Sunday, June 12, 2016

Cheese & Football Feast Day 2: England

Day 2 of the Euro 2016 tournament sees England play Russia and my chosen cheese feast celebrates that hearty combination of cheese, potato, onion, parsley and pastry.  Not for the faint hearted, but very much for the lionhearted. It is of course Homity Pie.
And I may be dreaming but I've chosen Champion from Badger Brewery as the matching beer.

Homity pie was made popular in the seventies by the London based vegetarian restaurant chain Cranks, and if bean salads, raw vegetables and wholemeal pastry was your thing this was where to go. It was virtuous eating for those with big appetites, but if you liked looking at food rather than eating it you would have sat down in Anton Mosimann's nouvelle cuisine restaurant at The Dorchester instead. I jest, but the no cream or butter mantra of the time, did seem to coincide with rather drastic reductions in portion sizes too.

In the 1980's Cranks published a cookbook which I think I bought just for this pie, but that is one more recipe than I ever cooked from my Mosiman books, beautiful though they are. 
Wholemeal pastry is no longer in such vogue but it does go well here, adding a more nutty flavour to the dish, so stick with it if you can but use fresh wholemeal flour. So whilst I have a place in my heart for wholemeal pastry I still feel utter dismay that there was ever such a strong trend to use Carob as a substitute for chocolate.  
Crank's version for this pie does not have any cream in the filling but I was rather taken by the 'Hairy Bikers' recipe which also has a small amount of spinach and quite a lot of cream, in the otherwise plain potato, onion, parsley and cheese filling. The cheese is of course Cheddar, and I like the fairly local to me Quicke's Mature Cheddar. They make very good goats milk and ewes milk cheddar style cheeses too.
Homity pie works very well as a deep filled pie/flan and is at its best when freshly baked and still warm, but not piping hot. The wholemeal pastry is actually quite difficult to cut until it has cooled a little anyway. Try to use a loose bottomed metal flan tin to ease removing the pie or be prepared to have a messy first slice.
The 'Bikers' recipe makes a rather large pie and I cut the ingredients back by a third to make this one. There was still plenty of pie for 4 persons and a green salad would have been a refreshing accompaniment but this was football food so we passed on the salad.

For day 3 I travel to the Ukraine, for more cheese and potato magic.

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