I created this blog page a few months ago, fired up to get creative in the kitchen with hubby. Then, one after the other, the kids got sick and the fire went out. We became a smoldering ruin in the kitchen, and meals were, quite frankly, more than a bit boring.
Then, a couple of weeks ago our car started to sputter and the news from our mechanic is that our leads need to be replaced . . . but he can’t do it until mid-next week. We only have the one car so our fortnightly trip down the mountain to do our grocery shopping is now kaput!
Nigel and I went through the cupboard, chest freezer, fridge and freezer and decided that now was the perfect time to get that fire burning under our butts again, and get creative in the kitchen. It’s not only on a budget this time around, but out of a necessity to use what we have and make it stretch to feed the six of us.
Thankfully, I have used Charlie’s Fruit Online for fruit and vegetable deliveries before, so I knew I could count on getting fresh fruit and veges delivered the next day. I’ll be making our own bread and scrolls for the next few weeks (we still have a few loaves to keep us going), and we went and got the few essentials we absolutely needed from our local Supa IGA. Fingers crossed this will work out fine!
So, dinner last night was pies. Not just any pie though. This time, Nigel and I worked out the perfect pie base was actually made with the simplest of ‘pastry’ recipes, tweaked for texture and a few add-ins for taste.
Making the bases:
Preheat your oven to 190°C fan forced.
Next, prepare your pie tins. Rub butter around the bottom and sides, then shake enough flour around your tin to cover the base and sides well. I used wholemeal flour for ours. Do this now before you forget! Otherwise your mix will dry out while you’re frantically trying to get six pie tins ready, like I was.
Into a food processor, put 2 ½ cups wholemeal flour (for the texture), 110g cubed butter (I only use unsalted butter in my baking, but this is up to you), 1 tsp of paprika, ½ tsp salt (optional) and 2 tsps herbs to your own taste. Mix until the butter has been worked through well. Pour in ½ cup water slowly until the mixture comes together.
You may need to scrape down the sides a couple of times. Add in a little water – just a teaspoon at a time- if the mix is too dry. You want this mix to come together in a firm dough when you knead it, but you don’t want it too wet. It’s a fine line with this mix. Not enough water and it will dry out quicker than you can roll it out and line the pie tins, too much and you’re playing a catch up game with extra flour!
Dust your work surface lightly with flour. Take the dough out of the food processor and knead slightly into a ball. If you’re using individual pie tins, just take a small amount of dough at a time. When you roll it out, it kind of springs back a little bit, so rolling out a larger amount is time consuming and let’s face it, I’m lazy in the kitchen, so the less work for me the better!
When you’ve rolled out your dough, place your pie tin on it upside down and cut around it. Make sure you cut a larger circle than your pie dish, about 2 – 3 cm larger should do it. Gently push your dough into the pie dish, pushing your fingertips around the base to make sure it’s tucked in nicely. Some of the dough may fold up on the sides. This is fine, just flatten it and smooth it as much as you can. Cut off the excess, but make sure you have enough dough over the sides to allow for a small amount of shrinking during the baking process.
Place your pie tins on a baking tray and bake for between 5 – 10 minutes. Check it after 5 minutes, they can start to burn quickly if you’re not watchful. Leave them to cool for about 5 minutes after you take them out of the oven, then give them a bit of a shake in the tins to make sure they will come out easily later on.
Making the filling:
Take out a couple of sheets of puff pastry to thaw, and rub a small amount of butter around the tops of your pie tins. Preheat your oven to 170°C fan forced.
I can’t give you exact measurements here, as hubby cooks to taste, not to recipes, but I’ll do my best. Heat a small amount of oil in a frying pan, and brown 500g mince. Add about 2 tablespoons of Masterfoods Smokey BBQ Marinade (well, I say 2 tablespoons, he really just blobbed it in) and about 2 teaspoons of American Steakhouse Seasoning (we bought this from Aldi, so it may not be a permanent stock item). If you don’t have this or can’t find it anywhere, just use seasonings to your own taste. You don’t want your mince mixture too runny. Nice and thick is perfect.
Allow this to cool slightly, then spoon into your pie bases, allowing room for a couple of toppings if you’re using any. We added thinly sliced onion, tomato and 3 – 4 slivers of Black Forest Style Ham (again, an Aldi product – you could use Prosciutto though). Sprinkle a bit more of the Steakhouse seasoning, and add a ‘lid’ of puff pastry. Cut a couple of ‘vents’ into your puff pastry, and sprinkle with mixed herbs.
Remember, the bases and fillings are already cooked, so the amount of time it takes to bake your pies all depends on how dark you like your puff pastry. We started checking ours after about 15 minutes, and took them out at the 25 minute mark.
We served our pies with honey carrots, mashed potato with sour cream and chives and green beans, feeding all 6 of us for just under $10, including our side vegetables.
The best thing was I had plenty of pie dough left over so I decided to experiment with it. I made savoury biscuits out of it for the kids, and sent them to school for their lunch today with homemade avocado and cream cheese dip!!!
Minion Dad also made Pear turnovers with the leftover puff pastry and sent them with the kids for a snack! So easy to make! Just finely dice a pear, mix with cinnamon and sugar to taste. Place spoonfuls this mix onto a square of puff pastry, fold into triangles and press the sides down with a fork. Brush with beaten egg, sprinkle with sugar and bake in a preheated 170°C oven for approximately 25 minutes. Yum!
*Originally posted 25th September, 2013