Savory Pies

Single Crust Pastry Dough

September 17, 2012

Single Crust Pastry Dough

If you want to make a double crust then just double the recipe. 


1 1/2 Cups Unbleached Flour

1/2 Teaspoon Kosher Salt

1/2 Cup Unsalted Butter – Cut Up

1/4 Cup Ice Water

In a medium size bowl stir together the flour and salt.  With either two forks or a pastry blender cut in the butter until the pieces are pea size.  Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the ice water over the flour mixture.  Toss with one of the forks.  Push the moistened pastry to the side of the bowl.  Repeat the moistening of the flour mixture by using 1 tablespoon of the ice water at a time until the flour mixture is moistened and you’ve used all of the ice water.  Gather the flour mixture into a ball and knead gently until it holds together.  On a lightly floured surface use your hands to slightly flatten the pastry.  Roll the pastry from the center to the edges into a circle which should be about 12 inches in diameter.  Makes 1 pie crust. 

Nana’s Calzone

June 18, 2012

Nana’s Calzone


Nana’s Calzone is a delicious lunch or it can be served cold on a summer day.   When I serve it warm, I top it with a bit of marinara sauce.  All that is needed to complete the meal is a nice tossed salad. 



1 Pound Prosciutto

2 Pounds Ricotta Cheese

1 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese

3 Eggs

1/2 Teaspoon Kosher Salt

1/2 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Pepper

Olive Oil

1/2 Pound Cubed Mozzarella Cheese

1 Pound Pizza Dough (Store Bought or Homemade)

1 Cup Marinara Sauce


Preheat your oven to 350° F. In a large size bowl mix together the prosciutto, ricotta, Parmesan, eggs, salt and pepper.  Set aside.  Stretch the pizza dough to make a 12 to 14 inch round.  Leave the dough slightly thick so that the filling will not ooze out.  Put the dough on a lightly oiled pizza pan.  Avoid the edges of the pan.  Spoon the filling onto half of the pizza round and fold the other half of the dough over to form a large turnover.  Press the edges tightly together, with your fingertips, until all of the dough is sealed.  Moisten the top and sides of the calzone with olive oil by using the palm of your hand to spread it evenly.  Cut a few slits in the middle of the calzone.  Put some cubes of the mozzarella and a couple tablespoons full of marinara sauce in each of the slits.  Use all of the cheese and sauce.  Bake the calzone in the oven for 45 minutes until golden brown.  I like to use the medium rack in the oven.  Remove from the oven and let sit for 20 minutes.  This will allow the cheese to set.  Cut into slices and serve as a lunch dish or an appetizer.  Top with more marinara sauce.  As an appetizer serves 8 and as a main course serves 1 to 2. 


Basic Pizza Dough

3/4 Cup Lukewarm Water

1 Package Dry Yeast

1/8 Teaspoon Sugar

3 Cups Unbleached Flour

1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt

1/4 Cup Olive Oil


Put the lukewarm water in a small bowl and sprinkle the yeast and sugar over it.  Let stand in a warm and draft free place for 15 minutes until a foam forms on the top.  Make sure that the water is NOT hot or it will kill the yeast.  In a large bowl combine 1 cup of flour and the salt.  Add the olive oil to the yeast mixture and pour the mixture into the bowl of flour.  Slowly add the second cup of the flour.  Stir with a wooden spoon.  When the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl turn it out onto a floured board.  Gradually knead the rest of the flour into the dough until the dough is smooth and elastic.  The dough should no longer be sticky.  Depending on how moist your dough is will depend on how much flour you will need.  Coat a medium bowl with olive oil and place the dough in it.  Roll the dough to coat on all sides.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and set in a warm place for about an hour.  The dough should double in size.  To test if the dough has doubled gently press your fingers into it.  If your fingers leave an impression then the dough is ready. 

Individual Shepherd’s Pies

April 29, 2012

Individual Shepherd’s Pies


In this recipe I use lamb.  Many people use beef, but the shepherds didn’t watch over their cows at night.  Make sure to use quality meat and the mashed potatoes seal the deal. 



1/2 Cup Olive Oil

1 Chopped Medium Onion

2 Pounds Ground Lamb

1/2 Cup Water

4 Cups Beef Stock

2 Large Diced Carrots

1/2 Bunch Finely Chopped Thyme

1/2 Teaspoon Kosher Salt

1/2 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Pepper

1 Pound Mashed Potatoes (Enough to Cover Six Pies)


Preheat your oven to 350° F.  In a large skillet heat the olive oil and add the chopped onion.  Cook for 4 minutes until the onion is tender.  Add the ground lamb and sauté for 3 minutes to break up any large pieces.  Add the water and then transfer to a baking sheet and put into the oven and cook for 15 to 20 minutes.  The lamb should be golden brown.  Remove from the oven and drain off the excess fat.  Return to the original skillet and add the beef stock.  Bring to a boil over a medium heat.  Meanwhile, blanch the diced carrots in salted boiling water until they are soft.  You do not want them to be mushy.  Drain the carrots and place them in a cold water bath and set aside.  Turn the skillet with the lamb down to a low heat and add the chopped time, salt, pepper and carrots.  Simmer for 10 minutes and then transfer the meat mixture into individual earthenware pie dishes.  Press the meat mixture down so that you will have a smooth surface onto which the mashed potatoes can be piped.  Using a piping bag with a large nozzle carefully pipe an even layer of potatoes over the surface of the pie. If you do not have a piping bag don’t worry about it.  Just do the best you can to neatly cover the pies. Place the individual pies on a baking sheet and put into the oven for 5 minutes.  The potatoes should begin to turn golden brown and the pies should be piping hot in the center.  Remove from the oven and serve.  Makes 6 individual pies. 


Puff Pastry

October 26, 2011

Puff Pastry

A relative of Middle Eastern phyllo dough as it is used in a similar manner to create layered pastries. It is thought that French painter, Claude Gelée, who lived in the 17th century. Apparently, Gelée was making a type of very buttery bread for his sick father. The process of rolling the butter into the bread dough created a croissant like finished product. Other Puff Pastry references before the 17th century which indicates that the history was originally from Muslim Spain and was converted from thin sheets of dough spread with olive oil to laminate the dough with layers of butter. Puff Pastry is commonly used for turnovers, Steak & Kidney Pie, other types of pie, sausage rolls, Beef Wellington, strudel and Miguelitos (a cake made in Spain). Here is a basic and quick Puff Pastry recipe.


4 Cups Unbleached Flour

1 Teaspoon Salt

2 Cups Cold Butter

1 ¼ Cups Ice Water

In a large mixing bowl stir together the flour and salt. Cut the cold butter into ½ inch thick sliced. Do not cut the butter into cubes. Add the butter slices to the flour mixture and toss until the butter slices are coated with the flour mixture and are separated. Pour the ice water over the flour mixture. Using a spoon, quickly mix. The butter will remain in large pieces and the flour will not be completely moistened. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough 10 times by pressing and pushing the dough together to form a rough looking ball. Shape the dough into a rectangle. Don’t be concerned that the dough will still have some dry looking areas. Make the corners as square as possible and slightly flatten the dough. Working on a well floured surface, roll the dough into a large rectangle. Fold crosswise into thirds to for a slightly smaller rectangle. Give the dough a quarter turn and then fold crosswise into thirds to form an even smaller rectangle. This should create 9 layers. Repeat the rolling, folding, turning and folding process one more time. You should have a rectangle that is approximately 5×4 inches. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and stick in the fridge for at least 20 minutes. To use the dough in your recipe cut the dough in half crosswise with a very sharp knife. Makes two 1 1/3 pound portions.

Steak &Kidney Pie

October 24, 2011

Steak &Kidney Pie

You don’t have to go to the pub to get great Steak & Kidney Pie. Now you can make it at home.


2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

1 ½ Pounds Diced Chuck Steak

½ Pound Diced Ox Or Lamb Kidney

2 Chopped Onions

2 Diced Carrots

2 Tablespoons Butter

12 Ounces Puff Pastry

3 Chopped Garlic Cloves

2 Diced Celery Stalks

2 Tablespoons Flour

2 Cups Beef Stock

1 Teaspoon Tomato Puree

2 Teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce

2 Bay Leaves

½ Teaspoon Kosher Salt

½ Teaspoon Freshly Ground Pepper

1 Beaten Egg

Heat up 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. The pan should be smoking. Add the onion, carrots and celery and sauté for 8 minutes to brown lightly. Remove from the pan and set aside. Season the beef and kidneys with the salt and pepper. Add the other teaspoon of olive oil to the pan and get the pan very hot again. Brown the meat for 5 minutes turning to ensure that all sides are browned. Make sure that you don’t over crowd the pan and cook in batches if need be. Remove and set aside. Melt the butter in the pan over medium heat and cook the garlic. Stir in the flower and cook for 3 minutes. Add the tomato puree, Worcestershire Sauce and bay leaf. Pour in the stock and bring to a simmer. Add the meat and vegetables back into the pan with the stock mixture. Simmer gently for 2 hours. It is a good idea to partially cover the pan. Transfer to a 2 cup pie dish or casserole dish and allow cooling to lukewarm. Preheat the oven to 425° F. Roll the pastry to ¼ inch thick. Place the pastry on top of the pie or casserole dish. If you want you can line the pie dish/casserole dish with pastry to make a full pie. Crimp the sides for a neat finish. Brush the top with the egg wash (beaten egg) and place in the preheated oven. Bake for 35 minutes until golden brown. Serve hot. Serves 6


August 30, 2011


Spanakopita or Spinach Pie is a wonderful Greek savory pastry with a filling of chopped spinach, feta cheese and other ingredients wrapped or layered in a phyllo pastry and baked to a golden brown. Spanakopita is mostly eaten as a snack in Greece. In rural Greece, smaller amounts of spinach are used, with the missing part substituted with leeks, sorrel and/or chard.


3 Pounds Frozen Spinach

9 Lightly Beaten Large Eggs

2 Cups Crumbled Feta Cheese

¼ Cup Grated Romano Cheese

¼ Cup Chopped Dill

1 Cup Freshly Chopped Parsley

2 Cup Sliced Scallions

½ Cup Sliced Onions

2 Tablespoons Chopped Fresh Mint

8 Ounces Ricotta Cheese

1 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Pepper

1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt

2 Cups Melted Unsalted Butter

1 Pound Phyllo Dough (Freezer Section at the Grocery)

Thaw and drain the frozen spinach. In a large bowl mix together all of the ingredients except for the melted butter and phyllo dough. Brush the butter over the bottom of a 24×12 baking pan. Layer 10 sheets of the phyllo dough in the pan, brushing each sheet generously with the melted butter. Spread the spinach mixture over the phyllo dough and top it with another 10 phyllo dough sheets brushed with butter. Neaten up the edges and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375° F. Using a serrated knife, score the spanakopita into 15 squares, cutting about ¾ of the way through it. Sprinkle the surface with cold water to prevent curling and bake until golden brown for between 45 to 60 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before cutting. Makes 15 pieces

Hurricane Beef Pot Pie

August 27, 2011

Hurricane Beef Pot Pie

When there is a chill in the air and a hurricane on the way it is a good time for heartier fare. This savory meat pie makes the perfect dinner.


1 Pound Lean Boneless Beef Chuck Cut Into Cubes

4 Teaspoons Olive Oil

2 Minced Garlic Cloves

2 Sliced Carrots

1 Diced Red Onion

1 Beef Bouillon Cube

1 Teaspoon Salt

1 Tablespoon Cornstarch

10 Ounces Peas

Parsley Crust

Pat the beef dry with paper towels. In a large skillet heat 2 teaspoons olive oil over medium high heat. Add the beef and cook until browned on all sides. Stir in the garlic and cook 1 minute longer. With a spoon transfer the beef mixture to a bowl. In the same skillet, heat the remaining olive oil. Add the carrots and onion. Cook for 10 minutes until browned. Next, add the beef back to the skillet along with the beef bouillon, salt and 1 ¼ cups water. Heat to boiling over a high heat. Reduce the heat to low and cover. Simmer for 40 minutes. In a cup mix the cornstarch and ¼ cup of water and gradually add to the skillet. Cook over a high heat for 1 minute until the mixture thickens. Stir in the peas and remove from the heat. Prepare the Parsley Crust. Preheat the oven to 425° F. On a lightly floured surface, with a floured rolling pin, roll half of the dough into a large round that is large enough to fit into a 9 inch pie plate. Ease the round into a greased pie plate and spoon the filling into the crust. Trim any pastry edge, leaving a 1 inch overhang. Roll the remaining dough into a 10 inch round. Cut into ½ inch wide strips. Place half of the strips about ¾ inches apart across the pie. Do not seal the ends. Fold every other strip back halfway from the center. Place the center cross strip on the pie. Replace the folded part of the strips. Fold back alternate strips and add the second cross strip. Repeat to weave the strips into a lattice. Seal the ends. Fold the overhang under and make a fluted edge. Bake on a cookie sheet for 35 minutes or until crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbly. Serves 4

Parsley Crust

2 Cups Unbleached Flour

½ Cup Chopped Fresh Parsley

1 Teaspoon Salt

¾ Shortening

6 Tablespoons Cold Water

In a large bowl, mix flour, chopped parsley and salt. With a pastry blender cut in ¾ cup of shortening until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the cold water 1 tablespoon at a time. Mix lightly with a fork after each addition until the dough just holds together. Do not over mix. Divide the dough in half and shape each into a ball.

Chicken Pot Pie

May 2, 2011

Chicken Pot Pie

I remember eating the TV dinner chicken pot pies growing up.  Even as a kid I thought that the frozen ones were horrible.  Homemade chicken pot pie is so much better.  If you don’t feel like making your own crust purchase a prepared one. 


1 Pound Cubed Skinless/Boneless Chicken Breasts

1 Cup Sliced Carrots

1 Cup Green Peas

½ Cup Sliced Celery

1/3 Cup Butter

1/3 Cup Chopped Red Onion

1/3 Cup Unbleached Flour

½ Teaspoon Salt

¼ Teaspoon Black Pepper

1 ¾ Cups Chicken Broth

2/3 Cup Milk

1 (9inch) Unbaked Pie Crusts

Preheat the oven to 425° F.  In a saucepan, combine chicken, carrots, peas and celery.  Add water to cover and boil for 15 minutes.  Remove from the heat and set aside.  In a separate saucepan cook onions in the butter until soft and translucent over medium heat.  Stir in flour, salt and pepper.  Slowly stir in chicken broth and milk. Simmer over low heat until thick.  Remove from the heat and set aside.  Place the chicken mixture in the bottom of the pie crust.  Pour the hot liquid mixture over the chicken mixture.  Cover with the top crust and seal the edges.  Cut away any excess dough.  Make several small slits in the top crust to allow steam to escape.  Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until pastry is golden brown and filling is bubbly.  Cool for 10 minutes before serving.  Serves 8

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