Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Measure Twice, Cut Once...

The first thrifty recipe today is a version of our traditional 'Fidget Pie'. The bacon used is normally the chunkier sort, sometimes collar bacon - diced, but suggest that those cheapo packs of bacon pieces or offcuts would work really well with this recipe. Remove the fat from these packs and render it down so that you can collect bacon fat - this really does give a lot more flavour when frying than the bog-standard lard or oil.
The pastry is basically 'short-crust', and as this is a savoury pie, best made with lard (cheaper than butter anyway).
Fidget Pie:
8oz (225g) plain flour
pinch of salt
4 oz (100g) lard, diced
2 - 3 tblsp cold water
1 large potato, peeled and chopped
8 oz (225g) streaky bacon (see above) diced
1 large cooking apple, peeled and chopped
salt and pepper
5 fl oz (150ml) water
milk to glaze
Sift the flour and salt into a bowl and run in the lard until like breadcrumbs. Add enough cold water to make a stiff dough, then turn out onto a floured board and knead lightly until smooth. Wrap and chill in the fridge for half an hour.
Meanwhile, grease a 1.75 pt (1 ltr) pie dish and put in the prepared potato, onion. Season lightly, then top this with a mixture of bacon and apple, adding a little more seasoning. Pour in the water.
Roll out the pastry - fairly thickly - to fit the top of the pie dish, leaving enough pastry left to first roll out into a strip to fit round the edges of the dish. Dampen this strip with water, put around the edges, dampen the top and lay the pastry lid over, pressing well down to seal. Cut a few slashes in the top to allow steam to evaporate out. Brush the pastry with milk and bake at 200C, 400F, gas 4 for half an hour or until the pastry is golden, then reduce temperature down to 160C, 325F, gas 3 and bake for a further hour, tenting the pastry with foil (if necessary) to prevent it browning too much. Serve hot with a green vegetable.

This next recipe is for another pastry - this time using porridge oats - and so makes a good covering for a fish pie or fish 'pasty'.
Oat Pastry:
8 oz (225g) plain flour
4 oz (100g) porridge oats
pinch of salt
6 oz (175g) margarine
4 - 5 tblsp cold water
1 egg, beaten (or use milk) for glazing
few oats for sprinkling over pastry
Sift the flour with the salt and stir in the oats. Rub in the margarine until like breadcrumbs and bind with water to a firm consistency. Roll out and use as required, brushing with egg or milk, sprinkling over a few oats and bake at 200C etc. for 10 minutes then reduce heat to 150C and continue baking for a further half hour (timing depends upon what is in the pie, tent with foil if getting too brown).

Most pancake recipes are fairly standard. The one given today is extra economical as it uss less egg and a mixture of water and milk instead of all milk. Add an extra egg if you prefer a richer pancake - but as these are often used as a 'wrapping' to a nourishing filling, there is no need to gild the lily even further. Remember that pancakes - when interleaved - will freeze perfectly and thaw out almost immediately.
Pauper's Pancakes: makes 8
4 oz (100g) plain flour
1 egg
5 fl oz (150ml) milk
5 fl oz (150ml) water
1 tblsp sunflower oil
Put all ingredients into a bowl and whisk until smooth. Wipe a non-stick or heavy frying pan with a butter paper (or a little oil) and bring up to heat. Pour about 2 tblsp of the batter into the pan and swirl around to coat the base evenly. Cook until the top is set then flip the pancake over and cook the reverse side until golden. Slide the pancake onto parchment paper (if intending to layer and freeze) or onto a warm plate and keep hot. Re-grease the pan again and repeat until all the batter has been used up.
Tip: the first pancakes are less likely to stick if a DRY frying pan has been thoroughly heated before adding the oil and batter. Mixing the oil in the batter also helps to prevent sticking.