Thursday, January 19, 2012

Chicken and Kale Hand Pies with Cheddar Crust

Wow. I didn't mean to be away from here for so long. I've been busy proofing books about existentialism (who am I? what is my purpose? If a cook swears in the kitchen and no one is there to hear it...), and while I know this sounds lame, still recovering from Christmas. From Dec. 16 until now we have passed sickness around in this house and, well, that REALLY threw things off schedule. There were a couple of attempted recipes, that while they weren't flops, they were just so much trouble that I'm not making 'em again and I would feel guilty sending you into the kitchen only to come out two hours later with six mini-potpies and a sink full of dirty dishes. I have your best interests at heart.

These hand pies are a different story though. They require a little effort but are terribly delicious. Flaky and savory. Easily made in advance and then popped in the oven while you read Go, Dog, Go for the 65th time today.

I made these more kid-friendly by saving out some of the plain cooked chicken and baking the leftover pastry scraps and there were no complaints. The recipe offers to let you cheat and use store crust and just add a little cheddar to the filling, but I really encourage you to make the crust in the recipe. It really put this dish over the top.

As always, we are adaptable around here and since I didn't have leeks I substituted shallots and I used curly kale instead of the black kale. I thought about making them even smaller, more appetizer size, but then I felt like they were rich and hearty and the bigger size suited them.

I love this funky blue plate that belonged to my husband's grandmother.

barely adapted from Everyday Food


Flaky Pie Dough, recipe doubled with one cup shredded cheddar added in with the flour
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 leek (white and light-green parts only), halved lengthwise, cut crosswise 1/4 inch thick, and rinsed well; OR 1/4 cup finely chopped shallot
1 small bunch black (Tuscan) kale, tough stems removed, coarsely chopped (I used 2 cups coarse chopped curly kale)
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, leaves or a pinch of dried thyme
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup cooked chicken, torn into bite-size pieces (about 5 ounces)
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Divide dough in half. On a floured sheet of parchment paper, roll out one half to a 14-inch round. With a knife or biscuit cutter, cut out six 4 1/4-inch circles (rerolling dough once if necessary)(don't have a cutter that big? I used the lid of a Crisco can but you could use a small saucer or bowl as well) and transfer, on parchment, to a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, cutting out six (larger) 4 1/2-inch rounds. Chill rounds on sheet until ready to use.

In a large skillet, melt butter over medium-high. Add leek, or shallot and cook, stirring, until soft, 3 minutes. Add kale and thyme, season with salt and pepper, and cook until kale wilts, 3 minutes. Sprinkle flour over mixture and stir to combine. Add broth and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring often, until mixture thickens, 2 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl, season with salt and pepper, and stir in chicken. Let cool slightly.

Place a heaping 1/4 cup chicken mixture on each of the smaller dough rounds, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Brush edges with egg and top with larger dough rounds; using fingers, press edges firmly to seal. Cut a small vent in each pie. Bake until browned and crisp, 30 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through. Let cool slightly on sheets on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

You could easily make these in advance and keep them, covered, in the fridge. I would add a couple of minutes of cook time if you do. You could also freeze these unbaked and then bake from frozen adding about 10 minutes to the cooking time; or, freeze these already baked and just warm through. 

Friday, January 06, 2012

Zuppa Toscana

I know that this is the time of year when the gym parking lot is full and not a drop of fat or refined sugar touches the lips, so you probably don't want to hear about a soup that contains sausage, bacon, and cream :0) but  this soup was eyes-rolling-into-the-back-of-my-head delicious!

I made half the recipe which would easily serve 6 people and I used leftover collard greens instead of kale, which I chopped up very finely so as to not to alarm the little people that there were greens in their soup.

Zuppa Toscana

2 pounds Italian sausage, removed from casings
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chopped onion
4 slices bacon, diced
4 large russet potatoes, washed, quartered & sliced thin
10 cups chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
4 cups Kale, washed & chopped
S&P, to taste

1 loaf sourdough French bread, for serving
1/2 cup fresh Parmesan cheese, for serving

In a large soup pot, brown Italian sausage. Drain fat and add onion and red pepper flakes and continue to sauté until onion is translucent, but not browned.

In a small skillet, fry bacon until crisp, then stir in garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds. Remove from heat immediately. Add bacon mixture to sausage mixture, then add the chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a medium simmer.

Add potatoes and cook until tender (about 20 minutes).

Stir in cream and continue to simmer (do not boil) for an additional 10 minutes. Stir in kale and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot with French bread and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Blackeyed Pea Soup with Sausage

New Year's Day, more than any other holiday, carries a lot of superstitions with it. Taking your Christmas decorations down by January 6. Having a clean house before New Year's Day. Doing all your laundry. Making loud noises at midnight to scare off evil spirits trying to weasel their way into the new year. It goes on and on. Even the name "January" has a mythical meaning. Janus was the Roman god of transitions with two faces, one looking forward to the future and one looking back to the past. Fitting for the month of January, right?

I do not consider myself an overly superstitious person. You are not going to find me skipping cracks (love you, mom!) or changing my course to avoid a black cat (here kitty, kitty). In the South, however, it is an absolute given that you should eat black-eyed peas and some kind of greens (collards, cabbage, mustard, or kale) on New Year's Day for luck and prosperity and I do not skip it! We have eaten 'em even if it is just a nibble of  a leaf and a bite of peas from a can! I'm not sure about the origins of this superstition and I feel like Shirley McClaine in Steel Magnolias when she was asked why she grew tomatoes if she hated eating them, "I am an old Southern woman. It is my obligation to wear funny hats and grow tomatoes." I do know that with the world becoming more and more homegenized every day I do like participating in something that is regional and unique to the area I live in.

I am a lazy, lazy woman between Christmas and New Year's. I like to play with my new toys and just not do much, which is why I am often eating a spoonful peas straight from the can on New Year's Day. This year I managed to get organized enough to find this recipe. Wham! Bam! all my prosperity and good luck in one dish!

Blackeyed Pea Soup with Sausage
adapted from janedeereblog

I used a 12 ounce bag of fresh black-eyed peas for this thinking that an hour would be enough to cook them, but I think they should have cooked the whole 2-3 hours to be softer. I also love slow-stewed collards so I added them after the first hour of cooking. There are instructions on the janedeere blog to make this in the slow cooker.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 cup diced celery
1 (12 ounce) package fully cooked Andouille or smoked sausage links, chopped
10 cups chicken stock
1 (16 ounce) bag dried blackeyed peas, picked through, rinsed and drained
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
Optional: 4 cups collard, mustard or kale greens, cleaned and coarsely chopped

In a dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Cook onions and celery until softened. Add sausage and sauté until heated through. Stir in garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds to 1 minute – do not brown. Add chicken stock and black-eyed peas to the pot. Bring to a boil; cover and reduce heat to simmer. Allow to cook on low until peas are cooked, about 2 to 3 hours, adding the collard greens after the first hour. Add vinegar, red pepper flakes, thyme and salt and pepper to taste.