La Chatte Gitane (or The Gypsy Cat) was the name we chose for our cottage in France. We chose it while on the road, moving home, from Ireland to France with 2 dogs and 7 cats in the car.
This blog began its insignificant life as a recipe book for friends and family who would ask me repeatedly for a recipe of this, that and the other.
Since then it has taken many different directions, like gypsies tend to do. Sometimes making a U-turn and revisiting familiar roads and taking a break when necessary.
You'll find recipes here, but also musings about the places we've called home, the gardens that we've established, not always successfully, the homes we've improved and the environments we've lived in. Currently, that is back in Ireland.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Vegetarian Offerings - Lentil and Mushroom Pie

It's nearly upon us - Christmas.  And this year for me it means a lot of planning and even preparing ahead.
We're having a Boxing Day Party for 20 adults and a few small children.  Whilst most guests are meat eaters, the 3 vegetarians will be well catered for. One of the vegetarian centerpieces is this Lentil Pie. It is cooling down at the moment and tomorrow morning I will carefully place it in the freezer, to be taken back out on Sunday evening.  Monday, it will be reheated in a hot(ish) oven.

  • 2 onions, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large clove of garlic, crushed, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 leek, cleaned, sliced in rings and rinced
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • 500 grs Puy lentils
  • 200 ml dry white wine
  • 700 ml vegetable stock
  • knob of butter or vegetable oil
  • lots of freshly cracked black pepper
  • seasalt to taste
  • punnet of mushrooms, cleaned, sliced and sauteed in oil or butter
  • and I hope I haven't forgotten anything
  • Sautee the onions, leeks and garlic in oil or butter over a moderate heat.
  • Add the thyme.
  • Then add the Puy lentils. And sautee these to, stirring regularly.
  • Pour in the wine and simmer for 3 minutes before adding the stock.
  • Add the pepper and leave to simmer, with lid on, till the lentils are cooked, but al dente.  Should take about 20 minutes.
  • If the stock has evaporated before the lentils are cooked, you may need a little extra water.
  • Taste and season. Sometimes adding a splash of balsamic vinegar, gives it an extra lift.
  • Cool and take out 1/3 of the lentils.
  • 2/3 can be blended with a handheld blender, not too smooth.
  • Bring the blended and whole lentils together and put them in the fridge till needed.
  • Oh, the mushrooms, they can be put in the fridge too. They'll come in at a later stage.

Pastry - shortcrust
  • 700 grs plain flour, sieved
  • 350 grs cold butter, cubed
  • pinch salt
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • very cold water
  • Bring together the flour, salt, thyme, pepper and butter.
  • Rub the butter into the flour, till it resembles crumbs.
  • Then add in some water, not too much and the quantity will depend on the moisture content of the flour.
  • Bring together, adding just the tiniest amount of water at a time - do not overwork the pastry, just pull it together.
  • Shape into a ball, wrap with clingfilm and rest in the fridge for a couple of hours, overnight even.
Everything has cooled properly and you have lined a cake tin with greaseproof paper.  Your cake tin is preferably one with a removable base and spring-sided. My pie tin is 25 cm diam. and 7 cm high.

Ready to roll
  • Roll out approx 2/3 of the pastry on a floured surface. I have a marble slab that I use for this purpose as it stays cold.
  • Thickness of the pastry should be about 4 mm.
  • Line your tin with the dough and leave enough overlap to 'glue' the pastry top to it later.
  • Punch a couple of times with a fork over the base.
  • Fill with half of the lentils.
  • Scatter now the sauteed mushrooms over this, to be topped with the other half of the lentils.
  • Roll out the rest of the pastry (same thickness)
  • Hah ! You need a beaten egg now.
  • Brush the sides with beaten egg (this is the glue that will hold the sides and top together.
  • Cover the pie with the top layer of pastry and crimp together.
  • Cut off any overhanging excess pastry
  • Make a whole in the center of the top for any moisture that might turn into steam to escape.
  • You can decorate with any leftover pastry, glued with egg.
  • Eggwash all over the top.
  • Put in fridge while the oven heats up. I heated the fan oven with extra heat from below to 210° C.
  • Bake the pie for 15 minutes, than reduce the heat to 190°C for 30 minutes. 
  • Seeing the stuffing was already cooked, you'll have to gauge when the pastry will be ready. A golden brown will do.
  • Leave to cool for 20 minutes before taking out of the tin.
  • Ready to eat straight away or you can let it cool even further as it is also tasty cold or room temperature.
Wow, that looked like a lot of work, but in all honesty, it wasn't.
And if you have made shortcrust pastry before, this will certainly be a doddle.

No cross section  picture of the pie, that is for after the party.
Only 50 more dishes to go ;) and I'm not intending to put all the recipes on here.  No time, gotta go !

Patricia xxx...x


  1. I would LOVE this pie! I really would. I'm not veggie, but I was between the ages of 18 and 26, and even though I have been lured back by the scent of a roasting chicken, when eating out, I still check out the veggie options first.

    Yum. That's all I can say. Can I have a slice please?! x

  2. Thanks Sadie.
    I'm not a vegetarian, but love vegetarian foods as much as 'meaty' dishes.
    For this pie I have been tasting and tasting the lentils, because they are sooo good.
    They have this peppery flavour, even without the black pepper added.
    You can have a slice. I could email it or you can cross the Channel and be my 21st guest for Boxing day. Even better if you bring the girl and your partner.

    :) xxx...x

  3. I'm a lapsed vegetarian (I learned to cook because veggie food used to be so awful!) This looks gorgeous, really inviting. I love your pastry work!

  4. That's a huge pie but the pastry looks fantastic.

  5. Thank you Rachel and Scott,

    I'm pretty impressed by the pastry myself, Hahaha !

    It cooked perfectly and it was very firm - great for putting it in the freezer.

    Huge it is ! Has to serve 3 veggies and probably a few meat eaters too, gluttonous lot.

    I'll remind everyone to bring a plastic container to take home leftovers. ;)


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