Wednesday, September 12

Cook my Books Challenge- Frugal & Fabulous

Apparently it is spring. The calendar says so, but while I have seen my share of gambolling lambs (and who else but a cute little lamb chop could gambol??) and daffodils, until I enjoy that first plate of asparagus, it is still winter as far as I am concerned.

Watching the All Blacks play Argentina in a Wellington gale on the weekend, Mr PK and I enjoyed excellent cold weather footie watching food. A pasty is a perfect hand held dinner, sustaining, savoury, and if you don’t mind a hail of pastry crumbs all over the carpet, relatively low maintenance fare.

I actually made two versions. The first, based on the famous Cornish version, I baked in a lard based pastry (yes really, lard is wonderful stuff, see here). I kept it simple, with the traditional beef, onion, swede (known as turnip in Cornwall) and potato, going off piste only to add some fresh green parsley.

The second, for my non meat eating sister, a flaky short mess-making butter pastry also containing potato, parsley and onion, with the addition of sharp cheddar cheese. Completely delicious, even a carnivore would be impressed………

The Cornish pasty is based on ther recipe in the inimitable Delia's Frugal Food. I have the 2008 reissue, the book originally came out in 1976, and is full of good hearty mostly English style food that wont cost the earth.

A Long Way from Cornwall Pasties...... based on a recipe by Delia Smith

Makes 4 meal sized pasties, but you could make 6 smaller ones

First make your pastry. 

275 gr plain flour
125 gr cold lard (or cold butter)
pinch salt
Ice cold water 

In a large bowl, rub the fat between your fingers into your flour and salt. You can do this in a food processor, but to be honest it only takes a couple of minutes, and the resulting pastry is much softer & easier to roll than the processor version. Use the same method, adding a couple of spoons of icing sugar and some nutmeg for a lovely crust for an Apple Pie

As you can see there a still little chunks of fat, this is fine, it will melt in the heat of the oven & create steam, giving you little flakes of pastry (which if you are like me, will end up all down the front of your shirt....)

Using a knife to mix, add your ice cold water until the mixture comes together as a dough. Tip out onto a floured bench & just bring together. This isnt bread, it does not require kneading, you are just bringing everything together into a workable dough. Wrap in cling film and pop into the fridge for 30 mins or so (or overnight if you are working ahead)

Now prepare your pasty filling

1 large potato, peeled and cut into small slices
1 medium onions, peeled and chopped into tiny chunks
Half a swede, peeled and cut into small slices
300 gr chuck, blade or topside beef, trimmed of fat & cut into small slices
Salt & pepper
Chopped parsley (not traditional, but delicious)

Try to keep everything a similar size, thin slices of meat and vege will cook right through without overcooking your pastry. You will think there isn't enough filling but trust me, this is plenty, pasties are very economical fare....

Take your pastry out of the fridge, and cut into four quarters (or 6 pieces if maker smaller pasties). Roll out one quarter into a circle about the size of a dinner plate.

Top with a spoonful of potato, then swede, onion & finally meat. Season with salt & pepper, then another layer of potato, swede, onion & finally a sprinkle of parsley. The theory for the layering is the meat juices & seasoning then work their way through the root vege as they cook and give the pasty extra flavour.

If you are using cheese rather than meat, just following the same theory, with your cheese layer in the middle. Use something good and strong like a really sharp cheddar for flavour

Now fold one half of the pastry over to completely encase your filling. This is easier then you think as this pastry is quite soft and pliable. Crimp the edges together, I just go around the edge folding the edge inwards on itself over my finger, I cant tell you it is totally authentic, but it looks ok and does the job! If all else fails go around the edge with the tines of a fork,the main object is to make sure your delicious filling cant escape. Cut a couple of steam holes in the top with the tip of your knife and place on an oven tray

Pop into a 200C/400F oven for 15 mins, then turn the heat down to 190C/375F for another 25-30 minutes, until golden and smelling heavenly.

Now I wont pretend these are the quickest things to make, but they are easy, great value, and if you make a batch up they freeze perfectly. Brilliant picnic food, they are also delicious at room temp, which of course if how they would have been eaten down the mines. The crimp was used to hold the pasty, keeping the rest of your lunch clean if you didn't have facilities to wash your hands, then discarded , but of course you can eat it if you prefer.

Mr PK recommends a good dark beer to drink with your pasty (on a windswept beach with a blanket for preference) , his latest fav is this gorgeous Chocolate Moose from Boundary Road Brewery based just out of Auckland at Red Hill. Rich and chocolatey this is also wonderful in a beef casserole, and I am going to try it in Nigella's Guinness Cake, watch this space.....

Monday, September 3

Sweet NZ August, sweet indeed

Plum Kitchen was the host of Sweet NZ this month, a great initiative set up by Alessanda Zecchini bringing together some delicious treats to share from Food Bloggers all around New Zealand. If these goodies dont have you reaching for the sugar and a mixing bowl I dont know what will....

First up Jemma over at Time for a Little Something with a rather gorgeous Whittaker's & Whiskey Cake. Dense, dark whiskey flavoured chocolate cake, this is a contender for me for this years Christmas cake (I am one of those odd souls who dont really like fruit cake....), while I am not a whiskey drinker I love the depth of flavour it gives to cooking and baking. It looks so beautiful to, thanks Jemma

For a luscious exotic pudding treat Leslie at Eat Etc has shared a Cardamom Spiced Rice Pudding. I adore Cardamom, and Mr PK is mad for anything containing raisins, so pretty much our ideal winter pud. Warm or cold, this is creamy scented comfort eating, and how gorgeous is that blue cloth? Thanks Leslie

For a fab teatime treat that also happens to be Gluten Free, Lydia at Grace Cakes has posted a Flourless Orange Cake. The method for this one is intriguing and involves boiling whole oranges, for really intense orange flavour. What a treat with a cup of Earl Grey tea (and yes, a large dollop of cream or yoghurt on the side:) thanks Lydia

Mairi over at Toast has shared her recipe for Back Up Brownies. These came about after a wee sponge "mishap", I was lucky enough to have one (ok, several....) so let me assure you there is nothing "backup" about moist rich chocolatey brownie topped with tangy freeze dried strawberry powder. Not only do they look so pretty, they were completely scrumptious , thanks Mairi

For a sweet pudding treat Alli at Pease Pudding has sent us Winter White Sago Pudding with Lime & Coconut Sugar. I adore creamy style puds , so cant wait to give these a whirl, especially with tropical lime coconut flavours, it may be pouring with rain but I can turn the heating up and pretend.....thanks Alli (p.s where did you get those wonderful spoons???)

Continuing the tangy citrus theme, Sue from Couscous & Consciousness sent in Nieve de Limon, a zingy fruity Mexican inspired Lemon-Lime Sorbet. How much do you want to be sitting in the sun eating this right now? So light and refreshing, I am really looking forward to making this for Mr PK, who does not tolerate creamy ice cream very well, what a fabulous treat. Pretty pic to, thanks Sue

Another favourite fruit of mine, apple, is the base for a decadent treat from Genie at Bunny Eats Design. Nifty little cinnamon spiced apple hand pies with a rich butterscotch sauce, this is much easier than it sounds, and could very well make an extremely wet chilly Monday night perfectly bearable. And how cute is that rabbit?(his name is Tofu:) Thanks Genie

Alessandra  has contributed an indulgent Tirimisu, and being Italian we can be assured she knows what's what when it comes to this lovely dessert. I smiled when I saw this picture as the twist with this recipe is the use of Whiskey instead of coffee. Glenffidich was Dad's favourite, he would have had a terrible dilemma handing over the whiskey bottle, not wanting yet more of his precious drop to go into "cooking" but wanting to try the finished product, I will certainly be making this for my next whanau gathering, thanks so much Alessandra

Our last entry this month is courtesy of Angela at The Cook's Sponge, who has shared with us an Apple Fruit Bar. Perfect for kids and adults alike, this will be a perfect portable morning tea treat, much more delicious and sustaining than a big doughy muffin, and way better for me to! I am keen to try the original, and the suggested Apricot variation , which would be a nice change. Thanks Angela (and welcome to Sweet NZ)

What a line up, I hope you are inspired to get cooking, Sweet NZ for September is being hosted by Alessandra Zecchini so make sure you get your sweet delights to her for sharing at the end of next month.