I started working on this Thanksgiving  Smoked Trout Pot Pie around  Rosh Hashana* time.  Because planning ahead naturally  increases the chances of a recipe piece being  published.    I worked it over a few times, parvadapted*  a popular pie dough recipe so that there would be a from-scratch option for those who want it.   Now I flinch when I think about my carefully constructed pitch to ___________magazine, in which I offered the line: this recipe is at the cross-section of Jewish flavor, Americana, and current eating trends on a sweet little platter free of any irony or cool writer-girl posing.

While working on a recipe there’s lots of time to think.  As I chopped the leeks, and then switched out the leeks for shallots, and after I decided leeks were the way to go after all, I was thinking of the introduction to the recipe.  When I measured out the coconut milk and then the vegetable stock, reducing and increasing measurements until the “just right” balance was found I was crafting sentences in my mind:

…Smoked Trout Pot Pie as a Thanksgiving Pescatarian option- because there’s always one or two guests who don’t eat meat or chicken but will eat fish…  Or, as an appetizer to the meal.  A fish appetizer.  Like the gefilte fish*  at that Thanksgiving  at Hub’s cousins in Staten Island. Slices of gefilte fish with a bright shmear of chraine* were served as the first course, then the plates cleared for the traditional feast of turkey and all the trimmings.   I  was a snarky little twit back then when I was new to cooking and marriage and even Thanksgiving.  My nose was likely at an imperious angle when I declined the plate. But it’s the  unexpected and unusual menu twists that make a meal memorable and fun.  And when a taste memory is resurrected , well, that’s  deep flavor.  That Thanksgiving in Staten Island  that was the true cross-section of traditional Jewish flavor and Americana.

_______ Magazine decided to  “pass” on the piece. Really? Pass on slips of salty smoky fish , crispy shreds of potatoes, browned leeks, and crunchy celery in a rich and creamy dairy free sauce seasoned with smoked paprika and chopped chives, all tucked tastily into a flaky crust.    Handing it back to me, declining the dish with their noses pitched at imperious angles.  …so what was left to do then but make a horseradish caper sauce to go with it?

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  • 2 tablespoons safflower or canola oil
  • 3 small leeks, white and light green part only, thoroughly rinsed and chopped (about 1 ½ cups)
  • 2 celery stalks, sliced
  • 1 cup shredded potatoes, thawed if frozen
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 3/4 cup vegetable stock
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 8 oz. smoked trout fillets, skin removed and flaked into bite-sized pieces (available at health food stores, Fairway, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and other supermarkets)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped chives
  • pie dough, either homemade or store-bought, thawed
  • egg yolk + 1 tablespoon water, optional  but recommended

1. Preheat oven to 400º, and let pie dough or pie crust come to room temperature.  In a large frying pan heat oil over medium heat, add leeks, celery, and potatoes, stirring often.  Cook for approximately 3-4 minutes or until leeks are golden around edges and the potatoes beginning to crisp.

2. Stir in flour, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper so that the veggies are well coated.  Mix together stock, coconut milk, and red wine vinegar together and add to the vegetables.  Cook and stir until thickened and bubbling, about 1 minute.  Add the smoked trout and chopped chives.  Remove from heat.

3. Cut thawed pie dough in half and roll out one half on a floured surface, fit into a pie plate, trimming the long overhanging dough so that it looks nice and tidy.  Place smoked trout mixture into center of pie dough, smoothing and patting down so that it is densely packed.  Roll out other half of the pie dough and then fit it over the top of the filling, so that it is covered completely.  With a fork or your fingers, crimp the dough together so that a seal for the filling is formed.  With the sharp point of a knife, make a couple of slits in the center of the pie dough so that steam can escape during baking.

(For that homey golden baked look: brush pie dough with egg wash )

4.  Bake in preheated oven for 30- 35 minutes.  Serve with Horseradish Caper Sauce

Horseradish Caper Sauce

  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup coconut milk
  • 3 tablespoons prepared white horseradish
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • a few drops hot sauce, optional
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2-3 tablespoons capers

1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl,  season to taste.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Homemade Pie Dough

This recipe yields enough dough for two double crust pies.

  • 1 1/2 cup very cold coconut oil spread
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/3 cup vegetable shortening
  • 6-8 tablespoons ice water

1.  Cut coconut oil spread into cubes and return to freezer while you work on the flour mixture.  Place flour, salt, and sugar in your food processor fitted with the steel blade and pulse a few times to mix.  Add the butter and shortening.  Pulse 10-12 times , until the mixture has the texture of cottage cheese.  With the food processor still going, pour the ice water down the feed tube and pulse until the dough collects into a ball.

2. Roll into a ball on a well- floured surface.  Cut in half and wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.


****Glossary of Terms:

Rosh Hashana: Jewish New Year occurring in early Fall

Parvadapted: Making over a dairy or meat recipe as Parve (neutral)

gefilte fish: Traditional Jewish fish dish made of ground pike or carp, shaped into a loaf or into balls, often served chilled.

Chraine: Horseradish-beet paste or sauce.

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Bissel (bis-sul)Yiddish: A bit, a little.
B'Tayavon (be-teya-von) Hebrew: Bon Appetit! Enjoy (in reference to a meal/dish)
Faux-sher Food (fo-shure) Rachelese: Kosher food in disguise. The minute Judy bit into the krab kake she was a fauxsher food fan.
Taim (tay-yim) Hebrew: yummy, delicious
Zetz (zets) Yiddish: smack