Friday, February 23, 2007

Another slice of pie?

I had it all worked out, I wanted to bake a pie this weekend and enter it for Cook Sister's Waiter, there’s something in my… pie event. Then I decided to spend the weekend in Cambridge but thought that would be even better, I could bake a larger pie than I would have made at home. I’d been promising myself for ages to try one of the recipes from Sophie Conran’s Pies book and I am sure Sophie herself didn’t really believe me when I said I would be recreating one of her pastry joys very soon… in fact less than 24 hours later! On the first glance through this pleasing little pink book I had pounced on the Simon Hopkinson's recipe for Flamiche from his Gammon & Spinach book. This was particularly interesting as I’d become rather a fan of the Alsatian pizza, flamiche or tarte flambé. All the recipes I had even seen were for an open pizza-style base topped with crème fraîche and lardons of bacon and was very tasty indeed. But Simon’s recipe is based on the speciality of the Roye restaurant La Flamiche, and is called La Flamiche aux Poireaux so more like a flat double crust leek pie but being a massive leek fan; I was very willing to give it a try. Though this was probably quite lucky as the rule of the Waiter, there's something in my... pie event was the pie filling had to be invisible until sliced into and a normal pizza recipe however Alsatian would not have been permitted.

Here is Simon's recipe:


75g butter

1kg leeks, trimmed of most of the green, sliced and well washed

5-6 tbsp double cream

500g puff pastry (you’ll need 2 circles either ready rolled or with the end of a dinner plate template)

1 egg yolk, beaten

freshly grated nutmeg

salt and freshly ground black pepper

You will need 2 fat baking trays with no edges.

Melt the butter in a wide frying pan and cook the leeks gently for about 20 minutes until really soft. Season, turn up the heat and add the cream. Allow to bubble vigorously for a minute or two until the mixture is creamy but not too wet. Tip onto a plate and allow to cool.

Preheat the oven to 200oc. Place one of the baking trays in the oven to get hot. Lightly smear the other tray with butter and on it lay one of the circles of puff pastry. Take the cooled leeks and spread them carefully in a piled, though flattish, circle over the pastry, leaving an edge of 2.5cm uncovered; paint this with egg yolk. Form a lid with the other circle of pastry and allow the edge of this to flop down into the bottom layer. Press together lightly all the way around. Now brush the whole surface with more egg and press the edges together firmly with the tines of a fork. Also make a few small cuts in the centre of the flamiche, so as to allow steam to escape.

Decorate with the point of a knife if you are in an artistic mood. Slide the flamiche into the oven, onto the preheated tray. Bake for around 25 minutes or until golden brown and well crisped. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Cut into wedges and eat with salad or just on its own.

As D and I wandered around Waitrose earlier this evening trying to get inspiration for tonight’s dinner, I suggested this particular flamiche but typically the Pies book I’d purchased from last night’s event for D sadly remained on my coffee table and I had to try and recall the recipe from memory. We concurred that as D had Simon Hopkinson’s Gammon & Spinach book back at home, I only had to remember the required ingredients. And luckily with it being a simple recipe, I somehow remembered the 1kg leeks, 500g puff pastry and a small amount of double cream. We also thought that the ‘men’ would not be terribly happy with just a wedge of leek pie however delicious, so we got some of Waitrose’s finest wild boar and prune sausages to inject the required meat into the meal. The need for two flat baking trays thwarted us slightly so we just attempted to quickly form the pie on one foiled topped pre-heated baking tray and trasnfer that back to the oven, well needs must! When it came to decoration I decided that some pastry leeks adorning the top would look most fetching, but actually they came out like rather sinister squid-like pastry sea creatures and I abandoned ‘plan a’ in favour of a few free hand hearts. Well I do love leeks...and pies!

This certainly didn’t taste like any flamiche or tarte flambé I’d tasted previously but it was a very fine melting soft buttery leek pie and it was very tasty indeed and the prefect foil for the incredibly aromatic dark wild boar and prune sausages.
Not that there was the tiniest doubt previously, but I can definitely say that I am a confirmed pie lover after this. More pie anyone?


RooKnits said...

The pie looks yummy! We are confirmed pie lovers in our house. I must get Sophie's book.

Jeanne said...

That looks *wonderful* (speaking as another confirmed leek fan!). I am also very fond of tarte flambe but have only ever seen the open pizza-like variety - this is an interesting variation. I think my nerve would run out when it came to sliding the assembled pie from one baking sheet to the other! ;-)

Thanks for a great WTSIM contribution & see you again next month :)

Cindy said...

Leeks, butter and cream in pastry... *drool*.

joan said...

totally off the flamiche...but that wonderful picture of the most sculptural food in the world is driving me nuts...i can't get into this category...but let me say , i love reading all your experiments...have to come up with a spectacular beef wellington for the husband's the cute itsy bitsy wellies..and the spoons...glad i came across your site..joan