(Porkkanakarjalanpiirakat/karelska piroger med morot)
Leftover Tuesdays is one of my favorite food blog events, mostly because I get to see other bloggers being way more inventive than I am. You see, normally I have no problem with leftovers staying just the way they are - I can quite happily eat chicken korma three nights in a row without doing anything to spiff it up. So making something new from an already-prepared dish is something of a challenge - it's not how I'm used to thinking about things.
And this time, strictly speaking I'm probably cheating. I made carrot casserole last week, deliberately leaving part of the carrot puree-rice mix to make Karelian pasties from later. Karelian pasties are very ubiquitous Finnish mini-tarts, I guess - you can get decent ones in any grocery store, anywhere. They're eaten for breakfast or as a snack, either plain or topped with sandwich-fillings or, as tradition dictates, eggy butter. The crust is basically rye flour and water, the filling rice porridge or pureed root veggies (potato being the most common), or a mixture of the two.
The pleated construction of these looks very fussy, I know, but I've never found it the least bit difficult (and I only made Karelian pasties for the first time last summer). The trick is to keep both the pasty dough and the filling fairly dry - I cook the hell out of my rice porridge for this, until it's mostly solid. I usually make a whole bunch of them all at once and freeze most of them raw, to be popped into the oven when needed, but that's not to say they make a convenient fast snack - once the pasties come out of the oven, they need to be brushed with milky butter and then kept in a cloth-covered bowl for a while to soften the crust.
250 ml (1 cup) water
250 ml (1 cup)rice (the kind you'd use for rice pudding)
1000 ml (4 cups) milk
1 tsp salt
Bring the water to a boil, add the (rinsed) rice, let simmer until the water's absorbed. Add the milk, crank up the heat until it's back to simmering, then lower the heat to an absolute minimum and let simmer, mostly covered, until the milk's absorbed and you have a thick goopy porridge. Season with the salt and let cool.
Optionally, boil some root veg, puree it, and mix with the rice. Or use up leftover mashed potatoes. (Do people ever actually have leftover mashed potatoes? I find it to be one of those dishes where I could mash four pounds of potatoes for four people and still have an empty bowl at the end of the meal. Maybe we just like our mash...)
The filling-to-dough ratio seems to depend more on the phases of the moon, stars, and Finnish cross-country world cup placements than any actual grams and milliliters. Since the dough is just flour and water, I usually make another batch of it if I run out before all the filling's gone and then just throw away the leftovers.
250 ml (1 cup) rye flour
100 ml (3 fl oz) water
1 tsp salt
butter and milk, a few tbsp each
Mix the flour, salt and water. It should become a pretty dry dough - the amount you'll need depends a lot on how coarse your flour is. I had some very fine rye flour (ruissihti/rågsikt) this time, but I actually prefer the normal coarseness, even though you can't roll it out as thinly. (In fact, I rolled mine so thin this time that the pleated edges kind of scorched before the filling had set. Don't do that. The pictures I'm linking to instead of showing here are from last summer; those pasties were perfect.) Either way, it shouldn't feel moist when you squeeze it between your fingers. Once you've worked it into a cohesive, dry dough, roll it out as a log and cut into twelve pieces.
Roll out the pieces, one by one, to thin ovals. (I'm told a pasta maker comes in handy, but haven't tried it myself.) You'll want to make sure the pasty doesn't stick to your work surface, or to the rolling pin, so make sure both of those are floured, and keep moving the dough around while you're rolling it. It's a bit annoying to have spent time rolling out the perfect crust only to realize it's stuck to the table. Not that I'd know about such things, obviously.
Once you have your thin oval pastry shell, fill it with a good dollop of filling, spread it out to about an inch (probably a bit less) of the edges, and fold up the edges in soft pleats like so. Personally I like filling mine one by one before rolling out the next piece, but you could stack the rolled-out shells under a towel or something so they don't dry out.
Anyway, once you have all your pasties filled and pleated, heat your oven to as hot as it will go and bake for 10-15 minutes, until the filling looks dry and has taken on some color.
Brush the shells with a mixture of milk and melted butter (about half-and-half) and stack the pasties in a bowl (with kitchen towels or something between layers) and cover with a tea towel. This is so the shells will soften.
Eat as is, or as an open-faced sandwich, or with egg butter, which is about equal amounts softened butter (or margarine, even reduced-fat) and chopped hard-boiled eggs with (optionally) some chives mixed in.