A influencia da minha mae, empada de legumes e borrego

                                                                                                     PHOTOS:Jane Bryan,Instagram hoxnejb

I wonder what it would be like if I did not enjoy cooking and eating. The answer is obvious, I certainly would not be such a happy or motivated person. It is something that gives me immense pleasure, to have been blessed with sensitive taste buds and to enjoy eating. To be able to separate each ingredient, feel its texture, experience the sweet and salty, the bitter or the acid. I have my favourite ingredients, the ones I could not do without, those I use repeatedly  which are what I call my  store cuboard staples,and those that I dislike or have an allergy to which I can count on one hand.My mother taught me not to be a fussy eater. I will search far and wide if necessary to find that perfect ingredient or to forage a rare herb ,or purchase a particular spice or seasoning. I always like to experiment, try recipes from other cuisines, from other countries, from other cultures. and for that there are books that pile up on my bookshelves, the recipes that are being marked with post it stickers and waiting in line patiently for the day they will come to fruition. However, I will never lose that matriarchal influence. It was with her that my love of cooking was born, the typical dishes cooked on her Raeburn or Calor gas stove.I find it reassuring that I still cook today with bottled gas,here in Portugal.She was the mother of leftovers and thereby became the mother of invention.I think she would be proud of this pie that I have created from Easter leftovers.It can of course be made from scratch with newly purchased ingredients. No matter from where I source recipes, my mothers influence will always remain,whether it be using a preserving pan to make marmalade or using a heavy weight over a cast iron pan to make a pressed foccacia or pan bagna sandwich.
So here we are half way through spring,the days are longer,bringing more light and the birds have started singing again as the sun comes up.The temperatures are now more pleasant, the rain has abated and a whole selection of new fruits and vegetables have begun to sprout and make an appearance on the market stalls.So I´ve been thinking its time for a spring pie, new seasons lamb lamb and a suggestion of vegetables  would bring the smells of spring to the kitchen.Imagine a crisp pastry box stuffed with the goodness of slow cooked tender paschal borrego,the vegetables nicely seasoned with a nod to the Algarves Moorish connection in the form of harissa ,almonds and curd cheese.The vegetables I have chosen can be changed to those of your own discretion,but please I implore you not to forego the butternut squash,to my mind the making of this dish.I have also used a hot water crust pastry here.Most commonly associated with pork pies, hot water crust pastry is perfect for shaping into pie cases because the high quantity of water present makes it hard and strong. The pastry is baked until rich brown in colour and stands up well to wet and heavy fillings. Hot water crust pastry requires the fat to be ‘hot’ when added, rather than chilled as is needed for most other kinds of pastry.

Lamb and vegetable pie
( when moussaka meets a Moroccan shepherd)

Empada de legumes e borrego
(um encontro de moussaka e um empada de pastor marroquino)

Mix the water in a pan, add the butter and stir until it melts,
Add the flour, salt and slightly beaten egg. Knead well until all the ingredients are well attached, the dough takes off from the fingers and is able to form a ball. Reserve.

Cut butternut squash and carrot into 1cm cubes, arrange in a baking tray drizzle with 2 soup spoons of olive oil and season with salt, pepper and Ras El Hanout and bake for 30 minutes.Reserve.

Chop the onions and celery finely.With the lamb, sautée in a frying pan with a soup spoon of olive oil for 10 to 12 minutes until soft.
In the same frying pan, add the leek and the the chopped garlic cloves.Add the lamb,season with salt and saute for another 8 minutes until the leek is tender. Add the red wine,thyme and a soup spoon of Worcester sauce and stir to mix and the wine is reduced.Cut the mushrooms into quarters and place them in the same skillet with more oil if needed, season with salt and pepper and sauté until soft and all the liquid has evaporated.Add the tomato purée, then season. Simmer gently for 15 minutes until the mixture has reduced.In the same pan add the reserved butternut squash and carrot mix.Mix everything together till well combined. Season with salt, add the requeijao and stir for 2 minutes.

Divide the dough into three parts keeping one third aside. Form a ball with the other two parts and roll out on a floured surface, enough to line a rectangular shaped loaf pan 24 x 12cms. Line the pan taking care not to cut the excess off.
spread the mixture over the pastry and with the back of a tablespoon press lightly.
Roll out the remaining dough, to a sufficient size to cover the top of the pie and bit more.
Lightly wet the excess pastry on the edge of the shape, all the way around (the water will serve as a "glue").
Put the dough on top, covering the whole shape and with your fingers press it firmly, joining the two doughs and sealing the pie. Cut off excess and set aside. With your fingers make a wavy effect all around and with the remains of the dough make small "leaves" of dough. and position them, gluing them to the surface with water.
With a funnel make a small hole in the center of the pie. This will allow the steam to come out during cooking, preventing the dough from splitting.
Bake for 40 minutes or until the pastry takes on golden colour.
Carefully remove the pie from the pan and brush all over with the beaten egg.
Return to the oven for another 10 minutes. 


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