Archive for October, 2011

Pot Pie Crumble

With a sick, lethargic toddler at my side, I was struggling to whip up a quick dinner for FHE and myself.  (I knew Rice Kernel wouldn’t be eating with us.)  Not in the mood for FHE’s go-to, quick stirfry, I opened the fridge and found half a roasted chicken.  Pot pie, right?  That was my first thought.  But I wasn’t too interested in preparing and rolling out a crust.  I recalled this “crumble” concept and decided to give it a whirl. 

The parmesan-flour crust (almost biscuit-like) is an addictive and unexpected savory twist on the traditional pie crust.  It comes together quickly and leftovers make delicious soup-dippers.  Crunchy and savory, it’s a great way to soak up the creamy pie filling.

Pot Pie Crumble, inspired by Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

1 recipe, lightened chicken pot pie filling, here

Crumble Topping Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour (or white whole wheat or half whole wheat, half AP)
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
6 tablespoons butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and chilled
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup heavy cream (I used low-fat milk)

  1. Prepare chicken pot pie filling.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Sprinkle the chilled butter pieces over the top of the flour. Using your fingers or a pastry cutter, rub the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the Parmesan cheese. Add the cream and stir until just combined. Crumble the mixture into irregularly shaped pieces onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake the crumble topping until fragrant and starting to brown, about 15 minutes, tossing halfway through. Set aside.
  4. Pour the filling mixture into a 9×13 pan. Scatter the crumble topping evenly over the filling. Place the 9X13-inch pan on a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees until the topping is well browned, about 15-20 minutes. Let the casserole stand for 10 minutes before serving

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Baked Potato Wedges

I’m embarassed/shocked this is a recipe – so simple to prepare, it’s one of the best side dishes (or snacks!) I know.  A healthier, more substantial cousin of the french fry, no one can resist these!

Baked Potato Wedges, from Ina Garten


4 large baking potatoes, unpeeled
4 tablespoons good olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic, optional
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves (optional – or any other herb)

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Scrub the potatoes, cut them in half lengthwise, then cut each half in thirds lengthwise. You’ll have 6 long wedges from each potato. Place the potatoes on a sheet pan with the olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, and rosemary. With clean hands, toss all the ingredients together, making sure the potatoes are covered with oil. Spread the potatoes in a single layer with 1 cut-side down.
  3. Bake the potatoes for 30 to 35 minutes, turning to the other cut side after 20 minutes. Bake until they are lightly browned, crisp outside, and tender inside. Sprinkle with salt and serve

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This relish has an appetizing tang, kick, and sweetness.  Great with chips, but even better with chicken or fish and sandwiched in a taco.
Corn-Jalapeno Relish, adapted from Better Homes and Garden
2 tablespoons jalapeno pepper jelly
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
2 cups frozen or cooked, fresh corn
1/2 medium onion, chopped, cooked
3/4 cup chopped red sweet pepper, cooked
1/4 cup finely chopped green onions (optional)
1 fresh jalapeno pepper, finely chopped (optional)
  1. In small saucepan stir together pepper jelly, lime juice, chili powder, and cumin. Cook and stir until jelly is melted and mixture is bubbly.
  2. Stir in corn, sweet pepper, green onions, and fresh jalapeno (if using). Cook and stir just until heated through. Season with salt. Serve warm.
  3. Makes 2-3/4 cups relish.

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One morning I came across an article on Ina Garten discussing Thanksgiving.  Ina confessed she was not the biggest fan of pumpkin pie.  Sharing her feelings, I kept reading.  At the end, she offered this recipe – an individual pumpkin cake.  With a list of fairly wholesome ingredients (and no butter – a shocker for Ina, I think), I decided to give it a shot. 

This recipe has all the hallmarks of pumpkin pie – it tastes almost like the real thing, except it has the texture of a cake.  There is a scant amount of flour to bind the overwhelmingly liquid batter.  And the result is an extremely moist, custard-like cake.  I found the cake to be plenty sweet and satisfying without the maple frosting, so our version has a few crushed pecans and Health chips.  While I can’t say our family will tolerate a holiday table with a pie, this is great use-up for all that leftover canned or fresh pumpkin.

Pumpkin Cupcakes, from Ina Garten


1 cup all-purpose flour or white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup canned pumpkin purée (8 ounces), not pie filling
1/2 cup granulated sugar (or 1/4-1/3 for less sweet)
1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 cup vegetable oil
Maple Frosting (recipe follows)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush or spray the top of 10 muffin tins with vegetable oil and line them with 10 paper liners.
  2. Into a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. In a larger bowl, whisk together the eggs, pumpkin purée, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vegetable oil. Add the flour mixture and stir until combined.
  3. Divide the batter among the prepared tins (I use a level 2 1/4-inch ice cream scoop) and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Set aside to cool completely.
  4. Spread the cupcakes with the Maple Frosting

Maple Frosting

6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon Natural Maple Flavor
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the cream cheese and butter on low speed until smooth. Stir in the maple flavoring and vanilla extract. With the mixer still on low, slowly add the confectioners’ sugar and mix until smooth.

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Beef Stew

As simple and rustic as this looks, nothing says comfort for my husband like a bowl of steamy stew, with chunks of vegetables and meat suspended in a thick, savory gravy.

Beef Stew, from Epicurious


3 1/2 pounds well-marbled beef chuck, trimmed of excess fat, cut into 2-inch pieces
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 large Spanish onion, chopped
2 cups soft, dry red wine, such as Merlot
4 thyme sprigs
4 plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped
4 medium carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon coriander seeds and 1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds, tied in cheesecloth
1 quart beef stock or low-sodium broth
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound white mushrooms, quartered
1 cup water
1 pound turnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch dice or potatoes
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 cups kale or collard greens

  1. Season the meat with salt and pepper. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil until it is shimmering. Add half of the beef and cook over moderately high heat until the meat is browned all over, about 12 minutes. Transfer the meat to a large, shallow bowl. Repeat with the remaining vegetable oil and meat.
  2. Add the garlic and onion to the casserole and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 minutes. Return the meat and any accumulated juices to the casserole. Add the wine and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Add the thyme, tomatoes, carrots, bay leaf, spice bag and stock and bring to a boil. Cover partially and simmer over low heat until the meat is tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Let cool, then refrigerate overnight.
  3. Cover the stew and rewarm it over low heat. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large skillet. Add the quartered mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and cook over moderately low heat until they release their liquid, about 6 minutes. Pour 2 tablespoons of the liquid into a small bowl and let cool. Cook the mushrooms over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until they are browned, about 6 minutes longer. Add the mushrooms to the stew.
  4. Return the large skillet to moderate heat. Add the water and turnips and season with salt. Cover the skillet and cook the collard greens/kale and turnips over moderate heat until they are just fork-tender, about 5 minutes. Add the turnips to the stew. Discard the thyme sprigs, bay leaf and the spice bag.
  5. Whisk the flour into the reserved mushroom liquid to form a paste. When the stew comes to a simmer, stir 1/2 cup of the sauce into the paste until blended. Stir the paste into the stew and bring to a boil. Simmer the stew over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until the sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. Season the stew with salt and pepper, stir in the parsley and serve.

Make Ahead The beef stew can be covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Bring the stew to room temperature and reheat gently before serving. Serve With Buttered noodles

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