Along with the ushering in of fall come so many lovely things…cooler days and nights provide a welcome relief from the heat of summer, the trees turn gorgeous shades of crimson, orange, and gold, and make for gorgeous afternoon drives through the country side, comfort foods abound, and I start to feel like the holidays are right around the corner! Another thing for me to look forward to about fall is that along with it comes my birthday. If you’re wondering how old I am, I’m older than some and younger than others…I think a lady should never have to reveal her age. ;)
I realized that I haven’t done a blog giveaway yet, and I thought how better to celebrate my birthday than to give you a gift?
A Brief Review of The Comfort Table by Katie Lee Joel: What’s the prize? A cookbook that’s absolutely perfect for this time of year…The Comfort Table by Katie Lee Joel. This book is nicely organized, with each chapter devoted to a different meal, course, or type of food. For each recipe, Katie gives a short narration or anecdote about the recipe or where it came from, which I think helps to paint a fuller picture of the recipe. There are several classic American recipes (beef stew, meat loaf, and creamy mashed potatoes), but there’s also a good mix of recipes with a Southern flare (fried green tomatoes, layered pea salad, sausage gravy, and Grandmother Paul’s red velvet cake).
But it doesn’t end there…Katie has quite a few dishes with international flavors that bring a lot of variety to this book. To name a few: Asian-influenced recipes (Asian-style tuna meatballs with mango chutney and Asian chicken noodle soup), European-inspried recipes (bistro salad and quiche with broccoli, peppers, and goat cheese), and Mexican/Tex Mex-flavored recipes (Mexican cornbread and guacamole).
I think it can be really helpful to have a photo of what you’re making, and the recipe photos in this book are really gorgeous. The only thing I would change about this book (and it’s really a very small thing…I’m only sharing it because I want to be 100% honest with you all!) is to have fewer pictures of Katie and more pictures of recipes. That being said, this is still a fabulous book, and I think will make a valuable contribution to anyone’s cookbook collection!
To Participate in the Giveaway: This giveaway is open to everyone everywhere, and you don’t need to have a blog to be eligible! Just leave me a comment on this post telling me one of your favorite comfort foods. You can leave one entry a day as long as your answers are different. The contest closes on October 7th at 9PM EST. If you want, feel free to mention the giveaway on your blog!
I wanted to make something from this book to inspire you all. The recipes in it are all so fantastic I actually had trouble deciding what to make. I finally decided on flat pies, which turned out to be scrumptious! I made a few slight changes to the recipe to customize it for my own taste. I think my next choice out of this book will be chicken and dumplings…
Mushroom & Thyme Flat Pies (Inspired by Katie Lee Joel’s The Comfort Table)
(Yield: 6 pies)
1 TB butter, plus 1 tsp to grease the baking sheet
1 TB olive oil
8 oz button or cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp minced fresh thyme
¼ tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
¼ c cream
2 sheets puff pastry
4 oz Gruyère, Emmental, or Swiss cheese, shredded
1 large egg beaten with 1 TB water (for egg wash)
In a large pan, melt together the butter and olive oil; add the mushrooms and sauté on medium-high heat for about 5 minutes. Add the onions and sauté another 5 minutes, then add the garlic and thyme and sauté for 1 minute more. Add the cream, salt, and pepper and let the mixture cook for 2 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated. Let the mushroom mixture cool to room temperature.
Cut each sheet of pastry into 6 equal pieces. There’s no need to roll it out…since the pastry comes folded in thirds, I find the easiest way to cut it is to cut along the fold lines of the pastry, then cut right down the middle; you’ll end up with 6 equal pieces (see picture below). Spoon 1/6 of the mushroom mixture onto a piece of puff pastry, leaving a border of about ½ inch all around; top the mushrooms with 1/6 of the cheese. Brush the border with egg wash and lay a second piece of puff pastry on top (you might need to stretch the pastry a little so it fits over the filling); press lightly on the edges to seal, then crimp the edges with a fork. Repeat this 5 times until all 6 pies are made.
Preheat the oven to 375F. Lightly grease a baking sheet with butter, and transfer the pies to the baking sheet. Let the pies chill on the baking sheet in the fridge for 20 minutes, then lightly brush each pie with egg wash and cut 2 1-inch vents in the top of each (be careful not to cut through the bottom layer of dough). Bake, rotating once, about 25 minutes or until the pastry is puffed and golden. Let the pies cool slightly on the pan before removing.