RECIPE: Broccoli and Blue Cheese Pie

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This is a super easy and delicious recipe for a broccoli and blue cheese pie. There are few relationships as good as the one between broccoli and blue cheese (aka gorgonzola). This powerful couple of ingredients battle for supremacy of flavour, which are both so strong, that they eventually end up bowing to each other in respect and settle into holding hands in perfect harmony.

The green crunch of the broccoli lends itself perfectly to the almost too rich (we are talking a spouse with a beach house, 30 foot yacht and a beachfront mansion here) blue cheese, while at the same time having the strength of the bloodline of the brassica family that some might say can have the overpowering odour of a sewage pipe. But then blue cheese isn’t so squeaky clean under the armpits either. And that is what is so perfect about the broccoli/blue cheese match. You may judge them at first for being too loud and obnoxious (and yes, for many even noxious), but soon you will realise that this is only jealousy speaking. Nothing signifies a perfect relationship more than when each half, undesirable alone, is made so much more special and amazing in unison.

So there you have it, enough flavour to build a house out of and settle down. You have your garden greens and enough fat from the cheese to keep even the toughest tastebuds satisfied. The only thing missing is a crunchy exterior and a carpeting of warmth. Enter a golden crispy pie crust and a smooth embrace of a béchamel sauce. You can also add a little chorizo or bacon if you insist upon an extra bit of protein. But really, a broccoli and blue cheese pie is the perfect vegetarian dish to be enjoyed by any serious foodie.

Oh and if you really think that pies are hard to make, think again. With the quality of frozen puff pastries today, all of that hard work of making a perfect crispy and golden crust has turned into simply opening you freezer and slapping on a round or two or pre-made pastry.

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Ingredients (serves 4-6):

  •  1 sheet puff pastry
  • 2 medium potatoes
  • 1 head broccoli
  • 50g-100g blue cheese (50g will give only a bare hint of blue cheese flavour if you are feeling intimidated by this wonderful ingredient)
  • 100g butter
  • 100g plain all purpose flour
  • 400ml whole milk
  • chorizo or bacon (optional)
  • salt and pepper

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Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 200°C bake.

Slice potatoes into thin rounds (thinner the better) and put into a pot with cold salted water and bring to the boil. Cook until soft, drain and leave to sit.

While the potatoes are cooking melt the butter into a saucepan and cook for a few minutes until you start to smell a beautiful nutty odour and the butter turns brown. This is a technique called buerre noisette or hazelnut butter and this will add an extra nutty dimension of flavour to your dish. You can skip this step and just melt the butter – if you want substandard results that is!

Once the butter is browned, add in the flour and stir vigourously for a few minutes so that the flour is completely coated in the butter. This is called a roux which will turn into béchamel sauce with the addition of the milk. But before you add the milk you need to cook the flour. So keep storing the flour and butter mixture. At a certain point you will notice that the roux suddenly loosens up a bit, once this happens, then and only then will the flour start cooking (getting rid of the unwanted floury taste). Keep cooking for another two minutes after the sauce the flour/butter sauce loosens up.

Once the roux has cooked sufficiently for a few minutes (this should take about 4 minutes all up) add the milk a bit at a time. Use a whisk to stir it in and get rid of the lumps. Keep adding milk a bit at a time until the sauce is at the consistency you want. You may not have to add all of the milk or you may have to add a little more depending. And remember that the sauce will thicken more in the oven as the pie cooks so you want it to be on the runny side. About the consistency of house paint.

Stir the blue cheese into the béchamel sauce, taste and then season liberally with pepper and maybe a little salt if necessary (although remember that the butter and cheese are both salty so make sure you taste!).

In a oven dish lay the sliced cooked potatoes alone the bottom so they form an even crust alone the bottom. Slice up the broccoli into small florets (about thumb sized) and throw them on top of the potato so they are spread across evenly. If you want to add any other ingredients at this point you can do so now.

Pour the béchamel sauce over the broccoli again so it is evenly spread. Jiggle the oven tray slightly so that the sauce seeps down into the potato. This will happen even more in the oven.

Place a sheet of puff pastry over the top so that the broccoli and sauce is completely covered. Hopefully you have taken the puff pasty out of the freezer earlier so it is slightly defrosted and you can pat it down so that it properly meets the sauce on the broccoli. If the pastry is still frozen then you can bung the whole thing into the oven for a minute and then do this.

Brush the pastry with a bit of melted butter or olive oil and put into the pre-heated oven for 40 minutes or until the pastry is crisp and golden.

And there you have it. A happy house full of the delicious aromas of a broccoli and blue cheese pie. What a perfect life!

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