Sassy Southern Cooking with a French Twist

Pleasant Tart Surprises

Callie’s Pimento, Pepper Bacon & Fresh Basil Pockets

Last Friday, I was working feverishly and happily on Food Lovers’ Guide to Charleston and Savannah, when I got an email from my Tart Love editor, Madge. Having submitted the manuscript months ago, I was surprised to learn that she needed two more original recipes and some chapter fronts, and pronto, as the book is getting set for final edits, design and printing.

At first I was frustrated, since this would mean pulling back from the Food Lovers’ writing pace, but after thinking about it a bit, I was delighted. This would mean a weekend of  pastry fun and creativity. Madge wanted pie pockets – one sweet, one savory – since there are some white space issues she’s working out with the design. 
So, off I went to the farmers’ market on Saturday for inspiration, and voila, this is what I came up with for my last two recipes for this book I’ve so loved writing. It feels extra personal somehow. The recipe that follows is for some easy, delicious pimento pie pockets. I also found some gorgeous early seasonal strawberries and rhubarbs which becamse Strawberry, Rhubarb and Rosemary Pocket Pies. You’ll find those sweet/tart beauties  in the book when it comes out in October. Hopefully the following recipe will sate your pocket pie appetite for now. These are perfect for entertaining all year round! Happy Cooking!
Recipe adapted from Tart Love – Sassy, Sweet and Savory (Gibbes Smith, Oct., 2011)
A Tart for All Seasons
Callie’s is a top quality, chunky, spicy, sweet pimento cheese that is hand produced in Charleston, SC. It’s the best pimento cheese you can find and better than any I can make. Because it’s a snap to purchase online at, I recommend using this brand whenever pimento cheese is needed. Fresh basil and pepper bacon are folded into these impossible to resist pie pockets. My neighbor’s unusually polite little girls, Margaret and Elizabeth, uncharacteristically snatched these off their mother’s plate when I delivered them for tasting, declaring: “Miss Holly, you are the best ‘cooker’ ever!” Bet your friends will same the same about you when you serve these baked, not fried, pie pockets.
Callie’s Pimento, Bacon & Fresh Basil Pockets
(Makes approximately 16 pockets)
Equipment Needed: 4″ round pastry cutter (or small, round plate), parchment paper
For the pastry:
2 1/2 cups White Lily All Purpose Flour
2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
2 sticks (1 cup) AA grade unsalted butter
About 3 tablespoons ice cold water
1 egg wash – yolk,  pinch salt, splash water, blended together
To garnish the pocket tops: 16 tiny fresh basil leaves and 16 Parmigiano-Reggiano shavings
For the filling:
4 slices pepper bacon, browned, drained and coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups Callie’s Old Southern Style Pimento Cheese ( or substitute a preferred brand or recipe
2 tablespoons fresh basil cut into thin strips
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon All Purpose flour
Begin by preparing the pastry. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a plastic blade, pulse together the flour and the salt. Cut the very cold butter into 1/4″ cubes and add to the bowl. Pulse 40 – 50 times until the butter becomes the size of small peas. With the processor running, gradually drizzle the cold water into the mixture until the pastry just starts to come together in a very loose, unruly ball. Turn the pastry out onto a lightly floured board, quickly form into a 2″ thick disc with your hands,  wrap tightly in plastic wrap or parchment paper and chill for at least one hour or overnight.
Prepare the filling. Brown off the bacon and drain on paper towels. Coarsely chop. Combine the bacon, pimento cheese, basil, ground black pepper and flour in a medium sized bowl, folding gently. Cover and chill for at least one hour or overnight.
At least one hour before you plan to serve the pockets (Note: These can be rolled and filled and chilled overnight, tightly wrapped with plastic wrap before baking), roll out the dough into a 1/4″ thick circle on a lightly floured surface. Cut the pastry into 4″ rounds. Arrange the rounds neatly on a baking sheet and chill for at least 20 minutes. To fill the pockets, place 1 heaping teaspoon of the filling on the right side of the circle. Pull the top gently over the filling, guiding the top pastry to meet the naked pastry border. Seal gently with your fingertips and press the border gently with the tines of a fork to seal. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and placed the filled pockets in neat, well-spaced rows on the baking sheet. Chill for at least 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375F. Just before baking, brush the top of each pocket with the egg wash. Cut three short slits in the top of each pocket with a paring knife. Top each with one of the small basil leaves, brush these with a dot of egg wash, and drizzle each with a few broken shavings of the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Bake in the center of the preheated oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown and puffy. Serve warm with more fresh basil for garnish, if desired.
You’ll have them eating from your hand!!!  

10 Responses to Pleasant Tart Surprises

  • Superb blog post, I have book marked this internet site so ideally I’ll see much more on this subject in the foreseeable future!

  • Silly question, but do you chill the wrapped pastry? I would guess yes. Thank you for the idea of the baked pies rather than fried. I happily remember the wonderful fruit pies that my mother friend for me when I was a child, but baked fits my lifestyle better these days. Look forward to reading much more on your blog and in your books.

    • Hi Carolyn – Haste makes waste as my mother used to say. Thank you for spotting the omission on “chill”….I’ve added that and it should have been there to begin with. Yes, the pastry needs to chill after being prepared/wrapped, and really at all stages after it is handled. It’s important for minimizing manipulation – the more the pastry is worked, the more it risks getting tough. Enjoy the baking of these little guys – they’re really delicious and fun to make. Thanks for writing, Carolyn!

  • I should have proofed! I meant to say “fried” not friend!

  • Holly!
    Thanks so much that sounds absolutely devine! I can’t wait to try it and if you don’t mind, I’d love to share it with my readers as well–waht a great new idea for pimento cheese! The possibilities are endless!

    • Of course, Carrie! Share away…the cheese makes the pockets, truly. That, and the pastry. Thank you for your kind words! Best, Holly

  • I should add, Carrie, that this fabulous cheese stands alone perfectly on a spoon or cracker in its absolute goodness. It is so very, very good. I wouldn’t put anything less in the pastry. I think the fresh basil and pepper bacon pick it up just the right notch to balance the butter in the pastry. So, very good, and easy, when the fabulous cheese is at hand. Thank you for making it!

  • Great site. A lot of useful information here. I’m sending it to some friends!

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