A few weeks ago, my parents and brother moved house. In and of itself, this isn’t a strange or rare occurrence in our family – we’re definitely gypsies. Moving house is a stressful time, as I’m sure we can all relate to. Your stuff is everywhere, your plates and cooking tools packed away, and you stand around an empty house feeling a bit overwhelmed but excited. Moving into the new house is just as stressful, but equally exciting: finding everything its place, heck, finding you a space!
I’d been helping out here and there, packing boxes and taking things to the new house the week before they moved. But, I decided that for moving day itself, a bit of extra help was needed. The last thing you should be doing during a stressful life event is chowing down on whatever is most convenient, but usually the least of what your body actually needs. I wanted to bring food for moving day that was filling, wholesome, delicious and convenient to eat. Here’s where hand food comes into play. Food that’s easy to transport, eat and enjoy. No cutlery and no plates required. Perfect for a busy day of coordinating removalists, and unpacking boxes. But, you know, equally perfect for picnics, parties, and road trips. Crowd pleasers.
I made a double batch of the best vegan pastry recipe I’ve ever come across: Perfect Vegan Pie Crust from Food52. I made a wholewheat-spelt blend pastry this time, and I went from there. After seeing Laura’s (from The First Mess) strawberry hand pies a couple months back, I decided something similar was definitely on the cards. Instead of strawberries, I opted for the adorably blushing corella pears that had been languishing in my fruit bowl. Now what to do with the other half of the dough? I wanted something savoury – super savoury – and samosas it was!
Now, I know most vegetarians and vegans have had the experience of turning up to a function, cocktail party or other event and being served an oily, greasy lump of pastry stuffed with equally unsatisfying filling. Not these samosas my friends. When Adam tried a samosa, the first thing he asked was that I make the filling again and we eat it with rice like a normal curry. I know I’m probably biased, but that’s how delicious this filling is, truly. The pumpkin almost melts around the chickpeas, and the spices are flavourful without being overpowering.
I arrived for moving day, my bag stuffed with pies and samosas, eager to help in more ways than just moving boxes around. I gave everything a quick reheat in the oven (thought they’re equally fine cold or at room temperature), served them up onto a platter (pulled from a box I’d just unpacked) and watched them disappear. No plates, no forks, and no fuss.
Pear Hand Pies
makes about 15
- For the pastry, I used 2/3 wholewheat flour, 1/3 wholegrain spelt.
- Don’t be tempted to overfill – I always remove filling as I’m folding them over – you don’t want your pastry to rip.
- 1 quantity vegan pie crust
- 3 medium corella pears, peeled, cored and diced
- juice of 1/4 lemon
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- pinch of ground clove
- pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
Preheat oven to 180 C (355 F) without fan. In a bowl, combine pears with lemon juice, syrup and spices. Stir to combine. Roll out the dough to 0.5 cm (1/4 inch) thick, and using a cookie cutter approximately 4 inches in diameter, cut out circles of pastry and place on a tray. Repeat rolling and cutting until all the dough is used. Spoon a small amount of filling into the centre of each circle (you’ll be able to tell if you’ve overfilled – just remove some and continue). Fold the circle in half, and seal by crimping the edges with a fork. Repeat for remaining pies.
Brush the tops of the pies with the juices that have collected in the bottom of the filling bowl. With a small sharp knife, poke a little hole in the top (this lets steam out during baking). Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, until cooked and lightly golden. Cooled thoroughly, they should keep for 2-3 days in the fridge.
Pumpkin and Chickpea Samosas
makes about 15
- See notes above regarding pastry and filling
- You can prepare these in advance and freeze them, unbaked, until required. Thaw thoroughly first before baking.
- 1 quantity vegan pie crust
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 brown onion, finely diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 250 g pumpkin (peeled and deseeded weight), cut in a small dice
- 1/2 tsp tumeric
- 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 cup parsley, finely chopped
- 1 cup cooked chickpes (tinned is fine)
- sea salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 180 C (355 F) without fan. In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the cumin and mustard seeds and fry gently until fragrant. Add the onion and garlic, cooking for 5-10 minutes, until translucent and soft. Add the pumpkin, the rest of the spices and cook, stirring occasionally for 10-15 minutes, until the pumpkin is soft. You may like to add a couple of dashes of water, so the mixture doesn’t stick to the pan. Add the chickpeas and parsley, cooking for a further few minutes. Season to taste. Remove filling from heat and allow to come to room temperature.
Roll out the dough to 0.5 cm (1/4 inch) thick, and using a cookie cutter approximately 4 inches in diameter, cut out circles of pastry and place on a tray. Repeat rolling and cutting until all the dough is used. Spoon a small amount of filling into the centre of each circle (you’ll be able to tell if you’ve overfilled – just remove some and continue). Fold the circle in half, and seal by crimping the edges with a fork. Repeat for remaining samosas. With a small sharp knife, poke a little hole in the top (this lets steam out during baking). Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, until cooked and lightly golden. Cooled thoroughly, they should keep for 2-3 days in the fridge.