Gastronomically Terrific

July 17, 2011

Potato, Fontina and rosemary tart

Filed under: main — Tags: , , , — thinkingdan @ 3:41 pm

This looks pretty tasty.  It’s a shame that it wasn’t very good.

Its not what you can see, but what you can't that matters here.

Alarm bells should have started ringing with the title: potato tart.  Pastry doesn’t really need more starch added to it… still, pasties have potato in and are tasty so it’s not a hopeless idea.

Where this goes very, very wrong is that the potato is not cooked at all before going in the pie: it is just sliced very thinly.  Anyone who cooks knows that this is going to be dangerous, and with an oven like ours is downright silly.  You par boil potatoes.  They need par boiling.

So although the tart above looks really rather tasty, it was basically uncooked.  We then had to microwave it to death to get the potato to cook.  The end result was still OK, but the pastry was a little tough and just not the fresh yumminess it should have been.  I like the idea of a rosemary cheese pie, but I think more varied veg would be better.

Who made it: Anna and Dan jointly.

Recipe: The daily cook book, by Love Food, November 11th.


January 30, 2011

Vegetable and Halloumi Pie

Filed under: main — Tags: , , , , — thinkingdan @ 10:17 pm

This pie is (broadly speaking!) an adaptation of this fish pie.  But it is also completely different, so I’ll give a fill recipe.


Pie with pastry, as pie was meant to be.


The meaties at the table tried a little of my pie and concluded they would be happy with it as a main, so this was a definite keeper.  The halloumi is very salty but still has a delicate flavour, and everything benefits from being heated in the creamy sauce, soaking up a gentle richness not found in the veg alone.


50g puff pastry (or make your own!)

100g Halloumi cheese

50ml white wine

50g mushrooms

100g other veg (e.g. baby sweetcorn cobs, pepper, leek)

30ml double cream

50ml water

butter, for frying

1tsp flour, for roux

herbs (e.g. tarragon)

pepper, for seasoning


Chop up the halloumi into chunks and fry until golden on both sides.  Then sauté the vegetables in more butter and pepper them to taste.  Make the sauce by heating a knob of butter and adding the flour, mixing well to form a roux.  Add the white wine and water slowly, stirring continuously, then add the cream.  The sauce should be slightly thick, about the consistency of tomato ketchup – add more water if needed, then the herbs, and remove from the heat.

Throw the lot into a heatproof dish, then roll out the pastry to fit and pop it on top, crimping  the edges to make a firm fit and pierce the pastry with a fork.  Then paint the pastry with either egg or milk and bake for 25-30 minutes at 180 degrees celcius – to prevent the pastry from burning (in our oven at least) it is best to cook the pie covered for the first 20 minutes.

Oddly enough, I made the sauce a bit too thick this time, and also poured it on as a top layer.  Although it did penetrate the pie, it also stuck a lot to the pastry, which made for a really interesting texture and taste. This might be a trick to remember for the future – perhaps coating the underside of pie pastry with sauce before baking.

We will be trying something very similar to this in the future.

Who made it: Mostly Dan, with some assistance from Anna

Recipe: My own, but based on a heavily modified fishermans pie recipe from the link above.

Fisherman’s Pie

Filed under: main — Tags: , , , , — thinkingdan @ 9:26 pm

Anna made this fishy pie when friends were coming over – I had a different pie (details with recipe in the next post) based on the same idea.


Despite our very poor presentation, this went down very well.  As usual with fish pie, it has a mash potato topping – in my mind a real waste of the opportunity to have pastry!

Basically, you start by baking some white fish in white wine with a good scattering of tarragon on top.  Whilst this cooks, sauté some mushrooms in butter (and boil the potatoes for mashing).  Then make a white sauce by making a reux from flour and butter, adding the liquid from the fish and some cream.  Then mix up everything with some prawns, add the potato on top and bake.

The pie seemed to have a delicate flavour, and whilst in the dish looked very pleasant! A shame about the presentation, but flavour is what counts I suppose!

Who made it: Dan and Anna jointly.

Recipe: “The daily cook book” by Love Food, February 6th.

October 3, 2010

Stilton and walnut pie

Filed under: main — Tags: , , , — thinkingdan @ 8:35 pm

For no obvious reason we decided to make pie this weekend.  Awesome idea.

Pie, the way pie should be.

Good pie is a rare and wonderful thing when you are vegetarian. For some reason, many restaurants don’t get that vegetarians do eat pastry. Last I checked, there were no little pastry farms with little baby sausage rolls, many of which are killed before their time  and frozen for parties but some are allowed to grow up into those jumbo sausage rolls you get from bakeries.  Maybe I’m just a pastry farm denialist – I also deny that chips are caught by chip trawlers in giant nets as they graze the algae in the oceans, forming giant schools and being preyed on by cod and dolphins (but its OK because they lead happy chippy lives).  That would explain why so many places are reluctant to serve chips to vegetarians – they are looking out for our moral wellbeing.  After all, that chips come from potatoes is just a “theory” that scientists “believe”.

So anyway, we made this pie.  The recipe called for home-made short pastry, but we had some flaky pastry in the freezer so we used that instead.  A great tip – bake the pastry bottom for 5-10 mins before you add the filling – it makes it crisp up perfectly, and stops it sticking.  The centre was onion, egg, walnuts and Stilton (we also added some butternut squash), which works really well.  I think next time I’d try a larger variety of veggies, and would swap out the blue cheese for smoked cheese (e.g. Applewood).  Blue cheese is great, but it does overwhelm the other flavours a little.

It is a great vegetarian recipe though – the nuts and egg lead to a meaty texture that is very satisfying, and the cheese adds good flavour.  Very impressed and would try this again!  We had it with some boiled potatoes, carrots and brocoli, all sautéed for a little extra flavour.  Very much yum.

Who made it: Anna and Dan jointly.

Recipe: modified from “Regional recipes and reflections” by Susan Over, page 64.

March 16, 2010

Mushroom and stilton pie

Filed under: main — Tags: , , , , , , — thinkingdan @ 9:46 pm

I’m proud of this pie for two reasons.  Firstly, it is basically my own recipe; well, at least, I modified this recipe by guessing what might work and getting it right.  Secondly, it was in competition with a meaty pie, and whilst I obviously didn’t try the meat Anna confessed that the veggie was nicer…

Pie. Mmm, pie.

Its not all that complicated, nor all that different from the BBC recipe, but since the details are not anywhere I’m going to give my first proper recipe.

Ingredients (serves 2)

For the pastry (150g of pre-made pastry would do fine):

  • 125 g plain flour
  • 60g butter/margarine
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of water

For the filling:

  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 carrot
  • garlic clove
  • 100g shiitake mushrooms
  • 125 ml vegetable stock
  • 75g stilton cheese
  • 50g mixed nuts
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds (ground cumin would do, but definitely isn’t as tasty)
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick (ground cinnamon would do, and is probably just the same)
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds


  • Make the pastry by sieving the flour, adding the butter and a pinch of salt and kneading it into tiny breadcrumbs.  Then add the water slowly, kneading it in each time, until it no longer cracks (but isn’t sticky).  Its supposed to be put in the fridge before being rolled out on a flat surface sprinkled with flour.
  • “Meanwhile” crush the cinnamon, fennel seeds and cumin seeds (the cinnamon needs quite a lot of work – you’ll need a pestle).  Then dry fry them for about 5 minutes – this makes the room smell great!  (actually it probably doesn’t change the taste all that much over ground spices, but I like the smell..)
  • Fry the garlic, onion and carrot in oil until soft.
  • Add the mushrooms and fry until soft.  Then add the tomato purée and nuts and fry for another few minutes.  Then add the soy sauce and stock and simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Butter a pie dish and roll out the pastry quite thinly. Cut it to the right size to line the bottom and sides of the dish, put in the pastry and add the mushroom mixture on top.  Crumble the Stilton over it, then add the lid.  Brush the top with egg or milk, and bake at 200 degrees for about 30 minutes – don’t let the top brown until the bottom layer of pastry is cooked through.  (We have to put a tray above whatever we’re cooking to stop it being burnt…)

OK, so its not all that different to the recipe on the BBC website – I just added spice (a lot of spice) and nuts.  But it is extremely tasty!  And next time I hope to have time to make the presentation a little neater, and get some good photos!

We had it with a “potato and leek boulangere” (complete vegetarian cookbook page 262) which was a huge disappointment.  It spent about 2 hours in the oven then tasted of unflavoured potato, despite having smoked cheese and cream in it.  In the interests of fairness, I aught to give a whole post over to it, but I don’t have a photo and it was simply too dull to bother. Not to be recommended.

Who made it: it was a joint effort in a hectic kitchen, but the vegetarian flourishes were me trying to make my own dinner tasty!

Recipe: My own!  Well, mostly…

January 22, 2010

Let us bow our head for the pies.

Filed under: main — Tags: , , , , , — thinkingdan @ 10:39 pm

Dear reader,

It is with great regret that I inform you of the tragic passing of one of the most interesting and yet mistreated members of this gastronomic experiment: the pie.

Chestnut and cep pie

Sadly, no records have remained of this valiant stalwart of the oven.  It shall be remembered for its chestnuts, naturally; but also its mushrooms; and pastry was here aplenty.  But there is no photograph to recall the salivation that passed my lips as I bit into its tender and delicate body.

This pie is an interesting vegetarian recipe, cleverly designed to hide its vegetarian-ness without resorting to fake meat wanna-bes.  A very mincelike texture was achieved in the chestnuts, being chopped roughly and baked to create something meaty, yet still unique.  Dried cep mushrooms provided a strong flavour, being re-hydrated and the intense liquid forming the base of a red wine gravy.  We even made our own pastry, and felt all the morally superior for doing so.  (It doesn’t change the taste, but it is easy and cheap!)

Served with cheesy potato cakes it was a rather pleasing, though subtle main meal.  Next time I would probably increase the amount of herbs, yet I would certainly hope there was a next time.

Who made it: Dan did most of the pie making, with Anna doing the potatoes and helping with many of the flaky pastry details.

Recipe: “The complete Vegetarian Cookbook”, page 257.

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