Saturday, November 12, 2011


I think it was the fall weather that inspired me to make these little handpies for dinner. Crispy pastry wrapped around a tangy, vaguely Indian filling. It just seemed to fit. I have to admit that they came out pretty darned good, and I had a helper in the kitchen.

The pastry recipe is adapted from a cookbook called Biker Billy Cooks with Fire and was originally intended to be dough for samosas, which is essentially what these are, only I bake them rather than frying. (Just so you know, Biker Billy is a vegetarian who makes awesome, spicy things, like Gingerbread Bikers from Hell.) Turmeric and paprika create a golden, fragrant pastry while plain yogurt adds some tang. The filling is my own concoction - a mixture of ground turkey, onions, peas, sweet potato and spices. The recipe appears below.
Rita helps mix the dough.

The dough rests.

Making the filling.
Rita brushes with egg wash. She was really
excited about this job, despite the serious look.

All done baking...

Nina gives one a try.
They are good with salad and wine.

Now to make them...
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray.

For the dough:
2 cups all purpose flour (I substitute at least 1/2 cup whole wheat flour for the same amount of white)
1 1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp paprika
4 TBSP unsalted butter, softened and cut into 4-5 pieces
1/2 cup plain yogurt
4 TBSP cold water
Mix dry ingredients in a bowl. Add the butter and cut in with two knives or a pastry cutter until mixture looks like small peas. Add the yogurt and stir. You can use a spoon to do this but I usually just reach in and mix it with my hands. Add the water 1 TBSP at a time until the dough is mixed and soft. It shouldn't stick to the bowl. Cover and set aside in a warm place for 30 minutes while you make the filling.

For the filling:
1 TBSP olive oil
1/2 cup yellow onion, diced
1 lb ground turkey
1 cup frozen peas
2 small sweet potatoes, cooked and diced (probably 1 1/2 cups total)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp ground cloves
salt and pepper to taste
3/4 - 1 cup chicken stock
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent. Add the ground turkey and season with salt and pepper. Break up any large bits of turkey so that the filling doesn't have big chunks in it. Add the peas, the sweet potatoes and the seasonings. As the mixture comes together, turn down the flame to low-medium and mash the sweet potato so that the filling begins to come together. If it seems to be getting too dry, add chicken stock until is has a good consistency that will hold together if you press it gently.

Once the filling is done and the dough has rested, it's time to roll out the dough. First, divide the dough into two pieces so that you don't try to roll too much at once. Lightly flour the rolling surface and roll out one piece of dough to about 1/8" thick. Cut 3" circles using a cookie cutter or a glass. Add enough filling to each circle to cover about half the area. Fold in half and seal - you could use a fork to crimp the edges if you want to.

Put completed pies on the prepared baking sheet. Mix an egg with 1 - 2 TBSP of water. Brush the eggwash over each handpie before baking. Bake 15 minutes.

These are a definitely labor intensive but they are really worth it. This recipe made 15 little pies and I have leftover filling to eat later...