August 10, 2012

Pie hopes: Four Olympics-worthy recipes from around the world

For as long as pies have been baked, they've been filled not just with sweet, desserty goodness, but also with savory fillings such as meat, fish and poultry.

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For as long as pies have been baked, they've been filled not just with sweet, desserty goodness, but also with savory fillings such as meat, fish and poultry.

Each country has its own variation of a savory pie, from the shepherd's pie popular at British pubs to the potpie that's high on the list of most-loved American comfort foods.

In the spirit of the Olympic Games, here are local restaurant owners' recipes for four commonly cooked savory pies from around the world -- shepherd's pie, potpie, Greek spanakopita and quiche Lorraine from France. Bake up one to enjoy during your Closing Ceremony-watching party Sunday night and celebrate another culture without leaving your couch.

Shepherd's pie

Lee Herdman, a British transplant and owner of the restaurant-pub From Across the Pond in Colleyville, says a mixture of mashed potatoes, onions and cheese forms a crust on his version of this authentic pub grub.

Shepherds in England enjoyed this dish -- traditionally made with lamb -- after a long day of herding sheep. Herdman's version uses beef because his wife, Emma, he says, "doesn't eat lamb as they are too cute."

Shepherd's pie is commonly served in English pubs, where diners order "a pie and a pint."

4 large potatoes, peeled and cubed

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon onion, finely chopped

1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded, divided use

Salt and pepper

5 carrots, chopped

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 onion, chopped

1 pound lean ground beef

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon ketchup

3/4 cup beef broth

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender but still firm, about 15 minutes. Drain and mash. Mix in butter, 1 tablespoon finely chopped onion and 1/4 cup shredded cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add carrots and cook until tender but still firm, about 15 minutes. Drain, mash and set aside. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

3. Heat oil in a large frying pan. Add onion and cook until clear. Add ground beef and cook until well browned. Pour off excess fat, then stir in flour and cook 1 minute. Add ketchup and beef broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

4. Spread the ground beef in an even layer on the bottom of a 2-quart casserole dish. Next, spread a layer of mashed carrots. Top with the mashed potato mixture and sprinkle with remaining shredded cheese.

5. Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Spanakopita (Greek spinach pie)

Gus Katzianis and his brother Peter own Two Brothers Bistro in north Fort Worth. Gus says that spanakopita consists of two Greek words, "spinach" and "pita," and that the word "phyllo" is derived from the ancient Greek word for leaf. Leaves such as fig, cabbage or grape were used to wrap the food in order to prevent it from being scorched and dried from exposure to direct fire during cooking. Today, Greeks use phyllo, a flaky pastry dough, instead of leaves to encase the spinach and cheese.

Serves 6

3 ounces extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium yellow onion (approximately ½ pound), diced

1 pound frozen spinach, thawed, chopped, completely strained and squeezed

For the filling:

1 cup green onions, chopped in 1/4-inch pieces

1 pound imported Greek or French feta cheese (NOT domestic)

12 ounces large-curd cottage cheese

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper

1/2 teaspoon dried mint

1 teaspoon dill weed

1 cup Japanese breadcrumbs

3 eggs, lightly beaten by hand

For the crust:

1 cup butter, melted (preferably clarified)

1 pound phyllo dough (9-by-14-inch phyllo pastry sheets), at room temperature (preferably Apollo brand)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet, heat olive oil till very hot. Add yellow onion and saute for four or five minutes, stirring often. Add spinach and saute for another four to five minutes. Set aside.

2. Mix all filling ingredients in a large bowl. Add the sauteed spinach and onion mixture, mixing well with a large spoon or by hand. Set aside.

3. Using a brush, butter the bottom and all sides of a 9-inch square pan. Alternate single layers of phyllo and melted butter in the pan until 12 sheets have been used. Make sure to cover bottom and sides of the pan, extending the phyllo by 2 inches all along the pan’s perimeter.

4. Evenly spread spinach mixture over phyllo pastry. Fold the extra perimeter of phyllo to partially cover the spinach mixture. Layer an additional 12 sheets of phyllo alternately with the melted butter on top of the partially covered spinach mixture. Heavily butter top phyllo sheet.

5. To achieve equal-size dinner portions, score the prepared spanakopita by cutting through the top layers of phyllo. Make one cut down the middle of the pan, creating two columns. Make two evenly spaced cuts down the other side of the pan, creating three columns, yielding 6 dinner-size portions. Sprinkle the top of the prepared spanakopita with 1 ounce of cold water.

6. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes, or until golden brown. Before serving, fully cut through all bottom layers of phyllo.

— Two Brothers Bistro, 7355 N. Beach St., Fort Worth. 817-232-1155;

Quiche Lorraine

This classic quiche, which originated in Lorraine, a region in France, is an open-faced pie (no top crust) and traditionally had a custard filling of eggs, milk and bacon -- simple ingredients that the French could easily find and afford. Generations of cooks have creatively added ingredients to the basic quiche recipe according to their tastes and cultures. Fabien Goury adds ham and cheese to the quiche Lorraine he serves at Main Street Bistro & Bakery in Grapevine.

For the crust:

1 1/2 sticks very cold unsalted butter

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon sugar

5 tablespoons very cold vegetable shortening

1/2 cup ice water

1 egg

1 tablespoon water

For the filling:

12 slices bacon, diced

1 cup ham, diced

1 cup Swiss cheese, shredded

1 cup Asiago cheese, shredded

4 eggs

3/4 cup milk

Pinch of pepper, salt and sugar

Make the crust:

1. Dice the butter and return it to the refrigerator while you prepare the flour mixture. Place the flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse a few times to mix.

2. Add butter and shortening. Pulse 8 to 12 times, until the butter is the size of peas. With the machine running, pour the ice water down the feed tube and pulse the machine until the dough begins to form a ball.

3. Dump out on a well-floured board and roll into a circle, rolling from the center to the edge, turning and flouring the dough to make sure it doesn't stick to the board. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch quiche or pie pan. Fold the dough in half, place in the pan and unfold it to fit the pan. Trim the dough, leaving a 3/4-inch overhang. Fold the pastry edge inward and press to the sides of the pan. Prick all over the bottom with the tines of a fork. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

4. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut a square of wax paper, parchment or foil slightly larger than the pan and place it over the pastry. Fill the liner half full with pie weights (or rice or beans). Bake for 10 minutes. Remove liner and weights. Brush bottom of warm pastry shell with an egg glaze (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water) and continue baking an additional 3 to 4 minutes, or until the dough is no longer translucent but not yet golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

Make the filling:

5. Saute bacon in a large skillet over low heat until crisp. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to paper towels to drain.

6. Cover the bottom of the piecrust with bacon, ham and cheeses.

7. Beat eggs and mix in milk. Add pepper, salt and sugar. Fill piecrust.

8. Bake at 350 degrees 20-30 minutes on middle rack, until lightly browned and a knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Chicken potpie

"When I was young, I have very fond memories of eating chicken potpie every week," says Jody Helton, owner of Julie's Fresh Kitchen in Fort Worth. "It was always on the menu but it was far from routine. My mother always took great care with every detail. She put 'love' into that chicken potpie, from the rich, creamy broth to the flaky crust. Our family loved every bite." Today, Helton serves this classic American comfort food dish as Monday and Saturday daily specials at his restaurant.

For the crust:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup cake flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar

1 cup butter (2 sticks), chilled and cubed

3 tablespoons vegetable shortening

1/4 cup sour cream

1/2 lemon, juiced

1 egg yolk, beaten slightly

For the filling:

2 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (approximately 5)

1/2 cup onion, chopped

3/4 cup carrots, chopped

1/2 cup celery, chopped

2 cups potato, peeled and chopped

1 cup frozen green peas

2 cups flour

1 quart water

1 quart chicken broth

1 cup margarine

Make the crust:

1. Combine dry ingredients in a chilled large stainless-steel bowl.

2. Cut butter thoroughly with a pastry blender or 2 knives into flour mixture until it resembles the consistency of coarse meal.

3. Add shortening, sour cream, lemon juice and egg yolk. Mix well and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Make the filling:

4. Boil chicken, drain and cut into bite-size pieces.

5. Boil vegetables and drain.

6. Mix flour and water until smooth.

7. Combine chicken broth and margarine and bring to a boil. Add flour water to broth just until the mixture is thickened. Fold in chicken and vegetables and pour into a 13-by-9-inch cake pan or individual cereal bowls.

8. Roll out piecrust dough thin, about the thickness of a quarter, and place on top of filling. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour until bubbly and crust is brown.


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