A Good Gift? & Pie

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What is a good gift for one who is grieving? Acknowledgement of how hard it must be for them during the holidays. Just a simple heartfelt statement about how much that person must be missed. It doesn’t matter how long the person has been gone. The longing for them to be at the table or searching for the pickle on the tree or exchanging gifts is the same. Just a simple statement and a warm embrace will make a difference. No festive wrapping paper or bow required.

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The recognition of a person’s grief allows them to relax a bit. It allows them to remove the happy mask and just be themselves. It releases that tension in the jaw and that need to escape to a quiet place where tears can be shed alone. No one wants to be “Debbie Downer” this time of year, so help release the sorrow and fine the joy. Just a few simple words are all it takes. Trust me.

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Happy New Year. I hope so. Out with the old and in with the new. A purge. I usually start by cleaning out my pantry, my fridge and my freezer. A fresh start with a hearty meal to brave the cold weather ahead.

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Here is a recipe I created cleaning out all my holiday leftovers. A most delicious pie I enjoyed a few years back from a local food truck inspires it. A savory combination of beef, cheese and onions in a flaky crust will do nicely with the addition of some mushrooms. The food truck, “Nomadic Pies” enjoyed such success that they were able to open up a brick and mortar store in my sweet town of Kennett Square. If you’re not a baker (you should be) try a Nomadic pie. Every flavor is delicious and makes a great gift if you want to spread a little comfort and joy in the new year.

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A great piecrust recipe is crucial to a great pie. The standard is a mix of flour, salt, fat and water, but I usually try and change it up a bit wanting the crust to enhance the filling. Since I am baking a beef pie I change out the water for beef broth. It offers a subtle flavor and golden color change to the crust I like very much. Before starting make sure all your ingredients are icy cold to insure that flaky crust. I like to grate my butter into the flour and salt mixture.

Savory Pie Crust Dough

Makes enough dough for 4 (5-inch) or 1 (10-inch) double crust pies

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon salt

4 grinds fresh black pepper

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter (very cold or frozen)

6 tablespoons low sodium beef broth

Whisk flour, salt and pepper together in a large bowl. Grate butter over the top. Toss it well with a fork insuring the butter gets separated into bits and coated with the dry mixture. Add broth, two tablespoons at a time, tossing mixture around with the fork. Using your hands, bring the dough together into a ball. Flatten like a pancake and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill at least 30 minutes which allows the dough to hydrate evenly. Roll out your dough to fit your pie pans. 

Now for the filling.

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Beefy Mushroom & Gruyere Pie

2 sweet onions, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 cups sliced cremini (baby bella) mushrooms

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1-cup low sodium beef broth

½ cup heavy cream plus additional for brushing over pies before baking

2 cups diced leftover cooked beef (prime rib, steak whatever you have)

salt and pepper

2 cups shredded Gruyere cheese

2 chopped green onions

finishing salt of your choice (I used The Spice Lab Hickory Smoked)

In a skillet, cook onions in 1 tablespoon of butter over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for 40 minutes or until golden brown and caramelized. Transfer onions to a bowl. In same skillet, cook mushrooms in remaining butter until they have released their liquid and brown. Sprinkle with flour, cook 2 minutes, stirring. Stir in broth and cream; bring to a boil. Let mixture reduce until thickened. Remove from heat. Stir in beef. Season well with salt and pepper. Line Pie plate with pastry. Spread half the cheese over bottom of pastry. Top with an even layer of onions. Spoon mushroom-beef mixture evenly over onions. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and green onions. Dab a small amount of cold water on bottom crust edge. Cover pie with top crust. Seal and flute edges. Brush top of pie lightly with heavy cream and sprinkle with finishing salt. Cut slits in top of pie for steam to escape while baking. Bake at 400F for 40 to 50 minutes or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbling hot.

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Finishing off the crust before baking with a light glaze of cream and salt

The products featured in this blog post are things I actually like and use all the time. I was not paid to feature or endorse them. This is not a sponsored post.

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These pies went into the freezer for future meals. Do not make steam vents or glaze if the plan is to freeze them for later.

14 thoughts on “A Good Gift? & Pie

  1. You are an inspiration! Lisa, you always have pertinent and sweet advise. I hope this New Year brings hope, health, prosperity, family and fun to your life! And many wonderful recipes. XOXO

  2. I love this post! I wish someone would send an anonymous message to everyone that says “please acknowledge Aidan” Suffering through the holidays while everyone pretends that life is normal is tiring. Hence, we now flee the north on Christmas Day to escape the pretending.
    To Will and Aidan-whose physical presence is missed beyond words but will remain forever a part of our families’ lives and to those that remember and speak of them often to us♥️♥️
    Peace and love in the New Year!

    • Do you think people are afraid to mention their names as if they are going to upset us? I think they are scared. I think they don’t want to think about it. This blog is the best I can do to teach the opposite. Say their names. Say their names. Yes, they will always be a part of the family and never forgotten by us. ❤

      • I think that most people don’t want to mention it because they are afraid for themselves. They can’t handle a reaction. Trust me I’ve learned not to fall prostrate on the floor at mention of his name. I would rather have someone try and fumble instead of ignoring the elephant that’s always in the room. Silence is deafening. I find that kids bring it up easily. Then their parents look horrified. I wish I knew the answer. I’d be much happier.

      • I agree with you. When someone does bring my William up in conversation I tell them how much I appreciate it.I do all I can to make them feel comfortable. I love nothing more than hearing stories about him and I am sure you feel the same about Aidan

  3. William is often on my mind, and I know the holidays can be especially trying…putting on a brave face must be exhausting at times. I am thankful for your many “whoosh” moments, I love hearing about them.
    PS: this pie looks so yummy, will be trying this one for sure! (think we can make a vegetarian version for Tyler?)

    • just general advice for those who don’t really know how it feels….just a simple mention of the lost person’s name can do wonders for those who are especially missing them…you know but not everyone does. As for the pie its easy to go vegetarian by taking out the beef and adding more mushrooms or any cooked veggies. Skip the beef broth in the crust and use water and vegetable broth in the pie

  4. So happy I found you again Lisa. Your Blog is good for my soul. Your little Annabelle is stunning. God bless her. Happy New Year! Sent from my iPad

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    • Best compliment is that I have inspired your taste buds enough to want to try one of my recipes. Happy New Year and hope you enjoy it as much as my family did

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