As you saw on Saturday, we made up a batch of Blackberry Muffins for Valentine’s day. Did you really think that we’d let dinner just fall by the wayside, or did you think it would be something special? A bit special, at least. To be honest, we wouldn’t have made these from start to finish on Valentine’s Day; they do involve Puff Pastry, but we had some waiting in the freezer for just such an occasion.
This particular recipe comes from Tart It Up!, by Eric Lanlard, which is full of pictures of beautiful tarts, including a fantastic-looking Spring Garden Green Tart that we plan to make as soon as we get some local asparagus. But, for now, we’ll just scratch up four little pies, essentially something like pot pies, but nothing like those frozen things in the freezer case.
Makes four 1-cup pies.
Don’t use store-bought sour cream for this; it’s too sour-tasting. We think that, if you don’t make your own sour cream, and can’t find crème fraîche, you would be best served by leaving it out. Yes, buy the leek; we know they’re more expensive than onions, but they’re also milder and a bit sweeter. You will taste the leek in this dish, so get it. For the stock, we’re trying to scratch up a batch of stock every week, and we recommend that you do the same; it’s just better, but if you can’t, use something that’s low in salt, so you can control how salty the pies are, not some corporation (after all, you’re eating them, not some corporate entity). Finally, for puff pastry, we’ll give you are blessing to use store-bought frozen puff pastry, provided it’s all-butter puff pastry.
Procedure in detail:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Place four 1-cup ramekins on a rimmed baking sheet.
Cook alliums. Melt the butter in a large skillet over low heat, add the garlic and leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 7 minutes. Use a low heat with leeks to sweat out some of the flavor; as we said above, it’s milder than onion and will fade with high heat.
Add mushrooms. Toss the mushrooms in with the leaks and garlic, and cook, still on low and stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. The mushrooms will release some of their moisture, but not all.
Add squash. Add in the squash pieces and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 1 minute. [In the future, we would also add about 1 tablespoon of flour to thicken the broth; read the note below].
Add broth. Stir in the broth, and bring to a simmer. Cover and let simmer for about 5 minutes. The squash will be mostly cooked after this simmering. Remove from heat.
Add sour cream and chives. Stir in the homemade sour cream and the chives. Taste, and add salt and pepper as needed.
Fill ramekins. Scoop the filling into the ramekins along with the broth. It should fill each ramekin to within 1/2 inch of the top edge.
Roll out pastry. Divide the pastry into four pieces, and, on a lightly-floured work surface, roll out each piece so that it will cover the tops of the ramekins.
Seal. Brush the edge of the ramekins with the egg (just a bit will work), place the puff pastry over the ramekin that so it’s covered, and lightly press down the edges. Trim away excess pastry with a sharp knife. Brush the entire surface of the puff pastry with egg.
Bake. Slide the pies into the oven and bake about 35 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the broth is bubbling around the edges.
Serve immediately. Just place the ramekins on a plate with whatever side you’re having.
While this is a nice way to use puff pastry, in our case, it didn’t puff as much as we’d have liked. Yes, it was super-flaky and tastes out of this world, but it would have been more impressive if it puffed more. We were disappointed in how thin the broth or gravy in the pies was. Next time, we’ll just add in a tablespoon of all-purpose flour when we add the squash, and make sure to stir thoroughly while we add the broth. That will make for a much nicer gravy. If you do so, between the 5 minutes of simmering and the time baking, all the raw flour taste will have cooked out and you’ll just have a nice, thicker gravy holding your vegetables. Also, we think that these pies would be improved by adding green peas, and leaving out some of the mushrooms, if necessary; at the very least, consider it as an option. Finally, these are best the first day. We had two left over and we warmed them in the oven for lunch; they weren’t quite as good. Overall, four stars.