Back to the Kitchen: Savory Pies for All Occasions

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BY GWEN KENNEALLY

In Southern California the weather is just wacky! I got a sunburned chest last weekend talking to a friend outside of a movie theatre and then needed an umbrella this morning to walk my dog! It is a crazy time of year with so many events and celebrations, so that’s why I really love the ease of savory pies.  These pies are amazing and great with a salad and travel well for potlucks. They bring me such comfort and joy and kids love them as well as the adults. The caramelized onion tarts can be made as a show stopping large pie made in a 9-inch tart pan or minis as I have them in the recipe, served as an appetizer. Using the pastry recipe for the tart and doubling it for the Chicken Pot Pie. If you want a nice flaky crust don’t skip freezing the butter, using ice water and chilling the dough before rolling. You can even chill it over night. I don’t believe in violence in the kitchen so there is no need to whack the dough with a rolling pin. Many chefs say this is how to get a workable consistency, but gently rolling it using your body weight works better. Enjoy these recipes and be the star of any end of spring, beginning of summer potluck or dinner for friends!

Chicken Pot Pie

Mini Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Tarts

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2-teaspoon salt
1/2-cup butter (grated and left frozen for 1/2 hour)
Up to 6 tablespoons ice water
1 large loaf goat cheese
Caramelized Onion Mixture

In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the flour and salt. Using a pastry blender cut the butter into the flour until the pieces are the size of rice. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons water over part of the flour mixture and stir very gently with a fork, Push moistened dough to the side of the bowl. Repeat using 2 tablespoons of water (up to6) until all the dough is moistened. Divide dough in half. Form each into a ball and press into a disk. Wrap in plastic and let stand in the refrigerator for one hour. Roll out on a floured cutting board about 1/4 inch thick. Using a small circular cookie cutter cut the dough and place in sprayed mini muffin tins pushing them up the side. Bake in a pre heated 350-degree oven for about 10 minutes until golden. Let cool. When ready to serve line mini tarts on a cookie sheet. Add about 1-teaspoon onion mixture and 1-teaspoon goat cheese to each tart and bake in a preheated 350 oven until cheese is melted. About 10 minutes.

Caramelized Onion Mixture

1 stick butter
2 tablespoons sugar
2 large onions, thinly sliced

In a large skillet melt the butter. Add the onions and sauté until incorporated with the butter. Sprinkle sugar over them and continue caramelizing until brown and tender about 15 minutes.

Chicken Pot Pie

1 pound chicken breast, coarsely chopped
2 carrots, thinly sliced
1 rib celery, thinly sliced
1-cup peas
1/2-cup butter
1 onion – chopped
1/3-cup flour
2/3-cup milk
2 cups chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste
Double Recipe of Onion Tart Pie Crust

Place chicken, carrots, and celery in a saucepan. Pour just enough water over to cover all. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until meat is cooked through. Add peas to pot and simmer for 1 minute. Drain water from pan set aside meat and vegetables. In a saucepan over medium heat, cook onions in butter until soft; stir in flour; slowly whisk in stock and milk, salt, pepper. Bring to a rolling boil and then reduce to simmer until thick; remove from heat; set aside. Center one pie crust in a lightly greased 9″ pie plate; spread cooked chicken and vegetables evenly into crust; pour prepared sauce into crust. Center second piecrust over pie; fold over edges and pinch with a fork to seal; and prick holes in top of crust. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 30 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Spinach Ricotta Quiche

1 – 9 inch unbaked pie crust (The onion tart crust recipe)

3 cups spinach, cooked and cut into pieces (make sure all excess water has been squeezed from the spinach)

1-cup heavy cream

4 eggs

1-cup ricotta cheese

1 cup Cheddar cheese

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2-teaspoon salt

1/2-teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.   Spray a pie plate or tart pan with non-stick spray.  Gently pat down piecrust around the base and sides of the pie plate, cutting off any excess with a knife (see picture below).  Poke several holes in the dough resting on the base of the plate.  Using a blender, mixer, or manually by hand – mix eggs, Ricotta and Cheddar cheese, heavy cream, salt, cayenne and pepper until everything is well incorporated.  Evenly distribute cooked spinach in the pie plate.  Add egg mixture and fill the pan/plate 1/4″ from the top. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until cooked.  Allow quiche to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving

Shepherd’s Pie

1 1/4 pound ground beef
1-tablespoon olive oil
3 carrots, diced
1-cup mushrooms, sliced
3 celery stalks, diced
1-cup peas
1 cup frozen corn
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup red wine
1/2-teaspoon allspice
1-tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 pound potatoes peeled and cubed
1/2-cup sour cream
1-cup cheddar cheese, shredded
Salt and pepper to taste

Add potatoes to boiling water. Cook 15 minutes or until tender. Drain. Mash potatoes with sour cream. Add olive oil to a skillet and heat. Cook beef, onions, mushrooms and garlic until no pink remains in beef and vegetables are softened. Add carrots, peas, celery and corn. Cook until vegetables are softened. Mix cornstarch and wine. Add to beef and vegetables. Add Dijon mustard, salt, pepper and allspice. Mix well and cook until gravy has thickened. Put meat and vegetable mixture in a 2-quart casserole. Cover with mashed potatoes. Bake uncovered at 350 for 30 minutes. Then sprinkle the cheese over the top and cook for 10minutes longer.

Gwen Kenneally is the owner of Back to the Kitchen, Full Service Catering and Party Planning. She is the co-founder and master baker at Magpie Gourmet Mini Pies.  Check out her websites www.Backtothekitchen.net and  http://magpieminipie.vpweb.com.  Her Sweet and Savory Cookbook is available through AMAZON .

About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.