Let’s get one thing out of the way first of all, I live in the UK, and therefore am obligated to comment on the weather. A lot. It’s nearly always a nice safe subject that one can strike up a conversation about with a perfect stranger. You’re probably perfect, and also likely to be a stranger to me, so here we go!
So, today was one of those annoying days where it mostly just drizzled rather than raining properly or being nice and sunny. I took my big umbrella to work, but the rain wasn’t heavy enough to fall, it sort of drifted down with plenty of time to soak into my clothes as I walked through it.
I had to change my clothes when I got home this afternoon!
All this damp had a few positives though. For one, the plants needed it. Also, it gave me a good excuse to turn the oven on (which I haven’t felt like doing in the muggier days earlier this week).
Today’s frugal ingredient is green chillies, which I was given by the same person who donated runner beans earlier in the week.
She said she had no idea how hot they are as she doesn’t like spicy food! I’m happy to take a chance though.
One of my favourite pie ingredients has to be mushrooms. I’m rather partial to the mushroom pies made by Clive’s Pies, but they’re not cheap, so I sometimes make my own version.
I was all set to provide you with a recipe using weights when I discovered that my scales have been rather alarmingly out of whack! I assume that they’re relatively correct in that my recipes seem to come out okay, but they seem to say things weigh less than they actually do! So, take the following measurements with a pinch of salt although I don’t think this is the kind of recipe where it matters too much if things are a bit out.
Spicy garlic and mushroom pasties (I believe these are what residents of the USA refer to as ‘hand pies’?)
Ingredients for filling:
450g mushrooms (I’m using a mix of chestnut and white mushrooms)
2 small-medium onions (my scales say 126g, so say 150?)
1 teaspoon oil (I used olive)
4-6 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
2 green chillies of a reasonably mild nature
2 tablespoons oat flour
Mushroom pies are lovely with puff pastry but it’s a bit of a faff to make so I’ve economised by making my own shortcrust pastry of an extremely basic nature. It’s just plain flour and fat (Vitalite non-dairy spread) at a ratio of 2:1 weight-wise. I weighed just over 200g flour and 100g fat, but as mentioned earlier this probably means it’s more like 250 to 125. I haven’t added salt as the spread has plenty in it already. If you’re as rubbish as I am at making pastry, I recommend you use purchased puff pastry instead!
Peel and chop the onions mediumly (it’s always finely or coarsely with onions, why not mediumly?), add the oil to a fairly large saucepan that you have a lid for, on a low heat, put the onions into the pan and swirl them around to distribute the oil. While they start to cook, wash and slice the mushrooms.
Ignore anyone who says you should wipe rather than wash mushrooms, the reason people claim you should do this is because they say they absorb the water, but in fact the amount taken on by the mushrooms is minimal (do a search for it, someone has meticulously researched this!).
Add the sliced mushrooms to the pan in batches, add in the salt too. Put the lid on the saucepan after you’ve finished adding the mushrooms – you want there to be some liquid in the pan, which the mushrooms should provide (if it looks like it’s getting dry put about a tablespoon of water in there).
Crush or finely slice the garlic and add to pan. Remove rosemary leaves from the woody part of the stem, finely chop leaves and add. De-seed and finely chop the chillies and add those too.
Sprinkle oat flour over the mixture and stir in for a couple of minutes. The flour should take up the liquid in the pan so you’ve got a little bit of thick gravy covering the mixture, which will hopefully prevent your pies from going soggy.
Turn off heat and allow to cool while you make your pastry.
In a mixing bowl, Sieve the flour, then drop in the fat. Cut the fat into the flour, then rub it in to breadcrumb consistency. Dribble as few tablespoons of cold water as you can get away with into the mix, cutting them in with a table knife. When the mix starts coming together, gather it into a ball. Cover and leave to chill for half an hour or so.
Once your mix has cooled and your pastry has chilled (or you’ve got your shop-bought puff pastry out of the fridge), pre-heat your oven to around 200 degrees centigrade, 400 farenheit. Roll out pastry as thin as you think you can get away with without the mixture coming through when you go to make your pasties. I reckon maybe 3-5 mm thick should do it? Bear in mind it will stretch a little bit, so don’t go seethrough with the rolling out.
Cut shapes out of your pastry. I tried to be fancy with some, but really, circles are the best, then you can dollop a spoonful of filling on one side and fold over to a half moon shape.
Put the pasties on a greased baking tray, and pop them in the oven. Bake for around 12 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool on baking tray.