CHALLENGING Getting the pastry right for a dish like Vegetable Pie can be a tricky proposition.
When cooking pastry, the nightmare scenario is a soggy bottom! But don’t fear, with sufficient understanding of the processes involved, it can, of course, be avoided.
With pastry, it cooks best from a cold mix, in a hot oven. This chemical process of a cold lard or butter melting, and the cooking in the oven, produces superior pastry to a mix where the butter has melted beforehand. I wish I knew more behind the science but that learning lies ahead for me!
For the moment we rely on experience. Therefore, some people take great effort to ensure the butter is not soft, but a cold, hard one Grating the butter into the flour ensures a cold condition is maintained. And, unlike kneading bread, the pastry mix is handled as briefly as possible, so that no heat may enter the mix from our hands or the forces of friction.
We mix our pastry here in a bowl, with a knife, to avoid warm hands. A recent slight soggy bottom-ness result to a vegetable pie could be attributed to rolling the pastry too thick, or adding too much water to a wet mix. The joys of cooking are that no two attempts ever produce the exact same result - and the learning goes on!
Wintry (yet delicate) Vegetable Pie
This is a rustic, yet stylish dish. The warming softness of the vegetables, combined with a pastry rolled thin, will not leaving you stuffed or bloated. The reassuring golden pastry contains cooked warmth and flavour with simple and traditional flavours that hark back to the ancient and honest ways we have survived for thousands of years … not a touch of pesto or tapenade here!
What you need
- 2 x Carrots
- 1 x Potato
- 1/2 x medium Swede n1 x White Onion
- ½ tsp veg bouillon
- 25g Butter
- 25g grated
- 200g flour
- 100g butter
- Pinch of salt
What you do
As we are talking about pastry, we’ll deal with this first. Sieve flour into a glass or stainless steel mixing bowl. Grate or chop your cold butter in. With a knife, mix this together, pour in touches of water to bind and blend it, do not overwork.
Only at the end take the mixture in your hands briefly and roll it ball-shaped without putting any heat into the mixture. Divide your mix appropriately and roll out a base, and a top, on a floured surface, to a thin thickness that this delicate pie requires.
Wash and peel your vegetables, dice small, and I mean dice and I mean small!
You are not pre-cooking this so it has to cook in the pastry. Mix in cheese, and melt 25g of butter in a pan and pour over veg. Mix in 1/2 tsp of vegetable bouillon, simply spoon out on top of pastry base on baking dish, spread over your top layer of pastry and pinch together the two pastry pieces.
Glaze your Pie surface with a beaten egg. Place in pre-heated oven 190c and cook for 15-20 minutes or until the pastry is golden and it ‘smells’ cooked. Whether you think this is too simple, or too outside your regular routine, I suggest you just go for it! It won’t disappoint, and the learning continues!
Red Cabot is interested in food, nature and small things. He sells his food at Westport Country Markets in St Anne’s Boxing Club, James’s Street car park, Westport, every Thursday, from 8am to 1pm.