Happy November everyone! I hope you all had an amazing fall so far. Alex and I have just three weddings left this month, and to be honest I am so excited about the late-fall vibe that’s sneaking into the Boston landscapes!! We often find that engagement sessions are a great way to keep track of the foliage change in New England. We just finished editing an engagement session shot four weeks ago, and that was when the colors were just starting to peek out, with spots of red and yellow among seas of green. This past weekend we had two shoots, and instead of the bright reds of maple trees, we had some bare branches and a beautiful ombre of yellows and browns. Think dark reds, burgundies, crisped up burnt orange leaves swaying and falling with the wind. Early fall is bright and happy. Late fall is mysterious and romantic. Anyways, I’ll be excited to see how our next three weddings play out. Maybe a storm will come and utterly wipe out all the leaves!
Of course, with fall comes the abundant root vegetables, mushrooms, and hearty foods. With the onset of November, Thanksgiving!!! I’m already dreaming of everything Thanksgiving related, like cozy stuffings or sweet potatoes. This year, we’ll be heading up to Maine to celebrate a quiet, intimate Thanksgiving. For the past two years I hosted the big Thanksgiving meal, and this year I really needed a break. We’ll be celebrating with my sister and her boyfriend :). We may not do a turkey, but I’m thinking of still doing mini-versions of dishes, like stuffing or pot pie!!! I make heart-eyes at all the root vegetables available at the market and have been cooking with them nonstop. I’m so happy to team up with Vermont Creamery to create hearty, creamy root vegetable pot pies in individual servings!!
PS – at the bottom of the post, I put together a stop-motion vignette showcasing how to assemble these mini pot pies :). Instead of showing an exorbitant amount of step by step photos, I’ve recently been loving process-driven stop-motion vignettes. I don’t think I’ll stop anytime soon!
When I first came upon crème fraîche, it was love at first sight. I usually stay away from fatty creams, but crème fraîche is different. It’s a thick, cultured cream that automatically adds a classy richness to any dish you make. Imagine having friends over, and instead of saying “This is a super simple sage sour cream pasta”, you say “This is a super simple sage crème fraîche pasta”. The dish is instantly elegant and classy. Maybe it’s the French, maybe it’s that it phonetically has “fresh” in it, but crème fraîche can upgrade your meal, not only in presentation but also in taste. I fell in love with the rich, tangy flavors it can add to any dish. I don’t use more than 2 tbsp for a sauce or soup, because that’s all you’ll need. It’s so easy to put in desserts too – either add some flavoring of your own (vanilla, cinnamon, ginger) or get the vanilla bean crème fraîche, and you’re set. I’ve basically replaced heavy cream and sour cream with crème fraîche!!
I’ve always had pot pies in mini-form. Pot pies are so cozy they deserve to be packaged individually (which also means more crust per serving), so that each dinner guest can savor their own pie. I could honestly eat two of these in one go.
Much like with creme brûlée, the first bite is always the most satisfactory. The breaking of the flaky crust allows steam to escape rapidly, and the bright root vegetable filling gets to peak out and exude its sage-y fragrance.
This post is sponsored by Vermont Creamery. All opinions expressed are purely my own, as always. Thank you so much for supporting the companies that support this blog.
- You can finish the pies with an egg wash or a crème fraîche wash, as I used for this recipe. I normally use an egg wash, but I actually didn’t have any eggs when I made this recipe!!! I’d never run into this problem before, because egg is a staple and pretty much always stocked in my fridge. I’d heard of the use of heavy cream before to yield a nice, golden color, so I decided to give crème fraîche a try, since it is a cultured cream. It worked great. I whisked it with a bit of water to thin it out and brushed it over the pie crust. It gave a nice, soft, golden brown color to the pie crust.
- The root vegetables listed here are just my personal preference for pot pies. I’ve made this before using carrots, brussels sprouts, potatoes, and corn. The key is to chop the root vegetables up so that the pieces are roughly the same size to ensure even cooking.
RECIPE: Crème Fraiche Root Vegetable + Sage Pot Pies
Crust adapted from Four & Twenty Blackbirds
2 1/2 cups flour
2 sticks butter, cubed into 1 cm pieces, cold – prepared beforehand
1 tsp salt
3 tsp sugar
3/4 cup cold water
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp Vermont Creamery Crème Fraîche + splash water (or 1 egg + splash water)
1| Prepare: Cube butter into 1cm pieces, and place it in a bowl in the freezer. I find that this allows the butter to get very cold before you work with it. Put water in freezer as well. Don’t worry about it freezing- you will use it before it can freeze.
2| Combine flour, salt, sugar, black pepper.
3| Take cold butter, and using a pastry cutter, fork, or fingers, work quickly and cut butter into dry ingredients. Pea size chunks will remain, and that’s completely fine.
4| Take out water. Using tablespoons at a time, mix it into dry ingredients until just combined. Do not overmix or knead. Add the mixture gradually – you can always add more water, but you can’t take it out. The resulting dough should be damp but not moist.
5| Separate dough into two parts, with one larger than the other. I divided it into 2/3 and 1/3 discs. Shape into disks and wrap with plastic wrap. Place in fridge. Let dough rest for at least 1 hour.
Root Vegetable Pot Pie
(About 5-6 cups chopped root vegetable)
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed, diced into cubes
1-2 small yams, peeled and diced
1 large parsnip, peeled and diced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 lb shiitake mushroom, stems removed + diced
½ cup fresh sage leaves, chopped
1 tbsp all purpose flour
3 tbsp butter (separated into 2 tbsp + 1 tbsp)
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
3 tbsp Vermont Creamery Crème Fraîche
1| Preheat oven to 425F. Chop vegetables into about 1/2” cubes, making sure they are about the same size for even cooking. Drizzle with olive oil and roast for 30-40 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes or so. Vegetables should be tender but not too soft – golden and browned at the edges
2| Remove and let cool.
3| Lower temperature to 375
4| Heat a heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Melt 2 tbsp of butter, and cook onions and garlic for 5 minutes, until onions are translucent and soft.
5| Add in mushrooms and cook until mushrooms begin to release their juice, approximately 5 minutes.
6| Stir in chopped sage.
7| Move the mushrooms and vegetables to one side of the pot and add the remaining 1 tbsp butter. Add flour and whisk to combine. Cook mixture for about 30 seconds, until it is fragrant and nutty-smelling.
8| Slowly stream in stock and stir constantly. Lower heat and cook for about 10-15 minutes, until thick. Add salt and pepper to taste.
9| Gently fold in root vegetables. Add frozen peas and crème fraîche and cook together for a minute, checking for seasoning. Remove from heat.
10| Cut each disk of dough into four pieces.
- Line mini-cocottes: Roll out dough to about 1/8″ thick and gently place over the surface, with about 1″ overhang draping over the edges.
- Make top crust: Roll out dough to about 1/8″ thick and use a cookie cutter or bowl to cut out rounds that are slightly larger than the opening of the mini-cocotte.
11| Spoon root vegetable mixture into the cocottes.
12| Place disc gently over the root vegetable mixture and gently crimp the overhang of the bottom crust. Slice two slits over it, and put in fridge for 10 minutes.
13| Brush generously with crème fraîche wash, sprinkle with salt and black pepper, and bake for 30-40 minutes, until golden brown and flaky!