I love when it’s apple season. I think I say that every season about something. I love the changing of the seasons and the promise of something new that comes with it.
I especially love fall.
There are things to love and things to be ready to be done with no matter what season we’re in. But, after a long summer, today’s cool breeze and cloudy sky is a literal breath of fresh air. Combine that with an apple or pear, eaten out of hand, while at my desk editing photos, and that makes for quite a nice fall day.
The day I made this flatbread it was still hot and sunny. Today I want to eat all the soup.
Today is one of those fall days where it actually feels like fall. I’m wearing jeans and a sweater and am totally comfortable.
I’m also going through the photos that I took of the Chicken Pot Pie that I made the other week and drooling. We ate the leftovers for dinner last night, otherwise I’d probably be heating them up for lunch right now.
So that’s a little bit about my life.
Fall weather and Chicken Pot Pie make me happy.
So do things like my dog’s whiskers, the way the sky can turn such brilliant shades of orange and pink after the sun’s gone down, and a good Skype conversation with my dad.
I have to tell you, this particular Chicken Pot Pie recipe is one of my favorites. After tasting the sauce I yelled, “Oh my gosh!”, to no one but myself. So, I just had to share it with you.
It’s a simple pie with humble ingredients. I make this often enough, and use what I have on hand. So it can range from things like carrots, potatoes, and celery, to parsnips, squash, and peas. It feels like the kind of meal that’s been made for years and years and years, by people who at the end of the day, just want something nourishing and delicious to fill their bellies.
This meal fits that exactly.
A couple of weeks ago I roasted some chicken. The leftovers and pan drippings were frozen. Saved just for this meal. The bones went into the freezer, for the next time I need to make stock. I defrosted the chicken in the fridge overnight and then shredded it and dropped it into the cooked veggies.
I usually use chicken stock for this dish. But, this time I had pan drippings. You can tell the difference by the jiggliness of it. The pan drippings jiggle, while stock is more liquid. The fat will rise to the top of both. I like to scrape it off (and give it to the dog as a treat).
For this type of dish, I find it a little bit easier to just whisk the thickening agent (flour or cornstarch) together with some of the liquids, and add it to the pan. It thickens nicely once it boils. A traditional roux can be made instead (you know, where you heat some fat, then add an equal amount of flour and cook for about 30-60 seconds, then whisk in the stock and let it thicken), if you prefer.
After it boils and thickens, the milk is added. I don’t like it when the sauce breaks, so I like to leave the milk out until the end. Then heat it ever so gently, just until steam rises.
Once the seasoning is checked, the skillet is set on a baking sheet (in case of overflow – I’d rather clean that than the inside of the oven).
Pie crust is rolled out. I used Alana’s recipe (from her cookbook). I tried to work quickly, but since the skillet and filling were both so hot, it got a little soft. It didn’t seem to matter in the end though.
The crust is brushed with egg and sprinkled with some of the sea salt that we brought back from Paris. Just because it feels fancy and I like the crunch.
And then it bakes and bakes and suddenly it’s done and the air smells like so much goodness that I almost can’t contain myself. I want to devour the entire pie before it’s cooled and before my friend arrives for lunch.
But, I don’t. I restrain myself. I eat a normal sized portion and don’t even yell about how good it is in the middle of our conversation (although she did interrupt us to ask about the pie crust). I like when things get interrupted because something is just too good to keep quiet about.
2 small potatoes (or combination of 1-1 1/2 C potato, radish, turnip, or rutabaga), chopped
1 small sweet potato (or 1 C peeled acorn or butternut squash), chopped
1 small onion (or 2 shallots), chopped
2 stalks celery (or 1 fennel bulb), chopped
to taste salt
to taste pepper
1 t fresh rosemary (or thyme), chopped
1 small summer squash, (or 1/2 C cauliflower or peas), chopped
1-2 C chicken, cooked and shredded
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 C chicken (or vegetable) stock or chicken pan drippings
2 T all purpose flour (or 1 T cornstarch)
1/2 C cold water
1/2 C milk
1 pie crust
1 egg, beaten
coarse sea salt
lemon wedges, for serving
Pre-heat oven to 375F.
Heat an oven proof skillet. Add oil. When oil is hot, add carrot through rosemary. Cook covered, over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Add summer squash and chicken and cook for about 3-5 minutes more, or until veggies are tender. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute more.
Whisk stock or pan drippings with flour and water. Add to the skillet, turn the heat to high, and bring it to a boil. Let it thicken for about 2-3 minutes. Whisk in the milk, turn heat to medium-low, and cook for 1-2 minutes, or until steam rises, but do not boil. Remove from heat, taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Set on a baking sheet.
Roll out pie crust. Top the filling with the crust (careful, the skillet is hot!). Make a few air vents with a sharp knife. Brush with the egg and sprinkle with the coarse sea salt. Bake for 22-30 minutes, or until crust is browned and flaky.
The smoke detector will go off when the oven is at 500F and there’s a pizza stone in there.
Artichokes may be best on pizza.
When I’m tired I type things like, “Almost anything is better when it tastes like garbage.”
I like one of these two lessons. No, two of them. I still can’t stop laughing at the garbage line. And I like that almost anything is better when it tastes like pizza.
Take artichokes for example. Sure, they’re fun to eat steamed, grilled, boiled and then dunked in dip. That’s a good thing. But, I wondered to myself the other day if they might not be even better on pizza.
I think they are. It may be my new go-to way to eat them.
Carrots on the other hand, can be used in about a million different ways, and are delicious in all of them. I mean, you can make them into cake for goodness sake! (And I made a rhyme… cool.) How many things can you eat raw and in a cake and call them both extraordinary?
Rosemary compliments the artichokes and carrots. Lemon zest and juice are added to tomato sauce to make a tangy, citrusy pizza. Everyone is topped with some Gruyère and Parmesan cheese. Yep, you’re welcome.
One of the day’s lessons came when I was following the recipe in Alice Water’sThe Art of Simple Food for pizza dough. Her recipe says to pre-heat the oven to 500F with a pizza stone in there. I was gonna prepare the pizza on the pizza peel and slide it onto the hot stone. But, our smoke detector is in our kitchen (since our kitchen is a part of the living room), so it started screaming at me. I know that pizza stones can smoke, but I didn’t want the noise to continue. So, lesson learned. For as long as we live here, with this particular kitchen, I will not be using a pizza stone.
I used a regular pizza pan and it worked out just fine. Plus the noise stopped.
The artichoke hearts were steamed before they went on to the pizza, which makes them tender and delicious. The lemon gives them a good citrusy kick, and the rosemary brings an earthy balance to each slice. The carrots, well, they seem to get along with everyone, so they’re there, in the background, sharing a little bit of sweetness.
All in all, a great new way to use artichokes… or maybe just new to me. You might have been doing this all along. Sometimes I need to catch up. Especially on a day like today when my brain has not brought it’s A game. I blame the olympics. They keep me up way too late.
Veggie Pizza with Artichoke Hearts
Recipe Type: Pizza, Main Dishes, Vegetarian
Author: Rachel Oberg – De Ma Cuisine
3 large artichoke hearts (choke removed), halved (save leaves to steam and eat)
1 pizza crust
1 C tomato sauce
1/2 to 1 t fresh rosemary, chopped
to taste salt
to taste pepper
1/4 to 1/2 t red pepper flakes
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 small carrot, grated
3/4 C gruyère cheese, grated
1/4 C parmesan cheese, grated
Pre-heat oven according to your favorite pizza crust recipe.
Place artichoke hearts in a steamer basket in a pot with about 1″ boiling water in the bottom. Cover and cook for about 15 minutes, or until artichokes are tender. Roughly chop and set aside.
To make sauce: Combine tomato sauce with rosemary, seasonings, lemon zest and juice. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
Roll out pizza dough.
Top crust with sauce, cheese, veggies, and a little more cheese.
Bake according to crust recipe until crust is crispy and slightly browned and cheese is melted.
The sauce is enough for 3-4 pizzas. Freeze any leftovers for next time!
For Mother’s Day, in 2010, we spent the day with Tim’s parents. His mom loves Meryl Streep (who doesn’t!), so we brought the movie Julie and Julia, in case we wanted to watch it. I thought it would be fun to make Boeuf Bourguignon to eat while watching it. But, the recipe was a little intense for a Sunday afternoon. So I made my own version, which turned out to be a Beef Stew (sorry, I can’t think of a fancy word for it).
Rachel’s Beef Stew
Author: Rachel Oberg – De Ma Cuisine
Serves: 4-6 (depending on how hungry you are)
1½ lbs stewing beef, patted dry
2T olive oil
6 red spring onions, chopped
1C carrots, chopped
1 C cauliflower, chopped
5 cloves garlic, diced
1 LB mushrooms, sliced
to taste, salt
to taste, fresh ground pepper
1 t fresh rosemary, chopped
½ bottle red wine
6-8 C beef stock
2-4 C water
1T aged balsamic vinegar
3 potatoes, cut into small cubes
2 T flour and ¼ C water (opt. if it needs more thickening)
Heat a soup pot over medium heat; add oil; add beef; sprinkle with 1T flour; brown. (Can do in batches so the pan isn’t overcrowded – use 1T per batch.)
Add onion, carrot, and cauliflower; about 3 minutes (or until onion is getting soft and translucent). Add garlic and mushrooms; about 3 minutes. Add salt, pepper, nutmeg, and rosemary.
Add wine; de-glaze the pan by scraping the good bits off the bottom (a result of browning the meat). Cook a few minutes, then add the stock, water, balsamic vinegar and potatoes. Bring to a boil; keep boiling until potatoes are tender (15 min or less); turn heat down to low.
Simmer 2 hours. If it doesn’t get thick enough, add flour and water mixture (whisk 2T flour with ¼ C cold water, then pour into soup).
Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
I read that it’s best, in the first step, to dry the meat so it browns properly. I didn’t do this, and the beef didn’t get that nice brown crust on it, it just cooked, but still tasted amazing.