Sophie Hansen’s gorgeous new cookbook In Good Company is out today. You might remember Sophie from such hits as her previous book A Basket by the Door, and especially her delightful golden syrup biscuits. Oh, those bickies!
It’s hard to believe, but In Good Company is just as fantastic a resource as A Basket by the Door. Both tap into the importance on sharing food and stories to create community. Through good food, we enjoy good company and form the bonds that build friendship and support in times of need. I have gifted many copies of A Basket by the Door and I think In Good Company will be my new present of choice. When you can’t be there to share the meal, sharing the means to make the meal feels like the next best thing.
In good company indeed
There is a dazzling number of hints and tips for all kinds of entertaining in Sophie’s new book. If you’ve ever thought that you’d like to do more entertaining, but haven’t been sure where to start, then start with this book. Picnics, feasts, casual barbecues, formal dinners and Sunday lunch are all covered. Sophie brings an easy elegance to everything she does. She also gathers styling and serving tips from some very impressive friends along the way.
In fact, bringing people together has never felt so effortless or so desirable. I found myself longing for good company as I devoured (pun intended!) this beautiful cookbook. Like me, I’ll bet you’ll read Sophie’s words like a novel and then skip back to find your chosen recipes.
Pilafs and herby pies
Sophie’s pilaf recipe is already a firm favourite of my family. I first made it for a large group of friends and then again and again for my fam, who pretty much request it every night. I do mix things up for variety, but considering I’ve had In Good Company for less than a month we sure have enjoyed that rice dish plenty! This is the beauty of Sophie’s recipes: they are easy, tasty and the kind of food we all enjoy sitting down to eat. There’s not a recipe in her new book that I’m not dying to make.
Another fast favourite are these little herb pies I’m sharing here. They are taaaaaasty, especially when served with the super-quick pickles. As well as serving for Sunday lunch, I’ve popped these into my kids’ lunchboxes and they worked a treat.
For a limited time, you can get 25% off In Good Company at Booktopia here.
Little herb pies with pickles
By Sophie Hansen, In Good Company
Images and text from In Good Company by Sophie Hansen; photography by Sophie Hansen. Murdoch Books RRP $39.99.
These little pies are heaven as a starter or, when made a little larger, as a main meal, perhaps with bread and butter pickles and my crunchy salad (also in In Good Company). You could also make one beautiful galette by rolling the pastry into a big round and piling the herby filling and some tomatoes on top before baking. Either way, I hope you love this recipe as much as I do.
A quick note on the pastry, which is inspired by the wonderful Maggie Beer: this recipe makes a short, flaky pastry that’s just perfect here, but if you have sheets of shortcrust or puff in the freezer, those would be great, too. Also, I find it easiest to make the filling mixture in advance and have it chilled when it comes to assembling your pies.
Makes 6-8 serves
Takes 25 mins, plus 50 minutes chilling
Cooks 30 mins
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 brown onions, thinly sliced
½ cup (125 g) sour cream
110 g (33/4 oz) goat’s cheese, crumbled
1 handful mixed herbs (see Note)
2 Tbsp single (pure) cream
Sesame seeds, for sprinkling
Sea salt flakes, for sprinkling
Pickle or tomato relish, to serve
Sour cream pastry
⅔ cup (160 g) sour cream
1 cup (250 g) chilled unsalted butter, cut into cubes
2 cups (300 g) plain (all-purpose) flour, plus extra for dusting
½ tsp sea salt
Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Cook the onion for 10 minutes or until completely softened and caramelised. Transfer the onion to a bowl to cool.
Meanwhile, make the pastry. Put the sour cream, butter, flour and salt in a food processor and blitz for a few seconds until just combined. Turn the pastry out onto a work surface and gently bring it together into a disc. Wrap the pastry and pop it into the fridge for 30 minutes.
Add the sour cream, goat’s cheese, herbs and 1 egg to the onion and gently mix to combine.
Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface until 3 mm (⅛ inch) thick. Using a biscuit cutter or glass, cut the pastry into 7 cm (2 ¾ inch) rounds. Place about a tablespoon of the herb mixture in the middle of a pastry round and bring the sides together, pressing to seal. Use the tines of a fork to gently press down around the edges. Place the pie on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Repeat with the remaining pastry and filling. Place the pies in the fridge for about 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F).
Whisk the remaining egg with the cream, then brush it over the pies and sprinkle them with the sesame seeds and sea salt flakes. Bake for 20 minutes or until the pies are golden and the pastry has puffed up. Serve the warm pies with a tangy pickle or tomato relish.
My favourite mix of herbs for these pies is parsley, mint, sorrel and tarragon. Try to avoid woody herbs like thyme and rosemary as they might overpower the mixture.
What is the definition of being ‘in good company’ to you?