Recipe: Catalan Pie

This delicious vegetarian pie, containing yummy courgettes (zucchini), tomatoes, and lots more goodies,is a recipe from the first posh (=hardback!) vegetarian cook book I bought with my own money, back in 1992 – The Good Housekeeping Complete Book of Vegetarian Cookery by Janet Smith. It’s a fab book, and one of the most used in my collection, and still very on trend, with the focus on delicious vegetables and pulses, drawing on the best vegetarian cuisines of the world (Mediterranean and Indian recipes feature prominently) for its inspiration.

Recipe vegetarian pie courgette zucchini tomato pine nuts raisins
Delicious flavours, and so healthy, this vegetarian pie makes a lovely lunch.

This pie has a yeasted flour and cornmeal (polenta/maize meal) dough crust, and is packed with lovely flavours and textures that make every mouthful an absolute pleasure. I wondered why it was described as ‘Catalan’ (knowing nothing about Catalan cuisine I am ashamed to say) – and found this article by Claudia Roden, in which she says:

Catalans are known for mixing savoury with sweet and sweet with sour… raisins and pine nuts are common garnishes.

So I could immediately see the influence, as the recipe contains just that kind of mix of savoury and sweetness, with pine nuts and raisins. Hope you enjoy it if you give it a try.

Catalan pie courgette zucchini tomato vegetarian recipe
It’s certainly a very rustic looking creation! Who cares though, it tastes yum!

Catalan Pie

  • Servings: 4 generous pieces, or 6 less greedy slices
  • Print

Ingredients

For the dough:

  • 150 ml warm water
  • 5g dried yeast (fast action if you like), or 10g fresh yeast
  • 175g strong white flour
  • 50g fine cornmeal (also known as polenta, or maize meal)
  • 1 level tbsp sugar
  • 1 level tsp salt

For the filling:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 small red chilli (or 1/2 tsp chilli powder) – adjust heat to taste
  • 400g fresh tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 large courgette, chopped into small pieces (quarter the courgettes lengthways, then slice into 1/4inch pieces)
  • 3 eggs
  • 40g raisins
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 40g pine nuts
  • salt and pepper to taste

You’ll also need a large rectangular baking sheet, lined with baking parchment, or lightly oiled.

Method

  • If you are using yeast that needs to be dissolved in water, add it to the warm water and allow it to dissolve. Measure the flour and cornmeal into a large bowl and stir in the salt and the sugar (if you are using fast action yeast, stir it into the flour now). Make a well in the centre and pour in the warm water/warm water and yeast mixture. Bring together to make a dough, then turn out onto a lightly oiled work surface  and knead for 5-10 minutes until you have a smooth, elastic dough. Pop the dough into a bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and leave to rise whilst you are making the filling.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan (choose one with a lid), add the onions, garlic and chilli, and cook over a medium-high heat for about 5 minutes until the onions are beginning to turn golden, then turn the heat low, cover the pan, and let the mixture cook for 15-20 minutes until very soft.
  • Whilst you are cooking the onions, hard boil the eggs, and leave them submerged (unshelled) in cold water until you need them later.
  • Add the tomatoes and courgette and cook gently until you have a very thick sauce (this is important, otherwise the pie base will be very doughy).
  • Peel and chop the eggs roughly, and stir into the sauce, and finally stir in the raisins, capers and pine nuts, and then leave the sauce to cool.
  • Preheat your oven to 220C, Gas Mark 8.
  • Sprinkle your work surface with flour, divide the risen dough in half, then roll and press out one half to a rough rectangle, measuring about 33cm by 25cm (13in x 10in) or equivalent (whatever large rectangle shape will fit on your baking tray). Do persevere with this, it gets quite thin, but you can patch up any broken bits once you have moved it to the baking tray – it’s quite forgiving. Transfer the dough to the prepared baking tray.
  • Spread the sauce over the dough, leaving about 1cm free of sauce, all round the edge. Roll out the other half of the dough (again, persevere!) and use it to cover the filling. Press the edges of the dough together, folding the bottom edge up over the top and folding the whole lot upwards, using a little bit of water to help stick it all together. If you get any holes/thin bits of dough, you can pinch off bits of the crust to make patches, and use water and a sprinkling of cornmeal to hold it all in place. Don’t worry… it’s rustic!
  • Sprinkle the top of the pie with cornmeal, cover loosely with a clean cloth, and leave to rise for about 20-30 minutes.
  • Bake for 20 minutes until well risen and golden brown. Then remove from the oven and leave to cool a little on the baking tray. You can serve the pie warm or cold. It’s lovely with a green salad and lashings of mayonnaise.

Review: Crochetterie: Cool Contemporary Crochet for the Creatively Minded by Molla Mills

Book review - crochetterie by Molla Mills
Crochetetterie by Molla Mills published by Jacqui Small

Looks good doesn’t it? I think it’s immediately obvious from the cover that this crochet pattern book is a bit out of the ordinary. Molla Mills (who is Finnish) has created a refreshing non-cutesy crochet book, with a strong urban yet folky. In the intro (which is a brilliant read!) she tells us that she wanted the patterns to appeal to men as well as women, and I think she’s done a great job.

Yarn bombing crochet - Crochetterie by Molla Mills
Crochet bunting with edge…

There’s a bit of a narrative here –  you feel like you get to know about the creative culture that Molla Mills inhabits, which I really like. It’s a book with strong personality, so it feels very coherent, rather than a whole heap of crochet patterns thrown together.

Man with crochet - Crochetterie by Mola Mills
Mills introduces you to her models – the majority of whom are male – and tells us a bit about their story – a really nice touch.

So you can get an idea of the contents – the book is divided up into 4 sections of patterns – Home, Clothes, Travels and Equipment. There are patterns for rugs, lots of bags, scarfs, hats, mittens, slippers. The projects are strong on texture and bold patterns, with a lot of colourwork (this is probably not a book for you if you don’t like colourwork). I like the way that traditional folk-style designs are used in a really modern way.

At the end of the book there are fantastic pics plus instructions illustrating the basic stitches crochet stitches used in the book (all the stitches used are very simple) and also how to do colour changes.

Jute storage basket instructions - Crochetterie by Molla Mills
Clearly illustrated instructions for a jute basket

And as you can see, the projects are copiously illustrated, with proper finishing instructions for tricky techniques such as sewing in a zip or adding leather fasteners etc., nice and neatly. There are also very simple charts, where required.

Jute storage basket - Crochetterie by Molla Mills
Completed – very funky – jute storage basket.

One of the things I really like about the projects in this book are the finishing touches – the use of leather is a real theme, and it looks fantastic with the crochet, taking it to a different level.

My kids don’t often show an interest in my crochet books – but I had to wrestle this one away from them because of this awesome pic of two gorgeous huskies in crochet bow ties:

Sweet bow ties on huskies - Crochetterie by Molla Mills
See what I mean about it being a book with personality?!

I am sure they would love me to crochet up our wee pooch a bow tie… and I am very tempted myself, but he would NEVER put up with it.

My favourite pattern in the book is this adorable little bike bag. I’d love to make a shoulder bag version with leather straps.

Crochet bike bag - Crochetterie by Molla Mills

It is super simple, but I just love the style of the close crochet stitching with those distressed leather straps.

One unusual feature (for UK readers) is that the amounts of yarn required for each pattern are given by weight – but this is something that a bit of Googling will help you with. The yarn suggestions are also very specific, and some might be a bit tricky to get hold of in the UK, but I am sure that an experienced crocheter would find it easy enough to find equivalents. If you want to try and get hold of the exact yarn, there is a full list of all the yarns and the name of the manufacturers and retailers at the end of the book, so that would give you some clues.

Cute lego slippers - Crocetterie by Molla Mills
Sweet Lego slippers! These also come in adult sizes, but sadly without the Lego…

On the other hand, it is brilliant to learn about some fab yarns which might well be worth seeking out, even if we have to send away to get them… I love this very practical looking Mexican nylon yarn – Hilos by La Espiga which is used for a bike bag, and it’s great to know about Liina fish net twine – which looks like a really versatile yarn.

If you want more Molla Mills – trundle along to her website, which is full of crochet style and inspiration, and has more information on where to find those elusive Finnish yarns too. And you can find her on Instagram too, where you can join me in oohing and aahing over some quite fabulous crochet makes.

Fabric, yarn and stitchy goodies

Support the work of very berry

I am really excited to do a quick intro to my newest sponsors – Prinfab. Prinfab offers you the opportunity to get your own designs onto fabric (there are 10 options of fabric, including cotton, cotton percale, poplin, linen and bamboo available) or buy fabric created by other artists/indie designers. It’s also a place where you can sell your own fabric designs for commission payments. Think a UK-based version of Spoonflower. The prices for custom printed fabric start at £12.99 per metre, which is very competitive. If all this is intriguing to you – I recommend you check out the Prinfab Facebook page to see some examples of the fabrics which are being created.

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I was going to tell you about the fab Sirdar Harrap Tweed Chunky yarn new in at Black Sheep Wools (it’s gorgeous, great value, and comes in a lovely range of colours, what’s not to love?) but then I got distracted by this beautiful crochet blanket pattern using Harrap Tweed DK:

Isn’t it great?! Made me think that I really need an autumn/winter crochet project to take with me on holiday in September (can you tell I’m not leaving England?!).

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There’s a summer sale on at Dragonfly Fabrics with some lovely fabrics at up to 50% off. I love a bargain of course, but what really caught my eye were some fabulous new cotton jersey fabrics from Art Gallery, including this fantabulous ice-cream themed print:

 

Great for leggings or jersey PJs, don’t you think?

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Over at Duck Egg Threads, a delivery of new fabrics means that they have one of the biggest ranges of Pure Elements by Art Gallery in the UK (if not *the* biggest).

These solid colour fabrics are new to me, but Sarah (who owns Duck Egg Threads) was kind enough to send me some pieces, and I am hugely impressed. Such clean bright colours and a fabulous tight weave, these are really quality solid fabrics.

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Cross-stitch nirvana has been reached at Cloud Craft, which is the first UK shop to stock the gorgeous range of Satsuma Street patterns by Jody Rice. I have found it almost impossible to choose a pic to feature, they area all so blooming lovely… but I *think* this one is my favourite (maybe):Satsuma Street printed pattern - Sweet Spring

If you’d like to be in with a chance of winning a set of Christmas patterns from the Satsuma Street range then do pop over to the Cloud Craft Instagram feed, where you can win the patterns, and linen and threads you need too!

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Flowers - spring floral orange & red cotton fabric bundle

Last, but by absolutely no means least, I am in love with this gorgeous bundle from My Fabric House, amongst their collection of ‘Back by Popular Demand‘ restock goodies. That flower fabric on the top is one of my Favourites of All Time… I made a really cute wallet out of it a few years back (2012 – oh my word!), and eked out the left-over scraps into very many later projects. I’m also a very big fan of this super sophisticated grey linen fabric with its delicate tree design – just lovely.

enjoy logo

Sewing tools of note 7- the lint roller

So, here’s a lovely cheap tool that you can pick up at the supermarket for my latest sewing tool of note – the quotidien lint roller (mine is from the Korbond range – and is refillable, which appeals to my sense of thrift).  It’s not glamorous,  not complicated,  just indispensable.

First up, and close to its standard purpose, it’s great for picking up errant threads from finished sewing projects, especially quilt tops. And a few pet hairs too if your house is anything like ours.

But it has got other uses too. You know when you are using the rotary cutter on a cutting board and you get lots if tiny threads caught up in cuts on the mat when you are trimming fabric and patchwork blocks (especially when your mat is as beaten up as mine)?

Removing threads with a lint roller
What a mess!

Well the lint roller cleans up that problem in a trice, and it’s so satisfyingly quick and easy:

Using a lint roller to clean a cutting mat
Before!
Gradually removing threads from a cutting mat with a lint roller
After one roll – we are getting there!

It’s so nice to start a new morning with a nice lint-free cutting mat (if only I could roll the inside of my sewing machine too!).

The other time when it really comes into its own is when you are unpicking stitches (never!).  After you’ve finished unpicking, a quick swish of the roller, and all the half stitches still stuck in your fabric will be gone in no time – just don’t use it on fabric that frays easily, or you could end up with a rather frazzled seam allowance!

This is the seventh in my series: Sewing tools of note. Hope you are enjoying them.