Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Got left-over pastry dough? Make some savoury pies!

Savoury pies whether mini or full-sized are found in many cuisines. Since I called the area in Manhattan's East Village known as Little Ukraine home for a long time before meeting The Calm One, I am familiar with Eastern European food like pierogi which are delicious filled dumplings as I had frequented The Kiev along with other similar eateries which at that time dotted the neighbourhood. Once when we visited London after relocating from California to the UK decades ago, The Calm One whisked us off to a favourite hangout from his younger days, the Borscht N Tears Restaurant in Knightsbridge, where I saw piroshki on the menu. Guessing it was the Russian spelling for pierogi, I ordered some. They turned out to be wonderful meat pies. These particular ones were presented in the form of small, upside-down ice cream cones, very much like the shape of some chicken croquettes I have eaten. So what makes a croquette a croquette, a pie a pie, and a dumpling a dumpling? And in what category would be calzone? Yes, those questions are rhetorical. So let's get stuffed like the amazing variety of available filled comestibles. On to the enthralling endeavour of using left-over pastry to encase a filling of your choice! In my case it's one of tuna, capers, tomato paste, cream, garlic, and dill.

I have been rolling out thinner pastry than usual which brings out the tenderness and flakiness of the all-butter dough I now use instead of lard-based. That means way more left-over pastry scraps than in the past when I would make a couple of mini-tarts or added to the freezer bag of doughy odds and ends until I had a big ball from which to make a full-sized pie. Recently there was enough remaining from making rhubarb pie for a large savoury turnover (oh, yet another term!). The dough was rolled out and a pie plate used to cut out a round. On one half of the circle, a mixture of tuna, capers, cream, tomato paste, minced garlic, and dill was spread while keeping some space free close to the perimeter. The edges were moistened with water, folded to meet each other to make a half-moon, sealed, and crimped. It was baked in a hot oven, that is, within a range of 200 to 230°C (400–450°F) for about fifteen minutes.

The dough had a touch of sugar in it which contrasted beautifully with the salty fish

The turnover, cut in half, was warming (the temperature has dropped to near freezing for several days), satisfying, and fun to eat. As for fillings, look for what you like and what's available in your kitchen. The ingredients should already be cooked, well-seasoned, and the mixture moist enough to have a pleasing texture.

Disclosure: I do have a bias in defining savoury pies which is not by their shape but based on the parameters of the pastry being flaky, having no leavening, and was baked in an oven. I am forgiving towards a pie with just a top crust as long as it is not an already baked puff pastry ridiculously placed on a heated filling like an ill-fitting top hat ready to blow away. That should be against the law. 

À la prochaine!

(Savoury pies and close cousins)

Spinach Cheese Burek (Balkan savoury pie)
Caprese Socca (Chickpea pancake filled with Tomatoes, Mozzarella & Basil)
Butternut Squash Gozleme with fennel dipping sauce (Turkish stuffed bread)
Chicken Pot Pie
Leek Apple Thyme Tart/Rustic Galette
Braised Leek, Bacon, and Parmesan Calzone


New Orleans meat pie

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