Among the many wonderful presents I received for Christmas this year was the cookbook Plenty. I wanted to buy it for myself for quite some time, but once I put it on my Christmas wish list I was forced to wait and see if someone bought it for me (oh the agony!)
Well, they did (you know who you are, you lovely people) and let me tell you, it was worth the wait.
The book itself is gorgeous – in fact it is one of the prettiest cookbooks I’ve ever seen. It’s clean and simple, but the photographs are just stunning. In looking through it for the first time my mouth was almost instantly watering and I bookmarked at least 10 recipes to make immediately.
One of the first dishes I made from it was a Broccoli and Gorgonzola Pie. Yes, you read that right. Broccoli. Gorgonzola. PIE. It was amazing.
Now…this recipe may be a bit controversial to share with you in January because if you are on a diet, this is not the dish for you, and I know dieting is the thing to do this month.
My opinion? Make this pie now, diet later (maybe).
I’ve since made several other delicious dishes from this book that I will try to tell you about in the near future, but this one has been my favorite so far. It is rich and decadent, but there is enough broccoli in it that it is also very vegetal – which is a good thing! because it cuts through the unctuousness of the cheese and cream.
Another revelation I had when making this pie: I’ve figured out THE KEY to perfect pie crust. Are you ready? Pastry flour.
Pastry flour!… Does everyone know about this except me? Maybe so, but if I inform even one person with this post, I will have done my good for the world.
I was tipped off about the wonders of pastry flour by the awesome Brandi Henderson, pastry chef of the equally awesome Delancey, while taking a class last month at The Pantry at Delancey. I thought I would give it a try, even though deep down I didn’t think it would make that big of a difference. Well, it makes a world of difference.
I used it in my standard, go-to pie crust recipe, so that my experiment was sure to only have one variable (um, sorry about that, I am taking a research methods class this quarter and have been thinking a lot about experiments and variables…).
The outcome was divine. It was flaky in a way my crusts are never flaky! It was tender in a way my crusts are never tender! It was melt-in-your-mouth good.
It is the case that white pastry flour is a little hard to come by, though for some reason whole wheat pastry flour is everywhere. For those of you in Seattle, you can buy little bags of fresh, locally made pastry flour at The Pantry (along with other delicious, restaurant-quality products). For those elsewhere, you can find it on King Arthur Flour, if it isn’t in your local grocery store.
I admit that going through the trouble of mail-ordering your flour (or driving to Ballard, if you’re me) sounds like a little much, but if pie crust is important to you it will be worth it! Go ahead and try it for yourself – when you’re making this Broccoli and Gorgonzola Pie, for instance – you will be amazed.
Broccoli and Gorgonzola Pie
Adapted slightly from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi
Makes one 10-inch pie
Do ahead: make the pie crusts for this a day or two ahead of time if you can and keep them in the fridge, otherwise remember that you need to refrigerate the dough for at least an hour before you can continue!
For the crust:
- 2 1/2 cups white pastry flour
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, very cold
- 1/2-3/4 cup water, very cold
For the filling:
- 1 1/2 lbs broccoli (about 2 medium heads), cut into small florets
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 3 large leeks, trimmed and thinly sliced
- 2/3 cup heavy cream
- 1/3 cup water
- 2 tbsp dried chives (use fresh if you can, 1/3 cup)
- 2 tbsp dried tarragon (use fresh if you can, 1/3 cup)
- 3 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp salt
- black pepper to taste
- 4-6 oz Gorgonzola (I used 4oz, up to your preference!)
- 1 egg, beaten (optional)
First, make your crusts by following the wonderfully precise instructions on SmittenKitchen.com. Just remember to use pastry flour instead of regular AP flour! If you make your crusts ahead of time and they’ve been in the fridge for a day or two, take them out about 15 minutes before you want to roll them out.
Preheat oven to 400°. Roll out one half of your dough to about 1/8 inch thick – large enough to line a 10-inch pie dish or tart pan. Line the dish and trim off the excess pastry. Roll out the second half of your dough so that it’s a little larger than the surface of the dish and put it back in the fridge so it doesn’t get too soft.
Line the shell in the pie dish with parchment paper or foil and fill with pie weights. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until light brown. Then, remove the pie weights and paper and return it to the oven to bake for about 5 more minutes, or until it is golden brown. Set aside.
While the pie shell is baking, prepare the filling. Steam the broccoli florets over about 2 inches of boiling water for 2-3 minutes, until fork tender but still firm. Drain and set aside.
Melt the butter in a pan and sauté the leeks on low heat for 10 minutes until soft. Then, add the cream, water, chives, tarragon, mustard, salt, and black pepper. Stir well for a minute then and remove from heat.
To assemble your pie, first spread the leek mixture over the bottom of the cooled pie shell. Then, scatter the broccoli and Gorgonzola on top of that. It will likely be a very full pie, that is, the filling will be mounded up above the rim of the dish. That’s ok! Lay the rolled out pastry top over the filling and pinch around the edge to seal the top shell to the bottom shell. Trim off any excess.
Glaze the top of the pie with the beaten egg if desired, then bake for 30 minutes, or until the top of the pie is golden brown. Allow to cool for a few minutes before slicing.