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To pie for

Buttery, flaky pastry and a delicious filling … Yes, we’re talking about the humble pie. And let’s be honest, there’s nothing like tucking into a pie to bring you comfort on a chilly day, especially if it is homemade! We have four ‘tried and tested’ recipes to walk you through for making the perfect pie. Dinner is served!

MUSHROOM AND MIXED VEG SPIRAL PIE
If you want to serve something impressive, then this pie sure tops the list. Yes, you need some patience, but it tastes just as good as it looks.

Serves 8

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You’ll need: Crust – 350g flour; 8g salt; 150g butter; 2 large free-range eggs; 20-30ml ice cold water

Filling – 250g smooth ricotta cheese; 2 large free-range eggs; 40g Parmesan cheese, grated; 1 tsp dried herbs

Veggies – 8 baby marrows; 3 carrots; 2 eggplants; 4 large portabello steaks (or the largest brown mushrooms you can find)

Olive oil; salt and pepper, to taste; 28cm loose bottomed, fluted tart tin

How to:

The crust:

  • In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt. Mix the butter into the flour using your finger tips to make a wet sand.
  • Add the eggs and mix with a fork until the dough is just coming together.
  • Gradually add water, a spoonful at a time, just until the mixture holds together.
  • Don’t overwork the dough. Shape into a large disc and cover in plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes, or make in advance the night before.
  • On a well floured work surface, roll the dough out into a ± 4mm thick circle. Roll up the dough onto your rolling pin. Unroll the dough over the 28cm tart tin.
  • Press the dough into the bottom and sides of the tart tin. Trim off most of the excess leaving a few mm above the rim of the tart tin.
  • Prick the base of the dough all over with a fork. Place in the fridge to rest for 15 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 200˚C.
  • Fill the dough lined tart tin with scrunched up baking paper and baking beans or rice. Blind bake for 20 minutes.

Remove the beans and baking paper and return to the oven for another 7 minutes. Set the crust aside.

The filling:

  • Whisk all the ingredients together and season well. Set aside
  • For the vegetables: Using a mandolin or vegetable peeler, slice the courgettes into thin ribbons.
  • Toss in a bowl with a good pinch of salt and place in a sieve to degorge. Slice the carrots and eggplants into thin ribbons.
  • Using a very sharp knife, remove the core and slice the portobello mushrooms into thin strips.
  • Trim all the vegetables so that the ribbons and slices are all as close as possible in size so they layer well together.

To assemble:

  • Spread the filling evenly over the blind baked crust.
  • Starting from the outside next to the crust, line the walls of the tart with the veg ribbons, alternating each veg, until the entire tin is filled.
  • Brush the vegetables with a little olive oil and sprinkle over some salt and pepper.
  • Bake at 200˚C for 35-40 minutes until the vegetables are just tender and cooked through and the tart base is crisp.
  • Allow to rest for 10-15 minutes. Slice into wedges and serve with a fresh green salad.

 

OPEN PARTY PIES
Puff pastry squares are topped with a delicious mixture of asparagus spears, pancettta and mushrooms. Great as a starter or perfect for a light lunch or dinner.

Makes 8 open pies

You’ll need: Béchamel – 250ml full cream milk; 30g butter; 20g flour; large pinch of salt; 1 tsp mustard powder; sprinkle of ground nutmeg; 2 x 250g puff pastry sheets; 100g pancetta, sliced in half; 150g asparagus spears, 16 spears; 250g baby portabellini or baby button mushrooms, sliced in half; 40g Parmesan cheese, grated; 1 large egg, beaten, for egg wash; olive oil; salt and pepper, to taste

How to:

The béchamel:

  • In a small saucepan over low heat, warm the milk. (Do not let any evaporate)
  • In a second slightly larger saucepan, melt the butter. When melted, add the flour.
  • Whisking constantly, cook for about 2 minutes. The mixture should not darken but turn a very light golden and smell like biscuits.
  • Slowly pour in the warm milk, whisking constantly to keep the sauce smooth.
  • Cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce thickens.
  • Season generously with salt and add the mustard powder and nutmeg to taste.
  • Pour into a bowl and cover with cling film on the surface to avoid creating a skin.
  • Set aside in the fridge.
  • Preheat oven to 200˚C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
  • Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large frying pan. Sauté the mushrooms on high heat until golden brown.
  • Season lightly and remove from the heat. Thaw the puff pastry and cut each sheet into quarters so you have 8 squares.
  • Place them diagonally so they look diamond shaped on the lined tray. Spread a good dollop of béchamel on each piece of pastry, spreading it from the bottom corner to the top corner.
  • Follow with a few pieces of pancetta and two spears of asparagus. Dot the cooked mushrooms over each piece.
  • Finish with a sprinkle of grated Parmesan. Fold up the two side corners and seal them using a little bit of water on your finger tips.
  • Egg wash the open pies and bake for 25 minutes until golden brown and cooked through.
  • Serve with some lightly dressed micro greens.

 

MUSHROOM SPANAKOPITA PIE
Inspired by the Greek spinach and feta pie known as Spanakopita, this recipe features the added protein of mushrooms and uses ready-made phyllo dough for a faster preparation!

Serves 8-10

You’ll need: 200g leeks, sliced; 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced; 400g Swiss;  chard, roughly chopped; ± 1 packed cup mixed herbs, roughly chopped (oregano, dill, parsley, basil & mint work well); 60g Parmesan cheese, grated; zest of 1 large lemon; 3 large free-range eggs; 200g feta cheese; 400g Portabellini mushrooms, sliced; 6 sheets phyllo pastry; 1 Tbsp mixed sesame seeds; olive oil; salt and pepper, to taste; fresh dill sprigs, for serving; ± 26cm cast iron pan/ buffet casserole or baking dish

How to:

  • Heat a generous drizzle of olive oil in a large cast iron pan or buffet casserole.
  • Add the leeks and garlic and sauté until soft and fragrant. Add the Swiss chard in batches and cook down until wilted. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Scrape mixture into a sieve and press out any excess moisture. Leave in the sieve while you prepare the next step.
  • Place herbs, Parmesan, lemon zest and eggs into a large bowl. Mix well together. Add the strained spinach mixture and combine.
  • Crumble in the feta cheese, leaving it in fairly large chunks. Mix gently.
  • In the same pan previously used for the spinach, heat another drizzle of olive oil.
  • Pan fry the sliced mushrooms until golden brown and they have released all of their moisture. Season lightly.
  • Fold mushrooms through the spinach and feta mixture.
  • Preheat oven to 180˚C.
  • Wipe out the cast iron pan with paper towel and brush it with a fresh drizzle of olive oil.
  • Working quickly, with one phyllo sheet at a time, lay it in the pan and brush with a little olive oil. Leave the overhang on all sides. Gently press the phyllo into the pan to eliminate any large air bubbles. Repeat with the remaining phyllo sheets, rotating each sheet in a different direction as you add it, brushing with olive oil as you layer.
  • Spoon in the filling and spread into an even layer.
  • Scrunch up the overhang of phyllo around the filling. Trim it if necessary so you have a circle of uncovered mushroom mixture in the centre, surrounded by a ring of phyllo.
  • Brush the top of the phyllo with olive oil and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for ± 35 minutes until the phyllo is deeply golden and super crispy.
  • Remove from the oven and place the pan on a low burner.
  • Cook for 5 minutes on the stove top. This extra step makes sure you have a crispy base – it is not necessary but worth the extra effort.
  • Rest the pie for 10 minutes before slicing into generous wedges and serving scattered with some fresh dill.

 

CHICKEN AND MUSHROOM POT PIES
These pies are comfort food bliss! And making it in ramekins, it looks a lot more fancier … especially for your next dinner party.

Makes 4 large individual pies

You’ll need: 1 small whole free-range chicken, ± 1kg; 2 Tbsp olive oil; 2 Tbsp butter; 1 onion, diced; 1 large leek, washed and sliced; 2 stalks celery, sliced; 4 cloves garlic, minced; 1 tsp dried herbs; 1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves; 50g flour; 500ml chicken stock; 250ml full cream milk; about ½ a cup fresh or frozen peas; 500g mixed cultivated mushrooms, sliced; 1 x 400g roll store bought puff pastry; 1 large egg, beaten, for egg wash; salt and pepper, to taste

How to:

  • Preheat oven to 200˚C. Rub chicken all over with salt, pepper and olive oil. Place in a roasting dish and roast for ± 60 minutes until cooked through. Leave to rest for 20 minutes. Shred chicken and discard the skin. Use carcass for creating a homemade chicken stock.
  • Heat butter and olive oil in a Dutch oven or deep sauté pan.
  • Add the onion, leek and celery – cook until tender. Add the garlic, dried herbs and fresh thyme. Cook until the garlic is fragrant.
  • Add the flour and cook for a minute, coating the vegetables well. Pour in the chicken stock, stirring quickly as you go to incorporate the flour into the liquid.
  • Add the milk and bring to a simmer. Simmer for about 5 minutes until thickened. Stir in the peas and the shredded chicken. Taste to adjust seasoning. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  • Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large frying pan. Sauté mushrooms, in batches if necessary, until golden brown and they have released all of their liquid. Season lightly. Fold golden brown mushrooms into the rest of the filling.
  • Preheat oven to 180˚C.
  • Select four large ramekins, baking dishes or little cast iron mini pots or mini pans. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the puff pastry slightly and cut out pie lids using the ramekins to measure.
  • Fill the dishes with the chicken and mushrooms filling. Top with the puff pastry, press the edges down to seal against the ramekins.
  • Cut four little slits into each pie crust. Brush all over with egg wash. Bake for ± 35 minutes until deeply golden and the puff pastry is cooked through and perfectly crispy.
  • Serve pies with a light side salad and enjoy!
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