Thursday, April 19, 2007

English Food is Not a Joke (Vegetarian Cornish Pasties)

English food is not a joke because well, frankly, it's my food heritage and I'm proud of it. English food prepared by a thoughtful, caring cook is delicious!

I was very fortunate to have a grandmother and a grandfather who were both excellent and thoughtful cooks. They cooked with fresh, seasonal, and local ingredients (often from their garden), had good relationships with the butcher, baker, and green grocer, and just plain really cared about feeding their family and friends well.

My grandmother gave me my love of vegetables. She never overcooked them and she made perfect roast potatoes. She always invited me to participate in the preparation - shelling peas was a favorite - and the clean up (I could choose to wash or dry). She was experienced enough to be able to make desserts on they fly from whatever she had.

My grandfather was more of an afternoon tea and supper specialist. Freshly baked goods, slices of fresh cut bread and butter, sausage rolls. Nothing fancy, but always thoughtfully done. You know, generous.

Sure, I've suffered through ghastly school lunches and bad food in England. But they were bad, not because English food is inherently bad, but rather due to a lack of care and respect for the end product and the diner.

Anyway, this proud post is my contribution to Becks & Posh St George's Day Fish & Quips event. I have now created a recipe menu item on my sidebar called English Food to highlight some favorite English recipes already blogged. Thanks to Sam for hosting this excellent event.

Today, I give you Vegetarian Cornish Pasties. When I took an early cooking class in traditional English fare (I was about 7), I recall one of the first recipes we made were Cornish Pasties. This vegetarian version came out superbly. You can change the vegetables to whatever is in season. Happily, I found English peas at the Farmers Market yesterday. These are best served with gravy. Enjoy.

Vegetarian Cornish Pasties

Shortcrust pastry:

2-1/2 cups flour
4 oz butter, cut into small cubes
pinch of salt
cold water

2 oz butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 rutabaga/swede, peeled and diced small
1 large potato, peeled and diced small
1 large carrot, finely sliced
1/2 tsp marmite
1/4 cup hot water
pinch of herbes du Provence
fresh thyme, finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh English peas
4 oz MorningStar Meal Starters Grillers Recipe Crumbles (frozen) or veg. ground beef substitute
1 shake of soy sauce
salt & pepper
beaten egg

Put the flour in a large bowl, add the salt, and rub the butter in with your finger tips until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs. Add water in tablespoons and mix with your hands or a folk until dough starts to come together. Use enough water to produce a pliable dough. Form a flat disk shape, wrap in plastic, and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Melt the butter in a skillet. Add the onions and rutabaga and cook for 5 minutes. Add the potato and cook an additional 5 minutes. Add the carrots and cook for a few minutes. Dissolve the marmite in the hot water and add to the vegetables. Add the herbs and cover, cooking for 8-10 minutes until the vegetables are almost done. Add the pea and cook 2 minutes. Add the vegetarian mince and soy sauce. Season.

Preheat the oven to 400.

Roll out the pastry and use a 6" plate to cut out 6 circles of dough (you'll have some left over). Put 2-3 spoonfuls of filling into the center of each dough circle and crimp together the dough using a little water.

Place on a baking sheet and brush with beaten egg.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until nicely browned.


Blogger Bron said...

These look grand Catherine! I love me a good pastie!!

9:26 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I found an interesting website about restaurants I thought I could share - if you live in South East part of London you are gonna find this VERY useful. If you live in Manchester you can still find it A BIT useful. Its got over 1000 restaurants and takeaways infos complete with photos and menus and results can be compiled according to distance, price and cuisines... its easy to compare dishes and prices etc.

9:33 PM  
Blogger Dianne said...

Beautifull Catherine! Cornish pasties truly evoke the feelong of the sunshine and beaches of the SouthWest for me!


12:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those pasties do look delicious, have just visited Christine Cooks and her version of your soup that looks good too.

9:38 AM  
Blogger Alanna Kellogg said...


9:42 AM  
Blogger A Few Reservations said...

Those look devine!

12:27 PM  
Blogger MeloMeals said...

Your pasties look beautiful!

I have pretty bad knife skills.. I really should take a class... especially now that I am chopping SOOO much..

1:03 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

Hi Catherine.

I think I would really like a vegetarian Cornish Pasty. It was lovely to read about your English heritage.

Hope we'll be able to hook up one of these days, go to Lovejoys or something.

Thanks for taking part in Fish & Quips


4:02 PM  
Blogger Catherine said...

Hi Sam,

Thanks so much for hosting this. Lovejoys would be wonderful. I just bought a very expensive jar of English Clotted Cream for scones.

7:11 PM  
Blogger Linda said...

sure isn't a joke. it's damn good, and these look fantastic!!!

8:08 AM  
Blogger Christine said...

Love these pasties Catherine. Having had them in England, made with lard, I'm sure, these would be refreshingly healthy but with the flavors that I remember.

10:01 AM  
Blogger Dori said...

These look wonderful and I want t o make them soon. However, when I read the recipe ingredients I see:

1/c cup hot water

I think this may mean 1/8 cup water or 2 tbsp.

4:10 PM  
Blogger Catherine said...

Hi Dori,

Thanks for catching that, it was actually 1/4 cup. I've fixed the recipe.

4:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, thank you so much for posting this recipe! I've made these and they taste great!

Are your swedes (rutabaga) in the US really small though? I'm in the UK, and half a swede was easily enough.


1:56 PM  
Blogger Catherine said...

Good point. Swedes/rutabaga can we small or enormous! I usually go for small as I've found they're more tender. I really should use a measure for my recipes.

2:22 PM  
Anonymous S.Parran in Amherst, NH said...

These will be exciting to make. I'm a new vegetarian and miss the cornish pasties my mom used to make.

11:48 AM  
Blogger TissyBell said...

I visited England for a month quite a few years ago, and quickly became fond of pasties. Every place I went to had a vegetarian version. I only noticed potatoes and peas in them, but I believe I tasted turnip too. Thank you for this recipe, since who knows when I will hop the pond again!

2:40 AM  
Blogger Crraziegirl said...

These taste amazing!
Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. My Mum used to make meat pasties like these all the time, but when I was around 9 years old I became a vegetarian and so I haven't had anything like this in a VERY long time.
My husband and kids loved them too, so I have made a second batch straight away so I can bring them to a family gathering this weekend. My sister-in-law who is also veggie will be very impressed :-D

Very tasty and you don't taste the Marmite,...bonus! The timing on the instructions is spot on...all in all YUM!

Thanks again for sharing :-D

12:18 PM  
Anonymous Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Catherine, I just came upon this 4 1/2-year-old post. Don't know why I haven't seen it before. Anyway ... I had to read it with a title like that! I'm not currently vegetarian, suppose you'd call me a flexitarian - vegetarian most days, lightly carnivorous on others. I make pasties and other English things a lot because that is my heritage on my mother's side (Southern on my father's). Always glad to see a defense of English cookery, though surely that nonsense about English food being bad is dying out.

6:59 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

While I was sleuthing about your blog because I want mine to look as wonderful, I came across your pasties recipe and I cannot wait to try them. They look gorgeous and as a lover of Eng lit. I have read about pasties in so many novels and been dying to see what they taste like. I do have a question. What is "Marmite"? Thanks.

1:23 PM  
Blogger Catherine said...

Hi Joan,

I hope you try the pasties recipe! Marmite is an English product - it's a brown, sticky, salty spread made from yeast extract. A favorite use is to spread a small amount on buttery toast. Vegemite is the Australian version. Here's a link so you know what to look for It adds a "meaty" depth of flavor. If you can't find it, you could also use a little olive tapenade (or pureed olives) to the same effect.

12:35 PM  

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