Vegetarians Spoilt Rotten

Let’s take a trip through time and space… to last week.

Skills kitchen: Learning to make Pithiviers.

A pithvier is a pie basically and it can either be made sweet or savoury. We have a test on making them at some point with frangipane in the middle and apparently they can explode in the oven which gets you marked down. As you can guess, nobody is looking forward to that.

This is a photo I’ve nicked off of somebody from last year’s final test, needless to say this is just the sink. Shameful I know, but we couldn’t help it!!! We all produced souffles, a gateau and langue du chats within 3 hours.

I digress, minus the negatives, the beauty of a pithivier is that it can be interpreted anyway you want and some people are really skillful at making them. Like this one I found.

Pithiviers are supposed to be a like a large pie for sharing but of course in fine dining it’s got to be dainty little pie for one.

It’s a skill to get these right because they go wrong if you don’t take your time making them. The key to a good pithivier is having a nice dry mixture. So we used finely sliced shallots, wild, chestnut AND button mushrooms, sweated them in butter and then deglazed the pan and reduced until nearly dry. Blanched, refreshed and drained baby spinach (NOTE: I say “drained” but really we practically squeezed the life out of it trying to get it dry).

Then we created a mushroom filled spinach dome using a lovely little hemisphere mould that my tutor definitely did not admit to accidentally stealing off a well known chef, haha!

Like these below:

Then we rested it in the middle of the puff pastry circles we already rolled and cut. Next the edges get egg washed and then the lid goes carefully on top squeezing out air as you seal the pie.

You are supposed to egg wash the pies and let them rest in the fridge. After a few minutes you should take them out and use the back of a turning knife to score the pies and crimp in the edges like I’ve done. I’m a lazy chef I skipped the refrigeration bit which was bad for my pies and meant I was making holes in the pastry because the pastry was warm and therefore stretching. They came out alright though, not too shabby.

Of course nothing goes on a plate alone, so I made a buerre blanc by finely slicing shallots and sweating them, then deglazing the pan with white wine vinegar. To finish reduce until almost dry and add some water then butter to bring it together here I’ve got dried wild mushroom in the solution which gives it the grey-brown colour and of course flavour.

You wave your magic wand and wah-dush!

Lovely shiny glazed pie filled with spinach and mushroom. A wild mushroom buerre blanc and some cheeky red amaranth just to garnish.

Give it a go! You can use any filling savoury or sweet as long as it’s dryish or wont explode in your pie. The best part is that you don’t have to make the puff pastry if you don’t fancy it either 😉

Anyway, I’m off. Tomorrow I’ll have a blog up about why boiled sugar is hateful, watch this space!!

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