Saturday, December 14, 2013

Picnic Basket PIe

So Jane, Ivy and I have become hooked on British competitive cooking show, The Great British Bake Off which just concluded it's fourth season some months ago. We decided to have a bake off of our own for our Don't Call Me Chef column in the newspaper this month. You can read about our mini challenge here.

Well, ours wasn't really a bake-off. We weren't judges and there wasn't any prize money at the end of it all. We each identified a challenge which the participants done during the season and tried our best to recreate it, following their recipe and the stipulated time they were given.

It was hard.

Those home bakers are amazing and their recipes are really challenging (and super long).

I chose to make Bake-Off finalist Ruby Tandoh's Vegetarian Picnic Basket Pie. I chose Ruby's pie because it was vegetarian and also because it looked great and sounded delicious.

That's the picture of my pie on top. It doesn't look too bad, right? Actually I was quite pleased with the result. But it's not nearly as beautiful as her's (see the picture below!)

Ruby Tandoh's Vegetarian Picnic Basket Pie

Ain't it cute?

Looks aside, this pie was delicious. Judge Paul Hollywood described it as being "sublime" ... which isn't too high praise, I think, for such a masterpiece. You can click here for the full recipe.

Let me start by extolling the virtues of Ruby's pastry. It's a shortcrust pastry which I have made countless times before. But Ruby adds a little baking powder to the mix which lightens the pastry. Delicious. And, amazingly, though flaky and short, it's sturdy too.

And, I had fun making the lattice top of the picnic basket pie.

Next: the filling. Ruby's pie has a layered filling. The top and bottom layers are made of cous cous which she flavours with sundried tomatoes. Oh my! It's yummy and it also prevents the moisture from the other layers from making the pastry soggy.

Next there is a thick layer of roasted vegetables: eggplants, red peppers and zucchini. 

Then there is a layer of Mozarella cheese and another of Halloumi, grilled.

The combination of flavours are just so yummy and the layers look so pretty (see the picture above).

I was so inspired by her pie that I've made it a few times since, changing the fillings each time. My favourite at the moment is one I made with leeks, mushrooms, roasted cauliflower puree, carrots and sweet basil.

I dare say that these pies debunk the myth that vegetarian pies are inferior to meat pies. I kid you not. Even with the notoriously bland cauliflower (which simply transforms when roasted) and the unglamorous carrot (pickled with some vinegar and it's a slaw to die for).


  1. Nice post.

    May I please tell you that these words are possessives, and NEVER have an apostrophe: his, hers, its, theirs, ours, yours.

    The word "it's" is a contraction, which is short for "it is."

    "Its" is just the possessive for "it."


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