About this blog

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Wales, United Kingdom
In autumn 2010, my husband Ian and I both quit our jobs, sold our house and left the flatlands of the east for the mountains of Wales. Our goal is to create a more self-sufficient lifestyle in a place we actually like living. Whilst Ian will continue to earn some money as a freelancer, my part of the project is to reduce how much we spend by growing and making as much of what we need as possible. The purpose of this blog is to keep friends updated with how the grand project is progressing, but all are welcome here. If you're not a friend already, well perhaps you might become one.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Recipe for wild green pies

By popular demand (OK it was just Louisa who asked, but I'm sure she's very popular!) here's the recipe for wild green pies. First, though, a note on equipment. My love of pies (making them, that is) began when I bought this:


Diablo toasted sandwich maker. Leaves a lot of offcut corners if used for sandwiches, but excellent for pies

I've since learnt that a similar item is being sold on ebay which is a better shape, cheaper, and appears to be handmade. I wish I'd found that first! Anyway, this nifty little gadget means I don't have to heat up the oven just for one little pie as it can be cooked, albeit rather slowly, on the hob. The downside is that when the filling gets hot and boils, it tends to come out of the sides, which makes a terrible mess of the cooker!

Back to the recipe:

First, make pastry. I generally allow 2oz (bog standard white) flour per pie, but I often get some left over. For the fat, I use whatever meat fat I have in the fridge - usually lard - though I have to admit butter tastes better. Quantity is half as much butter as flour (i.e. 1oz per pie) though butter's not 100% fat, so if I'm using meat fat I use less; 3/4oz per pie. Rub the fat into the flour with your fingertips, then add water, very little at a time. I always use a knife and mix it in with a cutting action. I don't know why, but my mum taught me to do it this way. Add water until you get a soft dough, or until it's sticky, in which case you've added too much water (easily done), then you need to add a bit more flour until it looks about right. If I'm organised enough, I leave the pastry to rest in the fridge for a bit before rolling it out.

Now, the bit you really wanted to know about was the filling, wasn't it? There are two ingredients here: cheese and wild greens. I've tried several variations on this, with different degrees of success. In the first version, the greens were entirely ground elder because that's all that was in season at the time, and the cheese was local, fresh (i.e. young) goats cheese that I'd bought, expensively, at the farmers' market. The cheese was light and lemony and the result was delicious. For the second version (the rolls pictured in the previous post), I tried to buy a similar cheese again, and got something from the supermarket labelled, Welsh soft cheese, which turned out to be more like brie. There was a greater mixture of greens this time, though I had trouble getting ground elder. Ironically, as the leaves grow bigger, it's harder to harvest, because the youngest, tenderest leaves get hidden amongst the older, tougher ones. This mix was about half nettle, and quite a high proportion of sorrel, to make up for the lack of citrus flavour in the cheese. I also included what ground elder I could find (not very much), some chives and Welsh onion leaves (essentially the same thing) and a few leaves of sweet rocket, which is not the same thing as salad rocket, but is also edible and has a strong flavour. That mix was also delicious. The third version, yesterday, used a similar mix of leaves but cream cheese - one Philadelphia mini tub - and that wasn't so good. The quality of the cheese is evidently important here.

Quantities: You really need a lot of greens, as they squash down a lot when they're cooked. I gathered a large colander full for the little rolls, and I think it was the same for two pies the first time I made them. Yesterday I didn't gather quite so much, and only had enough for one pie. The cheese should be just enough to stick this together. I used half of one of those litte rounds, which I think is 50g, for two pies/five rolls.

Method: Chop the greens finely. If you're using nettles, it's a good idea to wilt them first by cooking briefly in a little boiling water. You're much less likely to get stung this way! Once the greens are chopped, mix in the cheese thoroughly. With the brie-type cheese, I settled for chopping it into small pieces, but with the goats cheese I really mashed it up. There you have your pie filling. Wrap in pastry in whatever way seems best, and cook. I think I'd give it about 15-20 min in the oven at gas mark 5 or 6, but I'm sure you can figure it out. If you want to make the rolls, it goes like this:


Pie filling on pastry, prior to rolling up, trimming off excess pastry, and cutting into pieces.

3 comments:

  1. Woo, I only asked for this recipe a couple of hours ago - fast work there, Rachel ;)

    Thanks for the details - I had a feeling it would be a "whatever greens you can get" arrangement but the info about the cheese is interesting.

    We've got a retro version of one of those things - for making flying saucer shaped toasties in/on the stove so I'll give it a go next week!

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  2. That sounds incredible! I fear with my allergies collecting wild greens would be a really bad idea, but I bet it would work with spinach or chard. It sort of looks like a country version of spanakopita which I totally LOVE. I've never made pastry dough though... perhaps I'll give it a try as the garden is overflowing with greens at the moment.

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  3. Yes, this would definitely work with spinach and/or chard. I'm glad my pastry recipe might be of some use - the quantity of water needed is really very small, just enough to hold the dough together.

    I had to look up spanakopita, but I agree, the flavours are much the same. The big difference is the eggs, though. My recipe will be much less rich - the greens are definitely the star of the show here.

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