Over the past five months or so, I’ve watched the angle of the summer sun flatten and slowly lose its dimension until the earth lay silent and still under the graceful shadow of winter light. It’s an expected, anticipated cycle that comes with the passage of seasons. A time to move slowly finding comfort and renewal indoors instead of out.
But in the garden, especially for the roses, these are the days when I move with intent. Taming the prickly canes that have stretched to seek sunlight amidst the blur of winter’s shadow, removing the weathered, brittle leaves that barely cling from summer past, tending to the damp blanket of leaves that has accumulated beneath the rose bushes most sheltered from the whipping winter wind. It’s a lot of work to restore order to 40 rose bushes, but it’s part of the cycle that continually circulates like a wheel bringing about growth, change and renewal with great certainty and predictability. I enjoy the hope that it brings.
The garden, now pruned and formal, remains dark and quiet. But ready. Ready to receive the emerging spring sun. Ready to become light and full of possibility.
The cycle is repeating, dictating every change with its movement. Each hour, each minute different than the one before. And waiting for the next is often the hardest part. But there is no way to rush or cut into the cycle, to pick one part over another and leave the rest. No.
You must savor each slice and enjoy each part of the sequence.
I had never heard of such a thing as a Hunza Pie until my friend Tracey introduced me to it. She brought the recipe for the filling with her to the U.S. from her favorite vegetarian restaurant in New Zealand where it was served in a cheese crust. This savory Hunza Pie is a favorite and if you have vegetarians coming over for brunch, lunch or dinner, make this. They will love you for it!
- 1 1/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup cold butter, diced
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt (not Greek yogurt)
- 1 garlic clove, finely minced
- 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
- 1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
- 1 heaping cup baby spinach, coarsely chopped
- 3 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
- To prepare the crust, place the flour, salt, ground mustard, cayenne pepper, and cheese into a medium-sized bowl. Add in the diced, cold bits of butter and begin working the flour mixture and butter with your fingers to create a crumbly consistency.
- Once the butter is worked in, pour into a 9-inch springform pan (or deep dish pie plate) and begin pressing the dough evenly onto the bottom and partially up the sides. Set aside.
- To prepare the filling, add the yogurt, garlic, curry powder, salt and pepper and mix well. Add the cheese, brown rice and spinach and mix to incorporate.
- Pour filling into the dough-lined springform pan and spread evenly.
- Sprinkle the top with panko bread crumbs and paprika.
- Place springform pan onto center rack of oven and bake for 45 minutes.
- Cool in pan for 5 minutes before releasing springform. Cut into wedges and serve warm.
This is a great way to use up any left over brown rice that may be hanging around in your refrigerator (or freezer). We are big brown rice eaters around here, so I always have some in my freezer. Just thaw it before using.
Do not use Greek yogurt. It will be too thick and result in a dry filling.
Be careful to pour off any liquid that may have formed in the plain yogurt container before measuring the amount needed for this recipe. One of my pies began leaking bits of liquid through the bottom of the springform pan. I can only attribute this to the liquidity of the yogurt as the crust was made and assembled with the same ingredients and method. Further, when I sliced into the pie, the crust seemed "wet" on the bottom but not on the sides.
Store any left over pie in a container in the refrigerator. It keeps well for a few days and the crust maintains its crispness even when warmed up.
I used a small stainless steel measuring cup to help press the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the springform pan, which is a little trick I picked up in one of Ina Garten's cookbooks.