Having grown up an airline brat, I can tell people that I’ve been to places like Italy, Hong Kong, France, and England; however, most of these trips were made when I was a kid with a kid’s typical palate, and therefore, I’m sad to say, I wasn’t particularly culinarily adventurous. I remember being in Rome but whining unless I got a plain cheese pizza. I remember being in Hong Kong and demanding American fried chicken from KFC instead of Chinese food. (There’s a story for a blog post some day involving my grandmother’s kindly housekeeper, her attempt to placate a bitching 4-year-old by making fried chicken, and instead terrifying said 4-year-old by killing the chicken in front of her.)
One foreign food memory instantly came to mind when My Kitchen, My World announced that the July destination was Great Britain. I remember being in a cafeteria style restaurant with my parents when I was maybe 11 or so. Hungry, but finding most of the options non-appetizing, my mother
tricked cajoled me into eating a rather tasty looking savory pie. A sucker for buttery crusts, all I saw was the flakey pie topping and failed to see the little sign labeling it as steak and kidney pie. It wasn’t until we sat down at the table and I had taken a few bites when I saw the word “kidney” on the receipt. I freaked out, asking my mother if there really was kidney in the pie. My mother shrugged and waved her hand dismissively, saying that it was just the name. Gullible, I finished off the pie, but when I found out weeks later that there really was kidney in steak and kidney pie, I felt ill and think that was the beginning of my adolescent maternal resentment.
Well there’s no kidney in this dish, but that food memory made me think of trying my hand at making a savory British pastry for my MKMW submission. With shell peas and more turnips from the CSA, I thought that adding ground beef to those ingredients would result in a great filling for Cornish pasties. Pasties are handheld pies, believed to have been made from leftovers in order to be a cheap and portable meal for miners. I adapted a fast puff pastry recipe from King Arthur Flour for the pasty crust, swapping some cream cheese in place of some of the butter to add a little more tang to the crust. I then started to brown ground beef, but I had to pass the reins of cooking the filling over to John so I could nurse the baby, shouting directions to him from the living room. John either follows direction well or did a bang up job of interpreting my directions which were to saute the vegetables in butter, add back in the cooked beef, season the beef with Worcester sauce and seasonings, then make a slightly thickened sauce with flour and chicken stock. I got to jump back in to finish off the filling with a touch of cream and some fresh dill before folding them up in circles of the pastry dough. You’ll notice in the final plating picture that these pasties weren’t picture perfect: in a rush to get these in the oven so we could hopefully eat before the baby started her nightly colic crying, I didn’t crimp these suckers. They still look and tasted pretty darn good though. Sound complicated? Well, to sound like a smug mother for a second, if I can make them while juggling caring for a newborn, then what’s your excuse? Give it a try: the slightly creamy filling tastes light from the sweet peas and grassy dill, counterbalancing that flaky, buttery pastry shell. I promise it’ll be worth the effort.
Note: This puff pastry recipe is even faster and easier when made in the food processor. Just pulse the butter and cream cheese in the dry ingredients until you have fine crumbs, then process the sour cream until you see large clumps of dough, kind of looking like spaetzle. Instead of pasties, you can make this filling and then make small turnovers, following the directions in the KAF recipe regarding cutting the dough into 16 squares and using 1 tablespoon of filling in each square.
- 1 recipe of “Fast and Easy Puff Pastry” substituting 4 oz cream cheese for 4 oz of the butter
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 16 oz lean ground beef
- salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 small to medium Tokyo Cross turnips, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
- 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 lb shell peas (or 1/2 cup fresh peas)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon Worcester sauce
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 2-3 tablespoons heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons fresh dill, minced
- 1 large egg, beaten
Make the puff pastry according to recipe directions, but substitute 4 oz of cream cheese for 4 oz of butter. While dough chills, make the filling. Start by heating canola oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the ground beef and cook until browned, seasoning with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Drain off fat then set cooked beef aside. Add butter to pan and melt over medium heat. When foam subsides, add the turnips, onion, and garlic and saute until onion and turnips soften, about 10-15 minutes. Add the peas and continue to cook until bright green, another 4-5 minutes. Add back in the beef then mix in Worcester sauce. Sprinkle with flour and let cook for 1-2 minutes to get rid of raw flour taste. Mix in the chicken stock and simmer for 1-2 minutes then stir in cream, looking for a light sauce consistency. Stir in dill and adjust salt and pepper to taste. If you can, let the filling cool before filling pastry.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll out dough to 16 inch by 16 inch square. Using a bowl as a stencil, cut circles, approximately 4 inches in diameter. Brush the edges of the circles with beaten egg then add approximately 1/4 cup of filling, just slightly off center, of each circle. Fold the edges of the dough together and crimp with a fork, then place on prepared baking sheet. Brush pasties with beaten egg and sprinkle with flaky sea salt if desired. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and serve warm.
Yields 4-6 pasties.
CSA Count: 4
Shell peas, Tokyo Cross turnips, fresh garlic, dill