CHILDHOOD FAVORITES FROM FOOD FOR THOUGHT WITH CLAIRE THOMAS

If I were to be completely honest about my childhood favorites, corn dogs would get top billing.  It’s a little embarrassing, but corn dogs were truly my favorite meal as a child, much to the frustration of my mom, who’s a fantastic cook.

But, I obviously can’t do an entire episode on Corn Dogs, so I wanted to feature they very close seconds.  The dishes that I’d beg my mom to make, the one’s that remind me of Sunday dinners or evenings spent cooking in the kitchen.  Homey, simple, and above all else, delicious, these dishes remind me of my favorite moments of my childhood. I hope you and your family enjoy them as well!

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CLASSIC CHICKEN POT PIE WITH A ROSEMARY BISCUIT CRUST

INGREDIENTS

Made in a 6 quart dutch oven

3 ounces butter

1/3 cup flour

2 cups chicken broth

1 cup milk

1 egg, beaten

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

2 cups carrots, chopped

1 cup parsnips, chopped

1 pound whole cippolini onions, skin peeled off

3/4 pound cooked chicken breast, cut into 1 inch pieces

1 1/2 cup peas, frozen or fresh

1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped

DIRECTIONS

Pre heat oven to 350 F, with a rack in the center.

In a pot or dutch oven over medium heat, melt the butter and with a whisk stir in the flour.  It should form a loose paste, a roux.  Cook for a minute and gradually add the chicken broth, then milk.  You should have a creamy liquid. If it gets thicker than gravy, add a little more broth or milk to loosen it. Add a little of the liquid to the egg, mix together, then add the egg mixture and nutmeg to the rest of the liquid (this is tempering the egg so it doesn’t cook instantly when added to the hot liquid).  Add in the carrots, parsnips, cippolini onions, chicken, peas, and parsley.  Season with salt and pepper.

Put in the oven with lid on for 15 minutes, until boiling hot.  In the meantime, make your biscuits. Take the baking dish out, turn oven up to 425F and top the dish with rounds of biscuits dough and brush with a beaten egg.  Bake for another 20-25 minutes until the biscuits are puffed and golden brown.

Note: It’s important that the baking dish is boiling hot when you add the biscuit dough, because otherwise, the biscuits won’t cook on the bottom.

INGREDIENTS (ROSEMARY BISCUIT CRUST)

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup butter, cold and cubed

2/3 cup sour cream

1-2 tablespoons milk

1 tablespoon rosemary, finely chopped

1 egg (for egg wash)

DIRECTIONS

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into the bowl. Drop in the butter and use your fingers to casually mix it in with the dry ingredients. Don’t over mix.  There should still be a few lumps of butter, the size of peas, or even a little bigger. Two minutes or less of mixing should do it. Next add the sour cream, milk, and rosemary. Stir it up into a soft dough. Form the dough into a soft ball. Get a piece of waxed paper and lay it on your counter. Sprinkle the waxed paper with a little bit of flour. Place the dough ball on the flour and knead it about 5 to 10 times. Flatten out the dough with a rolling pin or your hands so it is about 3/4″ thick. Cut into biscuit shapes with a biscuit cutter, or the rim of a clean cup or can.

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MOM’S TUNA PATTIES

INGREDIENTS

For 6-7 patties

2 tablespoons butter

1 onion, finely chopped (2 cups)

4 5-ounce cans tuna, drained

1 tablespoon parsley, finely chopped

1 tablespoon chives, finely snipped

1 teaspoon lemon zest

2 teaspoons dijon mustard

2 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons milk

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup bread crumbs

1 teaspoons dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

1/2 teaspoon paprika

salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

INGREDIENTS (GARNISH)

lemon wedges

tartar sauce

chopped parsley

DIRECTIONS

In a large sauté pan, sauté the onions in butter over medium heat for 5 minutes, just until translucent. Season with salt and pepper, and add the tuna meat. Turn on low and add the parsley, chives, lemon zest, and dijon.  Once stirred, take off heat.

Meanwhile, cover the potatoes with cold water and bring to a boil.  Cover with lid and turn to a simmer. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are very tender. Press through a ricer (or using a food mill) into a large bowl.  Add the butter and milk, season with salt and pepper, and stir together.  Add the tuna and onion mixture to the potatoes, and stir to combine. Form the the mixture into patties (they should be the size of fat burger patties) and set aside onto a baking sheet covered in parchment. To make the patties hold together a little better, chill them in the fridge for at least an hour.

When you’re ready to cook, set up your dredging station.  This means your beaten eggs in a shallow bowl, your flour in a shallow bowl or plate next to that, and then your breadcrumbs, mixed with oregano, cayenne, paprika, and some salt and pepper, in a plate next that.  Heat up a large sauté pan over medium high, and coat with olive oil and butter.  Coat each patty in the egg, then flour, then breadcrumbs, and pop into the pan.  Don’t over crowd the pan.  Cook for 3-4 minutes a side and serve hot. Refresh oil between batches.

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BUTTERED + MINTED PEAS

INGREDIENTS

The trick here is seasoning the water with salt and sugar for the perfect flavor of peas.

2 10-ounce bags frozen peas

2 tablespoons sea salt

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons mint, finely chopped

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

DIRECTIONS

Bring a pot of water up to a boil, add the salt and sugar.  Add the peas and cook for a minute or two, until a bright green color.  Strain, and while still hot, add the mint and butter, gently stirring to combine.  Taste and adjust seasoning.

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AUSSIE STYLE VEGETABLE PASTIES WITH CURRIED KETCHUP

INGREDIENTS

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup onion, finely chopped

1 garlic clove

1/2 cup butternut squash, finely chopped

1/2 cup carrot, finely chopped

1/2 cup potato, finely chopped

1/2 cup turnip finely chopped

1 tablespoon parsley, finely chopped

1 tablespoon worcestshire

1 tablespoon curried ketchup

salt and pepper to taste

2-3 sheets frozen pastry sheets, dethawed but still chilled (9 per sheet 3×3)

1 egg, beaten

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 400F

In a pan over medium heat, add the olive oil and then onions. Season with salt and pepper and cook for about 5 minutes, until the onions soften. Add the garlic, butternut squash, carrot, potato, and turnip, continuing to cook for another 5 minutes. Pour the sautéed vegetables into a bowl and add the parsley, worcestshire sauce, and curried ketchup. Stir to combine and let the mixture cool to room temp while you prep the puff pastry.

On a lightly floured surface, spread out your sheets of puff pastry. Cut them into 4 inch squares using a knife. Spoon about a tablespoon or two of the vegetable mixture into the puff pastry squares, brush the edges with egg, and fold the raw dough over diagonally, forming a triangle. Use a fork to seal the edges. Brush with egg. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Note: These are also fabulous frozen (sans egg wash) for a last minute appetizer)

INGREDIENTS (CURRIED KETCHUP)

1 cup ketchup

1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated

2 teaspoons curry powder

1 teaspoon cumin

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

DIRECTIONS

Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl, taste to adjust the seasoning.

childhood favorites2

MOM’S KILLER BROWNIES

I usually hate brownies with nuts, marshmallow, and other “filler” in them. They always get in to way of the brownie’s purpose—dense, rich chocolate—or they’re overcompensating for a brownie that’s too fudgey or too cakey or not chocolatey enough. But not so with my mom’s brownie. One little square and you are off in the land of chocolate, dancing in chocolate fountains, taking bites out of chocolate buildings, and flying chocolate kites. My point is they are killer.

The difference is that the walnuts and marshmallow are not there for flavor. The marshmallows completely evaporate, leaving behind a cratered mess that creates a delicious crunch. The walnuts and chocolate chips add density and chewiness to an already rich cake. And like all things that aren’t pretty when you first take them out of the oven, a coat of powdered sugar never hurt anybody.

Cut them into tiny (literally, 1 ½” x 1 ½”) squares and you are ready for an afternoon tea or an afternoon alone on the couch.

INGREDIENTS

Made in a 9×13 baking pan

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate

4 ounces butter

4 eggs, room temp

2 cups sugar

1 cup flour

1 tablespoon vanilla

2 cups mini marshmallows

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup broken walnuts

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350

Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl over boiling water, then let cool. Beat together the eggs and sugar, then pour in the cooled chocolate. Continue beating while adding flour and vanilla. Do not over mix. Fold in remaining ingredients. Pour into a buttered and floured 9 x 13 pan and bake for 40-45 minutes. When cool, dust with powdered sugar. Enjoy!