If I can remember that far back (last Tuesday - it's a close run thing, to be honest!), I seem to recall that I made some crackingly good Cornish Pasties.
Now, of course, one wonders whether they should in fact be called "Dorset Pasties" as we're in Dorset, not Cornwall. However, I think we can safely leave that a moot point and in calling them "Cornish", I trust everyone will know what sort of pasty we're talking about.
The original plan, with this pasty meal, was to have the Cornish Pasties with an accompanying salad. I had thought that would be somewhat healthier (less fat & sugar, potentially) than baked beans and chips. However, when I checked on them in the oven and saw what a humungous size they had reached, I quickly revised that idea. It seemed to me that the pasty itself would be quite enough for a meal (as indeed, was the original idea behind them) with perhaps a few baked beans in order to provide something to lubricate the jaws. Quite apart from anything else, I was beginning to feel distinctly peculiar - and the idea of putting together a salad was rapidly becoming less and less attractive both from a personal point of view and from a "not passing on whatever I've got" point of view.
So, the chaps had one each with some baked beans - and indeed, they proved perfectly adequate for a meal. All of which leads me to suppose it might be better to draw 4" circles in the pastry, rather than 8" circles, in order to produce a smaller more manageable pasty!
I used shop-bought frozen puff pastry and it was brought home to me just how enfeebled I had become, because the simple act of rolling out the pastry was incredibly difficult. When I'd done the first quarter - and cut out the first circle - I can remember thinking "OMG - I've three more of these to go!". Which is crazy, when you consider that I used to think nothing of picking up 25kg of horse feed bag and slinging it over my shoulder. How times change!
I kept the ingredients for the filling completely traditional, apart from the fact that I used some lovely steak mince, rather than cut up a piece of steak. I felt this would rule out any pieces of steak being too "bouncy" and not tender enough, plus there was the outside chance that some fat would get through the net.
Another interesting point regarding the pasties, is that I used the Mandolin to cut the potatoes, onions and swede. This ensured that they were cut to the exact-same thickness and although each slice wasn't cut in the exact-same way, so some were bigger in diameter than others, it seemed to work beautifully where the cooking time was concerned. I have, in the past, had pasties come out of the oven with the potato or the swede still really quite hard, where I've diced them instead of sliced them.
I put the slices into a bowl, which enabled me to balance the quantities of all three much more easily than taking a little handful for each pasty. You could see, once you'd added the onion, how much potato you would need and likewise the swede. It also enabled me to season with freshly ground black pepper - loads of it! - and sea salt, mixing the slices to ensure the seasoning was carried throughout the filling. I did give each pasty a little extra grind of both seasonings just before closing them, but hubby reckons that although they were very nice, I could still have given them more pepper.
A note about the pastry. I rolled the pastry out between two pieces of cling film (a la Rachel Allen), which is by far the cleanest way I know of it do it. Now this has the added benefit, once you've cut out your circle, of providing you with some cling film to close over the top of the pastry and prevent it from drying out while you make the other three! I found it was worth turning the pastry over before adding the filling, as it was easier to pick it up from the cling film, that way.
As for the crimping, well, in the past my pasties have looked rather like a rabid dog has put them together. However, this time, I was quite pleased with the crimping and it looked even better once they'd cooked. For once - faint! - none of them came undone in the cooking!
CORNISH PASTIES (makes 4 x 8" circles = 4 pasties)
1 pack with 2 blocks of Puff Pastry
300g steak mince
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 medium potatoes, peeled, thinly sliced
175g swede, peeled, thinly sliced
freshly ground black pepper
1. Pre-heat oven to 220c/fan 200c/gas 7.
2. Roll out the pastry, a half a pack at a time, in between two pieces of cling film and until you can place an 8" plate on top with extra to spare around the edges. Remove the top layer of cling film and draw a knife around the plate to remove the extra pastry. Close the cling film over the circle and leave it to one side while you prepare the remaining circles.
3. Using a Mandolin - or by slicing as finely and evenly as possible with a knife - slice the onion, potatoes and swede. Place the onion directly into a bowl, however with the potato and swede, cut each slice (you can heap them and cut a number at one time) into four, then place in the bowl.
4. Add the seasoning - and go wild with the pepper, as these pasties can take a huge amount of black pepper - and mix through with your fingers.
5. Take the first of your circles and peel the cling film from it, turn it over and place it back onto the cling film. Add a handful of vegetable mix along the centre line and add a quarter of the steak mince, broken into pieces, along the same line and on top of the vegetables.
6. Season again, then brush a little of the beaten egg mixture around the outside edges of the circle. Bring the half furthest away from you up and over the top of the meat & vegetables, towards you, sealing it on its opposite side. Then, starting from one end, crimp the edges - sealing as you go.
7. Once done, cut three lines into the body of the pasty and place onto a baking tray. Brush with the egg wash and place into the oven for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 180c/fan 160c/gas 4 and bake for 45 mins or so until golden.