Monday, 19 March 2012

Puff pizza pie

Pie again. In one of those surreal flights of daydreamery, I imagine a world in which the Talking Heads sing a song called "More Songs About Pies and Food" and I don't even like the Talking Heads...

Anyhoo, this hybrid is something I've been improvising for a long time and it's one I'm particularly likely to rustle up when I already have some leftover puff pastry in the fridge, because I wouldn't buy puff pastry especially for this, and am also feeling somewhat lazy. It is, as the name suggests, a sort of pastry version of a pizza or an open, flat pie. Not unlike those dinky little puff pastry tartlets recipe books suggest you can knock out as a canapé or starter, except this one's a fully grown adult. And with the below ingredients, it's not dissimilar to a flammekuche.

I also call this my deli pie because I'm most likely to assemble it with the sort of nice things you can buy in a deli for a plate of antipasti. And, if I'm honest, my fridge is full of such deli ingredients for precisely that purpose - the evenings when I'm too lazy to cook and just want to sit in front of the TV with a plate of cheese, ham, olives and gherkins.

What you need: 
1/4 pack puff pastry
2 slices of Serrano ham
Artichoke hearts
4-5 pitted black olives
8-10 capers
1 mozzarella
Creme fraiche
Black pepper
Olive oil

What to do: 
Heat the oven to 220C. Sprinkle a little flour onto the work top and roll out the pastry into a 15cm by 15cm (6 inches) square. About 1cm (1/2 inch) in from the edge, score gently all the way round with a sharp knife, being careful not to cut right through.

Smear the base of the pastry, inside the scoreline, with a teaspoon of crème fraiche. Tear the ham into strips and the mozzarella into small pieces. Scatter the ham over the pastry, keeping everything inside the scoreline. Top with the olives, capers and a 3 or 4 artichoke hearts from a jar. Finish with the mozzarella. Drizzle with a little olive oil and season. Brush the edge of the pastry with a little olive oil and bake for about 15-20 minutes until the mozzarella has melted and the pastry has puffed up to a golden rim round the edges.

This goes down well with a green salad on the side.

Cook's tips: 
Pastry likes cold, so keep it in the fridge until you're ready to use it and wash your hands under the cold tap before you start. 

I never buy frozen pastry - when you live alone, a standard 500g slab is far too big, but if you defrost one, you can't refreeze the leftovers to use another time. Buy it fresh. You can quarter it, use what you need then portion and wrap the rest separately in cling film and pop them in the freezer. Then you can just defrost what you need each time.

The beauty of this sort of pie is you can fill it with whatever you have to hand - a little leftover cooked chicken, goat cheese, finely sliced peppers... You could also smear the base of the pie with a little passata or tomato purée. To finish it, you could scatter over a few torn basil leaves, if you have them, or tiny dollops of pesto.