Baking, Veggie mains

Homomade cashew nut and mushroom pie

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This is an all time favourite in our family and I must have made this the first time about 30 years ago as a teenage vegan. The original recipe I used was from my first vegan cookbook. This version isn’t vegan but can easily be adapted if you used vegetable shortening in the pastry and soya milk in the filling. It’s a great pie to make for a family get together and is delicious served hot with veg and gravy but is also good cold on a buffet with salads. It’s also one of those veggie recipes that meat eaters seem to love and never ask “Where’s the meat?” This recipe will make enough for about 4-5 portions.

You need to start by making the cashew nut and mushroom filling as this takes a couple of hours so that the cashews soften up in the sauce. In a thick bottomed saucepan with a lid fry a chopped up, medium-sized onion until it softens then add 400 grams of chopped mushrooms (I used straw and eryngii but use whatever mushrooms you like) and a couple of cloves of crushed garlic and a little salt and pepper. Fry these for a while, quite a lot of moisture will come out of the mushrooms as they cook down. Then I added 100 grams of cashew nuts and about a cup of stock (I use about half a teaspoon of Marmite mixed with hot water as I like the umami flavour it brings to the sauce). There needs to be enough liquid to almost cover the mushrooms and cashews as the cashews will absorb some of the stock. I had a lovely bouquet garni that my friends had brought me from France, if you don’t have one of these then a bay leaf or two and herbs de Provence or mixed herbs are fine. I then covered the pan and simmered the dish for about 30-40 mins, stirring occasionally, while I made my pastry. I won’t go into the details making short crust pastry here but you need about 500 grams of pastry. (I made mine with 300 grams of plain flour and 150 grams of butter, an egg yolk and a little cold water.) You’ll also need to pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees C / 400 F.

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After you have simmered the filling for about 30 mins see how much liquid is left you may want to simmer for a further 10 minutes with the lid off to reduce the liquid. The mushrooms and cashews should be about half covered. Then turn off the heat and leave it to stand, covered, for at least an hour, longer is better, until the cashews soften up. In the meantime you can line a 25cm pie / tart tin with about 2/3 of your pastry and blind bake it. I used the egg white I had left from my pastry to seal the pastry base I painted the blind baked base with egg white and put it in the oven for another 5 mins. This will help keep your pastry crisp when you add the filling.

Next you can thicken the pie filling, take out the bouquet garni / bay leaves, I kept my bouquet garni aside to flavor my gravy too. Add about half a cup of cream / (soya) milk to the saucepan and re-heat the mixture. Then mix a couple of tsps. of corn flour with a little (soya) milk and add this to the filling to thicken it and simmer for another minute, stirring so it doesn’t stick. You don’t want too much sauce but enough to coat everything well. Allow the sauce to cool down a bit, then roll out the rest of the pastry for the pie topping. Then pour the filling into the pie case and cover with the pastry lid and seal this round the edges to the pastry base. Finally, ‘paint’ the top of the pie with some milk to help browning. You can also decorate the pie with any extra pastry scraps, the milk will help these stick .

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Put the pie in the oven for about 25-30 minutes until it’s nice and golden on the top.

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I served my pie with mashed potatoes to which I added some chopped spring onions and sweet corn (which I had left over in the fridge), some steamed veg (white cabbage and pak choy) and gravy. Yummy and well worth the effort!

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My friend Martin in Hull ‘copied’ my cashew nut & mushroom pie but used filo pastry instead of short crust to make these lovely parcels…

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