Tag Archives: Pie

Individual Cauliflower Cheese Pies

27 Feb

I used vegetable suet and wholemeal flour to make this pastry. I’ve had this packet of vegetable suet in the cupboard for a while and not really known what to do with it. Proper suet is a made from the fat deposits around the kidneys of an animal. I know, disgusting. Vegetable suet (I used Atora Light) has 3o % less fat and is made with vegetable oil. Much more appetising, don’t you think?

Suet can be used to make dumplings, pastries, pies and puddings.  The classic Steak & Kidney Pudding is made with suet pastry and so are most of the traditional Pork Pies. But don’t let that put you off!

The vegetable suet was really easy to work with, so much easier than using butter. You just stir the suet granules and flour together and add water. That’s it, no messy rubbing butter into flour business. You don’t even have to chill it before you use it (although I put it in the fridge while my filling cooled down). It’s definitely a much quicker option if you’re pressed for time or just very impatient, like me.

Don’t be scared about the pastry being that soggy, doughy pudding pastry either, unless you like that sort of thing! Even using wholemeal flour it turned out to be light, flaky and delicious. I followed the pastry recipe on the box (which was for a quiche) but you can send off for an Atora recipe book if you want to make that strange, soft pudding pastry. 

I knew I was going to make a cauliflower cheese because I had a cauliflower getting bored at the back of my fridge. I toyed with the idea of making dumplings with the suet and doing a Cauliflower Cheese Cobbler (which I will definitely try next time) or even a Cauliflower Cheese Quiche. But I am a sucker for individual pies (don’t like sharing, only child!) and The Washer Up wanted to see if I could make his favourite pork pie-like pastry with the suet, so pies it was.

Instead of making a white sauce with butter & flour for the Cauliflower Cheese, I cooked the leeks in the butter and put the cauliflower florets in a freezer bag with the flour and seasonings and shook the bag to coat the cauliflower. This way when you tip the floured cauliflower to the butter & leeks you get the white sauce base to add your cream or milk to and only use one pan, result!! This is a Nigella trick she uses to make her chicken & mushroom pot pies. Anything that saves time and washing up is a definite bonus….

Individual Cauliflower Cheese Pies

makes 4 small individual pies, vegetarian

  • 150 gr self-raising flour (I used wholemeal self-raising)
  • 75 gr vegetable suet (Atora Light)
  • 3 or 4 tbsp iced water
  • salt & black pepper
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into 1 inch or less size florets
  • 1 leek, halved lengthways, rinsed & sliced
  • 30 gr butter, plus extra for buttering pie dishes
  • 30 gr plain flour, plus extra for flouring
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • a few sprigs thyme leaves chopped, about 1/2 tsp
  • a pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • salt & black pepper
  • 1 pot creme fraiche about 200 ml
  • about 100 – 150ml veg stock 
  • 50 gr mature cheddar, grated
  • 50 gr Greek feta, or Lancashire crumbly, crumbled
  • 50 gr manchego or parmesan grated
  • 1 egg, beaten, for glazing

Butter & flour your pie dish/dishes and put them in the fridge. If you like you can make your pastry first and leave it in the fridge while you make and cool the filling. Mix together the flour, suet, salt & pepper in a bowl and stir in enough iced water to make a firm but not sticky dough. Wrap it in cling film and put it in the fridge.

Heat the butter over a medium heat, in a large frying pan with a lid.  Fry the leeks in the melted butter with a pinch of salt for a few minutes until softened. Meanwhile put the cauliflower florets, flour, nutmeg, thyme, chilli flakes, salt & pepper in a freezer bag, seal it and shake it so that the cauliflower is coated with the seasoned flour. Tip the contents of the freezer bag (including the excess flour) into the pan with the leeks, stir and cook out for about 2 minutes.

Add the creme fraiche, stir to coat the cauliflower, then add in 100 ml veg stock, stir, cover and leave to cook for about 5-7 minutes until the cauliflower is tender crisp.You can add some more veg stock if it is too dry. Then add in the cheeses, turn off the heat and stir to melt the cheeses.  It should be a thick cheesy sauce clinging to the cauliflower with not too much liquid or the pastry might get soggy. Check seasoning and leave to cool.

Preheat the oven to 200 C and take the pastry out of the fridge. Cut the pastry into four and roll out one piece at a time to a thickness of about 3 mm. Cut about a third off of the pastry and set aside for the lid. Push the pastry into your dish, you may have to cut bits off if it overlaps too much and stick bits in the gaps, this is fine. Just make sure it’s about the same thickness all the way round so it cooks evenly. Fill it right to the top with the cooled filling and push it down well.

Roll out the reserved third to about 3 mm thick and use another pie dish to cut a circle the same size as the top. Keep any pastry offcuts in cas you need them. Roll the circle out a little to make it slightly bigger, but not much.  Brush the edges of the pastry that will be touching the lid with the beaten egg then lay the lid on top. Push it down with your fingers, then crimp around the edges with a fork to seal it. Trim of the excess pastry round the edges, make 2 holes in the top with a sharp knife and brush the top with beaten egg.

Repeat with the other 3 pies and cook in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until puffed & golden brown.

Serve hot straight out of the oven with a simple green salad or some green beans, it’s delicious. Equally good served at room temperature for lunch with some beetroot chutney if you want to go down that ploughman’s/ pub lunch route.

Ahhhh.. Pub Lunch. There are not many things I miss about the UK but lunch (or even just a packet of cheese & onion crisps) in a pub garden on a sunny day is one of them. That, and Grandad’s pickled onions. Which would be great with this, by the way. Maybe Michelle could bring some over in May (hint). Now, you really wouldn’t want that to break in your luggage……………..!

The Holy Trinity Pie – Potato, Cheese and Onion

25 Jan

 

Potato, cheese and onion are, for me, the Holy Trinity of flavours. Think Cheese and Onion Crisps (Walkers obviously), they are the best flavour by a mile. Sour Cream & Chives Pringles.  Jacket potato with cheese, sour cream and chives (a la Spud -U-Like)  the classic, original & best topping. And, of course, the Potato, Cheese and Onion Pie.

Trying to replicate the flavour of that perfect pie with crumbly pastry and that soft, mellow, almost sweet and comforting filling, was a challenge I was very happy to take on. With so few ingredients they all have to be exactly right or you might as well not bother.

  • The Potato: something floury for making good mash with no lumps, you don’t want waxy here. There is a  fantastic list of which potatoes to use for which dish at Love Potatoes. Apparently Maris Piper and King Edward are good all rounders but they recommend Nadine, Rooster, Saxon or Wilja for mash.
  • The Cheese: a personal thing obviously but I recommend using a creamy, white, crumbly cheese like an unmatured Lancashire (The Washer Up’s favourite). Other cheeses to use are a crumbly Caerphilly or, if you want to go more “European”, an Italian Fontina or French Tomme de Cantal.
  • The Onion: the classic yellow onion is the onion of choice for me but you could use spring onions for a fresher, green flavour and look. Softened leeks would be lovely especially if you’re going for the Caerphilly option and flying the Welsh flag. Or even chives if you want the full sour cream and chives Pringle effect.

I have opted (controversially,I know) to make a wholemeal shortcrust pastry. I thought the contrast between the soft fluffy centre and a nutty, flaky crust would be nice and I was trying to “healthy” it up a bit I suppose. Potato and cheese guilt taking over maybe. It works really well but feel free to stick to plain flour if you are a traditionalist. My pastry recipe comes from a book called The Art of the Tart by Tamasin Day-Lewis which is where I also discovered the recipe for L’Aligot Tart.

 L’aligot is a country dish from south-western France made with mashed potatoes, garlic, cheese (tomme de Cantal) and cream. Sounds amazing doesn’t it. So I decided to add some garlic to my onions (controversially again) and I swapped the cream for sour cream to stay on my Spud-U-Like theme….

Potato, Cheese & Onion Pie Recipe

makes 3 individual pies, double the amounts to make 1 big pie for 4-6 people, vegetarian

  • 180 gr wholemeal flour (or plain or a mixture)
  • 90 gr cold butter, diced and refrigerated
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • iced water (2 or 3 tbsp)
  • 2 potatoes, about 500 gr peeled and cut into eighths
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • salt & black pepper
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • about 150 gr Lancashire cheese (see above for other cheeses) crumbled into chunks
  • about 75 ml sour cream/creme fraiche/cream
  • 30 gr butter
  • 1 egg white, for brushing

Sieve the flour and a pinch of sea salt into a bowl or food processor(throw in the wholemeal bits left in the sieve as well). Put the cold diced butter on top and process (or rub the butter and flour through the tips of your fingers) until the butter is the size of peas. Then drizzle the ice-cold water in, a tablespoon at a time, (with the processor running) until it coheres into a single ball. Don’t add too much water or it will shrink when baking. If you can still see the butter that is good, that’s what makes the pastry flaky. As soon as it forms a ball wrap it in cling film and put it in the fridge for at least half an hour to chill.

Meanwhile put your potatoes in a large pan of cold, salted water, bring to the boil, lower the heat slightly and cook for about 20 minutes until the potatoes are soft. Saute the onions in a tablespoon of oil or butter with a big pinch of salt, over a medium heat until they are softened, not browned about 8 minutes. Add in the garlic and cook gently for another couple of minutes.

When the potatoes are soft drain them, put them in a large bowl and mash with a potato masher. Heat up the sour cream and butter in a small pan over a medium heat. When the butter has melted pour this onto your mashed potatoes and mix vigorously with a wooden spoon. Add the onions and garlic and the cubed/crumbled cheese. Season with salt, pepper and a little grated nutmeg, mix everything together and set aside while you roll out your pastry.

Preheat oven to 190C. Butter and flour your pie dishes/baking dish, Flour your work surface and cut your ball of dough into three (if you are making individual pies). Keep one piece out to work with and put the other two back in the fridge. Roll the pastry out to about 3 mm thick, cut a third off and keep it for the top of the pie, in the fridge. Push your pastry into your pie dish/ramekins (don’t stretch it) and leave some overhanging the edge. You can cut bits off and stick it in any gaps. Put it in the fridge while you do the other two. Blind bake the pastry shells by lining the bottoms with baking paper and weighing it down with some baking beans (uncooked beans or chickpeas). Bake for 5 -6 minutes, then remove the baking paper & beans, prick the base with a fork and brush the bottom with the egg white. Return to the oven for another 4 minutes to firm up the base. Trim off any rough edges.

Roll out 3 circles from the reserved pastry a little bit larger than the top of your pies. Fill the blind baked pastry shells with the mashed potato mixture, pushing it down so you don’t get any gaps. Top with the uncooked pastry circle and seal the edges with a fork. (I forgot to do this). Make a few holes in the centre of the top and brush with egg white.

Bake for about 15 -20 minutes until the top is browned and the pie warmed through…..

Serve hot out of the oven in the pie dish or leave to cool for about 10 minutes before turning out onto the plate. I think peas are perfect accompaniment to this pie but broccoli or wilted spinach would work too. Maybe even with a salad for lunch….

Once you’ve tried this you will never go back to buying them again. The ultimate in vegetarian comfort food perfect for rainy days like these….

Poor Rufus……Wet dog!!

Rainbows, Mushrooms and Pot Pies!

6 Dec

This Mushroom & Leek Pot Pie is comfort food at its best. Quick ,easy, warming and oh so satisfying. All you need is a sofa and a fork. It’s like a big hug in dish.

Today we walked about 15 km around the Barranco Blanco valley. This picture is the view to the hill retreat we visited yesterday, from the other side of the valley.

It rained on and off as we walked round which meant we were lucky enough to see this beautiful rainbow as we descended into the valley. We remebered to take a picnic this time…

At the bottom of the valley we came across a stream which led into an overgrown woodland area…

We saw these amazing mushrooms growing in the woodland but I have absolutely no idea if the are poisonous or not so decided it was best to leave them where they were..

Got me thinking about dinner though, after three and a half hours walking in the rain it had to be quick and comforting!

Individual Mushroom & Leek Pot Pies

makes 2 vegetarian

  • 1/2 pack frozen puff pastry (defrosted in the fridge overnight)
  • 15 gr butter
  • 1 clove garlic chopped finely
  • 1 pack mushrooms approx. 300 gr (I used small portobellos) quartered, you want chunky
  • 1 leek, cut in half lengthways, rinsed and sliced into 1 cm half moons, chunky again
  • 2 or 3 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • a few sprigs of thyme leaves
  • some chopped parsley
  • salt & black pepper
  • about 200 ml veg stock (you could use 1ooml white wine 100 ml veg stock)
  • 50 gr grated cheese (I used Manchego)
  • 1 egg beaten mixed with a little water to brush on the tops

Melt the butter over a medium heat in a large frying pan, add the leeks & garlic and soften gently for about 3 minutes. Meanwhile put the quartered mushrooms in a freezer bag and tip in the flour, herbs, spices, salt & pepper. Shake it around a bit to get the mushrooms coated in the seasoned flour.

Tip the mushrooms and the floury mix into the pan with the leeks and stir everything around. Cook this for a minute or two then add in the veg stock little by little until you get a thickened white sauce consistency. You may not need all the stock. Leave this to cook gently while you do the pastry.

If necessary, roll out the pastry to a rectangle about 2 or 3 mm thick. Preheat the oven to 21o degrees. Take a dish that you will be using for the pies and cut out two circles about 1 cm larger than the top.(you may need to re roll the pastry to get two). From the leftover pastry cut 1 cm thick strips to stick around the edge of the dishes.

 Stir the grated cheese into the mushroom mix and pour the whole lot into the two pie dishes. Wet you fingers and run them round the edges of the pie dishes then stick the strips of pastry round the top edge. Wet the strips and stick the circle of pastry on top of each dish. Squeeze the pastry together to seal the edges and crimp round the edges with a fork. (This doesn’t have to be perfect, messy is good!). Make 3 sets of holes in the top of each pie with a fork then brush the tops with the egg wash. Cook in the preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes until the top is golden brown & crispy.

Serve immediately and feel yourself coming back to life……..

Festive Season Spanakopita with chestnut and cranberry

18 Nov

Spanakopita is a Greek spinach & feta cheese filo pie sometimes with pine nuts & raisins added. I wanted to give it a Christmas twist so it could be a stunning vegetarian Christmas dinner option. The chestnuts and dried cranberries (craisins) were calling me and made perfect seasonal replacements for the pine nuts & raisins.

The chestnuts were a gift from our friends Andrew & Rafa who invited us to dinner on Sunday evening. They have a beautiful country house just outside a small village called Guaro which is about 20 minutes from where we live. Andrew has been following my blog and wanted to try cooking one of my recipes while I was there to supervise him (He is not a confident cook!)

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This is pool area and the views are 360 degrees- stunning ..

The house has a really cosy feel to it and there was roaring fire burning in the fireplace when we arrived to take away the chill of that fresh mountain air.

Cortijo-de-las-nieves-holiday-rental-villa-andalusia (19)

They made us feel so welcome and the place was so comfortable that I really did not want to move from the sofa to the kitchen, but I did, occasionally!!

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Andrew chose to cook my recipe for Caramelized Shallot & Goat’s Cheese Tarte Tatin which turned out really well, it’s a bit nerve-wracking watching someone else cook from your recipe, too much responsibility!!

We had some puff pastry left over so we made some Parmesan Cheese Straws as well which were a great aperitivo with  a glass of cava. They are really easy to make you just cut the puff pastry into thin strips, sprinkle with grated parmesan, hold both ends of a strip and twist one end towards you and the other end away from you. Sprinkle with a bit more parmesan  and bake for about 10 -15 minutes at 200 degrees.

We had a wonderful evening and this was where we enjoyed our breakfast on the terrace with that amazing view….

This stunning country cottage is available for holiday rentals and I would thoroughly recommend it, the attention to detail is second to none. For more information see Andrew’s blog at www.andaluciadiary.com which is an insider’s guide to Andalucia and beyond with really great information about where to stay, where to eat and what to do.

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Anyway, back to the Christmas Spanakopita. The inspiration came from the chestnuts Andrew & Rafa gave us as we were leaving.

I have been thinking about a vegetarian christmas option for a while but nothing has excited me until this. It has all of my favourite things, feta, spinach, fresh herbs and the addition of the chestnuts & cranberries makes it  really special. The good thing about this dish is that you can make a big baking dish size pie and even if there is only one vegetarian to serve it is even more delicious cold which means you can serve it for an evening buffet or as part of your  Boxing Day lunch.

Chestnut & Cranberry Spanakopita Recipe

  • 1 packet of filo pastry (defrosted in the fridge overnight)
  • 1 red onion finely chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  •  a bag of fresh spinach (about 350 gr)
  • a knob of butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh mint
  • 1/2 tsp dried mint
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • freshly grated nutmeg (about 1/2 tsp)
  • a pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • 50 gr dried cranberries
  • 75 gr peeled chestnuts chopped
  • 3 large eggs beaten
  • about 75 ml cream
  •  120 gr feta cheese crumbled
  • 120 gr grated cheese (parmesan, manchego or cheddar or a mixture)

Heat the butter and oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat, fry the onion until translucent, add the garlic, cook for 2 minutes then add the spinach. Stir and cover with a lid, leave to wilt for about 2 minutes stirring occasionally. When the spinach has wilted tip away any water then add the herbs and spices salt & pepper, stir to combine and leave to cool slightly.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Mix together the beaten eggs, cream and cheeses in a large bowl. Then add the  wilted spinach (minus any liquid), cranberries and chopped chestnuts and stir well until combined.

Line a rectangular baking tin/dish about the same size as the filo pastry sheets with some baking paper. Then layer 3 or 4 sheets of filo in the baking dish, brushing each sheet with a little oil. Pour the mixture onto the pastry and spread it out evenly. Cover with the remaining sheets of filo (5 or 6) tucking it down the sides if necessary and brushing each sheet with olive oil.

Brush the top sheet with olive oil, sprinkle with a little water and bake for 40 – 50 minutes until browned.

Serve, cut into squares or wedges, with all the Christmas trimmings or just with some boiled new potatoes in minted butter. (Remember to remove the baking paper from the bottom!)

Leave the rest to cool and serve slices as part of a buffet. This is one of those vegetarian dishes that everyone is going to wish they had, so it is always good to have some left over…..

Homity Pie – The Ultimate Comfort Food!

7 Nov

There used to be a vegetarian restaurant in Covent Garden called Cranks. Cranks was my saviour when I was working in London. In my job as a visual merchandiser for Aceessorize/Monsoon I had to get to the shops really early in the morning, at about 6.30 – 7am, so we could merchandise the store before it opened. This meant getting up at 4.30am!  Anyone that knows me would understand how difficult that was. I am not a morning person. They used to call us “pit ponies” because we would arrive at the shop when it was still dark and then leave after the sun had gone down. We never saw the sunshine and it was usually freezing cold or raining.

Anyway, one of the saving graces about working in the Covent Garden store (one of the highest turnover stores in the company, but one of the oldest and smallest – always a nightmare!) was that it was practically next door to Cranks who served the best remedy for stress/ exhaustion known to man (well me anyway).

Homity Pie is a sort of vegetarian equivalent of Shepherd’s Pie I suppose but so much better. The main ingredient is mashed potato which is the number one comfort food, add to that a crispy cheddar cheese topping, peas, onions & tomatoes and you get the general idea. I have also added some wilted spinach which only makes it better. This is heaven… make it when you need cheering up, it’s raining outside and nobody understands you, I promise you will feel better…

Homity Pie Recipe

Serves 3-4 Vegetarian

  • 2 very large potatoes about 650 gr peeled
  • 30 gr butter for mash plus 15 gr for spinach
  • 2oo ml sour cream or creme fraiche
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves crushed
  • 100 grams frozen peas (petit pois)
  • 1 small onion chopped finely
  • 1 bag fresh spinach about 300 gr
  • 3 medium tomatoes (2 chopped 1 sliced)
  • breadcrumbs
  • 75 gr mature cheddar cheese grated
  • freshly grated nutmeg 1/4 tsp
  • dried oregano
  • salt & pepper

Cut the peeled potatoes in equal sized chunks and place them in a pan of cold salted water. Bring to the boil and cook for about 30 minutes until the potatoes are soft. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees. In a large pan over a medium heat add the 15 gr butter and 2 of the crushed garlic cloves, when the butter has melted dump in the bag of spinach, stir, add the freshly grated nutmeg, salt & pepper and cover with a lid.Cook for a few minuites, stirring occasionally, until the spinach has wilted, remove from the heat, cover and set aside.

Meanwhile bring a separate small pan of salted water to the boil, add the peas, cook for about 3 or 4 minutes drain and set aside. When the potatoes are soft, drain and add the butter, cream, oil, the rest of the garlic, salt & pepper and mash well with a potato masher. Add the peas and chopped onion to the mash and mix well.

Butter an ovenproof dish and sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Spread the wilted spinach in the bottom of the dish with a slotted spoon (you don’t want the green liquid that has come out of the spinach). Then put a layer of chopped tomato on top of the spinach, add a little salt and 1/2 tsp dried oregano.

Top with the mashed potato mixture then the sliced tomato, sprinkle over the grated cheese and some breadcrumbs to make the crispy topping. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes until golden brown.

You can eat it as it is, straight out of the dish in front of the TV….

Or serve it with some rocket if you feel like it dressing it up. Whatever you decide, take a big forkful, feel the day disappearing and exhale……

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