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Last Week I had one food on my mind — pot pies! I’m thrilled to be teaching my Savory Pot Pie class at the Adult School in Montclair tonight and spoent last week preparing. You see, when the students walk into the classroom, instead of being put off by the sterile high school home economics kitchen, they’ll be greeted by the aroma of savory fillings and crisp pastry toppings. And then, while students take their seats, I’ll wander around the classroom offering tantalizing samples of flaky lobster and chicken pot pies. It’s my cocktail party approach to teaching a cooking class and I’ve found that whetting my students’ appetites works beautifully.
My friend Suzy, one of my regular cooking friends, jumped right on the pot pie making agenda. She served them once a few years ago and her kid’s weren’t thrilled, but she’s got a “try again if you don’t succeed attitude.” Suzy was determined to get her kids to like a food she and her husband love and my kitchen became the right laboratory!
To eliminate a time-consuming step, we pre-cooked our meats before getting together. While I sat, picking meat out of a 2 ½ pound lobster, I guided Suzy through the simple steps to making her pot pie. After sautéing onions, celery, thyme, carrots and peas, she created a simple roux with flour and stock (sneaking in a tablespoon of butter) and then added her chunks of chicken. She rolled out her prepared pie dough and had some fun using my fall pastry pie cutters to add some flare to the top of her pie.
And while Suzy marveled proudly at her flaky delicious creation, I was more than pleased that our fun time together had actually been a run through, a rehearsal of sorts, for my class.
Very often, cooking dates are followed up by text messages reporting in on the success of the foods we made and how they were received by the family. I eagerly await these messages. And, sent from her Verizon wireless, here’s Suzy’s feedback:
“potpie update…huge hit w/ me, alex and eric. matthew picked around but ate 75% of his piece. so excited! thanks for helping me today. it was delish”
Lobster Pot Pie
Makes 1 large pie or 30 two bite appetizers
This creamy, delicious lobster pie topped with a flaky puff pastry crust makes an impressive and sophisticated main dish for a dinner party. You can make them in mini muffin pans to serve as an elegant cocktail party appetizer. They freeze beautifully too, which makes them an ideal food to make ahead of time with a friend!
4 tablespoons butter
2 shallots, chopped
1 medium sized onion, diced
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 tablespoons flour
1 2 pound lobster, steamed and cut into chunks (2 cups lobster meat)
½ cup sweet corn kernels (frozen are fine if no fresh available)
½ cup potatoes, peeled, diced and pre-cooked
½ teaspoon salt
Pepper to taste
1 bay leaf
1 ½ cups stock
1/8 cup sherry
2 tablespoons heavy cream (optional)
1 egg plus 1 tablespoon of water beaten together for egg wash
Two sheets puff pastry dough
In a medium sized skillet, melt butter over low heat and sauté the shallots, onion and celery until tender. Season the vegetables with salt. Add the flour and stir until pasty. Gradually add the stock until a sauce begins to form. Add the sherry, bay leaf and cook for a few minutes. Add the potatoes, corn and lobster. Stir in the cream. Remove the filling from the heat to cool and fill in a prepared pie dish.* Top with puff pastry and bake in the oven on 400 for 20 minutes until golden.
*Pre-pare your bottom crust by rolling puff pastry out and then placing in the bottom of a buttered pie dish. If making the two bite appetizers, spray mini muffin tins with baking spray. Cut 2 ¾ diameter circles of dough, press gently into the pans and then add a teaspoon full of filling. Top with a cut out of puff pastry dough, brush with egg wash and bake in the oven on 400.
If freezing, bake them for slightly less time (until they begin to turn a light gold), remove from oven cool and then fresh freeze!