In my Roasted Eggplant Caponata with Brown Butter Pasta post last week, I promised you a recipe that will make the Caponata taste even better! Without further ado, here it is. It’s a simple equation and it goes like this,
Caponata + Cheese + Puff Pastry = Delicious Roasted Eggplant Caponata and Cheese Hand pies!
I love savoury pies. But do you know what’s better than one big delicious pie? Smaller, delicious individual hand pies of course! Growing up, my little sister and I would often have harmless sibling squabbles for equal portions of food. A far too common question during our dinners was “how much did you take?”. There were times when I did use my big sister card and get away with slightly bigger portions, but those times became few and far between as my sister grew up. One trick my mum often used to solve this delicate problem was to make smaller individual portions. Oh, how she would have loved the idea of these little hand pies back then!
To me, there is something truly adorable about small round hand pies. I love the feel and look of them and for some bizarre reason, making them reminds of old Victorian era kitchens! (yes, I’m as nonplussed about it as you are). Maybe it’s the dusted flour surfaces, or the pastry scraps on the kitchen counter, or the crimping with a fork. Or maybe there’s Victorian blood in me that no one ever told me about. Ummm, on second thought, I doubt it very much. Regardless, making these hand pies is very therapeutic to me!
A few years ago my cousin took me on a visit to a House Museum called Elizabeth Farms in Sydney, Australia which was first built in the early 1800s. It was a beautiful house, and quite naturally it was the kitchen that I fell in love with. I loved the ceramic utensils and the old fashioned fire place. The only picture of that kitchen I have now is this blurry one you see below.
And this is the kind of kitchen I picture in my head now when I make hand pies. Not really sure what to make of that. 🙂
When I was making these, I added less cheese for the first few hand pies, and then more for the last few. Not surprisingly, I preferred the ones with more cheese. Adding a slice of cheese instead of grated might also be a good choice.
If you’d like to make them look more uniform in size, you could use a cutter to cut out perfect circles after crimping the edges.
- 1 heaped cup of Roasted Eggplant Caponata
- 2 sheets of puff pastry from the fridge (should be thawed out in the fridge, overnight)
- OR you can make a quick version from scratch (Rough Puff Pastry) here
- 11 - 1 inch x 1 inch thick slices OR 2 tbsp of grated mozzarella or provolone cheese
- 5 - 6 big basil leaves
- 2.5 - 3 inch round pastry cutter
- 1 egg
- Water to seal the pastry and a fork for crimping
- On a lightly floured surface, cut 9 circles from each puff pastry sheet. Take the scraps and form a ball, rest for 30 minutes and re-roll and cut another 4 circles.
- While that dough is resting, place a heaped tablespoon of caponata in the center of 9 of the pastry circles that you already cut. Rip the basil leaves and place a few pieces on top of the caponata. Then place 1 slice or 2 tbsp of grated cheese on top of this.
- Brush some water along the edge of the pastry circle and gently stretch another puff pastry circle on top of the filling, using your fingers to press and seal the edges. Use a fork to crimp the edges and seal them properly.
- Do this for all the other pastry circles.
- Repeat this for the pastry circles from the re-rolled pastry as well.
- Place the pies on the prepared baking sheet. Using a fork, lightly mix the egg in a small bowl and brush the tops of the hand pies with egg wash.
- Bake in a pre-heated oven for 20 - 30 minutes or until the pastry turns golden brown.
- Remove from the oven, let the pies cool down for about 5 minutes on the tray.
- Serve while warm.
There are some things that look absolutely perfect when it comes to food. Melted, shiny chocolate, bread that is soft on the inside and crusty on the outside, perfectly made espresso (oh that crema!) and of course melted cheese on just about anything. The melted cheese oozing out of these pies is no different. You could of course add more cheese if you like more gooeyness. And less cheese for less gooeyness (although the sound of less cheese makes me incredibly sad! 🙁 )
And how could you forget the crispy, buttery flakes of the puff pastry! The spicy, smoky, tangy, fruity flavours of the caponata and the creamy, gooey melted cheese are perfect inside a buttery pastry. And the addition of the basil leaves rounds off all the flavours with a lovely earthy freshness.
These would be perfect as mini appetizers and for parties, but my husband and I had it for dinner with a salad on the side. We divided the pies “evenly” between us (which is 70:30 in his favour. Not kidding, that’s how it works in our house now. Something tells me that all those times I pulled a fast one on my sister when we were trying to divide food between us when we were younger are coming back to bite me in the rear now). It was a week where we followed up the roasted eggplant caponata and brown butter pasta with these delicious caponata and cheese hand pies and my husband is still having a hard time believing how much he enjoyed two meatless meals on consecutive nights!
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