The big fat pie that’s perfect for a picnic

RidleylogoSMALLEVERY WEEK I take £5  to Ridley Road Market in Dalston, Hackney, London E8 2LH, to spend on seasonal food, obviously not including items likely to be already in a kitchen, such as sauces, oil, herbs and spices — the usual cook’s essentials. On Friday I tell you what I have chosen and publish a seasonal recipe. Some of the recipes will be frugal. They will all be vegetarian. They will be tasty. 

The editor interjects: When Shooey approached me almost a year ago with the concept she outlines above, I thought shed be repeating herself after a few weeks. I am glad to say I was wrong: the originality of Shooey’s columns every week  is a tribute to her understanding of the market and its seasonality and to her creativity. 

My only surprise is that nobody has thought of doing anything like this before — but then they did not have the luck to be approached by Shooey. 

All columns end at some time and Shooey told me last August that she would do this one for a year. With a few breaks for holidays/illness, she has done that. She shown the super value to be found in the great British fruit and veg market and the meals and snacks that can be made using the bargains in them. Next week’s column will be the last.

This week’s £5 basket, pictured below

Bowl 9 carrots £1; cauliflower £1; bowl of 12 onions £1; bowl 3 corn on the cob £1; bowl 6 bell peppers £1Total £5

This recipe, a pie, takes time to make and is better eaten the next day. I have to say that though it can be made with any mix of larder vegetables, it is only for experienced cooks. But it is perfect for a picnic with friends and family. It is a pie to impress — not a cheap dish to bake, but to buy the same in a bakery — well, it would be too expensive for me.

Recipe: Big picnic pie, serves 10

Equipment: large lidded saucepan, small saucepan, kitchen knife, scales, 2 mixing bowls, table and teaspoon, wooden spoon, rolling pin, springform cake tin (mine is 24cm long), pastry brush. A spring-form tin makes getting the pie out a little easier but lining a non-springform tin with greaseproof paper and spreading it with melted fat also works. Fork and small bowl for beaten egg.

Ingredients: basic pie filling: 2 tablespoons oil, 4 onions peeled and finely sliced, 3 carrots cut into bite-size chunks, 1/4 cauliflower cut into bite-size florets, and any other vegetables you may have. I have some brassica leaves, courgettes, green beans, garlic and potatoes from my allotment and a few celery sticks which I will include and all cut as above. One tin of pulses — chickpeas or any bean that you have in the larder, draining them well. Herbs of choice — I’m using a little rosemary, sage and thyme and seasoning. Pastry: 250g of plain flour, 250g self-raising flour, 125g butter cut into small pieces, 125g vegetable fat cut into small pieces, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 egg beaten, about 1 tablespoon cold water. Sauce: 2 tablespoons fat ( I am using butter), 1 tablespoon plain flour, 250ml milk, 1 teaspoon mustard (powder or ready made, French or English), 125g cheddar cheese grated or any strong English hard cheese. Wash scrub all vegetables.

Preparation — total time for preparation and cooking 75 minutes, baking 40 minutes. Rather than all the elements being made in one go, the vegetables and pastry can be made over two days and kept in the fridge. If your time is limited, making the pie over a few days may help.

Ridley160813bask: shopping basket by Shooey for Rambling Down Ridley Road column on Loving Dalston London E8 © david.altheer@gmail.com
Fabulous: fiver’s worth from Dalston’s great market this week

Method: Make the vegetable filling first so that it has time to cool before being placed in the pasty case. Next, make the pastry and while it is resting make the sauce. 

Set the oven to 220C before making the sauce.

Heat the oil in the lidded saucepan and when hot add the sliced onion. Stir to coat the onion in oil then put the lid on the saucepan and cook slowly for 5 minutes.

Add the other vegetables and herbs and mix well. Leave to cook for 10 minutes with the lid on. Add the drained chick peas and leave to cook for 10 minutes again with the lid. Remove the lid during the last 3 minutes so that any liquid can evaporate. When cooked, tip the mixture into a cold bowl to let it cool while you make the sauce and pastry.

Make the pastry. Put the flours and salt in a bowl and mix. 

Add the fat and rub in with the tips of your fingers until the mixture looks like bread crumbs. Add the beaten egg and enough cold water to bring the mixture together to form a smooth soft pliable paste. Wrap in plastic and leave to rest in a fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Make the cheese sauce. Melt the fat in a saucepan. Add the flour and mix well. Take off the heat when mixing so the mixture doesn’t burn. Return to the heat and slowly add the milk stirring all the time. Continue cooking until the mixture thickens. Add the mustard stirring it in and the same with the grated cheese. If your sauce is too thin, add a beaten egg and continue to cook until a sauce consistency. Leave to cool.

Remove the pastry from the fridge and break into three pieces, making two of them slightly bigger than the third. Roll one of the larger pieces to fit the base of the tin. Place in the tin and adjust, if necessary, to fit the base. The other bigger piece is rolled out to fit the sides and again adjusted to fit. Place the filling in the pastry and pour over the sauce and gently mix through. Roll out the smaller piece to make a lid for the pie. 

It doesn’t matter if it’s not completely perfect so long as it’s sealed all around the edge. When done, make a couple of slits in the top so steam can escape.

Place in the oven and after 5 minutes reduce the heat to 200C and cook for about 35 minutes or until the top is golden.

If you use Mediterranean vegetables, a thick tomato sauce with basil and oregano would work well together. I chose a cheese sauce because it tastes good with cauliflower, celery and onions. 

With the other items in my basket I shall make lovely boiled corn on the cob. The cauliflower will make an addition to a curry and make a lovely mustard cauliflower cheese. The red peppers can be stuffed with quinoa or millet or used in a salad and may be roasted. The onions, as usual, will go with everything.

Tip: to give a zippy taste to yellow rice, add half a teaspoon of turmeric to the cooking water for 200g of rice. When cooked, add the juice of a lemon and mix.

Clothing bargains can also be found in Ridley Road — but that’s another story Rambling Down Ridley Road column on Loving Dalston London E8 © david.altheer@gmail.com
Clothing bargains can also be found in Ridley Road Market — but that’s another story

*Previous articles hyperlinked: Corn fritters 9 August 2013;  Beetroot salad 2 August 2013; Vegetable kebabs and fresh peaches in old E8 26 July 2013; Potato salad with cumin seeds 19 July 2013Fruit sticks 12 July 2013; Asparagus, onion and tomato tartlets 5 July 2013; Sparkling elderflower and fritters 28 June 2013; Beetroot quinoa salad 21 June 2013; Lemon couscous with spicy mushrooms 14 June 2013; Lurgied 7 June 2013At last, the Alphonso 31 May 2013; Aubergine salad 24 May 2013; Asparagus with hollandaise 17 May 2013Stuffed beef tomatoes with guacamole 10 May 2013Hackney snackney 3 May 2013Bell pepper salad 26 April 2013Gnocchi and tomato sauce with zucchini salad  19 April 2013 Tomato soup with soda bread 12 April 2013Broccoli mornay 5 April 2013Easter redemption song 29 March 2013 Less  is enough 22 March 2013; A tart in the mart 15 March 2013; Polenta verde and sauté mushrooms 8 March 2013; Caribeasy 29 February 2013; Feeling fruity 22February 2013; Kashmir delight 15 February 2013Samphire surprise 8 February 2013Two dishes from £5 1 February 2013Ae fond neep 25 January 2013Cauliflower cheese 18 January 2013Hackney frittata 11 January 2013;  Tasty and easy Christmas snack 21 December 2012The shops behind the market stalls 9 November 2012Chutney 2 November 2012;  Piccalilli 26 October 2012Golden soup 19 October 2012Roasted, stuffed squash 12 October 2012Vegetable curry 5 October 2012Carrot and coriander soup 28 September 2012Ratatouille Gypsy stew 21 September 2012Bubble and squeak Shooey styleBakewell pudding 14 September 2012Coleslaw and radishes 7 September 2012Turkish spinach pie 31 August 2012Tomato tart, marinated aubergines, fresh mango chutney 24 August 2012Roasted butternut squash soup and beetroot salad 17 August 17 2012The column sets itself a challenge 15 August 2012

* Other websites have written about this column, among them Hackney Post, which has published an interview with Shooey, as has the Food Bankers. Hackney council journalist Marcel Reinard has made a video about markets, including Ridley Road. 

This site welcomes fair comments, including the critical. Letters may be edited for grammatical, legal or taste reasons, or for shortening. RSS feed link is at top right. Twitter: @lovingdalston

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