Pigeon {Chicken} Pies

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Game of Thrones Series {Wee1}

You guys remember when I mentioned in my Chicken Stir-Fry post that I was thinking about doing a series that was centered around the HBO tv show “Game of Thrones”?

Well, I decided to go ahead and do it. I really think this may be one of the best series that I will ever do on the blog. I’m so excited for it and I think you guys will  like the recipes I’ve decided to put out. Ideally, I would have started this 3 weeks ago when the show first returned for its 4th season. However, since things don’t always go according to plan, I’m gonna be a late bloomer and hit the series off today, on the day that the 4th episode premiers. As the show only comes on once a week, I also decided that I would post the recipes once a week, every Sunday. I’m hoping to have a GoT recipe every Sunday until the end of the season. Knock on wood that I can actually pull it off…

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For those of you that don’t watch it, Game of Thrones is a medieval/fantasy show that’s centered around a complex, intricate plot of characters that are all involved in schemes, intrigues and webs that involve a fight over an Iron Throne and who will sit on it. It’s based on a series of wildly popular books by George R. R. Martin that still isn’t complete as of yet. I’ve only read the first book, and now that I’m watching the show, I don’t feel the need to read the other books and ‘spoil it’ for myself so far as the plot goes. This is actually one of the rare times when I prefer the cinema experience to the book experience of a story. The show writers and actors have all done a phenomenal job of  bringing Martin’s story to life and I wait every season/week to see what’s coming up next.

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Don’t quote me on this (for any book loyalists out there), but I believe  that pigeon pies are mentioned several times in the book series. My inspiration for them however, came from the episode with the Purple Wedding- arguably the best episode of Game of Thrones, like ever. Why? Because Joffrey Baratheon (i.e., the worst character to have ever graced the screen of my television)……

STOP READING IF YOU DON’T WANT A HUGE SPOILER.

was poisoned at the conclusion of the episode. I have to be honest guys, when I saw him start choking and gasping after drinking the wine and I realized what was actually happening,  I literally stood up and screamed out a resounding “YES!”

Does that make me a bad person? I don’t think so, anyway.

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Anyway, back to the food. Just before that “huge” thing happens to Joffrey, an enormous pie filled with live pigeons is brought out at  he and Margery’s wedding that is typically served at festive , royal celebrations. In lieu of that momentous episode, I thought I would make a rendition of ‘piegon pie’ for my first recipe of the GoT series on the blog. Although I’m sure they’re plentiful in King’s Landing, Pigeons are…kinda scarce in the grocery stores of my neck of the USA.  However, we’ve got plenty of chicken. So I decided, hey, I’ll just use chicken breast- it’s all the same so long as it’s still poultry, right?

My original plan was to make this into one big chicken pie, however at the very last moment I decided to try to make them into individual servings. I thought it would look more medieval/rustic, or whatever. Aren’t they cute? I can just imagine them being made in a medieval style Westeros bakery and then being hawked on the street by some portly guy pushing a wooden cart down some  narrow cobblestone street and-

Okay, never mind.

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However, I will say though, that doing it my way will require using quite a few pie crusts for the recipe to cut out the dough for the individual muffin tins (around 8 full crusts). If that’s too many for you, then feel free to dump the whole thing into one 11 x 14 dish, or into 2 deep dish pie crusts. That’s perfectly fine.

So let’s talk about taste. I’m totally fine with admitting that I used a Pillsbury pie crust for these. I definitely didn’t feel like making 8 recipes of pie crust. Nope, I didn’t. (If you do, then congratulations: you were Betty Crocker in a past life.) The store bought brand was stills a delicious crust; flaky and buttery and the perfect compliment to the filling.  Ohhh you guys the filling: rich, hearty and thick, bursting with huge chunks of chicken and vegetables in every bite. You could put away two or three of these babies easily…maybe even more (not that I would know about that from experience, though.)

In short, these pies were just as satisfying to eat as it was to watch the episode with the Purple Wedding. If that doesn’t tell you how delicious they are, then I honestly don’t know what will.

Stay tuned for next Sunday, where I’ll be sharing my next Game of Thrones recipe 🙂

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Pigeon {Chicken} Pies

Recipe Adapted from Ina Garten

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 1 rotisserie style chicken
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 2 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 cups yellow onions, chopped
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 16 oz bag of frozen mixed vegetables (carrots, corn, peas and green beans)
  • 8 pie crusts (4 boxes of pre-made refrigerated crusts, like Pillsbury)
  • Non-stick cooking spray

Directions

1.  Remove skin from rotisserie chicken and discard. Pull chicken off the bones and discard carcass. Roughly chop chicken into bite sized cubes. You should have about 4 to 6 cups.

2. In a small saucepan, heat the chicken stock and dissolve the bouillon cubes in the stock. In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and saute the onions over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until translucent.

3. Add the flour and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add the hot chicken stock to the sauce. Simmer over low heat for 1 more minute, stirring, until thick. Add heavy cream, sugar, onion powder, pepper, rosemary, and coriander. Add the cubed chicken, onions and mixed veggies. Mix well.

4. Remove chicken mixture from heat and allow to slightly cool. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray 2 12 cup muffins tins thoroughly with cooking spray. Roll out 1 pie crust at a time on a floured, smooth surface

5. Using a 4 1/2 inch round (like from a small bowl), cut out shapes for bottom crust. Line crust in bottoms of muffin tins, making sure that the edges come out over the tops of the tins.

6. Spoon cooled chicken mixture into crust lined tins, about 2 heaping tablespoons per pie. Use a 4-inch round to cut out shapes for the top crusts. Place crust over the tops of tins, crimping the bottom crust edges together with the top ones to seal the pies. Spray pie tops with cooking spray.

7. Bake pies for about 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool slightly before removing from muffin tins (they will be very hot).

 

 

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Vanilla Bean Challah

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There are some things that simply cannot be improved upon- so far as I’m concerned anyway.

Buttermilk pancakes drowning in syrup for breakfast (and lunch….and dinner if desired). There’s no improving on that.

Ella Fitzgerald playing  in my kitchen on an early, sunny morning like this one. Top that if you can (you won’t, trust me).

The Jenifer Ehle & Colin Firth Pride and Prejudice movie. Perfection itself.

Days off work, Coldstone ice cream, the entire Christmas season, classic musicals, the book Forever Amber, my baby niece’s smile- these are all things that I’m convinced cannot be improved because they’ve simply reached that level of perfection that can’t be topped or duplicated.

And now I think I’m starting to sound like Maria von Trapp listing off my favorite things, so yeah… moving on.

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Challah’s one of those things that I didn’t think it was possible to improve upon. After the success I had with my first, traditional Challah recipe, I was at first content to add it to my recipe box as a staple recipe and just move on. But then, I started thinking: could it actually be bumped up to another level? What if it were just a tad bit sweeter than the original? And what if I found a way to add one of my all time favorite flavors to it? (Vanilla)

All of these questions ultimately led to me making another Challah recipe, this time more sweeter and with the addition of Vanilla. Why I decided to make another six braid loaf of Challah when I already had two others sitting in my kitchen is a mystery even to me. Don’t worry though: none of it went to waste. Tomorrow’s recipe will prove it.

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Traditional Challah on the left, Vanilla Bean Challah on the right; which one do you guys think is prettier?

So I know that I had mentioned before in one of my previous posts that I’m kinda sorta maybe a cheap skate when it comes to buying what Ina Garten calls “good ingredients”. No shame in my game, guys. I’m the kind of cook that is willing to make due with the generic non-name brand products in the grocery store. I hunt for deals 95% of the time and pass on the full prices…mostly. Depending on my mood and my desire to try a particular recipe, there are occasions where I’m willing to bite the bullet and buy the pricier ingredients. This was one of those cases. I just couldn’t see a way around it; I had to use the real thing. So I went ahead and bought a vial containing 2 vanilla beans. I even included it in the pictures in case you guys didn’t believe me. So let’s give a cheer for Jess…and for her wallet.

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Turns out, challah IS one of those things that can be improved upon. Because this stuff is friggin fantastic. I’m really proud of how it turned out, considering that I did the one baking method that I’m throwing super shade at right now: baking bread on a sheet pan. I just really wanted to make a long, braided loaf of challah like the ones I see in cookbooks and magazines and using the sheet pan was the only way it would work. This required me to let the dough rise for a much MUCH longer time than the recipe called for…like an extra hour longer. On both the first and second rise. Yeah, I was determined that this stuff was going to work out. The sheet pan would NOT beat me this time. And I really don’t think that it did- the look, taste and texture of this bread is proof of that.

Another plus to this was that I was left with an empty vanilla bean that I remembered  Ina Garten giving me a useful tip with which to use it for. I filled a medium sized jar with sugar and placed the vanilla bean inside of it. Two days later, I opened the jar and smelled with a smile: I know have about 2 cups of Vanilla Sugar to plan a recipe around. Win.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s last recipe in our Challah Series.

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Vanilla Bean Challah

Recipe Courtesy of Alwaysorderdessert.com

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

 (Makes one large braided loaf)

Ingredients

  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup sugar or agave syrup + 1 teaspoon sugar for the yeast proofing
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for greasing the rising bowl
  • 2 large eggs + 1 large egg for the egg wash
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 whole vanilla bean
  • 4 to 4.5 cups all purpose flour

 Directions

1. In a large bowl, proof your yeast by whisking with 1 teaspoon of sugar in 1 cup of lukewarm water. Set aside and let sit until the yeast starts to foam. Once it has foamed, pour into the base of an electric mixer and used the whisk attachment to mix in the olive oil, the two eggs (one at a time), sugar, and salt.

2. Split the vanilla bean and scrape all the seed into the mixer. Switch to the dough hook and slowly add the flour, one cup at a time until it comes together and pulls away from the sides. Allow to knead in the mixer until smooth. (About 5 minutes.) If the dough seems too wet, add a little more flour, ¼ cup at a time.

3. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and roll into a ball. Grease a large bowl well with olive oil and place the dough ball in. Turn once to cover the top and cover with plastic wrap.

4. Place in a warm place to rise for an hour or until doubled in size. (I use my turned-off oven as the heat from the pilot light is perfect temperature.) Use your fingers to gently poke the air out of the dough, roll back into a ball, grease, cover and let rise again for another 30-45 minutes.

5. Once the dough has finished the second rise, roll out onto a floured surface and gently knead into a smooth ball. Cut into six equal size balls and roll each one into a tapered snake shape, about 10 inches long each. Arrange the six rolls next to each other in a row and pinch the ends together. To braid, start from the right and go over two, under one, and over two. Tuck in closer and repeat again with the right-most piece of dough repeating until the entire loaf is braided. Set on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

6. Beat the last egg and use a pasty brush to lightly brush over the loaf. Let rise for another hour.

7. When you are ready to bake, preheat your oven to 375 degrees (if you are rising the dough in the oven please be sure to remove it first).

8. Once the oven is ready, brush the loaf again with egg wash and place in the oven to bake for 30-40 minutes or until the top is glossy and golden brown.

9. Cool on a rack and serve.

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Girl Scout Cookie Lemon Tart

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Well, it’s about that time of year again…

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have a uncontrollable, somewhat dangerous obsession with Girl Scout cookies. Somehow or other, whether it be through family, friends, work, or even in the parking lots of grocery stores, everyone is going to have the chance to get some and most of us would be hard pressed to pass them up.  I remember when my younger cousins were Girl Scouts and we ordered boxes and boxes of cookies- I don’t quite know how it works specifically, but I think the gist of it is that the more cookies that a Girl Scout sells, the more badges she gets. I think we ended up giving away Girl Scout cookies to anyone who would take them that year- just so we wouldn’t have too many in the house. Anything for the cause, right?

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I hate wasting food. Hate, hate, hate it. I’m the person in my house that will continue to eat the leftovers after the third, fourth or even fifth day. And maybe longer than that. Don’t judge me. I’ve never gotten food poisoning before and until I do, I will likely continue this habit. Throwing perfectly good food away seriously gets on my nerves – especially if it’s something that I cooked, or something I know I can cook into something great. That little pet peeve was where my inspiration for this recipe basically came from. We ended up with an excess amount of Girl Scout cookies in my house- like we do every year- and rather than toss them, I wanted to find something to do with them. This is what I came up with.

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I’ve made no bake tart crusts before with vanilla wafers, so I saw no reason why I couldn’t do the same with Girl Scout cookies. One thing I hadn’t made before was lemon curd. I’d seen the Barefoot Contessa do it, so I decided to take pointers from her recipe. I did find however, that I needed to chill my curd rather than just let it set at room temperature. The taste is AWESOME, but the curd didn’t set up as firm as I would have preferred it to be. That’s on me though: the daylight was fading fast and I needed to hurry and do the photo  shoot before I lost the invaluable tool of photography that’s called natural light, so I took it out of the fridge early. Ideally I probably would’ve left it there for another hour, but I don’t think it looks all that bad… Right?

I’m really proud of how this turned out. I don’t even like lemon desserts all that much and this still sold me enough to want it again. I’m also already brainstorming other Girl Scout cookie combinations I could use for this concept. We’ll just leave that on a ‘To Be Continued” note, shall we?

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Girl Scout Cookie Lemon Tart

Recipe Adapted from Ina Garten and Allrecipes.com

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

Cookie Crust

  • 3 packages of Lemon Girl Scout Cookies, or any other Lemon Sandwich cookies (about 30)
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted

Lemon Curd Filling

  • 4 Lemons at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Directions

1. For the cookie crust: place lemon cookies into a food processor and pulse until very finely crushed. You can also place cookies in a sealed plastic bag and use a rolling pin to finely crush.

2. Mix melted butter with cookie crumbs. Press mixture onto bottom and side up of a greased 9-inch tart pan, or deep pie plate. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

3. For lemon curd filling: Remove the zest of the lemons with a vegetable peeler or zester, being careful to avoid the white pith. Squeeze the lemons to make 1/2 cup of juice and set the juice aside.

4. Put the zest in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the sugar and process for 2 to 3 minutes, until the zest is very finely minced.

5.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter with the sugar and lemon zest. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and then add the lemon juice and salt. Mix until combined.

6. Pour the mixture into a 2-quart saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 10 minutes. The lemon curd will thicken at about 175 degrees F, or just below a simmer. If need be, GRADUALLY increase the heat until curd reaches appropriate temp. Remove from the heat.

7. Fill the tart shell with warm lemon curd. Refrigerate overnight to allow lemon curd to set.

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