Rosie’s Shire pie

Adapted from Middle-Earth Recipes. Serving size: “4 – 6 hungry little hobbits”

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound whole mushrooms
  • 1 pound ground sausage
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, diced (we used 1 leek)
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 1/4 Cup dry white wine
  • 1 1/2 Cups chicken stock
  • 1 Tbsp. thyme
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 teaspoon sage (we subbed with 2 bay leaves)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 pie crust (if not using cornmeal crust)

Directions:

  1. Clean mushrooms and cut into quarters. 
  2. Crumble the sausage & place in a large, deep pan.  Cook over medium heat. 
  3. Add onions, garlic, then celery and carrot, and cook about 5 minutes. 
  4. Add mushrooms and cook 5 minutes more until vegetables are tender. 
  5. Stir in flour and cook a couple of minutes, still stirring. 
  6. Add wine and half of the stock, stirring and working out any lumps.  Add remaining stock and bring to a boil. 
  7. Turn heat to low, add herbs, salt and pepper and cook 10 minutes. 
  8. Pour into deep pie dish or 8×8 baking dish and set aside.
  9. Place pie dough over top of filling in pie dish. Bake pie at 375 degrees for 30 minutes or so, until crust is lightly browned and filling is bubbly.

Cornmeal Crust (makes enough for two pies)
1 3/4 Cups flour, 3/4 C. yellow cornmeal, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 pound cold butter, 1/4 Cup shortening, 1/3 – 1/4 Cup ice water. Mix flour, cornmeal, and salt in a large bowl. Cut in butter. Add shortening and continue to work dough until texture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle water over dough and knead with hands. Refrigerate dough 30 minutes to 24 hours (can also be frozen). Roll dough on a floured surface to 1/4 inch thickness.

I am not a baker, so I usually prefer to buy pre-made pie crust. “Along with a green salad and warm bread, this pie feeds a family of 4 – 6 hungry little hobbits.” We currently have a crop of fresh marjoram, rosemary, thyme — so a sprinkling of those we added to the stew because we didn’t have a bottle of dry white. Substitutions are fun.

~Jessica

Hungarian goulash

Adapted from Saveur and Aurel Pop

Ingredients:

  • 4 Tbsp. sunflower or canola oil
  • 2 yellow onions, chopped
  • 1½ lb. beef chuck, trimmed and cut into ½-inch cubes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup sweet paprika
  • 2 tsp. dried marjoram (we used fresh!)
  • 2 tsp. caraway seeds
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 can beans (pinto beans work, we used navy beans)
  • 2 medium carrots, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 2 medium parsnips, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 5 cups of bouillon stock
  • 1½ lb. medium new potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 1 tomato, cored and chopped (sub: 1/2 tbsp. tomato paste)
  • 1 Italian frying pepper, chopped
  • Rye bread, for serving (optional; egg noodles instead!)

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil in a 5-quart Dutch oven over medium. Add the onions, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes.
  2. Increase the heat to high. Add the beef, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, uncovered, stirring only once or twice, until the meat is lightly browned, about 6 minutes. Searing it adds extra flavor!
  3. Stir in the paprika, marjoram, other spices, and garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add 5 cups water (with bouillon). Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer, covered, until the beef is nearly tender, about 45 minutes.
  5. Add the carrots, parsnips, potatoes, and beans. Cook, uncovered, 45 minutes.
  6. Stir in the tomatoes and peppers; cook for 10 minutes.
  7. Season with salt and pepper. Serve, with rye bread if desired. Also, sour cream and dill on the side, if desired.

Jesse really really really likes paprika — and I could think of no dish that is more paprika than this one (which I’ve never tried before, on account of the beef). I found this article that was so interesting, I actually read through the whole thing! I don’t often read through back story because every blogger writes a novel for their recipe (hence, why I avoid doing so), but I do recommend reading the Saveur article, for the historical context of food (IT’S FOOD!!!) and culinary depth in Hungarian culture.

I modified the directions for next time we make this recipe, based on how we would reallocate the timing — more time for the beef chuck to break down, less time for the vegetables so they don’t turn into mush. Following tips from The Kitchn, we decided to cook it for the 2 full hours, to really let the stew beef break down and tenderize. Veggies survived the simmer.

We picked up most of the ingredients at the local farmer’s market. If you don’t have marjoram, fresh oregano is a good (tho strong) substitute for fresh marjoram. If you don’t have caraway seeds, 1) anise, 2) fennel, or star anise could be a substitute (one website even suggested cumin seeds — maybe appearance, but not the same flavor in my opinion). Jesse may have dashed in a splash of good red wine (if you have, not required). I prefer egg noodles to rye bread any day, so I used the leftover German spätzle from this recipe.

-Jessica

Bindya Bedi’s chicken curry

Adapted from The Age and read at NewsELA

  • 1 kilogram chicken thighs 

Ingredients for the marinade:

  • 2 tablespoons of ginger garlic paste 
  • 1 squeeze of lime 
  • 1 teaspoon of salt 
  • 1 tbsp ghee

Ingredients for the curry:

  • 1/4 cup of neutral oil (coconut oil or ghee, my pref)
  • 4 medium-sized brown onions, peeled and roughly chopped 
  • 10 cloves of garlic, peeled 
  • 2 cm piece of ginger, peeled and finely diced 
  • 1 to 2 green chillies (we used 1 Jalapeño chili pepper)
  • 1 tablespoon of cumin seeds 
  • 2 bay leaves 
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick 
  • 4 to 5 cardamom pods 
  • 8 to 10 peppercorns 
  • 4 to 5 cloves
  • 4 tomatoes, or 1/2 a cup of tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder 
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder 
  • 2 tablespoons ground coriander 
  • 1 teaspoon ground garam masala 
  • Salt, to taste 
  • cilantro, to garnish

Directions:

  1. In a large glass bowl, marinate the chicken thighs in the ginger garlic paste, lime juice and salt. Cover and set aside for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, use a mortar and pestle (or food processor?) to grind the onions, garlic, ginger and green chillies to a paste and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan and add the cumin seeds. Roughly pound all of the whole spices (bay leaves, cinnamon, cardamom, peppercorns and cloves) and add to the oil. Once they start to make popping sounds, add the onion paste. Heat over a low flame, stirring occasionally, until reduced to a golden-brown paste and the oil starts to separate. 
  3. Next, add the tomatoes, salt to taste, turmeric, red chili powder, and ground coriander. Cook until the tomatoes just start to form a paste. Add the chicken, garam masala and 1/2 cup of water. Bring the curry to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover with a lid and continue to cook over a medium heat.
  4. After 20 to 25 minutes, uncover the pan and cook for another 15 to 20 minutes until the water evaporates and the curry starts to thicken. Once the curry is ready, switch the flame off.
  5. Serve with your choice of naan or basmati rice and top with fresh cilantro leaves, if desired.

I read this in a NewsELA article, which I subscribed to as a science teacher. They offer loads of readable current news, including in science and health and social justice. Some changes from the original recipe: we used organic coconut oil, although I would have been equally happy with ghee. We speeded things up with using a garlic press and grater for the ginger for the marinade paste, and added a coconut oil to keep the chickens moist. I ran out of whole cloves, so I added some black mustard seed for appearances. And rather than the mortar and pestle method for the onion-garlic-ginger-chili mixture, we used a smoothie blender. We did use the mortar and pestle to grind the whole spices though! Make sure you turn on your ventilation — these are some powerful aromas when you start frying!

***Marinade reminder: we mixed ACID (lime) + SALT + OIL (ghee) + HERBS/SEASONINGS/SUGAR (ginger / garlic) + TIME (30 minutes).***

~Jessica

Polpette al sugo (Italian meatballs)

Adapted from Lidia and Recipe Tin Eats Yield: 6 servings, plus about 3 quarts extra (total of about 4 dozen meatballs and 3 quarts sauce)

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium carrot, coarsely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large red onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 teaspoon dried oregano (omitted)
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped (basil sub!)
  • 2 cups bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano (or parmesan), freshly grated

Sauce ingredients:

  • 2.5 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • black pepper
  • 1 fresh bay leaves, or 2 small dried bay leaves
  • 3 tsp dried Italian herb mix (parsley, basil, thyme, oregano)
  • 1/2 teaspoon peperoncino flakes
  • 24 oz / 700 g tomato passata, preferably San Marzano
  • 1 cup grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano, optional to serve

Directions:

  1. Grate the onion using a standard box grater in a large bowl until you have about 1/2 cup of grated onion and juices. 
  2. Add bread, mix to combine so the onion juice soaks the bread and disintegrates. Set aside while you prep the other ingredients (5 min or so).
  3. Add all the remaining Meatball ingredients. Use hands to mix well.
  4. Measure out a heaped tablespoon and roll lightly to form a ball. Repeat with remaining mixture. (Note 5)
  5. Heat 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil in a large non stick fry pan over medium high heat. Add the meatballs and brown all over – about 3 – 4 minutes. 
  6. When they are browned but NOT cooked through, carefully transfer them onto a plate.

Sauce Directions:

  1. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil into the fry pan. 
  2. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes until translucent. Add the remaining Sauce ingredients. Bring to a simmer, then turn down to medium low so it bubbles gently rather than splattering everywhere. Let simmer for 2 hours.
  3. Carefully transfer the meatballs and any juices that have pooled on the plate into the Sauce.
  4. Cook the meatballs for 8 – 10 minutes, turning and stirring occasionally. Adjust Sauce salt and pepper to taste.
  5. While the meatballs are cooking, cook your pasta of choice.
  6. Serve the meatballs on pasta, garnished with extra parmesan and parsley if using.

I wanted to cook Lidia’s recipe authentically, but it was so much quantity! And I’m not a fan of beef, much less veal, so… I incorporated another website (she has delicious chicken stew!) that fried the meatballs instead of baking them. These were wildly delicious and approved by all. We didn’t incorporate the carrot and celery (considering the 2 lbs. or meat vs. 3 lbs from Lidia), but we did use the red onion, eggs, and basil instead of parsley (Jesse’s family doesn’t like oregano for some reason). I would throw in a bay leaf into the sauce next time (we forgot). We used gluten-free bread crumbs, and crumbled Grana Padano into the meatball and on top to serve. Grana Padano was not incorporated into the sauce. Ground meat came from the Ossining Farmer’s Market, Sunset View Farm. I also made some garlic bread with EVOO and rubbed garlic to clean up the sauce after, demi baguette from Farmer’s Market too.

~Jessica

LotR mushroom soup

Adapted from Middle-Earth Recipes and The Hungry Hobbit

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of mushrooms, divided in half
  • 4 + 2 + 2 tbsp of butter
  • 1 tbsp of chopped onion
  • 2 cups of finely chopped carrots
  • 2 cups of finely chopped celery (we used leeks)
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 2 1/2 cups of broth / bouillon
  • 1 small can of tomato paste (~6-7 tbsp; we used 1-2 tbsp)
  • 1/4 tsp of salt
  • pinch of black pepper
  • 1/4 cup of dry sherry (we used a dry red wine)
  • Garnish: sour cream, herbs (optional)

Directions:

  1. Chop 1/2 pound of mushrooms very fine.
  2. In a large saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons of butter.
  3. Add 1 tablespoon of chopped onion, 2 cups of finely chopped carrots, 2 cups of finely chopped celery, and 1 clove of garlic, minced. If you have wine, you can use it now to deglaze the pot. Stir, scraping the bottom bits.
  4. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a skillet, add the 1/2 pound of finely chopped mushrooms, and sauté for 5 minutes. Add to the soup.
  5. Stir in 2 1/2 cups of broth, 3 1/2 cups of water, 1 small can of tomato paste, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and 1/16 teaspoon of pepper.
  6. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat. Simmer 1 hour (30 minutes minimum).
  7. Purée the soup with an immersion blender. Season and taste.
  8. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a skillet, add the 1/2 pound of reserved sliced mushrooms, and sauté for 5 minutes. Add to the soup.
  9. Add 1/4 cup of dry sherry. Heat thoroughly and serve.
  10. Garnish with sour cream or herbs.

Titled “Mushroom Soup from the Inn at Bree”, there is only one main inn in Bree, however: the Inn of the Prancing Pony. We didn’t have a bundle of celery, so we subbed with a leek instead. Next time I would use 2 leeks! I would also had herbs like thyme. Instead of beef broth, we used Better Than Bouillon chicken base. Feel free to use more tomato paste if you prefer a more reddish product, but this was grand — I would also like to try a medley of mushrooms in season. Instead of dry sherry, we used a red wine, but I would also try a white wine next time.

~Jessica

Store-bought pizza dough pizza

Adapted from The Kitchn, makes 2 pizzas. Serves 4.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. store-bought dough, at room temperature for at least 1 hour
  • 1/2 cup (or 3 tbsp) of Rao’s Pizza Sauce, per pizza
  • 4 cloves of garlic in 2 tbsp olive oil
  • prosciutto
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced and sautéed
  • handful of mushrooms, sautéed
  • 1 cup mozzarella di bufala, thinly sliced
  • handful of basil, torn
  • red pepper flakes (optional)
  • cornmeal or all-purpose flour

Directions:

  1. Set your oven to 450 – 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Defrost pizza dough on top of stove.
  2. Sautee raw toppings.
  3. Tear off a large piece of parchment paper roughly 12 inches long. Working with one piece of the dough at a time, form it into a large disk with your hands and place it on the parchment. Use your hands to flatten the dough until it is 1/4-inch thick or less. If the dough starts to shrink back, let it rest for 5 minutes and then continue rolling. Brush a thin film of olive oil on a baking sheet. 
  4. Pre-bake the crust for 3-4 minutes before adding toppings.
  5. Top the pizza. Spoon half of the sauce onto the center of the pizza and use the back of the spoon to spread it out to the edges. Pile on half of the toppings and half of the cheese.
  6. Bake the pizza right on the baking sheet. Bake for 5 minutes, then rotate the pizza. If using parchment, slide it out from under the pizza and discard. Bake until the crust is golden-brown and the cheese is melted and browned in spots, 3 to 5 minutes more.
  7. Repeat making a second pizza with the remaining dough, cheese, and toppings.

Tips I came across on multiple websites:

Crust

  • Let the refrigerated dough sit out at room temperature for 30 minutes or more before rolling.
  • Let the oven heat for at least half an hour before baking your pizzas. If you have a baking stone or steel, place it in the lower-middle part of your oven.
  • Set your oven to 450 – 500 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on your comfort. You can make good pizza at 450ºF/232ºC. 
  • Flour a clean wood chopping board (if big enough) to use as a work surface.
  • Don’t roll out the dough — press out the edges to make a crust (don’t press the middle), then stretch with one hand and rotate with other hand, then toss from hand to hand. video
  • Cover the dough and give it a 10-minute break to relax the gluten, when needed.
  • Pizza size: no more than 10 inches/25 cm in diameter.
  • Use olive oil on the sheet, and on the edges before baking. Spread olive oil on both sides of the crust.
  • If you don’t have cornmeal, use Parchment paper. FYI: The paper catches on fire if it touches the heating element.

Sauce

  • Pre-bake the crust for 3-4 minutes before adding toppings.
  • Add enough sauce so that when you spread it, you can still see the dough underneath: 2-3 tbsp of sauce per pizza. Less is more!

Toppings

  • Preheat the oven; While you’re waiting, set up your toppings.
  • Pre-cook raw ingredients (mushrooms, onions, bell peppers, meat, etc.)
  • Keep the toppings to just a handful at most. If you load homemade pizza down with a ton of toppings, it may take too long for the crust to cook.
  • For the cheese, use a low-moisture, whole milk mozzarella. If you want to use fresh mozzarella, drain it and pat it dry. 
  • If you plan to add some fresh arugula or herbs to your pizza, top the pizza with hand-torn basil after it’s out of the oven.

References: Good in the Simple, Garlic Delight, Pillsbury, The Kitchn

Next time I will try Brie, Sage, and Prosciutto toppings; or pesto in place of sauce and top with chicken, fresh tomato, and buffalo mozzarella. I would also try to make garlic knots (dough knotted together with garlic, parsley, and parmigiano-reggiano cheese). I forgot to defrost the dough ahead of time, so I followed this trick from Baking Kneads to wrap the oiled up put it in the oven at 100 degrees Fahrenheit (used the bread proofing setting) for one hour, then check if it is ready (risen to double its size). If it is not fully defrosted, back in the oven for 30 minutes. We used a baking sheet, not a pizza stone, and Parchment paper.

~Jessica