It feels decidedly wintery outside so who could blame you for needing a bit of a cheer up.
The solution has arrived, and it isn’t a SAD machine. In fact, it is an age old solution that still works a treat. Bake a pie! Yes, happiness is home made and nothing says happy like a big old steaming hot pie.
I recently decided to put this theory to the test and cheer myself and my family up with some delicious home baking. On a freezing Sunday afternoon I decided to turn on the heating, crank up the radio and get cooking. Maxine Clark’s Pies Glorious Pies seemed like a good place to start. Having never made a pie from scratch before I was more than slightly concerned about the possible outcome. Remembering my grandmother’s favourite mantra ”cooking is like love…It should be entered into with abandon or not at all” I decided to put pre-pie nerves aside and jump in with both feet – this was going to be the best pie ever…
And so it was…well almost. Salmon Koulibiaca, my pie of choice, turned out to be great fun to make. Including eggs, basmati rice, mushrooms, lots of smoked salmon and puff pastry, quite a lot of preparation time was needed. The best part was piling all of the filling into the centre of the pastry and stretching the pastry over the top to try to enclose it all. My attempts were pretty farcical as the filling spilled out from every edge.
When the pie (eventually) came out of the oven and we all tucked in, it was truly delicious – although my carpe diem attitude did lead to a dangerous over use of dill, which even I admit was perhaps a bit too overbearing in flavour.
Over zealous dill-use aside, this was a delightful dish and the perfect winter warmer, it comes highly recommending, even from a pie making novice like me.
If you fancy giving it a go, here is the recipe, let us know what you think:
Roast Smoked Salmon Koulibiaca
Note from Maxine:
I have been very fortunate to collaborate with Rosie Campbell-Preston of Inverawe Smokehouses over the past ten years. We have created some delicious smoked fish recipes together, this being a favourite. Roast smoked salmon is brined salmon, suspended over hot smoke, which cooks and smokes it at the same time. Serve
in generous slices with a mixed-leaf salad tossed in a sharp lemony dressing.
75 g/5 tablespoons butter
6 spring onions/scallions, chopped
125 g/41⁄2 oz. button mushrooms, roughly chopped
75 g/1⁄3 cup basmati rice
225 ml/scant 1 cup light fish stock
600 g/1 lb. 5 oz. roast smoked salmon (or smoked salmon)
2 large eggs, hard-boiled
1–2 tablespoons chopped
3 tablespoons chopped
finely grated zest and freshly squeezed juice of ½ lemon
1 recipe Rough Puff Pastry
(see page 25) or Cheat’s Puff Pastry (see page 27)
1 egg, lightly beaten
salt and freshly ground
a heavy baking sheet, greased
Melt the butter in a saucepan set over medium heat, add the spring onions/scallions and mushrooms and cook for 2–3 minutes. Stir in the rice and mix well, then pour in the fish stock. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down to low, cover and simmer for 12 minutes. Remove from the heat, uncover and leave to cool.
Break the roast smoked salmon into large flakes (or roughly chop the smoked salmon) and place in a mixing bowl. Roughly chop the hard-boiled eggs and add to the salmon with half the dill and half the parsley, mixing well. Taste and season, but don’t use too much salt as the salmon will be salty.
Tip the cooked rice into another bowl and use a fork to fluff it
up, then mix in the remaining dill and parsley and the lemon zest and juice. Taste and season.
Roll out the pastry to a 35 x 27-cm/14 x 11-inch rectangle directly onto a piece of clingfilm/plastic wrap. Spoon half the rice mix onto the centre of the pastry, widthways leaving a good bit of pastry at either side that will eventually wrap over the filling. Leave a border of at least 2.5 cm/1 inch at either end.
Carefully spoon the salmon mix evenly over the rice, piling it high. You may want to use your hands to mould this into shape.
Top with the remaining rice mix, pressing and moulding it into
a rounded loaf shape.
Bring one side of the pastry up and over the filling, brush the edge with beaten egg, then bring the other side over to enclose the filling completely. Pinch the ends to seal. Using the clingfilm/plastic wrap, carefully flip over onto the prepared baking sheet so that
the sealed edges are underneath. Brush the surface of the pastry all over with the beaten egg. (If it is a special occasion, use extra pastry
to cut into fish shapes to decorate, then glaze again. Alternatively, glaze first, then use the tip of a teaspoon to indent half-moons to resemble fish scales.) Chill for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F) Gas 7.
Bake in the preheated oven for 20–25 minutes or until deep golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave it to rest for about 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
Pies, Glorious Pies by Maxine Clarke is published by Ryland Peters & Small at £16.99.
Watch out for my next Pies blog, which will feature culinary efforts from around the office!
More of our fantastic food books here.