Thursday, March 14, 2013

Vegetable Pot Pie with an Aged Gouda and Basil Biscuit Crust

Today is one of my favorite nerd days of the year -- Pi day!
 \pi = \frac{C}{d}

That's right, 3.14. And what better way to celebrate the calendar representation of this circular mathematical constant than with pie?! In this case, the best vegetable pot pie I've ever tasted, let alone created. 

When I decided to make this dish, it was after a late night at work so I wasn't up to the task of making my first-ever pie crust. Thus, I decided to improvise. I looked through my cookbooks until I stumbled upon the idea of using a biscuit crust in my Joy of Cooking: All About Vegetarian Cooking cookbook. 

I then decided to take this non-traditional crust one step further by adding basil and cheese. If you need a little arm-twisting to justify the extra calories, might I tell you that cheese is a source of an enzyme called tyrosine, which is a precursor to the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine. In case you don't have your copy of Grey's Anatomy handy, these are chemicals in the brain that promote positive mood. Meaning: cheese makes you happy! 

So go ahead, add some sunshine to your biscuit crust with a little aged gouda, or even smoked cheddar.

Vegetable Pot Pie Filling
1 onion, julienned
1 package mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 c snowpeas, halved
1 c cherry tomatoes, halved
1 serrano pepper, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 c stock (vegetable, mushroom, or chicken)
1 tbsp mushroom bouillon (I'm obsessed with Better Than Bouillon organic mushroom base) or soy sauce
1 c milk
1 tbsp butter
1/3 c flour
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
Salt & Pepper to taste 

Over medium heat, heat about a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add the onions and cook for 1-2 minutes. Then add the mushrooms and snowpeas. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Next add the serrano pepper, tomatoes, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms begin to look tender, about 5 more minutes. 

Meanwhile, combine the stock and milk in a bowl and whisk until combined.

Add the butter and flour to the vegetable mixture to make a roux. Slowly add the stock mixture to the vegetables, continuously whisking to help combine. 

Bring the sauce to a simmer, continuing to whisk, until it reaches the thickness of cream of mushroom soup. Stir in the mushroom bouillon or soy sauce and season with thyme, salt, and pepper. 

Remove from heat. Transfer to a medium-sized round casserole dish and set aside while you prepare the dough for the biscuit crust.

Aged Gouda and Basil Biscuit Crust
1 c Bisquick
1/3 c milk
1/3 c grated cheese
10 leaves basil, chiffonade

Preheat oven to 375°F.

In a large bowl, combine Bisquick, milk, cheese, and basil. Add more Bisquick or milk as needed until mixture becomes a soft dough. 

Roll dough into a ball and lightly sprinkle with flour. Using your hands or a rolling pin, roll out the dough to the size of your casserole dish. 

Settle the dough on top of the vegetable mixture in the casserole dish. Stab the dough with a fork a few times to allow steam to be released.

Place the pot pie on top of a cookie sheet on the top rack of the oven. The cookie sheet will catch any liquidy spillage from the pot pie--a technique we had to learn about the hard way! Bake the pot pie for about 15 minutes, or until the biscuit crust reaches a golden brown.

Spoon a piece of the biscuit crust onto each plate and generously cover with the soupy vegetable sauce (or just eat it straight out of the casserole dish like we did!) and ENJOY!

- Maegan