Montreal Smoked Meat sandwiches, smoky and peppery on rye with mustard. The best sandwich in the world. Hands down….
Delicious homemade Cornish Pasties; meat and potatoes made portable.
Right, so before I moved to the UK I decided to undertake a bit of research into the country I was moving to. Of the variety of programmes I watched, one had the presenter head to the South West part of the country where amongst the items discussed were Pasties. My immediate reaction was ‘what the hell is that’? Followed by musing on who would actually order such an item. Meat and potato folded in what I considered to be a primitive pizza pocket. Originally designed for miners, it is a point of pride in Cornwall.
Well, I was wrong to judge. It took me awhile, but when I finally tried proper Cornish pasties I was hooked. It may have been the knowledge that they were in no way remotely healthy, but it was delicious. By cooking the raw meat with the vegetables, they soak up each others juices and becomes nice and tender. The key to Cornish pasties however is the crust. Crispy, yet soft, crust which holds the fillings. A perfect pasty will have no spillage, and a good ‘crimp’ insures this.
I’ve called my recipe ‘Nearly Cornish Pasties’ because technically I’m breaking some of the rules for Cornish Pasties (Namely, I’m not in Cornwall! – read about them here). Despite its humble origins, you need good ingredients for a good pasty. Good skirt steak, potatoes, turnip and a bit of salt and pepper. Chop, combine and season, and that’s it (although I’ve added thyme as I like the flavour). The dough has a stunningly high amount of fat in it. Coal miners needed it apparently for the calories burnt. I’ve opted for a bit less, although some recipes I’ve come across call for 1:2 ratio of fat to flour. I’ve gone all butter, but a mix of butter and lard is also delicious.
So there you go, my take on the British classic of Cornish Pasties.
This is a twist on a classic miner’s meal, so some local beer would be good. Go for an English style ale. If you can find it, Doombar is a good bet.
I rightly associate anything with Cornwall with the coast, and when I eat a pasty I instinctively think of a East Coast style party (equating the social class of miners at the pasties creation to that of the average Bluenoser). So lets take East Cost style music, with a British influence. Hello Mumford and Sons and ‘I Will Wait’
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Nearly Cornish Pasties
- 350 g finely chopped steak - Skirt steak is good.
- 1 onion - finely diced
- 3 small potatoes - peeled and thinly sliced into thin pieces about a the size of a nickel
- 200 g turnip or swede - peeled and thinly sliced into thin pieces about a the size of a nickel
- 3-4 sprigs of thyme
- Salt and pepper
- 1 egg - beaten
- 200 g unsalted butter - cut into small cubes
- 500 g plain flour
- 15 g salt
- 150 ml cold water
- Pre-heat oven to 200C. Add the salt to the butter, and toss. Then add to the flour, and use a pastry cutter to cut in the butter. Or use hands to rub the butter into the flour to form crumbs.
- Add most of the water, you may need a bit more or a bit less. Add until all the flour is incorporated. Knead for about 10min until smooth. Wrap in film and place in the fridge.
- Meanwhile, mix all the ingredients fillings together and season with salt and pepper.
- When cold, take the dough out, and cut into 4-6 pieces. Working one at a time, roll out into flat rounds. They should be about as thick as a pound coin.
- Carefully place your filling in the center, be generous. Then fold over, like a half pizza. Carefully crimp the edges to seal, and then brush over with the egg wash.
- Cook in the pre-heated oven for 45-60min, until the crust is brown and the filling is cooked. Let cool slightly (watch out for steam!) and then dive in.
I’ve been fascinated by Australia for years. Having never visited, I’ve always pictured it as being a cross between Canada and the UK. What is undeniable is that there is a huge foodie culture there (looking at you Melbourne), evidenced by the sheer popularity of Masterchef and the MKR. Recently our household has become slightly addicted to eating the Australian classic; the meat pie.
Indulging in all things Australian
To indulge in all things Australian I’ve subscribed to Coles in-store magazine, read News.com.au daily and occasionally the Sydney Morning Herald, and wherever possible watch Masterchef Australia and MKR. If you have never watched Masterchef Australia, you need too. Of all the international versions they are far superior. Sadly it is only available on a pay TV station here in the UK. Even MKR, a Aussie homegrown success, has proved so successful that Channel4 is making their own version soon of MKR UK. If anyone knows how to watch more Aussie TV in the UK please drop me a line.
In any case, it is hard to appreciate local food without having visited. Instead I’ve had to rely on what Australian imports to indulge. Lets face it, if you’ve ever had TimTams you know how good food from that part of the world is. Well, rely on imports and making Aussie recipes. One that our household has fallen in love with is the Aussie Meat Pie.
To make this I trolled the web and came across a variety of recipes, taking bits and pieces to create my Aussie Meat Pie. For the crust I used Chef Gary Mehigan (and Masterchef hosts) recipe for Sour Cream Pastry, a revelation for any future savoury pie. For the beef filling I used advice from across the web, and my own herb garden. The result was a rich beef and stout based sauce. On the top, I stole from my early Mac and Cheese recipe and added a bacon breadcrumb salt. Finally when fully baked, top with Tomato Sauce (just to be clear, this is Aussie Tomato Sauce, which is actually ketchup).
I made a batch of 10. There were no survivors.
Aussie Meat Pies
Sour Cream Pastry
- 200 g chilled unsalted butter chopped
- 250 g plain flour plus extra for dusting
- ½ cup sour cream
- 500 g lean beef mince
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 large brown onion finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon cornflour
- 3/4 cup beef stock
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 200 ml Guinness Stout
- 1 teaspoon Vegemite or Marmite
- 1 carrot - peeled and finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons stilton
- 3 sprigs of thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 egg
- Start by making the sour cream pastry. Place the butter and flour in the bowl of an electric mixer with a paddle or food processor, then blend until the mixture resembles large breadcrumbs. Add a pinch of salt, and then gradually add the sour cream, mixing until the pastry just comes together. Shape into a disc, then wrap in plastic wrap then chill for at least 30 minutes.
- Heat ½ the oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic. Cook for 15 minutes or until onions have started to turn nice and brown (early camarlising). Add the carrots and cook for a few more minutes. Remove to the side, and wipe out the dish.
- Add the remaining oil to the pan and when hot add beef mince. Cook for 4 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon, or until browned. Drain much of the fat from the meat. Return the onion mixture to the meat. Stir to combine.
- Mix cornflour and 1 tablespoon of stock to form a paste and then add remaining hot stock. Add stock/paste mixture, ketchup, worcestershire, Guinness and Vegemite to mince. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and chuck in the cheese (if using). Simmer for 20-30 minutes or until thick. Cool completely.
- Heat the oven to 220C, roll out the cold pastry and line your pie dish with the pastry. Leave enough pastry to top. The pastry should be about 3-5mm thick, and Fill each pie with some of the beef mixture, brush edges with water, then top each with a pastry lid and crimp the edges to seal in the filling. Beat the egg and brush the top of the pie. Finally, if you are using it, dust the top with the bacon breadcrumbs. Bake until golden then top with ketchup. Eat warm.
Braised beef, beer and bacon in a bun. This is snack food at its finest.
A few weeks ago I was in Berlin on a trip for work, and absolutely loved it. One of the meals I ate while I was there was beef braised in a dark lager. Perhaps I was exhausted from walking around, perhaps it was because I was cold from trekking the length of Mitte and back again, but it was delicious.
I love braised beef, with the deep flavour it brings to the table. But, it is profoundly poor food to eat on the go. So, I decided to take a page out of TheWoksofLife, put it in a bun.
First was the beef itself. I seared cheap chuck before placing it in the slow cooker, with sliced shallots, garlic, bay, herbs, beef stock and a bottle of dark Czech lager. Slow cook it for about 6-8 hours, and then let the whole thing cool down and then pinch the beef to shred it.
Second, fry the bacon lardons until nice and crispy. Dice the cooked pieces and mix in with the cold beef mixture. Set aside.
For the buns, use the basic recipe for Butter Buns. Except this time add in some garlic powder into the flour to add extra flavour. After it has proved, do not shape the dough into ball. Instead, create mini pancakes and place a spoonful of the mixture in the middle. Bring the sides up and pinch it together to seal the parcel. Let the dough rise again for about 20min. Brush with egg wash and dust with pinch of poppyseed before baking for 15min.
Let cool, go on a trip, and enjoy some Kick-Ass buns. For added kick it is worth adding some hot sauce or garlic sauce to the beef beer and bacon buns.
Beef beer and bacon buns
- 450 g beef
- 1 500 ml bottle of dark beer
- 2 shallots finely sliced
- 2 cloves or garlic crushed
- 300 ml beef stock
- 120 g smoked bacon lardons
- 2 tsp Herbes de Provence
- 1 TB olive oil
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- Place half the olive oil in a frying pan, in batches sear the beef and then place into a slow cooker. Add the shallots, herbs de provence and garlic. Place slow cooker on low and add the stock and beer. Slowly cook for 6-8 hours. When finished, cool mixture down and shred beef.
- In frying pan, crisp up the bacon and dice. Add this to the beef mixture.
- Separately, create a batch of butter buns. To the flour add the garlic powder.
- When dough has proved, divide into 12. Flatten each section into a disc and place a spoonful of mixture into the centre. Bring the edges up and seal into a parcel. Place on a baking sheet and rest for 15min.
- Bake for a further 15min. Enjoy.
This week was a great week in the kitchen for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I had the week off from work so there was plenty of time to explore. Secondly, my mother was visiting so it meant there was a need to cook….healthy…. and show off! Finally, I test drove a Gousto box. I’ll talk about the box a bit later, but overall was impressed. At the bottom of the page there is a link for £25 off your first box!
- The Gousto Box arrives, complete with multiple meals. First up, I try some of their beet burgers. While I was a little sceptical, we all loved these, will definitely try again.
- Chicken cashew – The flavour in this dish, also a Gousto meal, was pretty good. Some elements were really intelligent (e.g. how to incorporate the egg into the stir fry). That said, needed a bit more of a punch.
- Roast – This was the first non-Gousto box of the week. As it was Sunday, we had a Roast. Since we had a guest, we explored London’s Spitalfields Market and discovered Hawksmoor. Their roast was beef, and it just melted in the mouth. Plus they start their beef on the barbecue and finish it in the oven. The result is a subtle smoky flavour. That along with a individual pots of gravy and goose fat potatoes, it was a just brilliant.
- Pork tenderloin with parsnip mash – The final Gousto meal in the box, a really nice pork tenderloin with a parsnip and butter bean mash. This will definitely make its way into my menu rotation.
- Chicken curry – a great dish, with cauliflower rice mixed with real rice. In this case it was a Southern Pepper curry courtesy of the Spice Tailor. Was full of flavour, unlike the jars of sauce you tend to find. This meant we actually ate less, so bonus!
- Chicken, leek and bacon pie – This was my own little concoction. I wanted to use up some chicken thighs, as well as some leeks that were of risk of going off. This pie uses no cream, exchanged puff for filo pastry, and delivers with punches of flavour without increasing the waist line. Plus it had some great herbs giving it a fresh taste.
- It was a rainy and cold day, so it was a good thing Bougy Beef was planned. That and I picked up a great baguette from the Cambridge market.
- It is PIZZA DAY I went for my usual zucchini pizza. However I also took a look at SeriousEats pan pizza recipe, and made a few of those for the table as well.
As I said in the start, my menu this week started with a delivery of a Gousto box. It was our first, and I’ll review it later. If you want to try one, click here and enter the code MATTH39995 to get £25 off your first box. Not a bad deal really.
Menu for Feb 15-21. Job done.