Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Fun and falling at Red Butte Gardens

Last Month Delanie and I were in Salt Lake for my sister's wedding and Del learned that for all the years I lived in the city I never visited Red Butte Gardens. Last full day we were in town the weather was amazing so the two of us drove up there and mirth and pretty stuff ensued.

First part of the garden we visited was the herb garden. It was stunning and much to someone's joy all the flowers seemed to be in purple hues:

It's so PURPLE!
Though Delanie was not the only thing there excited about the purple flowers.
I was more excited about the red flowers:
It's almost a Venetian Red

It was such a special experience to share an amazingly beautiful setting with the woman I love. It really made for a perfect evening.

Though the moose made it even more perfect

We went though so many gardens. Hummingbirds were buzzing in and out in many of them and the rose garden was especially beautiful. It was capped off with the children's garden which is really just a fantastic little wonderland.
Scary Snakes
Birthday Cakes

(in the interests of full disclosure I lost my balance about 3 seconds after the picture was taken and slid off the statue and tumbled down the hill.....I think Delanie is still laughing. I feel in time, I will laugh as well)

A great time was had by both of us and we can't wait to go back be it with nieces and nephews or for a concert. I'm so thankful that Delanie insisted we go, she does know me pretty well!


Chicken Pot Pie with Savory Cheddar Crust

I have a thing about comfort food.  Well, truth be told I have a thing about MOST food, which is painfully obvious to everyone (especially those who check out my expanding waistline).  So today, because naturally it is hot and windy and miserable, the only thing to do was to create a hot dish.

I know.  It doesn't make sense to me either.

That being said, here is the recipe.


1 lb chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 leeks, trimmed and sliced
1 small zucchini, diced
1 head broccoli, tassels only
2 or 3 carrots, chopped
one container of mushrooms, sliced

4 T butter
4 T flour
2 1/2 c milk/heavy cream combo (because when in doubt, you should ALWAYS add cream)
pinch or two of saffron
1/2 c white wine (can substitute water/broth)
2 tsp chicken bouillon (I prefer Better Than Bouillon.  Because it's better.  It says so on the label.)
1 1/2 c shredded parmesan cheese

3 c flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 c butter, chilled
1/2 c shortening, chilled
1/2 c water 
2 c shredded sharp cheddar cheese


The humblest of ingredients, waiting to be submitted to the tender mercies of my needing-to-be sharpened knives.

Chop up your vegetables.  Remember, they are going into a pie and you don't want to have a bite that is ALL carrot, or ALL zucchini.  Think of this as a salad between piecrusts, and the salad law dictates that you want a bit of EVERY component in EVERY bite.
When you slice your leeks, remember to soak them in water first to remove any excess dirt they may be harboring within their tasty layers.

First, you take a leek...
This is where I miss JedI particularly badly.  He would make short work of all the veggies in no time at all, where I make missiles of them.  The dog doesn't mind, since she eats them.

 Next chop up your chicken.  I personally use kitchen shears, because I am a lazy and shiftless cook who has no sous chef to order around.

 Next, add enough water to cover the veggies/chicken, and a pinch of saffron.  Cover and let them simmer until the chicken is cooked through, but the veggies are still firm (approximately 15 minutes).  Nobody wants gooshy vegetables.  Drain them but reserve some of the liquid, then set them aside for a bit.

This is saffron.  It's pretty and it's delicious.

 Next, you'll begin your pastry crust.  Put the flour, shortening, butter, and salt into your food processor and mix it until it starts to look crumbly.  Add 1 cup of your cheese and mix again, then add 1/4 cup of water.  Blend it just until it starts to hold together--wrastling with pie crust is what makes it tough.  Again, nobody wants a callous or calloused pie crust.
 Dump the pastry onto some saran wrap, flatten it into a 7-inch disk, and pop it in the fridge for 1/2 an hour or so.  Then do all of this again, for the second pie crust. 
 Roll out the pie crust and then fill it with the chicken/vegetable mixture. 

 This is where we start the REALLY good stuff.  I always thought it was bechamel, but JedI has informed me that if it has cheese it's really called mornay sauce.  Say it.  Mornay. 

Dissolve your bouillon into your white wine, add a pinch more saffron, and set it aside.

Melt the butter in a saucepan and then add the flour.  Cook it for approximately five minutes or so, stirring it.  Don't skip cooking it for a bit; if you do, your pot pie goo will have the lingering taste of flour, which is not at all what we are going for.  For fanciness, this is referred to as a roux. 
  Good mornay, sweetie.  How did you sleep?
At this point I needed more hands in the kitchen if I were going to simultaneously photo-document and stir.  The stirring won out.  Sorry.

Grab a whisk, and SLOWLY pour the milk/cream into the roux.  It will initially thicken drastically; whisk it until it's nicely blended with no lumps, and then put the whisk in the sink.  Its job here is done.

Cooking on medium heat, stir the sauce until it thickens (this can take a while).  When it is thick, stir in your bouillon .  Next add your parmesan cheese one fistful at a time.  Stir in a figure 8 motion so your cheese doesn't melt into a giant glob.  When it is all incorporated, take it off the heat and pour it over the vegetables in your piecrust.  You might want to mix up the veggies and the mornay to ensure that every vegetable is lovingly coated in heart-attack creamy cheesy buttery goodness.

Cover your innards with your second piecrust and seal off the edges.  Most people go top-folded-under-bottom, but I do the reverse.  I find that it seals it up better and has far fewer chances for leakage.  Also, my piecrusts are not pretty.  When looking at my piecrusts we ALWAYS use the term "rustic," which means "looks like hell" but since it's called rustic I could serve this to anybody anywhere and they would appreciate my epicurean offering.

Rustic pie crust.
Bake at 400 degrees for approximately 40-45 minutes, until it is browned and delicious.

A browned and delicious chicken pot pie.
Now, you must wait.  It smells delicious and you are DYING to dig in; but the melty goodness will burn your mouth like a mothereffer, trust me, I know.  Give it at least 20 minutes resting to just...assimilate.  It will be worth it.
Anxiously awaiting the cooling period.
Well, hello there.
If you share your pot pie with me I will love you forever.

Please note the disgruntled dachshund in the background.