Homity pies are fantastic eaten hot or cold, as individual nibbles or in big, comforting slabs. They freeze and reheat beautifully, and are the ideal sort of food to have in hand for last minute meals. As mentioned in the book, you could use any pastry for this – it’s lovely with a crumbly wholemeal one. But this is a wonderful robust pastry that’s perfect for bite-size pies that can be eaten by hand, and won’t fall apart on the first bite, showering your guests with crumbs and chunks of potato (assuming this is something you want to avoid, of course).
For the pastry:
- 500 g / 4 cups flour
- 20 g / 1 tbsp salt
- 200 g / 10 tbsp / 4 oz butter
- 5 egg yolks mixed with 125 mL / ½ cup water
Combine flour and salt, then rub the butter in until completely combined. Make a well in the centre and pour the egg yolk mix into it, then work it slowly into the flour. Knead just until combined, then pop it in the fridge for about half an hour.
Roll out to a thickness of about 3 mm / 0.1 of an inch, then cut to fit your muffin tin / mini pie tray. Press gently into the tray (if using a muffin tin you only want it to go around 3/4 of the way up), then return to the fridge until you’re ready to fill them. (This is going to make far more than you need, but you can wrap the remaining dough in clingfilm and freeze it until you make another batch).
For the pies:
- 850 g/ a bit less than 2 lbs potatoes, peeled and diced into small-ish chunks
- 25 g / just under 2 tbsp / just under 1 oz butter
- 1 tbsp oil
- 3 diced onions – if you have leeks, about three of them (white parts only) plus a red onion are lovely
- 2 cloves finely chopped / minced garlic
- 100 g / 3 ½ cups / 3 ½ oz fresh spinach (or use frozen and measure by weight)
- 175 g / 1 ¾ cups / 6 oz-ish grated cheese (I always like strong cheddar for flavour, but you could use any cheese you fancy here)
- 250 mL / 1 cup cream
- Herbs to taste – thyme is nice!
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Mustard if wanted – I used around a tbsp of wholegrain
Preheat the oven to 200˚C/ just under 400˚F.
Cook the potatoes until just tender. Drain.
Melt the butter and oil in a frying pan and fry the onions gently until soft and pale golden-brown. Add the garlic and your herbs of choice, then cook for a couple more minutes, stirring regularly.
Combine the onion mix with the potatoes, then mix with about half the cheese, the spinach, mustard and seasoning.
Spoon into the pastry cases, then pour the cream over the top, making sure you spread it as equally as possible so it can trickle down through the layers. Top with the remaining cheese.
Cover the tray with a sheet of foil and bake for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and give it another 10.
Eat hot or cold!
Makes 12 lovely little party pies, but if you want to make one big pie, just use the same filling. Line a big springform pan with your pastry, and bake for about 45 minutes, setting the pan on a roasting tray in case of leaks. It’ll feed about eight.
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