I love food! Not just eating it, but creating it. What beats an afternoon in the kitchen, making a mess as well as scrumptious treats? But when a friend had to alter her diet due to food intolerances I realised not everyone can carelessly indulge. So I set out to make a cake she could eat, and when I achieved a flourless, vegan chocolate cake that tasted pretty good I wondered what else was possible. And so my journey begins into a world of baking where there is always something missing...
Thursday, 12 April 2012
Vegetarian ‘Pork’ Pie Recipe
Since starting up my ‘Something Missing’ blog I have wanted to set myself a bit of a baking challenge and stretch my imagination in terms of substituting one set of ingredients with another but still getting a final result that matches the original product. After thinking long and hard about things that I enjoy that others on restricted diets may not be able to I decided upon attempting to make a traditional pork pie but replacing the pork with a vegetarian alternative. I didn’t just want to make a vegetable pie but wanted something that was similar to the texture and taste of a pork pie (not that I was planning on coming up with something that tasted majorly of pork but that had the subtle flavourings associated with the British classic). With summer coming and a season of picnics and packed lunches on the beach ahead of us (yup I am on optimistic Brit and am ever hopeful that the sun will shine all summer long) nothing beats the crumbly texture of a Melton Mowbray Pie, filled with pork and lined with luscious jelly. So I dissected each of these elements, turned them veggie and produced a final result that I think any vegetarian would be happy to eat alongside a carnivore (in fact I think a lot of carnivores would be pretty happy to eat these too)…and if you didn’t bother with an egg wash on the pastry these little beauties would be vegan too!!
290g plain flour
120g vegetable fat (I used Cookeen – a vegetable alternative to lard)
350g silken tofu
1 medium carrot grated
1 teaspoon mustard
½ teaspoon dried sage
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon mace
Pinch of salt and pepper
1 beaten egg to glaze the pie with
Vegetarian setting agent (I used Vegeset)
Put the flour and salt into a bowl, add half of the fat and rub into the flour mixture.
Add the remaining fat and the water to a small saucepan and place over a medium heat until the fat is melted and the mixture begins to boil.
Add the hot fat and water mixture to the flour and mix together with a wooden spoon.
As soon as the mixture is cool enough to handle knead well on a floured surface for 5 minutes until the mixture has a smooth texture.
Divide the mixture into 10 equal balls, wrap in cling film and place in the fridge overnight.
The next day remove the pastry from the fridge and allow to warm slightly so that it is easier to handle. Then pre-heat the oven to 200 deg C / 390 deg F.
Whilst the pastry is warming put the tofu into a large bowl and mash until it is broken down. Then add the rest of the filling ingredients and mix well until well combined. Set to one side.
Now is the part where you mould the pastry to form free standing pie cases (as detailed in the photos below). To start take one of the balls of dough and form it into a small disk. Then gradually work the disk with your forefingers and thumbs pushing into the centre of the disk to make an indentation whilst raising up the sides of the pastry to form a small dish. Keep doing this until the sides have been worked up to about 4-5cm in height trying to ensure and even thickness of the pastry all the way around.
Repeat this process with another 7 of the balls of pastry dough (you want to leave 2 of the balls to make lids to the pies with). Then spoon the filling mixture into each pie casing, pushing it down and packing it in quite snugly. Depending on how large you end up making your pie cases you may have some filling left over so don’t panic if you do…it’s quite yummy just gently fried up and stuck in a sandwich!!
Now take the remaining 2 balls of pastry dough and split each into 4. Using either just your finger tips or if you prefer use a rolling pin to make 8 disks that will form the lid of each pie. Place the lid onto the pie and use your fingers to pinch together the edges of the pie case and lid (see photo above). Then trim any excess from around the edges to neaten up the pie (I did this with my kitchen scissors!!)
Place the pies onto a baking tray and make a hole in the centre of each lid with the tip of a sharp knife. Then use a pastry brush to coat each pie with the beaten egg. Place the baking tray into the oven and bake for 50 minutes to an 1 hour. After this time the pies should be nicely golden brown so remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
Now for the jelly (a ‘pork’ pie wouldn’t be a pork pie without it!) I used a vegetarian setting agent called Vegeset. There are other veggie friendly gelatine alternatives available on the market so best to follow the instructions for whichever you get. But I added 1 large teaspoon of Vegeset to a pint of cool vegetable stock (I cheated and used a vegetable stock cube, then added a couple of bay leaves to the stock and allowed it to infuse for a while to enhance the flavour a bit…but if you make your own stock from scratch this would probably taste even better). I then brought the stock up to the boil stirring all the time until it began to thicken.
Once you have followed your setting agents instructions transfer the jellified stock to a small pouring jug and then pour the contents into the top of each pie through the small hole in the pie lid. This process make take a bit of time and patience as you allow the stock to bubble through the hole. But once each pie has had its helping of jelly (and this may not use a whole pint of liquid, again depending on how large your pies turned out to be) leave the pies to cool.
Once cooled pack up your pies for your summer picnic…or alternatively dive right in.