Passing on a family tradition: the family pasty recipe


Mom, the original pasty maker, with her first-born son.

Here’s my mother-in-law’s recipe for Cornish pasties, with my modifications. It works best to make pasties with a team: one person rolling out the dough, the other person filling the pasties.

 

 

Crust:

2 cups all-purpose  flour

1 teaspoon salt

a pinch (about 1/8 teaspoon) baking powder

2/3 cup vegetable shortening (Crisco or similar)

1/2 to 2/3 cup cold water

Place dry ingredients into the bowl of a food processor with the standard chopping blade. Add shortening. Pulse food processor until shortening is mixed in, to the consistency of thick cornmeal. Do not over mix! Pour cold water through the chute while pulsing processor, until dough begins to form a ball. Remove dough, divide into two balls, wrap in wax paper and set aside.

Meat filling:

sirloin steak or round steak, about 1  1/2 to 2 #, cut into 1-2 inch cubes  (I use sirloin)

1 small onion, cubed

5-8 red-skin potatoes, washed or peeled,  and cubed

6-10 large carrots, scraped and cubed

1-2 sticks of regular margarine or butter

salt and pepper

In bowl of food processor with standard chopping blade, pulse the meat and onion until finely chopped. Set aside in large mixing bowl. Repeat with most of the carrots,  and most of the potatoes, adding to the meat mixture. Stir the meat mixture with a large spoon. Add more carrots or potatoes until the mixture looks like a good balance of meat to potatoes and carrots. 

On counter or table, set up the following  work areas:

Dough area: pastry cloth with rolling pin and rolling pin cover;  flour,  pie dough balls, sharp knife

 Filling area: wax paper or cutting board; fork, knife, margarine, salt and pepper, and small spatula

Two-three large cookie sheets covered with parchment paper

My first-born son at work in the dough prep area.

With sharp knife, cut each pie crust ball into 6-8 pieces, depending on how big you want the pasties to be. Roll out each piece into a circle; fold in half and pass to the  filling area. Do not knead or over-handle dough, or it will become tough and dry.

At filling area, unfold dough. Fill one side of the dough with the meat filling; cut one pat of margarine and place on top of filling; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Fold dough over to form a half-moon shaped pie. Fold up crust edge against the pasty.  (You can trim excess dough with a pizza cutter if there is too much, but I don’t). Poke 6 times with fork; use spatula to transfer to cookie sheet.

Pasty dough with filling.

Bake pasties at 350 degrees farenheit, for about 60 minutes. Crust should be lightly browned. Makes 12-15 pasties. Enjoy!

The finished product. Yum!

© Huffygirl 2011

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Passing on a family tradition: Making pasties


Okay, first, it’s pah-stee, not pAy-stee. I’m talking about food. Pasties, or Cornish pasties, are self-contained meat pies. Legend has it that the pasty was brought to this country by immigrants from Cornwall, England, who came here to work  in the mining industry, in the upper peninsula of Michigan and upper Minnesota. The miner’s wives made this tasty delicacy with a mix of meat, potatoes, onions, and rutabaga, wrapped in pie crust. The miners would tuck a towel-wrapped pasty into their pockets and take them to work, where they would stay delightfully warm until lunch time. Right.

I can’t speak for Minnesotans, but anyone raised in Michigan, or anyone who has traveled to the upper peninsula, should know what a pasty is. Michiganders know that the best pasties are found the farther north you go of the Mackinac bridge. In fact we all heard the expression growing up “you can’t get good pasties this side of the bridge.” Today you CAN buy pasties south of the bridge, usually at local diner-type restaurants, but I contend the best ones are still north of the bridge (Houghton maybe) although we have found good pasties in St. Ignace, just across the bridge, at a mom and pop store that sells pasties, fudge, magazines and bait.

My husband’s family got their pasty traditions from the family roots in Duluth, Minnesota. Shortly before we were married, my future mother-in-law schooled my husband and me in the art of making pasties, thinking she couldn’t let her first-born son starve to death with a wife who didn’t know how to make a pasty. There was no recipe – just Mom’s tutelage in making and rolling out the dough, spending what seemed like hours dicing up meat, potatoes and carrots (no rutabaga in this family’s pasties), filling the crust, trimming and baking.

Since that day many years ago I’ve added my own refinements – I no longer trim the dough into a neat half-circle as my mother-in-law did – it just wastes dough and time and adds nothing to the finished product. I now use one pat of margarine instead of two (cholesterol conscious I guess) and cut the prep time at least by half by chopping all the ingredients and making the dough in the food processor. Things aren’t diced as evenly and prettily, but hey, I’ve got better things to do than standing in the kitchen dicing half the day. And it still tastes great.

Recently, best husband and I passed on the tradition by teaching our first-born son how to make pasties. Besides explaining the basics, we passed on all the little tips that we’ve gleaned from making pasties over the years. I feel better knowing that someday when I die, I will have at least passed on the secret nuances of pasty-making that one will never learn  from reading  a recipe, hopefully to be passed on again and again, so the family pasty tradition will remain alive.

Recipe to follow.

Two generations of pasty makers: husband and first-born son.

© Huffygirl 2011

A non-recipe recipe for non-recipe cooks: Slow-bake beef and vegetables


Because of food allergies, recipes at my house are pretty simple. A lot of cooking I learned from my mom, who had few recipes but made simple, traditional meals, adding ingredients “until they look right.” I recently came up with this no-fail recipe for beef and vegetables that is easy and can be adapted to one’s tastes. Why no fail? Amounts don’t have to be measured – just

Place meat in the bottom of the pan, cover with vegetables. (Photo: Huffygirl)

estimate and throw in what looks right. You can bake it at a lower temp and longer if you need to be away for the afternoon, or higher and quicker if you’re short on time.

Ingredients:

1-2.5 pounds of beef, either sirloin, round steak, chuck or shoulder roast, depending on the size of the group you wish to feed and the time you have available. Sirloin is the quickest cooking time

Frozen, cut green beans about 1 cup

Baby carrots, about 1 to 1  1/2 cups

Celery, about 2-3 stalks, cut into 2-inch pieces

4-6 unpeeled red skin potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes

2-3 cups water (may use part beef broth and/or wine if desired)

2-4 small onions, whole

spices to taste preference : I used 1/2 tsp salt and freshly ground pepper, and

Sprinkle seasonings on top. (Photo: Huffygirl)

a sprinkling of oregano and thyme, about 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon each. Other spices you might like are rosemary, tarragon, garlic, or a splash of dijon mustard.

Secret sauce ingredient – Williams Sonoma Beef Demi-glace, about 2-3 teaspoons

Corn starch for thickening – 1-3 tablespoons depending on amount of liquid

Place the meat in the bottom of a large roasting pan. Cover with the vegetables, potatoes and onions.

Sprinkle seasonings. Pour in 2-3 cups liquid – enough to moisten everything, but does not have to be covered.

The secret ingredient (Photo: Huffygirl)

Add the secret sauce ingredient to the water. Place pan uncovered in oven; bake at 300-325 degrees for half an hour; cover with lid and bake an additional 2-3 hours, depending on the size of the beef, until everything is done. If you want the sauce thickened into gravy, add 1-3 tablespoons of cornstarch dissolved in 1/4 cup of cold water about 30 minutes before serving. Serves 3-6 people, depending on the amount of meat used.

Add bread and ready to eat! (Photo: Huffygirl)

Variations: For a southwest flare, add 1/2  to 1 cup of salsa. May use sweet potatoes in addition to or instead of white potatoes. May add any kind of vegetable that you like that will tolerate long, slow baking. May vary oven temperature depending upon how much cooking time you have available. If you need to be gone for the afternoon and leave it in the oven unattended, may go as low as 275 to 300 degrees. Or put it in a crock pot for the entire day on low.

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