Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Potato, Red Pepper and Spinach Pithivier

I feel as though I’ve been AWOL for ages! We’ve certainly been eating but I haven’t cooked anything new for a while. To be honest I got into a bit of a rut and just couldn’t be bothered, so I fell back on old favourites and things I could cook almost with my eyes shut.

I’m still not firing on all cylinders yet, but I did drag myself into the kitchen at the weekend to cook this rather fetching Potato, Red Pepper and Spinach Pithivier. It was inspired by a recipe I saw on the BBC pages from the Great British Bake Off.

I have a confession to make here: I have never watched Bake Off! Yes, I know…shocking, isn’t it? I realise Mary Berry is supposedly a national treasure but she irritates the life out of me and, frankly, I think Paul Hollywood is just creepy. I don’t like cookery programmes much at all, really, and I very rarely watch them; I just don’t see cooking as a spectator sport. It’s OK if you think I’m odd – I don’t mind!

Anyway…. having never seen the programme I have no idea whether my modified effort would pass muster or not, nor do I care, but I think it was pretty good and we enjoyed it. There’s nothing very tricky about it and no fancy ingredients, but the flavours seemed to go together really well and, as a bonus, it was just as good cold the next day.

In making this I'm sure you won’t be surprised to see I’ve used ready-made pastry – I’m making no apologies; life’s too short and I’m far too old to faff about making puff pastry.

250g new potatoes
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely sliced
1 red pepper, sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
150g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp thyme leaves
150g baby leaf spinach
1 large egg
100g feta
500g puff pastry

Boil or steam the potatoes until tender, allow to cool, then cut into 5mm thick slices.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil and fry the onion and pepper until softened and starting to colour; add the garlic and fry for a minute more. Remove from the pan and set aside to cool.

Add the other tablespoon of oil to the same pan along with the thyme leaves and fry the mushrooms until golden; take the pan off the heat and add the spinach leaves. Stir the spinach around in the hot pan until wilted. Set aside.

Roll out the pastry to the thickness of a £1 coin and cut out two circles – one of 20cm and one of 25cm – I cut around a saucepan lid and a plate.

Turn the oven on to 220C.

Put the smaller circle of pastry on a baking tray lined with bakewell paper; place the potato slices in overlapping circles on the pastry, leaving a border all round of about 2cm, then cover the potatoes with the onion and pepper mixture.

Beat the egg in a small bowl and add most of it (keep a tablespoon back to use as egg-wash) to the mushrooms and spinach; stir well then pile this mixture on top of the onions and pepper.

Crumble the feta on top then brush the border of the pastry with a little of the reserved egg; cover with the larger pastry circle, smooth down, and press the edges together to seal. Crimp the edges of the pastry with a fork or the handle of a spoon.

Make a small hole in the centre of the pithivier to allow the steam to escape, and poke a few extra holes around the sides, then brush all over with the reserved beaten egg. Make a sunburst pattern radiating from the central hole by lightly scoring the pastry with a sharp knife but DON'T cut all the way through, for goodness sake, or you'll find all the filling on the baking tray!

Bake at 220C for 10 minutes, then turn the oven down to 200C and bake for another 15 minutes or so until a deep golden brown.

Place on a wire rack to cool a bit and serve warm.

Serves 4.

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