Sometimes I have this fantasy that I live on real working farm. I feel like I should be able to go outside and pick my herbs, churn my butter, gather eggs from my chickens, and march down to my root cellar and gather a couple of potatoes all in the name of dinner. I have never understood what there is not to love about cooking and preparing with your hands. This is the message that was passed down to me anyway from my grandmother to my mother, from my mother to me, and hopefully I will manage to pass this message on to my daughter. The stories about the women in my family have been slow waltzing around in my mind, and most of my memories lead back to this central theme: in cooking, less is more and it is all in the wrist. When I fully understand all the choreography and meaning of the stories about these women, hopefully I will be able to share. What I imagine is a story about Europe, family, connection, and food. None of us lived on farms, but all of us boast a do-it-yourself attitude about food…and life in general…my 15 month old included.
This recipe requires a little care and elbow grease. I have made the crust with a food processor, but I have to say, I missed the large streaks of marbled butter in the dough. Whatever you choose, in the end you will feel the comfort and satisfaction of the two pieces of art cooling on your counter top as you dust the flour off your hands and apron.
Roasted root vegetable pot pies…
1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1 bunch mini carrots, peeled and cubed
1 turnip, peeled and cubed
8-10 cremini mushrooms, quartered
1 ½ cups frozen peas
salt and pepper
béchamel sauce (recipe follows)
one pie crust per serving(recipe follows)
1 cup flour
½ cup (1stick) unsalted butter
1 tsp kosher salt
1 egg, for wash
½ yellow onion
3 tbs unsalted butter
3 tbs flour
1 ½ cups milk
pinch of nutmeg
Prepare pie crust by mixing together flour and salt. Then cut butter into the flour either by hand or food processor until fully incorporated. Make sure butter is cold. Then, slowly add ice water 1 tbs at a time, until mixture forms a ball. Shape, cover, and put in the refrigerator to chill for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. While the crust is chilling, peel and cube the root vegetables, cover with olive oil, thyme, salt, and pepper and place in oven. Roast until tender, about 15-20 minutes, tossing often. In a saucepan over medium heat, sauté mushrooms in 2-3 tbs of olive oil, salt and pepper until just tender. Then, in a bowl, combine root vegetables, mushrooms, and peas. Salt and pepper to taste. Add a pinch more of thyme. Set aside.
To make the béchamel sauce, begin by sautéing onions on low heat in butter until tender and translucent. Then incorporate flour making a roux. Slowly add milk little by little, whisking. Let simmer on low heat, whisking frequently. The sauce will begin to thicken. Add salt to taste. Add a pinch of nutmeg.
To assemble, pour béchamel over the vegetable mixture and combine evenly. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Then pour into large ramekins or other serving dishes that are oven safe. Roll out crusts on a floured surface to ¼ inch thick. Place over the dishes and secure to the sides by crimping. Cut a hole in the crust for venting. For the egg wash beat egg and add a dash of water. Brush wash over the assembled pies. Then sprinkle tops with kosher salt.
Bake at 350 degrees until crust is golden brown, about 30 minutes.
Eat together, toast to each other, and share!