Root Vegetable Pot Pie

A rich and hearty pot pie is perfect for the season’s cooler tempsMake the most of earthy veggies with this tender main course that suits the season all winter long. Yogurt adds moisture and texture to the flaky crust while the decadent filling guarantees second servings. Try with a simple side salad.

Recipe originally posted on CAFE newsletter, edited by Ellie Sharp

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs each rutabaga, turnips, and sweet potatoes, cut into a ½ inch dice
  • 1 lb each carrots (sliced), Brussels sprouts (halved and tough outer leaves removed if necessary)
  • Extra virgin olive oil (~2TB)
  • Salt & pepper
  • 2 rosemary stalks, leaves minced

Leek Bechamel

  • Olive oil to sauté leeks
  • 1 bunch of leeks, halved, washed, and sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • Salt and pepper

Yogurt Dough (adapted from Nourishing Traditions)

  • 1 cup yogurt (goat yogurt OR kefir would be an excellent local choice here!)
  • 1 cup butter
  • 3 ½ cups flour (whole wheat is an excellent choice here as the yogurt tenderizes and softens the whole wheat and produces a stellar flavor and texture. A spelt flour version is pictured below.)
  • 1 tspn salt
  • Egg wash/melted butter for cooking

Directions:

Make yogurt dough:

  1. Cream together butter and yogurt in stand mixer with paddle attachment.
  2. Add flour and salt. Mix until combined.
  3. Split into two. You only need half this the dough for the recipe. Freeze the other half for the next time you make pot pie, pasties, etc.
  4. You can use immediately or set aside to allow the yogurt to soak the whole grains to increase nutritional absorption!

Roast veggies:

  1. Preheat oven to 425.
  2. On a sheet pan with a Silpat mat/parchment/foil, combine rutabaga, sweet potatoes, and turnips. Add 1 TB of olive oil, season generously with salt and pepper and half the rosemary. Flip vegetable halfway through. Roast for 25-30 minutes until fork tender.
  3. On another sheet pan add carrots and Brussels sprouts. Add oil, salt and pepper, rosemary.  Roast for 15-20 minutes.
  4. Set vegetables aside or add to your pie pan. You might have more vegetables than needed. They make an excellent topping to fresh greens, goat cheese, and balsamic vinaigrette the next day for lunch. 
  5. Reduce oven to 375.

Make bechamel:

  1. Sauté leeks in olive oil over medium heat for about 5-8 minutes until leeks are translucent. Season with salt, pepper, minced garlic.
  2. Add butter. When melted, sprinkle flour over and combine. Let flour cook for 2 minutes.
  3. With a whisk, add milk 1/2 cup at a time, whisking with each addition.
  4. Allow the bechamel to cook for another minute and make sure everything is combined. Turn off heat.

Assemble:

  1. Place vegetables in pie pan.
  2. Top with bechamel and stir to combine. Taste and add more seasoning if needed! Set aside.
  3. Roll dough (easier if slightly chilled) out on countertop, make sure you have enough to cover pie pan. 
  4. Cover the pie with dough. Press dough onto pie pan using fork, crimping edges or your fingers to press down. Create vents on top allowing steam to escape during cooking process.
  5. Brush with egg wash or melted butter to help brown.
  6. Cook at 375 for 30-40 until crust is browned and delicious looking!

The romantic baker

The other day I got up early to rise a batch of bread. My daughter, who is 8, heard me and joined me at the kitchen counter in the early hours of the morning while everyone else was asleep. We scooped and weighed flour, measured water and sourdough starter, and she began mixing the dough with her hands. After a few turns, she looked up at me and said, “It’s just so cool that flour and water become the yummy loaves that I love so much!” And I think that means I win at parenting? Just kidding – but seriously, it was a good moment.

Usually when I’m baking it’s in the early morning hours or the late night and I’m alone. I turn off my podcasts and listen to the rhythmic sounds of the kneading, slapping, and folding dough. I’m in my body. And then, often, I slip into my mind. My favorite daydream is one where I assume the mindset of my kids at their height of play and pretend I’m a famous alchemist mixing things and transforming them. Because isn’t bread the simplest and most magical alchemy in our world today? Flour + water + salt + hands = delicious sustenance. 

The granolas that I concoct are the same thing. While I start with a base recipe, I create flavors and re-create memories. A favorite drink? A childhood memory? It comes down to seasonal ingredients paired with complementary spices and textures.  When my love affair with cooking began, I always said I’m not a baker. Baking requires precision, which I don’t exactly excel at. Cooking is my artistic and creative expression to the world. Some of us use a canvas, some of us use words, images, etc. To be an artist is to “tinker” – a smidge of this, handful of that, pinches here and there. Going off the roadmap and letting yourself be led by the senses is what drew me to cooking. And after years of baking bread, I’ve found this also in baking. While I do start by measuring my ingredients, a truly good loaf of bread is in the sight, feel, touch of creating it. I add more water or more flour because of the way the loaf looks based on my touch, based on my senses.Ideas, but also feelings and memories, form the flavor profile that go into making a batch of granola.

And finally, cakes – oh the cakes! I never thought I’d really enjoy baking cakes and I do have a certain approach to cake baking: I pay particular attention to ingredients often using whole grain flours to create texture and flavor in the base. But my mind is always turning on how I can incorporate an herb or a vegetable. How can I blend the flavors blooming all around me on the farm to create unique flavors that you may never have experienced in cake form. And the cakes I bake for people? So much of my love of them goes into that cake I bake for them. I often recall a meal, dessert, or a drink we shared together. I think about the things they love and I try to fold it into the cake batter or frosting. I love creating cakes for people, rather than the baking itself. 

So, my point? While baking is a science, I prefer to think of it as a love affair. It allows me to connect with my body, my mind, my spirit, and my heart – and for a moment, someone else, too. 

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Homemade Ricotta

I know I have mentioned this before, but if you didn’t know, we have easy access to raw milk. In SC, raw milk is legal to sell. We hadn’t even tasted raw milk prior to moving here. In CO, you had to buy a share (upwards of $150) of a farm and then buy a gallon (upwards of $10). I had read a lot about the tasty, nutritious, mysterious raw milk, but it had never passed my lips. A neighbor told us about a little family farm, really close to us, Harmony Dairy. I’ll have to do a post in the future, just so you can see pictures of where I go to buy my milk. It’s literally the farm your parents told you that “Rover” went to when he got too old. I get out of my jeep after going through multiple chained gates (free roaming animals are happy, but also dangerous for cars!) and pull up to a refrigerated cooler that says, “Drink Milk.” I put my $5 in a little tool box and grab my delicious raw, un-homogenized, full-fat, cream on the top milk. On my way out, I usually pet a calf or two, whisper to a pig of give a loving nudge to a dog or chicken. Are you in love yet?

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We aren’t big milk drinkers. My milk usually ends up fermented in some variety (yogurt or kefir), in a roux, and I use it in my coffee every morning. I usually get a gallon every two weeks. Except recently I’ve been buying more and more, ever since making homemade ricotta! I’ve never been a big ricotta fan. I mean I buy it once a year when I make lasagna and never think much of it. That has definitely changed.

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While it takes some time (not much though compared to any other cheese), it is definitely worth it. You have a few minutes while the milk heats. Go nuts. Me? I play with this beauty.

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I’m shameless. Sorry. I couldn’t let one post go by without a pic!

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I heat the milk with the acid (lemon juice) and the curds and whey separate and just before it erupts into a boil is when I shut off the heat. You can see the bubbles about to surface and the temp is around 200-205.

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And then the straining begins. It takes a little while for me as I only have this little sieve. Quadrupled lined with cheesecloth, it’s ready to go. I pour and drain and pour some more and drain some more.

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Almost there…

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You can stop the straining process when it looks and feels like ricotta to you. I like mine a little on the wet side. Then I liberally sprinkle with sea salt. And eat it. And occasionally it makes it into a beautiful dish like this one.

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Summer squash and ricotta galette. Divine.

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Or on a plate alongside crackers and fig jam for an elegant snack.

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Or on top of a plate full of pasta instead of parmesan for a rich, creamy addition. So, go ahead, make some ricotta. I promise you’ll find ways to use it!

Homemade Ricotta

Adapted from: http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2012/06/how-to-make-ricotta-cheese-from-scratch.html

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 gallon whole milk (DO NOT use ultra-pasteurized milk, which is basically any organic milk sold at the grocery store. It will not curdle, I learned this the hard way a long time ago! If you don’t have access to fresh milk, look in the store for a low-pasteurized alternative. For instance, I know Publix’s whole milk is low-pasteurized).
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice (From 1-3 lemons. I had super juicy lemons and only needed 1.)
  • Optional: 1/2 cup heavy cream (you might need this addition if using whole milk from the store), salt to taste

Directions:

  1. In a large, heavy-bottom pot (dutch oven or cast iron is great here), add milk and lemon juice, stir briefly.
  2. Set heat to medium-low heat. Heat milk until it reaches 175 degrees at this setting. This take about 30-50 minutes.
  3. After it hits 175 degrees, raise the heat to medium-high and watch closely. You will see the curds begin to separate from the whey (pictured above) and the whole thing will look like it’s about to erupt into a rolling boil. Shut the heat off before this happens. Let it sit for a few minutes while you get the straining station set up.
  4. Over a large bowl, set your sieve and quadruple line it with cheesecloth. Pour the curds and whey into the bowl and let it drain. I keep adding liquid as it drains down. It takes me about three dumps. I get in there with a spatula (pictured above) and help the liquid get under the curds by lifting and folding with the spatula.
  5. Once it looks and feels like ricotta to you, it’s done! Again, I liberally sprinkle with sea salt, but do your to your taste preference. Yes, this means start eating it now.
  6. Keep in air-tight container in fridge for over a week.