vegetarian moussaka pie, #36 of 52

a trip to the farmers market yielded these beauties.  i love tiny eggplants-they are so tender and mild in flavor compared to the big ones.  we grilled some and the rest became the inspiration for this pie.

traditionally, moussaka is made with ground meat but in my attempt to cook more vegetarian meals, i chose to substitute some wheat bulgur.  to increase the flavor of the filling, i cooked the bulgur in vegetable stock.

i roasted slices of the eggplant in the oven and this both softened them and eliminated some of the juices that may have made the filling soggy.

the bulgur was sauteed with onions, garlic and herbs from the garden to make a flavorful substitution to meat.

i layered it all in a 4 cup casserole dish which was lined with some homemade pie dough that was mixed up using an expeller pressed non-hydrogenated vegetable fat-great for my low cholesterol diet.

a thin custard of ricotta cheese and egg whites (a lighter version of the traditional bechamel sauce) was poured over the filling.

a sprinkle of traditional spices over the custard was topped off by the casual folds of the excess dough

fresh from the oven, it was a filling meal that we didn’t feel guilty for eating-chock full of whole grain and veggies and a lowfat custard made it a good choice for my low cholesterol diet.

vegetarian moussaka pie
serves 4 as an entree
1/4 cup wheat bulgur
4-6 finger sized eggplants (4-5 inches in length, 1 1/4″ in diameter)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup diced onions
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
3/4 cup diced tomatoes-fresh or canned
salt and pepper
1/3 cup part skim ricotta cheese
2 egg whites
1/2 cup milk
a pinch each of cinnamon and allspice
enough pie dough to line a 9″ pie shell
preheat the oven to 350.  cook the bulgur according to the directions on the package using vegetable broth or water.  slice the eggplants into 1/4″ slabs and lay them on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.  bake the slices until they soften and dry a bit-10-15 minutes.  remove them from the oven and set aside.  in a saute pan, heat the olive oil and saute the onions until soft, add the garlic and oregano and continue to saute for another minute.  add the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper then set this aside as well.  in a mixing bowl, mix the ricotta with the egg whites and whisk until smooth.  add the milk, cinnamon and allspice and whisk to combine.  line a 4 cup casserole with the pie dough allowing the excess to hang over the outside.  lay half of the eggplant slices over the bottom of the dish.  top this with the bulgur mix and cover the filling with the remaining eggplant slices.  whisk the custard and pour it over the filling in the dish.  carefully lay the excess crust over the filling so that most of the filling is covered.  bake until golden brown and the custard is set, about 50 minutes.  let it rest on the counter for 15 minutes or so before serving.  a green salad completes the meal!
need a recipe for pie dough?  try this one from pie #18.  and as always, bake one and send me a photo-i will post it here!

lagging behind…#23 of 52, pizzas!

don’t even say it!  it absolutely is too a pie!!!  where i come from (just outside of new york city), they are referred to as pies; large pie, small pie, what ever size or toppings are added, it is a pie.  okay, i will admit it is a little bit of a stretch, but then again, is it?  it starts out with a crust and in the fashion of a free form, out of the pan pie, it gets a topping of what ever you choose.  after baking, it is cut into wedges, just like a pie…

for the teenager, just tomato sauce and cheese

for the husband, exotic wild picked mushrooms, onions and cheese with a little bit of white sauce and a drizzle of truffle oil.

for myself, a trip out to the garden for some spinach, onions and a few mushrooms (the regular button kind) with a little white sauce and cheese.  okay, so it has been very hectic-it’s graduation week, the family is coming.  i had an opportunity to help a friend with her cookbook and now i am trying to get caught up.  besides we were hungry…
no knead dough crust-this is another of jim lahey’s recipes adapted from the recipe posted on the tasting table.  makes 4 (8-10) pizzas each serving one person.  
3 cups all purpose or bread flour ( i used 3/4 cup whole wheat flour and the remainder was bread flour
1/4 teaspoon yeast
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups water
desired sauces, cheeses and toppings:  takes about 1/4 cup sauce per pizza, 1/2-1 cup cheese and up to 1 cup of toppings.
combine all ingredients in a bowl and allow it to sit for 12-24 hours.  mine sat for about 18 hours.  at this time, scrape the dough out onto a lightly floured board and fold the ends in to the middle a few time.  make a smooth ball of dough and cut it into 4 even pieces.  flour them and let them rest under a towel for 2 hours.  heat the oven with a pizza stone in it (for the best results)  to 500, this will take about 20 minutes.  carefully shape one ball of dough into a 8-10 inch circle.  place the crust on a floured peel and add the desired toppings.  quickly slide the pizza onto the hot stone and bake until golden and bubbly-about 10-15 minutes.  shape each dough ball individually and just before it is to be placed in the oven.  it is hard to move the pizza if it has a chance to relax and stick to the peel.
with any luck, i will get the pie for last week as well as this week up soon!  and as always, bake with me!  send me a photo and i will post it here.

country style pot pie, #22 of 52 pies

it was a cold and dreary day…and just whose idea was that?  it has been so nice and warm and sunny and then suddenly, i’m freezin in here!  when the weather is like that, i have a taste for hot soup.  soup isn’t very pie like though so i decided to go with a pot pie-it’s hot and creamy and perfect for cold and dreary days.

right now, we have lots going on in the garden.  in between showers, i grabbed my basket and a pair of scissors and went out to gather what i would need.  leeks, broccoli, peas and herbs (parsley, sage, oregano and thyme).  in the house i had some mushrooms and garlic as well as some asparagus that my husband had already picked from the garden.  if it seems like something is missing, it is.  when i pulled out the leftover turkey from the fridge, i was nearly over come by the smell.  it had been living in there for a week but i thought it might still be good.  however, it is destined to make the trip to the digester where the worms will enjoy it.

as always, when i am out in the garden, the captain tags along.  somebody has to make sure i am behaving.  as you can see here, he got sucked into the catnip.  looks like he needs the chaperon now…

i prepared the vegetables first.  some were sauteed-leeks, garlic and mushrooms.  others were blanched-carrots, broccoli and asparagus stems.  others were added raw so they would not overcook-broccoli florets, asparagus tips and freshly shucked peas.

using vegetable broth and some half and half, i made a nice creamy sauce and finished it off with the herbs.  then it was poured over the vegetables and topped with biscuits.

into the oven it went and in 30 minutes, dinner was served!
country style pot pie
one (9″) crustless pie which serves about 4 as a main course

the great thing about this recipe, you can customize it however you like!  don’t like broccoli-use something else.  just want mushrooms-go for it!  want it meaty, add cubes of cooked meat and use a beef broth.  you call the shots-me, i’m going for turkey next time.

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups sliced leeks, green part only
1 tablespoon garlic
2 cups mushroom-buttons, halved or quartered
3 cups assorted vegetables-for things that will overcook easily (broccoli flowers, asparagus tip), plan to add those raw.  for the hard ones (carrots, potatoes) cook them first
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup flour
2 cups broth
1/2 cup half and half
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh herbs
salt and pepper, to taste
1 batch of biscuits, recipe follows

preheat the oven to 375.  sautee the leeks in the olive oil until soft, add the garlic and continue to saute.  add the mushrooms and cover the pan to cause them to sweat.  when mushrooms are cooked, remove the pan from the heat and prepare the remaining vegetables.  combine them in and even layer on the bottom of the pie dish.  in a sauce pot, melt the butter.  add the flour and cook the roux over medium heat for several minutes, stirring constantly.  whisk in the broth and then the half and half and continue to simmer gently for a few minutes.  off the heat, season with salt and pepper and then stir in the herbs.  pour over the vegetables and top with the biscuits.  bake until bubbly and the biscuits are an even golden brown, about 25-30 minutes.

buttermilk biscuits
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into small cubes
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons buttermilk
place the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine.  sprinkle the butter cubes over the top and pulse to cut in the butter-the mixture should look very coarse with little bits of butter visible.  add the buttermilk and process long enough to combine.  turn out onto a floured surface and with floured hands, pat it into a 1/2″ slab.  using a 2″ cutter, make small biscuits, reworking the scraps to yield 16-18 biscuits.  arrange the biscuits on top of the pie and follow the baking instructions.

one more round up!
my berry rhubarb pie was an inspiration to melanie.  she used the pie crust recipe i posted with that pie to make her raspberry-cherry pie.  and can you believe that is her first attempt at a lattice top?  beautiful pie melanie, thanks for sending me the photo!
and as always, bake one, send a photo and i will post it here.  go ahead, i dare ya… double dare ya…