Friday, 14 September 2012

Comforting Pie Day

Yesterday I took a very excited, eager Eleanor to the Northern Ballet for the first day of her new term at ballet school.
Unfortunately, when we arrived, and after she had got into her leotard and ballet shoes, and sat down ready for me to tidy her hair, we were informed that we had been given the wrong date: there would be no ballet class that day.
 Eleanor was understandably miserable: she had just spent an hour cooped up on the bus to get there and now she was going to have to go straight home, enduring another hour on the bus, without having a ballet class or even seeing any of her friends.
 A very subdued little dancer got onto the bus to go home.
Fortunately, once we'd got off the bus we found a few puddles to splash through, which cheered her up for a little while, but she was still a sad, quiet, un-Ellie-like, excuse for an Eleanor.
There was only one solution: pie with suet pastry*.
Serendipitously, I had planned on exactly that.

Mushroom pie

200g self raising flour
100g vegetable suet
A tiny bit of salt
A bit more black pepper
Some cold water
500g mixed mushrooms
Two onions
Mushroom ketchup
Swiss bouillon powder (or a crumbled up stock cube)
Mustard (we used English but I think wholegrain, or even French might be better)
White wine (about a glass and a half)
A big blob of Stilton**
butter or olive oil*** for frying

Dump the flour, suet, salt and pepper into a big bowl and stir them together with a knife.

Keep stirring and add the cold water, a tablespoon or so at a time, until the dough starts to come together: then stop stirring and start squidging it together with your hands.

Once you have a nice ball of slightly sticky dough set it aside and get on with cooking the mushrooms.

First chop the onions, put them into a saucepan with whatever fat you prefer and fry for a couple of minutes until soft.
chop or break up the mushrooms and add them to the pan

While they are cooking put the wine into a bowl, add a big pinch of bouillon powder and a spoonful of mustard and stir well.
Pour this into the mushroom pan and let them cook for another five minutes or so.

Take the pan off the heat and add the tarragon.

We also added the Stilton at this point but, actually, it would make more sense to wait till everything's cold and just put it straight into the pie, so do that instead.

Leave the mushrooms to cool while you go back to your pastry.

Set aside about a third of the pastry to make a lid, roll out the rest to fit whatever you're using as a pie dish and fit it in, buttering the dish first if you're worried about it sticking.

Roll out the lid, cut a hole or two in the top (otherwise your pie will explode) and, if the mushrooms are cooled (hot mushrooms will start to melt the suet in the pastry) assemble the pie: ladling in the mushrooms, adding the Stilton, and fitting the lid on top, sealing it firmly to prevent leaks.

Cut off any extraneous pastry and use it to make decorative watchamacallits to stick on top of the pie.

Bake for half an hour at your normal pie-baking temperature.

Serve with pride and roast potatoes.

*I do not advise seeking consolation for your woes in food, nor do I suggest encouraging children to do so, it only leads to more misery.
It is an awfully comforting pie though.

** Unless you're vegan, or cooking for vegans, in which case you can just skip this

***Not extra virgin.
Please, by all that's holy, stop using this to cook with.

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