With spring firmly on the horizon (let’s assume the snow predictions aren’t going to come true), it’s time to quit the world of soups, casseroles and pies, and go towards a different pastry-for-dinner menu. No more saucy chicken pies or steak and ale brimming with gravy, pastry top AND bottom. I suggest this week to explore Greek style pies and French style tarts.
Filo pastry, beloved of the Greek ‘pita’ which means 'pie' not ‘flatbread’, is as versatile as shortcrust and we need no excuse for not making our own at home – we're not Greek yayas after all.
It isn’t half as daunting to work with as it might be perceived, either. Just keep the stack covered and brush each sheet with lots of oil or melted butter. And then it’s only a matter of filling. With spinach and cheese you could make the best loved pie, spanakopita; or its Spanish version, empanada. Add some leftover lamb and bake a Greek lamb and spinach filo pie. Or if you have some cold roast duck or chicken, you could create some Moroccan flavours with a duck pastilla.
And make sure you use up scraps of filo to make sweet pastry shards to go into a Greek version of Eton mess.
Shop-bought puff pastry has lots of applications too: tomato Tatin for a simple dish or the sumptuous celeriac Wellington.
Shortcrust base will be great for a tomato crostata or baked Camembert. And if you have some pizza dough knocking about the freezer, there’s the gorgeous beet leaf tart or olive and onion pissaladiere. Oh – and there’s pizza, too. I almost forgot.
Hope this has given you some ideas for spring dinners and suppers, and if you are on a roll, a batch of Danish bagel wheels will make a great snack or brunch. Happy baking!