Book: “Pies: Sweet and Savory”; 352 pages; $25, by Caroline Bretherton. Published by DK, 2013.
About the book: An experienced cook who has hosted television food programs and contributed to a number of newspapers including London’s “The Times,” Bretherton has put together an international collection of pie and tart recipes that offers a wide variety of sweet and savory dishes.
In her own words: “It’s time that pies and tarts had their moment in the sun. For too long, these versatile dishes have been neglected, thought by many to be old-fashioned and heavy. There are, however, as many different types of pie and tart as you have the imagination to create.”
What you get: Chapters organized by main ingredients: Recipe Planners, Meat Pies and Tarts, Poultry Pies and Tarts, In Praise of Pie Dough, Fish Pies and Tarts, Vegetarian Pies and Tarts, Fruit Pies and Tarts, Chocolate Pies and Tarts, and Other Sweet Pies and Tarts. Delectable-looking, close-up photographs by William Reavell accompany many of the recipes. On our list to try: Beef, Fennel and Mushroom Cobbler (P. 35); Chicken Pot Pies (P. 74); Salmon and Spinach Quiche (P. 138); Herby Feta Filo Pie (P. 198); Rocky Road Ice Cream Pie (P. 312); and Shoo Fly Pie (P. 320).
What we made:
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 50 minutes
For the topping:
1½ pounds Russet Burbank potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 pats of butter
For the filling:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 celery stalks, finely chopped
3 carrots, finely chopped
7 ounces cremini mushrooms, coarsely chopped
Handful of thyme springs, leaves picked
Splash of dark soy sauce
14-ounce can aduki beans, drained and rinsed
2/3 cup hot vegetable stock
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. To make the topping, cook the potatoes in a large saucepan of salted boiling water for 15-20 minutes, until soft. Drain, then return the potatoes to the pan and mash. Add a pat of butter and mash again, then set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over low heat. Add the onion, bay leaf and a pinch of salt, and sweat for about 5 minutes, until the onion is soft. Next, add the celery and carrots and continue to sweat gently for another 5 minutes.
Pulse the mushrooms in a food processor until broken down; you want them shredded but not mushy. Add these to the pan, along with the thyme leaves and soy sauce, and cook for another 5-10 minutes, until the mushrooms begin to release their juices. Add the aduki beans, and season well with the salt and pepper. Pour in the stock, bring to a boil, reduce the heat slightly; and simmer gently for 5 minutes.
Pour the filling into the dish and top with the set-aside mashed potatoes. Dot with the remaining butter and bake until the top starts to become crisp and golden. Serve hot.
Our assessment: A vegetarian twist on a traditional meat-based dish, this recipe is tasty and filling. For a St. Patrick’s Day version, we used lentils rather than aduki beans and boiled them while peeling potatoes and chopping the other vegetables. We also substituted Worcestershire sauce for soy sauce. This one-dish meal would go great with a pint of Guinness.