Tag Archives: Welsh produce

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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Filed under baking, British food, family budget cooking, Foraging for fruit, home cooking, local produce, Uncategorized

It’s those simple things…

A simple supper

I can cook up the most extravagant, adventurous feast, using every exotic ingredient known to create something really special for supper club and dinner guests.  I take my time, take extra care to produce something that looks as beautiful as it tastes and really give it my all. I love doing this. I love experimenting and trying out new things, but there are times when less is definitely more. Sometimes its the simplest of things that leave a lasting  impression. No fuss, complex dressings, drizzled sauces or coulis, just fantastic fresh unadulterated food.

A MASSIVE (half eaten) Manchego from Spain...yum with some home-made onion relish

As I lazed in the sun on Sunday afternoon, with a Tanquaray and Tonic clutched in my hand, it was simplicity that I craved. The lingering heat and appearance of some fiery Welsh sun shine inspired a supper with a distinctly Mediterranean feel…. some Spanish Manchego brought back as a thank you present by friends whose boat we looked after while they were away, some seriously strong black bomber left over from Saturday’s produce market; home-made onion marmalade and beetroot relish, new potatoes with lashings of butter and mint, herb-marinated mozzarella and tomatoes and a hearty salad of lettuce from the garden, cucumber, olives, very lightly steamed mangetout from the weekly veg box, crisp chorizo and a good glug of Welsh Rapeseed oil.

The food disappeared in no time and even the little-un steamed in for more. At the end of supper I was about as satiated and happy as I would have been if I’d eaten something more elaborate.

Marinated mozzarella and tomato: An Ottolenghi inspired favourite (serves 2-3)

250g good buffalo mozzarella

A couple of large ripe local tomatoes

half a teaspoon fennel seeds, zest of a lemon or a teaspoon of white wine vinegar , small handful of shredded basil leaves, 2 teaspoons fresh oregano leaves, 2 tablespoons Welsh Rapeseed oil 1 crushed clove of garlic and a pinch of Halen Mon salt and black pepper.

Dry roast the fennel seeds until they begin to pop. Transfer to a pestle and mortar and grind roughly. Place in a bowl with the other ingredients. toss the sliced or roughly torn mozzarella with the marinade and leave for 10 minutes or so, Serve with sliced or wedges of tomatoes as a starter or part of a cold supper.

mmmmmm....dinner 🙂

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Filed under British food, family budget cooking, home cooking, local produce, welsh cheese

A busy week

Its been a busy week for Moel Faban secret supper club. I’ve been flat-out trying to transform this from a venture in an embryonic stage of development, to something i’m confident will work and be enjoyed by many. I’m overwhelmed by the support and enthusiasm I’ve received by everyone excited about the idea  (although some of my friends are afraid they will always have to pay for their dinner when they come round!!).

Apart from doing lots of talking I’ve been out hunting for suppliers, local sources and alternatives to the supermarket. I’m (almost) sure I can ‘sack the supermarket’….big claims I know!!!….The co-op is the only one on my allowed list and this being Wales, it probably means I will have to forego some of the more exotic ingredients you might find living in a city. We don’t have that array of multicultural areas where you can easily pick up sweet potatoes, yams, etc etc….these, as far as I know, are only stocked by Tesco or the like (If anyone knows different please, please tell me!!)

Anyway, I started by visiting suppliers and enterprises that I already knew about, or visited regularly, first of which was Williams & Sons the butchers. Established in 1870, Williams and Son is the only remaining butchers on Bangor High Street (out of about 26 that once had shops there). It’s a friendly, family owned business, a local institution, with many loyal customers. Paul Pritchard Jones (the manager and ‘the son’ in the business) told me that a large proportion of their meat is local and they are aware of its provenance. We discussed the type of meat I wanted and I discovered that he was able to get me almost anything (including organic meat, free-range organic chicken, seasonal etc) and all local, which with any luck means an end to me buying supermarket meat!

So thank you to Paul for taking the time to talk to me and answer my many questions, and even letting me take some pictures!

Further updates on local sources and the menu for the 8th and 9th of October will be posted shortly

Denise xx

Paul in the shop with a side of Welsh Black beef

Paul in the shop with a side of Welsh Black beef

Williams & Sons the only remaining local butcher on Bangor High Street

Williams & Sons the only remaining local butcher on Bangor High Street

 

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Filed under Butchers, local produce, Organic meat