Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Circle of Friends Christmas Tea: In a Word--Piquant!

         “Are you bringing sweet or savory?” My friend Carol asked me this a week before the Circle of Friends Christmas Tea and Book Exchange. Little did she know that in asking the question, she provided the inspiration for the title of this post.

            I didn’t need to look up the definition of sweet to know that it means pleasing, agreeable, or delightful to the senses. Or, in the case of a person, amiable, kind, or gracious. But savory sent me to just to be sure I had it right. I found that savory also means pleasing and agreeable, but there is an added word—piquant. Piquant? I did another search. These are three definitions I found:

            1.  agreeably pungent or sharp in taste or flavor
            2.  agreeably stimulating, interesting, or attractive
            3.  an interestingly provocative or lively character

            Yes, yes, and yes! Our Christmas Tea is most definitely piquant! We had pungent dishes, attractive (or rather gorgeous!) decorations, stimulating and interesting conversation, and—as we have at every meeting—“interestingly provocative or lively characters.”  

            Since a picture is worth a thousand words—and since at this meeting I actually remembered to take pictures—I’m going to let them show you just how special this occasion is.

Carole's beautiful decorations provided the
perfect setting for the festivities.

Difficult choices for Paula, Anna, and Judy!

Eat your heart out, Martha Stewart!

Three days after knee surgery,
but Shelley was determined not to miss.
Yes, the tea is that special!

Our hostess, Carole.

Elizabeth was excited about her new book, but
we were excited about her announcement!
Check out the "rock" on her ring finger!

Brenda with her new book, Nothing Daunted.

Pat couldn't wait until she got home to
start reading her new book.
A true bibliophile!

There were waay too many great dishes to pick out a favorite, so I decided to give the recipe for Cheryl's Chicken Pot Pie which I promised in my last post. The best way I know to describe what an awesome cook Cheryl is is to compare her to me. Cheryl is the kind of cook who will taste a dish and say, "It's a light cream sauce with a little white wine and just a touch of basil. I can make this." I'm the kind of cook who reads a recipe and says, "Hmmm, sugar, cream cheese, and Oreos...what's not to like?" So while this recipe might look daunting, it's really not if you do it in stages. And the results are well worth the effort!
Cheryl’s Chicken Pot Pie
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 cups chicken stock/broth
1 medium onion chopped
3 medium carrots cut into ¼” slices
2 stalks celery chopped
10 ounces baby Portobello or crimini mushrooms sliced thin
2 T soy sauce
1 T tomato paste
6 T butter
6 T flour
1 cup milk
1 T lemon juice
salt & pepper
minced parsley
1 cup frozen peas
2 potatoes
Cook chicken until just done. I sprinkle with Montreal chicken seasoning and bake for about 15 minutes at 350degrees. In Dutch oven add 2 T oil. Add onions, carrots, celery, diced potatoes (unpeeled), salt & pepper. Stir, cover and cook about 8-10 minutes until carrots and potatoes are tender, but not too done. If needed, add a little chicken to pan while cooking. Transfer veggies to bowl with chicken that has been diced or shredded. In same pan add oil and mushrooms. Cook about 5 minutes. Stir in soy sauce and tomato paste and cook until liquid is evaporated. Put mushrooms in bowl with chicken and veggies.
Using same pan, add 6 T butter, Melt. Add 6 T flour and cook 1 minute. Slowly whisk in 2 cups of the chicken stock and the cup of milk. Cook until thick. Then thin down sauce to the thickness you like with the other cup of chicken stock. Add salt & pepper, lemon juice and 2 T parsley. Mix sauce with chicken and veggies. Add frozen peas, Pour in pan. Bake at 425 degrees for 5 minutes. Add crumbles to top and bake another 10-13 minutes until pie dough is brown and done. Add parsley to top.
Crumble Topping
2 cups all purpose flour
2 t baking powder
1 t salt
½ tsp pepper
6 T butter, cut in 1/2'” chunks, chilled
½ cup finely grated parmesan cheese
¾ cup + 2 T half & half or whole milk
Combine flour baking powder, salt & pepper. Sprinkle butter over. Cut in batter with pastry cutter or pulse in food processor to pea size. Stir in parmesan. Add mile and stir just until combined. Crumble mixture into irregular pieces on a cookie sheet. (I put parchment paper on. Bake at 425 for 10-13 minutes. Set aside.
Enjoy! And I wish for you and your loved ones a Joyous Christmas Season!


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