I love the fact that these pies are so very nearly instant, yet look remarkably sophisticated. You get a lovely rounded finish to the pie that will make people wonder how you did it. It helps if you have more than one blini or crêpe pan, so you don’t have to make the pies one at a time.
6 (about 1kg) globe artichokes
2 tbsp light olive oil
1 small red onion, finely chopped
450g small, waxy salad potatoes, peeled, cut into 1cm-thick slices
Pinch of saffron
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
80g (â…” cup) green olives, pitted, sliced
2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 tbsp chopped chives
1 piece (10g) preserved lemon*, finely chopped
1½ tbsp thickened cream
12 sheets filo pastry
90g butter, melted
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Prepare artichokes by trimming the tops to about halfway down the leaves. Snap off the tough outer leaves, trim down again to the heart, then cut each artichoke in half. Using a teaspoon, remove hairy choke and discard.
Immediately squeeze some lemon juice over exposed surfaces of artichokes to prevent browning. Squeeze remaining lemon juice into a bowl of water. Thickly slice artichokes and place in the water.
Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook onions for 2 minutes or until translucent, then remove. Reduce heat and add potatoes. Stir in saffron and 250ml water, and cook, covered, for 10 minutes. Add artichokes and garlic, and simmer, covered, for a further 10 minutes.
Stir in olives, parsley, chives and preserved lemon, and return onion to the pan with the cream. Remove from heat. Cool slightly.
Preheat oven to 140°C. Lay filo sheets on a clean, dry surface and cut through the layers into 3 pieces. Pile the cut pieces on top of each other to stop them drying out.
Brush one piece with melted butter and place it in an oiled crêpe pan or small frying pan, then brush another with butter and place at a 45-degree angle to the previous piece. Continue until you have used 6 filo pieces.
Spoon one-sixth of artichoke mixture into the pan, folding overlapping pieces of filo over so the filling is securely encased.
Fry the pie over high heat for 2 minutes or until base is golden brown and crisp. Flip the pie over and brown underside. Keep the pie warm in the oven while you cook the other 5 pies with the remaining filo pastry and artichoke mixture.
* Preserved lemons, from delis and specialist food shops, are lemons that have been salt-preserved. The flesh is removed and the rind is used especially in Moroccan cooking.
As seen in Feast magazine, Issue 7, pg103.
Photography by Mark Roper.