Sunday, September 30, 2012

Chicken and Ham Pie

As a vegetarian, I often feel that British cooking seems to be comprised of various methods of preparing meat for consumption. Our next food item is no exception:

"To somebody who had been living on meals of increasingly stale cake all summer, this was paradise, and at first, Harry listened rather than talked as he helped himself to chicken and ham pie, boiled potatoes, and salad" (Goblet of Fire 61).

I had never heard of chicken and ham pie until it I read it in the Harry Potter series. In America, we tend to exclude ham from our meat pie recipes. Adapting Dinah Bucholz' recipe to accommodate us vegetarians will take some creativity, but here we go!

You Will Need:
1 batch chicken seitan (available ready-made at Whole Foods, or you can make your own)
vegetarian ham (I used LightLife, but I recommend making your own)
1 large onion, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried thyme
3 Tbs cornstarch
1/2 cup cold water
1 cup frozen peas
1 box refrigerated pie crust (2 circles in a box)
1 cube No-Chicken boullion (or 1 Tbs No Chicken Better-Than-Boullion paste)

1. Make your chicken and ham seitan if you're going homemade. I really recommend Jen Shaggy's book Veganize This (link above), if you're looking for recipes!
2. Since we don't need to cook our "meats," we'll be deviating from Ms. Bucholz' recipe already. Place strips of your "chicken" in a heavy pot with the "ham," onion, bay leaves, and thyme. Cover with water, bring to a boil, cover, and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 10-15 minutes. 

3. Use a slotted spoon to remove the chicken, ham, and onions to a dish to cool. Add the bouillon to the gravy and continue simmering, whisking occasionally. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

4. When they are cool enough to handle, slice the "meats" into bite size pieces. 
5. Lay one of the pie crusts in a pie pan, pressing into the edges. Add the "chicken" to the pie. Top with the peas, followed by the "ham" and onions. 

6. You should have about 3 cups of gravy left at this point. Dissolve the cornstarch in the cold water and whisk the mixture into the gravy until thickened.
7. Pour the gravy into the pie, over all the ingredients. If you have too much gravy, stop pouring before you spill over the edges!

8. Drape the second crust over the top of the pie, crimp the edges of the crusts together to seal. Cut 3 1" slits in the top of the pie to form vents.

9. Place a baking sheet on the bottom rack, and place the pie in the oven on the rack above the baking sheet (to catch any drippy gravy). Bake for 35-45 minutes, until golden brown around the edges.

I recommend letting the pie cool for awhile so that the gravy can continue to absorb and flavor the pie filling. I also, as stated above, recommend using a homemade ham seitan. I used "ham" deli slices, and sadly, the ham flavor kind of leaches out of them while the mixture boils. The resulting pie I ended up with is quite tasty, and reheats really well the next day, but I have a feeling it doesn't taste much like a traditional chicken and ham pie. But I tell you what, if you're looking for a tasty way to get a whole lot of protein into a meal, this is a good option!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Cottage Cheese and Grated Celery

I'm finally back, my friends! And that means we're finally back at the Dursleys, where Harry and his muggle relations are anxiously awaiting the arrival of the Weasleys:

"Dudley didn't even protest at the food (cottage cheese and grated celery)" 
(Goblet of Fire 40).

Personally, I find cottage cheese to be absolutely disgusting. However, I do understand that lots of people think it's just fabulous when added to salad or fruit. Apparently Aunt Petunia relishes the idea of serving it with grated celery in her attempts to shrink her Diddykins' waistline.

If you care to try it, go right ahead and grate some celery over a bowl of your favorite brand of cottage cheese. And don't worry, it's all yours. I don't want to share it with you!