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).

pastryslabs

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).

pastytobake

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 😉

Pie: The Book and the Reader Offer

piecover

I have a confession to make … I’m a recipe hoarder.

pastrycase

I have bookshelves full of cookbooks, boxes full of cookbooks, folders full of recipes on loose sheets of paper and photos of recipes on my phone. I even carry a small notebook in my handbag so that I can jot down any stray recipes I might happen to meet when I’m out and about. It’s probably safe to say that I’ve collected a few recipes since I started food blogging.

eggs

Perhaps inevitably therefore, I’ve become very fussy about which recipe books I consider buying. I’m no longer interested in rehashes of the same old spotted dicks and chicken chasseurs, while my three rapidly-growing children don’t leave me with either the time or the energy to recreate Michelin 3-star classics. In short, the cookbooks that appeal to me now are full of interesting recipes that inspire me to make them at home and use ingredients that inspire my family to eat them.

I don’t buy many cookbooks these days. I’m very fussy.

filling

It was lovely therefore to receive a copy of PIE: Delicious Sweet and Savoury Pies and Pastries from Steak and Onion Pie to Pecan Tart by Dean Brettschneider and discover a brand new recipe book that I’m more than happy to add to my bookshelves. The pies on these pages just sing out to be eaten.

pie

Sausage, Sun-dried Tomato and Potato Tart. Bacon, Curried Egg and Ricotta Pie. Chicken, Sweet Potato and Stilton Pot Pies. Chicken, Cranberry and Camembert Pies. Fish Pie with Leek and Chorizo. Tomato and Thyme Tarte Tatin. Dark Chocolate Banoffee Slab. Hazelnut and Coconut Shortbread with Strawberries and Blueberries. If you tell me you’re not drooling, then honestly, you’re lying.

pieslice

In this book, Dean gives us more than eighty recipes for pastry classics and innovations using flavours from around the world. Chapters include meat, seafood, vegetarian and sweet pies, plus a chapter on ‘not-quite-a-pie’ – pastry treats such as flapjacks and sausage rolls. There’s even a recipe for traditional Cornish Pasties (although, as everyone knows, the pasty was invented here in Devon …).

All in all, this book gets a big thumbs-up from me. Perhaps the best praise I can give is to tell you that my own copy is already looking used and dog-eared. And as I said, I’m very fussy.

*READER OFFER*

To order Pie at the discounted price of £20.00 including p&p* (RRP: £25.00), telephone 01903 828503 or email mailorders@lbsltd.co.uk and quote the offer code APG18.

Alternatively, send a cheque made payable to:

Littlehampton Book Services Mail Order Department,
Littlehampton Book Services,
PO Box 4264,
Worthing, West Sussex
BN13 3RB.

Please quote the offer code APG18 and include your name and address details.

*UK ONLY – Please add £2.50 if ordering from overseas.

Mum, You Need to do Your Own Baking!

flumpies

Children can be very direct. My daughters especially seem to have an ability to cut straight to the heart of the matter. I remember once trying to help L with her Maths homework (I’ve given up on that one now, by the way – Year 7 Maths is way too hard for me!). Here’s how it went …

Me: If it costs £2.40 for 4 pens, how much does it cost for 1 pen?
L: It usually tells you how much it is for one. This is a rubbish shop.

So when they try to tell you that Maths is an essential life skill, you know what? They’re lying.

makingflumpies

M has the same habit. She’s been working very hard at school and filling her evenings with six hours of ballet every week. Unsurprisingly, she reached yesterday morning and wanted to just ‘chill out’ for a bit. I took pity on her, boiled her an egg and allowed her to eat it in the living room so she could watch TV. Here’s how that one went …

Me: Try not to spill your egg.
M: But Mum, I was going to try to spill it coz I really like spilling egg on the sofa.

Okay, okay. Give me break. And she’s only 8 years old … we still have the teenage years to navigate.

flumpiesslice

Yesterday afternoon had its own ‘get real, Mum’ moment too. M was writing up a post for her own blog about a cake she invented last weekend …

M: I really like this. Can I write about it on A Merrier World too?
M: Mum, you need to do your own baking.

As I said – straight to the heart of the matter. But her cake is so lovely, I begged, pleaded, threatened and eventually bribed her until she agreed to let me show it to you over here …

madmu

Flumpies (by Madmu)

6 oz butter
3 large eggs
6 oz castor sugar
6 oz self raising flour
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder

raspberry jam
marshmallow flumps

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

Grease and line an 8 inch round cake pan (and also line 6 to 8 cupcake holders with cases. This recipe makes 2 x 7″ round cakes, so there’s a bit left over for cupcakes if you just make one 8″ round Flumpie cake).

Make sure that the butter is very soft – beat it for a bit first in the mixer.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Add all the other ingredients.

Beat on medium speed for a minute until everything is smooth and mixed together.

Fill the cake pan no more than 2/3 full and divide the rest of the batter between the cupcake cases.

Bake in the centre of the oven for 25 to 30 minutes.

Remove and leave to cool on a wire rack.

Spread raspberry jam on top of the cake.

Cut up some marshmallow flumps and make a star with them on top of the cake.

My Broken Kitchen

My 8-year-old daughter has been food blogging for four days. On her second day of blogging, she apologised to her readers … “I am not cooking because of my kitchen – it is broken!”

I’m sorry. I have been blogging for six years and despite writing only sporadic posts over the last several months, I have not had even the slightest bit of decent courtesy to explain that I haven’t been cooking because my kitchen is broken.

But it’s true. My kitchen is broken.

In times well past, there was once a family kitchen complete with unidentifiable fridge and very raidable cupboards.

familykitchen

But then something terrible happened. We ran out of wine.

Oh. Sorry – no. Getting sidetracked. It was something much, much more terrible than even that.

We lost the plot.

We couldn’t find it anywhere.

wrecking

We were totally devastated.

destruction

It was so bad, we soon realised there was only one thing that could possibly save us now.

Chocolate cake.

But the baking gods were against us …

notmuchbaking

… and our kitchen was still falling down …

stillwrecking

… and there was nowhere to put a cake pan.

oodlesofspace

But sometimes you just have to laugh in the face of impossibility (and ceiling dust and plaster dust and all the other sorts of dust that hang in the air and make you cough lots), especially when there’s a birthday …

birthdaycake

… and especially when your 8-year-old daughter is determined …

bakingspludge

… to bake some Spludge.

photoshoot

Go visit Madmu for the recipe.

You’ll make her day if you leave her a comment there. She’s one excited little baker-blogger!

Diet of Worms

I wonder how many History students will end up on this page …

Unfortunately, I can tell you zip all about the events of 1521 at the Imperial Diet of Worms in the Holy Roman Empire. My A-level History teacher was obviously wasting her time in trying to educate me on that one.

No, these are the right sorts of worms – the sort that interest T.

gardenworms

As far as I know, he has never actually eaten a worm, although that isn’t saying much. As far as I know, he has never eaten any peas, cheese, pasta or mashed potato … and he will not ever never eat a tomato. Not even if you call it a moonsquirter.

Nevertheless, it was T’s idea to bake a worm cake.

wormcaketop

That’s why I can’t offer any fluffy chicks or cute bunnies on this Easter weekend.

Only worms.

wormcake

Worm Cake

Take a basic chocolate Easter egg nest recipe, press it all into the base of a circular pan and decorate with jelly worms (or snakes that do a good impression of worms).