Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Easy as Pie????

Whoever coined the phrase, "easy as pie?"

Pie is NOT easy!

Pie is difficult!  Pie requires patience, time, money, knowledge!!!!!

I have had so many failures with pie, I could cry! 
(well, I have actually cried!)

My father adored apple pie.  I will never recover from the experience I had when I attempted
to make Martha's Mile High Apple Pie!

I was a Martha follower so whatever she said, I did!

I made this pie for my dear father and when I pulled it out of the oven, it was the most
magnificent pie you had ever seen!

I immediately took it over to my parents' home and my father ceremoniously cut the pie

the crust was way up here.....

and the pie itself was way down there.....

what a disappointment!

I had filled that pie with every apple slice on the east coast! 

There is no way those apples could have shrunk down that much!

That was a most humiliating, demoralizing, well, just plain awful day!!!!

It was also the day I realized that PIE IS NOT EASY!!!!!

I have made pies that have turned out perfectly.  Others have had a "raw" center crust.
Others have had a "shrunken" crust.  I could go on and on......

but, my main conclusion is that  PIE IS NOT EASY!

Hard Boiled Eggs

Do you like eggs?

I adore eggs!  They are such a total food!

I cannot imagine life without an omelet!

And, salads with a hard boiled egg are so......complete!

I used to boil the eggs and the result was most unsatisfactory.

There would be a blue/grey tinge to the yolk and it was most unappetizing.

I started to read up on "hard boiling eggs".

I was so not aware of all the controversy, rules, advice,!

Some articles would say to put one teaspoon of baking soda into the water which would
make the egg easy to peel.

Other articles would say to boil for twenty minutes and then let the eggs chill.

Use old eggs, use new eggs, only boil the eggs for 12 minutes, the "rules" for hard boiling
eggs goes on and on!

I finally came up with my own method for perfect hard boiled eggs:

1.  I purchase two dozen eggs.  One dozen is to be used for any cooking that I am doing just
now.  The other dozen is to "wait" til I am doing hard boiled eggs.  (that makes them "old")

2.  I then place the "old"  eggs in a pot with cold water to cover.  I place the lid on and turn heat
to a medium, watching very carefully.

3.  At the very moment the water is boiling, I  turn the gas off and let the eggs sit, covered,
in the pot.  I turn the timer to 11 minutes. 

4.  When the timer goes off, I drain the hot water from the eggs and "flush" them with cold
water and, once cool, let them set for a few minutes in the cold water.

5.  The eggs peel perfectly and the yolk is bright yellow with no tinges of blue/purple/grey.

Give this a try the next time you need to hard boil eggs!

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Chicken Pie vs. Chicken Pot Pie

Anyone residing in Central Pennsylvania is quite familiar with the Pennsylvania Dutch and the influence they have had on our local cuisine.

All you need do is say "chicken pot pie" and our eyes will glaze over as we envision a bowl of rich chicken stock, thick wonderful noodles, chicken and carrots.  A culinary delight that is the ultimate comfort food!

However, if you travel one state over or one state up, Chicken Pot Pie will be a pie, with a single or double crust.
The crust can be a savory pie crust or puff pastry, the latter being  my particular favorite.

Both of these chicken dishes have a special place in my menu repertoire.

Today I made the pie version and thought you might like to make this as well.

This is a wonderful dish to utilize leftover chicken (dark or white or combination), rotisserie chicken (what did we do before this great store-bought invention?) or prepare fresh chicken.

This recipe will feed six (6).  I poach chicken breasts for this dish.  I place the breasts in a pot and cover with cold water. Cover with a lid and bring to a boil.  Boil one minute and then turn the heat off.  Let the chicken sit for about twenty to thirty minutes.

I don't usually put celery in my chicken pies.  Also, I love carrots so I go heavy on them.  I use my own chicken stock if I have it; otherwise I use College Inn Bold Chicken Stock.  (I never ever use broth as I think it too weak)

I also do not use heavy cream in my sauce.  I prefer the lovely taste of the chicken stock and do
not want to dilute it one bit.

Chicken Pie with Puff Pastry

2 large chicken breasts, poached and shredded
4 T. butter
fresh carrots, peeled and cut in large dice (I used 6, but then I really like them!)
1 onion, small dice
2 large potatoes, peeled and cut in large dice
salt and pepper
frozen green peas,  sprinkle in at the end (I just put in enough for the color)
1/3 c. Wondra flour
3-4 cups chicken stock, may need a bit more if it gets too thick
puff pastry sheets
egg yolk

1.  In a dutch oven melt the butter.  Add the potatoes, carrots, and onions and saute til potatoes
begin to soften.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper - the amount is determined by your own personal

2.  Sprinkle the vegetables with the Wondra and stir to evenly incorporate.  Slowly add the chicken
stock, about 3 cups, stirring til smooth.  Turn heat up to bring to a boil and then lower the heat,
stirring so sauce and vegetables do not stick on bottom of pan.  The sauce should be slightly thick.
(If too thick, the pie will be dry after baking).  Put all of the chicken in the pan and stir to evenly distribute the chicken with the vegetables.

3.  Butter individual dishes  (or one large casserole).  Ladle the chicken mixture into the dishes.

4.  On a floured board, lightly roll the puff pastry sheet.  Brush the edges of the dishes with egg
yolk.  Cut the pastry to fit the dishes with an overhang and press down so the egg will cause the
pastry to adhere.  Then brush the surface of the pastry with the egg yolk.  With a knife, put a few
slits in the pastry for escaping steam.  You can also get creative now with the remaining pastry
and cut out leaves or other decorations.  Brush these with egg yolk as well.

5.  Place the dishes on a parchment lined baking sheet as they can bubble up and make a mess.
Bake in a 425 oven for 25-30 minutes, or til a lovely golden brown.

I hope you have occasion to try this and enjoy it as much as we do!