Sunday, March 20, 2011

An Accidental Holiday

We have been having a somewhat accidental home holiday since Thursday here in our little corner of Dublin.  The sun has been shining and the temperatures a balmy 15 degrees - can you believe it?  I mean its only March ... in fact I am not going dwell on it at the risk of jinxing it completely as I am likely to awake to a downpour and grey skies in the morning - it works a bit like that around here.

We have been at the monastic site in Glendalough, Casletown House in Co. Kildare and the ever beautifully blooming Mount Usher Gardens in Ashford, Co Wicklow - every bit of it in sunshine with nooks, crannies and climbing opportunities for the boys as we all lapped in the fresh air and sunshine like we had just emerged from a long winter of hibernation.


We have spent long hours in the garden also, watching the little shoots appear, the acacia, so radiant it is attracting attention from the neighbours and I have been cooking simple garden lunches for nearby allotment workers - spicy Cornish pasties, apple cake and custard, fresh goats cheese with bread and wine ... I am planning a full long table for al fresco dining, low hanging lights and a very necessary contained fire for warmth.  Let the summer begin.



This lunch will be made again and again - these little pastries make the absolute perfect finger food for picking up in your hand without the pomp and circumstance of cutlery - they taste much better just warm, so perfect for eating outdoors removing, for you as a host, the worry of keeping your guests food hot.

They were made from delicious organic ground beef from Coolanowle farm which I bought as the SuperNatural Food Market in St. Andrews Resource Centre on Satirdays from 9.30am until 3.30am.   I also highly recommend their beef brugers and diced beef.  If you are lucky you will also get a taste of their organic pork sausages.


This recipe is adapted from a Rachel Allen recipe which I found some time ago.  Note that I left out the curry powder from some of the filling for the children's pasties and they loved them - they would be great for a picnic or lunch boxes.
For the hot water crust pastry:

75g butter, cubed
100ml water
225g plain flour (I use Doves Farm - it feels amazing to work with and now can use nothing else!)
a pinch of sea salt
1 egg, beaten

Melt the butter and water in a saucepan and allow it to come to the boil.
Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl and make a well in the middle, pouring in the egg.

Tip the hot buttery water on top of the flour, salt and egg and mix well with a wooden spoon.
Spread the mixture onto a large plate, smearing it all over - this will cool the mix down which takes about 15 minutes.
Gather it into a ball and wrap with cling film and place in the fridge for 30 minutes until it is firm.

Meanwhile make the filling for the pasties.

The Filling:

2 tblsps olive oil
2 large onions, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
2 tblsps grated ginger

400g ground beef (from Coolanowle farm)

2 tsps ground coriander
2 tsps ground cumin
2 tsps hot curry powder (or more to taste)
2 tblsps tomato puree
2 tsps English Mustard
2 tblsps Worcestershire sauce
100g frozen peas
1 egg, beaten

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C.

Warm the olive oil in a medium sized saucepan and add the onion, garlic and ginger and cook until the onions are soft and lightly golden.
Add the minced beef to the pan along with the spices, the tomato puree, Worcestershire Sauce and English Mustard and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure that the beef is cooked through.

Add the peas towards the end, season to taste and set aside to cool.

Roll out the dough until it is about 2 mm thick on a lightly floured work surface and using a small round saucer cut rounds out of the pastry.  I did this in two batches, simply cutting the dough in two and rolling out one half first.
Take the cooled mixture and place about 2 tblsps of mix onto the right hand half of the circle.  Brush the edge of the left hand half with egg and gently fold over the mixture pressing out any air and sealing it firmly on the right-hand half.  I folded the edge back in on itself and pinched it tight shut to prevent it leaking.

Place it delicately onto a lightly floured baking sheet.

Repeat until you get the hang of it - it is not difficult and you can experiment a bit with size as you become more comfortable with the making process.

Brush the exposed surface of each with the beaten egg and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the surface has puffed up and is golden brown.

Enjoy warm or cold with a crunchy salad and perhaps a cucumber and mint raita.



I am entering this great recipe into the Bord Bia Plate to Page competition through our wonderful Irish Food Bloggers Association - the prize being a place at a blog workshop in Germany to learn about writing and food photography, so fingers crossed xxxxx.


This could be followed by a springy cinnamon sponge laden with apple chunks and custard ... a warming end when the chill of the evening sets in.


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