Saturday, 14 March 2009

Four and twenty blackbirds...

...baked in a..."pie, pie, pie, pie, pie, pie, pie, pie, pie, pie, pie"

Whilst lying in bed with the laptop last night uploading some photos I couldn't help myself from chanting "pie" over and over again. I don't think N could decide if it was hilarious, cute or just downright weird. However, upon discovering that today is "Pi day" in the states (because their dates are written month then day, hence 3.14) I can't help but think I was being channeled by the god of pie in anticipation of this wonderful day.

I can't quite get my head around the American date system, but I can get behind anything that involves pie, and I must admit that I have baked forms of pie twice this week. I know it must seem strange given that the weather has finally begun to feel like spring, the daffodils are out and the sunshine making an appearance almost every day. I should be wanting to make lighter dishes, but somehow pie has been on my brain. I didn't make as much pie this winter as I would have liked. We eat such carbohydrate/root veg based meals that having a pie for dessert seemed like overkill, and in an attempt to constantly wade through the mound of root veg piled in the bowl I made mash, and roasts rather than pie, because I just can't face a pie that is filled with another stodgy thing.

So the pies got a bit lost. A tragedy considering the beauty of my red pie dish and the addition of a pie blackbird to my cooking kit at Christmas. Then a few weeks ago I discovered this recipe for mushroom bourguignon. Having recently come back around to mushrooms (years of slimey, badly cooked mushrooms put me off ever wanting to eat or cook them again, until I discovered that if you do it right they can be wonderful) I decided to give it a go. It was delicious. We had it ladled over mash with some broccolli on the side. However, as I was eating it all I could think of was how good it would taste in a pie if made with a mix of mushrooms.A trip to Borough Market and the amazing mushroom stall a few weeks later and I was set. On Monday I made it and it was a resounding success and I am already trying to work out how many more times I can make it before it really does become to warm and spring-like for a hearty pie dish.

"pie, pie, pie, pie, pie, pie, pie, pie"


10oz plain flour
5oz of cold butter, cut into small cubes
cold milk

cut or rub the butter into the flour until you get a coarse, almost breadcrumb-like, mixture (I admittedly can never be bother to be quite this precise, I just do it until it looks about right, and if there are a few larger clumps so be it.) Add only enough milk to make the dough just come together. I find it various according to the flour, so add a little at a time until it's just right, and sometimes I stop a little on the dry side to err on caution.

form into a ball and place in the fridge until needed.

Mushroom filling

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 1/2 pounds mixed mushrooms. I used Portobello, chesnut and porchini
1/2 carrot, finely diced
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, (I used smoked) smushed in a garlic press.
1 cup full-bodied red wine
2 cups vegetable stock
2 tablespoons tomato purree
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Heat the one tablespoon of the olive oil and one tablespoon of butter in a medium casserole or heavy sauce pan over high heat. Cooke the mushrooms until they begin to darken, but don’t release any liquid. Remove them from the pan and place in a bowl to one side.

Lower the heat to medium and add the rest of the of oil. Cook the carrots, onions, rosemary with a large pinch of salt and a lots of black pepper, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute.

Add the wine, then turn the heat up and reduce the liquid by half. Stir in the tomato purree and the stock. Return the mushrooms to the pan with any juices that have collected. Bring to the boil and then reduce the temperature and simmer for 20 minutes, or until mushrooms are very tender.

Combine the remaining butter with the flour with a fork until combined; stir it into the mixture. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 more minutes. Leave to cool before placing in the pie dish so you don’t melt the butter in the pastry.

Preheat the over to 200C

Once cooled, remove the pastry from the fridge. Divide in two. Roll out the first piece so that it will cover the pie dish base, sides and lip, with some overlap. Roll out the second piece as the lid and cut a steam vent in the middle. Place the cooled filling in the pastry lined dish, add the blackbird funnel if using. Wet the edges of the pastry with milk then place over the lid (with the steam vent over the funnel) pressing down all around the edge to seal. Brush with milk and then place in the over for 20-25 minutes, or until the pastry is golden.

Remove, serve and enjoy your, "pie, pie, pie, pie, pie, pie, pie, pie!"
As a total fluke my pastry turned out to be really flakey, hurrah!


  1. that look SO good-- mushrooms are my absolute favorite.

    I can't explain our date system to you... I think over here, we all like it because we're used to it-- but we're definitely not going to argue that it makes any sense :)

    but nevertheless-- pie day it was, and pie I am making... I must say I wish I had made YOUR pie, because I'm just not that big of a sweet tooth. Over here, pie is much more synonymous with "sweet." Some Irish bars around here do have Sheppard's Pie... but it's nothing compared to the real European thing. Maybe I'll try to make it sometime, show some of my fellow Americans what non-sweet pie can be!

    Happy Pie Day!!

  2. You should definitely try this it's so great. Quite rich, but worth it!

    I can't wait to see how your pie went. I think I might make a sweet pie this week too. You can never have too much pie if you ask me and I want to squeeze in a final few before the weather gets too warm.

    Happy Pi day indeed (or week, we can stretch it right?!)

  3. I think pies might be amongst my favourite things in the world. And that looks like it belongs up there with the best of them.

  4. Thanks for the pie complement, and for visiting. If you're into pies this is definitely one to try before the warm weather sets in. Pick a rainy day and a nice bottle of red wine. Nuff said!