Moongazy Pie – an original Roaringwater Journal recipe
Each year around this time we look forward to the annual Cornish Invasion – a group of men and women from Cornwall who come on a cultural exchange to sing and tell stories around West Cork. Some are old friends of Robert’s and we inevitably end up in pubs, singing and playing our hearts out until all hours.
A Cornish Quartet in O’Donovan’s Hotel, Clonakilty
This year we managed to get a couple of them and their Irish hosts to sit still long enough to eat dinner with us. To celebrate the theme of our Irish/Cornish friendship, we made a special dish – Moongazy Pie.
Robert, Majella O’Callaghan, Jonathan Ball, Nick Blood, Brendan O’Callaghan
Have you heard of the famous Cornish dish, Stargazy Pie? It’s an arresting looking dish, with pilchards’ heads peeking out of a pastry crust as if gazing at the stars. Of course, there’s a whole legend to go with it and lots of traditions.
Regular readers will know by now that Robert is a hare fanatic. (In fact, he thinks he is a hare, but don’t tell him I told you that.) What better way to combine his Cornish heritage and his hare obsession than with the symbol of the moon-gazing hare – one of the classic, universal images with which we associate hares.
So here is the recipe we devised! I’m not sure who likes pilchards (not me!) so don’t worry, there isn’t a pilchard in sight – just beautiful salmon and lots of leeks. Although this is an easy recipe give yourself time to make it, as part of the process involves cooling the ingredients and then the pie itself before baking. It’s a great dish to make in the morning for a Sunday lunch, or in the early afternoon for dinner.
2 tbs butter
A side of salmon (1 – 1.5k/2.5 – 3.5lbs), skinned and boned (we got our fishmonger to do this for us).
A large handful of fennel fronds (I happen to have this in the garden and I love the aniseedy aroma but you can substitute fresh dill)
Freshly grated zest and juice of one lime
1 large egg
1 tablespoon water
2 packs ready-made puff pastry sheets – You’ll need about 900g/2lbs in total.
Take the puff pastry from the fridge so it will be at room temperature when you are ready to roll it out.
Wash the leeks very well, making sure to separate the leaves and hunt for that pesky soil that lurks between them. Drain them, pat them dry and cut them into rounds approx half inch or 1.5cm long. Sauté the leeks in butter over moderate heat, stirring, until tender, about 20 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Zest and juice the lime.
Cut off the coarser stalks from the fennel (or dill) and chop the fronds finely.
Cut salmon into pieces – about 2”/5cm square.
Once the leeks are cool, mix the leeks, salmon, lime zest and juice and fennel/dill in a bowl.
Whisk together egg and water to make an egg wash.
Dust a baking tray with floor. A 35 x 25 x 2cm (14″ x 10″ x 1”) works well.
On a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin roll 1 puff pastry sheet (about 300g /10oz) to fit the baking tray with some overhang. Once rolled, transfer it to the tray. Roll a second sheet the same size. Mound the salmon mixture on to the pastry in the tray and spread carefully to fill the tray. Brush the edges with some egg wash and drape the second sheet over top. Roll the edge of the bottom sheet over the edge of the top sheet to form a seal and press it down all the way around with the tines of a fork.
Roll out a third sheet of pastry. Use a plate or saucer to cut out the moon shape. For the hare, we found a suitable silhouette on the internet and Robert used the printer to make one the right size to use as a template. There are various ways you can do this – make it your own, as long as you use the image of a hare gazing at the moon.
Cut four steam vents on top and brush all over with the remaining egg wash. Then cool the pie in the fridge for at least an hour and up to 3.
Preheat oven to 205C OR 400F.
Bake pie in middle of oven until pastry is golden brown, about 30 minutes.