The Great Pasty Experiment

Rich meat pocket pie with peppery onion gravy.
Rich meat pocket pie with peppery onion gravy.

So, please forgive me but this is more a story of what I tried than an actual recipe.  It must be the cooling weather but I am obsessing on shepherd’s pie and pot pie and pasties.  So I was browsing the interwebs and its plethora of awesome food blogs and came away with general idea: a pasty is pie crust filled with meat onion and potato, or more. So after a grocery store run, I set off.

First up? The crust.  Just a double batch of Martha’s pâte brisée, only going with half lard/half butter for the fat.


Only thing is, the lard is WAY softer than the butter, so with the second round in the cuisinart I whirred the butter several times before adding the lard.


I added the cold water by hand, and then divided the dough in to 9 balls, wrapped ’em in wax paper, flattened them and put them in the fridge for a couple hours.


Next up, the filling.  Not even remotely traditional. I diced one celery stalk, half an onion, one large russet potatoe, two medium carrots and sliced 4 oz of button mushrooms.  Then, browned the lean (10%) ground beef and added the veg until they were halfway cooked.



I let that cool in ice box, and took a little nap.  A couple hours later, it was assembly time. I heated the oven to convection 400*. And rolled out, then filled the dough. 



Sealed those mofo’s up.



Brushed them with an egg wash.



And baked them for forty minutes. At the halfway point, I flipped the trays. Meanwhile, I started the gravy.  I had put aside about half a cup of the filling, and put that in a saute pan with the other half of the onion, sliced in to thin half-moons.  I cooked them with about a teaspoon of butter on low for about thirty minutes, until they were browned and tender and almost falling apart.  Here I debated – just use a flour slurry, or go for the Bisto?  I went with the bisto. Stirred that in and cooked until thickened.  Then, after I tasted it, I realized it needed some more flavor, so I added some beef broth base.  Then we were done.

These are tasty. But very, very rich. As in, now I want to go take another nap rich.

Try some – they’re good!


Cranberry Orange Scones

COscone1Fresh cranberries. I LOVE this time of year, in part because of the fresh cranberries.   And cranberry and orange? Heaven in my book, absolute heaven!

I thought I’d try a scone with fresh cranberry instead of the treacly sweet dried kind, and some orange.  Google led me to our Lady of Excellence and Butter, Ina Garten.  These are delicious, and on the cakey side more than the biscuity side.  I’m too lazy for a round cutter, so wedged discs it was for me – and I like to brush on my glaze while the scones are still hot – it dries as a pretty shine, and keeps them from drying out if you’re planning to take your sconage to your co-workers the next day.


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Torta di Pastore…ok, fine. Shepherd’s pie.



Ready for the oven….

Potato-y goodness ready for the oven.

SPshepherdPie2So, planning the menu this week I intended to make Budget Bytes’ super amazing  lentil and sausage stew. Only it was a hellacious day. And when I got home, these bewitching comfort-in-starchy-skins were staring at me from their basket above the counter. I answered their Siren’s song, dammit. The base of this perverted autumn classic is the sausage and mire poix with a veg stock/maizena sauce, a layer of frozen chopped spinach, and then the topping with those luscious spud sirens smooshed to submission with butter, olive oil, parsley, garlic salt and chopped kalamata olives.  Screw you, Tuesday. This is delicious.


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Blondies. Bill has this memory of earth-shatteringly good blondies from the Just Desserts bakery in San Francisco from [cough cough] years ago.

I can’t tell you how many recipes I’ve tried over the years, hoping to give him that little slice of bakery happiness…. but have yet to find THE ONE. 

Blondie  mis en place
Blondie mis en place

These are not them, but they are damn tasty.  They’re from Smitten Kitchen, with walnuts and (in honor of The City) Ghiradelli white and dark chocolate chips, some walnuts, and crystal sugar on top.

Alright – now that the photo’s up, it’s time to go make a pot of coffee to do these bad boys justice.

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Count Dracula’s Pasta Dinner



We are so lucky to have this amazing Italian deli and food shop in town, Roma Imports. They make their own sauces, sausages, desserts, and carry salume  and pasta like that reginette in the photo that we otherwise just would not find here.

We are in love with their Count Dracula sausage, and it is my favorite to use when making what my Italian-American friends call “gravy” (and what the rest of us call pasta sauce.)  It is a beautiful thing, bursting with juicy porky goodness, seasoned with lots of hot pepper and garlic. YUM! 
Since we don’t do the whole primo/secondo thing at our house, we like to slice the sausage in the sauce after it’s cooked. It serves more that way, I think. But hey, I’m a cheap ass. Ask my husband. 



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Pumpkin Spice Cake

Best.Coffecake.Ever. EVER. 

pumpkin crumb cake

Tried this out this week after seeing the White On Rice post featured on Tastespotting. The recipe’s here – it is exquisite. Try it.    I used buttermilk instead of sour cream, and an 8 inch pan with a parchment collar (I wanted  it taller), and went chiffon-style on the batter. But this is truly one of the best cakes I have ever had. Office mates LOVED it!

 Had to make one for work and one for home, or I’d never hear the end of it. 


 One of the ladies at work made her own Sunday for a family breakfast, and it was huge hit there, too. YUM!!


Don’t Let Your Meat Loaf

ML8Bill is full of catchy little sayings – “What’s the word, hummingbird?” and “Don’t let your meat loaf.” They make me groan and laugh at the same time.  He also decided we should call these duchess potatoes, “tater titties”. Despite all this I love him, Pa. And I’d rather have duchess potatoes than tots any day.

That being said, meatloaf is a popular dish at our house. For dinner and then sandwiches the next day (With mayonnaise -something else Bill taught me. I always thought ketchup was best, but I was wrong!)

We’re partial to ground turkey in our house – the old beef/pork combo is just too rich for us.  

 Want to try it?

picture of ground turkey, bread crumbs, sriracha, ketchup, egg, onion and chopped bell peppers
The usual suspects
Egg, chopped peppers, grated onion, bread crumbs in bowl


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Leftover Steak Salad with Smokey Tomato Vinaigrette

SteakSaladSmoToEasy-peasy leftovers: some romaine heart wedges, some sliced onion & leftover steak topped with a mix of corn, black beans and poblano chilis (also known as this – hey, it says “easy”, go ahead and chop your veg if you’re feeling it), topped with my second all-time favorite salad dressing: Smokey Tomato.

We used to have a bargain chain grocery in town called Sunflower. They had this awesome house-brand smokey tomato salad dressing that was only $1.99 a bottle – $1.79 if you caught a sale. Then, they were purchased by Sprouts, and the house brand went away. It was replaced with Drew’s Smokey Tomato. Which is freakin’ delicious – but it goes for $3.49 a bottle. I just can’t pay that much for salad dressing. So….the interwebs helped me research the ingredients, and few tries led to a pretty close approximation.

ingredients olive oil, vinegar, garlic, canned tomatoes and liquid smoke
sheesh – shop at TJ’s much?

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Some for now, some for the freezer
Some for now, some for the freezer

It keeps a couple months in the freezer, and possibly more than a week in fridge – but I can’t vouch for that because it’s never lasted that long in our house.

Bon appétit.