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Smokey Chicken Pie

If you follow me on twitter you’ll know that I’ve been in kind of a slump lately.  Part of it is that I’ve been sick a lot lately, it’s that time of year where I have cold upon cold upon flu upon cold.  Then there’s the weather.  It’s been dreary, I don’t want to do much of anything.  Fighting this slump has been hard, no amount of exercise or positive thinking seems to make me want to do anything but mope around.  I’ve been looking for something, anything to help snap me out of it.  So when I learned that February is National Pie Month it hit me- this is the perfect opportunity to give myself a task, a mission!

For the month of February, in honor of this sacred month o’ pie, I will be posting two pie recipes a week.  One savory, one sweet.  Plus a romantical bonus pie on Valentine’s Day.  I’ve gotten a lot of requests so far but if there’s a pie in particular that you’d like to see, I’d love to hear it!  I think this is going to be a fun journey, friends!  Exactly what we need to kick the midwinter blues.  Furthermore, if you’d like to join me in celebrating National Pie Month, let me know and I’ll add links to each post.  And you can follow all the fun on twitter under #natlpiemonth!

This week’s savory pie is a smokey chicken pie.  A close cousin of a chicken pot pie but without the pot (and the gravy) it is, as my friend Nick described it, “the best parts of thanksgiving between two crusts.  It’s hearty but not too heavy, with a lot of flavor and a ton of fresh vegetables packed in there.  The perfect kick off to the month o’ pie!

Smokey Chicken Pie

Crust:

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 tbsp salt

1 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

1 tsp garlic powder

1/4 cup vegetable shortening

1 stick butter

1/2 cup ice cold water

Filling:

2 chicken breasts

2 cups peas (frozen)

2 garlic cloves

3 tbsp butter

4-6 medium sized carrots

10-12 cremini mushrooms

3 red potatoes

1 red onion

1 cup green onions, chopped

4 tbsp chicken stock

3 tbsp plain yogurt

2 tsps liquid smoke

1 tbsp salt

1 tsp red pepper flakes

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp chipotle powder

1 egg for glazing

Start with your pie dough.  Sift dry ingredients.  Using your hands, work in shortening.  Cube butter and work it in.  Continue to blend until the consistency is that of course cornmeal.  Stir in the water, a little at a time until your dough forms a ball.  Divide in half.  Wrap each half in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Cook your chicken breast.  Set aside.

In a large skillet, melt butter.  Dice garlic and add to the pan.  Peel and chop carrots, add to the pan.  Dice potatoes, mushrooms, and onion.  Add to the mix.  Cook over medium heat until the carrots and potatoes have softened slightly.  Add vegetable stock, 1/2 of the liquid smoke, and spices.  Stir in green onions.  Cook for 10-12 minutes.  Remove from heat.

While the vegetables are cooking, chop your chicken.  Return to pan and saute in remaining liquid smoke and a dash of salt.  Add into the mix.  Stir in yogurt.

Remove half of the dough from the fridge.  Roll it out on a floured, non-stick surface (like a sil-pat).  Roll it out so it is 1 foot x 1 foot wide and 1/4″ thick.  Drape the crust over the rolling pin and transfer it to the pie dish.  Press into the pie dish.  Scoop filling into the pie dish.  Roll out top, repeating the steps, and lay it over the pie.  Press the edges together and remove any excess dough.

Whisk egg and brush over the top of the pie.  Cut slits in the top and bake for 45 minutes at 375.

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Carrot Cake with Goat’s Milk Caramel

It would seem that, somehow, I have become known as someone who hates cake.  And I would like to set the record straight.  I don’t hate cake.  I merely prefer pie.  And there is one time of year when I always make cake- Dan’s birthday.  Because somehow I ended up married to someone who prefers cake.  Weirdsies.

This year his request was carrot cake. I hate to admit (knowing full well that I will never hear the end of it) that I am especially not a fan of carrot cake.  Or anything with a cream cheese frosting.  I’m sorry.  I had to get that off my chest.  But because I could never deny this face anything, my favorite cake lover got just what he asked for.  Seven days after his birthday, because I’m nothing if not a procrastinator.

I must say, for cake, this was good.  And for a cake with cream cheese frosting, in my opinion, it was really good.  Even my brother-in-law, who is a devoted fan of carrot cake, gave it a nod.  It was incredibly moist and was made significantly more delicious by the goat’s milk caramel I spread between the two layers.  I’m a sucker for anything with goat’s milk and this caramel had just the right balance of flavor and smooth creamy texture.  Most importantly, though, the birthday boy was happy.

Carrot Cake with Goat’s Milk Caramel

Cake:

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cup pastry flour

6-8 medium carrots, peeled

2 tsps baking soda

1 cup sugar

3/4 cup olive oil

3/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ginger

1/2 tsp nutmeg

Pinch of salt

4 eggs

1 tbsp vanilla extract

Goat’s Milk Caramel:

1/2 cup sugar

3/4 cup goat’s milk

3/4 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup corn syrup

5 tbsp salted butter

1 tsp vanilla extract

Cream cheese frosting:

8 oz cream cheese, room temperature

6 tbsp butter, room temperature

2 cups powdered sugar

Juice of 1 lemon

1 tsp vanilla extract

Toasted pecans for topping

A few hours before you make your cake, start with your caramel.  In a heavy pan combine sugar, syrup, and water.  In another pan scald cream, milk, and butter.  Allow sugar mixture to continue to cook over medium heat, swirling the pan occasionally, until golden brown.  Remove from heat and add milk mixture slowly.  It will bubble up but remain calm and keep stirring!  Stir in vanilla.  Pour into a dish lined with wax paper and allow to cool.

Butter two 9″ cake pans.

Shred your carrots.  Sift dry ingredients.  Add in eggs, oil, and vanilla, mixing thoroughly.  Stir in carrots.  Pour batter into cake pans and bake at 350 for 50 minutes or until cooked through.  Turn onto a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.

While your cake is cooling, prepare your icing.  Cream cheese and butter.  Add sugar slowly.  Stir in lemon juice and vanilla extract.

To assemble your cake place down your first layer, top down.  Top with a generous helping of caramel.  Place the next layer on top, top side up.  Spread frosting equally over the top and sides.  Finish with toasted pecans.  Enjoy!

Dan & my cousin Taylor on his 26th birthday!

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Roasted Chicken & Root Vegetables

This year we managed to make Christmas last until January 15th.  One benefit of having large families spread all over the country is that there’s a great excuse to celebrate and celebrate and celebrate.  We started in the beginning of December with my grandparents, visiting a beautiful lighted garden and enjoying a nice dinner.  After that we (I) broke all rules about withholding presents until, you know, Christmas, and started giving Dan his presents a little at a time.  That was a great idea.  Next came Meredith’s dance recital and Amelie’s baptism.  We love nieces.  After that we headed to North Carolina to do Christmas with my family.  We were so lucky that we were able to see aunts, uncles, cousins, parents, siblings, and friends.  Once we returned we had a week of New Year’s downtime before we celebrated first with Dan’s parents and then the next weekend with Megan, John & the nieces.  These last two celebrations were at our house, which gave me the opportunity to cook recipes I’d had tucked away for company, something I love to do.

For these celebrations I made a roasted chicken on a bed of root vegetables, rice, sauteed beet greens, and a lemon meringue pie.  The first week the pie was a disaster (because I used tapioca beads, silly me) but the second week it was silky and perfect.  The flip side, of course is that the fudge I made for the Turcotte family to take home the second week was grainy and totally off.  Because- and I say this in all seriousness- there is no such thing as a perfect meal when I have company. Something always goes wrong.

The roasted chicken, however, was perfect.  Rubbed down with butter and stuffed with garlic cloves it had brown crunchy skin and moist, flavorful meat.  The vegetables were bursting with flavor, all pink from the beets in the mix.  It was a wonderful meal to wrap up this year’s Christmas celebrations!  And now that the decorations are down, I’ll just need it to be spring… immediately (closes eyes and ignores freezing rain outside the window).

The nieces and I with their new Christmas hats! Photo by Dan

Roasted Chicken & Root Vegetables

1 whole chicken

4 tbsp butter

1 tbsp salt

8-10 cloves garlic

3 beets

4-6 medium size carrots

3 red potatoes

1 large vidalia onion

1/4 cup olive oil

Salt & pepper

1 hour before you’re ready to cook your chicken, take your chicken out of the fridge.  Remove the innards, rinse with cold water, and allow to come to room temperature.  Also allow your butter to come to room temp.  Tie legs together.

Begin by rubbing your chicken down with butter.  Then, cut slits throughout the body and legs of the chicken.  Stuff each slit with a clove of garlic.  Sprinkle with salt and set aside.

Preheat your oven to 475.

Peel and dice your beets and carrots.  Cube your potatoes and cut your onion into large chunks.  Place all vegetables into a large roasting dish.  Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Make a bed in the vegetables and place the chicken on top.

Cook at 475 for 20 minutes and then lower the temperature to 400.  Cook an additional 45 minutes.  Remove the chicken from the oven and allow to rest 10 minutes before serving.  Baste with juices.

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