If I had my way, it would be Summer all year round. I love warm weather, summer dresses, ice cream and long evenings, barbecues, and brightly coloured nail polish on my toes. I wish I could banish cold weather, umbrellas, wellies and especially snow shovels.
If I love Summer so much, what am I doing in Northern England, might you ask. Well, I shall let you know once I have worked out a plausible answer.
In the meantime, I shall offer you the first pie recipe of the season, because if I cannot change the weather, I can at least make it more bearable with a bit of comfort food.
You will need:
For the rough puff pastry:
500 g cold butter, diced
500 g flour
2 pinches salt
About 250 ml iced water
1 egg, beaten (for glazing)
For the filling:
1 small butternut squash, cubed
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp chopped dried sage
2 chicken breasts, diced
200 g feta
Make the pastry. In a large bowl (or directly on a work surface), make a well with the flour, and add the butter and salt in the middle. Rub the flour and butter together with your fingertips, until the texture is grainy with the odd flake of butter. Add the iced water gradually, mixing with your hands as you go, until it forms a cohesive dough. Knead a few times, then wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 20 min.
Roll the pastry out into a rectangle about 40cm x 20cm. Fold the top third down towards you, then fold the bottom third up on top of the rest. Give it a quarter turn then repeat the rolling and folding. Wrap in cling film again, and refrigerate for 20 min.
Repeat the rolling and folding as before, and refrigerate for 20 min again, still wrapped in cling film. The pastry is now ready to use, and will happily wait in the fridge for a few days. You will need half of it for this recipe, the other half will freeze for up to a month.
Make the filling. In a large sauté pan, heat up 2 tbsp olive oil. Gently fry the onion and garlic for about 1 min, add the sage and butternut squash, stir and cook for another 2 minutes. Add a splash of water, cover, and cook on a low heat for about 20 min or until tender (add a bit more water if it starts to stick). Season the mixture, then tip into a bowl and reserve.
In the same sauté pan, heat up the last of the oil, and gently fry the chicken until brown on all sides and cooked through (about 4 to 5 min). Mix with the cooked squash and leave to cool for a few minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200⁰C/ fan 190⁰/ Gas 6.
On a floured surface, roll out the pastry to the thickness of a pound coin, and to a size slightly larger than your dish (I use a 28 cm Ø round pie dish).
Crumble the feta over the bowl containing the filling, mix well, then tip into a large pie dish.
Wet the edge of the pie dish, cover with the rolled out pastry. Using a sharp knife, cut away the extra pastry along the edge of the dish. Press all around the rim with the prongs of a fork, then cut a small hole in the middle.
Brush all over with eggwash, then if you wish, thinly score the pastry with wavy lines made with a knife, taking care not to cut all the way through.
Bake for about 20 min, or until nice and golden brown.