Monday, 7 February 2011

Fake Out Recipe #2: What a Sweetie Pie!

In America where I grew up, casseroles are old school comfort food - tuna casserole, chicken casserole, hamburger helper type casserole. In Britain, it's pies. Savoury pies. Steak and ale pie, chicken pie, fish pie. And at night, when you've been running the streets and you've had quite a few cocktails and you find yourself  starving, you can even get what I refer to as a mini-pie, called a pasty. De-friggin-licious, folks. England's just full of pies, man. Anyway, one day I decided to try my hand at making my own vegetable pie. I wanted to make the mother of all vegetable pies. I started out with root vegetables. I went for butternut squash, carrots, parsnips, rutabagas, and stuff like that. What I'd created was OK, but in my opinion, JUST OK. First of all, the squash was a pain in the ass to work with. I got blisters from all the awkward peeling and tough meat. And worse, in the end, the pie turned out to be little too bland and not intense enough - I wanted my vegetarian pie to rival the best, most hearty meat-based pies. So I decided to stick with it and experiment. One day I noticed that my local supermarket had run out of swedes (rutabagas). No surprise there, since my local is ALWAYS running out of shit just in time to make dinner food a problem for me. So that time I went for sweet potatoes. Lo and behold, I stumbled upon the best got-dam vegetarian pie I'd ever had since moving to England - and by my own hand, at that. Nobody else's recipe. This pie rocks, and I want to share it with you. So please, gentle readers, allow me to present tonight's dinner...

What a Sweetie Pie (the best got-dam vegetarian pie on earth)

Cooking time: I don't know, like 45 minutes to an hour, I guess.
Feeds: A couple of greedy f*ckers for about 3 days or 6 - 8 guests for one dinner

You'll need a deep pie dish or two not-so-deep ones - believe it or not, I use a deep, 8 inch cake dish and it works a charm. It ends up looking like one of those giant medieval pies with black birds in it.

You'll also need the following:

6 Sweet Potatoes
2 Bags of Fresh Spinach (preferable baby spinach) OR 1 Can of Spinach (WELL drained!)
5 to 10 Cherry Tomatoes
2 Packs of Jus Roll Puff Pastry blocks OR use the puff pastry mix that you add water to and follow the instructions
if you're in America, use those frozen Pillsbury pie crust type roll out sheets - but not the sweet, shortbread ones.
1 Pack of Goat's Cheese
1 to 2 Packs of Feta Cheese
1/2 Cup of Sharp Cheddar, grated
6 Shallots or about 2 Red Onions
1 Large Egg
3 Tbsp of Butter
1/2 tsp of Salt
A sprinkle of Pepper (to your liking)
1 to 11/2 tsp  Dried Thyme
1 to 11/2 tsp Dried Sage
1 Tbs Chopped Garlic
1 A couple of Tbsp of Light Brown Sugar or Demerara Sugar


Pre-heat the over to somewhere around 350 to 375

Peel and cook the sweet potatoes, like you're going to make mashed potatoes. Place them into boiling water and cook until you can easily stick a fork or knife through them. Drain them, mash them in a large bowl, and add the remaining 2 Tbsp of butter to them. Put this aside.

Chop the shallots or onions however you like.

Now, caramelize them by melting 1 Tbsp of butter in a pan, throw in a couple of Tbsp of light brown sugar or demerara sugar, toss in the shallots or onions and saute over a medium high heat until they darken and become sort of sticky. Add these to your mashed sweet 'taters.

Steam the two bags of spinach, then drain them well - squeeze out all the water and add them to the mashed sweet 'taters.

Chop the cherry tomatoes in the round and add them to the mashed sweet 'taters.

Crumble the goat's cheese and the feta and add them to the mashed sweet 'taters.

Add in the grated cheddar to the mashed sweet 'taters.

Beat the egg, then add it to the mashed sweet 'taters too.

Add the salt, pepper, thyme, and sage to the mashed sweet 'taters.

Finally, add the chopped garlic to the mashed sweet 'taters and mix all this stuff up. This is basically your filling for the pie.

Now grease your pie dish with a little butter - just spread it around the dish thoroughly.

Now roll out one of your puff pastry blocks. Roll it out enough so that you can line the entire base and sides of your pie dish AND have an extra half an inch of dough flopping over beyond the edge of the dish.

Fill your pie dish with the mashed sweet 'taters mixture, then roll out the other puff pastry block to make your pie top. SEAL this rolled out pie top along the perimeter by pinching it against the half an inch of dough sticking out from the lining puff pastry - in other words, make a giant parcel. Like any pie, you can shape the excess dough to make a decent looking crust around the edge.

Now simply slice 4 to 5 small vent holes in the center of the pie top before you put the thing in  the oven. Also you can use a bit of egg whites as a glaze over the pie top before you put it in the oven.

That's about it. Cook until the pie top is golden brown. Again, about 45 minutes to an hour.

*Note: if you choose to use two pie dishes rather than one big one, you may need more puff pastry than 2 blocks. Just think in terms of having to line the pie AND cover the pie, and you should be able to figure it out.

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