Monthly Archives: December 2016

Pork and Potato Hand Pies

When I think of hand pies, my mind always goes to ones with a sweet filling – the apple pies at McDonald’s, the Hostess cherry pies, even Pop-Tarts – but every so often I crave a good savory meat pie. Many cultures have their own version of this dish: baked pierogis from Poland, salteñas from Bolivia, pasties from the UK, or pâté chaud from Vietnam, to name a few. I tend to make mine in the style of Argentenian empanadas, and my meat of choice when it comes to savory pies is almost always pork.

My hand pie recipe is made with a traditional pie crust, braised pork and potato filling. The pork is slowly braised in beer and chicken stock with lots of fragrant spices. This produces a tender and moist filling full of flavor. The addition of potato to the filling helps absorb some of the juice from the pork during the baking process. The creamy potatoes also add a layer of richness to the pies. If you are pressed for time, I encourage you to use store-bought pie dough as it produces good results as well. This hand pie recipe is perfect to make with family members and friends during the holidays or for your next potluck. Enjoy and Happy Holidays!

 

Pork and Potato Hand Pies

Yield: About 4 dozen

 

Flaky pie dough (recipe below) or 2 packages of pre-made refrigerated pie dough

1 recipe of beer-braised pork shoulder, shredded and cut into smaller pieces (recipe below, make 1 day in advance)

1 recipe for chopped potatoes with cream (recipe below)

1 large egg

2 tablespoons of cream

Pinch of sea salt

 

1. Line 3 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

2. Lightly dust a work station. Roll out the pie dough to 1/8″ thickness. Cut the dough into circles using a 3 1/2″ circular cookie cutter. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent the cut dough from drying out.

3. Whisk together the egg, cream and a pinch of salt. Set aside.

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4. Create an assembly line of the braised pork, potatoes, and egg wash.

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5. Place about 1 heaping tablespoon of pork and 1 heaping teaspoon of potatoes in the center of the pre-cut dough.

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6. Brush half of the edges with egg wash. Fold and press to seal. Repeat the process until you have 1 tray ready, which will be about 12-16 hand pies.

7. Preheat the oven to 350°.

8. Using the tines of a fork, pierce once in the center of each assembled pie.

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9. Brush with egg wash.

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10. Bake in the oven for approximately 20-25 minute until they are a nice golden brown.

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11. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Braised Pork Shoulder Filling

3 lbs. of pork shoulder

Olive oil or other vegetable oil

1 tablespoon of Kosher salt

1 teaspoon of brown sugar

1 teaspoon of sweet paprika

1 teaspoon of ground coriander

1 teaspoon of ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon of ground cardamom

1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper

2 sweet yellow onions, 1/2″ slices

5 cloves of garlic

2 fresh or dried bay leaves

1 bottle of light beer (like a Stella Artois or Corona)

2 cups or more of chicken stock

1/2 packet of gelatin

1. In a small bowl, combine the salt, paprika, coriander, cumin, cardamom, and black pepper. Rub mixture on the pork, then let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

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2. Preheat the oven to 450°.

3. Toss the onion and garlic cloves in olive oil and place on a baking sheet. Roast for 20-25 minutes and remove from the oven. You want them slightly charred.

 

4. Reduce the heat of the oven to 300°.

5. Meanwhile, heat a Dutch oven to high heat over a stovetop. Add about 1 tablespoon of oil. Get a good sear on the pork on all sides.

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6. Add the roasted onions and garlic to the pot, along with 2 bay leaves. Pour the beer over the pork and onion mixture. Top off with chicken stock to cover the pork. Cover with lid.

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7. Braise in the oven for approximately 5-6 hours. Check progress at the 4 hour mark. The filling is done when the meat falls apart.

8. Remove the bay leaves and discard. Remove the pork and set aside. Strain the broth through a chinois, pushing down the solids with a wooden spoon to extract as much of the liquid as possible. Place the pork back into the pot and refrigerate overnight.

9. The next day, remove the harden fat layer on top of the broth with a spoon and discard. Remove the pork and shred and cut any long pieces with kitchen shears. Set aside.

10. Place the broth pot back on the stove and boil over high heat until it is reduced by half. Stir the gelatin into 2 tablespoons of cold water and then stir into the broth. Place the pork back into the pot. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed.

11. Cool at room temperature for 30 minutes and then refrigerate until completely cooled before using.

 

Potatoes and Cream Filling

3 cups of Yukon gold potatoes, chopped into 1/4″ dice (about 2 small potatoes)

Kosher salt

3 tablespoons of heavy cream

Freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Put 1 1/2 quarts of water in a medium pot. Bring to boil.

2. Add Kosher salt until it tastes like the ocean, about a small handful.

3. Add the chopped potatoes and boil for approximately 5 minutes. Drain and transfer to a medium bowl.

4. Stir in cream and taste and add salt if needed. Add a couple turns of the pepper mill. Stir again and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.

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Pie Crust

4 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour

1/4 cup of sugar

1 1/2 teaspoon of Kosher salt

1 pound of cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes

2/3 – 3/4 cup of cold ice water

 

1. Add the flour, sugar, and salt in the food processor. Pulse a few times.

 

2. Add the butter pieces. Pulse a few more times until the butter pieces are incorporated, but still visible.

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3. Slowly add the cold water while pulsing.

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4. Stop once the dough comes together.

5. Transfer to a lightly-dusted workstation. Knead until the flour comes tougher.

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6. Divide the dough into 2 equal parts and roll the dough into disks.

7. Double wrap in plastic and place in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Raspberry Almond Cake Bars

I love the flavor of almond in baked goods. Frangipane, marzipan, almond paste, shaved almonds – however the almond flavor gets in there is fine with me – so it should come as no surprise that my favorite flour to bake with is almond flour. I love the richness that it adds to baked goods, and because of the natural oils from the almonds, you use less fat in your recipes. A few years ago, I tried a Bakewell tart with frangipane, raspberry jam and icing. The tart, which originated in England, was delicious, but little too sweet and rich for my taste. I loved the combination of flavors but wanted a lighter version, so I decided to create my own. The bottom layer is a crispy shortbread crust, the filling is a raspberry jam, and the top is a moist almond cake made with olive oil and Meyer lemon zest. These bars are perfect for breakfast, afternoon tea, or a late-night snack. Enjoy!

Raspberry Almond Cake Bars

Yield: 9 large bars or 16 small bars

Non-stick baking spray

 

Shortbread Cookie Crust

1 stick of unsalted cold butter, cut into 16 cubes

1/4 cup of sugar

1/4 teaspoon of Kosher salt

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour

 

Almond Cake Layer

1/2 cup of unbleached all-purpose flour

3 ounces of almond flour

1 teaspoon of baking powder

1/4 teaspoon of Kosher salt

2 large eggs

1/2 cup of sugar

1 teaspoon of almond extract

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

3 tablespoons of whole sour cream

1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon of Meyer lemon zest

 

Filling

1/2 cup of raspberry jam (Bonne Maman is my preferred brand)

1/2 teaspoon of organic cornstarch

 

Topping

1/8 cup of toasted sliced almonds

Organic confectioners sugar for dusting, optional

 

 

1. Preheat the oven to 325°. Grease an 8″ x 8″ baking pan with non-stick spray.

2. To make the shortbread, add the butter pieces into a stand mixer with paddle attachment. Beat on medium-low speed for 1 minute.

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3. Add the sugar and beat for about 2 minutes until creamy. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the sides of the bowl. Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Beat until just combined.

4. Reduce the speed of the mixer to low and slowly add 1 cup of the flour. Mix until most of flour has been absorbed by the butter-sugar mixture.

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5. Using your hands, press down on the shortbread so the mixture comes together.

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6. Transfer to the greased pan and press down evenly to create the shortbread crust. Using the tines of the fork, create holes throughout the crust.

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7. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes

8. While the shortbread is baking, add 1/2 cup of flour to a medium bowl. Whisk in 3 ounces of almond flour, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Set aside.

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9. In a large bowl, whisk the 2 eggs and the sugar until combined. Add the almond extract and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Whisk again.

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10. Add the sour cream and olive oil and whisk until smooth.

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11. Add the flour mixture and fold in with a rubber spatula until no lumps are present. Set aside.

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12. Remove the par-baked shortbread from the oven. Let cool for 5 minutes.

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13. Increase the temperature of the oven to 350°.

14. Add the cornstarch to the raspberry jam and whisk well.

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15. Spread the jam evenly over the shortbread, leaving 1/4″ border.

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16. Carefully spoon the cake mixture over the jam and smooth out with a rubber spatula.

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17. Sprinkle with toasted sliced almonds.

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18. Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes until golden brown. Use a toothpick to test the center for doneness.

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19. Cool on a wired rack for about 1 hour before cutting. Dust with confectioners sugar.

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20. Serve with coffee or tea. Leftovers keep well in an air-tight container for up to 3 days.

Cauliflower, Arugula, and Pomegranate Salad

My first job out of culinary school was working as a Garde Manger, a fancy French name for the chef of cold foods such as appetizers, salads, sandwiches, etc. It is an entry-level position that is offered to most recent culinary graduates. During my short stint working as a Garde Manger, I became an expert at making salads. Making salads is all about balance and creating layers of textures. I loved adding fresh seasonal produce in the salads: artichokes in the spring, peaches in the summer, roasted butternut squash during the fall, and persimmons in the winter. It was a fun challenge to incorporate seasonal ingredients and come up with new salad ideas.

In the spirit of the holidays, I offer you a lovely seasonal salad highlighting cauliflowers and pomegranate seeds. This vegetarian salad is crunchy, sweet, tart, and nutty. It’s also very pretty with Christmas colors of white, red and green. It’s a perfect salad to serve at your holiday meal or to take to a holiday potluck, as it will offset some of the greasy and heavy food at the table. Make sure you keep the toasted almonds, pomegranate seeds and dressing separate if taking to a party and assemble it on site. Enjoy!

Cauliflower, Arugula, and Pomegranate Salad

Serving Size: 6-8

12 ounces of organic cauliflower (about 1/2 head)

2 ounces of arugula leaves

1/2 cup of golden raisins

2/3 cup of pomegranate seeds*

1/3 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese shavings

1/3 cup of sliced almonds, toasted**

Vinaigrette (recipe below)

1. Slice the cauliflower into 1/4 inch pieces. You can use a mandolin, if you have one, to create uniform slices. Place them in a large salad bowl.

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2. Add the arugula, golden raisins, pomegranate seeds, Parmigiano-reggiano cheese, and the almonds.

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3. Dress the salad with the vinaigrette and toss lightly, making sure you don’t bruise the arugula. You may not need to use all of the dressing.

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4. Serve immediately.

*You can find pomegranate seeds at Trader Joe’s. They did all the  hard work for us.

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** Toast raw almond slices in the oven at 350° for 5-8  minutes

 

 

Vinaigrette Recipe

1/4 cup of red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon of finely chopped shallots

2 teaspoons of Dijon Mustard*

2 teaspoons of honey

2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon of sea salt

Freshly grated black pepper

 

1. Add all the ingredients in a mason jar or a dressing jar.

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2. Top with lid and shake until the dressing is emulsified and not separated. (Alternatively, whisk all the ingredients in a bowl until emulsified.)

3. If not using right away, you can store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

*Trois Petits Cochon’s Dijon mustard not too spicy, so it is wonderful to add to dressings.

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