What is the best food your can eat? Something that always brings joy? To me the answer is a simple pie with a simple salad.
Pie is the fat cousin of Italian pizza. Just as delicious and versatile, easily made with whatever remains in your refrigerator. But there are certain rules you have to follow, most importantly how to make the shortcrust pastry.
A shortcrust pastry consists of 1 part butter, 2 parts flour, eggs and a few tablespoons water. It has to be done quickly keeping the ingredients cold and you must never overwork the dough. I have always thought it was a cumbersome process making the shortcrust pastry, but once you have made it the rest is easy as… pie.
With so much local produce in season, it is a pleasure to go shopping in July. The good old yellow onion has a competitor in the island onion, a breed between onion and spring onion. The cauliflowers and carrots no longer travel from faraway countries, and greens I have shown little interest into before, like radishes, now seem more interesting because they are locally grown.
This is a summer pie with locally produced ingredients. Island onion, parsley, bacon from free-range pigs at Grøstad, jarlsberg cheese, sour cream and free-range eggs from Holte farm. I substitute some of the flour with almond flour (finely ground almonds) to make it healthier and the flavour more robust. You can also replace the almond flour with cheese or make the pastry with whole-wheat flour.
Pie is one of those dishes equally delicious and nutrious without meat. I love a little bit of bacon or you can go foraging in your fridge. A few pieces of ham, salami or Norwegian dry-cured lamb will do. You can also make it with spinach, pre-boiled brussels sprout, asparagus or mushroom. In the winter substitute the onion with leeks.
Bacon and onion pie (makes 2–3):
150 g flour (gluten-free flour works fine)
50 g finely ground almonds (or shredded cheese or whole-wheat flour)
a pinch of salt
1 egg, lightly whisked
90 g cold butter in cubes
2–3 tbsp cold water
2–3 medium onions (or one leeek)
50–100 g free-range bacon
2–3 tbsp oil
100 g Jarlsberg cheese
300 ml sour cream (or crème fraiche)
a handful of flat-leaf parsley
salt and pepper
To make shortcrust pastry it is best to use a kitchen machine, but if you work quickly, it is fine to use your hands instead. I always make it by hand.
1a. With a kitchen machine: Whiz flour, almond flour, butter and salt about 20–30 seconds until coarse crumbs. Add the egg and water and whiz a few more seconds until it has come together as a dough.
1b. With your hands: Crumble the flour, almond flour, butter and salt by rubbing your fingertips. Do not despair if there are lumps with butter – this just makes it flaky. Add the egg and water and mix it quickly together into a dough. Do not knead it.
2. Wrap in plastic and let rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
3. Lightly dust a baking table with flour and roll out the dough with a rolling pin. Transfer to a pie tin and prick the whole pie shell with a fork. Let rest in the freezer for 30 minutes.
4. Put the oven on 190C/375F. Now it is time to make the filling:
5. Add a little oil to a frying pan and add finely chopped onion and bacon cut in cubes. Fry on medium heat about 10–15 minutes until the onion has softened and the bacon is golden. Season with pepper and allow to cool a bit.
6. Whisk the egg and sour cream in a bowl. Add finely chooped parsley and season with salt and pepper. Shredd the Jarlsberg cheese.
7. Remove the pie crust from the freezer and prebake for 10 minutes until slightly golden. Add the onion and bacon mixture, then the cheese and the egg and sour cream mixture. Finish with parmesan. Bake in the oven for about 20–30 minutes until the pie is golden.