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., but use whichever flours you like.
I have been making these Curried Lentils for a very long time, and , with this dish, I am really proud of creating a pastry that goes so well with the filling, and of the cheese component that is not usually seen with curry and also adds protein to the dish. I am particularly fond of the effect of tomato and abundant 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.
** This recipe has been corrected 12/27/13. It now has the proper amount of cream (3/4 c. and not 1/4 c.) —LE BEC FIN