Sonntag, Februar 18, 2007

Waiter, there's something in my...pie or Popeye's dinner

Cooksister Jeanne is hosting the second event of „Waiter, there’s something in my…“. The theme for this WTSIM’s is pie. So I have to choose a recipe where the ingredients are invisible covered from dough. I think you could imagine what’s underneath the crust when you see the appetizers.
Since I bought that book “Pastries from the La Brea bakery” from Nancy Silverton I haven’t found the time to try out any of the recipes yet. There are some special pie recipes in it but I am interested in a recipe which includes one of our all time favourite spinach, mashed potatoes and fried egg. Hence I've chosen one initially for dough pockets.

This meal will be a kind of contribution to my childhood hero Popeye.

Spinach, cauliflower and tomato purée with walnut

(from Sam Leong’s book “A wok through time” )

Spinach kofta with eggplant purée
(from the book “Tropical Asian cooking” from the Four Seasons hotels and resorts)

Savory brioche pockets as a pie
(from Nancy Silverton’s book “Pastries from the La Brea bakery”)

You have to prepare the dough for the spinach-potato pockets at least 6 hours ahead.

Ingredients for the brioche dough:

2 Tbsp(36 g) fresh yeast
1/3 cs(78 g) warmed milk
26extra-large eggs
3½ cp(540 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cp(78 g) granulated sugar
1 tsp(6 g) kosher salt
2 sticks(225 g) unsalted butter, very soft, but not greasy


Place the yeast in the bowl of an electric mixer, and pour the milk over to soften for 1-2 minutes. Add 1 cup (154g) of the flour and stir to combine. Sprinkle 1 more cup of flour over the mixture, without stirring.
Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place until the surface af the flour cracks, about 30 to 40 minutes.
Add the sugar, salt, remaining 1½ cups of flour to the yeast mixture.
Using an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook, mix on low for 1-2 minutes, until combined. Turn the mixer up to medium-high and continue to mix for about 15 minutes, until the dough wraps itself around the hook and is smooth, shiny and slightly sticky. It may be necessary to add another tablespoon of flour to encourage the dough to leave the sides of the bowl.
Turn the mixer down to medium-low and add the butter, a few tablespoons at a time. After all of the butter has been added, turn the mixer up to medium-high and beat the dough for about 2-3 minutes, until the dough wraps itself around the hook. If necessary, add a few pinches of flour to encourage the dough to leave the sides fo the bowl. The dough will be smooth and shiny, but not oily.
Remove the dough from the bowl onto a lightly floured work surface and knead a fey times to gather into a ball. Clean the mixing bowl and lightly coat it with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the oiled bowl, cover it tightly with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size, about 2 to 2½ hours (mine, here in Singapore, needed only 1½ hours).

Spread the dough out onto a floured parchment-lined baking sheet. Dust the surface of the dough with flour, cover with parchment paper or towels, and refrigerate for 6 to 8 hours or overnight.
For us this dough is to “yeasty”, either you should use less yeast or let the dough rise slower in a colder setting or for a shorter time.

Ingredients for the spinach kofta with eggplant purée:

1 Tbspvegetable oil
1 tspcumin seeds
½small onion, finely chopped
1 tspgarlic, finely chopped

1 tspfresh ginger, finely chopped

400 gpotatoes, boiled and mashed (I “cooked” them in the oven together with the potatoes for the savoury spinach pockets and mashed the with a food mill)
40 ghomemade curd cheese (paneer) or baked ricotta, grated

200 gspinach leaves, blanched 1 minute, drained, squeezed dry and finely chopped (wash them thoroughly, mine were full of sand and I have to rinse each and every single leaf)
½ tspgaram masala (a mixture of the same amount of cardamom seeds, cinnamon, cloves, black peppercorns, cumin, and half the abound of nutmeg ground together in a spice mill or mortar)
½ tspsalt
3 Tbsp(30 g) chickpea flour (besan)

vegetable oil for deep-frying

1red onion, cut in wedges (I used 2 shallots instead)
1tomato, cut in wedges
4whole green chillies (I cut twice inside their ends and removed the seeds)
4sprigs fresh cilantro to garnish

4deep-fried pappadum

eggplant purée
250 geggplant
½ tspgarlic, very finely chopped

2 tspcurry powder (I used my mixture of curcuma, ginger, cardamom seeds, black peppercorns, cilantro seeds, allspice, dried capsicum, mace, cinnamon, and cumin ground together in a spice mill)
60 mlplain yoghurt
¼ tspsalt
1 Tbspfresh cilantro leaves, chopped
½small tomato, finely diced (I chose 2 cherry tomatoes instead)


Prepare the eggplant purée. Cook the eggplant under a very hot grill or over charcoal, turning until the skin turns black and the inside is tender. Cut eggplant in half and scoop out the flesh. Chop the flesh finely and

mix with the other ingredients. Set aside.

To make the spinach balls, heat the oil in a pan and cook the cumin seeds until they begin to crackle. Add onion, garlic, and ginger and stir-fry over low-moderate heat until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the potato, cheese, spinach, garam masala and salt. Stir-fry for 2 minutes mixing thoroughly.

Transfer to a bowl and stir in the chickpea flour. Cool, then shape into balls about 1¼ inch (3cm) in diameter.

Heat the oil in a wok and when very hot, cook the kofta, turning until golden brown all over, about 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels (or on tempura paper) and serve accompanied by the eggplant purée. Garnish with tomato, red onion, chilli, cilantro, and, if desired, some pappadum.
The spicy eggplant dip goes very well with the mild soft/crisp fried potato-spinach balls. In a humid environment like we have in Singapore, fry the pappadum-bread disks just before serving otherwise they’ll loose their “crunchyness”. So fry them after the kofta balls, during the savoury brioche pockets (pies) bake in the oven.

Ingredients for the savoury brioche pockets:
Makes about 12 to 15 pockets

3 to 4russet potatoes
½ cup(150 g) crème fraîche
2/3 cup(150 g) fresh goat cheese
1½ tspkosher salt
1large garlic clove, thinly sliced

½small yellow onion, thinly sliced
3 Tbspextra virgin olive oil
8 cupsloosely packed fresh spinach, washed and stems removed (wash them thoroughly, mine were full of sand and I have to rinse each and every single leaf )
½ tspfresh lemon juice

2-3extra-large egg yolks, lightly beaten with a few drops of water you can use the leftover egg-whites for example for soufflés or marshmellows
poppy seed for sprinkling, optional
~28sage leaves, optional


Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 400 °F (200°C). Place the potatoes directly on the oven rack and bake until cooked all the way through, about 45 minutes to an hour. Allow to cool, and peel the potatoes. In a medium bowl, break up about 1½ cups of the potatoes into 1-inch pieces.

Add the crème fraîche, goat cheese, and 1 teaspoon of the salt and mix together, keeping the mixture chunky. Set aside.

In a skillet over medium-low heat, cook the garlic and onion in the olive oil until softened, but not colored, about 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the heat to high and add the spinach wilts.

Remove from the heat and place the spinach in a strainer and press out the excess liquid, Cool completely.
Divide the brioche dough in half and return one half to the refrigerator. On a lighty floured work surface, roll the dough out 1/8 inch thick, flouring the surface as necessary. Using a floured 4½-inch round cutter, cut out the circles, cutting as closely together as possible. Place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet to chill 15 to 30 minutes, until slightly firm. Repeat the process with the remaining dough.
Adjust the oven racks to the upper and lower positions and preheat to 350 °F (180°C). Remove the first half of the circles from the refrigerator. Place 1 tablespoon of the spinach mixture in the middle of each circle and top with 2 tablespoons of the potato mixture to form a mound. Brush around the filling with the beaten egg yolk.

Remove the second half of the circles from the refrigerator. Place a circle of dough over the mound of filling and gently press with your fingertips around the edges of the filling. Using the dull side of the smaller cutter, press down gently around the outer edge of the mound of foiling, pressing to seal the two layers together, but not cutting through the dough. To create a decorative border, pick up both layers of dough and fold a ½-inch section of the edge up toward the filling.
Continue in the same manner, folding and pleating around the entire perimeter of the pocket. Press down gently to seal the pleats. Place on 2 parchment- lined baking sheets, spaced at least 2 inches apart.

(To give them a more pie-like styling I placed the spinach and the potato mixture in ramekin dishes and cowered them with cut out brioche circles with the use of the eggwash.)

Brush the pockets with the beaten egg and sprinkle a pinch of poppy seeds over the surface. If desired, place 2 whole sage leaves, stems together and slightly overlapping, in the center. Set the pockets aside in a warm place to rise, uncovered at room temperature, until slightly puffy and spongy to the touch, about 20 to 30 minutes.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly browned, rotating the baking sheets halfway through to ensure even baking.
I baked my 5 pies at 200 °C for 20 minutes and 10 minutes at 180 °C .

You can use the final rising time of these pockets to prepare the purées.

Ingredients for the spinach, cauliflower and tomato purée:
(This recipe is for one person only, so I used 5 times the indicated amount)

Tomato purée
40gtomatoes (I chose aromatic cherry tomatoes), poached, skinned and pureed (don’t forget to remove the stem scar and the area surrounding it from the tomatoes)
20 mlchicken consommé
2 tsptomato paste
¼ Tbspcooking oil
¼ tspsalt
¼ tspsugar
1dash ground white pepper
¼ tspcorn starch mixed with
2 tspwater
cauliflower purée
40gcauliflower, poached and puréed
20 mlchicken consommé
20 mlwhipping cream
¼ Tbspcooking oil
¼ tspsalt
¼ tspsugar
1dash ground white pepper
¼ tspcorn starch mixed with
2 tspwater
spinach purée
40 gspinach leaves, poached and puréed (wash them thoroughly, mine were full of sand and I have to rinse each and every single leaf )
20 mlchicken consommé
¼ Tbspcooking oil
¼ tspsalt
¼ tspsugar
1dash ground white pepper
¼ tspcorn starch mixed with
2 tspwater
5 gwalnuts, minced


Heat the oil in a wok. Add tomato purée ingredients except corn starch mixture and bring to the boil. Thicken with corn starch mixture.

Repeat to make cauliflower and spinach purée.

Fill a shot glass up to one-third full with tomato purée, then cauliflower purée and lastly spinach purée. Garnish with walnuts.
As an additional garnish I used some blanched cauliflower florets.
The tomato and the cauliflower purée were excellent. For the spinach purée I would suggest to use a bit more consommé and only ½ to 2/3 of the salt from the recipe.

Serve the purées in small glasses and the kofta with the pappadums and the eggplant dip as appetizers and the spinach pockets/pies as a main course. I’m sure Popeye would love it.

Apropos our cat wanted to take part in this event as well. Even she had a pie. A Grammy’s pot pie invisible hidden in a tin cat food.