What is it about a pot pie that makes the world seem safe? Maybe it’s the way all the chaos inside is hidden under an addicting, flaky crust. Maybe it’s because it started being marketed in the U.S. in the beloved 1950s. And maybe, just maybe, it’s because pot pies enable you to eat pie crust for dinner.
By now you’ve probably figured out that I love kitchen toys. I have a small kitchen. While not tiny, it’s compact and lacks much useful storage. My kitchen toy collection is forced to maintain a vacation home in the garage, fraternizing with my husband’s tool collection. It’s not ideal, but it does mean that I have more kitchen toys than should reasonably be expected.
Several months ago, my mom stumbled on an adorable little mini pie maker while she was out and about. She knew immediately that I would give it a good home and bought it for me. Yay, Mom! http://www.amazon.com/Nostalgia-Electrics-Pie-400-Electric-Bakery/dp/B005QSI5JO
Just look at it! It’s made by Nostalgia Electrics, a company that makes several cool retro-style appliances. It’s perfect for keeping me in that 1950s mindset while cooking up our pot pies!
I haven’t made goody pies in it yet, but I’m enjoying making pot pies with it. These are a little work, but it’s worth the reminder that rockabilly and Elvis Presley will never go out of style.
The most important thing to remember when making homemade pot pies is that the dough needs to be made ahead of time. If you want to make these for dinner, make the dough earlier in the day or the night before. It doesn’t roll out properly without time to chill. Then people start asking when dinner is and you start saying, “I don’t know!” and they sigh and you shake your fist at the dough and curse it for being so uncooperative. I’m afraid this happens to everyone who forgets to make the dough ahead of time. Don’t let this be you.
The dough recipe is very simple.
Pot Pie Crust Recipe
- 2 cups flour
- 2/3 cup non-hydrogenated shortening
- 1 tsp. salt
- 5 tablespoons vegetable broth
- 3 tablespoons crushed ice or ice water
This can be done by hand, but I put all of the ingredients into my bread machine and turn on the dough cycle. If it looks too dry, add water a tablespoon at a time until it forms a nice ball of dough. Wrap the dough ball in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a couple of hours or overnight.
I’ve been experimenting with pot pie recipes and everyone seems to enjoy the variety. It’s fun, so I figure why not continue? The pot pies I made tonight were inspired by some quinoa I bought at Whole Foods a couple of weeks ago. Despite my younger son mistaking it for bird food when he noticed it in the pantry, I knew it would be colorful and nutritious and a party on our plates in whatever way it was used!
Additionally, when taking the picture for the header picture for this blog, I purchased a variety of onions that I didn’t really have a plan for after their brief modeling career ended. I thought it would be fun to use the pearl onions in this recipe instead of a more run-of-the-mill onion. After choosing those two ingredients, I cruised through the produce section at the local grocery store and bought things that sounded like they’d make a filling and savory pot pie.
The amounts given here make about 8 pot pies.
Pot Pie Recipe
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup tri-color quinoa
- 1 cup vegetable broth, plus ½ cup
- ½ pkg. pearl onions
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- ½ red pepper, diced
- 2 large carrots, chopped
- 1 celery stalk, chopped
- 1 small zucchini, chopped
- 1 cup broccoli, roughly chopped
- 1 small potato, chopped
- ½ tsp thyme
- ½ tsp basil
- ¼ tsp tarragon
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp salt
Rinse the quinoa. Bring 1 cup vegetable broth to a boil and add the quinoa. Boil for 15 minutes, stirring frequently. After 15 minutes, remove the quinoa from the heat and cover for at least 5 minutes. The liquid should be totally absorbed and the quinoa should have little tails to let you know it is done.
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the spices, garlic, and celery and sauté for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the rest of the vegetables and cook for ten minutes until the vegetables have softened. Add the quinoa and stir. Finally, add the last ½ cup of vegetable broth and simmer about 5 minutes.
This pot pie doesn’t have built in gravy. My younger son prefers it that way, but my husband prefers the traditional gravy-laden pot pie. I make a simple gravy and put it into my husband’s pies and off to the side for my younger son. Everybody’s happy!
Way Too Easy Gravy
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
Wisk together all ingredients and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. This thickens quickly; so do keep an eye on it. Add more broth if you prefer a thinner gravy. For the mini-pies, I find that the thicker gravy is easier to mange.
Although I used my mini-pie maker, I’m sure this recipe could easily be adapted to a full-sized pie and baked in an oven as well.
The pie maker is a plug-and-play kitchen toy, so if you have one, plug it in and roll out your dough. After the dough is rolled, use the provided dough cutters to cut the appropriate size pieces of dough for the upper and lower crusts. The dough tends to play shrinky-dink after being cut, so roll it out thinly but be prepared to roll it out again slightly or gently stretch it before putting it on the maker. If you don’t do this, the dough might not fit the space appropriately and the pies won’t seal.
Carefully place the lower crust into the maker and fill with filling and, if desired, about a tablespoon of gravy. If adding the gravy, fill the pie halfway, add the gravy, and then fill completely.
Fill the pie crusts well, pushing the filling down gently with a wooden spoon and adding more until you have a slight mound. Cover the filling with a second piece of dough and close the pie maker.
If you don’t compress the filling, the upper crust doesn’t make contact with the top of the pie maker. Your pies are still awesome, but the tops won’t brown correctly and may appear a little doughy.
It takes about 7 minutes for the pie maker to lightly brown the dough. Don’t open the maker too prematurely either! As tempting as it is to sneak a peek at your masterpieces, if the dough hasn’t cooked enough when you open the maker, the tops will pull off the bases. They don’t seem to be able to cook back on at that point. Not only is this a little disappointing, it also makes it much messier to remove the pies.
Like I said before, this version isn’t loaded with gravy like the ones you might remember from when you were a kid. You can certainly add gravy, but one of the perks of the under-gravied version is that these are totally portable and can be easily taken for a picnic or packed in a lunch.
These are healthier that what you might’ve had when you were a kid. That shouldn’t stop you from hauling out your tray tables and sitting in front of the tube for dinner, however. If you’re going that route, I want you to go all-out and if you’re a guy, comb that hair of yours into a ducktail. If you’re a woman, grab some pedal pushers and cat-eye glasses. We may not eat like the Cleavers anymore, but we can act like A Teenager in Love about our rocking Be-Bop-a-Lula vegan food! In fact, all this Yakety-Yak has inspired me to see if I can find my thrill with my first attempt at some goody pies in my piemaker! So, Don’t Be Cruel, and check back tomorrow to see my… ahh, Chances Are you know what kinda pie I’m gonna find my thrill creating!