OMGomgomgOMG!!! You GUYS!! SHUT THE FRONT DOOR!!!! I was actually asked for input on a menu for an actual restaurant and my dish suggestion was put on an honest-to-God menu in Edinburgh! I am not even kidding!! This is like the second greatest cooking day of my life, next to THIS ONE!! (You can tell by my prolific use of exclamation points that I am not lying on this matter. And it really was the second greatest day of my cooking life as it stands.)
Needless to say, this totally made my entire year thus far. One of my readers, Richard Waugh,( who curates his own delicious blog A Chef By Mistake) read my frustrated rambling on why there isn’t more to choose from at certain restaurants that is vegetarian friendly. We exchanged a few comments lightheartedly and then I promptly forgot about it. Time passed on and life went by when out of the blue he asked if I might want to suggest a vegetarian dish for the new menu at his restaurant, E:S;I-Englishman, Scotsman and an Irishman, where he is a principle and cook.
Would I? Is the pope Catholic?!
Needless to say, I was thrilled that A) someone was actually following Unprofessional Cookery regularly and B) they thought enough of my work to ask my opinion. However, I had zero information in my arsenal on cooking from across the pond. My entire knowledge base of food from the United Kingdom consisted of that they call fries “chips” over there and those meat pies from the Richard Burton version of Sweeney Todd. I knew that the Scots had haggis and the Irish had a potato famine at some point, but I had no clue what might work well on a British Irish Scottish fusion restaurant. In fact, I didn’t even know you COULD have a British Irish Scottish fusion restaurant.
A lot of research later, I discovered that a great majority of the traditional Scottish, Irish and British cuisine seemed to revolve around starches and nose-to-tail use of butchered animals. (Blood pudding anyone? Neeps and Tatties?) I suggested a long laundry list of dishes ranging from a vegetarian haggis oat flour crepe to a colcannon/rumbledethumps pot pie, hoping something would stick. Like pasta and a wall, something did. Richard bit on the potato and kale based pot pie. I. Was. Thrilled.
In my original version, I had suggested that the pie be made without a bottom crust in a white sauce with a top crust consisting of a cheese laced pate brisee cooked when the order is fired and finished under the salamander. The dish would pay homage to the Irish colcannon with the potato and kale bound in a white sauce and the Scottish rumbledethumps with the rutabaga addition, a little cheese in the crust and baking the whole thing. It would keep well, could be reheated fast and everyone would enjoy it from ages 8 to 800 as nothing was particularly “out there
A few emails later, here’s how Richard decided to go with the dish. It sounds even better than my suggestions!
“We changed it a little to fit in with service from the kitchen. On the menu it’s a ” colcannon pot pie with a herb-crumb crust, topped with smoked applewood cheese served with olive oil roast potatoes (gotta love that starch), and a rocket, kale and walnut salad.”
It kind of makes me want to book a trip to Edinburgh just to give it a shot.
However, being a volunteer food blogger means that I’m not rolling in the cash, so I’ll be stuck stateside dreaming of this dinner, perhaps making the O.G. version. If you’re in the same boat, perhaps you’d like to try it out as well.. while saving for your trip to Scotland.
Individual Colcannon Pot Pies
For the crust:
-1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
-1/4 lb sharp cheddar, grated
-5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tiny bits and chilled
-1 teaspoon dry mustard
-1/4 teaspoon cayenne
For the filling:
-1/2 lb rutabaga, washed and diced medium
-1/2 lb yukon gold potatoes, washed and diced medium
-1 medium sized yellow onion, peeled and diced
-1 cup kale, washed and chopped fine
-6 tablespoons unsalted butter
-1/4 cup all purpose flour
-1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
-1/2 cup heavy cream
-1-2 sprigs fresh thyme, stripped
1.Start by preparing your cheese laced pie crust. In a bowl, combine the flour, spices and a smallish pinch of salt. Then add in the cheese and butter.
2. Cut the fats into the flour while incorporating the ice water, one tablespoon at a time. Continue blending the dough until it looks like the consistency of small peas.
3. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate while preparing the rest of the dish.
4. In a heavy bottomed saucepot, prepare the roux for your sauce. Start by melting the butter over medium heat.
5. When the butter is melted but has no color, add in the flour gradually and whisk everything together. The roux should be smooth but not pasty.
6. Continue cooking the roux for 2 minutes, whisking constantly. It will bubble. At the end of two minutes, remove the pot from the heat.
7. Stir in the stock, cream, pepper, salt and thyme. Put the pot back on medium heat, stirring constantly until it thickens.
8. When the sauce is thick, add in the rutabaga, potato, onion and kale. Stir everything to incorporate.
9. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
10. Fill 4-6 ovenproof ramekins with the pot pie filling to the top (but not mounded). Set the ramekins on a cookie sheet.
10. Roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thick. Cut large circles of the dough that will cover the edge of the ramekins just slightly.
11. Neatly tuck under the crust so it forms a small lip around the ramekins. They should look something like this, as a point of reference. Coat the top with an egg white wash.
12. Cover the ramekins in foil to prevent the crust from burning before the center is done.
13. Bake for 15 minutes.
14. Remove the foil and continue to bake for 10-12 minutes more, until the crust browns nicely and is firm to the touch.
15. Serve immediately.
Note: These can be prepared ahead and frozen, or the pie crust and filling can be refrigerated separately for up to 3 days and assembled before cooking.
You know it happens. Every year, someone gives you that one gift. The one gift that you hate more than socks as a kid, as ugly sweater as a teenager, that post holiday credit card bill as an adult. A gift so horrid, so vile, so despised that it strikes fear into the most courageous of men and stoic of women. And yet the only thing that one can do is try not to shriek in terror and say thank you to the elderly aunt who bestowed the darkness upon your doorstep.
You know which one I’m talking about. I’m talking about that dried fruit on a basket plate that you get every year, probably from the Hickory Farms kiosk in the mall. The one with the disgusting strawberry bonbon candies on it.
Anyways, so now you have this plate of fruit rocks on your hands you’re stuck with something to do with all that… regularity. Throw it away? No, that’s wasteful. Feed it to the dog? Don’t want to chance sudden death. It’ll just sit there on the table for days, weeks, even months before someone (in a moment of desperation) fishes out the apricots to use in breakfast oatmeal one morning.
Been in this situation?
Fear not, dear reader. I have your solution to the conundrum of what to do with all that dried fruit. A solution so grand, so beautiful, it could make the angels weep. This year, I made all of that into a pie masked heavily with cranberries. Maybe you should too, and then really mean those thanks to Aunt Bessie next year.
For the dough:
-2 cups all purpose flour
-1 1/3 stick butter, very cold, chopped
-Pinch of salt
For the filling:
-1 bag fresh cranberries
-2 granny smith apples, peeled and chopped into a small dice
-2 fuyu persimmons, peeled and chopped into a fine dice
-1 orange, juiced
-Zest of half of that orange, julienned into 1/2″strips
-2 cups chopped walnuts
-1 cup dried apricots, chopped fine
-1 cup mission figs, halved
-1 cup smyrna figs, halved
-1/2 cup raisins, plumped in water
-1/2 cup currants, also plumped in water
-7 whole cloves
-1 thumb sized knob ginger, peeled
-1 star anise pod
-1 stick cinnamon
-1 cup sugar
-3/4 cup water
-1/8 cup cider vinegar
-1 tablespoon kosher salt
1. start the filling. Put all ingredients (except the spices and ginger) into a heavy bottomed saucepot. Tie the spices and ginger into a cheesecloth bag and drop that in the pot too. Turn the heat on low.
2.Start with your pie dough. In a large bowl, combine the flour and the salt. Add the butter and cut it into the flour until it is well incorporated.
3. Add the ice water to the flour and butter one tablespoon at a time and continue to blend everything. You should use about 5-6 tablespoons.
4. When the dough holds together well, combine it all in a ball and wrap it in plastic film. Set it in the fridge and let it rest at least 15 minutes, but about an hour should be fine if you have the time.
5. Stir the filling. Cook it down slowly, stirring occasionally, until it thickens on its own. It will take seventeen forevers to do this.
6. When the filling is thickened, turn off the heat. Then roll out your pie dough. Also, preheat the oven to 450 degrees now.
7. When you have the pie crust in the dish, brush the inside of the crust with egg white. This will prevent the pie filling from making the crust soggy.
8. Pour in the filling. Cover the top with the second pie crust and secure the edges.
9. Wash the top crust with more egg white and poke a few decorative vent holes in the top of the crust.
10. Cover the edges of the pan with foil to prevent burning. Put the pie in the oven.
11. Bake the pie for 10 minutes at 450, then turn the heat down to 350 and bake for 35-45 minutes more.
12. In the last few minutes of baking, remove the foil from the crust edges to allow them to brown.
13. When the pie is finished (the top will be firm and golden), remove it from the oven to cool.
To note, this is the first pie that I’ve ever had that has ever really come out pretty decently. No rock hard crust, no dribbly filling. The key to it is apparently to prec00k the filling and really to not overwork the dough. Blueberry pie shown whole (top) and right before I tore into it at a Labor Day party in Laurenceville, New Jersey.
Engagement Peach Pie. (Not my engagement, it was to celebrate an engagement.) Lead-like all butter crust, southern peaches, sugar, spice, everything nice.
God Bless America. An apple galette (with Pate Brisee, no less!) baked as a gift. Unfortunately, I couldn’t cut it open to show all the hometown American goodness within. Happy independence day, yáll.
…When their food is so damn good? All butter crust fried peach pie. Good lawd.