I had a lovely Sunday. I woke up late, lazed around, made Chinese for lunch, watched a movie (at home) that Pavan has been insisting we watch, blended with the furniture again and went for a run in the evening. We came back, I made sautéed veggies with pesto and mozzarella for dinner, we ate as we watched Julie and Julia and then I slept, like a baby.
I don’t mean to sound stereotypical when I say this but I’d be lying if I said that there isn’t a voice in my head that goes on and on about how parts of our lives are so similar every time I watch the film. I know I’m not the first food blogger in the world to feel the same emotion and I think it’s amazing how thousands of closet cooks came out and showed us what they can do through their blogs after the film.
At times I feel like I am spilling out my emotions about food and baking to this giant void just like Julie. When I have a disaster in the kitchen and things don’t go well like they should’ve, my exhibit is Pavan and I should confess, I am worse than Julie. I complain about the noise level around my building and whine about my kitchen, even though it is spacious and self-sufficient by Bombay standards.
But more importantly, what I really relate to in the film, with Julie, is her unconditional love for cooking and eating – after a horrible day at work, Julie returns home and makes a lovely chocolate pie and she says to her husband “You know what I love about cooking? I love that after a day when nothing is sure and when I say nothing, I mean nothing, you can come home and absolutely know that if you add egg yolks to chocolate and sugar and milk, it will get thick. That’s such a comfort.” There is a tear drop that trickles down my face after that scene, every single time (yes, I’m a drama queen).
I begin this week with a savoury dish – Mozzarella, tomatoes and basil handheld pies. I never knew I could use cream cheese to make a pie crust before chancing upon this recipe. The cheese lends the pie a biscuity texture and you already know what a winning combination mozzarella, tomatoes and basil is.
For cream cheese crust pie crust
- 55 g (4 tbsp) cold, unsalted butter
- 115 g cream cheese
- 225 g (2cups) all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- ¼ cup cold milk
- 115 g mozzarella, thinly sliced
- 7-8 cherry tomatoes, halved
- 10 fresh basil leaves, cut in strips
Makes 8 handheld pies
- Cut the butter and cream cheese into little chunks when they are cold. Place them in the freezer.
- Combine flour, salt and sugar in a food processor. Pulse 3-4 times to combine. Add the cold butter and cream cheese to the flour mixture. Combine till you obtain a sand-like texture. Now, pour the milk in one steady stream as the flour is still processing. Combine till the mixture is combined into a ball of dough. If that doesn’t happen, add another tablespoon of milk.
- Topple the dough on a flour work surface and bring it together. Pat the dough and wrap in cling film. Place in the refrigerator for an hour.
- Take the dough out from the refrigerator and place on a floured work surface or a parchment paper. Roll the dough out into a circle or square of 1 inch thickness. Using a 4 inch pastry cutter of your choice cut out rounds (see pic).
- Add some mozzarella, couple of cherry tomato halves and a few basil strips to each circle. Cover the circle with another pastry circle and seal the edges. If you like, press the edges with the end of a work to make it look old fashioned and pretty.
- Chill the pies in a refrigerator for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 200 C.
- Once the pies are chilled, bake them in the oven for 30 minutes.
Recipe courtesy: Handheld Pies by Sarah Billingsley & Rachel Warton