Monday, March 13, 2017

Brennan's and Sally's Baking Addiction: Bananas Foster Cake

It's time for my lovely niece's birthday, and I was racking my brain for a delicious, moist cake that was kid friendly and could be baked up in a six inch pan, but was still enticing to the adults attending the dinner.  And what I came up with is this lovely banana cake, with a twist.  I made Bananas Foster, and then mashed it up and dumped it into the cake mix.  And what came out was pretty fantastic.  I think if I make this again, I'll make a double batch of Bananas Foster, and slather some of it in between the layers.  For the adults only, that is.

Bananas Foster Cake
Adapted from Brennan's and Sally's Baking Addiction

¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ cup banana liqueur
4 medium bananas, sliced
¼ cup dark rum
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon sea salt
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1¼ cups buttermilk
Cream Cheese Frosting

Melt butter, sugars, and cinnamon in a 12-inch heatproof skillet over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, until sugar is dissolved, 4 minutes. Add banana liqueur and bananas; cook, until bananas are soft and slightly caramelized, 4 to 6 minutes. Add rum, and using a match or lighter, ignite to flambé; cook until flame dies out.  Spoon banana mixture into a bowl and refrigerate until cooled.

Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a 9x13-inch pan. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside.

Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cooled banana mixture on low speed until creamy - about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the eggs and the vanilla. Beat on medium-high speed until combined. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the buttermilk and mixing each addition just until incorporated. Do not overmix. The batter will be slightly thick and a few lumps is okay.

Spread batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes. Baking times vary, so keep an eye on yours. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cream Cheese Frosting
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese
¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 (1-pound) box confectioner's sugar (about 3½ cups)
Milk or cream to adjust consistency of frosting, if necessary

Beat the butter and cream cheese together until smooth. Add the salt and vanilla. Beat in the sugar. Add a teaspoon of milk or cream if the frosting is too stiff to spread; add additional sugar if it's too thin.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Serious Eats: Muffuletta

It's that time of year again!  Time for lots and lots of gluttony in anticipation of Lent.  Except I don't celebrate Lent.  So there's no future of abstaining from something delicious for me.  But that doesn't stop me from celebrating Fat Tuesday in all its glory.  And this year I decided to go with a beautiful muffuletta sandwich.  Now, I did not bake the roll all myself, but the olive salad is from scratch, and I picked out the most beautiful meats to adorn this lovely beast.  And it was....too much for a mere mortal.  You'll need a couple of friends to help you finish this off.

Adapted from Serious Eats

1 large round Italian sesame seed roll
¼ pound thinly sliced soppressata
¼ pound thinly sliced mortadella with pistachios
¼ pound thinly sliced coppa
4 slices mozzarella
4 slices smoked provolone
Olive Salad

Split muffuletta roll in half and spread each cut surface generously with olive salad, making sure to include the juices when spreading. Layer half of soppressata on bottom half of bun, followed by half of mortadella, half of coppa, half of mozzarella, and half of provolone. Repeat layers with remaining meat and cheese. Close sandwich and press down gently to compress. For best flavor, wrap tightly in paper or plastic and let rest for 1 hour before serving. Cut into triangular wedges to serve.

Makes 1 to 4 servings

Olive Salad
¾ cup pitted mixed oil-packed olives
2 tablespoons capers
¼ cup chopped roasted red peppers
2 tablespoons parsley leaves
½ cup giardiniera (Italian-style pickled vegetable salad)
1 medium garlic clove, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Combine olives, capers, peppers, parsley, giardiniera, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to chop until no pieces larger than ½-inch remain. Transfer to a bowl. Add vinegar and olive oil and stir to combine. For best results, let olive salad rest overnight.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Black Pearl: New England Clam Chowder

Having grown up outside of New England, I've never been a big clam chowder fan.  Especially since the versions you get in the rest of the US are pretty poor imitations.  But when I found myself in Rhode Island a year or so ago, I got the opportunity to try The Black Pearl, and boy, have my thoughts on clam chowder changed.

As explained by Chef Knerr in the old RI morning show footage I found on YouTube, ocean clams are tough little buggers, and they just aren't appealing to chew, but they have fan-friggin-tastic flavor.  Sea clams are light and tender, but don't pack a flavor punch.  What is a chef to do?  Well, ground up the tough ones and throw in the tender ones in pieces, thus achieving clam chowder nirvana and possibly world peace.

Note: This version of the soup may actually have more clams in it than the original restaurant version.  I fail to see that this is a bad thing.  Also, there is no bacon in this soup.  Shocking, I know.  This may in fact be NE chowder sacrilege.  However, as much as I love bacon (and boy, do I ever love bacon), I feel that it has a tendency to trample everything in its path, especially lovely delicate things.  Like sea clams.  So I think that while this soup would probably still be delicious with bacon (what isn't?), you really get to enjoy the loveliness of the clams in their purest form by leaving it out.

New England Clam Chowder
Adapted from Chef Daniel Knerr at Black Pearl restaurant, Newport, RI

3 tablespoons canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1½ teaspoons sea salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 (51-ounce) can chopped ocean clams (quahogs), drained, liquid reserved
1 (8-ounce) bottle clam juice
2½ cups potatoes, peeled and diced small
2 cups half-and-half
1 (51-ounce) can chopped sea clams (surf clams), drained
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1-2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
½ teaspoon Tabasco sauce (optional)
Dry vermouth (optional)

Place the drained ocean clams in a food processor with a couple tablespoons of the reserved liquid and process until ground.  Set aside.

Heat the oil over medium heat in a large Dutch oven, then add the onions and saute for a few minutes until translucent.  Add the thyme, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.  Sprinkle the flour and cornstarch over the onions, then mix together and cook for a minute to two until the flour starts to smell nutty, but doesn't change color.  Add the ground ocean clams, remaining reserved liquid, bottle of clam juice, and the cubed potatoes.  Bring to a boil, then lower heat back to medium and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or just until potatoes soften.  Remove from the heat and chill until thickened, preferably overnight.

Place Dutch oven over medium high heat and stir in the half-and-half.  When the soup starts to loosen up and warm through, add the chopped sea clams, butter, and dill.  Stir to combine and heat through.  Add Tabasco and vermouth, if desired.  Serve hot.

Makes 12 servings

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Bon Appétit: Potato Skins

Okay, I gave in.  I never really watch the Super Bowl (except for the halftime concert), but I always enjoy an excuse to make delicious little appetizers.  They aren't really enough opportunities in life for appetizers.  And I could probably be okay with just having appetizers for dinner.  Especially when they're these delicious roasted potato skins, full of melted cheese and cool sour cream.  These are pretty much the pinnacle of appetizer goodness.  And I love having a recipe that turns out some fantastic skins, regardless of occasion.

Potato Skins
From Bon Appétit magazine, January 2014

8 russet potatoes (about 5 pounds), scrubbed
Olive oil for rubbing and brushing
Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
Freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces shredded Cheddar cheese
1 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled
Sour cream and chopped green onions, for serving

Preheat oven to 400°F. Prick potatoes all over with a fork and rub with oil; season generously with salt and pepper.

Place potatoes on a rack set in a rimmed baking sheet. Roast until very soft when squeezed and skin is crisp, 60 to 75 minutes. Let cool.

Heat broiler to high. Halve potatoes and scoop out flesh (save for another use), leaving a ¼-inch border attached to skins. Brush both sides of potatoes with oil and season insides with salt and pepper; return to rack. Broil, turning once, until skins are crisp and flesh is golden, about 5-7 minutes per side.

Divide cheese and bacon among potatoes and broil until cheese is melted, about 2 minutes. Serve topped with sour cream, green onions, and black pepper.

Makes 8 servings

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Donald Link: Bayou "Chicken Wings" with Fines Herbes Butter

You can tell it's Super Bowl time.  The grocery stores are packed to the gills.  Everyone is buying snack food.  And things like these little goodies show up in the fish market case.  I didn't even know my grocery store carried frog legs.  However, as soon as I saw them, I knew I needed to try them.  So I did some digging and came up with the recipe below, which I think does a good job of making frog legs accessible to the general public.  Yes, they do taste a little like chicken, but a lean chicken.  And with a crunchy crust and drizzled with butter, they are fantastic.

Bayou "Chicken Wings" with Fines Herbes Butter
From Donald Link, in Crescent City Cooking

Peanut or canola oil, for frying
8 pairs of frogs' legs, cut into individual legs, or 1 pound chicken wings, defrosted if frozen
Salt and pepper
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup buttermilk
Fines Herbes Butter

Heat 2 inches of oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot or deep skillet over medium-high heat.

While the oil is heating, rinse the frogs' legs and pat dry with paper towels.  Combine the flour with a light sprinkling of salt and pepper in a pie tin or plate.  Pour the buttermilk into a wide, shallow bowl.  Coat the legs with seasoned flour, then dip in buttermilk, then coat again with flour.  Shake off excess flour.

When the oil is hot (about 350°F), fry the frogs' legs in batches (to avoid overcrowding) until golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes (cook chicken wings a bit longer, for about 7 minutes).  Use tongs to remove the legs from the oil, and drain them on paper towels for 1 minute.  Place the hot legs in a large serving bowl and toss with Fines Herbes Butter.  Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings

Fines Herbes Butter
½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons minced fresh fines herbes (parsley, tarragon, chives, chervil)
1 tablespoon hot sauce
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
Juice of ½ medium lemon (1 to 2 tablespoons)
Salt and pepper, to taste

Place the butter in a bowl and stir in fines herbes, hot sauce, cayenne, garlic, and lemon juice.  Season with salt and pepper.  Taste, and adjust the seasoning.

Friday, February 03, 2017

Clinton St. Baking Company: Cherry Crumb Muffins

What do you do when your freezer is bursting at the seams?  You start grabbing things out of it and finding recipes.  Which is exactly how I decided to make these muffins.  Now, I know they're not super pretty.  For the life of me, I cannot get a crumb topping to look pretty once it has run through the oven.  Someday I'll learn.  And the frozen cherry on top of each sure made its own little mess.  But these muffins are absolutely delicious and make a fantastic breakfast.  In addition to helping clear some freezer space for new culinary adventures.

Cherry Crumb Muffins
From Clinton St. Baking Company Cookbook

¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 large egg
½ cup sour cream
1 cup frozen or fresh sour pitted cherries
10 tablespoons Crumb Mix

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Lightly grease muffin tins or use paper muffin cups.

In an electric mixer on medium-high speed, with the paddle attachment cream together the butter, sugar, and vanilla.

Sift the remaining dry ingredients together into a bowl.

Add the egg to the butter mixture and blend until combined.  Add ¼ cup of the sour cream to the butter mixture, then half of the dry ingredients, mixing and repeating with the remaining sour cream and then the remaining dry ingredients until the batter is combined.  Be sure to end with the dry ingredients.

Reserve 8 cherries and fold in the remaining cherries until evenly mixed.  Spoon the batter into the muffin tins, leaving room on the top for the Crumb Mix.  Top each muffin with 1 tablespoon of the Crumb Mix and 1 cherry.  Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a muffin comes out clean.

Cool for at least 10 minutes for best release of the muffins from their tins (if not using paper liners).

Makes 10 muffins

Crumb Mix
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter, cubed

Mix the dry ingredients with the butter by hand until the mixture is pea-sized.  Keep the Crumb Mix in a cool place until you are ready to use it.  The mix can be stored in the fridge for a couple of weeks.

Makes 1½ cups, enough for 2 to 3 batches of muffins

Sunday, January 29, 2017

David Lebovitz and The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook: Bergamot Marmalade

Since it's the peak of citrus season, I took a stroll through my local fancy grocery to see what I could find.  In among the mounds of oranges and lemons and pomelos, I happened across a basket of bergamots.  They smelled absolutely heavenly, so I bought a whole bag.  Once I got home, I flipped through my jam books until I found one that suited my purpose and spent the next couple of days prepping and cooking.  When I finally got to taste my masterpiece, I was pleasantly surprised by the flavor.  The marmalade is sour and sweet like other citrus preserves, but the bergamots give it a strong floral note that I've never experienced in marmalade before.  Be careful with the bergamots though...these were the sour ones.  Apparently there is a French citrus fruit masquerading as a bergamot that isn't quite as sour.

Bergamot Marmalade
Adapted from David Lebovitz and The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook

8 bergamots (about 3½ pounds)
3½ pounds sugar, or more to taste
1½ ounces lemon juice
3 tablespoons Grand Marnier

Day 1
Cut five bergamots (about 2 pounds) into eighths.  Place the bergamot eighths in a non-reactive saucepan where they will fit snugly in a single layer.  Add enough cold water for the fruit to bob freely.  Cover lightly and let rest overnight at room temperature.

Day 2
Prepare the cooked bergamot juice: Bring the pan with the bergamot eighths to a boil over high heat, then decrease the heat to medium.  Cook the fruit at a lively simmer, covered, for 2 to 3 hours, or until the bergamots are very soft and the liquid has become slightly syrupy.  As the bergamots cook, press down on them gently with a spoon every 30 minutes or so, adding a little more water if necessary.  The water level should stay consistently high enough for the fruit to remain submerged as it cooks.

When the bergamots have finished cooking, strain their juice by pouring the hot fruit and liquid into a medium strainer or colander suspended over a heat-proof storage container or non-reactive saucepan.  Cover the entire setup well with plastic wrap and let drip overnight at room temperature.

Meanwhile, cut the remaining 3 bergamots (about 1½ pounds) in half and seed them.  The cut each half in quarters lengthwise and slice very thinly crosswise.  Place the slices in a wide stainless-steel kettle and cover amply with cold water.  Bring to a boil over high heat, then decrease the heat and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes.  Drain, discarding the liquid.  Repeat this process, then cover the blanched bergamot slices with 1 inch cold water.  Bring to a boil over high heat, decrease the heat to medium, and cook at a lively simmer, covered, for 30 to 60 minutes, or until the fruit is very tender.  As the fruit cooks, stir it gently every 15 minutes or so, adding a little more water if necessary.  The water level should stay consistently high enough for the fruit to remain submerged as it cooks.  Remove the pan from the heat, cover tightly, and let rest overnight at room temperature.

Day 3
Remove the plastic wrap from the bergamot eighths and their juice and discard the bergamots.  Strain the juice well through a very fine-mesh strainer to remove any lingering solids.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, lemon juice, cooked bergamot juice, and bergamot slices and their liquid, stirring well.  Transfer the mixture to an 11- or 12-quart copper preserving pan or a wide non-reactive kettle.

Bring the marmalade mixture to a boil over high heat.  Cook it at a rapid boil until the setting point is reached; this will take a minimum of 30 minutes, but it may take longer depending on your individual stove and pan.  Initially, the mixture will bubble gently for several minutes; then, as more moisture cooks out of it and its sugar concentration increases, it will begin foaming.  Do not stir it at all during the initial bubbling; then, once it starts to foam, stir it gently every few minutes with a heatproof rubber spatula.  As it gets close to being done, stir it every minute or two to prevent burning, decreasing the heat slightly if necessary.  The marmalade is ready for testing when its color darkens slightly and its bubbles become very small.  Stir in Grand Marnier.

When the marmalade has finished cooking, turn off the heat but do not stir.  Using a stainless-steel spoon, skim off any surface foam and discard.  Pour the marmalade into sterilized jars and process for 10 minutes.

Makes 6 half-pint jars

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Allrecipes: Crab Rangoon and New York Times: Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce

It's the new year!  The Chinese New Year, that is.  And what a great excuse to make something delicious.  Now, I'm sure this isn't super authentically Chinese.  I doubt very much that they play with cream cheese to any extent.  But this appetizer is on literally every American Chinese restaurant's menu, so I figure it's fair game.  The hardest part of the whole thing is shaping all of the little rangoons, so if you have help, it will go that much faster.

Crab Rangoon
Adapted from

8 ounces cream cheese
1 (6-ounce) can lump crab meat, drained well
⅓ cup chopped green onions
1 clove crushed garlic
1 teaspoon soy sauce
½ teaspoon fish sauce
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon sesame oil
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 package (3½-inch square) wonton wrappers
Canola oil for frying
Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce

Mix cream cheese, crab meat, green onions, garlic, soy sauce, fish sauce, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, sesame oil, and cayenne pepper together with a fork until ingredients are blended thoroughly. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, 1 or 2 hours.

Keep wonton wrappers moist by covering with a damp paper towel. Place a small bowl of water nearby on the work surface. With a wet fingertip, moisten surface of wonton. Place 1½ teaspoons of crab filling in center of wonton. Fold 2 opposite corners toward each other over the filling to form a triangle. Working gently from the bottom, squeeze out any air bubbles.  Bring together the two "arms" of the long side of the triangle and pinch together to create an envelope shape. Place on a dry surface. Continue with remaining wonton wrappers.

Heat oil in deep fryer to 350°F. Fry wontons in batches until golden brown and crispy, gently moving them around in the oil with a strainer to brown each surface, about 3 minutes. Let cool about a minute before eating.

Makes 6 servings

Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce
From Molly O'Neill as seen on The New York Times Cooking website

1½ tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon quality ketchup
1 teaspoon soy sauce
¼ cup water
1 tablespoon corn or peanut oil
1½ teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon cold water

Combine the rice vinegar, sugar, ketchup, soy sauce and water in a small bowl, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Set aside.

Heat a small, heavy saucepan. Add the oil and swirl to glaze the bottom of the pan. When the oil is hot enough to sizzle a piece of garlic, add the garlic and ginger and stir gently until fragrant, 10 to 15 seconds, adjusting the heat so they sizzle gently without browning. Add the sugar mixture, stir to blend, then raise the heat to bring the mixture to a bubbly simmer, stirring.

Reduce the heat to medium-low; stir the cornstarch and water to recombine it and add it to the pan. Stir until the mixture thickens and becomes glossy, about 20 seconds. Turn off the heat and cover the pot to keep the sauce warm until ready to serve. The sauce can be made ahead, stored in the refrigerator and then reheated.

Makes ½ cup

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Steak & Ale: Hawaiian Chicken

For some reason, I was reminiscing about restaurants that are no longer with us.  That have gone the way of the dinosaurs.  Some I don't really miss, but some make me sad.  Like Steak and Ale.  Going to Steak and Ale was a super big treat when I was kid because even though it was actually pretty reasonably priced, it was still a steakhouse, and my parents still had three children to feed.  I loved going to the salad bar and loading up my plate, but I also loved ordering chicken.  Yes, I know, I seem to have a problem with ordering chicken at steakhouses (hello, Alice Springs Chicken!).  At Steak and Ale, the chicken to have was the Hawaiian Chicken, a grilled marinated chicken breast topped with a grilled slice of pineapple.  Somehow in my wandering down memory lane, just somehow, I happened to stumble across a website where someone had the originally Steak and Ale kitchen cookbook and spilled the beans on the recipe.  So this is the real deal chicken, and I can vouch that it tastes just as good as I remember.  Serve it was some rice pilaf, and you've got a trip down memory lane.

Hawaiian Chicken
From Steak and Ale restaurant, as seen on Red Dirt Chronicles

½ cup soy sauce
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons dry sherry
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
½ teaspoon granulated garlic
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1¾ cups Dole pineapple juice
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
6 pineapple slices

Combine the soy sauce, sherry, sugar, garlic, vinegar, and pineapple juice in a bowl and stir until the sugar dissolves.  Pour the marinade into a gallon-size zip-top bag.  Cut the chicken breasts in half widthwise (knife parallel to the cutting board).  Drop the chicken breasts into the marinade and seal the bag.  Marinate the chicken for 36 hours, turning every ½ day.

Grill both chicken and pineapple and serve over rice pilaf (with green and red peppers and almond slices).

Other ideas with this marinade:
Instead of the pineapple, if you top the chicken with a slice of Provolone, shredded Colby cheese, diced tomatoes, and green onions, you have the Steak and Ale Southwest Chicken.

If you soak a 7-ounce center-cut sirloin in the marinade and grill it, you have the Steak and Ale Kensington Club steak.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Wolfgang Puck: Truffled Chicken Pot Pie

In a follow up to my fantastic ribeye, I have also located the most delicious chicken pot pie recipe ever.  The picture doesn't really do it justice, but this is the pot pie that Wolfgang Puck serves all the fancy people after the Oscars each year.  I can honestly say that it's probably good I'm not one of those people, because I'd probably be about 500 pounds if this is the kind of food they're served on a regular basis.  The filling is so rich and creamy, the puff pastry so buttery and crisp...  It's perfect, really.  And don't forget the truffle.  It adds that perfect last touch of decadence.

Note:  I actually located a fresh truffle at my local foodie paradise, which I proceeded to grate over the four pies.  You don't need a ton, or it will overpower the dish.  I used a microplane to grate it, but you could also cut super-thin slices if you happen to have a truffle shaver.

Truffled Chicken Pot Pie
Adapted from Wolfgang Puck

7 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 carrots, peeled and cut into coins
2 large ribs celery, cut into ¼-inch slices
2 to 3 leeks, white and light green parts only, cut in half and then cut into ¼-inch slices
6 ounces mushrooms, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
⅓ cup frozen petite peas
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons heavy cream
2 breasts from a rotisserie chicken, skin removed and meat cut into bite-sized pieces
1 black truffle (optional)
Approximately ½ pound frozen puff pastry, defrosted following package instructions
1 large egg

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a large sauté pan.  Add the carrots, celery, leeks, and mushrooms, and cook until the mushrooms give up their liquid and the celery and carrots begin to soften.  Add the garlic and saute for another minute.  Add the peas and cook for another minute.  Spoon the cooked vegetables into a bowl and set aside.

Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter in a large, tall saucepan. Add the flour and whisk to ensure there are no lumps.  Cook the flour until the mixture turns light brown. Add the chicken stock, a little at a time, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Cook out this mixture for 5 to 10 minutes while continuously stirring as it thickens. Check the consistency by dipping the back of a spoon into the sauce and running your finger along the spoon. You want the sauce to cling to the spoon and not run over the swipe you made.

Continue to cook and stir the sauce over medium heat until you reach the correct consistency. Season with the salt, pepper, and cayenne (if using). Taste the sauce and see if your sauce needs more seasoning. Next, add the cream and stir to combine. Then, add the chicken and the cooked vegetables to the sauce. Cook this mixture for another two to three minutes and then spoon it into four pot pie dishes.  Finely grate the truffle evenly over the mixture in each dish.  Set aside.

Roll out the puff pastry, using a bit of extra flour to ensure the pastry doesn’t stick to your work surface. Use a bowl or plate about an inch larger than the dishes you are cooking your pot pies in as a guide to cut out your pastry.

Break the egg in a small dish and add a tablespoon of water or cream. Whisk with a fork and brush this egg wash on the rim and edges of each pot pie dish. Lay your pastry circles over the top of each dish, being careful not to stretch the pastry. Seal the edges of the pastry by lightly pushing it onto the rim of each dish to make sure it is secure. Then brush the top and sides with more egg wash. Place your pot pies on a large baking sheet and bake for 25 to 35 minutes. Bake until your pastry is a nice golden, dark brown and there are no more grayish raw patches.

Let cool for five minutes before serving.

Makes 4 pot pies