All in hand

Ruby's fin­ger food pies

The Guardian - Cook - - Front Page - Ruby Tan­doh

Don’t panic if you’ve al­ways worked to the mantra that cold hands, cold but­ter and cold wa­ter make bet­ter pas­try

Pas­try’s good when it’s short, but­tery and pressed neatly into the grooves of a fluted tin. I also like it well enough when it’s draped over a pot pie or moulded into el­e­gant flan dishes or gen­tly crimped, glazed and scored. When I re­ally love pas­try, though – and when it truly comes into its own – is when it toys with messi­ness; verges on greedy crum­bli­ness rather than knife­and-fork or­der.

The best pies, for me, are the hand­held sort: pasties filled with rich gravy and meat; pies that you can hold by a thick crust, eat­ing as you walk; pas­try slices that leave your fin­gers and lips greasy and your ap­petite call­ing for more.

Aubergine, moz­zarella and thyme pasties

Sturdy hot-wa­ter pas­try en­cases the aubergine fill­ing in th­ese pasties. The key to hot-wa­ter crusts is all in the name, but don’t panic if you’ve al­ways worked to the mantra that cold hands, cold but­ter and cold wa­ter make bet­ter pas­try. Though it’s an un­usual method, adding boil­ing wa­ter to the but­ter and flour mix­ture yields a far more work­able, ro­bust pas­try than the usual short­crust. This dura­bil­ity may come at the ex­pense of short­crust’s crumbly bite, but it makes hot-wa­ter pas­try per­fect for hand­held pies, where the pas­try case needs to be strong and sturdy. Of­ten, hot-wa­ter pas­try uses lard but here I’ve swapped it for but­ter, to keep this recipe veg­e­tar­ian.

Makes 12 For the fill­ing

4 tbsp olive oil

2 medium au­bergines, cut into

1cm cubes

2 small gar­lic cloves

3 tbsp fresh thyme leaves 50g pine ker­nels

225g moz­zarella, torn into small chunks

For the pas­try

250g plain flour

150g salted but­ter, cubed

3 tbsp fresh thyme leaves

50-60ml boil­ing wa­ter

1 egg, beaten with a pinch of salt

1 Add the oil to a large pan and put it over a high heat. Once hot, add the diced aubergine and cook for 5 min­utes or so, stir­ring reg­u­larly. The heat ought to be fierce enough to brown the aubergine pieces as they siz­zle. Re­duce to a medium-low heat and add the gar­lic, thyme and pine ker­nels, cooking for a fur­ther minute or two. Leave to cool com­pletely while pre­heat­ing the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6.

2 In a large bowl, rub the but­ter into the flour us­ing your fin­ger­tips (you could also blitz in a food pro­ces­sor). Once no vis­i­ble chunks of but­ter re­main and the mix­ture is sandy in tex­ture, stir in the thyme. Add the boil­ing wa­ter and stir to give a smooth, pli­able dough. Knead lightly for a cou­ple of min­utes then leave to cool un­cov­ered at room tem­per­a­ture, un­til slightly firmer but not too stiff to roll out.

3 Stir the moz­zarella into the cooled fill­ing mix­ture and sea­son to taste. Roll the pas­try out on a well-floured sur­face to roughly 25x50cm, and a thick­ness of no greater than 5mm. Cut out 8 large cir­cles, each 13-14cm in di­am­e­ter, gath­er­ing and rerolling any of­f­cuts if nec­es­sary.

4 Put 2 tbsp of the fill­ing on one half of each pas­try cir­cle, leav­ing a bor­der of 1cm or so around the edge. Fold the other half of the cir­cle over, stretch­ing lightly be­tween your fin­gers if you need to, and press the edges to­gether. Roll the edge over on it­self, crimp­ing as you go, to fully seal. You should be left with a small, half-moon pasty.

Re­peat the fill­ing, shap­ing and seal­ing with the re­main­ing mix­ture. Move the pasties to a large, lightly greased bak­ing tray and brush each with the beaten egg to glaze. Pierce a hole in the top of each one. Bake for 25 min­utes in the pre­heated oven, and serve ei­ther hot or cold.

Rasp­berry lemon cheese­cake slices

A dose of corn­flour in the fill­ing and a high-tem­per­a­ture oven help to keep th­ese turnovers crisp and stop the cheese­cake mix­ture leak­ing from the pas­try. Though I’ve used rasp­ber­ries, black­ber­ries or black­cur­rants would also work well here, and the lemon zest in the cream-cheese fill­ing could eas­ily be swapped for or­ange or lime.

Makes 12

375g cream cheese

175g caster sugar

4 tbsp corn­flour

Zest 1 lemon

2 tsp vanilla ex­tract

150g un­salted but­ter

6 large filo sheets, roughly 50x25cm each, 275g to­tal

200g rasp­ber­ries

1 Pre­heat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6. Grease a large bak­ing tray.

2 In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese un­til it is smooth and creamy, then add the sugar, corn­flour, lemon zest and vanilla ex­tract and stir to com­bine.

3 Melt the but­ter over a low heat. If your filo sheets are smaller than the ones spec­i­fied, just use more, over­lap­ping them and stick­ing them to­gether with a lit­tle of the melted but­ter. If yours are too big, just trim them to size.

4 Cut one filo sheet in half along its long axis to divide it into two 50x12cm rec­tan­gles, then brush all over the up­per sur­face of one of the halves with melted but­ter. Cut the sheets as you need them, rather than all at once, so the filo doesn’t dry out while you shape the pastries. Place three rasp­ber­ries near one end of the rec­tan­gle, then dol­lop a heaped ta­ble­spoon of the cheese­cake mix­ture on top. You’re go­ing to be fold­ing one cor­ner of the pas­try di­ag­o­nally across the fill­ing to form a right-an­gled tri­an­gle, so try to add the cheese­cake mix­ture with that in mind.

5 Fold the cor­ner of filo di­ag­o­nally over the fill­ing, lining up the pas­try edges to form a neat right-an­gled tri­an­gle. Care­fully fold this filled tri­an­gle over, so it is par­al­lel with the length of the filo sheet, and in so do­ing wrap­ping the fill­ing in pas­try as you go. Fold this par­cel over again di­ag­o­nally. Keep rolling the fill­ing in pas­try – re­peat­edly fold­ing across and then di­ag­o­nally – un­til you reach the edge of the filo sheet, and the par­cel is sev­eral pas­try­lay­ers thick.

6 Re­peat the fold­ing process with the re­main­ing filo, cheese­cake and rasp­ber­ries. Brush the pastries with a lit­tle more but­ter and ar­range on the pre­pared bak­ing tray. Pierce a small hole or slit in the top of each to al­low steam to es­cape.

7 Bake for 25 min­utes, un­til crisp and golden. Leave to cool com­pletely be­fore eat­ing.

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