Thursday, January 31, 2008

Curry Pocket Pie

The little $0.69/pound chicken has provided quite a few meals this week.
Chicken Pot Pie
Hot and Sour Soup
A couple items that I haven't mentioned - chicken salad sandwiches and rice cooked using the chicken stock.

I still have a pie crust in the refrigerator so I decied to make pocket pies with a curry filling.
It's just actually an excuse to eat pie crust. :-)

Curry Pocket Pies

The Fixins:
1/3 C Frozen Peas
1.5 C Potatoes, diced about 1/4"
Pie crust
1 chunk of Curry - I used medium-hot, but you can you mild. I tend to like food on the spicy side.
1/2 C Onion, chopped
about 1/2 C Spinach, frozen
1/3 C Carrot, diced

Not shown
1.5 C Chicken, shredded
1.5 C Chicken stock.

Saute the onions, carrots and potatoes.
Add the chicken stock and the curry cube.
Simmer about 10 minutes to cook the potatoes and thicken.
Add the spinach and peas. The residual heat will heat the frozen veggies.

For the pie crust, pressed out five 2 in diameter rounds, a mini 1.25 in diameter round and a larger pie with the leftover. I used a rolling pin to enlarge the rounds, but also make the crust thinner.

Technically, I should have let the filling cool completely before making the pocket pies, but I was hungry. Working quickly, the unbaked pies are shown below. I also made a feeble attempt at applying an eggwash onto the pies. I couldn't find my basting brushes. They're probably buried in the bottom of the drawers somewhere. lol

Bake 375 for 15 minutes.

I was worried that the hot filling would sog out the crust, but the pies were crispy and flakey with a slightly spicy curry flavor.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Snow Day Warm-Up

A cold Artic wind has been sending us chilly, below freezing temperatures.
After many false alarms issued by the "professionals", we finally received snow.

Ever since I cleared my pantry finding 6 different types of vinegar - distilled white vinegar (1 gallon - got to love Costco), apple cider vinegar, two bottles of red wine vinegar, two bottles of rice wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar and Chinese black vinegar, I've been craving Hot and Sour Soup.

The cold weather just motivated me to use some of that vinegar. Also, the hot, spicy, flavorful soup would be the ticket to warm me up.

The Fixings:

Starting top center and working clockwise -
Tofu - about 4 ounces
Nappa Cabbage - 1 leaf
Carrots - 3 inch piece
Green Onions - 1
Dried Mushrooms (2 Shiitake) - rehydrated in water for 30 minutes
Dried Lily Flowers (1/4 cup) - rehydrated in water for 30 minutes
Cloud Ears or Wood Ears (3 or 5 pieces) - rehydrated in water for 30 minutes

Not shown:
1/2 cup cooked shredded Chicken Breast
4 Cups Chicken Stock
3 Tablespoons Chinese Black Vinegar - this vinegar is slightly sweet and not as tart as regular vinegar. If distilled, red wine or apple cider vinegar is used, 2 Tablespoons would be a good starting place.
1 teaspoon Soy Sauce
1/2 teaspoon White Pepper (I actually used 1 teaspoon and it was a bit spicy)
1/2 teaspoon Chili Paste
1/2 teaspoon Sesame Seed Oil

Bring the stock to boil.
Add the mushroom, cloud ears and lily flower. Simmer about 5 to 10 minutes.
Add the veggies and chicken. Simmer an additional 3 to 5 minutes.
Finally, season with the liquid ingredients and white pepper.

Restaurants tend to thicken the soup with corn starch and use beaten eggs. I chose to skip both items. Also, bamboo shoots are used. I didn't have any.

The final results: A steaming hot bowl of soup.

Hot and Sour Soup

Saturday, January 26, 2008

My Evolving Chicken Pot Pie Recipe

Chicken was on sale at the supermarket for $0.69 a pound. Locally grown, not shipped across the country via a tractor-trailer. I couldn't pass up the bargain.

I poached the meat and made a stock with the carcass. What to do with the chicken now?

Why not make chicken pot pie?
- I have a frozen deep dish pie crust from Thanksgiving that I should use now.
- The weather has been cold and I've been eating very simple.
- I'll make something hearty and sort of healthy.

I usually just use what's in the refrigerator and I don't write down the amounts, but out of curiosity I kept track.

A deep dish pie crust holds 4 cups of filling. Let's see how close I can get.

Chicken Pot Pie

Potatoes - Chopped about 1/2 inch cubes = 3 cups
Peas - Frozen = 1 cup
Carrots - 1/4 inch dice = 1/2 cup
Onions - 1/4 inch dice = 1/2 cup
Celery - 1/4 inch dice = 1/2 cup
Bell Pepper - 1/4 inch dice = 1/3 cup
Chicken - coarse chop = 1.5 cups
Parsley - fresh, chopped = 1 to 2 tablespoon
Thyme - dried = a couple pinches
Tarragon - dried = a couple pinches
Green Onion - chopped = 1
Homemade stock = 1 cup
Salt and Pepper to taste

Saute the potatoes, carrots, onions, celery, bell pepper in butter with the thyme and tarragon.
Add the rest of the ingredients plus the stock to steam.
I used a butter and flour mixture (beurre manie) to thicken up the mixture.
Poured the filling into the pie,
Covered with the top crust.
Baked at 400F for 25 minutes.

The filling mixture turned out 6 cups and I used 4 for the pie.

Overall, my chicken pot pie was more like a potato pot pie. The pie had a nice flavor, but a bit on the mild side in terms of the herbs.

Also, it felt good to eat something homemade that's a little more hearty instead of rice and veggies or sandwiches.

Changes for the next time around.
- Increase the stock from 1 cup to 3 cups so there will be more gravy.
- Decrease the potato from 3 cups to 2. Chop the potatoes a little more smaller.
- Increase the thyme and tarragon. I didn't want to overpower the dish, but a little more would be nice.
- Add Sage. Sage and poultry is a very common combination.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Dinner of Champions

With a lot of OT (overtime), dinner has been very basic.
Rice, sandwiches, sauteed vegetables, kim chee, fish sticks and supplemented with an occasional bag of popcorn. Of course, not all in one sitting, but it would make for an interesting meal. :-)

I wonder if there's a potential diet book in this?
OT: Work-Induced Dieting - How we take the out out of workout

Friday, January 11, 2008

Dinner and a Movie

The end of the year is usually a two week holiday, but in 2007 work kept a few of us around to witness structural testing. Fortunately for me, S was able to come up to visit.

One of our favorite things to do is dinner and a movie.
Dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant. There's something very pleasing about a good meal at a Mexican restaurant with fresh tortilla chips, salsa and fresly made guacamole. All very satisfying and soothing. It's homecooking without the hassle.

Movies are a momentary trip into fantasy land.
Juno- a funny, quirky film about how a teen handles her unplanned pregnancy.

Charlie Wilson's War - I didn't know what to expect from this film, but I enjoyed the film.

National Treasure - Mildly entertaining. If you missed the first one, watching the sequel is like watching the first one.

Sweeney Todd - Johnny Depp sings. Another mildly entertaining film. Nothing really ground breaking from Johnny Depp.

Alvin and the Chipmunks - a cutesy children's film.

Even though work cut into my holiday, I was able to escape with a dinner and a movie.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Live to Eat or Eat to Live?

For some people food has become a scary subject with the trans-fats, cholesterol, sodium, mad cow, salmonella, tainted spinach, etc... where people are afraid to eat anything. However, for me, food is fun. Food evokes fond memories.

One fond memory goes back to my college days when things weren't as hectic. I was learning how to play cribbage. The local supermarket deli made very popular breakfast burritos.

My version of those breakfast burritos

Fried potatoes - I used Ore-Ida Southern Style Hash Browns this time around.
Sausage - Jimmy Dean Brown and Serve Turkey Sausage
Sauteed mushrooms, onions, bell pepper and spinach
Scrambled Eggs
Salsa - This time we used Paul Newman's All Natural Chunky Salsa (A bit sweet for medium)
Shredded Cheese
Tapatio Hot Sauce

For the potatoes, I like adding a pinch of crumbled thyme and the sauteed veggies a pinch of tarragon.

Simple, delicious, filling and many fond memories.

First Dinner 2008!

Starting the New Year with a delicious meal.

Black Eyed Peas - A traditional "Good Luck" food.
Baked Glazed Ham
Collard Greens
Grits - A Southern version of polenta with cream and butter
Sweet Potatoes
Corn Bread with homemade honey-butter
Shrimp in sweet chili sauce
Sesame Beef
Rice Pudding with freshly whipped cream

A wonderful start to the New Year.
I hope everyone has a great 2008!