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Spent the half term week in Galway, visiting the city and some of the beautiful beaches nearby.

Breakfast at the Gourmet Tart Co. was so good we had to do it twice.

And the amazing landscape of The Burren, limestone pavement studded with wildflowers stretching right down to the ocean, was just fantastic.

Got home keen to get back into the kitchen (the garden too, but half the month’s rain in a couple of hours on Saturday afternoon made the kitchen a more attractive prospect).  While we were away everything in the garden has been growning, well everything apart from my cucumber plants which have been eaten to a stub by the slugs.  One success story is the tarragon which is really growing well this year.  If you’re going to grow tarragon to use in the kitchen, you want to be growing French tarragon, not Russian – French tarragon has the best flavour and texture.  For the first few years of growing tarragon I kept the plant in a pot, protecting it from too much cold or wet each winter.  But after I’d divided the plant and had more than one to play with, I got bolder and put one in the ground to take its chances – this is the plant that is now growing stronger and lusher than any I’ve ever had in a pot.  It’s in a sunny spot, sheltered from winds, where the soil is well-drained – just the right conditions for a happy tarragon plant.  So with plenty of fresh shoots to choose from, I picked a small bunch and spent the afternoon making potato and tarragon pies.

And this is my offering for this month’s Simple and in Season hosted by Laura at How to Cook Good Food.  I entered for the first time last month and was really glad I did, so many great seasonal recipes all in one place.  If you want to have a look at past Simple and in Season challenges click over to Ren Behan’s blog – it really is worth a look.

You could use ready made pastry for the pies, but this recipe is so easy and the pastry is so much better than the ready made stuff – even when I make it.  It’s adapted from a Skye Gyngell recipe for sweet shortcrust pastry – I love that there’s no rubbing the butter into the flour involved, just some grating and you’re pretty much done.

 

Potato & Tarragon Pie

For the pastry –

250g plain flour

pinch of salt

125g unsalted butter, straight from the fridge

1tbsp fresh thyme leaves

1 large egg, beaten

about 4-5tbsp icy cold water

 

For the filling –

40g unsalted butter

1 onion, finely chopped

1 large clove garlic, crushed

11/2 cups grated potato, 2 medium potatoes should do the trick

1 cup double cream

½ cup finely chopped fresh parsley leaves

¼ cup finely chopped fresh tarragon leaves

1tbsp Dijon mustard

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

1 egg, beaten, for brushing the pastry

 

Make the pastry first, so there is time to chill it while you make the filling.  Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl, then grate in the butter (it makes the grating easier if you dunk the butter in the flour once in a while).  Gently mix the butter through the flour, breaking up any clumps and making sure it’s evenly distributed.

Stir the thyme leaves into the flour, then add the egg and a little of the water.  At first you can stir the egg and water in with a spoon, but after a while it may be easier to use your hands.  You want to use as little water as possible –just enough to bring the dough together, so add the water a little at a time and mix through gently until you have a ball of pastry that is just holding together.  Wrap the pastry tightly in clingwrap or greaseproof paper and put in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile make the filling.  Heat the butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat.  Add the onion and cook gently for a few minutes until it starts to soften.  Add the garlic, stir it in and cook for another couple of minutes before adding the grated potato.  Stir occasionally and keeping the heat low, so that everything is cooking without browning, cook for 10-15 minutes – until the potato is nice and soft.

Take the pan off the heat and add the cream, the chopped herbs, mustard, some salt to taste and a good few grindings of pepper, and stir it all through the potato mixture.

Preheat the oven to 190oC, 375F, Gas 5.  Grease or use baking parchment to line a baking tray – you may need more than one, depending on the size of the pies you are making.

Take the pastry out of the fridge and roll it out to about 1/4 cm thick.  Using a small saucer as a guide, (the one I used was just less than 14cm/ 51/2” in diameter and made 4 pies), cut an even number of circles from the pastry (you will need to gather it up and roll it out more than once to be able to use all the pastry).  Put half of the circles on the prepared baking trays and put a spoonful or two of the filling onto the centre of each circle. Brush the  edge of the pastry circle with a little beaten egg, then place a second circle of pastry over the top of the filling and push gently around the edges to seal the pie.  For a slightly fancier effect, you can use a fork to crimp the edge.  Fill and top all the pies, then brush the tops with the remaining egg.

Bake the pies in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes – the pastry wants to be crispy and a nice golden brown colour.

We ate the pies warm from the oven accompanied by some kale sautéed in olive oil with garlic and chilli flakes, but they are just as tasty eaten cold for a picnic on a sunny day.

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