I love the quiet time after Christmas. It’s so peaceful here. No rushing about trying to keep up with the world. I hold on to that feeling of calm for as long as I can. I’m reluctant to drive to the shops. So I look about the house and garden. Leeks and potatoes are plentiful, so I make one of my favourite recipes, Leek and Potato pie. They are easy to make, and it’s lovely to come indoors from a session in the garden and find tasty little pies for tea. Dashing about, dealing with shopping, parking and self service tills that never seem to work, can all wait for another day.
A quantity of shortcrust pastry, or 2 rolls of filo or 2 packs puff pastry, rolled out and cut into approx 12cm squares.
800g potatoes, chopped into approx 2.5cm chunks
2 red onions
1 heaped tbsp plain flour
130g cheddar cheese
Pinch of salt/black pepper
Optional. If you have them:
Pinch of paprika and cayenne pepper
Half tsp Lea and Perrins Worcestershire Sauce
Pinch of mustard powder
Chopped chives, sage, thyme, marjoram, parsley.
1 beaten egg for glazing
Boil the potatoes until they are just cooked, but still slightly firm. Drain and set aside to cool.
Melt the butter and add the leeks and onions and cook gently until soft.
Add the flour and cook gently for 2 minutes, stirring the mixture so it doesn’t burn.
Remove from the heat and add a few tablespoons of the milk and stir well to incorporate. Add the rest of the milk, a bit at a time, stirring well.
Return to the heat and cook for a few minutes until the sauce thickens, stirring to prevent burning.
Remove from the heat while you grate the cheese.
Add the grated cheese, the seasoning and optional ingredients.
Gently fold the sauce mixture into the cooked potatoes.
Divide the mixture between the pastry squares. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking tray.
Pull the four corners inwards to meet in the centre, folding one corner over the other like closing an envelope. Pinch along the folds to hold the folds together. Some beaten egg will help the pastry to stick together.
Brush the pies with beaten egg.
Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until the pastry is puffed and the filling is piping hot. The parcels may open up a little as they bake.
Sprinkle over some reserved fresh herbs.
Make picnic versions by using silicone muffin trays.
Vary the recipe by adding whatever vegetables you have in store. If you eat fish, you can add tuna. If you are vegan, use soya margarine, soya milk and brush the pies with almond milk. Add chestnut mushrooms and chopped nuts instead of cheese.
300g plain flour
1tbsp or 15ml baking powder
150g butter or margarine
3-4tbsp or 45-60ml water.
Put the flour and baking power in a basin. Rub in the fat until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add sufficient water to give a soft but manageable dough.
Note: use warm water if using wholemeal flour.
The photo below shows filo pastry pies, made in muffin trays.
They don’t have to be perfect shapes. Enjoy!