The idea of spending a whole week to ourselves up at the cottage has become like something out of a distant dream but by some miracle The Viking and I have managed to achieve it and here we are, sitting in the early Spring sunshine and soaking up the silence. It’s been quite a tense two weeks with 4 pitches at work, something we never normally do but for some reason they all seemed to come at once and we just couldn’t say no. I actually quite like the pitch process. Creating ideas and designing a vision for a new brand or product. I even like going to the pitch and presenting our work. I think it’s the hidden performer in me having my last fling at showing off a little. I always get nervous but it’s that exciting kind of butterflies that I feed off during the process and it usually helps. We’re yet to hear if we’ve won any of them but in the meantime we’ve given ourselves a few days to recover and convalesce. Sometimes we forget to look after ourselves and if we’re not careful we can easily break… I actually find it quite hard to switch off. I think I’m not very good at letting things go and with such easy access to emails and the internet it’s hard not to have a quick sneak at what’s happen back at the office. I have to teach myself how to focus away from all that and that’s where my baking comes in really handy. I will get lost in the baking of a cake or a pie. Hours can slip by but I have to really let myself have this time. I literally give myself a talking to and say ‘right Dom, put everything aside and spend some time doing something you love, the world won’t stop without you there..’ and of course there’s always the reward of pie to eat and the end of it too!
cheesy vegetable pie
This is a classic ‘go to’ pie for us here at Belleau Kitchen but everything time I make it I tend to do something a little different, or add an ingredient I hadn’t used before. The principle is the same, it’s sauted vegetables in a light cheesy sauce, this time with added white wine and some Quorn pieces for extra texture. I’ve also got cheddar in the shortcrust for extra cheesiness and have used the vegetables I had in the house but any veg will do, even frozen veg if that’s what you’ve got.
for the shortcrust pastry
- 225g plain flour
- 75g butter
- 50g strong cheddar cheese – finely grated
- 1 teaspoon chopped chives
- a little cold water to mix
for the filling
- a little butter and olive oil
- 4 banana shallots – thinly sliced
- 2 leeks – thinly sliced
- 1 medium carrot – finely chopped
- 1 clove of garlic – grated
- 2 large flat mushrooms – sliced
- 150g quorn pieces
- 100g frozen peas
- a large handful of fresh lemon thyme – chopped (i’d say at least a tablespoons worth of herbs)
for the cheese sauce:
- 40g butter
- 40g plain flour
- 500ml milk or 200 ml of milk and 200ml vegetable stock plus 100ml white wine
- 75g strong cheddar (or any cheese)
start by making the pastry, which can be done in seconds in a processor by throwing in all the ingredients and a dash of water until it comes together into a dough… or by hand, place all the ingredients except for the water, into a bowl and rub together until it resembles breadcrumbs, then add the water a little at a time, using your hand like a claw, until the dough comes together. Flatten it out onto some clingfilm, wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes
meanwhile make the filling by gently sautéing the onions, leeks and carrots in butter and olive oil for roughly 20 mins until they are soft, remove from the pan and set aside.
add some more butter and olive oil to the pan and one melted, gently saute the mushrooms, quorn pieces and the garlic. They will take a while to break down so I usually place a lid on them for the first 5 mins so they get soft. Remove the lid, turn up the heat and throw in the thyme and season well with salt and pepper, then let them colour gently in the heat for a further ten minutes, stirring frequently, until they soften and colour. Pour the rest of the veg back into the pan, along with the frozen peas, stir together, turn off the heat and pop the lid whilst you make the cheese sauce.
Make the cheese sauce by melting the butter gently in a small pan.
Once melted, remove from the heat and stir in the flour to make a smooth but thick paste. Then add a dash of the milk/stock and again stir into a paste. Place the pan back on a gentle heat and slowly add a little stock at a time, stirring well between additions. If it looks like it may become lumpy take the pan off the heat and stir until smooth. Continue this way until all the stock is gone and you have a nicely thick sauce – let it bubble away very gently on the heat for 10 minutes, stirring regularly. Add the cheese and stir until melted.
Pour the cheese sauce over the vegetables in the pie dish and stir together, set aside to cool for at least 15 minutes before you attempt the lattice pastry crust
to make my pie i’m using a 20cm pie dish but any pie dish would work… grease your dish liberally and pre-heat your oven to 160C
generously flour your work surface and rollout out – it should be quite robust but I like to pat down the pastry first with my hand so it becomes the shape I want it to be and am very liberal with the flour too. Cut into evenly thick strips and top your pie with a simple lattice pattern, then brush liberally with beaten egg.
bake for 25 mins on 170C or until golden brown – set aside to cool slightly before eating.
eat and of course, enjoy!