In a bid to both inspire and define what creativity in cooking means, I have been challenging my Year 13 Food class to limited ingredients cooking challenges. I give them a list of ingredients and a day or so to think about it and plan, and they come up with a dish. A not too dissimilar process to that which we all go through while looking in a pre-shopping day fridge.
Friday's challenge list was as follows: 1/2 cup short grain rice, 2 eggs, 1 rasher of bacon, 2 mushrooms, 1/2 cup frozen peas, 1/2 an onion and 1 carrot. In addition to this they had the choice of flour, butter, cream, spices, soy sauce, stock and other general pantry items, as well as some rather small (and left over) pieces of rump steak. The only rule was that they had to use some of all the main challenge ingredients except one.
Thinking I had better walk the walk I came up with my own rendition - Bacon and Pea Pies. We had all sorts of other dishes: lots of adaptations on fried rice, a delicious risotto served with a side of scotch eggs, fried eggs with vegetables, an interesting interpretation of crumbed bacon and steak pieces, as well as fried rice and crumbed steak.
The pressure was on, we were on shortened time thanks to Assumption Day Mass, and I for one didn't want to be receiving my blessing from the Bishop while still wafting of onions!
Bacon and Pea Pies
Preheat the oven to 200deg. C
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
approx 5 tablespoons cold water
In the food processor combine the flour, butter and salt until well incorporated. With the motor running add the cold water a teaspoon at a time until the mixture forms lots of little balls of dough. Take the lib from the processor - the dough should form a ball when pressed together.
Take from the processor, wrap in plastic film and refrigerate while preparing the filling.
1/3 cup cream
1 clove garlic - crushed
1/4 onion - finely chopped
1 mushroom - sliced
1 rasher of bacon - cut into small strips called lardons
1/3 cup peas
Thoroughly combine the egg and cream with the crushed garlic, and season with salt and pepper.
Prepare the onion, mushroom and bacon and combine with the peas.
Assembling the Pies
Roll the pastry between two sheets of plastic wrap. Using a suitable sized jar or bowl, cut out circles from the rolled pastry. Place the pastry discs into Texas muffin tins.
Place a small amount of the filling into each pastry case.
Using a jug, pour a small quantity of the egg and cream mixture into each pie. Be careful not to overfill. If they overflow the mixture will burn onto the tins and be a real pain to clean!
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until the pastry is golden and the filling cooked and set.
Leave to cool for about 10 minutes before attempting to remove from the tins.
It was about now that the girls noticed my slight cheat of leaving out the carrots! Too short of time before Mass, I left the filled pies in the fridge and baked them straight afterwards. I thought the moisture from the filling might ruin the pastry, but they were quite alright after baking.
Just in time for lunch.