When I first came to Melbourne in 2004, I volunteered at Stephanie Alexander’s Kitchen Garden Foundation programme in the kitchen at Collingwood College where it all started. Now they have over 800 schools and early learning centres participating in the programme in different ways across Australia. This recipe was from one of the original teachers on staff there and we were teaching grade 3s to make it, so anyone can have a crack at it and get great results. You need potato as the base filling but can add extra veggies and herbs as you like.
4 all-purpose potatoes, cut into 4-5cm chunks
300g plain flour
160g salted butter, cut into 1cm cubes
2 free-range eggs, lightly beaten
1 white onion, finely sliced
50g cream cheese
65g grated cheddar or Swiss cheese
1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
1 handful herbs (such as parsley, tarragon or chives), finely chopped (optional)
1 tbsp milk
salad leaves, to serve
Place the potato pieces in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil over a high heat and cook for 20 minutes until soft.
While the potato is cooking, prepare the pastry. Place the flour in a large bowl, add the butter and rub in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles rough breadcrumbs. Add the egg little by little to form a soft dough, saving a smidgen of egg for brushing the pastry later. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead until smooth, then wrap in baking paper, transfer to the fridge and leave for 30 minutes to firm.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas 4 and line a baking tray with baking paper.
Once the potatoes are cooked, drain them in a colander and place in a bowl. Add the onion and cream cheese and mix together gently with a wooden spoon (you want to keep the potato as lumps rather than mash), then stir through the grated cheese, chilli sauce and herbs.
Remove the pastry from the fridge and roll it out on a floured work surface into a rough circle about 5mm thick. Spoon the potato filling into the centre of the pastry leaving a border of 5cm around the outside, then fold the sides up towards the centre to form the edges (the pastry won’t cover the pie completely and can be rough and uneven – it doesn’t need to look perfect).
Combine the milk and leftover beaten egg and use it to brush over the exposed pastry, then bake for 30 minutes, until the pastry is golden and flaky. Serve with a green salad.
Extracted from Mr and Mrs Wilkinson’s How It is At Home (Hardie Grant, approx €28). Photography by Patricia Niven.