One of the things I’ve never mastered in the kitchen is making pastry. I’m hopeless at baking, I can’t even make dumpling dough, and certainly not other, more complicated types of pastry. Fortunately, it can be bought in shops nowadays, so even complete pastry incompetents like me can bake something nice.
Of course, being too dumb to make the dough is not enough, I’m also too lazy to make any complicated stuffing for these things, which I call puffs (for puff pastry, and because they look like small pillows) but which would probably count as… small pies? I don’t really know.
Anyway, if You can get Your hands on some ready-made pastry of sensible quality, You can make those easily. If not, well… I know of people who are actually able to make it, out of raw components, I’ve seen them do it even (mostly in France, as it comes from there, they call it pâte feuilletée, while we call it “french pastry.” Original, I know), but it still looks like sorcery to me. Or worse, because I have some understanding of magic
It’s easy to make and can actually impress some people, even if You don’t pretend it’s all Your work, because these things are rarely done at home. So, if You have guests coming and want to treat them to something less usual, these are a good idea. Plus, You can always make bats and other witchy patterns on them, Magrat-style.
- Package of puff pastry
- Green olives, shallots or leek – something green and strong-tasting (broccoli or cabbage don’t work)
- Feta cheese or plain quark if feta is too salty for you – something white and cheesy
- Olive oil
- Spices : I put rosemary and thyme because I had them, allspice is also good, but not too much of it. Basil, oregano, pepper, but go easy on the salt because cheeses have lots of it already. Generally, depending on the vegetables and cheese You choose the filling will need stronger or milder seasoning.
Heat up olive oil on a frying pan. Dice, or slice, all the vegetables and cheese. Fry all the stuffing ingredients on the pan for just enough time to melt the cheese – it’s going in the oven anyway so there’s no sense in doing the same work twice. I usually dice the ingredients really small because I like a more homogeneous filling, but I know of people who like big, distinguishable bits of various vegetables, too.
Once You have something resembling a mass, take it off the fire. Spread the dough on a clean, flat surface, and cut it in rectangles. This can be done in several ways – You can cut squares, put the filling on their center, and fold the corners inwards. You can cut squares, match them in pairs and only put the filling on every second square, then mold them together. You can cut oblongs and place the filling on one half, then fold them over to cover it.
For this case I took the second method, and on the picture here you can see half of my dough with filling. When using puff pastry for pies with filling, it’s a popular way to leave parts of the filling uncovered, but for this one I don’t recommend it. You need to make more filling if you want it to show and it dries up too much.
So, mold your pastries however you choose, and put them in the oven over medium-ish to small heat. For this kind of dough (and, well, generally) it’s always better to under-do than to overdo, because if it’s not done yet you can always keep it in the oven a little longer, but once it’s burned, you can’t un-burn it.
A good rule of thumb for this kind of pastry is – if you can smell it from the oven, it’s nearing completion. Take them out when their colour satisfies you, but be warned – letting it past honey-amber colour is a bad idea. Filling will be very hot, so watch out.