Look what I did! From scratch! All by my onesie! And it was delicious!
I don’t know why this particular culinary feat has me so proud, but I suspect it’s because I was sure I’d fail both at the start and at multiple points along the way. I am American (as I think I make abundantly clear) but not from the places where BBQ is common or authentic. I’d never attempted (or even eaten) pulled pork made in a home kitchen. And not living in the U.S. means the butcher actually has no idea what you want when you ask for “Boston butt.”So we were off to a rocky start.
The recipe I glanced at was easy enough: take a massive piece of bone-in pork shoulder, rub it with spices and cook it slow and long. I decided to cook it a few days ahead (thank Jesus) and add some liquid to the pot. I also decided eight hours seemed like a mighty long time to slow cook something. It was, I found out, not. So I ended up frantically texting my parents at midnight to ask if it’s safe to go to sleep in a house full of children with the oven on (it is) and will a huge chunk of slow-cooked meat left out to cool and not immediately shredded at 3AM when it’s (FINALLY) cooked to perfection seize up and become an inedible lump of gristle (um, no? What are you talking about? Go to sleep).
The pork cooked slowly all afternoon and halfway into the night when I’d set my alarm to retrieve it and left it on the stove top and went the f*@& back to sleep. And because I’ve got a million things to do, most of which I have to navigate while holding a baby on my hip, pulling the pork (two hands required) didn’t actually happen until about 18 hours after it came out of the oven. (It was graciously easy to pull – and snack on – while the BBQ sauce simmered.) Mixing the pork with the BBQ sauce didn’t happen until a whole day after that (see above about free hands). Would it dry out? (NO, go to sleep.)
Eventually, it all came together. Pork was slowly cooked until it fell apart, pulled, and doused in a homemade sauce that, had I known how easy BBQ sauce is to make, I’d have been making all my life. It was served warm with Boston baked beans (I know, not super authentic but still very American and very close to our Bostonian hearts), cornbread (Jiffy!) and coleslaw. Guests brought Pimento cheese dip, deviled eggs and champagne. We ate and drank like we weren’t sitting in a North London kitchen. We had hot fudge brownie sundaes for dessert. We stayed up until all the candles burned down. We fell in love with homemade pulled pork and complained that there wasn’t more leftover.
Next time – and there will be a next time – I’ll just put it in the oven in the morning, cook it all day and remember that it’s as forgiving as it is delicious.
PULLED PORK AND HOMEMADE BBQ SAUCE
This recipe takes time, lots of time, but not a lot of it is hands on. The only things you have to DO is rub the rub, put it in the oven, check the internal temperature and then shred. Most of the ingredients (but not method, I did that myself because I think I know better) I pulled from Mark Bittman’s recipe. My alterations are in ellipses. We found it fed 6 adults with leftovers for two. Would be unreal as a pulled pork sandwich.
- 4 tablespoons paprika
- 4 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 2 tablespoons black peppercorns (or ground pepper)
- 2 tablespoons ground cumin
- 2 tablespoons chili powder (I used sweet because I wanted all the kiddles to eat it)
- 2 tablespoons dry mustard
- 2 tablespoons ground coriander (I don’t have so didn’t use)
- 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper (ditto)
- 1 pork butt, 5 to 6 pounds (I used bone-in pork shoulder)
- water or broth
Mix all the rub ingredients together in a large bowl. Place the pork shoulder in the bowl and rub the rub (!) all over, into all the little crevices. Really get in there.
In the morning or sometime when you’ll have like 12 hours to leave the oven on and not freak out, preheat oven to 120C/200F. Place the pork in a large ovenproof lidded pot. Doesn’t matter if it’s fatty side up or down. (My pot’s lid wouldn’t sit tightly because the pork was so big, that’s OK.) Put a little water and/or broth in the bottom of the dish. I probably put enough to come a little less than way up the pork.
Put the pot in the oven and leave it to do its thing, 8 – 12 hours, or until the meat falls off the bone. You’ll know for sure it’s ready – when it will be moist, falling off the bone and easy to shred – when the internal temperature will read between 180-200F on a meat thermometer.
Set aside to cool a bit before shredding by hand. You can do this a few days ahead if you want. Once you shred it, add 2/3 of the BBQ sauce (recipe below) and mix well. Serve slightly warmed with extra BBQ sauce.
HOMEMADE BBQ SAUCE
From Melissa Clark’s recipe. Made more than enough for the quantity of pork we made. Keeps well in the fridge for a few weeks at least.
- 1 ½ cups ketchup
- ¼ cup packed brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons molasses
- 2 garlic cloves, minced or grated (I used garlic powder because #lazy)
- ¼ cup cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons sweet or hot paprika
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
- Pinch of cayenne (didn’t have it, didn’t use this)
- Dash of hot sauce, more to taste
Combine all ingredients in a pot and simmer gently for 10 – 20 minutes to bring the flavors together and deepen the color. Adjust seasoning to taste. Can be made a few days ahead and kept in the fridge. Serve warm or at room temperature.
In predictable fashion, all of my iDevices have started to fail at once, like clockwork. One Instagram post sends my iPhone into a speedy tailspin and my (7-year-old!) MacBook decides whether or not it wants to turn on based on, by all indications, the political climate. So not very often.
But here I stand, in my pajamas and slippers, 5-month-old strapped to my chest because, as a foil to the computer, she has very specific requirements about how and where she sleeps, ready to combat this freezing January day by staying indoors and writing a blog post about spaghetti. Bending recalcitrant technology, and my own penchant for extreme laziness, to keep this dear old blog alive.
This spaghetti is one of Eric’s signature dishes, the one that Stella requests most often and the one he makes with the most relish (and flourish). And this is no comment on Eric’s ability, but it’s also dead simple. It’s a Frank Prisinzano number, first tasted at his restaurant Supper, and then recreated with help from this YouTube tutorial. Honestly, you can stop reading this now and just go straight there to make this spaghetti. I’m not going to embellish anything or even print the recipe; with spaghetti al limone, as so often with pasta, messing with it only detracts.
I really believe there’s something elegant about this pasta – the simplicity and unexpectedness of it. There’s also something approachable about it, as you probably have all the ingredients in your kitchen right now, the few dollars it costs to throw together, and the 15 minutes it takes to whip it together. Most importantly, it’s bright and punchy. A reason not to hibernate in the dead of winter.
At 9-months-pregnant, I am so sleepy. So, so sleepy. Just about the only things that give me energy are cooking and cleaning. Cleaning all the things. And stocking up. Just like last time. So when I see a pineapple going soft on the counter, I need to cut it up and put it away. And when I keep opening the fridge and seeing pineapple chunks in there, I need to bake them. It can’t be questioned.
Which is why I made this pineapple cake twice in two days. One cake used up only half a pineapple, so I had to make another. That, and it was pretty much the easiest (one bowl! eyeballable ingredients!) cake I’ve made in a really long time, and by far the best.
Ok, that’s about as much typing as I can handle. Too tired. Just make this cake. And don’t wake me up.
UPSIDE DOWN PINEAPPLE CAKE
Makes an amazingly soft upside down pineapple cake. I took a lot of inspiration from this BBC GoodFood recipe but adjusted so much.
I also apologize but while I can still bake cakes, I have no energy for converting weight-based units to volume. It’s easy, though! Just use an electric scale and zero the units after adding each ingredient. I remade this recipe with nectarines and apricots and it was amazing, so I had the opportunity to remeasure everything in cups. You’re welcome. Also, I didn’t really measure the butter or milk, I kind of eyeballed and it turned out great. Cake serves about 8 normal people or 2 of me. Keeps well in the fridge for up to 5 days.
1/2 pineapple, peeled, core removed, cut into slices or chunks or however you like (you can also used canned pineapple/any other fruit)
200 grams butter, soft
125 grams (3/4 cup packed) brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional)
1 tsp vanilla extract
140 grams (2/3 cup) sugar
2 eggs + 1 egg white
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
200 grams (1 3/4 cup) flour
1/4 cup milk
Preheat oven to 350F/180C. If you have a cast iron skillet, use it; otherwise, use a springform pan. (NB: I used my springform for the first cake but it leaked out all over the oven so I switched over to the oven-proof skillet and it worked perfectly.)
Take 4 tablespoons of the butter and spread over the bottom of the skillet. Sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over. Arrange pineapple chunks on top, leaving as little space between pieces as possible. (The fruit will shrink so really shove it in there.) Sprinkle some cinnamon on the pineapple chunks if you want. I also sprinkled some blueberries in there.
In a large bowl, whisk the rest of the butter and the sugar for a minute until creamy. Add in the eggs, egg white and vanilla extract and whisk for another minute. Add the baking powder and a pinch of salt and mix until uniform, then add the flour, mix; finally, add the milk and mix until uniform.
Pour batter over pineapple slices and bake in preheated oven for 35 – 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
Remove skillet or pan from oven and let sit for 5 minutes before inverting onto a cake plate covered in baking paper.
Serve with ice cream, beaten sour cream spiked with brandy, creme fraiche, whipped cream or yogurt. Enjoy!!
Over the years, the things I’d put on my “last meal” list have shifted. I’ve written here that I’d probably want braised lamb shanks, and I guess that still holds as long as I could do the braising myself to prolong the end of the meal – the end of everything – by a few days. What once was carrot cake might now be tarte tartin, pizza could be swapped for…no, pizza stays. But one thing that I’ll never give up is steak tartare.
If it’s on a menu, I order it. If I happen to be walking down the street and glance at a menu and see it, I go in and order it. I’m a steak tartare junkie but only get my fix rarely these days. (It’s not exactly mainstream and I’m not exactly going out all the time.)
But lately I’ve been craving it, googling “best steak tartare in London” and “steak tartare near me” and “steak tartare delivery”and generally losing my chill.
Steak tartare – raw meat in general – gets a bad rap. There are many hearty meat eaters who’re scared off by a little raw steak. I totally get why that may have once been a sound judgment call, what with sketchy refrigeration and sketchier meat handling practices, but these days if you’re ordering it at a good restaurant or buying it from a good butcher, you’re good.
It was, originally, a dish made with horse meat, which is lean and develops a funky flavor when cooked. These days, it’s far more likely to be made from the very best beef filet you can buy. While in Italy it’s often served straight up (and called battuta di manzo), I do it the French way – served with a range of condiments, from mustard to capers.
Because the add-ins can be adjusted (or left out) to your liking and taste, and because there’s no cooking (and practically no chopping), this is one of the easiest and best summer dishes around. It’s both hearty and light and makes a stunning first course (even for those squeamish about eating raw meat – just pan fry a patty for a few minutes and your tartare becomes a burger).
CLASSIC STEAK TARTARE
Serves 2 as a filling main course, 4 as a first course. All of these measurements are approximate, so I’ll list the ingredients first and amounts second – just do what you want with what you’ve got! Just make sure you tell the butcher you’re making tartare and that you want the best filet (fillet in the UK and Oz) for the job. Don’t let this sit too long, make it and serve it right away with toast, crackers, french fries, salad, whatever you like!
best beef filet, 400 grams/nearly 1 pound (bought as close to when you’re planning to make it as possible; tell your butcher what you’re making and ask for the best)
spanish onion or yellow onion, about 1/4 of a medium onion or 1 shallot
capers in brine, drained, about 2 teaspoons
dijon mustard, 1 – 3 teaspoons
mayonnaise, 1 teaspoon (or a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil whipped with 1-2 egg yolks)
worcestershire sauce, a few dashes
tabasco sauce, a few drops
salt and pepper to taste
OPTIONAL: it’s all optional, really, but you can also add parsley, ketchup, chili flakes, gherkins, egg yolks for topping, whatever your heart desires.
To make this really easy, use a food processor. Otherwise, you’ll have to chop all your ingredients by hand.
First, chop the meat. Using a sharp knife, cut the filet steak into thin slices. Put the meat in a food processor and pulse just a few times (you don’t want to over-handle it). The meat can be as chunky or as smooth as you like. Put the chopped meat in a medium-sized bowl.
Next, in the bowl of the food processor, pulse together the onion, capers and any other hard ingredients you’re using (such as gherkins) until chopped finely.
Now add some of the pulsed onion mixture into the chopped meat and add some mustard and mayonnaise, and some worcestershire sauce and tabasco. Gently mix together with a spoon until uniform and taste, adding more of the ingredients to taste until the tartare is as you like it. It’s usually really flavorful and a little spicy with lovely chunks of caper and hints of mustard, but it’s really up to you.
Serving it is as easy as making it – it’s really up to you. A classic French bistro might serve it with thin french fries and salad or toast. I like to plate it with toasted brioche or pumpernickel crackers, some capers on top and a tiny drizzle of the best olive oil. You can serve this in uniform patties as I did by pressing it into a cookie mold or half-cup (for 4 people) or cup (for 2 people) measuring cup, and plopping it on each person’s plate, or you can just form it into patties by hand.
If you have any leftover tartare, you can pan fry it the next day for an amazing burger.
This isn’t the first orange cake* I’ve posted here and it won’t be the last: it’s far too easy to make and eat, and just bright enough when London lives up its wet hype. Even my husband’s apparent (though I dare say untested) dislike for orange cake (he texted me back “boooo” when I told him what kind of cake I’d made) won’t stop me.
Why? Because it’s June and rainy and chilly. The rain in London isn’t like other rain. You can’t predict it. The forecast says it’ll be sunny until 4pm, but you’ve got a 90% chance of getting soaked or stuck under a tree at noon. So I’m not taking any chances.
Also because I’m 7 months pregnant, staying home with my 4-year-old for the first time and thus need reasons not to stay in a near-nap state all day. Because we’ve just moved across the world (again), our things (including my bundt pan) have just arrived, and I decided to try a “local” recipe. Because I always have extra oranges sitting in the bottom of the fridge. Because it’s raining. Because I can’t find chocolate chips. Because I like a good orange cake. Because I can.
So why is this orange cake so special? It’s not. I just have a thing for everyday cakes that sit on the counter and slowly (but not even that slowly, let’s be honest) get sliced away. Or more likely I just have a thing for having cake in the house at all times, especially when going out for cake means getting wet. And not napping.
This recipe was first published online in The Guardian and seems to have quite the internet following. I liberally (inexactly) adjusted the weight-based metric measurements to the US’ volume-based, left out some things and it still came out perfect. I’m guessing it’s not really Sicilian, based on the butter, icing sugar and just the Englishness of it, but I’m not complaining. Sicily might win for sunshine, but the English know a good cake.
SICILIAN ORANGE CAKE
This orange cake has more of a poundcake feel, and takes well to extra orange juice sauce poured on top. Liberally adapted from Rick Stein’s Sicilian Orange Cake recipe. Serves 8 – 10.
250g (1 cup/2 sticks) salted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
250g (1 1/4 cups) sugar
1½ teaspoons grated orange zest (from about 4 oranges)
250g self-raising flour (or 2 1/4 cups flour + 3 teaspoons baking powder)
85ml (1/3 cup) orange juice
Preheat the oven to 170C/340F. Thoroughly grease a round cake tin or a bundt pan. I used 1 small bundt pan and 1 really small loaf tin.
Using electric beaters, cream the butter and sugar together for a few minutes until very pale. Beat in the eggs and the orange zest. In a separate bowl, mix the flour and baking powder together, then add this mixture to the batter. Once the flour is incorporated, add the orange juice.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Let cool for a few minutes in the pan then gently turn onto a wire rack to cool.
Prepare icing by taking 1 cup (125g) of icing sugar in a bowl and whisking in a tablespoon of orange juice at a time until the mixture is creamy and thin enough to spread. Drip and spoon over the top of the cake, letting it soak in and drip down the sides.
Can be served warm or at room temperature. I served it for dessert with unsweetened double cream and I got lots of praise, even from my skeptical family.
Keeps well for up to 5 days on the counter. If you want it to remain super moist and extra gooey, do what I did: make extra sauce by mixing 1/2 cup orange juice with a few tablespoons of sugar; make holes in the cake’s top with a knife and pour the sauce on top until it all soaks into the cake.
Bran muffins are my jam. Seriously. This is my second full post on them. In the first, from over 5 years ago, I recount my long and loving history with the bran muffin and my inability to make them well at home. Feel free to go back and read my lament, but in the meantime just know that only towards the very end of my six years living outside North America did I find decent bran muffins – and only then in a few inner-city Sydney cafes for $5 each. I was frustrated. I was disheartened. So I set to work.
After a bunch of flops, I kind of gave up. Maybe it’s not possible to make them at home. Maybe it takes some sort of bakery magic to get that perfectly dense, hearty, branny muffin. Plus, after 18 months stateside, I’d gotten used to finding bran muffins everywhere (even though, in Brooklyn, they’re still $5 each). But with another imminent intercontinental move, this time to London – where, honestly, I don’t think there will be a shortage of mind blowing baked things – I needed to get my bran muffin strong. Just in case.
For those of you who don’t know, I don’t do fussy recipes. Well, sometimes I do, but I usually resent (and never remake) them. So when I came across this recipe, which is the classic formula of mix wets + mix dries + mix them together, I didn’t really hesitate. Better a low-effort failure than an annoyingly precious failure or, worse, no bran muffins at all ever again.
Turns out these are the best bran muffins I’ve ever been able to make at home. Hands down. Not only that, they are low-effort, free of refined sugar, full of grains, easily modified and beloved by the whole family. After years of searching, I’m done. The great fear of going without bran muffins is over. The homemade bran muffin is real. And this is it.
BEST BRAN MUFFINS
Not too sweet but very substantive, these are the best easy breakfast. The recipe is from a site called Farmgirl that I can’t access anymore, but Google it and you may have more luck. This recipe makes 12 biggish muffins. You can add spices if you want, but I think the nuttiness of the bran gives them a deep flavor. These are even better the next day and perfect defrosted for an hour from the freezer.
2 cups wheat bran (I’ve substituted wheat germ/oat bran/flour)
1 cup oat bran
1 cup flour (whole wheat or white)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2/3 cup milk
2/3 cup yogurt, sour cream or labne
1/3 cup canola or similar oil
2/3 cup honey, maple syrup, golden syrup, molasses or a mix (I usually use half honey, half maple)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 – 2 cups additions if you want (such as raisins, fresh or frozen berries, chopped figs, chopped apples, etc.)
Preheat oven to 375F. Grease a muffin tin or line with paper liners.
In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients – the flour, oat and wheat bran, baking powder and soda and the salt. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, mix the wet ingredients – the eggs, yogurt, milk, oil, vanilla and honey/syrups/molasses.
Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients and very gently fold them together until combined. Gently fold in whatever additions you like – raisins, dried or fresh cranberries, chopped apples, frozen berries, etc. I love frozen berries because they’re the easiest, but raisins pre-soaked in hot water (then drained) and chopped apples are good classics, too.
Spoon batter into greased muffin tin, filling up to the top (they won’t rise too much). Bake in the preheated oven for 10 – 20 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean and golden brown on top. Cool in the pan for a few minutes then remove from the pan and cool.
Cool completely before storing or freezing in an airtight container or bag.
A labor of love. That’s what this is. How else could you describe a pot pie – usually a thrown-together, rustic affair – that takes all day, at least six pots, and a good dose of fuss? I’ll admit, I’m not usually one for fuss. Except when baking, I’m loathe to even follow a recipe. And besides, my normal chicken pot pie recipe – which I blogged about not too long ago – takes like half an hour and hits the spot.
So why did I embark on this hours-long foray into chicken pot pie and, more importantly, was it worth it? The answer to both of those questions is a womp-wompy “I don’t know.” I came across the recipe on Food52, a site that tends to give me food envy over even the most mundane sandwich, on a rainy morning with a whole day of leisure stretched out before me (thanks, unemployment!) begging to be put to useless forms of use. The elaborate chicken pot pie seed had been planted and I had no choice but to give in to the pull of its roots. I was a goner.
The recipe – here – is (in my opinion, ridiculously) persnickety, so just do with it what you will. I still believe the humble chicken pot pie should not require this much effort, washing and cooking but you know what? I learned some nice things along the way. For example, that roasting the fennel on its own was a huge waste of time as the fennel was indistinguishable from the rest of the mush of ingredients. And that “refreshing” the haricots verts (that’s green beans for they rest of us) after parboiling them separately in order to – I assume – keep them bright and crisp is unnecessary considering they’re about to be thrown into the mix and baked in a creamy bechamel. But I did appreciate the tangy luxury of the creme fraiche and the bite of the mustard, both of which I’ll use again. So go forth and make chicken pot pie! Just remember that here, as on many roads in life, the shortcuts really will get you there faster.
CHICKEN POT PIE PROVENCAL (AKA A Really Good Chicken Pot Pie That Will Take You All Day)
Here’s the original recipe from Food52 with my edits along the side. Make of it what you will! No matter the road you take to get there, chicken pot pie is never time ill spent. For the record, this made enough filling for 2 huge 9″ springform pans. I ended up freezing half the filling because our little family of 3 can only handle so much chicken pot pie at a time.
- 4 pounds roasting chicken
- 6 carrots, ends trimmed, peeled
- 4 celery stalks, ends trimmed
- 1 leek, white and light green parts only (replaced this with a big onion)
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 2 sprigs tarragon (didn’t use this)
- 3 sprigs thyme
- Fronds from a large fennel bulb (or this)
- 10 ounces pearl onions, peeled (definitely did not use these for the peeling alone; plus I couldn’t find them)
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 12 black peppercorns
- Place chicken in a large stockpot.
- Tie whole carrots, leek, celery, and fennel fronds into a bundle and add to the pot with the chicken. Tie tarragon and thyme together and add to the pot. Toss in the peppercorns and the pearl onions, white wine, and 1 tablespoon of salt. Fill with water to just cover the chicken, put over a high heat and bring to a boil.
- Once boiling, lower the heat to maintain a gentle boil for 20 minutes. Raise the heat back to high, to again achieve a rapid boil, turn off the heat, cover and let sit for 1 hour.
- Remove chicken from the pot and set aside to cool. Remove the bundle of vegetables, discard the fennel fronds and leek, and cut the carrots and celery on the bias into bite-sized pieces, reserve.
- Skin the chicken and pull all the meat from the bones, tearing into bite-sized pieces, reserve.
- Strain the cooking liquid through a fine meshed strainer into a clean saucepan, skim any fat from the top and set over medium high heat to reduce to 4 cups of concentrated stock, reserve.
- 3 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 sticks plus 5 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1” pieces.
- 2/3cup ice water
- 1teaspoon kosher salt
- (Ignore the above ingredients [and steps 1. and 2. below] if you, like me, want to use pre-made, store-bought shortcrust or puff pastry)
- Reserved chicken
- Reserved carrots
- Reserved pearl onions
- 10 fingerling potatoes (this is what I mean when I say “persnickety” – you could use regular potatoes, of course)
- 1 large fennel bulb, quartered and roasted (do not bother roasting this ahead of time, honestly)
- 10 ounces button mushrooms, thickly sliced and sauteed
- 1/2pound haricot verts, topped and tailed, blanched, refreshed, and chopped (just parboil the buggers)
- 1 1/2cups frozen green peas, thawed
- 1/4cup diced oven roasted tomatoes (store bought) (you could substitute sundried tomatoes like I did)
- 1 tablespoon brown mustard seeds
- 1/4 cup vermouth
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 8 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup creme fraiche
- 4 tablespoons dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped tarragon (couldn’t find this)
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped thyme
- 1 egg, whisked for egg wash
- Salt and pepper
- for the pastry crust – Place the flour into a bowl of a food processor, toss the butter on top, and pulse in short bursts until the butter is reduced to pea sized pieces. Add the salt to the water and stir to dissolve. Pour the water through the feed tube of the processor and pulse until the dough just starts to come together in a ball, you should still see some small butter chunks in the mix.
- Dump the dough out onto a well floured work surface, and divide it into two equal sized balls. Press each ball into a disc about an inch thick, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least a couple of hours, or overnight.
- for the pot pie filling – Pre-heat the oven to 400?. Quarter the fennel bulb, and cut out the wedge shaped core. Toss with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, and place on a baking sheet. Roast in the oven for about 20-25 minutes, until nicely caramelized. Remove from the oven, roughly chop and reserve.
- Place the fingerlings in a pan of cold water to cover. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a gentle boil and cook until just cooked through, about 10-12 minutes. Drain, place on a cutting board, and cut into coins. Toss in a bowl with a touch EVOO and reserve.
- Sauté mushrooms in a little olive oil with salt and pepper, until caramelized. Add mustard seeds and vermouth, and cook until all the liquid has evaporated, reserve.
- Make a roux by melting the butter over medium heat in a medium saucepan, add the flour, and whisk constantly for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the 4 cups of reduced stock, whisk until smooth. Put back on the heat, add the cream and creme fraiche, and cook, whisking, until the sauce thickens to coat the back of a spoon. Whisk in the mustard and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the minced tarragon and thyme, remove from heat to cool slightly.
- Put all filling ingredients (potatoes, tomatoes, onions, carrots, fennel, celery, haricot verts, mushrooms, and chicken) into a large mixing bowl, add the mustard velouté and mix well. Check for seasoning, reserve.
- Whisk the egg in a small bowl.
- Pour the filling to within 1/2” of the top of a 3” deep, 8-9” round soufflé dish (or other such ramekin or earthenware vessel)
- Roll the pastry dough on a well floured surface to about 1/8” thickness.
- Brush egg wash onto the rim of the ramekin and about halfway down the outside of the dish to hold the crust in place while baking.
- Place the rolled pastry on top of the pie, allowing about 2” to drape over the edges. Press into place to adhere to the dish, cut away any excess.
- Brush the entire crust with egg wash, and cut 8 small vent slits in the top. (I didn’t do this.) Put the pie on a sheet tray and place in the 400 degree oven for 30-35 minutes, until the crust is nicely browned, and the contents are seen bubbling through the vent holes. Remove from the oven and serve with a simple green salad.
- If you made it this far, I salute you.