MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif. - Manhattan beach cooking teacher Pamela Salzman feels homemade is not only less expensive, but it's much more heartfelt.
For Valentine's Day she suggests comfort food to warm hearts and tummies.
"If you really love somebody you want to give them something that is good for them. But it's good for them too. It's homemade, it's good ingredients and still can be comforting and tasty too. So we're going to make individual pot pies everybody likes to have their own. It's just the perfect serving size," said Salzman.
Veggies sautéed in grass fed butter. A bit of broth and flour and spices to make sure veggies are cooked down with proper flavor and thicken the mix. Add cooked chicken and top with homemade or store bought crust.
Make a top that's over-sized to go over the side and crimp edges seal the deal.
Salzman uses a cute heart shaped cookie cutter to cut out of her pie, but it also has a very important function.
"If you don't then this thing will puff up too big or can be a little watery," Salzman explained.
No cookie cutter, no problem. Just make a small hole or little knife slits to help open the top, then brush with egg for a golden brown crust.
For dessert it's time to break out an old fashioned cast iron skillet.
"One of my families favorites is a cast iron chocolate chip cookie cake," said Salzman.
Pro tip: Use quality ingredients that you may find unusual such as coconut sugar, avocado oil, several whole grain flour, organic vanilla dark chocolate or semi sweet chips or chunks.
"Who doesn't love a big chocolate chip cookie?" Salzman asked.
After about 30 minutes in the oven, out comes something from the heart and kitchen.
INDIVIDUAL CHICKEN POT PIES - SERVES 4
- PASTRY -
- 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour or spelt flour
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 12 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, preferably organic, cut into 12 pieces
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 cup ice water
- 1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or equivalent amount of cooked chicken, shredded or chopped into bite-size pieces)
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, preferably organic
- 1 medium onion, peeled and diced
- 1 large or 2 small carrots, peeled and diced
- 6 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour or spelt flour or all-purpose gluten-free flour
- 1 teaspoon sea salt (double this if your stock is unsalted)
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 2 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 10-ounce package frozen peas, thawed
- 1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream, whole milk or plain, unsweetened almond milk
1. To make the pastry, place the flour, salt, pepper and butter in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse 5 times. Add the lemon juice and water and turn on the machine for 3 seconds. Using your hands, scrape the dough onto a floured surface and work it together into a smooth ball. Cover with parchment paper or plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
3. To cook chicken: bring a medium pot of water to a boil and add chicken breasts. Simmer for 7-8 minutes. Drain. Save the pot for later use. When chicken is cool enough to handle, cut into bite-size pieces and add back to pot. It is fine if the chicken is not cooked all the way through. Set aside.
4. Heat butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and carrot and sauté until onion is translucent. Add the flour and sauté for 3 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring constantly. Add the salt and paprika. Mix well. Add the chicken stock gradually while stirring and bring to a boil. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce. Taste the mixture for seasoning and add extra salt and pepper if needed.
5. Add peas, parsley and onion-carrot mixture to chicken in the pot and combine well. Transfer to 4 4-inch ramekins.
6. Roll out the pastry dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut rounds from the dough 1/2-inch larger than the ramekin. Take a very small heart-shaped cookie cutter and press into the center of each round to create a heart-shaped opening, if desired, otherwise make a few small slits in the dough for steam to escape. Place the dough on top of the filling and crimp the edges. You will have excess dough which can be frozen for another time.
7. Beat the egg yolk with the cream and brush the top of the pastry with the mixture. Place dish on top of a baking sheet and bake for 50-60 minutes or until golden brown.
(*Or buy a premade frozen pie crust and defrost it before cutting into rounds.)
CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE SKILLET CAKE - MAKES 1 10-INCH SKILLET
- 1 cup unrefined avocado oil, olive oil, or melted coconut oil + more for greasing the skillet
- 1 cup coconut sugar, muscovado sugar or light brown sugar
- 2 large eggs + 1 large egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour or flour of choice, such as spelt or millet
- 1 cup oat flour (you can take a cup of rolled oats and process them in the food processor to make your own oat flour)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 10-inch cast iron skillet with avocado oil. You can also use a 10-inch pie plate or a 9 x 9-inch baking pan.
2. Place the avocado oil and sugar in a large mixing bowl and whisk until combined. Whisk in eggs and vanilla.
3. In a medium bowl whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda and sea salt. Slowly add to the oil/sugar mixture and blend until everything is combined.
4. Stir in the chocolate.
5. Spread the mixture into the preapred skillet and bake until golden brown, about 30-40 minutes. (33 minutes is perfect in my oven.) The edges should be dry and the center should be somewhat soft, but it will settle once it cools. You want it to be a just slightly underdone.