By JAN MAIN
Fall is a great time to be a cook! There is abundance everywhere!
Markets are overflowing with vibrant, freshly picked fruits and vegetables, literally the pick of the crop. Just what you want for that special recipe, perfect for Thanksgiving.
This harvest pie requires the best pick of the crop – choose your favourites. It can be different each time you make it but you will need a total of eight cups prepared, uncooked veggies for the filling .
If you are terrified of pastry or time is a factor, you can use two frozen, deep dish 9-inch (23 cm) commercial pie crusts.
However, I encourage you to try this pastry. It is delicious!
Whole-wheat Poppy Seed Pastry
1 cup) 250 mL, each whole wheat flour and all-purpose flour
A little additional flour for rolling
1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
1/2 cup (125 mL) cold butter
1/4 cup (50 mL) shortening
1 tbsp (15 mL) poppy seeds (optional)
1/3 cup (75 mL) cold water
1/2 cup (125 mL) fresh breadcrumbs (about 1 slice bread)
2 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 zucchini, sliced or broccoli or cauliflower florets
1 red pepper, coarsely chopped
250 g / 2 cups mushrooms, cremini or white, cleaned and sliced
1 tsp (5 ml) leaf thyme and basil (dried) or 1 tbsp (15 mL) fresh
2 tbsp (25 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
4 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) shredded extra old cheddar cheese
1/4 cup (50 mL) Parmesan cheese
In a mixing bowl stir together whole wheat and all-purpose flour with the salt and poppy seeds if using.
Cut the hard butter and shortening into small cubes. Add to flour mixture. Using a pastry cutter or 2 knives, cut butter and shortening into flours until you reach a coarse crumb consistency. Pour water over flour – fat mixture and stir lightly with fork to dampen all the flour.
Using hands, form dough into a ball. Divide dough in half; one half for bottom, one half for top crust. The secret to making good pastry easily is to roll out dough between 2 pieces of waxed paper, parchment paper or plastic wrap. This technique reduces mess and frustration and allows you to neatly roll out pastry to desired size then invert it into the pie plate without adding too much flour which makes pastry tough.
For this pie, I use a 10-inch (25 cm) flan plate; however, a 9-inch (23 cm) pie plate works too, it just makes for a higher pie! Tear off two pieces of paper large enough to roll out the dough. Put the first half of dough into the centre of paper; cover evenly with the other piece of paper and gently flatten dough with rolling pin. Grip the edge of the two pieces of paper firmly with the counter and your body and roll dough away from you; turning the paper to roll different directions to make a circle, always rolling away from you (this way the paper and pastry stay smooth).
Roll pastry thin into a sheet about 1 inch larger than the pie plate. Gently loosen the top piece of paper (waxed, parchment or plastic) replace into position; then; quickly flip over and loosen second piece and remove the top piece of paper. Now you are ready to get pastry into pie plate!
Spray pie plate or flan with baking spray and invert over the dough centring it on dough. Then holding the dough in pie plate, turn right side up and remove the last piece of paper. Gently ease the pastry down into pan and along the sides of pie plate without stretching pastry. Make sure pastry edges are even with pie plate by trimming and patching the edges of dough where necessary.
Sprinkle pastry with the breadcrumbs. This will prevent soggy pastry. Refrigerate the bottom shell while rolling the second piece of dough. Roll out dough using the method described above but leave pastry between the pieces of paper and refrigerate on baking tray while preparing the filling.
Preparing the filling
Preheat oven to 425 F (220 C). Add the onion, garlic, zucchini, mushrooms, peppers, thyme, basil and pepper to a Dutch oven or large saucepan. Drizzle with olive oil and stir to lightly coat all vegetables. Put on lid and cook mixture on medium high until vegetables are just tender, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. (Mushrooms will give off moisture which will help cook the other veggies.) Remove lid; remove from heat; allow to cool while preparing remaining ingredients. Using whisk beat eggs with pepper and salt. Stir in shredded cheddar and Parmesan cheeses.
Remove pastry from refrigerator. Stir sautéed vegetables into egg-cheese mixture and spoon evenly into pie plate. Top with second pastry sheet, trimming edges and making decorations with remaining pastry if desired.
Crimp pastry edges together, cut steam holes into pastry lid with tip of sharp knife- place pie on baking sheet. Bake 35-40 minutes or until golden brown.
Cool on rack. May be cut into 8 wedges after cooling 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
May be made 2 hours before serving or the day before and gently re-heat at 350 F (180 C) for 20 minutes before serving. Serves 6 to 8.