Author Notes: Long ago, when I was asked what cooking skill I wish I had, the answer was consistent: I wished I had a knack for rolling out pie dough. And then, also long ago, I found Paula Peck's recipe for Cream Cheese Pastry Dough (genuflect, genuflect.) This dough is, of course, rich and flexible with fat from the cream cheese and the heavy cream. Unlike other pie doughs,it is very tolerant .It makes for a very tender, flaky but sturdy crust and can be re-rolled alot without getting tough.With my conscious conversion to including whole grains in my baking, I have developed a number of versions of this dough. All contain whole wheat or Spelt flour; some have added cornmeal for both texture (crunchy) and flavor. The dough for these Curried Lentil Hand Pies is the cornmeal- containing version.
I have been making these Curried Lentils for a very long time. I am particularly fond of the effect of tomato and fresh ginger in the dish; they really complement and punch up the cumin, coriander etc. Every winter I make big batches of these hand pies and keep them in the freezer for lunches with soup or salad. They are also one of the most popular dishes at our winter Open House and are quickly scoffed by both vegetarians and non-vegetarian friends.I love that I can make them ahead and bake them off before and/or during the party.
I once added cooked short grain brown rice to the filling, but I didn't find it as good. This year I hit upon the cheese component and, while I can't really distinguish the cheese (except the melted layer under the dough) the cheese helps bind the lentils and gives the filling a very satisfying richness.
- LE BEC FIN
Makes 28-36 hand pies
CURRIED LENTIL FILLING ; 12 cups (These lentils are also delicious by themselves, served over basmati rice.)
- 1/4 cup canola oil (or more to keep spices moist)
- 1 medium large onion, chopped into 1/3 " small dice
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- heaping 1/3 cup peeled minced ginger
- 2 large bay leaves, broken up
- 8 whole cloves
- 1/4 cup plus 1 Tablespoon Madras curry powder (Sun brand is my favorite)
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 28 ounce can Pastene whole plum tomatoes
- 6-8 ounces tomato paste
- 1 1/2 pound brown lentils
- 6 1/4 cups liquid made up of all the tomato juices from the 28 ounce can, plus water
- 1 Tablespoon kosher salt
- 3 cups x sharp cheddar or gruyere, grated , for lentil filling
- 3 cups x sharp cheddar or gruyere, grated , for assembly of turnovers
- 1 large egg beaten with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, for assembly of turnovers
- In hot oil,over medium high heat, saute onion through turmeric til golden/translucent, about 5 -8 minutes, being careful not to burn.Remove tomatoes from their juices and pulse til well chopped in processor. To the onions, add tomatoes and lentils through salt; stir well; bring to boil, and turn down to simmer, covered, 35-50 minutes (or more), checking and stirring occasionally so lentils don't stick on bottom, til all liquid is absorbed and lentils are cooked through without being mushy. Adjust seasoning as needed and cook a few more minutes, uncovered. Mixture should be very moist but without any pools of liquid. Let cool completely. Stir in 3 cups grated cheese.The filling can be made a week in advance.
- Notes: This recipe makes alot of lentils, but it is just as much trouble to cook less, so I make the whole amount and , depending upon my energy level, I may freeze some of it (it has a long freezer life) to use for a future entree over rice, or for filling future turnovers . (If frozen for future hand pies, the lentil filling should be reheated/brought to a boil after defrosting, and then left to cool to room temp before filling the pastry. This is not for health reasons but for getting the lentil mixture to be smooth again.)
MULTIGRAIN HAND PIE DOUGH
- 1 pound sweet unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 pound cream cheese *
- 1/4 cup heavy or whipping cream
- 1 Tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 cup finely ground organic cornmeal**
- 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour or white whole wheat flour
- 2 1/2 cups white pastry flour or white whole wheat flour
- For the entire batch of lentils, you will need to double or triple this dough recipe. (** A 5 quart Kitchen Aid mixer only holds one dough recipe at a time.**)
- In a mixer with a paddle, cream the butter ; add cream cheese through salt and combine thoroughly, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl. Mix the flours and cornmeal; add to bowl and beat til combined, scraping the bottoms and sides of the bowl.
- On a floured or cornmeal-dusted surface or bowl, quickly knead together the dough. If the dough won't come all together, add a few drops more cream to bring together loose bits. If dough is sticky, knead in a little more flour til it is not sticky. Transfer dough to a piece of saran and flatten to a 1/2" thick disc. Support with a cake board or sheet pan and refrigerate at least an hour.
- * I use Philadelphia brand cream cheese. If you use a less expensive brand, you may need to add more flour to compensate for more water in the cream cheese.
- * Organic and/or stoneground cornmeal makes a big difference in nutrition, flavor and freshness. It also goes rancid easily, so store in frig or freezer.
- Note: Use up or freeze this raw dough within 2 days, or the whole wheat will cause it to turn grey (though that can't be seen after it is baked .)
- ROLLING THE DOUGH AND ASSEMBLING THE HAND PIES
- Remove dough from frig 1/2 hour before rolling out. Cut off an approximately 12 ounce piece. On a floured surface, roll out an 1/8 " thick piece that is large enough to cut out 3 6" rounds, using a pot lid or other cutter. If the round is ticky, dust with a tiny bit of flour to keep it from sticking. Stack rounds in a plastic bag or covered with a towel. Keeping your rolled- out scraps on the side,continue to roll out the dough as before. It's fine to stick together two or more chunks of dough to get the 12 ounces. Overlap rolled out scraps, pressing to adhere, and cut out more rounds until you use up your dough. Keep most of your stacked rounds in a plastic bag and on a flat surface, in the frig til ready to fill (It is so much easier to work with cold dough.) Cover the rest of the stacked rounds with a damp towel. (If dough ever becomes too soft, refrigerate to firm up.)
- Place sheets of wax paper on a sheet pan, cake board or other thin rigid flat surface that will hold the turnovers as they freeze. Place several pastry rounds on your counter. Lightly brush with egg wash only the bottom half of the circle . Fill a 1/3 cup measure with lentil filling, tamping down with your fingers. Rap the side of the measuring cup on the counter so the filling will release cleanly in your palm. Place filling in middle of the bottom half of each circle, pressing down to fill the crescent to 1/2" from the edge. Spread 3-4 tablespoons of cheese on top of the filling . Fold the top half of each circle over the bottom half, pushing down to adhere the edges with 2 or 3 fingertips, pressing to seal. (If you have brushed on your egg wash too heavily, the edges will be too gooey to adhere. Then use a fork if necessary.) When the hand pies are finished, transfer to the wax paper, fitting close together but not touching.
- When the sheet is filled, brush each turnover with egg wash, covering the crescent. Lightly sprinkle with cornmeal. With a skewer or chopstick, poke a hole into the top of each hand pie, rotating the skewer to make a 1/4 " hole. Freeze the sheet flat and transfer frozen turnovers to ziploc freezer bags. Continue til all are finished.
- BAKING HAND PIES
- In a preheated 400 degree oven, bake handpies on a baking sheet lined with parchment or silpat for 20 minutes. Bake til tops are done. Then check the bottoms; if undercooked, gently turn over hand pies and bake another 5 minutes til dough is browned and cooked through.An inserted skewer should reveal a hot center. Remove from oven and serve.
- * Note- Whole wheat in the dough can make the crust darker brown than usual.