Every Friday this month, the Hungry Hound will introduce you to something hot and delicious to try to combat the cold weather.
We could all use a little winter warm-up this time of year, something to take the edge off and literally thaw us out and fill us up. And believe it or not, you can have pot pies delivered right to your door.
Like a lot of food entrepreneurs, Cindy Gapinski gravitated to her comfort zone, which involved baking.
"I'm not a baker, but I've always liked to bake, and I like to cook, and, you know, one of the things I've always been able to do is make a pie crust. A lot of people find that kind of intimidating and difficult. And when I decided to quit my corporate job in July, and start doing this, I thought, what can I do that's unique and different, and it's these little pot pies," said Gapinski.
Her tiny, fledgling business Small Comfort makes just a few pies out of the commercial space at the Logan Square Kitchen. Each one is made from scratch. For the popular chicken pot pie, she first makes her own chicken stock; another key is to roast a whole chicken, which she'll shred later. Kneading her dough, she rolls out a base, then places it into a small, tin pie plate, with a considerable amount of overhang.
For her filling, she begins with a base of sauteed onions, butter and flour, adding some chick stock to it, then a bit of skim milk; while this cooks, she rolls out her top crust. Then it's back to the stove, and into the pot go carrots, cubed potatoes and peas. The warm filling is ladled into the pie shell, then the top crust goes on, and both crusts are sealed together, while she crimps the edges. A few holes are poked in the top for vents, to let the steam out. The pies are frozen, which makes them ideal for a last-minute dinner.
"Like when I was working full time, like being able to come home and have food that was frozen and throw a meal together. I love my freezer, I love my freezer. I use it for everything," said Gapinski.
Gapinski also makes a root vegetable pie, one with potatoes, leeks and kale, and yet another that's a traditional shepherd's pie -- thick mashed potatoes form a blanket over seasoned, shredded beef. She says that's about all she can handle, since her goal is to be known as the "pot pie" lady.
"Just do one thing and do it well and be known for that thing 'cause otherwise you're getting diluted. Like, 'Oh, I do this and this and this and this,' you know, and then people don't kind of know you," she said.
The pies can be delivered within Chicago only, and for free delivery, you need to order at least four pies, otherwise there's a $2 charge. Cindy can also make custom pies as well as ones for vegans.
To order Small Comfort pies: