Sourdough Pastry Dough to Make Artichoke Bacon Hand Pies

I tuned into Kitchen Queens New Orleans and watched the owner of Gracious Bakery make her Artichoke Bacon Hand Pies. I knew I had most of the ingredients in my pantry/fridge and decided that it would be a good opportunity to try making pastry using my sourdough starter.

I took a basic pate brisee crust recipe and reduced the flour and water by the weight of the sourdough starter. If using 1 cup starter (8 oz or 227g), it means reducing the flour by a scant cup (4 oz or 113 g) and the water by ½ cup (4 oz or 113g). Easy peasy and using the food processor to cut in the butter makes it even more so.

You could certainly make the hand pies with a regular pastry crust (home-made or store bought) but I’m always chuffed to find something else my sourdough starter can do.

The crust turned out to be perfectly flaky. It is strong enough to stand up to a fully loaded hand pie and would be perfect for a base for a fruit pie or other savory/sweet delicious treat.

Sourdough Pastry Dough

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into slices and frozen
1 cup sourdough starter discard, chilled

In a food processor, pulse together the flour and salt. Place in the butter and pulse to cut it into the flour until coarse, pea-sized crumbs appear. Place the sourdough starter into the processor and pulse just until combined.

Dump the dough in a large bowl and bring it together with your hands. If it is very crumbly, add some ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time (2 tablespoons maximum). Push the dough together into a rough ball. Flatten into a disc, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate about 1 hour or up to overnight. The dough can even be frozen at this stage. Make sure it is wrapped well and defrost in the fridge overnight before using.

Remove dough from the refrigerator and let rest for a few minutes at room temperature so it will be soft enough to roll out. Lightly dust workspace surface with flour. Use even pressure to roll the dough out front to back. Give the dough a quarter turn to roll the pastry out into a circle with a thickness of approximately ¼-inch. Cut into individual pies with a larger cutter – traditionally over in Natchitoches, they used an old coffee can as a cutter. I’ve got a handy dandy set of empanada molds that Michelle gave me. You cut with one side and use the other to fill and seal.

You will want to make the filling while the dough chills so it can be cooling in the fridge before making the pies. To keep the pastry flaky, you do not want the butter in the dough to melt too early.

I recommend rinsing the canned artichokes to reduce the citric acid taste.

I substituted a sweet vidalia onion for the green onions and altered the cheeses a bit from the original recipe. I like the flavor of the mix of Parmesan, Romano, and Asiago cheese versus just plain Parmesan and a sharp cheddar is definitely a nice touch.

Artichoke Bacon Sourdough Hand Pies

1 medium onion, diced
6 slices cooked bacon, chopped
2 14-oz cans artichoke hearts, rinsed, drained and chopped
80 grams cream cheese (⅓ of the package)
100 grams shaved Parmesan, Romano, and Asiago cheese
100 grams sharp white cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch of cayenne pepper

In a large pot, sauté the diced onion until golden. Add in the chopped bacon and cook until crisp. Stir in the chopped artichoke hearts. Cook until heated through, then add the cream cheese in chunks. Stir until the cream cheese is melted and combined. Turn off the heat and add the Parmesan, Romano, and Asiago cheese, white cheddar cheese, salt and cayenne. Transfer the filling to a bowl and refrigerate for an hour.

Place a generous amount of filling in the center of each pastry round and fold the dough over the filling, pressing the edges to close. Crimp to seal the edges with a fork or the empanada mold. Refrigerate for an hour or until ready to eat. At this stage, you could also freeze the pies – wrap in plastic wrap and put in a zip top bag.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine 1 egg, 2 tablespoons of water and a pinch of salt to make an egg wash. Brush the tops of the formed hand pies with egg wash. Bake in a preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown.

The savory filling from Megan Forman is delicious with all the flavors from the bacon, artichokes and cheese.

Vanilla Cookies with Chocolate

Some lovely friends of mine gave me a bottle of homemade vanilla for the holidays and it smells so good I want to use it as perfume. I restrained myself and just made cookies that highlight the wonderful vanilla flavor.

These are super basic vanilla cookies into which I chopped some bittersweet chocolate very fine because, why not? Use a baking bar as it will shave a little as you chop so that there are small bits of chocolate distributed throughout.

Crispy outside but still chewy and just enough chocolate to satisfy. The vanilla flavor comes through to make one delicious cookie.

Vanilla Cookies with Grated Chocolate

1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 oz bittersweet chocolate baking bar, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine dry ingredients.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Add flour mixture to creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in chocolate just until combined.

Roll tablespoonfuls into balls and place 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Remove to wire racks to cool.

Garlic and Ginger Green Beans

As regular readers to this blog are aware, I’m not the biggest fan of veggies, especially green beans. I’ve had far too many boiled to death. However, even I like these. They are quickly parboiled and then stir fried so they keep their structural integrity. Once you add in the spicy garlic and ginger sauce and they become finger licking good (mainly because I’m a barbarian and didn’t use a fork to eat them).

This is a super quick preparation, so have everything set out and close to hand and the rest of the meal ready to go.

Very intense flavor and so good and crunchy.

Garlic and Ginger Green Beans

1 pound green beans, trimmed 
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine or dry sherry 
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced ginger
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (more if you like more heat)
1 tablespoon peanut oil or canola oil

Bring a pot of water to a boil, season with salt and add the green beans. Boil 1 minute, drain and rinse with cold water, then place on a kitchen towel to dry thoroughly. Wet vegetables added to the hot pan will splutter and braise instead of stir-frying. Combine the soy sauce and wine or sherry in a small bowl or measuring cup. Place the garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes in another small container and stir to combine. Make sure all these additions are in easy reach before you start stir frying.

Heat a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok or a 12-inch skillet over high heat until a drop of water evaporates within a second or two when added to the pan. Add in the oil by pouring it to the sides of the pan and swirling the pan. Add the garlic and ginger, stir-frying for no more than 10 seconds, and then add the green beans. Toss together until the beans are well coated, then add the soy sauce and sherry/rice wine and stir-fry for one to two minutes, until the beans are crisp-tender. Remove from the heat and serve.

Meyer Lemon Sherbet

I took the last of my folks neighbor’s Meyer lemon harvest to make some lemon sherbet. I was able to use my Christmas present to juice them – a Kitchen Aid Citrus Juicer (JE) Stand Mixer Attachment. Other than juice dripping down my arm when I first started using because the mixer’s position on the counter was up too high, it ran through the remaining lemons in no time flat.

Lemon sherbet isn’t as common as lime or orange because the lemon can curdle the cream and milk. I find using a blender to mix it plus the addition of the limoncello helps to avoid that. If you’re at all worried, chill the juice separately from the milk/cream/sugar mix and add to the blender right before pouring into the ice cream maker.

The sorbet is tart and refreshing. Definitely taste once you’ve blended the liquid and add up to a ½ cup more sugar if you prefer sweeter sorbet.

1 cup sugar (possibly more)
Zest from the lemons (about 1 tablespoon), chopped fine
1 ½ cups milk
1 ½ cups cream
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoons of limoncello

In a food processor, combine the lemon zest and sugar and process until the sugar is made fine and the lemon zest is distributed throughout.

Place the sugar mixture and remaining ingredients together in a blender and blend to combine. Place the blender container in the fridge for at least four hours or overnight. Before putting it in your ice cream maker, give the liquid another whirl in the blender. If you want a super smooth sorbet, pass the mixture through a fine meshed sieve as you pour it into your ice cream maker.

Churn in ice cream maker per manufacturer’s instructions until almost entirely frozen, about 20 minutes or less. Don’t over churn the sorbet. Remove from the ice cream maker and place in the freezer to finish solidifying

Once it becomes frozen solid, bring the sherbet back to a softer consistency by placing container in the fridge until desired texture and serving.

Salt and Szechuan Pepper Shrimp

I placed a large order at Penzy’s for spices and one of the things I bought was Chinese Szechuan Peppercorns. They aren’t actually peppercorns but are seed husks and they have a complex flavor when made into a simple seasoning for shrimp.

I started by making the salt and pepper powder. Take two tablespoons of the Szechuan peppercorns and toast them in a dry skillet over medium high heat. Remove to a mortar and let cool while you lightly toast one tablespoon of sea salt. Add it to the mortar and use the pestle to grind the salt and pepper into a fine powder.

While the shrimp shells offer some additional flavor, I don’t like wrestling with peeling the shrimp at the table, so I peel them first. Besides, you lose the coating if you peel it after. Your choice to leave the tails on or not – they make a good handle.

The light corn starch coating gives them a little crunch and the salt and Szechuan pepper powder gives them a delicious bite. Served with rice and garlic and ginger green beans (recipe here), you’ve got a quick and terrific meal that takes no time to prepare.

Salt and Szechuan Pepper Shrimp

1 1/2 pound large shrimp
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons salt and pepper powder
1 cup vegetable oil

Peel and devein shrimp and pat dry.

Whisk cornstarch, salt and pepper powder together in a large bowl. In handfuls, add shrimp and toss to coat.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Working in batches, fry shrimp until golden, crisp, and cooked through, about 1 minute per side. Transfer to a flattened paper bag and let drain (paper towels can make them soggy). Taste for seasoning and sprinkle on more salt and pepper powder if necessary.

Serve with rice.

Satsuma Creole Cream Cheese Cheesecake

Michelle picked up a whole crate of satsuma’s for me and so I took her some Creole cream cheese I picked up from Dorignac’s for her to make me a cheesecake. I’m super helpful like that!

I had this cheesecake several years ago at Dickie Brennan’s Bourbon House but they added a bunch of other fruit to the compote topping and it was super distracting. I figured doing it with only satsumas would be better and it was. Segment the satsuma’s over a bowl to catch all the juice as you need a ½ cup for the glaze. I plan on using the delicious compote over other things, so I doubled the recipe.

If you don’t have satsumas where you live, you could move or, easier still, use mandarin oranges or tangerines.

If you don’t have the Creole cream cheese you can make your own or substitute sour cream.

The cheesecake is super silky with crunchy crust and a hint of orange. The addition of the compote really takes it to the next level.

Satsuma Creole Cream Cheese Cheesecake

Crust
1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
½ cup pecans, chopped fine
½ cup sugar
½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted

Filling
5 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1¼ cups sugar
1 cup Creole cream cheese
2 teaspoons satsuma zest
1/4 cup satsuma juice
3 medium eggs

Make the crust

In a mixing bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, pecans, sugar and melted butter. Press into a 9 x 13-inch spring-form pan. Refrigerate until ready to fill.

Make the filling

Preheat oven to 250˚F.

In the bowl of a stand mixer whip the cream cheese. Add the sugar and mix until smooth, occasionally scraping down the sides with a spatula. Add the Creole cream cheese, zest and juice and mix until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add one egg at a time and mix well after each egg. Pour the batter into the prepared crust and tap the pan several times on the counter to release any air bubbles. Bake for 2 hours, until the center of the cake is firm to the touch. Let cool at room temperature for fifteen minutes before running a knife around the outside edge to help keep the top from cracking. Let it continue to cool before refrigerating until ready to serve.

Optional Topping of Satsuma Compote
8 satsumas
½ cup satsuma juice
3 tablespoons sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 ounce Grand Marnier liqueur

Peel and segment satsumas to remove the membrane. Heat the juice, sugar and cinnamon stick in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the liquid becomes syrupy, approximately 20 minutes. Remove cinnamon stick and fold in the satsuma segments. Add Grand Marnier and pour over the cheesecake slices.

Eggy Panettone

Not so much a recipe as a method, as it all comes down to how much panettone you have left. This tall brioche-like Italian holiday bread is filled with small bits of fruit and nuts. It is delicious but I can never eat a whole one myself before it goes stale.

Instead of throwing it out and instead of making French toast which adds cream, vanilla and cinnamon to the egg mixture, I stick with the more stodgy British version of eggy bread using just eggs, milk and a little salt and pepper.

Heat a large bottom skillet or pancake pan over medium heat. You need about 2 eggs and a tablespoon of milk for every 3 slices of panettone. Whisk the eggs and milk together in a pie plate with just a pinch of salt and pepper. Place three slices of bread into the egg mixture and then coat the skillet with a little butter. Flip the bread to coat the other side and, once it has soaked in some more of the eggy mix, gently transfer to the skillet. Cook each side about 3 minutes or until golden. Repeat with remaining bread and serve.

Toppings are your choice – Mom put on Karo syrup, Dad used maple syrup and I ate mine just plain with some bacon on the side.

So very sweetly delicious!

Chocolate Chunk Banana Bread

Michelle hasn’t been using as many bananas in making smoothies lately so she had a surfeit of ripe bananas in her freezer. I suggested a banana bread recipe I’d seen where the chef chopped a chocolate bar instead of using chocolate chips so there are small bits of shavings and larger, gooey chunks. She agreed and this is the converted recipe she made.

Recipe without nuts

She made one double batch without pecans and one with as some of her holiday visitors have nut allergies. I’m taking one with nuts to my sister and keeping one for myself.

Slice with nuts

This is definitely a recipe you’ll want to double as there is chocolate banana goodness in every bite and it will disappear very fast.

Chocolate Chunk Banana Bread

1 ½ cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 ¼ cup granulated sugar
4 bananas (ripe and mashed)
2 eggs (lightly beaten)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chunks
1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl. Mix the butter, sugar, banana, eggs, vanilla extract, chocolate chunks and chopped pecans in a separate bowl. Add to the dry ingredients and stir to combine, being careful not to over mix.

Pour the batter into a lightly greased and floured, 8×5 loaf pan and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes. The bread is cooked when tested with a toothpick and it comes out clean.

Leave to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.

Makes 8 to 10 slices.

Saint Lucy’s Saffron Buns

I watched Paul Hollywood make St Lucia Buns on the Great British Baking Show and I immediately thought about making them with Creole Cream Cheese in place of the Quark cheese in the recipe. Of course, in craziness of the months since the episode aired, I nearly forgot about doing this recipe.

If you want these for breakfast on December 13th, consider making the dough the night before. When you get the stage of putting it in a buttered bowl to proof, instead place the covered bowl in the fridge overnight. Pull it out and set on the counter to let it warm to room temperature for 90 minutes before continuing the recipe by punching down and dividing the dough into about 12 equal sized pieces.

My raisins were a little old and hard, so I put them in a steamer basket over a small amount of boiling water for a few minutes and to soften and plump them up.

The end result are buns that are as beautiful as they are tasty.

Saint Lucy's Saffron Buns

1 teaspoon saffron threads
1 cup warm milk
½ stick unsalted butter
5 cups (500g) bread flour
1 ½ teaspoons instant yeast
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup sugar
1 cup Creole Cream cheese
butter for greasing
1 egg yolk
24 to 30 raisins

Scald the milk by pouring it into a small pan and warm over a low heat until almost to a boil and it is gently steaming. Remove from the heat, add the saffron threads and butter and leave to stand for 10 minutes or until lukewarm.

Place flour into the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment. Add the salt to one side of the bowl and the yeast to the other and begin to stir. Add in the sugar and continue to stir. Add the saffron-milk-butter mixture and creole cheese and mix until all the flour from the sides of the bowl has been incorporated.

Knead for about 5 or 6 minutes either in the mixer or by hand on the counter. The finished dough will form a soft, smooth skin.

When the dough feels smooth and silky, put it into a lightly buttered bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place for 1½-2 hours until doubled in size. Grease 2 baking sheets with butter.

Punch down the dough and divide into about 12 equal pieces. Roll the pieces into a long strand about a foot long. Starting at each end, roll in opposite directions into an S-shape, as tight as possible.

Starting the roll

Place on the prepared baking sheets and cover loosely with a plastic. Leave for 30-45 minutes until doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Brush the rolls with the egg yolk, then place one raisin in the center of each spiral (two raisins per roll). Bake the rolls for 15 minutes, or until golden. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool on a wire rack.

Dressing Patties

My family used to fight over the corners of the pan of dressing, as those have the crunchiest crust. Then, mom decided to form the dressing into patties and bake them so everyone gets to enjoy their own crunchy bites. I’ve decided to share the recipe to help bring peace to more families this Thanksgiving.

When I’m in the south for the holiday, I make my dressing with a package of Pepperidge Farm Classic Stuffing. When I’m on the West Coast, I like using the sourdough stuffing from Boudin Bakery in San Francisco.

With everything else going on during food prep for Thanksgiving, I make things easy on myself and instead of dicing onion and celery, I use a frozen seasoning blend of onion, bell peppers and celery. Two generous cups of Pictsweet Farms Seasoning Blend is perfect for the patties.

Crunchy and delicious, these can easily be made in advance of your gathering and just warmed up before serving. Also, I like using the leftovers to make awesome Thanksgiving po-boys with cranberry sauce, turkey and a little gravy.

Dressing Patties


1 package Pepperridge Farm Classic Stuffing or Boudin Sourdough Stuffing
4 tablespoons butter or olive oil
2 cups seasoning blend of onions, celery and bell pepper or 1 large onion (1 cup diced) plus 3 stalks celery (1 cup diced)
2 cups chicken broth

Heat butter or olive oil in a large saucepan. Sauté the onion for 5 minutes. Add in the celery and sauté for another 10 minutes or until very tender. If using the seasoning mix, toss in two generous cups and sauté for 10 minutes. Add broth and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add in the stuffing. Mix gently.

Once the dressing is warm enough to handle, form into 12 patties. Place on wire racks on a rimmed baking sheet. Patties can be baked immediately or covered and held overnight in the refrigerator.

Bake in a preheated 350 degrees F oven for 30-40 minutes.