Do you ever get fixated on something and can’t block it out of your mind? Even though I’m pretty good at juggling or multitasking, I always go back that one intense fixation, like when I was determined to find the perfect pastry recipe. Even though there are hundreds of recipes that all give a similar end result, I wanted to find the one that worked for me one hundred percent of the time. I wanted to be sure that if someone called me up in the middle of the night and asked me to bake a pie, I could do it while half asleep. Not that this has ever happened, but you just never know when the need for pie will arise.
If you read my previous post, you will know that I was recently invited to a special dinner which was the kick-off to an entire educational weekend (sponsored and mediated by The Lodgepole School of Wholistic Studies) that celebrated the world of Fungi. At the dinner I had the privilege to meet Robert Rogers, a naturopath and herbalist whose many talents include identifying mushrooms in Alberta and using them as edibles or as medicines. It has been my dream (fixation) for the last 5 years to learn more about Alberta mushrooms but I hadn’t had any real opportunity to go foraging with an expert until I met Robert at the dinner. When I heard that he was leading a forage on the last day of the fungi filled weekend, I made plans for hubby and myself to go along with the foraging group. Then I began to wonder what I would bring for our lunch. It had to be portable and able to survive at room temperature (or slightly higher) until lunchtime, plus it had to be tasty and slightly healthy.Here’s where my pastry fixation, meets my mushroom fixation: After a quick look in the fridge, I noticed the large container of mini portabellos that needed to be used up, along with Swiss chard and some old-ish brie cheese…one look at the butter and I immediately thought of making hand pies. It didn’t matter that it was 6 pm because it was finally time for all that pastry making practice to pay off! I had the pastry made in less than three minutes and the finished hand pies really only took a couple of hours in total. In the end, we had a delicious lunch to share (because I truly believe that the first rule of picnic-ing with others should be ‘always bring more than you really need’) and it’s a good thing too…because Robert had forgotten his lunch back in his hotel fridge. It made me so happy to share my food with someone who truly inspires me.
1 recipe butter pastry (from Inspired Taste) as follows:
- 2 1/2 cups (360 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup (227 grams) very cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (2 sticks)
- 6 to 8 tablespoons ice water
- Add 1 1/2 cups flour and salt to a food processor. Pulse 2 to 3 times until combined.
- Scatter butter cubes over flour and process until a dough or paste begins to form, about 15 seconds. It will look nice and ‘sandy’.
- Scrape bowl, redistribute the flour-butter mixture then add remaining 1 cup of flour. Pulse 4 to 5 times until flour is evenly distributed. (Dough should look broken up and a little crumbly).
- Transfer to a medium bowl then sprinkle 6 tablespoons of ice water over mixture. Using a rubber spatula, press the dough into itself. The crumbs should begin to form larger clusters. If you pinch some of the dough and it holds together, it’s ready. If the dough falls apart, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of extra water and continue to press until dough comes together.
- Remove dough from bowl and place in a mound on a clean surface. Work the dough just enough to form a ball (do not overwork). Cut ball in half then form each half into discs. Wrap each disc with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour, and up to 2 days. You can also freeze it for up to 3 months (just thaw it overnight in the fridge before using).
- Before rolling, take pastry out and let sit for five minutes. Flour your work surface and roll one disk of dough until it reaches your desired thickness. Using a round bowl (the size of the hand pie you want), trace a round shape and cut around it. Try to shape the rolled out pastry to maximize the amount of traced circles you end up with compared to pastry wastage.
- 1/3 cup pesto (home made or store bought)
- 20 mini portobello mushrooms
- 2 shallots
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 cups swiss chard, spinach, or kale
- enough slices of brie to equal the amount of pies you are making (optional)
- 1 egg; beaten
- Place shallots and garlic in a food processor. Process until small but not pasty. Add mushrooms and greens and process until they are finely minced (see photo).
- Transfer to a pan and sauté until the water has sweated out of the mushrooms. Cool mixture until room temperature.
- Spread about one tablespoon pesto over the entire pastry round, taking care to leave at least one centimeter clean around the edges.
- Add about 5 tablespoons mushroom mixture onto one half of the pastry round, top with slice of brie (if using).
5. Flip over hand pie so that the cheese is on the bottom and make a couple of slashes for the pie to breathe.
6. Brush egg wash over top of hand pie.
7. Place on baking sheet and bake at 375 F until golden brown, 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before eating OR eat cold in a picnic lunch the next day.