Yesterday, I skirted with danger when I unrepentantly flaunted my unseasonal use of blueberries, but today I'm back on the straight and narrow and that's largely due to Joshua McFadden's Six Seasons, the mind-blowing new cookbook devoted to the seasonal cooking of vegetables. In every way, Joshua, his philosophy, this book, these recipes and especially these wonderful and unique very wintry Cabbage and Mushroom Hand Pies are deserving of Famous Fridays treatment. Even if vegetables are not your thing, this is edge-of your-seat excitement!!
When you first open Six Seasons, you will feel so many different things all at once. First, you'll be a bit overwhelmed, then as you're flipping through the pages, you'll feel a sense of urgency to get to a farmer's market and start cooking, while at the same time struggling with which of the over 200 recipes to try, because THEY ALL LOOK SO GOOD!! Then you'll say, hey, what's going on, wait a minute, there are 6 seasons here?!! Yup, 6. That's because in addition to the 4 we already live by, Josh has split summer into 3 seasons due to the abundance of fresh vegetables available: Early Summer, Midsummer and Late Summer. Originally a farmer, then a cook at some fancy schmancy NYC spots where he invented the now ubiquitous kale salad, he is currently the owner of a renowned bistro in Oregon and all of these different facets of his experience have given him a unique and interesting perspective about how and when to prepare fresh produce. His idea is for every dish to have the bliss point of a potato chip--you know, the way you can't just stop at one. Consequently, all his dishes are layered with flavor and texture. YUM!! Unfortunately, I only came to this book during the winter, when the pickings are slim, but until the bountiful seasons reappear, I can assure you that no one will be disappointed by the seasonal vegetable deliciousness and adorableness of these Cabbage and Mushroom Hand Pies!
They are adorable, right? Who doesn't love their very own mini, handheld pie? Yeah, they're a bit of a project, definitely not a weeknight throw together, but none of the different steps are difficult and imagine the joy on people's faces when you pull a tray of them out of the oven.
And don't be intimidated by the pastry dough. It comes together in a mixer and only requires minimal kneading and rolling out. Plus, these are supposed to look rustic- that's my excuse and I'm stickin' to it.
Once you've rolled out the dough into individual circles, you fill it with a wonderful savory cabbage, leek and mushroom filling, highly seasoned with good stuff, like balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice and hot sauce. One bite will definitely wake up your tastebuds and have your rethinking the merits of boring old cabbage!!
Next you fold over the dough, seal and crimp.
After a quick chill, you simply pop them in the oven until they're golden brown and flaky. My home judges all gave me the thumbs up since their mouths were too full to speak!!
And I don't want to mislead you--there are plenty of much simpler recipes in the book, like the one for Rutabaga with Maple Syrup, Black Pepper and Rosemary if I can ever find rutabaga in the market!! The point is that this book is full of recipes that everyone can use on a delicious daily basis!!
Meanwhile, I can't recommend Six Seasons enough--I know you're going to love it! And if you find yourself with some free time on your hands this weekend, give these little pies a try. I'll definitely be making them again. Have a good one and I'll see you next week as we say goodbye to January--only about 7 weeks left to those spring veggies!!
Six Seasons' Cabbage and Mushroom Hand Pies-Famous Fridays
Prep Time for the dough: About 15 minutes (plus optional chilling time); For the Filling: About 20 minutes, plus cooling time; For the Pies: 30 minutes to chill once assembled and about 40 minutes, baking time
For the dough
- 4 ounces unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
- 1 ½ cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 cup ice water
For the filling
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- ½ pound thinly sliced mushrooms
- salt and pepper for seasoning
- 1 large leek, dark green ends and root ends cut off and discarded
- 4 cups finely shredded Savoy cabbage, lightly packed (about ½ cabbage)
- 1/4 cup water, plus more for assembling the pies
- 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (you can go up to two teaspoons if you really like mustard)
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan
- 1/2 lemon
- 1-2 shakes hot sauce
- A bit of flour for rolling out the dough
1. To make the dough: place the butter cubes on a plate and freeze for 15 minutes. You want them cold but not rock hard.
2. Use an electric mixer to combine the flour, salt and butter on low speed until the butter chunks are about half their original size and mashed up a bit. With the mixer running, slowly pour in about half of the ice water and mix until the dough looks shaggy and barely holds together. If you pinch it and it holds together without a lot of flour left on the bottom of the bowl, you don't need to add anymore water. Otherwise, add a bit more water and mix together until it holds together.
3. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and shape it into a mound. Use the heel of your hand to flatten the mound a bit, pushing it away from you in an effort to sort of mash the butter into the flour. Use a bench scraper or spatula to loosen one edge of the mound from the surface, fold it on top of itself and continue pressing and pushing. Repeat the process 5-6 times, flattening, pushing and folding, until the dough feels smooth and is no longer sticky. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it chill while you make the filling or make this up to 3 months ahead, wrapping it well and storing in the freezer, then thawing overnight in the fridge before using.
4. To make the filling: Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, season with a bit of salt and pepper and let cook for about 8-10 minutes, stirring every now and then, until mushrooms are very soft.
5. While mushrooms are cooking, cut the leeks down the middle lengthwise, slice into thin half moons and rinse thoroughly in a colander.
6. When mushrooms are done, transfer to a bowl. Add remaining tablespoon of oil to the pan along with leeks and season lightly with salt and pepper. Lower the heat so that the leeks don't burn and cook for about 3 minutes, until leeks have softened. Add in the cabbage and the water. Cover the skillet and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until the cabbage has wilted. Then, uncover and cook the cabbage for another 8-9 minutes, stirring often, until it's very tender and golden.
7. Add in the vinegar, Worcestershire, mustard, Parmesan, lemon juice and hot sauce and stir well. Season to taste with more salt and pepper if necessary. Transfer to a bowl and let cool in the fridge for about 30 minutes. You really need this to be cool when you assemble the hand pies or the dough will melt. You could even make the mixture the day before and keep it covered and chilled in the fridge.
8. Once the mixture is cooled, you are ready to assemble the hand pies. Remove the dough from the fridge and divide into 8 equal pieces. Gently shape each piece into a round and flatten it with your fingers until each one is about 3 inches in diameter. You may need to flour your hands and the surface so that the dough doesn't stick. Use a rolling pin to roll the circles into thinner circles that are about 7-inches across.
9. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper and set aside. Place 1/8 of the filling onto the lower halves of the dough circles, leaving a 1-inch border all around. Brush the border with a bit of water using a pastry brush or just your fingers and then fold the top half of the dough over the filling so that it meets the bottom and forms a little crescent. Press down to seal the dough and then use a fork to crimp the edges decoratively. Place 4 pies on each of the prepared trays and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.
10. Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Remove the trays from the fridge and using a small sharp knife, cut slits into the tops of each pie to allow steam to escape. Bake pies for 30-40 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool on the pans on wire racks and serve warm. If making them ahead, you can reheat them for about 10 minutes. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for a few days and reheated.
Note: Recipe adapted from Six Seasons A New way with Vegetables by Joshua McFadden. I tinkered a bit with the proportions.