Cook the Book – Nick Malgieri’s Pastry

I own FAR too many cookbooks, we’re talking hundreds. This post is the first in a series I’m calling “Cook the Book”, in which I attempt to justify my addiction by cooking at least one recipe from every cookbook I own. This is going to take years…

I recently joined one of those online, “buy six books for one penny and then just two more at full price” sort of deals (you know the one I’m talking about) and I’ve yet to figure out how to actually stop it. So I get cookbooks. At least one a month. On top of what I normally order or buy from my local used bookshop. As if I really need more cookbooks.

Luckily their selections are not altogether terrible, and I was pleasantly surprised to find “Nick Malgieri’s Pastry” show up on my doorstep a couple of weeks ago. I’m a big fan of Nick’s, and had the pleasure of attending a luncheon with him in honor of my friend Nancie McDermott a while back, although I can assure you he has no idea who the hell I am. His cookbooks are fantastic and his recipes are foolproof.

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But I’m rambling. Back to “Pastry” – chock full of delicious recipes and great tips, this cookbook is great for the baker who’s progressed past scones and cookies but isn’t quite ready to tackle a croquembouche. Nick covers pie doughs and laminated doughs, cakes and custards, and all manner of other sweet and savory baked delights. I counted about 37 different recipes I wanted to try within the first ten minutes of flipping through the book.

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What I settled on was this, the Mexican Chicken Pie. It’s fall and I’m in the mood for something hearty, and pretty much any stew that has a pastry topping is going to get me excited. The recipe looked delicious, the photo was beautiful, and I had most everything I needed on hand!

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The cornmeal dough is ridiculously easy to throw together in a food processor, and while it chills in the fridge you can prep the filling. The recipe instructs you to sear the chicken, saute the veggies, and then assemble the whole thing all in the same pot, but because I’m anal-retentive and like a good presentation I decided to use a nice white baking dish. By all means though, save yourself the extra dish and do everything in one pot!

I also decided to go the way of the photo in the book and shingle together a series of dough rounds rather than roll out one large crust. I loved how it looked, and I will definitely be using this technique for other cobblers and casseroles. This cornmeal dough doesn’t rise as high as say a traditional biscuit dough would, but it still bakes up flaky and crumbly. The added head of the habaneros is nice, although next time I might go for a slightly wetter filling (read: more tomatoes) and a bit more chicken. All in all it was a delicious dish, and we ate from it for a few days. As is often the case with this sort of preparation, the leftovers were almost better than the real thing!

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I can’t wait to work my way through more of Nick’s fabulous recipes, both savory and sweet. This is a cookbook that I know I will continue to consult for future baking adventures!

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But Matt, where is the recipe!?

The recipe is exactly where it should be, in the cookbook. For this and future “Cook the Book” posts I will only post the recipes with the express permission of the author. I believe we should support authors, and one way I as a blogger can lend a hand is by encouraging folks to go out and buy the cookbook for themselves, rather than crib the recipe and post it on my blog without permission. So go forth and get yourself a copy, you won’t regret it!

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