Friday, November 23, 2012


A couple of weeks ago, I was so excited I actually posted on my facebook status "so excited to be at a book signing". Deb, of Smitten Kitchen came to Vancouver and there I was, sitting (I got to the bookstore extremely early) looking through Deb's lovely book, drooling over the pictures and planning which recipes to cook. I was so lucky to have a seat and then be second in line to have my book signed as there was a huge line up. Deb was so lovely and funny and charming.

chatting with Deb as she signed my book
I told her I'd just made a version of her pot pies which she posted on her blog shortly before the book tour. I made our version with spinach and bacon in lieu of chard and pancetta and I did one big pie instead of individual ones but the pastry was divine and the stew, well, it is a hearty, stick-to-your-ribs, pile of deliciousness. It could, indeed, as Deb writes in the book notes about the recipe, stand on its own, but the pastry is so divine, why not make it as well. (I'm paraphrasing).

Spinach, bacon and white bean pot pie (adapted from smitten kitchen blog and book)
2 cups (250 grams) all- purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon table salt
13 tablespoons (185 grams or 1 stick plus 5 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, diced
6 tablespoons (90 grams) sour cream or whole Greek yogurt (i.e., a strained yogurt)
1 tablespoon (15 ml) white wine vinegar
1/4 cup (60 ml) ice water
1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash

2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil
4 ounces (115 grams or 3/4 to 1 cup) diced bacon
2 small onions, finely chopped
1 large carrot, finely chopped
1 large stalk celery, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
10 ounces of spinach, sliced
3 tablespoons (50 grams) butter
3 tablespoons (25 grams) all- purpose flour
3 cups (765 ml) low- sodium vegetable broth
2 cups white beans, cooked and drained

Make pastry: In the bowl of a food processor combine the flour and salt. Add the butter and pulse until the butter is broken up into quarter size pieces. In a small dish, whisk together the sour cream, vinegar, and water, and combine it with the butter-flour mixture. Pulse until a craggy dough forms. Dump out onto a floured counter and pull and pat it into a flattish ball, wrap it in plastic wrap, and chill it in the fridge for 1 hour or up to 2 days.

Make filling: Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium- high heat in a large, wide saucepan, and then add the bacon. Brown the bacon (about 10 minutes) then remove it with a slotted spoon, and drain it on paper towels. Add onions, carrot, celery to the pan with the bacon drippings and a few pinches of salt, and cook over medium heat until the vegetables are softened and begin to take on color, about 7 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook for 1 minute more. Add the greens and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes. Season with additional salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Transfer all of the cooked vegetables to a bowl with the bacon, and set aside.

Make sauce: Wipe out the large saucepan, then melt the butter in the saucepan over medium- low heat. Add the flour, and stir with a whisk until combined. Continue cooking for 2 minutes, stirring the whole time, until it begins to take on a little color. Whisk in the broth, scraping up the bits that were stuck to the bottom. Bring the mixture to a boil and reduce it to a simmer. Cook the sauce until it is thickened and gravylike, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Stir the white beans and reserved vegetables and bacon into the sauce.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Assemble and cook: Pour the filling into an ovenproof dish. Roll out the dough into a round large enough to cover the dish with an overhang. Whisk the egg wash and brush it lightly around the top rim of your bowl and drape the pastry over each, pressing gently to adhere it. Brush the lid with egg wash, then cut decorative vents to let the steam escape.

Bake until crust is lightly bronzed and filling is bubbling, about 40 to 45 minutes.

As I assembled the pie, I remembered my English grandmother making steak and kidney pie. She used to put an egg cup in the middle of the pie to support the pastry as it cooked. I was missing her and her trusty pie dish. The pie emerged from the oven looking delightful,

but the pastry had dropped off on one side. I guess I pressed a bit too hard to get the pastry to stick to the top of the dish!

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