Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Entertaining with Kathi Newspaper Column ~ January 16, 2008

Enjoy Old-World Flavor With This Delicious Fidget Pie


"Kathi, when you get to England, make sure and find some Fidget Pie," a family friend suggested. For weeks, family friends had been offering up a queue of must-do tips and suggestions for my overseas student-teaching assignment. Ah, now here was a tip that I could sink my teeth into, I mused.

"Fidget Pie? What is Fidget Pie?" I asked the high-school English Lit teacher who offered the suggestion.

As visions of something plump, sweet and fudgy danced on my taste buds, the lit teacher reveled in the teachable moment.

I would soon learn that Fidget Pie wasn't the sweet confection I had imagined at all, but rather it was a lovely old-fashioned savory pie eaten as a main course. Being true to her profession, the teacher wove an amusing lesson into our conversation and left me hungering not only to taste Fidget Pie but also to brush up on my English literature, as well.

This merry Old English dish was so popular and beloved, that Charles Dickens was said to have written this when he received one as a gift: "It was no sooner brought into my room than I fainted away It prevents me from writing at any length, as my faculties are absorbed in crust."

"Ok, I'll make it my mission to find the best tasting Fidget Pie in London!" I assured her.

Arriving in London in January, during an especially cold and damp winter, my hunt for the best tasting Fidget Pie proved to be a smart, cold-weather sustainer. I don't know that I ever actually judged one to be the best. The different versions that I had the great opportunity to partake of all proved to be mighty fine tasting! Looking back I would venture so far as to say that Fidget Pie is indeed one of Great Britain's finest contributions to the culinary world.

With the recent dip in temperatures and the large blocks of time I'm spending these days in the quaint old-fashioned town of Havana, my thoughts have returned to Januarys past and to the time-honored foods of by-gone eras. It didn't take long for the lingering memories of this Old English treat to inspire my pen or my taste buds. As not to "faint away and have my faculties absorbed in crust," as Dickens would say, I've elected to write first, then cook.

If you are looking to cook up something wonderful this winter with some deep soul-nurturing goodness, and don't mind laboring for a while in the kitchen with your rolling pin an Old Fashioned Fidget Pie will be well worth the effort. Who knows maybe you'll like it so much that you'll depart on your own mission to uncover your most favorite Fidget Pie recipe. This particular recipe joins together ham, potatoes, onions, leeks and apples inside a rich, buttery pastry crust. But all sorts of other combinations could be concocted, just engage your imagination!

Old Fashioned Fidget Pie
1 pound potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced, sea salt, pepper and Lawry's Seasoning Salt to taste

1 teaspoon fresh sage, minced
one-half teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
12 oz. Black Forest Ham, cooked and diced
2 small onions, thinly sliced
1 leek, thinly sliced
1 pound cooking apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1 and one-quarter cups home-made chicken broth
home-made or store-bought pastry for a single crust 9 inch pie
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Butter a 2-quart souffle dish.
2. Layer potatoes in the bottom of casserole. Lightly season as you go. Layer ham, onions, leeks and apples. Top with chicken broth.
3. Roll out pastry on a floured board to a one fourth inch thickness. Fit the pastry over the filled soufflé dish. Seal and flute the edges. Cut a decorative hole in the center to allow the steam to escape. Add decorative pastry embellishments.
4. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes.
5. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake for about 40 more minutes or until the pastry is crisp and golden and the potatoes are tender.

Kathi Dameron is a caterer, special event designer, food writer and teacher of cooking classes. She owns Canopy Rose Culinary Arts Studio and Catering Company. She can be reached at or at 850-539-7750.

This article originally appeared in the Northeast Chronicle, a community publication of the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper. The Entertaining with Kathi column comes out every other Wednesday.

Tags: Tallahassee, Havana, Thomasville, Bainbridge, Monticello, St. George Island, Wakulla, Crawfordville, St. Marks, North Florida, South Georgia, Leon, Gadsden, Jefferson, Franklin, Bay, Thomas County, special events, weddings, rehearsal dinners, receptions, parties, gourmet, food, office luncheons, corporate, legislative, Chamber of Commerce Business Member, Licensed, Insured, Banquet Room, Day on the Hill, Session, food purveyor, buffet lunch, box lunches, grand openings, ribbon cutting ceremony, bill signing reception, birthday parties, anniversary celebrations, black-tie galas, food tourism, international cooking classes, personal chef, instructor, cookery school, food stylist.

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