One of the best things about food blogging is meeting fellow bloggers. Case in point is Christie from Fig & Cherry who has proved to be a great blogging friend and a lot of fun to hang out with. We have a lot in common, from obviously loving food, Dexter, pillow menus, hotels to being bossy chatterboxes. So when she read about our visit to Dunes, we got to talking and she mentioned that she hadn't been to Palm Beach before. It seemed a tragedy for a Sydney-Sider so we sought to rectify this as soon as possible. However the weather gods decided to not let us have our picnic in the end. Such is the crazy weather that we've been having lately.
I was watching Food Safari's episode on England and was fascinated by the way they made Pork Pies. I had one whilst in London and it was delicious, particularly the pastry (just don't look at the nutritional information, you'll think it's a misprint but I'm afraid not!). I had heard that the traditional way to make English pastry for things such as Steak and Kidney pie is through using Suet ( the hard fat around the kidneys and loins in beef and sheep) but I had yet to cook with it. Sure it wasn't in anyway healthy but I figure a few times eating it in your lifetime can't hurt. But I dipped a trepidatious toe in the Suet pool by buying a Suet mix where I simply added flour, cold water and salt to create the pastry. If it worked, I'd look at ordering some from the butcher's. Because I was pressed for time as I was making this on a Friday I took some shortcuts with the pastry and frozen spinach.
We woke on the Saturday morning to a light howling of wind and an overcast day. It seemed that today was not going to be the day to go to Palm Beach so we made alternate plans. As for the fate of this pie? It was my husband's lunch, well received, and eaten picnic style with his hands. Just in front of a computer.
Italo Anglo Picnic Pie: Mortadella, Ricotta and Olive pie
For the pastry
1 250g/9oz packet Suet mix
1/3 cup cold water
1/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon smoked salt
Plus 1 sheet of puff pastry, cut into the shape of the base of the springform. Store in fridge until ready.
For the filling
500g/1 pound ricotta cheese
250g/1/2 pound packet frozen spinach, thawed
200g/7ozs mortadella with olives, cut into pieces
125g/4ozs reggiano grated finely
1 clove garlic chopped
1/2 spanish red onion, chopped
2 eggs, beaten lightly
1.5 teaspoons smoked salt
10 stuffed, pitted olives
2 tablespoons of milk to glaze
Springform tin, buttered and lined at the bottom with parchment
Step 1 - Make suet pastry according to directions (basically mix the water, flour, salt and Suet mix in a bowl and knead into a small ball) and place in fridge for 15 minutes. Preheat oven on 200C.
Step 2 - Meanwhile put together the filling. Mix all ingredients except for olives in a bowl and keep in fridge.
Step 3 - Roll out suet pastry into as large as circle as you can make on a lightly floured board with a floured rolling pin (it should cover the bottom and go all the way up the sides of the springform tin, I used a measuring tape just in case) and lift into the tin carefully and fit into the sides of the tin leaving some hanging over the edges.
With puff pastry round on top of filling
Step 4 - Place filling inside and pat down so that it is smooth. Stud with olives and then take the puff pastry round from the fridge and place on top of the filling. Then fold suet pastry edges over and seal. Poke steam holes with a fork and brush with milk.
Step 5 - Bake for 15 minutes at 200c and then lower the temperature to 180C and bake for 35 minutes until the edges are golden. The puff pastry centre may not be golden so raise the temperature up to 200C and bake for a further 10-15 minutes until the whole top is golden. Leave for about half an hour to cool or do as we wanted to do and leave it, once cooled in the fridge to eat the next day, cold on a picnic with some good friends.