Take That Jive Turkey Pot Pie!

24 02 2010

So I told you last night I’d post about my Turkey Pot Pies I made last night, but first I  must gripe.

I get on facebook this morning & check my messages to find this.


Jack February 24 at 8:51am Report

Can you do me a favor and stop sending me invites for Bananas in my freezer? Thanks.


Fair enough. My reply


Ryan Black February 24 at 10:36am

Sure, but why dont you just unfriend me if it’s that annoying to you?
I’m just promoting myself & my future book. Just like you do when you post things about your band. Peace


Now I’m not innocent of being annoyed by posts on Facebook, but I simply delete them or press ignore. I mean is it really that hard? This guy posts really annoying things all the time about his horrible band & things he thinks are funny and I don’t, but do I ask him to stop? No. There’s a guy who’s a real estate agent in Chicago that constantly asks me to join his page for real estate in Chicago. Does it annoy me? Yes! It’s every fucking day for two weeks! What do I do? I delete him. I’m not in Chicago ya idiot nor do I want real estate there. It’s very simple. Mind you I’ve only had Bananas In My Freezer for about 4 days and I’ve sent out requests maybe 2 or 3 times. Too aggressive for my first week? I don’t know. I don’t care. If you don’t like it delete me. I don’t give a care and I certainly won’t miss you. It’s that simple ya Jive Turkey (as George Jefferson would say to Tom Willis).

If you want something, you go after it. If it annoys people along the way. Fuck’em. If you can’t understand that I’m simply fulfilling a dream, you are no friend of mine. Land sakes alive!

Turkey Pot Pies!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I’m not kidding you when I say these’ll  make you wanna slap your Grandma. The pastry is out of this world and Marie Callender is currently trying to dig out of her grave to steal the two left over in my freezer.

Yeah that’s her. Look at her tryin’ to be all cute n stuff. Well Marie you better mind your peas and carrots cuz this pot pie’s taking no prisoners!

I’m a huge pot pie fan. When my Mom was working nights when I was a kid, it was up to my Dad to cook us dinner. I can remember quite a few Hungry Man Jack’s & especially pot pies. I’m sure they were Stouffers or something. Every once in a while my Dad would cook Shark & I can remember eating sardines with Ritz crackers with him too. I’m not a huge fan of seafood now & the thought of sardines especially makes me yak. Back to the pies. My dad would give me the pot pie so frickin’ hot it would burn the roof of my mouth. He’d always say turkey pot pies made you eat chicken for days (meaning the dangling burnt skin on the roof of your mouth). The fact is pot pies are so good you want to eat them right away. When you puncture the crust that creamy loveliness inside is irresistible. Well hold on to your hat’s and glasses folks because this pot pie is gonna take you for a ride!

One precautionary tale: It took me a half an hour to find my dough blade for my cuisinart because Dana never puts anything back in the same place twice.  I felt like my Mother nagging him. “Where did you put it? Well it doesn’t have legs. It couldn’t just walk away! Can’t you put anything back where it goes??!!” . Finally I showed him the metal blade and told him it looked just like it but was plastic. He says “Oh it’s sitting right there on the counter. I didn’t know what it was”. ARGHHHH. Moral of the story. Do your own dishes. And if you don’t want to do your own dishes & you say “If you can’t do anything right, don’t do it at all”. Be prepared to hear “Do your own dishes”. Fine.

Turkey Pot Pie!!

Serves 4

The Dough

You’ll want to make this first as it really should chill in the refrigerator while you make the filling. This dough is out of this world and should be followed to the T.

2 cups all purpose flour

1 & 3/4 sticks butter (I use salted)  or 7 ounces chilled & cubed

1 tbs vegetable shortening

1/2 tsp sugar

pinch of salt

1/3 c. ice cold water

This should be mixed in a cuisinart or food processor. If you don’t have one you can cut in all the ingredients or use a kitchen aid with dough attachment.

For processor put all ingredients in the bowl with dough blade except water. Pulse it about 10-12 times until crumbly. Add the water and pulse a few times until just barely comes together. It may still be crumbly at this point but don’t worry. Don’t knead the dough together. Place the dough on plastic wrap and bring it together & flatten it. Place in fridge while making the filling. The key here is not mixing the dough too much. When  we’re ready to roll out you can add a few drops of water if dough pieces aren’t coming together.

For filling


2  large turkey breasts (or two cups when chopped) or 4 chicken breasts

2 – 3 large carrots quarted  & cubed

2 large celery stalks cut in 1/4 inch pieces

1 Fennel bulb  sliced

1 leek sliced

1 bunch of shallots/green onion chopped

1 basket of sliced mushrooms

1 cup peas

1 herb bouquet (sprigs of thyme , tarragon, oregano,parsley) or 2 tbl of French or Italian season blend

1 tbl chopped garlic

1 tbl kosher salt

1 tsp. fresh pepper

About 8 cups water

reserve 2 tbl. of parsley set aside

You’re going to first boil or poach all of these ingredients together except peas. I put a strainer at the bottom to easily remove the contents & we’ll also use the poaching liquid. Leave the turkey or chicken breasts whole. I also throw in a lot of extras like the fennel stalks, celery leaves, leek leaves, parsley & basically whatever is in the chrisper. You could also add 2 cups of white wine. 1 cup for you & 1 cup for the poach. You could even add bacon crumbs if you really want to send your cholesterol on end.

Bring to a rapid boil then reduce to an even slow boil for 20 minutes. Turn off heat & cover. Let sit. You can remove immediately but for better flavor let it sit for a half hour or so.

Take the strainer out and pour contents out into a large bowl leaving liquid in the pot. Remove herb bouquet & any large stalks you may have added. Dice the turkey or chicken and return to the vegetable mixture & add  the peas and 2 tbl of chopped parsley.

For the Cream sauce or Veloute

3 tbl butter

4 tbl flour

4 c. poaching liquid

1 c heavy cream (i know but omg)

salt & fresh pepper

Making the sauce.

Ladel 4 cups  of the poaching liquid into a saucepan & reduce it by half to 2 cups. After reduction in another sauce pan melt the butter and whisk the flour into it making a thick paste. Mix for a minute over the heat and remove. Add this to the reduced liquid and whisk rapidly over heat. Add the cream and whisk  over heat for a couple minutes until the sauce coats a spoon. Salt & pepper to taste.

Fold this sauce into the vegetable mixture. Cover & set aside.

Prepare the dough

Preheat oven to 400 F

I use 4 – round 14 oz. souffle dishes but you can also use 1 big round gratin. I prefer individual servings.

Roll out the dough with plenty of flour on both sides into one large sheet. I roll it fairly thin. Then I cut it into 4 equal pieces. Now, I like dough on the inside of the cup as well as on top. Some people just put on top. It’s up to you. If you only put on top then you can cut the recipe in half. I strongly suggest you do it inside as well!  Place each of the 4 pastry pieces into your cups lightly tucking into corners. Don’t worry if it rips or tears. You can repair it, fill it in or leave it. There should be plenty of dough left hanging off the side to trim off to make your lids.  Take the scraps and roll into a ball then roll out and cut into 4 equal pieces. If it looks like they’re not big enough to cover lids then cut into two pieces and after you fill the pies you can continue cutting scraps and re rolling them.  You’ll get the hang of it. This dough recipe will make exactly enough dough inside & out for the 4 – 14oz. souffle dishes. I mean exactly!

Whisk one egg in a bowl & set aside with an egg wash brush

Fill your pies. There should be enough filling to reach the top of your 14 oz. dishes almost perfectly. Now start to cover your pies. After your pies are all covered and  trimmed to the edge, brush the lids with plenty of egg wash. Even brush the sides where the dough meets the dish (you can even brush the rim before placing lids on but I don’t find it necessary if you brush plenty of egg on and pinch the lid to the cup edge).

Place your pies on a cookie sheet on the center rack for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375 F and cook for another 20 minutes or so until golden. I don’t find it necessary to vent the pies, but you can.

Usually I only cook 2 and the other 2 I plastic wrap and ziplock in the freezer.

Once you get the hang of this recipe you’ll find it easy and you’ll never want to go back to frozen pot pies. Believe me, the effort is well worth it!

Now eat the living hell out of  them!





Sad News

24 02 2010

Please join me in remembering a great icon of the entertainment
community. The Pillsbury Doughboy died yesterday of a yeast infection
and trauma complications from repeated pokes in the belly. He was 71.

Doughboy was buried in a lightly greased coffin. Dozens of celebrities
turned out to pay their respects, including Mrs. Butterworth, Hungry
Jack, the California Raisins, Betty Crocker, the Hostess Twinkies, and
Captain Crunch. The grave site was piled high with flours.

Aunt Jemima delivered the eulogy and lovingly described Doughboy as a
man who never knew how much he was kneaded. Doughboy rose quickly in
show business, but his later life was filled with turnovers. He was
not considered a very smart cookie, wasting much of his dough on
half-baked schemes. Despite being a little flaky at times, he still
was a crusty old man and was considered a positive roll model for

Doughboy is survived by his wife Play Dough, two children, John Dough
and Jane Dough, plus they had one in the oven. He is also survived by
his elderly father, Pop Tart.

The funeral was held at 3:50 for 20 minutes.

Doughboy in happier times

If this made you smile, please rise to the occasion and take time to
pass it on, and share that smile with someone else who may be having a
crumby day and kneads it……..xoxo

You’ve probably been forwarded this a million times, BUT my neighbor Ed sent this to me and it made me laugh. It’s one of the few forwards I’ve ever opened.

It also reminded me of when I was a kid and my Mom used to buy those Pillsbury cans all the time. I used  to  get so excited to pop open those cans. They were like a little firework of dough. OH  and remember the Orange Icing Rolls?!! Those were so good! The cans were always in our fridge and Mom had many ways of using all the different kinds. As a working Mother she knew a few shortcuts. I’ll share a couple here with you.

Of course I do have to say that nothing compares to scratch made dough, but my Mom & Dad both had sweet tooths and of course with those odds it was passed on to me.  When there were no sweets in the house my Mom would  make

Pillsbury Doughnut Holes

Here’s what you do

1  can of biscuits

Bowl of melted butter

Bowl of Sugar &  Cinnamon

Half each biscuit & roll into balls and place 2 inches apart on a baking sheet. Bake as instructions say.

When done let them cool a bit until you can handle them. Dip in the butter and roll in the sugar & cinnamon.

Volia! They’re kind of like doughnut holes and if you’re like my Mom, the ingredients are always there.

I also loved these little nubs of lovliness that my mom usually served with tater tots! Yeah we were a classy family.

Dough Dogs!!

Remember those? I still make these because I LOVE them!

Here’s what you do;

1 can Crescent rolls (I think there’s 8 rolls in a can)

Hot Dogs

Sandwich cheese slices ( I like American ) or regular slices of cheese

Pop open that can and seperate those crescents. Slice Hot Dogs 3/4 through. Cut cheese slices into 4 pieces length wise.

Stuff the cheese in the hot dogs. Take the long end of the crescent and roll the hot dog in it. With the point on top place on a cookie sheet and bake as directions say or until golden & bubbly. YUM!

If you just want half the amount save half the dough in a ziplock for next week!

Well I must get back to making my homemade Turkey Pot Pies!! I’ll let you know tomorrow how they turn out.

Meanwhile check out these videos in memory of Mr. Doughboy ;-(

Classic Doughboy


22 02 2010

Lately I’ve been more obsessed than usual with my heritage. I’ve always been the one in my family keeping tabs on my lineage, but for some reason lately I have been completely possessed with it. As a kid I was always left alone in my Grandma Pearl’s den scouring through endless pages of photos. Constantly staring at the faces of the past that make me who I am.

So after getting robbed on one lineage site, I found Ancestry.com. I did the 14 day trial for free and was entranced after one day I was hooked so I got a subscription. Within hours I was finding cousins I never knew I had. I love family. I often hate family, but I love family.  I found a line in my tree that dates all the way back to the 16th century in America! I’m supposedly related to Abraham Lincoln in some way. My mind just immediately goes hog-wild when I’m looking at these records. If you’ve ever read a good book & have transported yourself in your mind to that place, that is how it is for me.

On ancestry.com you can look at real records from census polls, military drafts and enlistments, death & birth certificates, immigrant logs and so much more. Seeing an immigrant log of my Great Grandmother (I called Nana)  coming into America from Scotland just immediately took me there in my mind. I could see it and it was almost tangible. I found out so much about my heritage I never knew.

I was looking through old records of my Mother’s Dad. My Mom doesn’t have a whole lot of information on that side of the family because my Grandfather died when my Mom was 3. All we ever knew was that we were Russian. My Great Grandmother Sophia lived to be 101 years old,  but she never spoke a word of English. So needless to say talking to her may have created obstacles.  I found an old census record dating back to 1920 for them. At that time my Grandfather wasn’t born yet. At first I didn’t think it was them,  but it had to be. It was the same names and the last name is so rare you can hardly find it on google. The thing that confused me was it said they had a 6 month old baby named Daniel and that they were listed as Russian, Polish & Hungarian. My Mom had never heard anything about being Polish or Hungarian and I had never heard of Daniel?!! WTF? I had to find out what this was all about so I called my Mom. Yes indeed she had an Uncle Danny, but no one ever spoke to him because he was a drunk. Well! I do declare!!

So then I became obsessed with the Polish & Hungarian part. What? Wait? A new culture in my life? That means new food!!! I knew a little bit about Hungarian food as I used to have a neighbor that was Hungarian. She used to bring me over Chicken Paprikash with homemade Spaetzle at least once a month. It was mouth-watering slap happy yummy to my tummy goodness.  I guess people like to cook for me. I am definitely a great eater & appreciater. I never knew how lucky I was until she moved to Seattle & no more Paprikash  ;-(

I couldn’t let that stop me. So when I found out I was Hungarian, I knew I had to find out how to make Chicken Paprikash & Spaetzle. Surprisingly enough it wasn’t that difficult. I’ve  made it several times since & it makes me happy every time.

Here’s how!

Real Authentic Hungarian Chicken Paprikash

1 whole chicken cut into pieces

1 Bell Pepper (small to medium size) diced & deseed

1 diced tomato

1 small diced white or yellow onion

1/4 cup Flour

Hungarian Paprika (I use half sweet & half hot)

1 cup chicken broth

Sour cream (mix in before serving. I like it this way but it is really good without it as well)

For Spaetzle Noodles

2 cups Bread flour

2 large eggs

1 cup water

tsp. kosher salt

(this is the best recipe to me & even though Magdi says not too wet I find this is the best way to turn out. Some people scrape little by little on a cutting board, but I like Magdi’s way of using a cheese grater and spatula.)

Here are the best instructions to follow. I found that Magdi’s  way turned out to be just like Susan my Hungarian neighbor except Susan used sour cream.

Chicken Paprikash

Nokedli or spaetzle instructions

Dinner At Mom’s-In-L.A.w

22 02 2010
I may be one of the few people on Earth who genuinely adores their Mother In Law. I’m also lucky to call her my Mother In Law as I was one of the last gay couples to get legally married on November 2nd,  2008 before prop 8 was passed.  I don’t think it makes me like my Mother in law any more and certainly no less, but it does make me appreciate the title more.
I’m just fascinated by Freddie (short for Frederica).  She’s an intelligent, gorgeous  & graceful spitfire of a woman who is never short of an opinion and never shy to tell you exactly pin pointedly how she feels. Even at 83 years old, she has no shortness of thought process and her mind is constantly at work. It is how I imagine I would act around the Queen of England.  I just have the utmost respect for this woman.
Regardless of her intellect, it is her strength and  perseverance I admire the most.  Divorced at a young age with 3 young boys, she set out to support herself as a single Mom. She landed a coveted job at the L.A.  Times as Executive Secretary to Otis Chandler, the owner & publishing tycoon of the L.A. Times. The Chandlers were Los Angeles royalty. You’ve most likely been to the Dorothy Chandler Theatre downtown, named for Otis’ Mother. Back then the L.A. Times was the primary news source for all Angelenos. Like computers now, it was rare then if you didn’t get the L.A. Times everyday. She has a million amazing stories about those times and I adore hearing them all. And the pictures of her back then are stunning! She looked so much like Donna Reed.  They were the Mad Men days when ladies were treated badly, but this was NOT one of those ladies. Ah the days of the lunch cocktail, pot roast Sundays & milk men. I am definitely an old soul.
So it was my pleasure to cook dinner for her last night for her 83rd Birthday.  I wanted to cook something classic yet simple & special.  Freddies not too fussy, but she’s quite petite. She’s an elegant lady yet down to Earth in many ways. She brought out the best China, had the table already set & a glass of wine waiting for Dana and me. That’s my kind of dame.
Since Dana is so much like his Mom, it wasn’t too hard coming up with the evenings menu. Here’s what I decided;
To start an Heirloom Red & Yellow Caprese Salad with fresh fennel. For the main course Authentic Spaghetti Carbonara with Pancetta. Finally for dessert Banana’s Black, which is Banana’s flambe, rum butter sauce, fresh whipped cream, & fresh scratch made TO DIE FOR Monkey Bread.
I must confess that the only thing that went  wrong was I made focaccia garlic points for the starter and broiled them to death. Smoke ev-er-y-where. I quickly opened the back door to let the smoke out praying the alarm wouldn’t go off & hoping Freddie wouldn’t smell the burned bread. Thank God she didn’t or at least never hinted she did and the meal went off without a hitch. Oh, well I did nearly catch the house on fire by showing off the flambe. Not to worry though nothing caught on fire, but it was one hair away from being a Michael  Jackson Pepsi commercial.
Freddie seemed pleased and the dinner conversation was awesome. I even got ribbed once by Freddie for asking why she had a Republican best friend. She made it very clear that this world is far to partisan much more so than in her day. She was right and I retracted my statement trying to pass it off as a joke. After all I was half joking. I have lots of Republican friends…I just don’t know it.
Freddie sent a lovely note the next day and the exchange went as follows (in reverse order):

Thanks Freddie. It was my pleasure. I’m glad you enjoyed it.
I did as I always do enjoy spending time with you!

The salad was:
2 Heirloom Tomatoes
Buffalo Mozzarella
Garlic  Salt (i use  lawry’s)
Fresh Lemon  Juice
Fresh  Pepper
Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar
& a little fresh chopped Fennel leaves
The Carbonara is pretty easy once you get the hang of it.
The recipe calls for Guanciale which is pig cheek, but it’s very hard to find here. I used
Pancetta (from the butcher) and I’ve also used bacon which is yummy too. The pancetta gives
it more of a hammy flavor. I might even prefer the bacon better but that wouldn’t make it
authentic, but who cares right?
You slow cook the meat in a couple tbl spoons of olive oil to your liking
(I like it a little browned)
Keep a  small pot of boiling water on the stove to use to amalgamate the ingredients.
Once meat is cooked turn fire off and cook the pasta (or cook while meat is cooking).
Mean while prepare the egg (or prepare at the very start of cooking). One egg per
person/serving. In a  bowl lightly whisk egg, plenty of fresh pepper, 2 tbl. of peccorino
cheese  grates & 1/2 tbl of parmesan. mix set aside.
Drain pasta. Turn fire on meat and ladel one scoop of hot water to amalgamate the
ingredients bring to a simmer scraping browned bits from the pan. Add pasta to that
and ladel another scoop of hot water and mix. Now remix egg mixture and add to pasta
stirring gently around for  about 30 seconds.
Turn flame off and add more cheese about a tbl spn of each.
I put a little cheese on the plate first then plate the pasta and sprinkle a little more
cheese on top.
Here is ing. for 1 serving
2 oz. De Cecco pasta (cooked for 12 minutes aldente) or any spaghetti you like
1/4 – 1/8th lb. of thick cut Pancetta (or 3 pieces of bacon) chopped in 1/2 inch – 1 inch chunks.
1 egg
Peccorino cheese
Parmesan cheese
Fresh Pepper
xoxo Love  Ry

Ryan Black
Creative Director
Ryan&Co. Entertainment
—–Original Message—–
From: freddie
To: Ryan
Cc: Dana <
Sent: Sun, Feb 21, 2010 10:09 am Subject: (no subject)

Ryan, Everything was delicious, but the carbonara was to die for!! I've never even been able to find a recipe for it, much less ever made it...but yours was delicious. I'd also like to know what was in the salad besides tomato an pepper....Thank you so much. It was all heavenly...

Finally my Monkey Bread….

Bananas In My Freezer

21 02 2010

For as long as I can remember there have always been Bananas in my freezer. My Mom, Grandma, Aunts, Sisters, Cousins, Great Grandma, Great Great Grandma always had damned bananas in their freezer. I don’t think I ever saw any of them actually use them. It was just the thing you were taught to do. When your bananas go brown you stick them in the freezer. Most obviously with the good intention of making banana bread. My Grandmother had a killer recipe for banana bread and would actually make it. I never saw her actually pull the bananas out of the freezer but man did that banana bread taste good. Yet still after making it you’d open the freezer and out would fall a dozen frozen bananas on the floor.
By way of habit and learned behavior I have subsequently always kept skin on charcoal brown bananas in my freezer. I probably use them more than my Mom did and dare I say more than my Grandmother. But WHY oh why do we keep so many bananas in our freezer? It started to eat at me. Silly I know, but I started to think about it and it’s like everything else in our life. We collect things. We’re pack rats. Our Grandmother’s and Great Grandmothers were from the rationing and depression and war era. Was there ever a shortage of bananas? I don’t know. There certainly never was in my family, at least not brown frozen ones. So it bugged me and I decided to do something about it. I’m gonna use those damned bananas if it kills me. I started making banana bread and giving it out to my neighbors and friends. I’m always looking for banana recipes. My sister gave me a tip that never occurred to me. She said to peel the bananas and cut them up first and put them into a ziplock. I thought that was genius. I did it once and missed the brown bananas in my freezer and never did it again. Am I too young to be old-fashioned? I just am. I’m a creature of habit.
It started to occur to me that there was some sort of deeper meaning to all of this. Maybe I think too much, but it’s like cleaning out your life. If you put bananas in your freezer, use the damned things. Clutter is and has always been apart of my life. I’m not exactly a hoarder, but I’ll keep things because I’m afraid I’ll need them. Things, things, things. It all has got to stop! So I’m cleaning out my freezer and my drawers and my closets and I’m breaking the cycle. I’ll still keep bananas in my freezer. I may not cut them up, but I will use the damned things if it kills me.

So here I am with you. I want to introduce you to Bananas In My Freezer. It’s my way of cleaning out my life. I’ll share with you old family recipes and newly discovered successful ones as well.
There’s a lot of heritage in my family because basically I’m a mutt. So with that you’ll get a lot of where my family comes from. Places like Scotland, Russia, Poland, Hungary, Ireland, Germany, England, Norway, and America all the way back to the 16th century. Also recipes from growing up in Los Angeles. I’m obsessed with Mexican food, both Americanized and authentic. I had an Italian landlady who used to cook for me once a week, so you’ll get some of that. Now I live next door to an Italian family that I love to drag recipes out of. They’re a brother & sister who live in a top and bottom duplex and they fight like cats and dogs everyday. I mean full-blown knock down drag out cuss fests. When they really get mad they start cursing in Italian. I start to day dream that I’m actually living in Italy or Brooklyn.
I’m a huge comfort and soul food fan so you’ll get a lot of that as well.
I’m fascinated with confectionary & baking. I especially love to make outrageous cakes & decorated sugar cookies.

I’m also pretty crafty. I love to paint & make creative useful things. I’d like to share that with you as well.
So I hope you’ll join me & enjoy it as much as I do.
Food’s a wonderful thing. It brings people together and it melts so many cultures and topics together that I think it changes the world in some way.
Thanks for stopping by Bananas In My Freezer.