Tag Archives: fidget pie

Old English Fidget pie

So many old traditional British dishes have wonderfully quirky and obscure names and Fidget (Fitchet or Figet) pie is one of them. I’ve seen it called Shropshire Fidget pie, Cambridgeshire or even Huntingdon fidget pie but I believe its origins may date back to Anglo-saxon times. As for the name; it’s been suggested that it was given because of the way the ingredients ‘fidget’ about inside the pie.

Fidget pie is a traditional farmers pie which was most often made for the farms harvest workers. Its main characteristic is the marrying of pork, onion and apple and sometimes potato: Meat, two veg and fruit (dinner and pudding all in one go!). I’ve seen recipes that use minced pork, ham or gammon, but I used my favourite dry cure bacon which gave it a slightly salty, smoky flavour, counteracted beautifully by apples, cider and cream.

I love these simple hearty dishes (see the Orwell inspired essay in wrote back in March) many of which had until recently dropped out of favour. But now, as we return to our traditions and once again embrace the national dishes and that characterise our changing seasons. I reckon its time Fidget pie made a come back!

Another reason for my decision to include it on the menu of last weeks wedding was that I found a fantastic variation in a wonderful recipe book I was given last Christmas. Elizabeth Hodder’s The Book of Old Tarts (yes, ha, ha, a friend with a sense of humour!) has I’m ashamed to say sat disregarded on my book shelf for far too long, not because there is anything wrong with the  recipes, some of them look far too tempting, but primarily because my teen hates ‘Quiche’ and it’s not particularly good for the waistline.

I really love crisp, buttery well made pastry though and pies and Quiche really come into their own when cooking for a big function or large buffet. They are hearty and filling and when there is no skimping on the filling, are absolutely sublime.

The bride wasn’t totally convinced when I ran it by her, but in the end she let me go with it and I don’t think anyone was disappointed and the simple Fidget pie won the day. It brought the most compliments out of the three different Quiche I made with its  unexpected and strangely unusual taste (which sounds strange seeing as it is such an old and simple dish). I have to say though, full credit goes to the fantastic local produce that went into its making…..which included apples straight from my tree!

Fidget pies on the table at the wedding...the unexpected success of the weekend!

Figet Pie:

Pastry:

225g plain organic flour

1 pinch of Halen Mon sea salt

115g Calon Wen unsalted butter

a small amount of cold water.

Filling:

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 large red onions

225g smoked, dry cure bacon chopped

450g eating apples, peeled, cored and sliced

1 tablespoon sage and 1 of parsley

2 eggs

150ml double cream

150ml organic Welsh cider (Taffy apple I used)

a grate of nutmeg, salt and pepper

 

Rub butter into flour and salt until it resembles fine bread crumbs. Add water a trickle at a time until the dough comes together in a ball. Wrap in cling film and put in the fridge to rest for at least 15 minutes.

Cut the pastry into two pieces, one larger and one small. Roll out the larger part on a floured board and use to line a 23cm/9inch loose bottom flan tin. Prick the bottom and line with foil or greasproof paper and baking beans. Bake in the oven gas 6/200 degrees C for about 15 minutes then remove the foil/beans and bake for another 5 minutes until set and firm. This prevents your pie developing a soggy bottom.

Heat the oil in a pan and fry the finely chopped onion gently until softening. Add bacon and continue to cook for a another couple of minutes stirring occasionally.

Put a layer of apples in the pre-baked case, then top with half the bacon and onion mixture, half the fresh herbs and some salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Add another layer of apple, followed by bacon and seasoning.

Mix the eggs, cream and cider in a bowl season lightly and pour over the top.

Roll out the remaining pastry to make a lid. Dampen the edges of the case and pinch the top and bottom together to seal. Make a couple of slits in the top and brush with some extra beaten egg. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes, then turn the heat down to 180 degree C/gas 4 and cook for a further 35 minutes until golden brown.

You can serve this as a dinner pie with potatoes, vegetables and gravy or cold with coleslaw and chutney as part of a picnic…or buffet.

 

 

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Not a vol-au-vent in sight…wedding buffet for 70

Catering for my first big wedding was as you can probably imagine both nerve-wracking and exciting (in equal measures). It wasn’t as bad as it could have been though. I’d already given myself a good grounding in larger scale cooking with my little summer jaunt around the festival circuit and this really helped with the step up from domestic cooking and supper club numbers to what was at times industrial quantities! Not only did it teach me that there is more to cooking for large numbers than just tripling the recipe but also that it takes just as long to make a cake for 6 as it does a cake for 56!!

Armed with this invaluable knowledge and experience I came back to plan the buffet for Cath and Scotts wedding, a job they had asked me to take earlier in the year after the supper club dinner I cooked for Cath’s parents wedding anniversary.

Over the past few months we ploughed through the planning tinkering with ideas here and there until we settled on a lovely modern British menu, with a bit of European thrown in for good measure. It was all made with my trade mark local ingredients and produce, herbs from my garden and bits and bobs I picked up from Harvest and Borough market. Luckily we were still in time for the last of the summer produce and I collected lots of cucumbers and tomatoes from Moelyci, plus red onions and pink fir apple potatoes which were delicious. I sourced gammon and chicken from my local butcher (Williams in Bangor) and the salmon from Mermaids in Llandudno, the best seafood suppliers for miles around. Blas ar Fwyd were my knights in shining armour as I struck a last-minute wholesale agreement with them for Welsh cheese, milk, cream and butter. They couldn’t reach me with their van so we arranged delivery at the local Londis who are always very willing to support me. So a big thank you to them all.

Finally Four Seasons wholesalers were very helpful with my fruit order especially as I bent their ear mercilessly about its provenance. OK so usually it goes against the grain to buy pineapple, mango and passionfruit but it’s not like I do it all the time and I’m not into depriving myself, or my customers unnecessarily but when it comes to seasonal fruit I do expect it at least to be from the British Isles. Why would I buy plums from Spain when they are plentiful here at the moment? So I did insist that the apples, pears and plums were at least from Britain, if not Wales. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

salmon and herb tarts, Orzo salad, cheese and gammon

The menu comprised;

Home cooked local gammon with English whole grain mustard

Herb and sumac coated roast chicken

Poached salmon side with caper and dill mayonnaise

Salmon and herb tart

Tomato, red onion, basil and cheddar tart

Old English fidget pie

more buffet

A simple bowl of locally grown tomatoes. So sweet and juicy they needed nothing more to accompany them

Orzo and oak smoked tomato salad

Couscous with lemon, roasted garlic courgettes and herbs

Winter slaw with Nigella seeds

Potato salad two ways

Local beef tomatoes with buffalo mozzarella, basil and balsamic vinegar

Welsh cheese board with home-made chutney and crackers

Tropical fruit Pavlova’s

tropical fruit pavlova's...one guest confessed "they were so nice I had to have 3"

Blackcurrant and Cassis baked cheesecake

fresh fruit salad

Mon ar Lwy vanilla ice-cream

and not forgetting the obligatory wedding cupcakes!

If you have an event you would like catered for or would like more information please contact me on the usual Moel Faban Secret Supper Club email address, or phone number….or alternately refer to the new private dining and event catering heading above for more on the types of events we can cook for…

Look forward to hearing from you

Denise x

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