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Baking

Homemade Hot Pockets
July 15, 2010 • Posted by Jennifer Perillo

The farmers’ market brings a surplus of bounty come summertime. In fact, some weeks I wonder how I’ll ever use up all I bought. Such was the case last week, and since my cooking week was cut short with a business trip, I went to work emptying the vegetable bin. Tomatoes were quartered, zucchini thickly sliced, eggplant diced and an assortment of onions—red, yellow, cippolini and leeks, went into a big roasting pan. So did the stalks I’d been saving after using the florets from a few heads of broccoli. I drizzled some extra virgin olive, sprinkled salt and freshly ground pepper over the whole medley.

Before I started prepping all those veggies, I preheated the grill. Yes—with record temperatures near 100ºF in New York City, I decided to keep the heat outdoors. Before putting the pan on the grill, I shut off the center burner, leaving on the two outer ones. This is called indirect grilling, and basically converts your grill into a makeshift outdoor oven. Not only were the vegetables imparted with a smoky flavor, they also became meltingly tender in about 20 minutes. The first night I tossed them with spaghetti, toasted pine nuts and parmesan cheese.

And when the thermometer finally dipped below 90º, I decided to make hand pies with the leftovers. The filling possibilities are endless but on this particular day I kept it simple with just chopped roasted vegetables and fresh ricotta cheese. The flaky pastry pockets were so tasty and fun to eat, my 7-year old even requested the leftovers for breakfast the next day.

Roasted Vegetable & Ricotta Cheese Hand Pies
makes 16 to 18

Easy to make and perfect for freezing, these savory pockets can be filled with any combination of leftover vegetables you have on hand. You can even crumble leftover cooked hamburgers and add it to mix.I find the filling doesn't need additional seasoning since the vegetables were roasted with olive oil, herbs, salt and pepper, but have included salt and pepper in the ingredients your's needs a boost. Last note—these heat up great in the microwave. In 12 seconds, mine were warm inside ad the crust retained a nice flaky crispness.

1 cup (6.5 ounces) roasted vegetables, chopped
1/2 cup (2/5 ounces) fresh ricotta cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste if needed
1 basic butter crust dough (recipe follows)
1 egg, beaten with a splash of water, optional

  1. Preheat oven to 400ºF. Line two 11-inch by 16-inch rimmed sheet pans with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix the vegetables and ricotta cheese together. Season with salt and pepper, if necessary.
  3. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/8 to 1/16-inch thick. Cut out 5-inch circles. It's okay to re-roll the scraps until all the dough is used up. Place cut circles on the prepared baking sheets (do not forget to place on parchment before forming pockets or they will be too delicate to transfer). Spoon 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons of filling into the center of each circle, fold over, making sure the filling is not spilling out the edges, and crimp the edges with a fork. Pierce tops with the tines of a fork to create steam vents.
  4. Brush tops with egg wash, if using. Bake for 15 minutes, until golden. Let sit on sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer to a wire cooling rack. Serve warm. May be stored, wrapped in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. No doubt, they can also be stored in an air-tight zip-top bag in the freezer, though I don't know for how long since they get eaten too fast around here

Basic Butter Crust
makes two single pie crusts, one free form tart or 16 to 18 hand pies

8 ounces flour
1 teaspoon (5 grams) kosher salt
1 teaspoon (2 grams) baking powder
4 ounces cold butter
4 to 6 tablespoon ice cold water

  1. Add the flour, salt and baking powder to the bowl of your Cuisinart food processor. Pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until it forms a sandy crumb. Starting with 4 tablespoons, sprinkle the water over the flour-butter mixture and pulse until it forms a ball, about 45 seconds to 1 minute. Add another tablespoon or two of water if necessary. Dump onto an unfloured counter and form into a flat disc. Wrap in plastic or waxed paper and let chill until firm, but still pliable, about 1 hour (you can also quick chill it in the freezer for 20 minutes while you prep your filling ingredients).
  2. Roll out on a lightly floured surface into preferred size and shape according to whatever recipe instructions you are following.
  3. The dough can be stored, tightly wrapped, in the fridge for up to 3 days. I've yet to have one in the freezer, but imagine it'll store, well wrapped, for a month or two—just thaw it out in the fridge overnight before using.

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