To me pastry is super hard - it's more like maths than cooking and you can't really do it by feel - you have to stick to the recipe and measure everything out and that's very boring. So go ahead and just get store bought pastry for these pies if you want - no one's gonna care.
But if, like me, you're single and there's nothing on at the movies and you've got a Saturday to kill, give making it from scratch a go. People will be way more impressed. It's only really worth trying in winter if you live in Brisbane cause the butter just gets way too melted to work with. Unless you've got air conditioning in your kitchen. In which case get just your butler to do it instead I guess?
I only made the short crust bases myself - and honestly they were a bit shit. The puff pastry tops were store bought and much tastier. I used this recipe from the BBC cause I thought English people should know something about pies? I'm sure they do, I'm the problem.
The most important part of these pies is the filling, not the pastry. While on Masterchef or whatever it's a fucken disaster when the pastry is a little raw or a little burnt on top, for most people it just needs to be hot and a bit crunchy and hold something delicious.
To make a vegetarian version of this, do pretty much the same thing but leave out the fish
Makes two medium-sized pies, so probably enough for 10ish people, less if you're not having sides.
1/2 a head of cauliflower
1 bulb of fennel
1/4 bunch of parsley
1/4 bunch dill
500g of white fish (get whatever's on sale or tell the fish person you want a 'meatier' white fish so it'll stay together better.) cut into bite-sized chunks.
400mls of cream
500mls of milk
1 cup white wine
2 bay leaves
500gms cheese (grated)
500gms of butter
Salt and pepper
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees
Cut the green bit off the leek and slice it vertically into circle shaped slices about 2-3 cms thick (makes sure you wash these thoroughly to get the grit out). Cut the carrot in the same way, then roughly cut up the cauliflower, and cut the fennel bulb vertically and then horizontally - nothing should be cut much bigger than the leek and carrot slices.
Saute these vegetables with 250gms of the butter in a big wok/frypan until they're getting soft.
Meanwhile, put the milk, rest of the butter, white wine, and bay leaves into a large saucepan. Add the fish, and poach until it's just cooked. Add the cream and the vegetables and combine. Add the cheese and when that's melted and the vegetables are soft, add the chopped herbs and season with salt and pepper.
Line your pie tin/s with pastry (if you hand made it, you may have to bake the bases for 5-10 minutes before you put the filling in) and add the fish and vege filling. Cover with puff-pastry - crimping the edges closed if you know how to do that (I don't).
Cook for 15-20 minutes until pastry is golden brown. If you're oven is really fucked it will probably cook the pastry unevenly, so make sure you keep an eye on your pie in case you need to turn it around in the oven so some bits don't get burnt.