Brexit Pie

I thought it was a joke when I heard that some enterprising company was selling so-called Brexit Boxes, a stock of freeze-dried meals (and a water filter and fire starter) to see householders through any food shortages following a No Deal Brexit. I laughed even harder when I realised they were charging nearly £300.

What makes it funnier still is that the meals include Italian, Indian, Mexican and Chinese dishes. But it’s okay, folks, it’s all made in the UK. No foreign muck here, grazie, dhanyavaad, gracias and xiè xie.

Image of Brexit pavement

Image by Kai Stachiowiak

To any non-Brits who haven’t been following the story, a No Deal Brexit describes a situation whereby the UK leaves the European Union with no arrangements in place for what happens afterwards. The deadline is March 29 and so far the imploding political parties have failed dismally to come to any agreement.

This could mean border checks being re-introduced and the severe disruption of trade and transport between the UK and the EU. According to our government, we are only 60% self-sufficient when it comes to food, and 70% of our food imports come from the EU. The UK Food and Drink Federation has warned that shortages could hit within days, with some brands vanishing from supermarket shelves, at least in the short term.

Some supermarkets are stockpiling non-perishable goods and so, apparently, are some households. So the joke I made to a friend about wartime ration cards being dusted off and re-issued is not as funny as I thought it was.

Image of ration card

During World War Two, all members of the population were issued with these cards. The quantities and types of foods on ration fluctuated but meat, fats, sugar, milk, eggs, tea, jam and confectionary were all doled out in what by today’s standards were very small quantities.

The government issued recipes advising people on how to make the most of what was available. One such was the Woolton Pie, named after the then Minister of Food, Lord Woolton, although it was invented by the top chef at London’s Savoy Hotel, Frenchman (yes) François Latry.

Image of Lord Woolton

Lord Woolton, Imperial War Museum archive

It consisted of root vegetables, thickened with porridge oats, enlivened with a racy spoonful of Marmite and topped, usually, with a pastry made from flour, mashed potato and the absolute minimum of fat. I’m told it’s actually quite edible but dammit, no cheese? Boo.

So, ladies, gentlemen and persons of non-specific gender, I give you … my Brexit Pie. It contains some of the things I love most and which may be in short supply or increasingly expensive in the coming months, and which we can’t grow ourselves at least until high summer (first having dug up the rose bed to plant potatoes). Like the Woolton Pie, it is vegetarian, but a great deal less austere. And like the Woolton Pie, it is French in inspiration. It is, in fact, a galette.

The ingredients came from France, Italy and the UK.

Brexit Pie

Image of Brexit Pie

Ingredients:

About 200g all butter shortcrust pastry

1 fennel bulb

1 red onion

3 cloves of garlic, skins on

2 tbsp olive oil

About 75g roasted artichokes in oil, drained weight

85g Quark soft cheese

20g Roquefort cheese

1 heaped tspn fresh thyme leaves, ideally plucked from a sunny hillside in the South of France

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

A knob of butter

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas Mark 5.

Lay the pastry on a sheet of parchment paper and roll into a round approx 24 cm in diameter. Leaving a 4cm strip around the edge, prick inside the circle with a fork. Place on a baking sheet and chill in the fridge.

Cut the fingers and fronds from the fennel (save the fronds for garnish), remove the core and cut into wedges. Peel the onion and slice into similar-sized pieces.

Image of veg for roastingPlace in a roasting tin with the garlic cloves, drizzle over 2 tbsp olive oil (or use the oil from the bottled artichokes), season with salt and pepper and roast for 20-25 minutes until starting to soften. Remove and cool.

Spoon the Quark into a small bowl and squeeze in the softened garlic, discarding the skins. Mix, then stir in the crumbled Roquefort and thyme leaves. Season with salt and pepper.

Take the pastry out of the fridge and spread the centre section with the Quark mixture. Arrange the fennel and onion wedges and drained artichokes on top. Don’t pile them too high or the crust will not crisp up.

Image of Brexit Pie read for ovenFold the edges of the pastry up and over the vegetables, pleating it to give a folded border and open centre. Dot the veg with butter and brush the pastry with milk or beaten egg.

Bake in the centre of the oven for about 45 minutes or until the pastry is crisp and brown. Remove from the oven and let the tart cool slightly on the baking sheet.

Slide the parchment paper and galette onto a cutting board and garnish with fennel fronds and a few more thyme leaves. Cut into wedges and serve. It works well with a chicory and (in season) blood orange salad.

Image of Brexit Pie, sliced

18 thoughts on “Brexit Pie

  1. Oh my goodness. Better make this in industrial quantities, because it ain’t going to happen afterwards. Do you plan to serve it at a wake on 29th March? We haven’t decided whether to observe the day in some way, or whether to climb into some very deep bunker somewhere, only to emerge to check whether we’ve been involved in some long and involved nightmare. Just off to Spain now, for our last We’re-All-in-Europe-Together jaunt. *sigh*

    • Ha, thanks. Yes, a friend of mine booked to go to mainland Europe and realised to her horror that it was the day after the deadline. Now she’s scrambling to get International Driving Permits etc. I think it’s going to (continue to) be chaos.

    • Yes, I fear we have been cursed to live in interesting times, as the Chinese proverb has it. Technically it’s not a pie by the strictest standards here as it doesn’t have a top and bottom crust (people get very exercised by this) but I’m happy to go with galette! 🙂

  2. Thank you for your delightful British sense of humour . . . and a rather lovely recipe! Yes, most of the 52% of the Brits out of the 70% who voted in the first place did so for all the wrong reasons with an almost total lack of understanding of consequences . . . two IG reports from GB this morning that many of the imported goods may have an up to 40% tax added to them ‘after’ . . . . I simply cannot believe that those on high cannot do SOMETHING in the four weeks left . . .

    • Thank you, Eha. Well, I’m a Remainer, as is obvious, and I think leaving is bonkers. It should be said though that those who voted to leave get very annoyed when they’re told they didn’t think things through. We live in a democracy after all (albeit a dysfunctional and deranged one in my view) but what makes me angry is the way the politicians have combined to make such a shambles of everything. Frankly both sides are just as bad. It’s acutely depressing.

  3. I found it really funny that you too are cooking a Brexit pie. I suspect that living on your very healthy looking construction would afford one more years of post Brexit misery than my game pie effort. It is a sad reflection on our times that the meat laden one I constructed might be more popular as a way out of our troubles, if nothing else. Lovely job BTW.

    • Perhaps we should dub yours Fair Game Pie and fill it full of politicians. No doubt it would be fatty, gristly and tasteless (even in your expert hands) but at least we’d have finally found a use for the feckers. And I’d take pleasure in wringing their necks.

  4. I’ve been reading about Brexit with equal parts fascination and horror, a bit like craning your neck as you pass by a particularly awful road accident… Hopeful you’ll find some reasonable way forward. But in the meantime, at least it’s served as inspiration for a really tasty looking pie.

    • I know exactly what you mean, Frank! I just wish I was in that car with you and not waiting for national triage. Still, out of adversity comes strength … and good things wrapped in pastry. 🙂

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