Column, the first

Good morning Henderson.

My name is Debbie Matthews, and I am delighted to have been asked to write a weekly column about food, cooking, and all the whimsy that pops into my head on a regular basis.

First, I’d like to tell you a bit about me.

Although a military kid, I’ve spent the majority of my life in NC.  I’m married to Petey, and have been since the invention of movable type.  We have one child, The Kid, who was educated at the New England Culinary Institute, and is my usual gastronomic partner in crime.

My favorite foods are potato salad and birthday cake.  I know all the lyrics to Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody (and most of the lyrics to American Pie).  I can bend my thumbs backwards at a 90% angle.  I love dogs, and have a 200 pound Anatolian shepherd named Riker.  My favorite movie is The Big Chill.  I’m a fan of Doctor Who and pretty shoes.

A few of my favorite things-look at those awesome shoes.

A few of my favorite things-look at those awesome shoes.

Not many things make me happier than putting on some good music (mostly 70’s and 80’s rock, with a dash of ragtime), and cavorting around my kitchen, coming up with new dishes and putting twists on old.

Although Petey is one of the least fussy eaters ever, I can tell by his extremely low-key reaction how well a new dish has gone over.  He is the best Guinea pig for whom a girl could ask.

Recently I had in the freezer both a bit of pastry dough, and some short ribs I’d gotten on sale.  I made short rib hand pies.

Sometimes called a pasty, but a pie by any name…

Petey liked.

Short rib hand pies

For ribs:

2 3-4 inch pieces boneless short ribs

¾ teaspoon either seasoning salt or salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 250.  Heavily season short ribs and double wrap with foil, leaving a little space around ribs for juices.  Cook for 2-2 ½ hours or until falling-apart tender. 

For gravy and pie:

8 ounces mushrooms, cleaned and sliced

½ yellow onion, chopped

¾ teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped finely

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon olive oil

3-4 cloves garlic

1 tablespoon tomato paste

½ cup Sherry

2 cups beef stock

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

2 teaspoons horseradish

Salt and pepper to taste

2-6 inch rounds pie crust, about 1/8-1/4 inch thick (either store-bought or homemade)

Roux:

½ cup butter and ½ cup flour cooked together until peanut butter colored.

In a skillet, sauté mushrooms, onions, and herbs in olive oil.  Season.  When veggies start to caramelize, add garlic and cook ‘til fragrant.  Add tomato paste and cook until color’s deepened to burgundy.  Deglaze pan with Sherry, and cook out.

Stir in stock, Worcestershire, horseradish, and bring to boil.  Whisk in roux until it’s the thickness of cake frosting.  Mix in shredded meat and any juices. 

Place about ¾ cup of cooled short rib mixture into each crust. Fold over and seal with egg wash (1 egg and 1 tablespoon water).  Brush egg wash over pie, and cut 3 slits to vent.  Sprinkle top with salt and pepper.

Bake at 375 for 30-45 minutes or until golden brown.  Serves 2.

You’ll have filling left.  I froze mine, and another night will thin it and spoon it over grits.  Just make sure to label your bag.

Though I am very definitely neither Julia Child nor Erma Bombeck, I hope you’ll enjoy my earnest scribblings.  But if even you don’t, there is something that this column will do magnificently—line bird cages.

Yuck.

Thanks for your time.

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