Very doable and rather impressive - if only for its size - what a whopper!
Every time I go home to Somerset to visit my parents which is about once a month, my beyond wonderful mum still takes it upon herself to empty the leftover contents of the fridge into numerous plastic bags and loads me up stumbling out the door with cherry tomatoes tumbling out everywhere as I go. I find them in the boot of the car when I get back to London. And yes sometimes I dust them off, put them back in the bag and use them. Or snaffle them then and there.
Although far from my first days in London, when a low point was eating a stale rice cake with a stock cube crumbled over the top for supper, I am still grateful to her for bounty, that has been known to keep me running food-wise for a week. Thank you, Mum. So many of my weekday suppers often come from what happens to be in the fridge, whether be from a home haul or not. It is possible to make a withered red cabbage edible I promise. With house rents creeping up daily and, as I was shocked at this week, discovering a pint of cider in a perfectly normal pub in London, easily a fiver, it is ever important not to waste, and be creative with what we have.
Last week a roll of puff pastry came back with me. Along with with a small hunk of Montgomery cheddar (arguably Somerset greatest export - http://www.montgomerycheese.co.uk/ ). Pastry and cheese, like gin and tonic, were born to be together. You can mix up the cheeses to your preference or what you have lying around. A good wedge of Stilton would be good for example. The cheeses I used compliment eachother well - a strong Cheddar, a creamy and rich Brie and a nutty, subtle Gruyere.
Supplemented with a couple of other cheeses, some thyme and almonds, this is an easy weekday supper or simple dinner party crowd pleaser. It is incredibly rich (lightened by a crisp salad) but when I first served this, people had 2nds and even one greedy boyfriend who won’t be named, 3rds!
It would be easy to make a smaller version with 1 roll of pastry, by cutting 2 pastry circles out with a side plate rather than a dinner plate. This would feed 4.
2 rolls of ready made puff pastry
200g Montgomery’s cheddar
200g Brie de Meux
3 sprigs of thyme, leaves removed
3 spring onions
100g flaked almonds, toasted
1 egg beaten
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Dust some plain flour on a clean and dry work surface and layout your first roll of pastry.
Place a large dinner plate face down on the pastry and cut round the outside with a sharp knife so you are left with a large circle of pastry. Repeat with the second roll and set that one aside. Keep a dusting of flour between them as they may stick. Cheeky blighters.
Slice up all the cheeses. Slicing into strips works best.
Now the layering - we are looking to layer a mixture of the 3 cheeses on the bottom, then a layer of almonds, spring onions, thyme and a sprinkling of black pepper, repeat until you have run out of cheese and finish with a layer of thyme. Make sure you leave a 2-3 cm gap around the edge of the pastry to allow for sealing.
Brush some of the beaten egg around the edge of the bottom layer of pastry and place the 2nd layer over the top of the cheese.
Seal by pressing a fork down around the edge.
To get the signature pithivier (fancy French name for the pastry pie) markings on the top, carefully score crescent shape on the top, by starting at the centre and working out. Do not puncture the pastry!
Place on a baking tray and glaze with the remaining beaten egg and place in the oven for 30 minutes.
Remove from the oven once golden and all puffed up. It must be puffed up otherwise you will get a saggy soggy pie. Allow to stand for a few minutes before serving.
Serve with a crispy salad and cold meats.