Cheese and Potato Pies

Cheese and Potato Pies

Wotchers!

I love this recipe for lots of reasons: it’s Deja Food, it’s comfort food, is simple, cheap, quick to put together and it’s deliciously tasty.

I’ve included a couple of twists in this seemingly simple recipe that elevates it into something really special.

The pastry is a new version of shortcrust that I have adapted from a Victorian bakers’ book. It includes cornflour, which makes the pastry extra crispy, which isn’t always easy with an all-butter pastry, and it has a really smooth, dry feel which makes it very easy to handle. I’ve thrown in some rosemary to pump up the flavour in the pastry, and the filling is simplicity itself – just diced, cooked potatoes and cheese – but with a secret ingredient that makes these pies completely awesome.

I like chutney. I’ve always liked the sharpness from the vinegar, the spiciness, the touch of sweetness – and I’ve made my fair share of them too. The secret to a good chutney is time – leaving it for two to three months after it’s made so that the flavours can develop and the throat-catching harshness of the vinegar can mellow. Taste it too soon and everything is much too strong. Which brings me to the secret ingredient: Sainsbury’s Basics Tomato Chutney. Now, you know I love you, Sainsbury’s, but you’re just not aging your Basics chutney, are you? Pop that jar open and whoosh! The whiff of vinegar and spice is mighty powerful. However, if you bake a little of this chutney into these pies something magic happens: all the harshness of the vinegar disappears and just add a piquancy that breaks up the pastry/cheese/potato combo. Don’t worry if you don’t live near a Sainsbury’s – Basics Tomato Chutney seems to be a staple in most of the major supermarkets.

These pies are great for packed lunches and picnics or just a quick and comforting lunch at home.

Cheese and Potato Pies – makes 6-8 individual pies

225g plain flour
60g cornflour or rice flour
140g butter
2 teaspoons dried rosemary
ice cold water

4-5 medium cold boiled potatoes
strong cheddar cheese – grated
Basics tomato chutney

1 large egg, whisked

Individual foil pie dishes

  • Put the flours, rosemary and butter into the bowl of a food processor and blitz until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
  • With the machine running, gradually add the cold water a tablespoon at a time until the mixture comes together in a ball.
  • Tip the mixture onto a floured surface, knead smooth then wrap in clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes.
  • Cut the potatoes into centimetre  cubes and put into a bowl.
  • Add grated cheese to your taste and season with salt and pepper.
  • Preheat the oven to 200°C, 180ºC Fan.
  • Remove the pastry from the fridge and cut off two thirds.
  • Roll this piece out thinly to a thickness of 3-4mm and line your greased pie dishes, making sure there is enough pastry over the sides of the dishes to allow for joining the lid.
  • Put a layer of cheese and potato into the bottom of each pie shell.
  • Add 2-3 teaspoons of tomato chutney and spread into a thin layer.
  • Fill the pies with the remaining cheese and potato mixture
  • Roll out the pastry for the lids. Wet the undersides with a pastry brush dipped in waterand press them onto the tops of the pies firmly.
  • Trim off the excess pastry with the back of a knife.
  • Crimp the pastry edges by pressing into them with the tines of a fork.
  • Wash over the tops of the pies with beaten egg and cut a small hole in the pastry lids to let out steam.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes, depending on the size and shape of your pies, until the pastry is crisp and golden.
  • Cool on a wire rack.

Herb and Walnut Rolls

Herb and walnut rolls

Wotchers!

Oooh, I’m getting all behind like a cow’s tail, as Mother used to say! Still says, actually. I was wanting to do my macaroons to show that they weren’t ALL disasters, then there’s the chicken pie and the meringue pie from last week too – and it’s only a few days until Program 6 of The Great British Bake Off and cheesecake/roulade/croquembouche!

But first, Bread.

In the showstopper challenge for Bread Week on The Great British Bake Off, we had to bake 2 different types of rolls, and a basket to display them in. I chose sweet Chocolate and Chilli rolls and these savoury Herb and Walnut.

I also chose to bake some of them in flower pots, having read that Eliza Acton used to bake in ‘earthen pans’ instead of the loaf tins we know today. There’s nothing special about the pots – they’re regular clay flower pots from the local garden centre. HOWEVER – they must be seasoned before use – and not seasoned as in salt and pepper – seasoned as in treated so that the bread dough won’t stick to the insides.

How to season flower pots for baking.

  • Wipe the pots with a damp cloth and arrange them on a baking sheet right side up.
  • Using a pastry brush, paint the insides of the pots with vegetable oil.
  • Turn the pots over and paint the outsides and the base.
  • Bake in a hot oven for 30-40 minutes – Best to do this when you’ve got the oven on to bake bread (you ARE baking bread, I hope! 😉 ).
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  • Repeat the painting with oil and baking 3 times (for a total of 4 times altogether). As the pots bake, the oil will soak into the clay and gradually build up a kind of non-stick surface.
  • Don’t wash the pots after you use them – soapy water will undo all the good work you put in seasoning them. A quick wipe with a damp cloth when they’ve cooled down will suffice.

The recipe itself is another mix of flours and flavours. Spelt flour can be tricky to work with due to the low gluten, which is why I’ve teamed it with some rye and some white flour. Stoneground wholemeal flour just made the dough way too heavy, so I lightened things up by using just brown bread flour. The herbs really do pack a delicious punch when fresh, but dried the intensity of flavour just isn’t there. Go with what you can get, though. If you like a really nutty flavour, toast the chopped walnuts in a dry pan for 5-10 minutes.

Herb and walnut flowerpot rolls – Makes 8-12, depending on size

300g brown bread flour
200g spelt flour
50g rye flour
50g white bread flour
1½ tsp salt
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp chopped fresh sage
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
2 sachets dried fast-acting yeast
about 500ml/18fl oz warm water
2 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp vegetable oil
200g/7oz walnuts, roughly chopped

For the glaze
1 free-range egg
1 tbsp water

  • Mix the flours with the salt in a large bowl then add the herbs and the yeast and make a well in the centre.
  • Mix together the water, sugar and oil, pour into the flour then mix until ingredients come together to form a dough – you may need to add a little more water.
  • Turn the dough onto a floured board, knead for 10 minutes then place in an oiled bowl, cover and leave in a warm place until doubled in size.
  • Preheat the oven to 200°C, 180°C Fan.
  • Knead the walnuts into the dough.
  • Divide the dough onto portions and shape into rolls.
  • Oil the insides of your flower pots and place a square of baking parchment over the hole in the bottom.
  • Drop the balls of shaped dough into the pots. To ensure there’s enough room for rising, they should be no more than 2/3 full.
  • Place pots on a baking sheet and cover with a cloth. Leave to rise until the dough springs back slowly when pressed with a fingertip. You  want the dough to be about 3/4 risen and to finish rising in the heat of the oven. If you wait until it’s fully risen before putting it in the oven, it will deflate, especially if you knock the baking sheet as you put it in.
  • Mix together the egg and water. Brush the rolls lightly with the egg mixture – try and avoid letting the mixture pool against the side of the pots – it’ll stick the dough to the pot.
  • Bake in the oven for 12 – 15 minutes or until the bottoms of the rolls sound hollow when tapped. If you have trouble getting the rolls to pop out of the pots, slide a knife around between the side of the pot and the side of the bread, then poke the handle of a wooden spoon through the hole in the bottom of the flowerpot.
  • Allow to cool on a wire rack.

Cost: £3.45 (Herbs from my garden, September 2011)