Saturday, 30 May 2015

Cheese, Leek and Walnut Pie

Good evening, or morning, or whatever time of day in which you find yourself! I have a tremendously filling and substantial meal to share with you today. One which is ripe for alteration and addition; the possibilities are endless, to be honest. This cheese, leek and walnut pie is from Tesco's food website, Tesco Real Food, and there are some really tasty recipes to be found there, though I must say, the mobile site is somewhat irritating to navigate, and I don't seem to be able to access my recipe folder (if you're reading this Tesco, help!). Please also take note that where the recipe states it will serve six, this is not inaccurate, as I found after serving myself and Husb with a third each, and the Tonjus with a sixth each!

I didn't make any changes to the recipe on this occasion however. The only thing I did differently was to make my own shortcrust pastry, which I've got into the habit of doing since I first made Ruby Tandoh's deliciously simple shortcrust at the beginning of the year. For this recipe, I used my appropriated Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall shortcrust, which you can find here, just after the second photo down, and made the same amount as for the recipe on that page too, so no amendments necessary. I've done a brief recap here, but for full instructions, please refer to the link. Please also refer to the recipe link for the ingredients list and full recipe method. Here, I have given a run through of most of the recipe, as a visual aid, but I haven't reproduced the method.

Add 180g cold, unsalted butter to 350g plain flour and a pinch of salt

Rub with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs

Prepare the milk and add, leaving a bit at the end so as not to make the pastry too wet

Bring together with a knife, and your hands towards the end, adding the final splash if necessary, to bring it together

When it forms a nice ball, wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for at least half an hour

I made this pastry quite early in the day. If you do the same, remember to remove it from the fridge a good 15 minutes before rolling it out so it is soft enough to be pushed into shape.

I do like the way the recipe instructs you to cut the leeks. A small detail I know, but it allowed them to cook really nicely and evenly: "halved and cut into 3cm chunks."

Space the leeks out so they can cook evenly

 Whilst the leeks are cooking, the pastry is prepared. I must say at this point, that this recipe turned out to be rather photogenic. I am the first to admit that my photography is about as ameteur as you can get, but the shape of the pie and the method and construction lend themselves to being photographed.

Once the pasty has been halved, roll out one half so that it is large enough to fit a dinner plate. 

Cut out around the dinner plate...

...then place on a baking tray prepared with a sheet of baking paper.

Gather together the ingredients for the filling, including chopping the walnuts. I find a chefs knife works perfectly for cutting most things actually, but it is particularly excellent for chopping up nuts.

 Leeks and goat's cheese combined
Walnuts and seasoning added...

...and all combined

Now the construction can begin. I highly recommend you use a pallette knife to spread the sun-dried tomato tapenade over the pastry base; it makes it so easy to spread and work with.

It's really important to leave that border to allow the lid space to attach to the base.

The leek, walnut and goat's cheese mixture is then added and evenly distributed over the tapenade.

Assembly comes next. The method says to brush the border and afterwards the whole surface with beaten egg. I made an eggwash however, with a beaten egg mixed with a slosh of milk, which is far easier and less slimy to apply, and also doesn't leave you with "eggy puddles" on the surface which can be liable to burn in the oven, creating a burnt egg taste on parts of the pastry!

Place the second pastry round on top of the base and filling, and press the edges together, ensuring there are no gaps for the filling to seep out of. Don't forget to make the little hole in the centre for steam to escape too.

 "Help" with the eggwash

I decided to serve our pie with some new potatoes similar to those in this recipe, but I didn't have all the ingredients, so I improvised, using just butter, half and half (equal quantities of double cream and milk mixed together) and seasoning. Take my word for it, you will not need many potatoes per person to go with this meal! If you want to do the same, put the potatoes in a pan with sufficient water and put on the hob to bring to the boil at the same time you put the pie in the oven. This way they should have been boiling for just over ten minutes by the time the pie is ready, and you can crush them and add whatever additions you like, even if it's just butter. It's a good idea to check your supplies of herbs, as chopped parsley would go very nicely with crushed new potatoes, as would chives.

Put the pie in the oven for 20-25 minutes. When it 's ready, it should look like this...

Now you can serve it up, and hope your eaters are hungry!

The pie did go well with the new potatoes, but I would definitely recommend serving it, alternatively, with a salad. I think if I'd perhaps been a little more restrained with the portion size, the potatoes would have worked better, but there was a lot of stodge on this plate. We are so unused to having pie which is fully encased in pastry, rather than just a pastry lid, that it really did fill us up tremendously quickly. Perhaps, being as there are walnuts in this recipe, that a small Waldorf salad would be an option. Or maybe I'm only suggesting it as an excuse to link to this...

If you do fancy a Waldorf salad, this looks like a good recipe, and perhaps the apple would be a welcome refreshment from the pastry making the whole thing a bit lighter. Of course, it isn't necessary to serve this pie with anything if you'd rather not, though for some more variation in flavour, you could add some additional ingredients. My old favourite, shredded cooked chicken, would be delicious, as would some fried-until-golden chestnut mushrooms and onions, and perhaps a tin of sweetcorn for a little sweet hit (I would totally add all of those to one pie, in case you wondered!)

So as it happened, neither Husb or I were able to finish our gargantuan portions, which is not the fault of the recipe, but of my eyes being bigger than my belly. I returned about a third of mine to the baking sheet, as did Husb. This didn't matter however, since there was some for lunch the following day. If you are making this for a family the size of mine, I'd recommend reducing the amount of pastry you make, and use a side plate instead of a dinner plate as a template. Because of the copious amount of pastry, it should be sufficiently filling. Especially if you serve it with that Waldorf salad...

I really do recommend this recipe, and it's fun to make. Have a go with some alterations and see what you can come up with.

Happy cooking :)

xxx Sam

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