Pasties, pies and other pastry-based dishes

POTATO, CHEESE AND BACON PASTIES

Pasties (a.k.a. turnovers or chaussons) are great all-purpose vehicles for whatever goodies you may have in the fridge or freezer and make excellent cool weather supper material. Instead of the familiar meat and potatoes of the Cornish classics, these ones have bacon, cheese and potatoes. Get creative and make up your own recipe depending on what comes to hand. Serve with salad.

For 6 pasties
400g firm, waxy potatoes (or new potatoes)
200g lardons, or streaky bacon diced small
salt and pepper
about 200g soft cheese (e.g. Munster, Camembert, Coulommiers)
600g shortcrust (pie crust) or puff pastry
1 egg to glaze
caraway or sesame seeds

  • Boil the potatoes in salted water for about 15 minutes or until barely tender, peel and dice or slice them thickly
  • Sweat the lardons or bacon dice in a small heavy pan without extra fat until lightly golden
  • Discard the fat and drain lardons on kitchen paper
  • Pare away excess/dried rind from the cheese and cut in 12 slices
  • Cut the pastry into 6 equal-sized pieces, roll each one out to a rough circle about 20 cm diameter, trim each piece to a 20cm disc using a 20cm plate
  • Put a slice of cheese to one side of the pastry disc, add some bacon pieces and potatoes, top with another slice of cheese
  • Brush the pastry with water, close up and press the edges together, crimp decoratively or press with a fork
  • Put pasties on a baking sheet lined with non-stick paper, brush with beaten egg, sprinkle with caraway seeds and chill (or freeze) until needed
  • Heat the oven to 200oC and bake the pasties for about 20 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown

CORNISH PASTIES

The classic ones, of which a huge team of us used to make over 250 each year for the Anglican Church Bazaar in Basel – 18 kg beef, 10 kg each of carrots, onions and potatoes and about 36 kg of pastry. Here’s the original recipe – slightly scaled down. They freeze beautifully – take them straight from the freezer, glaze with egg and bake (from frozen) for a wonderful supper or lunch dish, with chutney and salad.

Makes 8 pasties
Pastry (about 900g)
500g flour
1 level tsp salt
125g margarine
125g butter
1 egg
135ml iced water
Filling
500g trimmed stewing beef
250g potatoes
250g carrots
250g onions
2 tbsp chopped parsley
2 level tsp salt
lots of freshly ground pepper
Glaze
1 egg

  • Make the pastry as usual and chill it
  • Cut the beef in small pieces and put in a large mixing bowl
  • Peel the potatoes and carrots and dice finely
  • Chop the onions finely
  • Add all vegetables to the meat with the parsley, salt and pepper and mix well
  • Cut the pastry into 8 equal-sized pieces and roll each one out on a well floured board to a circle roughly 20cm in diameter
  • Use a 20cm plate as a template, cut away any excess
  • Put a mound of 150g meat and vegetables in the centre, brush some water all round the edge of the pastry, fold it up into a pasty shape, press the edges together to seal
  • Brush a band of water over one side of the sealed edge, fold it over on itself and crimp decoratively
  • Open-freeze the pasties if not to be baked immediately
  • Once frozen hard they can be put in a bag and sealed
  • Heat the oven to 200C
  • Glaze the pasties with beaten egg and put on a baking sheet lined with non-stick paper
  • Bake the pasties for 45 minutes or until the pastry is golden and the filling cooked
  • Serve with chutney and salad

PETITES TARTES FLAMBÉES EN AMUSE-GUEULE
Puff pastry mouthfuls with bacon and onion
tartelettesLittle puff pastry rounds are daubed with fromage blanc, cream and egg yolk and topped with smoked bacon and finely chopped onion. Prepare them ahead and refrigerate for up to 24 hours before baking; or freeze and bake straight from freezer.

Makes about 36
250g puff pastry (preferably from the baker) OR
a 30cm round of rolled-out puff pastry
150g fromage blanc or Quark (curd cheese)
3 tbsp crème fraîche épaisse or sour cream
2 egg yolks
100g allumettes fumés (smoked bacon, finely diced)
1 onion, finely chopped

  • Roll out or unravel the pastry and stamp out rounds with a scone or Christmas cookie cutters (ca. 4 cm diameter)
  • Brush or spray a heavy, preferably black baking tray or sheet with water – this allows the bottom of the pastry to hang onto the tray in the oven so the top layers of pastry can puff up nicely
  • Mix together the fromage blanc/Quark/curd cheese and cream and stir in the egg yolks
  • Divide this mixture between the puff pastry rounds, sprinkle with bacon and chopped onion and refrigerate till baking time
  • Heat the oven to 220oC and bake pastries for 10-15 minutes or until golden-brown and puffed up
  • Serve piping hot on a napkin-lined board or tray

SPINACH, PINE NUT AND FETA CHEESE PASTRIES, YOGURT-MINT DRESSING
Little pastries are typical throughout the Middle East, most often made with filo or yufka pastry, but puff pastry also works (buy a 30cm disc puff pastry, stamp out 5cm rounds with a scone cutter, fill and fold over).

Makes 20 pastries
2 Tbsp pine nuts
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 spring onions, finely chopped
400g spinach, roughly chopped
200g feta or soft goat’s cheese
plenty of chopped flat-leaf parsley
salt and pepper
a 250g pack of filo/yufka pastry (10 sheets) or 230g round of puff pastry
100ml olive oil
sesame seeds
Yogurt-mint dressing
2 x 150g natural yogurt
a clove garlic, crushed, or 2 Tbsp chopped wild garlic
plenty of chopped mint

  • Heat a small heavy-based frying and toast the pine nuts for a few minutes, shaking the pan often, until nuts are golden. Tip them out and let them cool
  • In a large saucepan, heat the oil, soften the spring onion, add chopped spinach, cover and cook gently for 5 minutes till spinach is wilted and juicy, remove lid, raise heat and cook hard till juices evaporate – 5-6 minutes or more
  • Tip spinach into the bowl, add cheese, parsley and pine nuts, check seasoning, add salt sparingly, but be generous with the black pepper. Let the mixture cool
  • Unroll the filo/yufka pastry, take out half the sheets and keep the rest under a teatowel
  • Cut the sheets in half to give 10 half-sheets. Brush each halved sheet with oil and fold over lengthwise to give a long rectangle
  • Arrange a heaped teaspoon of filling at the lower end of the folded, oiled filo sheet and fold it up into triangles as shown (like folding a flag)
  • Lay pastries on baking paper-lined baking sheet, brush with more oil and sprinkle with sesame seeds – refrigerate if not baking immediately
  • Heat the oven to 220oC and bake the pastries for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown
  • Stir mint and garlic into the yogurt and serve with the hot pastries

LEEK PIE WITH REBLOCHON AND PROSCIUTTO
A chubby little pie (more of a turnover, really) of leeks, gooey Reblochon cheese and cured ham enclosed in puff pastry. Serve with salad.

leektartServes 6
4 leeks (about 500g weight when trimmed, some green left on)
25g butter
salt, pepper, nutmeg
1 x 320g ready-rolled out rectangle puff pastry, 25 x 42 cm
half a Reblochon cheese (about 250g)
2-3 slices prosciutto or other cured ham
1 egg, beaten
1 Tbsp sesame seeds

  • Clean leeks thoroughly of any sand or grit and slice them thinly
  • Melt the butter in a frying pan, add leeks, salt, pepper and a good scraping of nutmeg, cover the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, for 6-8 minutes till leeks are just tender
  • Scrape the leeks into a large bowl and let them cool
  • Once the leeks are cool, lay the puff pastry out on a baking sheet
  • Remove rind from Reblochon and cut in slices
  • Pile the cooled leeks onto one half of the surface area of pastry, leaving a border of about 2 cm around them
  • Lay Reblochon slices on top of the leeks and cover with slices of prosciutto
  • Brush the 2cm exposed border with beaten egg
  • Bring the uncovered half of pastry up and over the leeks to enclose completely
  • Press the edges together to seal, fold them over to make sure the parcel is tightly closed and press with a fork all round the edge
  • Make shallow cuts in the pastry in a lattice pattern with the point of a sharp knife, without going right through, brush with egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds
  • Put pie in fridge if not to be baked immediately
  • Heat the oven to 200oC and bake the pie for 30-35 minutes or until the pastry is beautifully golden and nicely puffed up
  • Remove from the oven and let the pie rest for about 20 minutes before you cut it, otherwise the filling will burst out all over the place

COURGETTE (ZUCCHINI) AND PUMPKIN TOURTE

This is a recipe adapted from Anna del Conte’s Classic Food of Northern Italy published by Pavilion. The courgettes and pumpkin are sliced very thinly, mixed with (raw) rice, Parmesan, eggs and herbs, and baked in a filo (or strudel) pastry case. When I read the original, I was a bit sceptical about whether the raw rice would cook through in the pie – wrong again! A great little pie for lunch – or good with chicken, lamb or pork.

Serves 4 for a main course, 8 for a first course
500g mixed courgettes and pumpkin, weighed after trimming
125g round-grain (risotto) rice
5 tbsp olive oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
plenty of fresh tarragon leaves, finely chopped
3 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan or Grana Padano
salt and pepper
5 sheets filo or strudel pastry
olive oil to brush the pastry/leaves

  • Slice the courgettes and pumpkin very thinly – I use the slicing blade of a food processor (a mandoline also works well)
  • Put them in a large bowl and mix with the (raw) rice, oil, eggs, tarragon, cheese and salt and pepper to taste
  • Mix well with a spatula or with your hands, cover the bowl and rest the mixture for at least 2 hours so the rice absorbs some of the liquid – mix it up occasionally, as the liquid sinks to the bottom
  • Heat the oven to 180C/350F
  • Line a 22cm/8.5 inch cake tin (NOT one with removable base, as the filling leaks) with baking parchment, making sure it completely covers the bottom and sides – trim with scissors if necessary
  • Brush the filo/strudel sheets one by one with olive oil and lay them in the tin, with any surplus hanging over the edge
  • Tip in the filling, bring any surplus pastry up and over the filling to enclose it
  • Brush with more oil and bake for at least 1 hour or until the pie is golden and somewhat risen (indicating that the rice has swelled up and absorbed the liquid)
  • Remove tourte from tin, discard paper and let it rest a while
  • Cut in segments with a very sharp knife or electric carving knife

BRIK PASTRY PIE WITH SALMON, SPINACH AND BOULGOUR

Here’s a variant on the Maghrébien bstilla, a delectable pigeon (or quail) pie which is wrapped in brik pastry leaves. This one has a bulgour base, then spinach and finally salmon. Good for a party as the whole thing can be assembled ahead of time. If you are doing this advance preparation, make sure the boulgour and the spinach are thoroughly chilled before you assemble the pie ready for refrigeration and eventual baking.

Serves 8
750g fresh spinach or chard (leaves only), roughly chopped
OR 600g frozen leaf spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
salt and pepper
2 eggs
6 tbsp crème fraîche épaisse (thick, lightly soured cream)
1 shallot, finely chopped
25g butter
200g boulgour
500ml vegetable stock (made with a cube + 500ml water)
1 kg skinless, boneless salmon fillet
8 brik or filo pastry leaves
olive oil for brushing

  • Cook spinach or chard leaves in boiling salted water for 5 minutes, drain and press out excess moisture. (Or squeeze out thawed spinach by handfuls till quite dry.)
  • Mix or process together (in food processor) the spinach with the eggs, cream and salt and pepper to taste
  • Set the mixture aside
  • Heat the butter in a medium pan and soften the shallot without allowing it to brown.
  • Raise the heat, add the boulgour and cook, stirring, for 5-6 minutes or until golden
  • Add the stock, reduce the heat, cover and cook for about 12 minutes till all the liquid is absorbed. Let cool
  • Lightly oil a roasting pan, cake tin or ovenproof dish
  • Lay 5 of the brik leaves in the bottom, brushing with oil as you go, and staggering/overlapping them so that they cover the bottom and sides of the pan/tin/dish – they should hang a bit over the edge
  • Spread the boulgour in the bottom, then the spinach, then the salmon fillet(s), arranging them on top to cover completely
  • Season the fish, cover with remaining brik leaves, oiled and overlapped as above and tuck the sides in snugly
  • Refrigerate if not to be baked immediately
  • Heat the oven to 220oC and bake the pie for 25-30 minutes – a skewer or sharp knife stuck in the middle should feel quite warm but not piping hot – don’t overcook it, remembering that the spinach/boulgour is already cooked, and the salmon will be dry if baked too long
  • Remove pie from the oven and let rest for at least 15 minutes before serving with a tomato salsa

FEUILLETÉ OF BLUE CHEESE AND WALNUTS

Makes about 16 slices
50g walnuts
100g fromage blanc
60g blue cheese, crumbled
150ml crème fraîche épaisse
salt and pepper
150g puff pastry
2-4 slices prosciutto
1 egg, beaten
1 tbsp sesame seeds

  • Chop the walnuts in a food processor or by hand
  • Mix in the fromage blanc, blue cheese, cream and salt and pepper
  • Roll out the pastry to a rectangle 25 x 35 cm (about the size of an A4 sheet of paper) and lay the ham slices on top
  • Spread with the cheese and nut mixture
  • Turn the short ends in, brush the exposed end border of pastry with water and roll the pastry up from the long side to a fat bolster – the seam side should be underneath
  • Heat the oven to 220oC
  • Glaze pastry with beaten egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds
  • Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown and crispy
  • Allow to cool a little before slicing on the slant

ZIBELEWAIE
This wonderful onion tart is a favourite for a restorative breakfast at Basel Fasnacht, which bursts into life at 4 a.m. on a (generally freezing) Monday morning following Ash Wednesday. Some recipes use a Béchamel base; this one is thickened with eggs and cream. By brushing the pastry with egg white, you give it a waterproof coating which prevents the bottom from going soggy. Another tip is to start the tart off on the bottom of the oven, using bottom heat only (if your oven has this option). Then move it up to the middle of the oven to finish cooking. The best quiche pans are black metal, with a removable base.

Serves 4
250g shortcrust (basic pie) pastry
1 egg white
6 large onions (about 600g), sliced
25g (2 tbsp) butter
salt and pepper
nutmeg
1 level tbsp flour
250ml (1 cup) milk
250ml (1 cup) whipping (light) cream
3 eggs
optional: 75g lardons (bacon cubes)

  • Roll out the pastry to fit a 30 cm (12 inch) quiche pan
  • Brush the pastry with egg white and chill it.Melt the butter in a large, heavy pan and add the onions
  • Season to taste with salt, pepper and nutmeg
  • Cover the pan and stew the onions gently until they are a rich golden colour – this will take at least 30 minutes – do not allow them to brown
  • Stir in the flour and cook a few minutes more until the flour is well mixed in
  • Remove the onions from the heat
  • With a wire whisk or hand-held blender, mix together the milk, cream and eggs
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper
  • The tart can be prepared ahead up to this point, and all the components refrigerated
  • Heat the oven to 200oC/400oF, using only bottom heat if your oven has this option
  • Put the shelf on the lowest rung of the oven and set a heavy baking sheet on it
  • Spoon the onions into the prepared pastry case and pour the creamy-egg mixture over them
  • Scatter the lardons on top, if using
  • Put the tart onto the baking sheet and bake it for 20 minutes in the lower part of the oven
  • Reduce the heat to 180C/350F and finish baking the tart for a further 10-15 minutes or until the top is golden brown, the lardons crispy and golden, and the creamy-egg mixture is set
  • Serve the tart warm – it also reheats successfully
  • Give it 20-25 minutes in a 180C/350F oven, covering with foil if necessary to prevent the top browning too much

TOURTE AUX LEGUMES

A tourte is a pie with pastry over and under – this one has a filliing of mixed vegetables, bound together with cream and egg. The recipe uses winter veggies, but you can ring the changes and use whatever’s in season. It makes a brilliant main-course vegetable dish.

Serves 4-6
300g carrots
200g turnips
300g leeks
salt and pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
juice of ½ a lemon
plenty of chopped parsley
400g shortcrust pastry
2 eggs
200ml crème fraîche
a pinch of garam masala
300g puff pastry, rolled out to a 28cm circle
1 egg yolk
optional: sesame seeds

  • Butter a 26cm quiche tin and heat the oven to 200o C
  • Roll out the shortcrust to a circle about 30 cm in diameter
  • Lay it in the quiche tin, leaving an overhanging edge of about 2 cm all around. Trim to give this size if necessary.
  • Tip the prepared vegetables into the tin
  • Mix together the eggs, cream, with salt and pepper and garam masala to taste – the mixture can afford to be quite highly seasoned, otherwise your tourte will end up bland
  • Pour this mixture over the vegetables
  • Roll out the puff pastry
  • Wet the exposed border of shortcrust pastry and lay the puff pastry over the whole thing
  • Press the two pastry edges together to seal, then crimp and roll them into a decorative border all around the circumference of the pie
  • Make decorative markings with the tip of a sharp knife and glaze the top with beaten egg yolk
  • Sprinkle with sesame seeds, if used.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes or until the egg and cream mixture is set – stick a fork or skewer into the centre to test – it should emerge clean

STRUDEL OF SPINACH AND MUSHROOMS WITH BLUE CHEESE
Use strudel or filo pastry for this nice little veggie bolster.
Serves 4 for main course, 8 for starter
500g spinach, trimmed and washed
salt and pepper
1 tbsp oil + 25g butter
1 spring onion or shallot, finely chopped
300g mushrooms, trimmed and finely chopped
a pinch of ground or finely grated nutmeg
125g blue cheese, crumbled
1 egg, lightly beaten with a fork
1 x 120g pack strudel pastry (4 sheets 37 x 39 cm)
olive oil for brushing the strudel
poppy or sesame seeds

  • Put 1 inch/2.5 cm water with a pinch of salt in a large pan and bring to a boil
  • Add spinach and cook till wilted (about 5 minutes)
  • Drain, press out the water, chop spinach roughly and put in a bowl
  • Heat the oil and butter in the pan, add the chopped onion or shallot and cook till just soft (about 5 mins)
  • Add mushrooms, salt and pepper, cover the pan and cook for 5 minutes till the juices are released
  • Uncover the pan and cook hard for about 5 minutes more to reduce and evaporate the juices
  • Add to the cooked chopped spinach and season with a pinch/grating of nutmeg
  • Let the mixture cool thoroughly, then mix in the crumbled blue cheese and beaten egg
  • Unwrap the strudel sheets, lay one of them on a board, brush with oil and lay another one on top; brush this with oil, add the third sheet, brush with oil and lay the fourth sheet on top
  • Arrange the mushroom/spinach mixture on the oiled strudel sheets along the short end closest to you in a bolster/sausage shape, turn in the sides of the pastry over the filling and roll up into a good bolster
  • Place strudel seam side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment, brush strudel with oil and sprinkle with poppy or sesame seeds
  • Refrigerate if not baking immediately
  • Heat the oven to 200C and bake the strudel for about 20 minutes or until the pastry is golden and the filling hot through (stick in a skewer and test it to see if hot)
  • Serve with fromage blanc with chopped herbs

SPRING VEGETABLE PIE WITH SALSA VERDE
A sprightly, free-formed pie of spring veggies with fresh goat’s cheese, with shortcrust (piecrust) beneath and puff pastry on top.
Serves 6-8
about 1kg mixed seasonal vegetables (baby carrots, courgettes, leeks, kohlrabi, fennel, coco beans etc.), weight after trimming
2 tbsp olive oil or butter + 1/2 cup water
salt and pepper
plenty of parsley and/or chives, chopped
1 pack (230g) ready-rolled shortcrust/piecrust (Kuchenteig/pâte brisée
1 pack (230g) ready-rolled puff pastry (Blätterteig/pâte feuilletée)
1 x soft fresh goat’s cheese (Chavroux or Petit Billy), sliced
Salsa
a huge bunch of flat-leaf parsley, leaves only
1 clove garlic, mashed
salt and pepper
100ml olive oil
2 tbsp wine vinegar

  • Peel and/or trim all the vegetables and slice thinly lengthwise
  • Heat the oil or butter and water in a large frying pan with lid
  • Put all the sliced vegetables in the pan and season generously with salt and pepper
  • Cover the pan and cook vegetables over brisk heat for about 5 minutes or until the vegetables are barely tender – remove the lid at the end and stir and shake the vegetables till all the water is absorbed (vegetables should NOT be soft – they will be further cooked in the pastry case)
  • Tip the vegetables into a large (preferably metal) bowl, stir in the parsley and/or chives and leave them to cool
  • Unroll one of the puff pastry rounds and place on a sheet of baking parchment on a baking sheet
  • Arrange the vegetables in the middle, leaving a border of about 3 cm all around, and top with slices of goat’s cheese
  • Brush the un-covered border with water and lay the second pastry round on top
  • Press the edges together with a fork and/or roll them over on themselves to form a decorative edge
  • Cut some holes in the top to allow steam to escape, make light, slanting slashes with the point of a sharp knife (don’t go through the pastry) and brush with beaten egg
  • Heat the oven to 200C and bake the pie for 25-30 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown
  • Blend together all salsa ingredients to a smooth green sauce and serve with the pie

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