A tray of Pasties

My Beef and Vegetable Pasty Recipe

It’s cold outside ( again ) and you probably want something hearty to eat, worry no more I have the perfect recipe for you from a few years back from when I lived and worked in Cornwall. On a journey through the southwest when you leave cuddly, cosy Devon and its world-famous cream teas, scones piled high with clotted cream and jam*, you cross the Tamar river and enter another world. There is something different about Cornwall and it always has been so, it is a magical place, a mythical place, slightly out of step and even out of time with the rest of England. It is a land with a rich history, it was a stronghold of the Celtic resistance to the Roman invasion, Phoenician traders travelled across the seas, over five hundred years ago, to bargain for the tin mined from its stony ground. It is a land of rolling, bleak moors, secret coves and bays hiding smugglers and pirates. Tintagel Castle, the birthplace of the once and future King Arthur clings to its rugged coast. Cornwall is the land of the pasty.

Freshly Baked Pasties
Freshly Baked Pasties

While I lived in Cornwall I made more than a few pasties culminating in a Bank Holiday weekend festival of pasties, real ale, music and more than a little mayhem at the New Inn, Tresco. People watched live bands, drank numerous pints of real ale and scrumpy in the Beer Festival Pavilion and ate pasties, ate pasties and ate more pasties. In fact, I’m pretty sure it could be a world record we sold thousands of pasties from producers all over Cornwall with some very unusual fillings. Peaches and Cream, Lamb Biryani, the Full English Breakfast Pasty ( grandma would approve ** ) to name just a few. I developed quite an aversion to the pasty but now I am slowly recovering.

So before I upset every Cornish man, woman, and child with my totally unauthentic recipe I really ought to mention how it should be made. One of the first references to a meat pasty was made by the thirteenth-century chronicler Matthew Paris ( not the modern Times columnist although I’m sure he could make a mean pasty should he wish ) writing about the diet of the monks of St. Albans. The pasty often filled with venison was a delicacy and is mentioned by Jane Seymour, wife of King Henry VIII and the diarist Samuel Pepys.

As the popularity of the pasty waned nationally the Cornish pasty came into its own. The pasty was a popular filling dish to carry into the deep pits of the Cornish tin mines in the seventh and eighteenth century, wrapped in thick pastry and muslin cloth the filling would keep warm for several hours. The pasty was often divided with meat the potato then fruit fillings. The thick twist of pastry was to allow the miners with dirty hands a convenient way to hold the pasty and was then discarded. There may be some truth that this also prevented contamination with poisonous arsenic present in the tin mines.

A proper pasty is considered to contain beef, sliced potato, onion, and swede. Confusingly in Cornwall, a swede is called a turnip. I am not sure what they call Norwegians. The ingredients are sealed in the pastry with plenty of black pepper and cooked from raw. The Cornish pasty is protected under European law alongside Champagne and Parmesan cheese so the Cornish are right to be proud of their culinary heritage. Here is my recipe for the unauthentic but still quite tasty pasty. If you are Cornish I apologise.

*Always in Devon cream first and jam on top, in Cornwall the jam goes on the scone, it’s best not to ask wars are started over less.

 ** It is a little-known fact all Grandmother’s don’t think you can get through the day without a hearty full English breakfast inside you. This is no bad thing

 

Beef and Vegetable Pasties makes 6 – 8

1 block of readymade Puff Pastry

Look I know we have not even got to the filling and I am using puff pastry and that is sacrilege, frozen puff pastry is a godsend to all but the most dedicated of cooks and always delivers a good finished result and they are very tasty I promise and I have apologised already.

500 gr Chuck Steak, cut into small chunks ( ask your butcher if you’re a bit unsure )

1 large White Onion, peeled and sliced

1 medium Swede, peeled and sliced about  ½ cm thick

4 Carrots, peeled and sliced

2 large Baking Potatoes, washed, peeled and sliced twice as thick as the swede

50 gr Button Mushrooms, wiped and thinly sliced ( optional )

A knob of butter

A glug of quality Olive Oil

30 gr Plain Flour

300 ml good Beef Stock

Worcestershire sauce

Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper

Flour for dusting

Egg wash

Preheat the oven to 200C / 400F / Gas 6. In a large heavy-bottomed pan heat the oil and butter over a medium heat and add the onion and sauté for five minutes. Seal the meat, flour and plenty of black pepper into a plastic bag and shake well. When the meat is coated add to the pan. Stir and add the carrots, swede, mushrooms, and stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for ten minutes stirring occasionally. Add the swede and a good slug of Worcestershire sauce. Cook for a further fifteen minutes until the potatoes are just soft. Check seasoning and set aside to cool.

Making Pasties
Pasties and filling

Flour a clean work surface and roll out pastry to about half a centimeter thick. Using a plate cut out circles around six to seven inches in diameter. With a soft pastry brush egg wash one side of the circle. Spoon on a generous amount of filling and pull over pastry.

A Prepared Pasty
Crimped Pasty

Crimp together the edges between finger and thumb to seal the pasty and place on a baking tray covered in parchment or with a silicon mat. Continue until all of the filling is used up. Chill in the refrigerator for twenty minutes to relax the pastry then brush twice with the egg wash. Prick once with the tip of a sharp knife to let out the steam and place in oven. Bake for twenty minutes until golden brown and serve.

Allergens in this recipe are;

  Flour   Milk    Eggs  Celery  Raw Fish

In the Worcestershire sauce

Please see the Allergens Page

Real Men eat Quiche

Ok here we go again, I have read some of my early posts and realise that they are peppered with bad puns ( sorry ), some quite obscure references* and that I seem to regularly lambaste and offend without even trying. I really did not wish to do that today but the choice of title was just too easy an option. I eat quiche, in fact, I adore quiche and so questions concerning the nature of whether I am or not ‘ a real man ‘ must be addressed to my long-suffering partner. I do however have a couple of reservations.

slice-of-quiche.jpg

I like proper quiche, the Quiche Lorraine, rustic French cooking, crisp pastry filled with a thick layer of creamy, wobbly egg custard flavoured only with some fried cubes of really good bacon. That is it, nothing more, not a single thing, not even parsley. I am not a fan of everything-but-the-kitchen-sink quiche of the salmon, broccoli, blue cheese and anchovy variety.  I am in luck then that I have in my possession a very battered but beautiful French cookery book with just the most perfect recipe. At this point take a bow Annie who scoured a Paris flea market to procure it for me as a gift. Everybody a big hand for my friend, thank you so much.

Quiche Lorraine was originally an open pie, rustic in style, made with bread dough for the crust, in a cast iron pan. Today a rich short-crust or flaky rough puff pastry is used to line a pie dish. Regional variations include adding Gruyère cheese which makes a quiche Vosgienne and onions a quiche Alsacienne. Adding tomato to the recipe creates a quiche Provençal and spinach a quiche Florentine.

 *Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche is the name of a book Bruce Feirstein

Quiche Lorraine                            serves 8 – 10

for the pastry

250 gr strong White Flour

75 gr cold Beef Dripping, cut into small pieces

50 gr cold unsalted Butter, diced

1-2 tablespoons ice cold Water

A generous pinch of Salt

Quiche 2

for the filling

150 gr Bacon Lardons preferably cut from a thick piece of bacon

1 medium sized White Onion, peeled and finely chopped

4 free range Eggs

250 ml  Double Cream

25 gr Butter

1 tablespoon quality  Olive Oil

1 tablespoon finely chopped Parsley

2 Cloves of Garlic, peeled and pureed

¼ teaspoon freshly grated Nutmeg

A generous pinch of Cayenne Pepper

Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper

8-inch flan ring ( at least 1 inch deep )

Sieve the flour and salt into a large bowl. Add both fats and rub together with the fingertips lifting and separating the fat with the flour until you achieve the texture of breadcrumbs. Add the Parmesan and pour in one tablespoon of water and gentle form together as a dough. Use more water as required. Do not knead the dough and treat gently for the best results.

Pastry

Alternatively, blitz ingredients to the crumb stage in a food processor, then add water until you get the same result. Wrap in cling film and chill in the refrigerator to relax for at least half an hour.

Rolling Pastry

Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C/gas mark 6. Roll out the chilled pastry on a clean, floured, work surface to a thickness of approximately a quarter of an inch. The pastry will need to be wide enough to line the bottom of the tin, the sides and provide a little overhang that will reduce as the pastry shrinks during cooking.

Lining Tin with Pastry.JPG

Butter a flan dish or pie ring and carefully roll the pastry onto your rolling pin. Roll back over the flan dish and push to the edges trying not to split the pastry. If you do tear the pastry take a little surplus from the edge and gently push over the gap to patch the hole. Trim the edges leaving a half inch overhang over the lip of the pie dish.

Pastry Overhang.JPG

Chill again for half an hour then cover the pastry with a sheet of baking parchment and fill the dish with rice or baking beans.

Blind Baking.JPG

Place on a baking tray and put in the oven. After ten minutes turn the oven down to 375°F/fan 190°C/gas mark 5 and bake for fifteen more minutes. Carefully take out from the oven and remove the baking parchment and rice or beans. Beat up one of the eggs with a fork and brush the inside of the pastry case with a soft pastry brush . Bake in the oven for a further ten minutes until light gold in colour, this is to seal the tart. Take out and set aside to cool. Reduce oven temperature to 350°C/fan 160°C/gas mark 4. When cool trim off any excess pastry.

In a medium sized heavy bottomed frying pan, melt the butter in the olive oil over a low heat. Cook the onion for ten minutes without colouring then remove. Replace the onion with the bacon lardons and fry until crispy and light brown, add garlic and cook for one more minute then mix together with the onions. In a large bowl beat the remaining eggs with nutmeg, cayenne pepper and season sparingly as the bacon will naturally add salt. Whisk in the double cream and then strain into a jug to remove any strands of thick egg white. Take the pastry case and evenly spread with the cooked onion and bacon. Place baking tray with the pastry case onto the oven shelf, then pour in the custard mix, filling the case right to the top. Bake in the oven for 25–30 minutes, or until the filling has just set and is slightly wobbly to the touch and the top of the quiche is lovely and golden brown.

 

 

Seafood Tarts

There are more than a few signs that Spring is definitely here. Last weekend we had an impromptu picnic in the nearby park and the weather was truly glorious * And when Spring is the air we chefs start to think about some delicious, lighter lunches and dinner instead of all the hearty soups and stews. I think I have the perfect recipe then, for you today, Seafood Feuilleté, a buttery, puff-pastry case full of sensational seafood in a creamy vermouth sauce.

Seafood Tart

Now before we start I don’t want you to panic at the thought of puff pastry, I’m going to put up my hands up right now and admit straight away few of us are lucky to have the time and patience to perfect the technique of making puff pastry at home. Even after hours of practice, I struggle to get an even rise and perfect bake every time, so my solution, used correctly the bought-in product is practical, versatile and very labour saving. Rich and flaky, ready-made puff pastry can top a rich fish pie, enclose marzipan and fruit for a luxurious dessert or make simple crisp cheese straws to nibble.

Puff pastry can also be used to make savoury hors d’oeuvre or bite sized appetisers. The most famous of these being little-stuffed Vol-au-vent cases topped with a little lid or delicate Crolines, small lattice topped parcels. My recipe today is how to make the third, great little tartlet case that can be used in a savoury starter, light lunch or filled with whipped cream and fruit as a simple, elegant dessert.

*The fog returned Monday morning with a vengeance and it was more than a tad chilly.

Feuilleté Pastry Tarts

Why not try roasted Provençal vegetables topped with whipped Goat’s cheese and a little rocket dressed with sea salt and Balsamic, creamy garlic mushrooms or a seafood medley as well as fruit purées and Confectioner’s custard, glazed poached peach halves and raspberries.

Puff pastry ( ready made or homemade )

Egg wash

For the method please follow this link.

 

For the Filling

6 -8 Gamba’s or large Shell on Prawns

500 gr Fresh Mussels

500 gr Fresh Clams

12 Scallops

6 large Banana Shallots, peeled and finely diced

3 cloves of Garlic, peeled and crushed

A small handful of fresh Dill

200 ml thick double cream

50 ml of Vermouth ( White Wine is a great substitute )

25 ml Olive Oil

25 gr Butter

Juice of one fresh Lemon

Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper

In a large, heavy-bottomed pan ( with a tight-fitting lid ), melt the half of the butter and add half of the oil. Over a medium heat soften the shallots for ten minutes without colouring. Add the garlic and cook out for two or three minutes stirring continuously. Tip in the mussels and clams and add the Vermouth place on the lid add steam the shellfish for five to six minutes. Carefully holding the pan with a heatproof cloth remove from the heat. Place a colander in a large glass bowl and tip in the mussels and allow to cool. Reserve the cooking liquid to be used to make the final sauce.

When cool pick the majority of the mussels and clams from their shells leaving a handful for garnishing. Carefully pour the cooking liquid through a fine strainer into a small pan and place on a medium heat. Bring to a simmer and reduce the volume by half. Add the cream and simmer for a couple more minutes before seasoning with a generous grind of pepper. Melt the remaining butter and oil in a large heavy-bottomed frying pan and saute the gambas, over a gentle heat, for three minutes before turning up the heat and adding the scallops, turn over the prawns and the scallops as soon as they are brown. After two more minutes remove from heat, squeeze over the juice of one lemon and keep warm.

Heat the mussels and clams gently in the sauce. Take care not to boil or the shellfish will toughen, add the remaining lemon juice and finely chopped dill, taste and add more pepper if required. Place a warm pastry case onto a deep lipped plate and carefully spoon in the picked mussels and clams. Add a couple of scallops then fill with sauce and top with the prepared lids or a large prawn. Spoon around a little extra liquid and the retained shellfish in shells and sprinkle with a little extra dill to garnish.

Allergens in this recipe are;

Flour     Milk Oyster Crab

Please see the Allergens Page

British Pie Week – Braised Beef and Red Wine Pie

It is nearly the end of National Pie Week*, and some of you may already know what I think of some of these marketing inspired theme days, but in the spirit of things it is not too late for you to roll up your sleeves, don an apron and please whilst not exactly releasing your inner Sweeny Todd, get making some pies.

Beef Pie.jpg

 

Pies date back to pre-Egyptian history, early pies were flat, round crusty cakes called ‘galettes’ containing honey, evidence of which can be found on the tomb walls of the Pharaoh Ramesses I, located in the Valley of the Kings. The Roman cookbook Apicius has several recipes which involve a pie case, with a sweet filling, more like a modern-day cheesecake on a pastry base, which more often than not were used as an offering to the gods.

Medieval pies could be easily cooked over an open fire, the earliest pie-like recipes refer to coffyns ( meaning basket or box), with straight sealed sides and a top. The pastry was an effective airtight seal and used to prolong the life of expensive meat and was a handy carrying case when traveling on horseback.

Pies remained as a staple of traveling and working peoples in the colder northern European countries, with regional variations the locally available meats. The Cornish pasty is an excellent adaptation of the pie to a working man’s daily food needs.

*March 6th– March 12th

Shin is an inexpensive cut of meat, which is big on flavour, and is full of gelatinous sinew which cooks down to make the most excellent gravy. It is easy to stew, you can also cook in the oven at around 350 F / 180 C / Gas mark 4 and it really lends itself to batch cooking in the pressure cooker and freezing down until required. You can substitute the red wine for a strong tasting beer for beef and ale pie and adapt the recipe further adding chestnut mushrooms, sautéd kidneys or if you are feeling indulgent a dozen oysters just before you finish cooking.

Shin of Beef and Red Wine Pie

1.5kg Shin of Beef, bone removed, meat cut into chunks

( Ask you butcher to do this as you need a really good knife to cut shin

and ask the butcher to give you the bone )

2 large White Onion, peeled and finely chopped

2 large Carrots, peeled and finely chopped

2 sticks of Celery, washed and finely chopped

1 ltr quality Beef Stock

250 ml good Red Wine

100 ml quality Olive Oil or 3 tablespoons Beef Dripping

100 gr Plain Flour

2 tablespoons Tomato Puree

Bouquet garni; Celery stick, Bay leaf, Parsley and Thyme

A generous pinch of freshly grated Nutmeg

salt & pepper to taste

Ready-made puff pastry

(use an all-butter one if you can) or Shortcrust

1 egg, beaten

Place the beef, flour, and seasoning into a plastic bag and shake. Meanwhile, heat the oil or dripping in a large heavy-bottomed pan. Fry the beef shin in batches until browned all over and set aside. In the same pan, adding a little more oil necessary, sauté the onions, carrots, and celery until soft for about ten minutes. Add the tomato puree and leftover flour and cook out for another minute, stirring continuously, before adding the red wine and beef stock. Add the beef shin back to the pan, stir everything together and place the marrow bones and bouquet garni, tied with string, on top.

Reduce the heat and place a tight-fitting lid on the pan. Bring to the boil and reduce the heat to achieve a gentle simmer. Allow to cook for about two hours then remove the lid and allow the sauce to reduce for another hour. When the beef is cooked, remove from the heat and thoroughly cool. When cool remove the bones and the bouquet garni.

To serve, pre-heat your oven to 350 F / 180 C / Gas mark 4 and on a floured surface, roll out the half of the pastry to fit an oven-proof pie dish.

Carefully place the pastry into the greased dish and add the beef shin filling. Brush the edges with egg wash and top with remaining rolled out pastry, crimp the edges and brush the top with the rest of the beaten egg. You can decorate with any pastry offcuts if you want. Place the pie in the oven for thirty to forty-five minutes until the pastry is golden and cooked.

Allow to stand for 5 minutes after baking and serve with horseradish mash and buttered peas.

Allergens in this recipe are;

  Flour   Milk    Eggs  Celery

Please see the Allergens Page