Friday, June 15, 2012

Vegetarian Pot Pie with Biscuit Topping

I got this recipe from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker cookbook. It seemed really interesting... I mean, pot pie in the crock pot? Interesting idea. So I thought I'd try it last September 6.

This recipe has a lot of prep that you have to do, but one of the great things about this cookbook, that I think I mentioned the last time I talked about it, is that it tells you what you can make ahead of time so that it doesn't take as long on the day of.  For example, this one says that you can "complete steps 1 and 2," then "cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. When you're ready to cook, complete the recipe."

First, you take dried portobello mushrooms and crumble them into a bowl with your fingers.  Then add hot water to them to reconstitute the mushrooms and let them soak for about 30 minutes.  You strain the mushrooms but save the liquid for later.

On the stove, you cook chopped onion, celery, and carrots in some oil until soft. Then add most of the rest of the ingredients (garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper).  As per usual, I didn't use any salt.  Then you add some flour to the liquid and mix it in. The recipe says that you can add dry sherry or vodka if you want, but I didn't do this. You add the liquid from soaking the mushrooms and then pour it all in the slow cooker. At this point you turn the slow cooker on and cook it on low for 4 hours or high for 2 hours.

While you're cooking the pot pie "filling", you make the biscuits using flour, baking powder, salt, butter, and milk.  You form them into balls.  After the "filling" has cooked for 4 or 2 hours, depending on the temperature setting, you mix the final three ingredients into it: peas, cream, and parsley.  Then you drop the biscuits in and cook them on top of the "filling" mixture.  The biscuits are cooked on high for about an hour.

In the description for this dish, the recipe says, "This tasty dish has real robustness thanks to the dried portobello mushrooms. All you need to add is a tossed green salad," so I took their advice and that's how I served it.  Interestingly, this is one dish where the number of servings actually is the amount of servings that you get because you only make 4 biscuits. But you have to make the servings of the "filling" pretty big to get 4 out of it, so one of the many recommendations that I would make with this recipe is actually to make more biscuits than just four.  Maybe do 1 1/2 times the recipe so you get six biscuits.  Because, the issue is that this recipe is just okay and you really can't eat that much of the "filling" each time you sit down, so making smaller servings might make it better.

I would probably change a lot in making this recipe again, because it wasn't all that great as written.  First, the recipe has you chopping everything into tiny little pieces, which makes it more like a soup when you're eating it and you taste more of the cream sauce than the vegetables, which makes it difficult to eat a lot. So, I would not crumble the mushrooms and just reconstitute them whole so there are bigger chunks and you can taste them more.  I'd also make sure that the onion, celery and carrots are chopped into large pieces instead of the small ones that the recipe recommends.

Second, I would definitely add some more spices to it.  And probably use the sherry.  Definitely more pepper and thyme than they recommend. But I'd probably also add some more spices to make it more interesting.  Maybe marjoram? Basil? Oregano? If anyone has any suggestions about what spices might spruce this up a bit, I'd love to know.

Now in terms of cost, this one is a bit pricey per serving if you had to get everything. The big ticket item is the sherry, but the baking items all together would be around $9.00 or so. So the total would be $8.77 per serving for four servings and $5.85 per serving for six.  But, of course, I didn't use the sherry and already had most of the items for the recipe, which is part of the reason why I wanted to try it initially. I only bought the mushrooms, celery, peas, cream, parsley, and milk. So as I purchased it, I only paid $3.46 per serving (and if I had stretched it into six servings in would have only been $2.30).

The calories are high-ish for this recipe because of the heavy cream and biscuits. Counting the sherry it would be 425 calories per serving for four servings and 348 calories for six serving and since the recipe only calls for 2 tbsp sherry, it doesn't really add all that many calories.

I think overall my evaluation of this recipe is: meh.  I think that you could switch some stuff up and make it a bit more tasty, like I suggested above, but it was definitely not my favorite.  On the bright side, it wasn't like the soup I made back when I was doing my master's... for that one I wrote in the cookbook: "NOT GOOD. DO NOT MAKE AGAIN." This one wasn't that bad, but I've made better things in the crock pot. And because of the higher calories and the overall price, I probably wouldn't recommend it for the grad student lifestyle.

1 comment:

  1. It may be "meh" but I am lucky to have such a good cook.-Husband