Sunday, March 20, 2016

20 March 2016

Happy Palm Sunday! I've been cooking all afternoon, and it's nice to have two arms to work with, even if my right one is only about fifty percent. Physical therapy is going well, and I return to my surgeon next Friday for more x-rays and, hopefully, a release. While I am on the mend, other friends are at the beginning of their recovery. Mayor Hobgood fractured his ankle a couple of weeks ago, but he is busy as usual with the help of a boot. He even attended our City Council retreat last week and participated at full speed. Our friend, Jessica Carter, is also recovering from gallbladder surgery, and we hope this will finally help her feel better. Last but not least, our dear friend and neighbor, Joe Satterfield, had a hip replacement a few days ago but is now home and recovering well. Returning the favor for the delicious meal Joe and Brenda brought over while I was recovering from my arm surgery, I decided to cook two of everything for tonight's Sunday Supper to share with the Satterfields. It's an honor to cook for them, and I hope it is half as good as the meal Brenda brought to me.

While cooking, I watched the special coverage of President Obama's historic visit to Cuba. Regardless of the politics, it was a pretty amazing site to see Air Force One land in Havana. It will be interesting to see how his trip goes, and I hope his visit will herald a new dawn of human rights for the Cuban people. I really want to visit Cuba in the near future, before it changes dramatically or is over commercialized. Our friends Jane and Rebekah Shelnutt recently visited as part of an educational tour, and they had a great time. Of course, authentic Cuban food and libations are of huge interest to me as well.

It's also the first day of Spring, but we have experienced a slight cool snap. So, I decided to cook a warm and comforting menu for Joe and ourselves. Plus, I always look for a good reason to make Chicken Pot Pie from scratch! In addition to the pot pie, I prepared an interesting watermelon "steak" salad with a smoky dijon dressing, and for dessert, I made my first attempt at a Southern Cream Cheese Pound Cake. The cake turned out well, and I topped it with the season's first fresh strawberries. All in all, a very filling and comforting Sunday Supper.

May your week ahead be filled with health and happiness.

The Menu:

- Watermelon Ring Salad with Smoky Dijon Dressing

- Chicken Pot Pie

- Cream Cheese Pound Cake with Early Strawberries

The Recipe – Chicken Pot Pie


3 whole bone-in chicken breasts
3 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper
5 cups chicken stock
2 chicken bouillon cubes
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
2 onions, chopped
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 cups medium-diced carrots
1 cup chopped celery
10-ounce pack frozen peas
1 1/2 cups frozen small pearl onions
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
2 tbs chopped fresh thyme

For the crust:

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup shortening
1 stick cold unsalted butter, diced
1/2 to 2/3 cup ice water
Egg wash
Sea salt
Cracked black pepper


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place chicken breasts on a baking sheet, brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 35-40 minutes until cooked through. Set aside until cool, then remove the meat from the bones and discard skin. Cut chicken into large cubes and reserve.

Heat the chicken stock and bouillon cubes until dissolved. In a Dutch oven, melt the butter and saute the onions until translucent over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes. Do not brown. Add the flour and cook over low heat, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the hot chicken stock to the sauce, and simmer over low heat for one minute, stirring, until thick. Add 2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and heavy cream. Add the chicken, carrots, celery, peas, pearl onions, parsley and thyme. Stir well to combine.

For pastry, mix the flour, salt, and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor with a metal blade. Add the shortening and butter, and toss with a fork until each piece is coated with flour. Pulse 10 times, or until the butter is the size of small peas. With the motor running, add the ice water and process just until the dough comes together. Dump the dough out onto a floured board, and knead briefly into a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic, and rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Increase and preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Pour the filling into a medium casserole dish. Roll the dough on a floured surface to 1/2 - 1 inch larger than casserole dish. Brush the outside edge of dish with the egg wash, then place the dough on top. Trim the dough to 1/2-inch larger than the top of the dish. Crimp the dough to fold over the side, and press to make it stick to sides. Brush dough with egg wash, and make 2-3 slits in the top. Sprinkle with sea salt and cracked pepper. Place on a baking sheet, and bake for 1 hour, or until the top is golden brown and the filling is bubbling hot.

Let the pot pie cool for about 10 minutes. Serve hot.

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