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.....


  1. Yummo, we love pasties in our house particularly the lardy one made the traditional way!

  2. Looks great - have always wanted to try making these.

  3. Pasties....perfect for these arctic spring days....though I do have my mitts on my first asparagus :)

  4. Yum! This definitely looks like the perfect way to eat through a rainy day.

  5. Hi there!
    These look really yummy. We've been living in Cornwall for the last 9 years and definitely miss having pasties so widely available.
    However, I'm pretty sure it's called swede in Cornwall. Turnips are different and never allowed in a tradition pasty.
    I'd love to try this recipe! I went to university in Norwich where Delia Smith has a massive presence (she owns the football club) so I'm always keen to try her stuff.
    Samantha x


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