All-From-Scratch Chicken Pot Pie

A “He Cooks” post from my friend Mike, who goes a little more traditional after sharing his Fried Beer-Battered Pickles and Five Spice Squash Soup recipes.

This is one of my absolute favorite winter meals. The hot chicken and root-vegetable filling is hearty and warming on a snowy day. There are two ways to make this pot pie:  from scratch, or with store bought stock, pie crust, and a rotisserie chicken. The latter is certainly faster and easier, but the former tastes better, and leaves you with a few quarts of homemade chicken stock for the freezer.

I made this one from scratch, and it has been a hit every time I’ve served it.  Everyone is always amazed that there aren’t any herbs or spices besides the salt and pepper. I think that’s the homemade stock, chicken fat, and rich root vegetables coming through.

If you want to make this from scratch I would recommend either starting early in the day or preparing the filling a day or two ahead and keeping it in the fridge until ready to bake.
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Five Spice Squash Soup

A “He Cooks” post from my friend Mike, who introduced himself last week with Fried Beer-Battered Pickles.

After seeing Brittany’s squash soup post, I decided to make one myself. I thought the distinctive flavor of five spice would go great with the sweetness of the squash. (Five spice is a Chinese blend of star anise, cloves, cinnamon, Szechwan pepper and ground fennel seeds.) The five spice was wonderful with the squash, but the soup was a little sweet. I’ll definitely skip the roasting to cut down on the sweetness next time I make it. (The recipe below takes that into account.)

Unfortunately, I’m not much of a photographer, and was in a bit of a hurry to get this one on the table, so the picture doesn’t really do it justice. I also made some spicy shrimp to go on top, but the spoonful of crème fraiche, fresh chives, and pickled ginger I had on the leftovers complemented the flavors of the soup much better.
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Pasta with Creamy Leek Sauce

leek-pasta

I don't think I'd ever made anything with leeks before this. They're not something my mom cooked with often and I haven't eaten them much otherwise. That's why I bought a bunch of them the other day.

leeks

Leeks are in the onion family and actually look like a larger version of scallions (aka green onions, aka spring onions). I searched recipes to get an idea of what they're often paired with and how they're prepared. Since leeks are a light flavor, they often accompany rich ingredients. I decided to make a sauce for pasta using leeks, butter, cream, white wine, garlic, parsley white pepper and nutmeg. Bacon would have been a good addition but I didn't have any.

The result was rich, but not too thick or heavy. With a crisp green salad and light vinaigrette, it's just right. Now I'm looking for other uses for leeks. Any ideas?

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