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Delta Delicious w/ Martha Hall Foose: Comforting puffy pot pies & easy soups for cold winter months

By Martha Hall Foose

Delta Delicious w/ Martha Hall Foose: Comforting puffy pot pies & easy soups for cold winter months

On cold nights a warm pot pie or a steaming bowl of soup with a hunk of cornbread can take the chill out of your bones.

Keeping a batch of blonde roux or “thickener” as we call it in the fridge can bring just about any lot of random leftovers, pantry staples or bags stashed in the freezer to the dinner table. Whether tucked under a store-bought pastry crust or spooned into a bowl, this quick addition can make the most humble of thin mixtures luxuriously rich.

The basic idea is to make a mixture of melted butter and fl our, then cook it just enough to take out the raw fl our taste. Once you have a batch made and cooled, a few tablespoons can be used to thicken a sauce, filling or soup. Just remember the rule: Cool thickener into hot pot.

 

Shrimp and Poblano Pepper Puffy Pot Pie

Heads-up: plan on thawing the frozen puff pastry sheets overnight or for at least six hours in the refrigerator. A refrigerated boxed pie crust can be substituted and doesn’t require any advanced planning.

CRUST INGREDIENTS

1 package (17.3 ounces) Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry

Sheets, thawed in the refrigerator overnight

1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water

FILLING INGREDIENTS

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning or Cajun seasoning

1 cup peeled finely chopped carrots

1 cup finely chopped celery

1 large poblano pepper seeded, stemmed, and finely chopped

1 cup sliced green onions

1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic

1 1/2 cups shrimp stock or vegetable broth

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

3 tablespoons thickener

1 12-ounce bag frozen (41/50) cooked medium peeled, deveined shrimp, thawed, tails removed

1 cup frozen green peas, thawed

 

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Unfold one pastry sheet, floured side down. Roll the pastry sheet into a 12-inch square. Press the pastry into a 2-quart round casserole dish. Fold edges and crimp around the rim of the dish. Prick the pastry thoroughly with a fork. Place aluminum foil onto the surface of the pastry. Bake for 25 minutes. (Prepare the filling while the bottom crust is baking.) Remove the aluminum foil. And set aside.

While the bottom crust is baking, in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat, melt the butter and add the Old Bay seasoning. Add the carrots, celery, poblanos, and cook, frequently stirring, for five to seven minutes until the vegetables are slightly tender. Add the green onions and garlic and cook for one minute. Add the stock and cream. Bring to a boil and cook for two minutes. Stir in the cheese and cook until melted. Lower the heat to medium. Stir in three tablespoons of the thickener, and simmer, frequently stirring, for three minutes. If needed, stir in a little more thickener until the mixture thickens and coats a spoon. Add the shrimp and the peas, lower the heat and simmer for five minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings as desired. Keep warm.

Fill the bottom crust with the shrimp mixture. Roll the remaining sheet of thawed puff pastry into a 12-inch square. Top the shrimp filling with the pastry and fold the overhanging edge back over the top of the pie. Cut four slits in the top crust to allow steam to escape. Brush the surface of the pie with the beaten egg and sprinkle with a little more seasoning, if desired.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the crust is a shiny deep golden brown and the filling is bubbly. Allow to cool five minutes, slice and enjoy.

 

Easy Big Pot of Soup

INGREDIENTS

1 quart vegetable broth

1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes

1 24-ounce bag frozen vegetables for stew

1 16-ounce bag frozen vegetables for gumbo

1 15.5-ounce can mixed beans for chili

1 11-ounce can corn

3 tablespoons thickener

 

Bring the water to a boil in a large soup pot over high heat. Add the vegetables, beans and corn. Return to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Stir in the thickener and simmer for five minutes, stirring frequently.

 

Thickener

Melt 12 tablespoons unsalted butter in a medium saucepan set over medium heat. Add one cup plus two tablespoons of all-purpose flour all at once and whisk vigorously until smooth. When the mixture thins and starts to bubble, reduce the heat to low. Cook five minutes, whisking slowly until the mixture smells nutty and toasty and is still lightly colored. Cool at least to room temperature before adding to hot liquids.

This yields a bit more than one cup.

The thickener stores well, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to one month.

 

Martha Hall Foose, the author of “Screen Doors & Sweet Tea: Recipes and Tales of a Southern Cook,” won the James Beard Award for American Cooking. Her latest collaboration is “A Good Meal is Hard to Find: Storied Recipes from the Deep South” with Amy C. Evans. Martha makes her home in the Mississippi Delta with her husband and son. She is a member of Yazoo Valley Electric Power Association.

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