Easy as Chicken Pot Pie

chicken pot pie // sweetsonian

chicken pot pie // sweetsonian

The last time I was in New York, it was frigid. We spent our Sunday afternoon in Brooklyn — I spent more money than necessary on handmade jewelry at Artists and Fleas (quite possibly my favorite place on the earth), and after wandering to the waterfront for pretty photos of Manhattan and strolling around Brooklyn in the Nordic-temperature shade, we stumbled into a little cash-only joint named Juniper.

It smelled delicious, and had a space heater at the door. And right as we walked in, we eyed a giant bowl of mac and cheese that had just arrived at a nearby table. We salivated. So, we stayed.

chicken pot pie // sweetsonian

chicken pot pie // sweetsonian

For being a restaurant with maaaaybe 6 tables, it took an unnecessarily long time to get our diet cokes and later, the check, but the comfort food was pretty amazing. I had the chicken pot pie, which I instagrammed and later dreamed of. After a few bites, I looked up at Shaeda and said, “We have to make this.”

She agreed.

chicken pot pie // sweetsonian

chicken pot pie // sweetsonian

chicken pot pie // sweetsonian

It seemed to be no coincidence that both Bon Appetit and Martha Stewart Living featured chicken pot pie recipes. It’s like their editors knew that we’d all be facing a brutal winter this year. In the past two months, I’ve seen more snow than I’ve seen in the three years it’s been since Snowmageddon. It’s lovely, but I do find myself checking flight prices to Miami every other day.

So today, I was determined to make this. I found the adorable mini saucepans at the TJ Maxx downtown (score! Similar ones here) and came up with a simple, but comforting recipe for chicken pot pie. Most recipes called for potatoes, and some for cream, but y’all know about my attempts to stay on track with some form of a healthy diet. I was surprised to realize that chicken pot pies don’t actually need much, other than chicken, vegetables, butter and puff pastry. It’s high in flavor, low in guilt. I’m okay with that.

chicken pot pie // sweetsonian

chicken pot pie // sweetsonian

Chicken Pot Pie

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small shallot, finely diced
  • 1/2 of a medium onion, diced
  • 1/3 cup carrots, sliced into coins
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • About 3/4 lbs. chicken, diced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1.5 cups chicken broth
  • 2 or 3 cups fresh spinach
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • Fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped for garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a skillet, melt the butter and saute the shallot and onions. Once the onions start to brown (maybe after 3-4 minutes), add the carrots, celery, and chicken. When the chicken starts to brown and burnt bits start to collect at the bottom of the pan, stir in the 2 tablespoons of flour.
  3. Add the chicken broth, and a pinch or two each of salt and pepper. Also add the spinach and stir, letting the stew simmer and thicken.
  4. Transfer your stew to two oven-safe bowls, dividing evenly. When I made this, I placed my puff pastry directly on top of the bowls. The puff pastry didn’t rise as high as it normally would, which I believe had something to do with the dough touching the stew directly — so on my next batch, I cooked the puff pastry on a baking sheet separately, and then placed the cooked puff pastry on the stew afterwards.
  5. Bake at 425 degrees for 25 minutes, until the puff pastry has risen and turns a golden brown. Garnish with fresh parsley.

Preparation time: 20 minute(s)

Cooking time: 25 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 2

Asparagus, Red Pepper and Sweet Corn Quiche

asparagus, red pepper and sweet corn quiche // sweetsonian

asparagus, red pepper and sweet corn quiche // sweetsonian

Well, fall is just flyin’ by, isn’t it?

The National Mall is dotted with shades of yellow and orange, and I couldn’t ask for a more beautiful season to end a particularly stressful week. One upside is that the pumpkin I carved after work with the @Energy digital team made it onto Politico, Science Mag, and the Huffington Post — how cool is that? Huffpo called it “the best Jack-O-Lantern they’ve ever seen.”

*Swoon*

asparagus, red pepper and sweet corn quiche // sweetsonian

fall in dc // sweetsonian

fall in dc // sweetsonian

fall in dc // sweetsonian

Anyway, aside from finally achieving Jack-O-Lantern fame, the week’s been filled with infographics, meetings, and my newly reinstated fitness routine, which I’ve been working 2-3 days of yoga into.

Yesterday was Halloween, and I got the chance to walk around the National Mall for a bit with a camera (I was photographing a coworker, dressed as Amelia Earheart, at the Earheart exhibit in the National Air and Space Museum. It was amazing).

The colors in the leaves just happened to match the warm colors in the tart perfectly, so I thought I’d share that with you. Yesterday was a gloomy day, but the leaves — and Jack-O-Lantern fame — easily brightened up my afternoon.

Emily describes me as being on a perpetual diet. Let’s just talk about how I started Monday off with three delicious cookies for breakfast. My neighbor made them. They were amazing, and I do not regret it.

fall in dc // sweetsonian

asparagus, red pepper and sweet corn quiche // sweetsonian

fall in dc // sweetsonian

asparagus, red pepper and sweet corn quiche // sweetsonian

asparagus, red pepper and sweet corn quiche // sweetsonian

asparagus, red pepper and sweet corn quiche // sweetsonian

asparagus, red pepper and sweet corn quiche // sweetsonian

asparagus, red pepper and sweet corn quiche // sweetsonian

asparagus, red pepper and sweet corn quiche // sweetsonian

 Asparagus, Red Pepper and Sweet Corn Quiche (recipe after the jump) Continue reading “Asparagus, Red Pepper and Sweet Corn Quiche”

Apple Pie with a Lemon Zested Crust

Today is my roommate Jonathan’s birthday. He has expressed an interest in apple pie before… one of his favorites. But with my recent running schedule and a couple of UCLA friends visiting me in Washington this weekend, I wasn’t quite sure how plausible an entire apple pie would have been on my agenda. So last night, I broke the bad news — I didn’t know if I would be able to make a pie this weekend.

But this morning, I woke up and decided against the run I planned with my visitors. Well, one visitor never came home last night, and the other was a marine, so I knew I’d get left in the dust (he runs 3 miles in 18 minutes on a daily basis… FML). Aside from that, I spent last night doing interval training at a high school track 1.5 miles from my house. Needless to say, after 15 miles in four days, my calves are not cooperating. I needed a day of rest. So I sent my marine friend out with the non-birthday roommate and the honorary roommate. While they were gone, I set out to bake this pie.

As I was slaving away in the kitchen, the birthday boy walked into my mess. “What’s going on in here?” he asked.

I smiled and said very inconspicuously, “Oh, nothing,” only to have him throw his hands up in the air and run off to fetch some celebration clothes. They’ll be covered in drunk apple pie tonight, I promise :)

 

 

 

 

WHAT YOU NEED:

 

for the crust:

 

1 and 1/2 sticks cold butter, diced

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup sugar

zest of 1 to 2 lemons

1/3 cup cold water

1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water

 

for the filling:

About 2 pounds baking apples (I used Braeburns)

Juice of one or two lemons (for soaking; use to prevent the apples from turning brown)

1/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup heavy cream

Optional:

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

 

 

First, peel and slice the apples (eliminating all cores and stems).  I sliced them very thin, but Martha’s recipe calls for 1-inch slices.  I like them thin and delicate, so you can cover more surface area with the cinnamon spice mixture.  As you peel and slice, toss the apples in a bowl with a water and lemon juice solution to keep the apples from browning.  Then, in a large bowl, combine the apples with sugar, cinnamon, flour, salt, ginger, cloves, and cream.  Mix thoroughly, then set aside.

Now, the crust:  Dice the butter into quarter-inch cubes, and place on a small plate in the freezer to chill further.  In the meantime, combine the lemon zest in a small bowl with the sugar, and use your fingers to mix — squeeze the zest into the sugars!  It really brings out the lemon flavor in the sugar.  Then, add this mixture to the rest of the dry ingredients, and mix thoroughly.  Combine the butter cubes and water with the dry ingredients to create the dough.  Once it started to form, I rubbed the crumbles of dough between my hands and fingers to make sure all the butter dices had blended in.  Then, I formed the dough into two spheres of relatively equal size.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Powder your clean counter with flour and roll out the dough into a circle about 1/4 inch in thickness (or a little thinner).  Carefully transfer the crust into your pie dish — if it cracks, simply press it together again with your fingertips.  Then, fill the lined dish with the apple filling, and roll out the second crust.  If you roll out a flat crust, place it over the filling, and trim the excess crust with a knife (confession: I just broke it off with my hands).  I made a lattice-crust, which is much easier than you’d think.  If you want to attempt it, just roll out the dough, and use a paring knife to slice enough strips to weave the crust one strip at a time.  Seal the crust by pressing your fingertips along the edge of the pie dish, and slice steam holes in the top if you opted for the simple pie crust.  Then, mix one egg with a tablespoon of water, and brush over the pastry crust — this will give the pie its nice color.

Bake at 400 degrees for about one hour, until the crust is golden and the apple filling is bubbling.  Then, let cool for about four hours: the pie continues to cook after you remove it from the oven, so the cooling period is very important.  Don’t leave it outside though; the birds will attack.  And birds suck.

HBJT!