoons real bacon pieces, or more as needed (recommended: Hormel Real Bacon pieces)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the diced tomatoes in a colander. Sprinkle with the onions, basil, and House Seasoning, and toss to coat. Allow to drain, stirring occasionally. Fill each phyllo shell with a scant tablespoon of the tomato mixture. Stir together the mozzarella and mayonnaise. Frost the top of each shell with a scant tablespoon of the mozzarella mixture. Sprinkle each shell with 1/4 teaspoon of bacon pieces. Bake the filled shells for 10 to 12 minutes. Serve hot. These may be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated until serving time.

House Seasoning:

1 cup salt

1/4 cup black pepper

1/4 cup garlic powder

Mix ingredients together and store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.