The holiday season is upon us and that means a lot of guests will be knocking at our doors...whether we expect them or not! It seems that my pantry and freezer is amply stocked during the last quarter of the year. Some years I've needed it and others, well, not so much.
I do enjoy having guests in my home. In fact, I wish I would host more often. For the most part every guest has been a joy to have over, but I have had a doozy or two as well.
And speaking of doozies, let me introduce you to "Guest". Guest arrived at my door two days early (unannounced.) I was very glad to see Guest but was somewhat irked that I had not been forewarned. The guest room still needed to be tidied, food needed to be bought and the house needed to be picked up. Believe it or not, Guest was offended that dinner was not piping hot out of the oven upon their arrival. We took Guest out to dinner and rather than asking me if they could sit by the window, they grabbed the hood of my jacket as I was sitting down and yanked me out of the booth. I was mortified, other diners had witnessed...strike one.
As days passed we had a great time enjoying each others company. I did however cringe at the sight of unflushed toilets and fingernails spit across my living room floor (strike two and three.) What was even worse, Guest did not have plans to leave. I simply was told, "Just tell me when you want me to go." How awkward is that??? Guest left a day earlier than expected (really not on good terms...OK, hubby coaxed Guest out), but we still talk every now and then.
Mmmmm...so I noticed I mentioned dirty toilets and fingernails spit upon a floor in a food blog. How appealing is that? Nevertheless I have two great recipes that will knock your guests socks off (invited and uninvited.) Frozen puff pastry is a staple in my freezer and with a box you can create a rustic tart and a steamy, comforting and inviting chicken pot pie.
Chicken Pot Pie
- One sheet of frozen puff pastry, thawed
- One 3-4 pound rotisserie chicken, meat shredded into bite size pieces
- 9 oz. red potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 5 T. unsalted butter
- 1 leek, sliced into thin rounds
- 2 carrots, sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 6 oz. cremini mushrooms
- 5 T. flour
- 1 c. milk
- 2 c. chicken stock
- 2 T. thyme
- 2 T. parsley
- Coarse salt and pepper
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 T. heavy cream
- Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until potatoes begin to turn golden, 4-5 minutes. Add leek, carrots, mushrooms, then cook 4-5 minutes more. Add flour, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
- Stir milk and chicken stock into pot; bring to a simmer. Cook until thick and bubbly, stirring constantly, 2-3 minutes. Add chicken meat, thyme and parsley; season with salt and pepper. Transfer filling to a deep 10-inch glass pie dish. ***Steps 1 &2 can be made one day ahead; let cool completely, then cover pie dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. In a small bowl, whisk together egg yolk and cream; set aside. Unfold thawed pastry on a lightly floured surface. Roll out dough to a 10-inch square. Cut out a steam vent in the center of the pastry using a small coolie cutter. Lay pastry over the pie dish, and press onto filling. Brush dough with egg wash, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Freeze until firm, 30 minutes.
- Place pie dish on a rimmed cookie sheet; bake 5 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees Fahrenheit; continue baking until crust is puffed and golden brown and juices are bubbling, 15-20 minutes more. Let cool 5 minutes.
- One sheet of frozen puff pastry, thawed
- Flour, for work surface
- 3 granny smith apples
- 1/3 c. sugar
- 1 t. cinnamon
- pinch of each; cloves and nutmeg
- 1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tsp. of heavy cream, set aside
- 2 T. unsalted butter, cubed
- 2 T. apple jelly
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out pastry sheet to a 10-by-10-inch square. Trim 3/4 of an inch off the edge with a pizza cutter or sharp paring knife, creating strips for the tart shell. Transfer to a baking sheet; place in freezer. Peel, core, and slice apples 1/4 inch thick. Toss in a large bowl with sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.
- Brush outer border of tart base with egg wash and adhere the trimmed strips to the tart. Place apples inside border, and dot with butter. Brush the exposed pastry border with egg wash. Bake until pastry is golden and apples are tender, 30 to 35 minutes.
- In a small saucepan, heat jelly with 1 tablespoon water until melted. Brush apples with glaze. Serve tart warm or at room temperature, cutting into pieces with a serrated knife