If you’ve read any of our restaurant reviews or our blog, you’ll know how much we love a good pie. Who doesn’t? So we were delighted to receive a copy of The Little Book of Pies by Marika Gauci (Pub: Square Peg £10).
Marika is an Anglo-Greek, former singer songwriter who chucked in the music industry to train as a cook and worked for a time at the Real Greek in Hoxton. Now she runs a cookery school from her home in Green Lanes, N15 called Marika’s Kitchen, which is big on pie-making classes.
If you are reading this outside London, Yorkshire for instance, we reckon only a pie geek would travel 200 miles for a 4-hour pie class, so this is why you need the Little Book of Pies. It won’t give you the benefit of first hand instruction, but it’s pretty good on technique and unusual fillings.
Marika’s Greek background is apparent in the recipes: lamb, lemon and oregano; Greek fried pies; Mediterranean tartlets and Greek baklava but there are as many British pies too: little porky pies, cheese and onion pasties and steak and Guinness pie.
For me, though, it’s less the filling than the pastry that is my nemesis and her instructions for shortcrust included some good tips: ‘If you need a little more moisture, dip your fingertips in cold water and tap them on to the pastry; this should be enough to bring the dough together.’ And her golden rule about the filling: ‘Cool your pie filling right down.’ Hot filling, she says, makes for soggy pastry.
And there you have it, the secret to successful pie making, all here for a tenner.
I have a couple of small quibbles. I would have liked a chart telling me how much pastry is needed for different tin sizes and the Chicken Bacon and Leek pie included 40g of Parmesan cheese in the pastry recipe but the method told me to make the shortcrust as per page 17-19, where I couldn’t find any mention of Parmesan, which meant I forgot to add it but, hey, I made a successful chicken pie with a crisp bottom and that’s a first.
If you want to be inspired here’s a clip of Marika making a delicious looking cherry pie: