My three older ones are all up to their ears in revision for important exams so it was utterly fabulous to have an excuse to all bunk off together and go to the beach. Clearly the sun thought they needed a break too because it was the hottest and sunniest day of the year so far!
My First Born is a total foodie (where did he get that from I wonder?!), he’s been vegetarian all his life and vegan since September of last year. I really wanted to create a new Sunday lunch dish bursting with flavour to celebrate his birthday, mine and Mr TS’s Veggie journey and the Vegetarian Society’s annual event!
These individual Hand Raised Vegan Picnic Pies would be just as good at home with all the traditional Sunday lunch trimmings (excellent with gravy) as in a picnic hamper with a selection of salads. It could also be made into one large pie as a celebration centre piece or just for a regular Sunday repast.
I loaded up the hamper with a peppery potato salad, crisp green leaves, fresh tomatoes, an edamame bean salad, bread, hummus, fruit and a large vegan fruit cake as well as ginger beer and lemonade – I come over a bit Famous Five when I’m planning a picnic!
My boy seemed pretty impressed with the look of the pies – that’s him holding his lunch and trying not to eat it while I faff about taking pictures, as usual!
When I did allow everyone to tuck in there were a lot of happy sounds – my Vegan Picnic Pies, were declared a triumph! I filled them with leeks, dried porcini and fresh chestnut mushrooms, brazil nuts and ground almonds all held together with mashed sweet potato and flavoured with thyme and chilli, they will definitely be making further appearances on our Sunday lunch menu!
Hot Water Crust Pies are the sort of Sunday lunch cooking which looks impressive, tastes amazing and is much easier than you would think. This recipe is enough to make 10 individual hot water crust vegan picnic pies, the Nutritional Yeast gives it a slightly cheesy flavour and is well worth adding, it is available in whole food stores but if you can’t get it it’s not the end of the world, add a bit more tamari and adjust the seasoning so you get a good big flavour hit!
Vegan Picnic Pies
For the Filling
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 leek , diced
- 6 dried porcini mushrooms , soaked in boiling water for 20 minutes then drained (keep the soaking water) and finely chopped
- 1 medium sweet potato , peeled and chopped
- 200 g chestnut mushrooms , diced
- 2 large cloves of garlic , finely chopped
- 1/2 tbsp tamari
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
- 1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
- 50 g ground almonds
- 50 g brazil nuts , finely chopped
- 3 tbsp Nutritional Yeast
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the Pastry
- 350 g plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 100 g vegetable fat (I use Trex)
- 175 ml water
- pinch of salt
- 1 tsp English mustard powder
- 1/4 tsp cayenne powder
Make the filling first - the pastry needs working quickly once you've made it!
- Heat the olive oil in a frying pan, add the leeks, dried and fresh mushrooms and fry gently until the mushrooms release their juices and until the liquid evaporates.
- Add the garlic and fry gently for a further minute.
- Leave to cool.
- Boil the sweet potatoes for about 10 minutes or until fork tender, drain and mash and leave to cool.
- Mix all the filling ingredients together, taste and adjust seasoning.
Make the pastry
- Preheat the oven to 200C/180 Fan/ Gas Mark 6.
- Lightly grease a 12 hole muffin tin
- Mix the flour, baking powder, salt, mustard and cayenne together in a bowl.
- Put the vegetable fat and water together in a small saucepan and bring to a rapid boil, pour into the flour mixture and mix together quickly to form a soft dough.
- As soon as you can handle the dough cut off one quarter and leave to one side.
- Divide the remaining mixture into ten pieces and roll each into a ball.
- Put one ball into each of ten holes in your muffin tin and, working quickly, mould each one with your fingers across the bottom and up the sides of each muffin hole to make your pie cups.
- Roll out the remaining dough and cut 10 lids using a 7 cm pastry cutter.
- Fill each pie cup to the brim with filling, pressing it in so that your pies are generous and full with no disappointing airy gaps!
- Moisten the top of the pastry with non dairy milk (or water) and press the lids into place.
- Glaze with a little almond milk and bake in your preheated oven for 20 minutes.
- Carefully remove your pies from the tin, pop them on a baking sheet and back into the oven for 15 minutes so that the sides have a chance to turn crisp and golden as well as the tops!
- Serve hot or cool on a wire rack and pop them into a picnic basket!
Yesterday was one of those days when you look at your family and think – yup, I’ve done a pretty good job. It has not all been plain sailing over the last few years as they fledge and fly but they are all growing into really lovely people; people I want to spend time with, people I enjoy talking to, people who are interesting and fun and big hearted.
It wasn’t long before these two were off fossil hunting while the rest of us nattered, nibbled and threw stones at a rock to see who could hit it.
Next week’s National Vegetarian Week is almost upon us and I am aiming to post several family favourites next week to show you just how easy vegetarian cooking is, how varied and how delicious! The Vegetarian Society is an excellent resource whether you are new to vegetarianism, are a meat reducer looking for some new ideas or are a seasoned old veggie like me – do check out the website for recipe ideas and the #NVW2016 website for ways to get involved in National Vegetarian Week this year. It runs from 16th – 22nd May, celebrating vegetarian food, stories and traditions – these Vegan Picnic Pies are my latest offering and will soon become a tradition in this vegetarian family!
If you like this recipe why not Pin it so you can find it again easily when you get the urge to make it?!
Disclosure: I am participating in a year long paid collaboration with Cranks food, they commissioned me to create this new Vegetarian Sunday Lunch Recipe for National Vegetarian Week.