Salmon Pot Pie with Pecan Biscuit Crust
Barbequed Bacon-Wrapped Mushrooms
Crème Brulee

January brings a chill to the air throughout the South and there’s also a bit of a lull in most of our social calendars. January is typically a quiet month making it the perfect time to invite friends over for a casual supper at home. Salmon Pot Pie with Pecan Biscuit Crust is a new twist on the traditional tummy-warming chicken pot pie. The unique flavor of the salmon is layered with red potatoes, onions, celery and peas and is seasoned with tarragon. The pecan crust is a cinch to prepare. You and your guests will love it! While the pot pie is baking, Barbequed Bacon-Wrapped Mushrooms (along with a glass of your favorite wine, of course) is a great hors d’oeuvre. For dessert brew a hot pot of flavored coffee and enjoy a decadent Crème Brulee. This may well be one of the easiest and best tasting crème brulee recipes ever! Don’t let the thought of using a blow torch intimidate you. It’s really very simple to make. Enjoy!

Salmon Pot Pie with Pecan Biscuit Crust

For the filling:
12 ounces salmon fillet
12 ounces small red potatoes
2 (9-ounce) packages frozen pearl onions in cream sauce, thawed
1 cup frozen petite peas, thawed
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
3/4 teaspoon dried tarragon
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
For the crust:
1/2 cup milk
1 large egg
1 cup all-purpose baking mix
2/3 cup chopped pecans
Pecan halves, toasted (optional)

To prepare filling: In a medium stock pot, cover potatoes with warm water and heat to boiling. Cook for 20 minutes. Drain and spread potatoes on a sheet pan to cool. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Butter a 9-inch deep dish pie plate. Remove and discard skin from salmon; cut the salmon fillet into bite-sized pieces. Place the salmon pieces in a large bowl. Add thawed onions with the sauce, peas, celery, tarragon and black pepper; mixing well. When the potatoes are cool, cut into small cubes and add to the salmon mixture. Put mixture into pie plate. To prepare the crust: In a medium bowl, beat milk and egg to blend. Stir in the baking mix and pecans just until moistened; do not over-mix. Pour evenly over filling. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the filling bubbles. Garnish with pecans halves, if desired. Serves 4.

Barbequed Bacon-Wrapped Mushrooms

1 (8-ounce) package large button mushrooms
1 pound package peppered bacon
4 tablespoons prepared barbeque sauce.
Cut the stems off of the mushrooms, rinse briefly and dry them well with paper towels. Cut each slice of bacon in half. Wrap each mushroom with bacon strip halves. (Use 2 if the cap is not completely covered. The bacon will stick to the mushrooms so there is no need for toothpicks.) In a medium sauté pan, over medium-high heat, sauté the bacon-wrapped mushrooms until the bacon is golden brown. Just as the bacon begins to crisp up a bit, add the barbeque sauce and toss until coated. Serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.

Crème Brulee

2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup plus 4 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of salt
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 300 degrees and have a pot of boiling water ready. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine cream, 1/4 cup sugar, and salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until steam rises, 4 to 5 minutes. In a bowl, beat egg yolks and vanilla until smooth. Pour hot cream into yolks, a little at a time, stirring constantly, until blended. Strain mixture through a fine mesh sieve set over a bowl, and divide mixture among four 6-ounce ramekins. Place ramekins in a baking pan, and add boiling water to fill pan halfway up sides of ramekins. (To ensure a smooth consistency, line the bottom of the baking pan with a damp kitchen towel before adding the ramekins and boiling water.) Cover loosely with foil, and bake until custard is just set, 25 to 30 minutes. Chill for 2 to 3 hours. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of sugar evenly over each custard. With a kitchen torch, move the flame continuously in small circular motions just above the surface until the sugar is evenly melted, bubbly, and browned. Serves 4.

The writer owns Catering by Debbi Covington and is the author of the cookbook, Dining Under the Carolina Moon. Debbi may be reached at 525-0350.