Crackers recipe from Ink Sugar Spice @inksugarspice

Rosemary crackers

Hello, it’s March already. Where did February go? It’s not like I’ve been doing anything other than working and staying home. Hope you are safe and well.

This new recipe produces crackers that are so tasty, just the right level of crispy (that is, they don’t dislodge your fillings) and are deceptively quick and easy to make.

It is easiest to make them with a pasta machine, but you can prepare them with a rolling pin, so don’t worry if you haven’t got a pasta sheeting gadget.

One last thing to add, I know not everyone likes mustard (I’m not a huge fan myself) but do try them with the mustard in as it adds a real umami pep to the flavour which doesn’t come across that ‘mustardy’ if you know what I’m trying to say. If you can’t bring yourself to add the mustard powder substitute a hot paprika instead.

Equipment

  • Two large baking trays, lined with parchment/baking paper
  • Large bowl
  • Pasta machine or rolling pin
  • Sharp knife
  • Wire cooling rack

Ingredients

  • 250g plain flour (spelt can be used instead of wheat if you prefer)
  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary (each about 6-7cm long)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon of freshly milled black pepper
  • 90ml water
  • 35ml extra virgin olive oil
  • Extra flour for dusting

Method

  1. Wash and dry the rosemary (if you think it needs it) and strip the leaves off the stalks
  2. Turn the oven on to 180C fan/ 200C conventional oven
  3. Mix all the dry ingredients together (flour, salt, mustard, pepper) and the rosemary leaves
  4. Make a well in the middle and pour in the oil and water and start combining. You may want to use a fork or a Dutch dough whisk for this, but hands are good!
  5. Bring it together and try not to overwork it – knead just enough to combine it so it forms a ball
  6. Set up your pasta machine or roll out by hand. You’ll probably need a little extra flour for dusting your work surface if you’re rolling by hand, but I’ve found this dough goes through the pasta machine quite well without extra flour. If you think it needs it though as it’s sticking, use a little.
  7. Roll out (either method) to about 1.5mm thickness – with these crackers you are limited by the thickness of the rosemary leaves and the height of the cracked pepper. Basically, roll out as thin as you can
  1. Cut into rectangular strips, about 4cm x 20cm
  1. Lay them on the prepared baking sheets. They don’t need much space between them as they don’t expand much
  2. Bake for 13-15 minutes. The crackers should be starting to turn brown and will have bubbled up in places
  3. Transfer to a wire rack to cool
  4. Great eaten with dips (such as Pesto and roasted butternut squash dip) or olive oil or as a main meal accompaniment

Hot Water crust pastry technique – and wild boar and apple spiced hand raised pie recipe

tudorpiecutI love to make hand raised pies – I think hot water crust pastry is the most maleable, responsive and fun pastry type of all. I describe it to others as adult PlayDough! Actually it’s a similar reason as to why I love playing with (umm, making) pasta too. Pressing pasta dough through my machine reminds me of the PlayDough barbers I had as an infant, where you squeezed the dough through little holes in the heads of the little figures to make hair. I digress…

Homemade pies bear no resemblance to a typical shop or supermarket bought pie. Although if you’re used to buying an artisan pie hand made by a true food craftsperson you’ll already know the chasm of difference there is between the two, even if you’ve not yet made one yourself. You (yes I can see you, no hiding) can make a pie just as delicious as any that’s been hand crafted by a local farm, family butcher or artisan pie specialist.

I can’t lie and say it’s totally easy-peasy, but it’s nowhere near as difficult as you might think. After only one or two baking sessions you’ll get the knack for handling this lovely pastry and start making beautiful and delicious pies at home with ease. Honest. Well, that’s what happened to me anyway and I’ve no reason to think that you won’t be the same!

My first tentative attempt at a raised pie (many years ago now, I grant you – I think I had a go while I was a student) was a bit ‘rustic’-looking, but no worse for that as it was still delicious. The next one was much improved in looks and then there was no holding me back. Pies became straight(er),  pretty cylindrical, free from bursting and often covered in extra fancy pastry decorations and even started to hold fillings of all different types. If I can do this I’ve no doubt others can.

Be warned though – this is not a recipe that uses a tin. I’m explaining here how I make my hand raised pies. I suppose you could create this by baking it in a tin, but that’s a cop out and there’s nowt so satisfying as presenting a pie that you know has only had your hands to shape it. Plus, those specialist pie tins are a ridiculous amount of money and this is proof you don’t need to spend on them.

For your first attempt at a hand raised pie (or subsequent ones if you’re a bit scaredy, which is totally fine!) you can give the pie a helping hand by giving it a tied baking paper collar to help it keep its shape. I don’t think this is necessary for small or medium-sized pies (up to about 15cm/6″) once you’re used to making them, but if I bake a large pie I will still wrap that with a collar – just for double insurance purposes, you understand.tudorpieillustration

Notes about hot water crust and veggie and fat content alternatives

Although this is a total meat lover’s pie, please don’t think hand raised pies are only for carnivores. You can make the pastry with Cookeen or Trex instead of the lard and butter mix, making it vegetarian/vegan and then use a veggie filling. I’ve had great results with pies filled with a variety of mushrooms such as a Stilton, rocket and walnut filling and pies with layers of multi coloured veggies doused in spices and dried fruits.

It’s understandable (even for carnivores) to be a little squeamish about the use of animal fats like lard. So even if you have a meat filling, using Trex or Cookeen within the pastry can be an alternative to lard. I only rarely have lard (or dripping) in my fridge and am more likely to have a pack of Trex and I’m all for using what’s to hand or what needs using up rather than another shopping trip. (I often have Trex in my fridge as it’s great when making white icing to keep it ultra-white).

If you’re not of the squeamish persuasion, you might like to swap beef dripping for the lard – especially nice with a beef or venison filling.

Notes on this particular recipe and how I researched it

This is a slight variation on a typical layered pork sausage meat pie I make (that one uses Cumberland sausages and layered apricots with garam masala). This particular pie was created to bake along with a Tudor theme on a Great British Bake Off episode. I know this is a one-off bake (I normally only post recipes I’ve created two or three times to ensure they work), but because it is so similar to my normal pie that I’ve made dozens and dozens of times (the pastry is the same recipe, just the filling differs) I am confident the recipe will work for you.

I have tried to more-or-less stick to Tudor era spices, with a pinch of salt (see what I did there!?).

tudorpiebakedAs I don’t have to make this fully authentic I did want an edible, tasty pie, not one that was historic for historic accuracy’s sake. So I have used a lot of pepper, a bit of mace and some chillies. Chillies were brought back from the ‘Americas’ during the Tudor period. Incidentally, although Europeans didn’t really take them up at the time, it was during the early 1500s that the Portuguese took the plants to their colonies in Asia (such as Goa) and chillies entered the local cuisine there much, much earlier (for info: please read Lizzie Collingham’s Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors). They clearly were less suspicious of new ingredients and more adventurous than us Europeans of the time.

I am taking a large amount of liberty with the chillies. Although chillies may have been around, and may well have been presented and cooked for the European elite as a novelty in Tudor times, they would most definitely not have made their way onto ordinary dinner tables. So a turnip-picker or scullery maid as I would have been would not have even known they existed. That said, chillies were transported in this period, so I’m including them – this would be a fairly dull taste for modern palates otherwise. I’m no Dr Ruth Goodman (whose programmes I adore) so I’m happy to sacrifice full accuracy for something that’s tasty and edible.

Tips

Something I do for my pie fillings to ensure I have the spicing right is I fry off a teaspoon of the meat (or veggie) mix in a saucepan before I make the pie. This way you can adjust the salt, pepper or other spices to taste, rather than just rely on guess work.

Notes

If you have a wooden pie dolly (a smaller one – about 10cm in diameter) then please use that. However, I don’t have one and I use instead a medium sized glass pickle jar covered in greased cling film – you don’t have to spend on an expensive pie dolly if you don’t want to. If you do want the ‘proper’ kit as you think you may make more, this is the kind of wood pie dolly I’m referring to from the online Kitchen Cookshop (I will eventually get myself one when I feel flush, but I don’t believe it’s actually much better than my alternative glass jar technique, just pretty sitting on my shelf and always a joy to use a wooden utensil).

I haven’t included any jelly to add to the pie after cooling. There are several reasons for this: firstly, the sausagemeat will naturally give up some of it’s fates and liquids during baking to the pastry and there is a little jelly-like result at the end. Secondly, I like a good pie but I don’t much like the jelly (I always remove it when I’m eating one with jelly). Thirdly and finally, as this is a single pie recipe not one for a batch of pies it does not need to be stored for a long time (jelly was partially used as a preserver so that the meat inside the pie didn’t go off so quickly).

Equipment

  • Saucepan
  • Bowls – two large, one smaller
  • Sharp knife, possibly two small diameter circular cutters (but not totally necessary)
  • Wooden spoon
  • Rolling pin
  • Frying pan
  • Cup/small bowl
  • Medium-sized glass jar, such a a jar of pickled onions
  • Cling film

Ingredients – hot water crust

  • Plain flour – 400g
  • Lard – 125g
  • Butter, unsalted – 125g
  • Water – 150ml
  • Eggs, medium – 2
  • Salt – a large pinch
  • Black pepper, freshly crushed – several turns of a spice mill or about 1 teaspoon
  • A little extra lard or butter for greasing

Ingredients – filling

  • Wild boar sausages (if you can’t find these a top quality pork sausage, preferably from a proper butcher will do) – 400g/6 sausages
  • Small strong eating apple, such as a Cox, Egremont Russet or James Grieve
  • Pepper*
  • Salt*
  • Nutmeg* – freshly grated, about 1 1/4 teaspoons
  • Chillies* – a ‘plainer’ not too hot variety (to keep vaguely contemporary) such as Cayenne – about 3
  • Shallots – 1 banana shallot or two smaller round shallots
  • Fat for frying: a knob of butter and a dash of oil (to stop it charring)

*  all seasoning to taste: add in to the meat mixture and fry off a small amount to tastes. Adjust as necessary

Method – pastry

  • Put the flour and salt in a large bowl
  • Pour the water into a saucepan and add the lard and butter and set over a medium heat
  • While the water and fats are heating, crack one of the eggs into the flour
  • Crack the second egg into a cup or small bowl and whisk lightly with a fork – you are doing this because you need one and a half eggs in pastry and it’s easier to divide a whisked egg in half
  • Tip half of the whisked egg into the flour as well, and set aside the remaining half an egg, as you’ll use this for the pastry wash later
  • Mix the flour and egg together with a knife
  • When the fats have melted, tip the contents of the saucepan onto the flour mixture
  • Don’t use your hands straightaway as it will be hot – use your knife to start to bring the pastry together
  • Once you’ve got as far as you can with your knife, it’s probably OK now to use your hands
  • Bring together the pastry and pick up all stray bits of flour from the bowl with it
  • Put the pastry in the fridge or somewhere cool while you ready your filling

Method – filling

  1. Finely slice and dice the shallots
  2. Gently fry the shallots in the butter and oil over a low heat and let them simmer and go transparent
  3. While the shallots are frying, core your apple and halve it. Slice each half thinly and place the apple in a small bowl filled with water and a couple of drops of lemon juice or white wine vinegar, to stop the apple discolouring
  4. Take the sausagemeat out of its casings and place the meat in the large bowl. Discard the casings
  5. De-seed one chilli and chop very finely – taste the chilli: is it a hot one? If so, you’ll need fewer chillies for this recipe as it should only have a light heat (you may like things spicy but it’s a recipe that is mimicking the Tudor tastes). If it is fairly mild, then chop them all
  6. Add a large pinch of salt, pepper from at least six turns of your black pepper mill, the freshly ground nutmeg and the diced chillies
  7. Take the shallots off the heat and tip them onto the sausagemeat too
  8. Mix the lot together with your hands – this is gooey but it’s the best way
  9. Take a teaspoonful amount of sausagemeat and fry off until browned and cooked through. Taste and adjust the salt, pepper, chilli (though remember it shouldn’t be too hot) and nutmeg to your taste, mix again if you have added more
  10. Leave the sausagemeat to one side while you start to prepare the pie case

Method – construction

  1. Retrieve your pastry- it will have hardened as the fats cooled and solidified.
  2. You need to work it a little with your hands – kneading lightly a couple of times to bring it up in temperature and become just pliable enough
  3. Rip off about a third of the pastry and put to one side. This will be your lid and decoration
  4. Take your glass jar and encase it in a layer of cling film
  5. Grease or oil your palms and then rub over the cling-filmed jar to cover it all over but not heavily
  6. Roll the large lump into a disc and flatten the centre area a little – place the glass jar in the middle
  7. Using the whole length of your fingers (not just the finger tips – this will create little dents) start to press the pastry up the sides of the jar (see my illustration below)
  8. Keep going back to the base and press the pastry from it up the sides – the base shouldn’t be left as a thick lumphandraiseillustration
  9. You’re aiming for the pastry to be about 4mm thick all over
  10. Keep pressing and squeezing gently, moving the pastry up the jar
  11. Try to even the top edge out as much as you can, but don’t stress about it as you will trim it. What I mean by this is try to keep it level all the way round – you are effectively making a pastry bowl
  12. When you’ve got the pastry up the jar and it’s the right thickness, take a knife and trim the top edge using the shortest point as a guide
  13. Ease the jar out of the pastry – if it’s still sticky use a knife to tease the pastry away ever so slightly. You can reshape the pastry a little by hand after the jar is removed
  14. Take the sausagemeat and halve it. Shape the first half roughly to match the inside size of the pastry pie case – and gently drop it in (I’ve seen videos where they’ve thrown the filling in at speed. I can only imagine this will damage the bottom, distort the case and also run the risk of flattening the whole thing completely if you don’t get it dead centre)
  15. Take the apple slices out of the water and dry them in a clean tea towel
  16. Layer the apple on top of the sausagemeat in the pie case
  17. Shape the final amount of sausagemeat and put in on top of the apple slices
  18. Now roll out the pastry you put aside for the lid to 4mm thickness
  19. Roughly cut the lid into a circle the same size as the pie case
  20. Wet the edge of the pie case and place the lid on top
  21. Pinch together the edges so they seal and using the index finger from one hand and your thumb and index finger of the other, push the pastry ‘in and out’ to create a wave effect all around the top
  22. Put your oven on to 180C fan / 200C conventional
  23. With the extra you pastry you have left, you can cut out some decorations. Make some simple leaves, be elaborate and make a Bacchanalian scene with vines and grapes or attempt this relatively simple Tudor rose which only needs a small round cutter and a knife:
I’ve made this pastry Tudor rose on a tabletop so you can see its construction more easily – I suggest you actually make it one the pie lid, so you can size it better and place it centrally.
rose1 rose2
1. Cut out five pastry circles, using a cutter about 2cm wide. Curl over the outside edge of each ‘petal’ by pushing with your finger. If you don’t have a small cutter, take a small ball of dough and press flat with your fingers to create a leaf. 2. Cut five arrow-head shaped pieces of pastry for your leaves.
rose3a rose7
3. Wet your fingertip and just dampen the bottom of the leaves. Tuck each behind the petal shapes, behind the gaps. (It’s easier to place the leaves behind after the petals, even though they are the first layer) 4. Cut five more petals – this time a little smaller than before and arrange them on top of the petal layer (dampen them first so they stick). Again, place these leaves covering the gaps in between the petals)
makingpetal tudor8a
5. Cut five more circles, this time using a slightly smaller cutter (or press out five rounds of dough with your fingers as before). Trim off a little bit at an angle on both sides of each circle so you have a keystone-shape) 6. Dampen the back of the smaller petals and lay them in place – so they cover the gaps between the petals and in line with the previous larger petals.
rose9
 7. You’ve now got a nice Tudor rose
  1. Now you need to create a hole in the top. Using the small cutter (or if you don’t have one an apple corer is ideal) make a hole through the centre of the Tudor rose and the pie lid – down to the sausagemeat inside
  2. Retrieve the half an egg you put aside earlier and using a pastry brush wash the pie with the egg
  3. Place the pie gently on a baking tray (at this point you can wrap a folded-over layer of greaseproof paper and tie in place with butcher’s twine if you’re nervy – although if you’re doing this I’d recommend that you don’t egg wash the sides of the pie)
  4. Bake for 30 minutes at 180C fan / 200C conventional, then turn own the oven to 160C fan / 180C conventional for a further 20 – 25 minutes
  5. The pastry will be crisp and darkly golden when done
  6. Serve warm or leave until chilled
  7. Should last a couple of days covered in the fridge
Spanish style leftover flan

Spanish-style leftovers flan

Follow my blog with Bloglovin
Spanish style leftover flan

This is a cross between a quiche and a Spanish omelette (tortilla) and uses up leftover salad potatoes, ham and cheeses.

This is a regular feature for our Saturday lunch: it’s quick and simple to knock up the pastry and sometimes I may even have a pastry case pre-made and stashed in the freezer. You do need the cheese and the potatoes, but the ham can be replaced by a number of leftover pre-cooked meats such as chicken, bacon, sausages or the last remnants of some salmon or tinned tuna. Alternatively it can be made totally vegetarian by replacing the meat with what you have left in the fridge: mushrooms, green beans, peas etc.

It’s a very frugal and tasty way to use up leftovers. It’s so adaptable that if you don’t have the pastry (or want to cut a few calories) it can be made as an omelette and finished off under a grill.

I would normally pimp up the pastry a little, such as using part polenta or spelt flour but because the theme of this recipe is frugality I’ve kept it as vanilla as possible – so that’s 100% plain flour.

Equipment
  • Bowl
  • Rolling bin
  • Flan tin, greased and lined
  • Baking beans or dried pulses
  • Frying pan
  • Baking sheet
  • Pastry brush
Ingredients – pastry
  • Plain flour – 250g
  • Unsalted butter – cubed and at room-temperature butter – 125g
  • Egg, beaten  –  1
  • Salt – a pinch
  • Paprika or cayenne pepper – a teaspoon
  • Water to bind the dough – about 1 tsp or so
Ingredients – filling
  • Cold, pre-cooked salad potatoes thinly sliced –  5 or 6 medium sized salad potatoes
  • Eggs – 5
  • Grated cheese – 100g. Use up any remnants of cheese – for the flan in the image I used 70g Cheddar and 30g gruyere
  • Double cream – 50ml
  • Ham, chopped – 200g (or replace with other leftover cooked meats or make vegetarian with mushrooms, green beans, peas)
  • Shallot – 1 large
  • Garlic clove – 1 or 2
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Cayenne pepper – 2 teaspoons
  • Black onion seeds – 1 teaspoon (does add an extra flavour element, but if you don’t have these in your cupboard either use 1 teaspoon onion granules or omit)
  • Red peppers – a handful of diced red pepper, de-seeded and with the pit removed. This is roughly 40g
  • Olive or rapeseed oil for frying
Method – pastry shell
  1. Heat your oven to 180C (fan) or about 200C conventional
  2. Put the baking tray in the oven
  3. Rub the butter into the flour
  4. Mix in 3/4 of the egg and the salt, pepper and paprika (leave the rest of the egg to one side for later)
  5. Add in the water a little at a time to help you bring the dough together – don’t over add the water
  6. Squash the dough down into a disk shape and chill in the fridge for 10 mins
  7. Grease and flour the flan tin
  8. Fetch the dough out of the fridge and place onto a floured surface or a sheet of baking parchment
  9. Add a little more flour on top to stop the rolling pin sticking or roll out under some cling film
  10. Roll out to about 3mm thick
  11. Line the flan tin with the rolled out pastry, lifting the edges up to ease the pastry into all the crevasses press down so that the pastry fits the shape of the tin.
  12. You can neaten the edge of the flan now (or after it’s been baked if you prefer to ensure that the pastry does not shrink) with a knife or by rolling the rolling pin over the top of the flan tin edge (any of these will cut off the pastry at the level of the flan tin)
  13. Prick the base all over with a fork and scrunch up enough baking parchment to cover the whole tin. Un-scrunch this and lay it out onto the pastry (scrunching helps it fit to the shape of the tin more easily). Fill with the baking beans or dried pulses
  14. Put the prepared pastry case in the oven, on top of the now-hot baking tray (this will help crisp up the bottom)
  15. Cook for about 15 mins
  16. Remove the beans/pulses and parchment
  17. Brush the rest of the beaten egg over the base of the flan
  18. Return to the oven for five minutes to ensure the base is crisp
  19. Remove from the oven.  If you didn’t trim the flan case before it went into the oven, now is the time to do this with a sharp knife
  20. Set aside to cool while you prepare the filling
Method – filling
  1. Leave the oven on the same temperature from pre-baking the flan case
  2. Finely chop the onion and garlic and fry in a little oil over a medium heat until they are translucent. Set to one side
  3. In a bowl whisk the eggs, cream, salt, pepper and cayenne lightly together with a fork
  4. Chop or shred the ham finely and add to the egg mixture
  5. Grate the cheeses and add to the egg mixture as well, reserving a little to sprinkle on top
  6. Add the black onion seeds, the potatoes and the fried shallots and garlic and mix well
  7. Pour the filling mixture into the pre-baked flan case
  8. Sprinkle over the remaining cheese and chop up the red peppers and sprinkle those on top too
  9. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, until the cheese is nicely browned and the flan is set
  10. Can be eaten warm, but can be left to cool and served cold
opnion and shallot bhajis

Spring onion and shallot bhajis

opnion and shallot bhajisWe eat curries a lot – usually at least once a week and my children have loved curries from quite small. My husband is great at cooking these from scratch and my contribution is usually a couple of side dishes, one of which is always these bhajis. The base recipe came from a friend (her family recipe) and I’ve just, over time, come to use my own ratio of spices and switch it from a simple onion recipe to incorporating spring onions and shallots.

Notes

Makes about 10-12 bhajis

Equipment
  • Smallish, high sided saucepan for deep fat frying or a deep fat fryer
  • Bowl
Ingredients
  • Gram flour – 80g
  • Rice flour – 40g
  • Spring onions – about 6
  • Shallots – about 6
  • Lemon juice – 1 dessert spoon
  • Melted butter (or ghee if you have this) – 25g
  • Bicarbonate of soda – 1 teaspoon
  • Garam masala – 2 teaspoons
  • Cumin seeds – 1 teaspoon
  • Fresh chopped chilli or chilli flakes – 1 teaspoon
  • Turmeric – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Garlic – 1 clove, crushed
  • Salt – 1/2 teaspoon
  • optional: fresh coriander finely chopped – about a tablespoon-full’s worth
  • Water – enough to bind
  • Rapeseed oil (or your choice of oil) for deep-fat frying
Method
  1. Cut the spring onions and shallots into very fine slices, then cut these into about 1 – 2 cm shards
  2. Put both flours, the bicarb and the spices and salt into a large bowl
  3. Mix the onions and shallots into the dry mix and ensure it is covered
  4. Add the lemon juice, the butter (or ghee)  and one or two tablespoons of water to bring it together – it will be quite a sticky batter but you do not want it at all runny
  5. Leave it to rest while you warm up the oil over a medium heat
  6. Test the temperature of the oil by dropping in a tiny bit of the mix. It should start to go brown within about 20 – 30 seconds
  7. Take a dessert spoon size blob of the mix and gently and carefully drop it into the oil – repeat with a couple more (leave enough space in the oil for the bhajis to move about a bit)
  8. Turn the bhajis while they cook to ensure they are browned all over
  9. Cook for about three minutes each, and take them out when they are a nice medium brown all over
  10. You will need to fry these in batches to do them all
  11. Dry them on kitchen paper to catch the excess oil
Courgette and bacon flan

Courgette, cheese and bacon quiche with hyssop pastry

Courgette, cheese and bacon tart

Not much of an intro here, this is a good old classic savoury bake, given a little twist with the sweet aniseed-y flavour of hyssop taken straight from the garden.

Equipment
  • Bowl
  • Rolling bin
  • Flan tin, greased and lined
  • Baking beans or dried pulses
  • Frying pan
  • Baking sheet
Ingredients – pastry
  • Plain flour – 200g
  • Polenta -50g (or if you can’t source this, omit it and just use 250g plain flour)
  • Unsalted butter – cubed and at room-temperature butter – 125g
  • Egg yolk, 1
  • Salt – a pinch
  • Paprika- half a teaspoon
  • Hyssop – about two 4 to 5 cm sprigs, finely chopped. If you don’t have access to hyssop then add about 1 teaspoon of fennel seeds
  • Water to bind the dough – about 1 tsp or so
Ingredients – filling
  • Eggs – 4 medium (or 3 large)
  • Grated cheese (your choice but I use cheddar) – a large handful
  • Double cream – 300ml
  • Smoked streaky bacon or pancetta (or really any bacon will do at a pinch) – about 6 rashers
  • Baby courgettes – 3 (or 1 large courgette)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
Method – pastry shell
  1. Heat your oven to 160C (fan) or about 180C conventional
  2. Put the baking tray in the oven
  3. Rub the butter into the flour
  4. Mix the rest of the ingredients in except for the water
  5. Add in the water a little at a time to help you bring the dough together – don’t over add the water
  6. Squash the dough down into a disk shape and chill in the fridge for 10 mins
  7. Grease and flour the flan tin
  8. Fetch the dough out of the fridge and place onto a floured surface or a sheet of baking parchment
  9. Add a little more flour on top to stop the rolling pin sticking or roll out under some cling film
  10. Roll out to about 3mm thick
  11. Line the flan tin with the rolled out pastry, lifting the edges up to ease the pastry into all the crevasses press down so that the pastry fits the shape of the tin.
  12. You can neaten the edge of the flan now (or after it’s been baked if you prefer to ensure that the pastry does not shrink) with a knife or by rolling the rolling pin over the top of the flan tin edge (any of these will cut off the pastry at the level of the flan tin)
  13. Prick the base all over with a fork and scrunch up enough baking parchment to cover the whole tin. Un-scrunch this and lay it out onto the pastry (scrunching helps it fit to the shape of the tin more easily). Fill with the baking beans or dried pulses
  14. Put the prepared pastry case in the oven, on top of the now-hot baking tray (this will help crisp up the bottom)
  15. Cook for about 14/15 mins
  16. Remove the beans/pulses and parchment and return to the oven for another couple of minutes to ensure the base is crisp
  17. Remove from the oven.  If you didn’t trim the flan case before it went into the oven now’s the time to do this with a sharp knife
  18. Set aside to cool while you prepare the filling
Method – filling
  1. Slice up the bacon/pancetta into thin strips and fry until just crispy. Let cool on kitchen roll to soak up any excess fat
  2. In a mixing bowl whisk together the eggs, cream, salt and pepper until just combined
  3. Pour this mix into the cooled flan tin and sprinkle over the cheese and fried bacon/pancetta – mix slightly to that the cheese and bacon/pancetta are evenly distributed through the flan
  4. Remove the top of the courgettes and slice the baby courgettes in two lengthways (if using larger courgettes slice lengthways then cut down each of these slices lengthways and then cut all in half – so you have eight batons)
  5. Pop the flan carefully onto a rack in the over, with it extended so you can add the courgettes
  6. Lay the courgette slices down carefully on to the top of the flan mix, being careful to try to not dunk them underneath the mix
  7. Bake for about 20 – 25 mins until slightly browned and gorgeous
Spiced beef and cheddar pasties

Spiced beef and cheddar pasties

These are roughly based on a traditional Cornish recipe – which I adore, but I’ve spiced them up a bit and added chunks of melty cheddar. So they’re definitely not Cornish anymore, but they are nice!

Beef, veg and cheddar pasties

Makes about 5 – 6

Equipment

Baking tray
Large saucepan
Saute pan
Grater or microplane
pastry brush
Rolling pin
Round plate or lid about 18 – 20 cm in diameter to use as a template
Large baking tray

Ingredients – for the pastry

  • 500g strong white flour
  • 120g unsalted butter – put a pat of butter into the freezer to harden before grating
  • 120g lard cubed (if you don’t want to use lard use 240g of butter instead but it’s definitely not the same rugged and savoury consistency) – put this into the freezer to harden before grating
  • Large pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • Enough cold water to bring it together (about 4 tablespoons)
  • 1 egg (for wash only)

Ingredients for the filling

  • 1 medium white onion (or about 4 shallots)
  • About 80g of swede
  • 1 medium slightly waxy potato – don’t use a floury potato or it will go to mush
  • Large handful of grated cheddar – about 65g
  • Large pinch of salt
  • Large grinding of pepper
  • 1 heaped teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 level teaspoon mustard powder
  • About 300g of skirt beef (this is definitely the best cut for pasties as it has just the right consistency and flavour, if you can’t get it chuck steak is the next best thing)
  • Oil for frying – any veggie oil will do

Method – pastry

Make the pastry first so you can let it chill and rest while you construct the filling.

  1. Weigh out the flour add the salt and paprika
  2. Grate the hard butter and lard into it. Grating keeps the fat in small strands, making the rubbing-in method quicker and easier (alternatively you can just cut the fat into cubes). Keep tossing the grated fat in the flour as you go so it coats each strand of fat (otherwise you’ll just push it all together when you start rubbing in and it’ll negate the head start that grating gave you)
  3. Rub in the fat and flour until you get fine breadcrumbs, or alternatively pop it in a food processing and blitz for a couple of seconds
  4. Add the water one tablespoon at a time and knead the dough together until it is a typical heavy dough consistency – that is, it just comes together without crumbling and takes a bit of a push to shape it
  5. Flatten it into a disc, cover it in cling film or put in a plastic food bag and stick it in the fridge for up to a couple of hours, or if you’re short of time pop it in the freezer while you make the filling

Method – filling

  1. Pop a pan of salted water on to simmer
  2. Shred the beef skirt into very fine pieces, so that it will cook inside the pasty
  3. Chop up all the veg into small dice (3 or 4 mm cubes) – keep the onion separate
  4. Put all the diced veg into the saucepan (don’t include the onion) and simmer for a few minutes until they are just about to go tender (don’t let them get soft)
  5. Saute the onion over a medium-low heat for 5 minutes until glassy, then briefly add the beef and fry for a minute or two at the most. You just want some of it to start to change colour.
  6. Set the onion and beef aside to cool
  7. Drain the veg and put into a large bowl. Add the beef and onion
  8. Mix in the salt, pepper, cayenne and mustard powder into the veg and beef
  9. Leave to cool (until at most lukewarm) before using to fill the pasty

Method – constructing

  1. Put the oven on to about 220C conventional or 200C fan
  2. Retrieve the dough and roll out to about 2 – 3 mm thickness on a lightly floured surface (this is a bit thinner than traditional, but I like less pastry and you’re probably not going to transport this one down a tin mine so it doesn’t need to be so rugged)
  3. Cut out discs from the pastry using your plate/lid/etc as a template
  4. Whisk up the egg and brush some round the edges of each disc
  5. Divide the mix up equally between the pastry discs, spooning it into the middle of each disc and leaving about 1.5 cm space round the edge (where you brushed the egg wash). You may have a little left over (you can freeze this for your next batch or to add to either cottage pie, bolognese or chilli etc)
  6. Sprinkle the grated cheddar over the filling
  7. Fold over each pasty in half, sealing the edges. You now need to crimp the edge
  8. Crimp by starting at one corner. Pick up a corner in your index finger and thumb and place a finger from your other hand just the other side of this (not at the edge of the pasty, towards the centre). Folder the corner over your finger, remove your finger and tamp down. Now repeat by picking up the ‘new’ corner created by the first crimp. Work your way round the pasty. There are plenty of YouTube videos on how to do this – and it’s easier than it sounds – just Google ‘how to crimp a Cornish pasty’
  9. Once you’ve done all the pasties brush them all with the egg wash. Make sure there are no holes in the pastry – the idea of a pasty is that the filling steams while it cooks so it needs to be sealed
  10. Place on the baking tray and cook in the centre of the oven for about 30 mins. Retrieve when they are a golden brown
  11. Best eaten while still warm (careful – the centre is boiling hot straight out of the oven) but can be eaten cold