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Potato bake with garlic

Potato & blue cheese pie

Potato, leek and blue cheese pie

This rich and luscious pie has an excellent balance of contrasting textures: crispy filo pastry and soft potato, crunchy walnuts and melting cheese, all balanced by the solider texture of the leeks.
Use those hard to boil, high dry matter potatoes and any crumbly blue cheese. This pie is a good way to use the end of a Stilton or other blue cheese that has become a little too dry. Because the cheese is likely to be salty, only add a little salt to the other ingredients. Remember to defrost the filo pastry for at least an hour before trying to unfold it.

Serves 4 very hungry people Time taken 1½ hours

potato and blue cheese pie

700 g potatoes
6 medium leeks
5 tablespoons butter
6 sheets filo pastry
150g blue cheese
2 handfuls walnuts, toasted
salt and pepper
60 ml whole milk

Peel and slice the potatoes. Melt two tablespoons of the butter in a large frying pan, add the potato slices and fry gently, turning often, until they are soft. Meanwhile wash, trim and slice the leeks; use not just the white part but also the tender bases and inner parts of the green. This gives extra eye appeal to the dish and a more robust leek flavour. When the potatoes are cooked put them into a dish and keep warm; melt another tablespoon of butter in the frying pan and cook the leeks until just tender, adding about a quarter teaspoon of salt and plenty of ground black pepper; Do not let them brown.

Toast the walnuts in a small dry frying pan or on a baking tray in the oven being careful not to let them burn.
In a small saucepan melt the remaining two tablespoons of butter. Using a pastry brush or small, clean paintbrush thinly paint the bottom of a 22cm diameter oven proof dish with some of the melted butter. Lay a sheet of filo over the bottom allowing it to overlap the edges. Paint the filo sheet inside the dish with melted butter and lay on another sheet and paint it too. Repeat with the remaining four sheets laying them at an angle to the preceding ones so that the overlaps form a complete circle round the dish.

In the bottom of the filo covered dish spread out half the potato slices, followed by half the leek. Crumble and chop the cheese and put half on top of the leek followed by half the walnuts. Cover with the rest of the potatoes, leeks, cheese and walnuts. Pour over the milk. Then start folding up the overhanging sheets of filo, brushing with the remaining melted butter where they will lie on top of each other. This brushing with melted butter keeps the sheets separate so that they form a deeper layer of crispy pastry. Brush the top all over with the last of the butter.

Put the pie into a hot 220°C, Gas 7 oven and bake for 25 minutes until the top is well browned and crisp. Take out and let stand for 5 minutes before cutting.

This pie is a meal in itself so just serve with it a plain green salad of winter endives and chicories.