A very simple title for a pie that does not taste simple at all. Anna del Conte said “This was the best vegetable pie I ever had, and I mean it.” So I will keep her label and let your taste buds do the talking.
This is not strictly vegetarian because it contains anchovies. These do maketh the pie, but omit them if you need to.
To really appreciate this pie I am afraid you need to make your own rough puff pastry. It is really not tricky once you know how, like anything I suppose, but here we are…
250g plain flour
250g unsalted butter
pinch of salt
very cold water
1. Combine the ingredients so that you have lumps of butter, like a very coarse crumble topping.
2. Add water, just enough to bring the pastry together. The less water, the more delicious.
3. Roll it out into a long rectangle. You will see lumps of butter in it. By the last roll and fold the aim is not to see the butter but if you see a tiny bit at the end it doesn’t matter. The more folds you do, the more layers there will be in the pastry.
4. Fold it like a letter – see the picture below – turn it 90 degrees, and roll again into the same long rectangle.
5. Fold and repeat. As soon as it looks as if it is softening and has potential to become greasy, put it in the fridge for half an hour wrapped in clingfilm and folded as in the picture below. If you can manage one more roll and fold, do.
6. Repeat the roll and fold process 3 or 4 more times and refrigerate for half an hour or until you need it, cling filmed. It should be nearer room temperature when you roll it, for ease.
4 peppers (not green because they are unripe)
3 large cloves of garlic
100mls creme fraiche
1. Put the peppers in a hot oven until the skins blister.
2. Remove them from the oven and put them in a sealed bag or a bowl with clingfilm on top. This will help the skins to come away.
3. When they are cool or you are able to handle them, remove the skin and seeds. Slice them and put them in a bowl.
4. While the peppers are in the oven, dice the aubergine and sprinkle it with salt for half an hour to remove bitterness. Rinse.
5. Fry the aubergine in olive oil until it is cooked and then add the peppers and anchovies and stir until the anchovies have mingled with the vegetables.
Assembling the pie
1. Roll out the puff pastry onto a non stick baking sheet – I use baking paper because I do not have a non stick and it saves scrubbing! The pastry needs to be at room temperature to be able to roll successfully.
2. Roll it into a round, place it on the baking tray on baking paper (see top tips) and pile the cooled filling mixture in the middle. It must be cool so the pastry does not become soggy.
3. Place a larger round on top of the base and push down the edges.
4. Take a knife and cut around the excess pastry.
5. Cut a cross in the middle of the pie (or pithivier) to allow steam to escape when cooking. You can make ridges in the pie with a knife but be careful as you will see from the photograph that I over-did it and broke through the pastry. It still tasted great though – at Leiths I was marked down on presentation : (.
6. You may find that putting it in the fridge to firm up is a good idea before you cook, depending on how warm your kitchen is and the firmness of the pastry.
7. Brush beaten egg over the pastry cook in a hot oven of about 200 degrees until it is golden (about 20 minutes or so). Ovens vary so much that I am loathe to give exact times.