Boxing Day Pasties

pastyinside

“I am sooooo full,” says Aunty Marg.

“Me too,” says Grandpa Bert.

“I couldn’t eat a wafer-thin mint,” says Mr C.

“Not even a bit of Wensleydale?” asks Wallace.

“Goo goo,” says the baby (but he only had milk, which always fills him up. Besides, he has an inbuilt overflow mechanism for those I’ve-eaten-too-much moments).

There you all are, mindlessly eating chocolate-covered Brazil nuts and hanging around for the Queen’s speech (I had a friend whose Mum used to make them all stand to attention throughout that speech – seriously). Uncle George is trying to solve the fiddly little metal puzzle thing from a Christmas cracker while Oor William is wandering around with what looks like a black slug balancing on his upper lip (another cracker gift). And then someone asks …

“What shall we do tomorrow, then?”

Now, instead of running kicking and screaming from the living room and hiding under the pillow on your bed just to escape your oh-so-wonderful-but-by-now-incredibly-irritatingly-annoying relations for just one tiny moment of peace, why not propose … a Boxing Day walk? Come rain or shine, just wrap up warm and march the troops outside for a bracing blast of fresh air. And here’s the best part. You can gather up all those leftover sprouts and carrots and turkey trimmings and bread sauce and roasties and stuffing, and parcel them up into warm, steaming Boxing Day pasties to hand out to everyone as portable lunch feasts. Outdoors entertainment with the added feel-good factor of counting towards your exercise and economy-drive regimes. Skill.

These leftovers pasties are the easiest things in the world to make, and everyone always loves them. Trust me.

Here’s what you need to do …

Put 10 oz plain flour, 2 1/2 oz butter and 2 1/2 oz lard in a mixing bowl with a good pinch of salt (this gives enough pastry for four large pasties – increase the quantities as needed to make enough pasties for your Boxing Day party).

flourbutter

Use your fingers and thumbs to gently rub the fats into the flour. Don’t squeeze too hard or you’ll end up with a crumble topping mixture. Aim for a fine breadcrumb texture.

rubbingin

Use a tablespoon to sprinkle water over the mixture, cutting it through with a knife until it begins to hold together.

water

Use your hands to bring the dough together (gently, gently – it needs a bit more handling than the pastry for a sweet, crumbly lemon tart, but you still don’t want it to end up being too tough to bite through). Divide the dough into four equal parts (roughly equal is fine). Wrap each part in clingfilm, flatten with the heel of your hand and leave to rest in the fridge for half an hour or so).

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When you’re ready to make the pasties, preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Gather together your Christmas dinner leftovers.

leftovers

Chop the chunky meat and vegetables into bite-sized pieces and mix together with enough bread sauce/gravy/cranberry sauce/stuffing/etc to make a moist but not too sloppy filling.

filling

Roll out each slab of pastry into a rough circle (‘rustic’ is good – there aren’t any Michelin-star inspectors watching!). Place a good dollop of filling into one half of each circle. Wet the edges of the pastry with water using a pastry brush (or one of your kids’ paintbrushes, if all else fails). Fold one half of the pastry circle over the filling and press down to seal the edges. Make some little folds and tucks around the edges to hold the whole thing together (technically called ‘crimping’, but anything that stops the filling escaping in the oven is all that’s needed).

fillingandcrimping

Transfer each pasty to a baking tray (use a spatula if you need a bit more support underneath during the transfer).

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Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the pastry is golden and crisp.

pasties

It’s best to leave the pasties to cool a little on wire racks so that the bottoms don’t go soggy from the steam as they’re sitting on the baking tray, but do parcel them up while they’re still warm and head out with your crowd for the hills and wide open spaces …

These pasties were designed for the Feeding the Masses project hosted by Most Wanted, the lifestyle magazine from VoucherCodes.co.uk. This project aims to create a collection of recipes for feeding large groups of people over the festive period. Importantly, some dinner hosts face a great deal of financial pressure around this time of year, and they want to prove that feeding a small army needn’t be costly or too stressful – no matter how big their appetites are. Each recipe in the collection should therefore feed 10 or more people for around £3 per head. I hope that these Boxing Day pasties achieve this aim … assuming you have sufficient leftovers from a previous meal, the only real cost involved is in the ingredients for the pastry. I find that coming up with tasty ways to use leftovers is one of the most thrifty food tips that we live by in our family. Between you and me, I often enjoy the leftovers more than I enjoyed the meal they were leftover from … but shh, that’s a secret 😉

Apple Plum Pie

I’ve had several requests for my apple and plum pie recipe, so here it is (perhaps it should really be Apple Plum Pear Pie, but that sounds a bit of a mouthful).

Oh – and the Catalan quote …?

Let’s look down the coast, not up; it doesn’t rain fish.

Apple Plum Pie (an unseasonal pie for a rainy day in summer)

For the pastry
7 oz oz plain flour
3 oz self-raising flour
6 oz butter
water

For the filling
2 Bramley apples
6 ripe plums
3 small pears
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 oz light muscovado sugar
2 oz caster sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 oz butter
1 tbsp cornflour

Rub the butter into the flour and stir in just enough water to form a dough. Divide into two pieces, one for the bottom crust and one for the top crust of the pie. Wrap each piece in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge.

Peel and dice the apples and pears. Dice the plums. Toss all together in a large bowl with the lemon juice, sugars and cinnamon. Leave to macerate for at room temperature for at least an hour.

Strain the juices from the fruit and sugar mix into a small saucepan. Reserve the fruit (obviously – or it would just be a jam pie!).

Add the butter to the juices and bring them to the boil. Simmer gently until the juices are syrupy and reduced to about 1/3 cup.

Sprinkle the cornflour over the reserved fruit and toss to combine thoroughly.

Pour the syrupy jam over the fruit and toss again to mix everything together evenly.

Roll out the pastry for the bottom crust and use it to line a 9″ pie dish.

Scrape the fruit mixture into the pie. Roll out the pastry for the top crust and use it to cover the fruit. Seal and crimp the edges. Make four or five slashes in the top, or prod it several times with a fork.

Cover the pie loosely with clingfilm and leave it to rest in the fridge for an hour or so.

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C.

Bake the pie for 45 to 55 minutes until the pastry is golden and the juices are bubbly.

Allow to cool slightly before eating …

De Peixos, No En Plouen

Let’s talk about the weather.

No, let’s not. It’s raining. Again.

Is it really July? Without the endings that bring expectations of holidays and sunshine – the end of ballet classes, the end of the school year, the end of chorister duties …

– we could easily be hoodwinked into building bonfires and counting down the days to Christmas.

The BBC called us ‘deluged Devon‘ today. Apparently, a month’s worth of rain – up to 80mm – fell in the past 24 hours and more bad weather has been forecast. Thanks.

This eternal drizzle makes everything difficult. Bookbags and papers get soggy, hair turns frizzy, cooped-up children become grumpy. Okay, that’s probably more a description of my own problems with the weather than of anyone else’s … but I’m sure you know what I mean.

What’s that saying …? When life deals you something-or-other, make something-or-other? Fry fish? Make bagels? There’s a saying there on the tip of my tongue, but I can’t quite get hold of it.

Never mind. Here’s another I’ve just made up on the spot: when it rains instead of shines, make apple and plum pie.

Which is made just like Gooseberry pie really, only bigger. But if anyone wants the exact recipe, give me a shout.

Mirem més ensota que endalt; de peixos, no en plouen.

We Heart Gooseberry Pie

O is quite happy to describe himself as a bit of a Luddite, so I hope I’m not betraying any confidences when I tell you so. It relates to the extent to which he is comfortable (or not) to embrace new technologies. Perhaps the best illustration of this is his endearing persistence in starting all emails to me with a formal, ‘Dear Kate …’ in avoidance of anything more casual. I even received text messages from him in this way until either our need to keep in more regular contact strained his texting thumb or he relaxed his perception of correct wife-husband correspondence.

Anyway – why am I telling you this? Only because I know that the title of this post will either have confused the hell out of him or he’ll be reaching for the psychiatrist’s phone number thinking he’s got a psychotic wife on the loose again. Relax – it’s only a doffing reference to txtspk or emoticons or whatever (you see, I really don’t know any more than O does) because a) we really do love gooseberry pie, and b) I really did make my little pie in a heart-shaped ramekin. And really, how many reallies can you fit into one paragraph without sounding insincere anyway?

So, having completely tied myself up in knots (or should that be ‘tied up myself in knots’?). Ug. Who cares? The pie was good.

Which pie?

Didn’t I tell you?

Oh, sorry. I got a bit side-tracked.

Here’s the story.

O picked our first crop of gooseberries.

I made gooseberry pie.

Which would have been a very short post.

Gooseberry Pie (makes one very small ramekin-sized pie for a first crop of gooseberries)

Your favourite shortcrust pastry
+
8 oz gooseberries, topped and tailed
4 oz caster sugar
juice and zest of 1 small lemon
2 tsp cornflour
1 oz butter

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

Put the gooseberries, sugar, lemon juice and zest in a saucepan. Cook over low to moderate heat until the gooseberries are looking very relaxed and chilled out with life.

Strain the mixture then put the strained gooseberries into a bowl and mix with the cornflour until fully incorporated.

Return the sugary juice to the pan, add the butter and simmer until thickened to a jam-like consistency.

Line your ramekin with pastry.

Mix the gooseberries with enough jam to make a not-too-soggy filling, and scrape into the pastry-lined ramekin. (I had a little extra jam, so made gooseberry snails with the leftover scraps of pastry).

Top the pie with a layer of pastry and seal.

Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes until the pastry is golden and flaky.

This recipe (for what it’s worth) is dedicated to Rose, to whom I sent a heart-shaped ramekin not so very long ago.
xx

Baked Bean and Sausage Pasties

What keeps you going?

I’ve been asked that question many times over the last several months as I’ve struggled with the twin demons of anorexia and bipolar disorder. And my answer has always been, “My family. My children.”

Take yesterday, for example. There we were, in the middle of a busy supermarket – my three children and me (always an expensive way to do the shopping) – deciding what to cook for their dinner. Surrounded by so many tasty options on the shelves in every aisle, M nevertheless said, “Baked bean and sausage pasties – the ones that you make.”

So that was what we did.

Times like this are what keep me going.

Baked Bean and Sausage Pasties

7 oz bread flour (I know, an unusual choice of flour for pastry – but it needs to be strong enough to hold the filling)
3 oz butter
water
2 tins of baked beans and sausages

Rub the butter into the flour and stir in just enough water to form a dough. Wrap in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for 30 mins or so.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

Divide the pastry into four pieces. Roll out each piece into a circle.

Empty the cans of baked beans into a sieve to strain out most of the runny tomato sauce (otherwise the pasties disintegrate into a soggy mush. Trust me – I’ve tried it).

Spoon four mini sausages (assuming there are 8 in each tin. Can you tell I know my Heinz baked beans …?) and a quarter of the baked beans into the centre of each pastry circle. Brush the edges with water and stretch the lower half of the circle up and over the filling. Seal the edges and crimp. Snip two or three slits in the top of each pasty to let out the steam (and sauce!).

Place each pasty on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 25 to 30 mins until the pastry is golden and cooked.

Eat warm.