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Tonight  it’s snowing in New York City, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island.  It’s pouring here at the shore and has been most of the day and I thought what a perfect night for some real comfort food.  I made New England Pot Pie.  Earlier in the day, I thought about asking our friends, Dick and Jane to join us – it wouldn’t be the first time I prepared a dish that I never made before.  Thank goodness I didn’t follow through on that impulse.  NOT because the dish wasn’t good or that the recipe didn’t make enough;  No, it was definitely both, BUT it took me longer than I thought and it was totally my own doing.  

When I read the recipe two days ago or actually just skimmed through it concentrating mostly on what ingredients I would have to purchase, I didn’t realize how much prepping was needed.  A good chef knows the importance of mise en place, and I do know that very basic rule of good and efficient cooking, yet somehow just never gave it a thought.  So what happened was that I was working my way through the steps, I had to stop and prep the ingredient so I could use it.  NEXT TIME!  I think New England Pot Pie is a great dinner guest meal;  Once it’s in the oven, you are free to join you guest for a pre-dinner cocktail.

Comfort Food for a cold winter night

Comfort Food for a cold winter night

INGREDIENTS:

Olive oil for the baking dish

2 medium russet potatoes (1 lb) peeled and cut into 1/2 ” pieces

Kosher salt and pepper

6 slices of bacon cut into 1/4″ pieces

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1/3 cup flour

1/2 cup dry white wine

2 8-oz bottles of clam juice

1/4 cup heavy cream

1 cup frozen peas and carrots, thawed

1 cup frozen corn, thawed

1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

1 TBS fresh thyme leaves

1 lb. medium peeled and deveined shrimp, tails discarded, shrimp halved

1 lb. skinless white fish fillet (such as cod, hake, pollack or haddock) cut into 1 ” pieces

1 sheet frozen puff pastry (half of 17.3 oz pkg) thawed

1 large egg, beaten

DIRECTIONS:

Heat oven to 400º.  Lightly oil 8 10 oz ramekins OR a 2 quart baking dish

Place the potatoes in salted cold water and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until the potatoes  are tender, 5-7 minutes.  Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, cook the bacon in large skillet ( I should have used my braising pan-my skillet a bit small) over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 4-5 minutes.  Spoon off and discard all but 2 TBS of the drippings.  Add the onions, season with 3/4 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 6-8 minutes.  Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Sprinkle the flour over the onion mixture and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Gradually stir in the wine, then the clam juice and cream.  Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is slightly thickened and coats the back of a spoon, 5-6 minutes.

Add the potatoes along with the peas and carrots, corn, parsley and thyme and cook until heated through, about 3 minutes.  Remove from the heat and gently fold in the shrimp and fish.  Transfer to the prepared baking dish.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry.  Using a 4″ round cookie cutter, cut out 8 pieces OR cut one 10 x 14 ” rectangle.  Brush the edges of the ramekins or baking dish with water.  Lay the pastry over the seafood mixture and press pastry against edge of dish to  seal.

Lightly brush pastry with egg and if making the rectangle, cut 3 diagonal slits in the middle of the pastry.  Place dish(es) on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until the crust is deep golden brown and puffed in the center, 30-40 minutes.  Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

recipe from Woman’s Day

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You know the thing about Costco is the darn size of everything!  You go to buy a can of Comet but if you want one, you need to buy a 3-pack.  Need some chicken broth? You have to buy 6 cartons, and the Salsa comes in giant jars, like the pickles and the olive oil.  Big is better, things are cheaper by the dozen, large economy size means economy BUT where oh where to put/store/stash this stuff,  I mean my bargains!

And the samples!!!! Perfect way to get suckered in.  We now have Madras lentils, Pot Stickers, Spinach Ravioli, Stacey’s Pita Chips and a GIANT Chicken Pot Pie!! Every trip home from Costco entails emptying the freezer and re-arranging the huge bags of Broccoli Flowerets, Tortellini, Chicken Breasts, Salmon Burgers, Blueberries and after all that shuffling and stuffing and pushing and squeezing, there is NO ROOM for the Chicken Pot Pie.  Not even sure what possessed me to buy it in the first place since it could clearly feed 8 people and our table only seats 5.   By the way, I can never get ALL the frozen food in our freezer at the shore and half of it is going back to New York with us – BUT how to keep it frozen till we are on our way home?

Luckily for me, we are friends with Dick and Jane (yes those are their real names), who own an Inn in Ocean Grove and she lets me store my Manhattan-bound food stuffs in a freezer in the Tea Room.  So last weekend I loaded up her freezer with bags of frozen food to take to New York and when I went to retrieve it I realized that NOT ONLY could I NOT fit the pot pie in my freezer bag and if I got it home, it wouldn’t fit in my apartment freezer either.  Good  thing Jane let me leave it there!!

Obviously the pie was way too big for Peter and I so when in doubt or in trouble, think What Would Martha Do? So, I invited friends for dinner.  I had already asked Heide to dine with us on Friday night and so I asked Dick and Jane to join us too.  Heide graciously asked what could she bring and I said without a moment’s hesitation, “your plum tart”. Jane said she would bring wine and the dinner menu was taking shape.

Chicken Pot Pie seemed Southern to me and even though I know it isn’t particulary Southern anymore than it is exclusively Irish or New England fare, tonight it was going to be Southern.  I decided to make Collard Greens – never have made them before BUT Wegman’s to the rescue.  I had a brochure from the store that I had saved from last year all about braising greens.  Seemed simple enough and it was.  The Collard Greens would satisfy Peter’s insistence of a green vegetable at dinner and I thought a salad would be refreshing but then I remembered that Dick really can’t eat a lot of greens so I set out to buy a head of cauliflower to bake.  Inspiration was running high so I decided to bake some drop biscuits too – love those Bisquick biscuits.

BAKED WHOLE CAULIFLOWER

1 head of Cauliflower                                                                        Preheat oven to 375 degrees

1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs

2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup margarine melted

1/8 tsp garlic powder

1/8 tsp salt

pinch of dried oregano

pinch of red pepper flakes

Place whole head in steamer in 1″ water. Bring to boil over med heat and cook till tender about 20 minutes.

Mix bread crumbs, margarine, cheese.  Season with garlic powder, salt, pepper and oregano.  Put cauliflower in baking dish and coat with bread crumb mixture.

Bake 10-15 minutes till golden brown.

Recipe from Martha Stewart’s Every Day Food.

COLLARD GREENS

Add 6 cups of water, 2-3 Tbsp lemon juice, 6 cloves of garlic (or 2 Tbsp minced), 1 Tbsp salt, 1/2 cup pure olive oil to braising pan on HIGH.

Add greens and bring to a boil and cover.

Cook until tender – Greens will change color as they cook (depending on the greens) 5-30 minutes.

Transfer to serving dish, season to taste and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese if desired.

Recipe from Wegman’s

 

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