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Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Gift Idea from your Kitchen

After the rush that is the Noche Buena feast on Christmas Eve, it is only now that I found the time to write. Compared to last year's celebration that is labeled as our 4-country sojourn (5, if one has to be technical about separating the Vatican from Italy), this year has been the simplest most peaceful one. Our menu was a match to it as well - an Oven-Baked Ham with Pineapple Glaze as centerpiece, with Russian Potato Salad, slices of Quezo de Bola, and a salad of greens with olive oil-balsamic vinegar dressing as side dishes.

Earlier that evening though, I prepared something to be given to certain people in our gift-giving list. I thought of giving away something home-made, like my Chicken Pot Pie, which certainly gave a very personal touch after all the time and labor spent on it. A batch that's good for 5 ceramic containers (measuring 4 x 4 x 2 in.) was done quite easily and didn't require a lot of my time. Preparing the ingredients may, however, require more because of the chopping that is required. A helpful tip would be to do all the preparations early then take a breather before approaching the cooking proper, or have someone help you do it, while you do the cooking yourself.

Everything about the dish I made from scratch, including the pie crust, but you may want to lessen the labor intensity by buying a package of puff pastry usually available in the frozen section of supermarkets or at your favorite deli stores. (Just follow package instructions for preparing these.) I packaged each pie in blue ceramic containers I bought from the supermarket for PhP45 each, then when the pie had totally cooled from baking, I wrapped them in white cellophane sheets, tied with a red ribbon. A card that says "From the Kitchen of -" will make the recipient feel that the dish was especially made for him/her. Cheers!

Chicken Pot Pie

For the crust:

2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup butter, softened but not melted
1 tsp. salt
6 T. cold water

For the chicken filling:

1 k. chicken breast cut into bite-sized pieces
1 red onion, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium-sized carrot, cut into cubes
2 potatoes, cubed
1 small can whole mushrooms, sliced according to your liking
1 can vienna sausage, cut into smaller rounds
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
hot water, depending desired thickness of sauce
salt & pepper to taste

1. Make the pie crust: Mix the salt with the flour and add the butter. Blend together with fork or a pastry blender. The resulting mixture should look like cornmeal. Add cold water one tablespoon at a time and mix together until it forms into dough. (You don't have to use all the water, just until the dough forms together). Wrap with cling wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes before using.

2. Make the chicken filling: Saute onions until for 1 minute then followed by garlic in a little corn oil. Follow with carrots and potatoes to allow time to cook these vegetables. Mix in the chicken bites until almost cooked (when meat has turned opague in color). Add in the mushrooms and the vienna sausage then season with salt and pepper to taste. Let simmer for 5 minutes to let ingredients cook through. Add the cream of mushroom soup and let simmer again for a few minutes. Check if the consistency of the sauce is to your liking, or else add hot water and check after a minute until you've achieved the consistency you like.

3. Assembly: Pour into ceramic dishes and distribute evenly. The chicken filling should only reach up to 3/4 of the dish rim. Set aside. Take out the pie dough from the refrigerator and set up your work table by sprinkling flour on the surface and that of your rolling pin (you can use a big and clean wine bottle as a rolling pin if you don't have one). Divide the dough by the number of ceramic dishes you have. Roll out the dough evenly on 4 sides then carefully put on top of one pie dish. The dough should fit over the rim and just cut away any excess. Fold dough over rim and press with tines of fork or thumb of your hand for a little design.

4. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. There will be varying times for baking your pie depending on the make and model of your oven so you can only know if its done when the crusts have browned a little.

5. Cool the pies entirely before packaging them. The pies will keep for 3-4 days if refrigerated.

1 comment:

  1. and the great of is, we got to eat one of the pies! : )