Our weather is still cool. When the sun does shine we still need coats, hats and gloves when heading outside. The fire is still lit every night. I have been thinking about the seasons and our marking of them of late. I will share those thoughts another time. The continuing cool has meant that Pies are still very much part of our menu, a welcome meal at the end of a busy day outside. I have mentioned these a few times over the last few months and a few of you asked me to share my recipes, so I thought it was about time I did.
A pie, for me, has the potential to be a meal in itself and sometimes it is all I make and serve. Of the two parts, the filling and the covering, there are endless possibilities and combinations. Most of the pies I make have one of two coverings, mash potato or pastry, shortcrust or puff. I make the shortcrust but buy ready made puff pastry. I sometimes add other root vegetables with the mash, swede or sweet potato are tasty additions. The fillings can be cooked and frozen to be used at a later time, sometimes I cook double quantities and freeze half. So many of the fillings I make did not start life as a pie filling, they are recipes that I have liked the sound of, cooked a few times, tweaked a bit and then turned into pie. So here are some of my favourites. My quantities are always a bit vague as I tend to go by what it looks like rather than weighing anything so I will do my best to give them but feel free to change and adapt as you see fit and to suit your tastes!
Spinach and Feta
This is probably my most adaptable filling. I always use pastry but have made this into one large and individual filo pastry pies and the same with puff pastry. It is also rather tasty with jacket potatoes....
This is loosely based on the Spinach and Feta Filo Pie to be found in the Leiths Vegetarian Bible if you have that cookery book.
1 clove garlic
400g spinach (I always use frozen spinach)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cinamon
Freshly ground nutmeg
225g feta cheese
1 egg (omit if using as a jacket potato filling)
- Chop the onion and fry on a low heat in a sauté pan until clear, crush the garlic and add to pan fry for a minute or so, being careful not to burn it.
- Add the frozen spinach and cook until all the liquid has reduced.
- Add the spices and cook for a further minute or so.
- Roughly chop feta into small pieces
- Turn off heat and add egg and stir to mix
- Add feta and stir again.
If you are going to freeze this don't add the cheese and egg, add these after you have defrosted.
This is another very versatile filling, it works with or without vegetables and I have topped it with mash, and wrapped it in puff pastry as small and large pasties. I tend to use red lentils for this but it would also work with green ones too. It is an adaption from a recipe in the book Entertaining with Cranks (this is an old book, which you can get secondhand).
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp Curry Powder
1 tsp Ground Cumin
1 tsp Ground Coriander
350g Lentils (red or green)
- Chop onion and fry in oil until clear, add garlic and cook for a few minutes.
- Add spices and cook stirring for a few minutes
- Add the lentils and stir to coat with the spices.
- Add water to cover (about a litre) and cook covered on a low heat, until all the water is absorbed and the lentils are soft.
- Stir occasionally to stop it catching on the bottom, if it does don't worry just leave the lentils in the pan for a few minutes with the heat turned off and stir again and you will find the stuck lentils come off the bottom of the pan.
This is the basic spicy lentil sauce. To this you can add any vegetables that take your fancy, at the same time as the garlic and cook until they are softened before continuing. I prefer to add vegetables if we are having this as a mashed potato pie but leave them out if we are having this with pastry.
Spicy Puy Lentils and Feta
Puy Lentils are also sold as dark speckled lentils, they are very small and hold their shape once cooked. This pie is delicious with pastry or mash potato. This is an adaptation from the Leiths Recipe book mentioned earlier.
1 Clove garlic
2 tsp mustard seeds
2 tsp garam masala
2 tsp ground cumin
Pinch of cayenne
225g Puy Lentils
2 tsp dried thyme or 2 tbsp fresh
- Chop onions and fry in oil in a large saucepan until clear
- Crush garlic and add to pan, stir and cook for a minute
- Add the spices and cook for a further two minutes stirring constantly
- Add the lentils, thyme and approx 250ml of water or stock, enough to cover and cook gently for about an hour, stir occasionally to check for liquid.
- Chop feta into small pieces
- Remove from heat and stir in feta
If you are going to freeze this don't add the cheese, add after defrosting.
Leek, Squash and Feta
Feta seems to be a bit of a theme! If it is not your cheese of choice I am sure there are many others which will work, something with tangy taste, maybe a goats or sheep cheese? I have made this with goats cheese in the past. I think that this is a recipe that I made up as I cannot find it in any of my recipe books. I make this with a mash potato topping as it is a sloppier sauce and maybe too wet for pastry. You could try just topping it with pastry rather than wrapping it, that would probably taste good, not tried it myself tho!
2 cloves garlic
2 -3 Leeks (2 if large, 3 if medium size)
1 squash (not too large otherwise it will overwhelm the dish)
2 tsp sage
2 tbsp flour
- Chop onion and fry in a saute pan or large saucepan on a medium heat until clear
- Crush garlic and add to pan, stir
- Slice leeks, peel and chop squash into bite size pieces
- Add the veg and sage to the pan and cook until sofening
- Add the flour and stir well to mix (you can use any flour this is to thicken the sauce slightly)
- Add the stock enough to cover, usually a pint to a pint and a half
- Reduce heat and simmer gently to reduce slightly and cook until the vegetables are soft
- Chop cheese
- Take of heat and stir in cheese.
I also make a version of this without the squash and cheese using a 500g bag of Quorn pieces which I add after having cooked the veg but before adding the flour.
To cook all these pies I would recommend the following....
Filo Pastry cook on 180°C for about half an hour.
Puff Pastry cook at 200°C for about twenty minutes for one large pastie or ten minutes for small ones.
Shortcrust Pastry cook as per the filo.
Mash Potato cook at as per the filo.
Something completely unrelated but which you might also enjoy is this wonderful and generous giveaway on a delightful blog that I have recently discovered. Do go and take a look at this talented lady's beautiful artwork.