Friday, 19 October 2012

Friday quickie: Super-easy asparagus pie

If you have been following the oh-so-dramatic story about the incident the ladies at my letting agency refer to as Firegate, you know why I ended up with a bit too much puff pastry on my hands. However, the fire did mess with my cooking plans in general, as I was simply too exhausted and stressed to worry about cooking last week. Ok, I might just have used it as an excuse to pig out a little... But the only thing which helps after a major chock is unhealthy food. Everybody knows that. Right? It's not like I'm just making this up to put off going back to my healthy eating routine.

So, one of the things in my fridge which had started to look a bit worse for wear was two bundles of asparagus. And asparagus is one of those expensive foods you just can't let go to waste. Although, over here, asparagus isn't even that expensive. But in general, I think it's wrong to let food go bad, you should try to use it all up. Of course if it has already gone bad, bin it. There is no point risking food poisoning. Talking about food poisoning, I gave myself the worst case of that a few years ago. I was sick for days. Which of course could mean it wasn't food poisoning after all, as food poisoning is supposed to wear off in about 12 hours or so. I think it was from a yoghurt and mint dressing I had left in the fridge for a day or two too long. And oh my, how sick I was. I won't go into more details than that, but just imagine the worst food poisoning you can. And then multiply that by ten.

If you have something in your fridge which is about to go off, and that same day you run into a recipe on Pinterest with that same ingredient, it's food kismet. You just have to cook that. Especially if you happen to have all necessary ingredients at home so that you don't even need to drag your sorry butt to the grocery store. I ran into this recipe from Martha Stewart which featured not only asparagus, but puff pastry as well. And I have seen similar pies before, and have wanted to try it out. And I even happened to have some grated cheese in the freezer waiting to be used up. All the pieces just fell together, so who am I to resist. On a totally unrelated note, I think all my jeans have magically shrunk in the wash. Even those that haven't been washed. Maybe the smoke somehow made them smaller?

Rustic asparagus pie (Serves 4-6):
500 g puff pastry
125 g grated mature cheddar (or some more fancy cheese if that strikes your... well fancy)
300 g asparagus
oil to drizzle on top (I used my garlic infused virgin rapeseed oil)
ground black pepper to taste

The howto:
Preheat oven to 200 degrees C. Roll out the puff pastry into a rectangle if you are really anal, or into a nice irregular shape if you are more into the whole rustic look. The original recipe said to first bake the pastry for 15 minutes, then add on the rest of the ingredients and bake for another 20-25 minutes. I was in quite a hurry when baking my pie, so I ended up doing everything in one step with no fussing about with pre-baking and stuff. I just rolled out the pastry, sprinkled cheese on it, and lined up my asparagus. Then a drizzle of olive oil and some pepper, and into the oven it went for about 30 minutes. Obviously the looks differ quite drastically from Martha's version...

The verdict:
Well, by comparing the pictures of mine and Martha's pie, you can see how one of them is clearly more relaxed and at ease with the world. I have to admit, the true reason for the rustic look is that I was in a crazy hurry when I made my pie. I didn't quite have time to wait for the pastry to thaw properly, which is why I wasn't able to roll the pastry as thin as I wanted. And so I ended with up with this giant cheese and asparagus puff. But I thought it actually looks quite funny! It's more like an asparagus galette. Very rustic, that is the word you are looking for. Not ugly! Rustic!!

How about the taste? If you don't like puff pastry you won't like this. Because it's basically puff pastry with cheese, with a few stalks of asparagus thrown in for good measure. It's not health food, obviously. It's fat topped with fat topped with a few green stalks. But then again, if you don't like puff pastry, what's wrong with you? It's one of those things everyone claims not to like, but secretly love. It's very wrong, but oh so right. And the flavour of asparagus does come through nicely, so it does count as a proper asparagus pie in my opinion. Of course there are ways of making one that contains about 99% less fat, if you make a proper quiche type of pie, but for a Friday quickie that doesn't require you to get any bowls dirty, just a rolling pin and your fingers, I think it's more than adequate. And I admit to eating two pieces of it as soon as it came out of the oven. It's better warm than piping hot, you could eat it cold but I like the flavour of asparagus better when it's warm. I'm really into this puff pastry phase right now. I just bought an cast iron skillet, and am eagerly awaiting it's arrival. And the first thing I will make? Yes, you guessed right. And I promise to share the results with you, no matter how disastrous. 

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