Cholera Pie {from Winter Cabin Cooking}

My mum found this lovely vegetarian recipe in Sainsbury’s magazine, where Aggie MacKenzie (of How Clean Is Your House? fame – who it transpires is as much a whizz in the kitchen as she is at telling people their homes are minging) had tried out a recipe for Heaven and Earth pie from Winter Cabin Cooking by Lizzie Kamenetzky. A very convoluted recipe journey but I’m glad it successfully made its way to me as this was really bloody tasty. The original recipe isn’t gluten-free but I have customised it so that this one is!

With winter now hitting us full pelt I thought it was time for some no nonsense comfort food on the blog, and this was a winner. I’ve used the original name for this dish as I wanted to pay homage to the recipe’s roots, even though cholera doesn’t immediately shout, “Mmmmm tasty!” (hence Kamenetzky’s adoption of the rather more appetising name ‘Heaven & Earth Pie’ – ‘heaven’/apples and ‘earth’/potatoes). It originated in the 1830s during the cholera epidemic in Switzerland, when people were too terrified to leave their houses so had to cook with whatever was left over in their cupboard.

I thought it was a timely and appropriate recipe for The Curve, with this blog being all about keeping things simple and using what is readily available, and us all currently hunkering down at home in the grips of ‘lurgy season’ (though thankfully cholera-free). It’s also a great make-ahead meal that can be prepared when you have time, then just bunged in the oven for 50-60 minutes when you want to actually eat it. If you’re after something low-fat then turn away now… but if, like me, you’re not averse to a bit of a winter warming carb-fest then dive straight in.

CHOLERA PIE
Serves 6
40 minutes prep time
45 minutes baking in the oven

INGREDIENTS

Potatoes (3-4 large / 750g waxy ones, peeled and halved)
Onions (2, finely chopped)
Leek (1, thinly sliced)
Apples (2 Cox’s/russet, peeled, cored & sliced)
Pear (1 firm, ripe, peeled, cored & sliced)
Raclette / gruyère cheese (200g, grated)
Reblochon cheese (100g, diced. If you can’t get reblochon, use a creamy cheese such as Port Salut, époisses, brie, camembert)
Puff pastry
(2 x 375g ready rolled – I used 2 blocks of Schär gluten-free shortcrust pastry – sadly you can’t get GF puff ***AMENDMENT!!! 13/02/17 My local Sainsbury’s now stocks Genius GF puff pastry! Whoop whoop!***)
Fresh Sage (handful, finely chopped)
Butter
 (2 large knobs *childish giggle*, unsalted)
Oil (2 tbsp, olive/vegetable)
Egg (1, beaten)
Sea salt and black pepper (ground)
Plain flour (to dust – I used gluten-free plain flour)

METHOD

1) Preheat the oven to 200˚C / 180˚C fan / 400˚F / Gas Mark 6

2) Boil the potatoes in salted water until tender (about 20-25 mins). Drain and leave until completely coolSlice thinly.

3) While the potatoes are boiling, heat 1 knob of butter and the oil in a frying pan. Gently fry the onions and leek for 20 minutes until soft and lightly golden. Remove with slotted spoon and set aside (at around the same time as draining the potatoes).

4) Add the apple and pear to the pan with the second knob of butter and cook over a medium-high heat until soft and lightly golden. Mix into the onion and leek, and allow to cool completely.

5) On a lightly floured surface, roll out one of the sheets of pastry into a 24cm diameter circle and put on a baking tray. Unfortunately you can’t get gluten-free puff pastry (***AMENDMENT – yes you can now! Please see ingredients list above!) so I had to make this with gluten-free shortcrust pastry instead. It’s undoubtedly much nicer with puff pastry, as it is so much lighter (confirmed by my mum, who can eat gluten and has tried the original puff version) – so if you don’t have a gluten intolerance then definitely do use puff pastry. The shortcrust does make this pie heavier, especially alongside the potatoes and cheese, so try to roll it as thinly as you are able. However, it tasted lovely, and as far as I’m concerned, as someone who has to miss out on pastry the majority of the time, it was still a total treat.

6) Place about a third of the potatoes in the middle of the pastry, leaving a 2cm border round the edges. Top with half the onion mixture, then scatter over half the cheese, seasoning each layer and sprinkling it with the fresh sage as you go. Repeat the layering, finishing with a final layer of potato.

7) Roll out the other sheet of pastry into a 30cm diameter circle. Brush the exposed border of the first bottom layer of pastry with egg, then lay this new larger sheet over the top, pressing the edges together. Trim to neaten and crimp it with your fingers or a fork if you want to. Brush all over with beaten egg. Use the back of a sharp knife to mark the top of the pastry (go nuts with whatever pretty pattern you like) then chill for 20 minutes.
NB: If you want to make this ahead of time, you can do everything up until this point, then just leave it chilling until you want to eat it. Then just bake the pie for 50-60 minutes instead of the 40-45 minutes in step 8.

8) Bake the pie for 40-45 minutes until golden and crisp. Cool for 10 minutes then serve.

The recipe doesn’t call for this to be accompanied by anything else, but I think this would be lovely served with some green vegetables… and if you are making the gluten-free version, perhaps some kind of cheesy sauce or gravy, just to moisten the pastry a little. But it’s lovely just as it is, so no worries if you don’t have any of these things to hand… and as far as I’m concerned it’s definitely best served with a massive glass of red wine, which I’m pretty sure most of us mums and dads have lying around somewhere 🙂

Let us know if you try it, hope you like it! If you have any similar recipes for easy winter comfort food, please do pop them in the comments below, we’d love to hear them!

{Anna}

3 Comments

  1. Trish (Anna's mum)

    13th February 2017 at 10:27 am

    Good news! You can now get gluten-free puff pastry – I’ve seen ‘Silly Yak’ Gluten Free Puff Pastry in the chilled (not frozen) section of Tesco’s which caters for gluten/dairy/lactose free products. Also, looking online, it looks as if Asda stock a frozen ‘Genius’ puff pastry, though I haven’t checked this one out yet.
    I can confirm this recipe is lovely – we tried it again with some blue cheese and that gives it a bit more oomph, though I prefer it with the original cheeses, not being a fan of blue cheese!

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