Tag Archives: best flaky pie crusts

Meatless Monday : Vegetarian Chik’n Pot (Hand)Pies


Last night, I dreamt that someone told me I had to bake a lemon meringue pie. In a state of complete panic, I exclaimed “I’ve never made a lemon meringue pie in my life! How do I get those little curls on top to perfectly brown?!”

But everyone knows the real trick to any pie is all about the crust. Having a flaky, crispy, delicate and not overly tough crust is the basis of a good pie. I have had major brainfarts and failures in this department before. You know the ones (or perhaps you don’t – good for you) – where the dough slinks down off the edge of the pie plate in the oven, turning into a mushy, buttery pile of pie-crust-crap. The secret is butter. COLD butter. It breaks down slowly in the oven, creating flakiness.

These handheld veggie chik’n pot pies are flaky, fun to eat, portable, and most importantly — delicious. Good luck stopping yourself at just one! :)


Vegetarian Chik’n Pot Hand Pies

Makes 10 pies.


For the pastry dough:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 sticks butter, cold
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons milk
1 egg

For the filling:
1 large yukon gold or red potato, diced small
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced small
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 a small onion, diced
6 ounces Quorn Chik’n Tenders
1 stalk celery, diced
1 small zucchini, diced small
1 ear corn, kernels removed (about 3/4 cup)
3/4 cup green peas
1/4 cup fresh chopped basil
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
2 teaspoons fresh chopped tarragon
2 teaspoons fresh chopped sage
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup No-Chicken broth
1/4 cup whole milk or half and half

1 egg, whisked with 2 tablespoons water



Prepare the dough: In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar and salt. Cut in the butter (I like to use a box grater and just grate the butter in, then mix with my hands to get the right consistency), until the mixture resembles large crumbs. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and two tablespoons of milk until completely combined. Pour into the dry ingredients. Stir until a ball forms. Knead the dough for 3-4 minutes, then separate into two even balls. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least one hour before using.


Prepare the filling: In a small pot, bring enough water up to a boil to cover the diced potatoes and carrots. Cook until just fork tender (4-6 minutes). Drain and run under cold water until completely cool.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan, over medium-high heat. Add the onion. Cook until tender and translucent. Add the Quorn tenders, celery, zucchini, corn, potatoes, carrots, peas, basil, parsley, tarragon, sage, salt and pepper. Cook until the tenders become lightly golden in color.


Sprinkle in the flour, coating all the vegetables and tenders. Cook for a minute or two, then add the broth and milk, stirring to evenly mix everything. Cook until the liquid thickens slightly (5-8 minutes). Remove from heat and cool to room temperature before using in the dough (I refrigerate the filling while the dough is refrigerating, too).

Prepare the pies: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll out one ball of dough on a lightly floured surface, to a large rectangle about 1/8-inch thick, 9-inches by 17.5-inches. Cut the dough into small rectangles, 4.5 x 3.5 inches. You should be able to get about 10 rectangles. Refrigerate these cut rectangles while you prepare the other ball of dough. Do the exact same thing you just did, with the second ball of dough.

Place five of your cut rectangles on each of the prepared baking sheets. Spoon generous scoop of filling in the center of each rectangle, leaving about a 1/2-inch around the outside edges. Place another rectangle of dough over the filling, aligning the edges. Gently press the top dough down, letting out as much air as you can in the process. Use a fork to crimp all four edges. Place on your parchment-lined baking sheets. Continue doing this, ultimately winding up with 10 pies.


Use a toothpick to poke 10-15 small holes in the top of each pie. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes before baking (so the butter re-solidifies a bit, creating a flakier crust). Brush the tops of each pie with the whisked egg. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until nicely golden brown in color. Serve while hot.





Tomato Potato Tart


Having a good, flaky pastry crust in your recipe repertoire is a must. This is advice comes from the same girl who has made her fair share of crusts that shrink down from the all sides of the pan they’re supposed to line, or pastry crusts so tough and gummy simultaneously even the dogs won’t eat it… Crusts that mush down into the bottom of the pan, soggy oily messes of butter and flour and heat. Yes, yes. Kitchen fails happen. Luckily I haven’t had a pastry crust fail with the following recipe. I’ve tweaked it many times to incorporate it into sweet desserts, or savory pies and tarts. Keeping your butter cold is essential, as it keeps the crust from breaking down too quickly once it moves into the oven.

This tart was a dinner experiment, created as a means of using up some tomatoes out of our garden. I contemplated doing the tart as a side dish, but when laziness hit and I decided I wanted less dishes and a more filling dinner-style tart, I threw potatoes into the equation. Perhaps potatoes and tomatoes sounds like a funny combination (or maybe it’s just fun to say potato-tomato over and over again). But the ‘taters in this tart add some bulk and create a more substantial savory meal.

The ingredients are simple and straightforward, the focus primarily on the fresh tomatoes that are so delicious this time of year. The freshness of the ingredients here makes this a refreshing dinner choice.


Tomato Potato Tart

Yields two tarts: one 13 ¾” x 4 ½” x 1″ rectangular and one 9″ round tart.


For the crust:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly chopped parsley
½ teaspoon freshly chopped thyme
2 teaspoons freshly chopped oregano
1 tablespoon freshly chopped basil
1 stick cold, unsalted butter
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
6 to 8 tablespoons ice cold water

For the tart filling:
3 to 4 ripe, heirloom tomatoes
2 large yukon gold potatoes
½ cup freshly chopped herbs (I used basil, oregano, thyme, and parsley like in the dough)
½ teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
1 cup smoked mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 cup fontina cheese, shredded
1 cup havarti cheese, shredded
4 teaspoons stone ground mustard
salt and fresh ground black pepper



Prepare the dough:  combine the flour, sugar, salt, parsley, thyme, oregano and basil in a large bowl. Mix to thoroughly combine. Cut in the butter and shortening, until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Stir in the ice water, adding six tablespoons at first, working the dough into a slightly moist ball. If you need more water to get the dough into a ball (versus a crumbly mess) add the additional water, one tablespoon at a time. Cover and refrigerate for 45-60 minutes.

Prepare the tart filling: Place the potatoes in a small pot and cover with generously salted water. Bring the potatoes to boiling and cook until fork-tender (12-15 minutes). Drain the water and cool the potatoes to room temperature. Once the potatoes have cooled, slice them into rounds about 1/4-inch thick. Set aside.

Remove the stem and pit of each tomato. Slice the tomatoes into rounds that are about 1/4-inch thick. Place on a baking sheet lined with paper towels (or a dish cloth, coffee filters, etc.). Add another layer of paper towels or another dish cloth over the tomatoes and press gently, to remove some of the excess liquid.

Mix together the smoked mozzarella, fontina, and havarti cheeses. Set aside. Mix together the fresh herbs and red chili flakes. Set aside.


Prepare your tarts: Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly oil two tart pans. Lightly flour a flat surface to roll the dough. Split the dough into two equal portions. Roll the dough out to about 1/4-inch thick, large enough to fill the tart pan with a little overhang. Press the dough into your prepared pan, working it up the sides evenly as well. Pierce the dough with a fork 6-8 times. Bake for 12-14 minutes, until lightly golden brown.

Remove the tart crusts from the oven. Brush the bottom of each tart with two teaspoons of mustard. Sprinkle on a quarter of the shredded cheese evenly between the two crusts. Next, add a layer of potatoes to each tart, overlapping them slightly. Sprinkle the potatoes with a quarter of the fresh herbs, some salt and pepper, then another quarter of the remaining cheese. Add a layer of tomatoes, overlapping slightly, followed by the more herbs and cheese, then a layer of potatoes, cheese, herbs, tomatoes, herbs. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until the crust is crisp and the tomatoes are slightly crisp along the edges and very fragrant.

Allow the tart to cool for 10 minutes before cutting and serving. Refrigerate leftovers (and heat in the toaster for best eating later!).