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May 26, 2010 09:23 AM

Seduction by cornish pasty

So the nice vegetarian girl I made a picnic for a while back ( dumped me a few days ago, but I am attempting to woo her back. She is a big fan of cornish pasties, which I have eaten or made. The last time we spoke she mentioned that she tried to make some but they were a disaster. I am humoring the idea of demonstrating value through a well-executed cornish pasty, but I'm not sure what to look for in a recipe. Does anyone have any tips or favorites?

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  1. I haven't made these in years, but I was just thinking about them last week, during the Springy Stew discussion.

    When I wanted to first make pasties, I used pre-made pie dough (those are typically a little tougher than they should be, and so hold up well in a pastie. I did this so that I could concentrate on playing with the fillings and cooking times. But if you are going to try to impress someone with this dish, you probably need to concentrate on your dough. If your dough is nothing to write home about, then the fillings won't even matter.

    All of my recipes for pasties have meat in them, so that won't help you. Cornish pasties are an old dish, so I wanted to get as down and dirty as I could with it. My recipe was from a book someone had given me, Like Grandma Used To Make. I'm sure there are better recipes out there. If I were you, I would check to see if Ina Garten has a recipe. She seems like a Cornish pastie kind of girl to me. Mark Bittman is also a good choice for any cooking 101.

    It would also help if you knew her likes and dislikes (the nice vegetarian, not Ina Garten). Does she like eggplant? Tofu? Meat substitutes? Portabellos? Because you need something with body in that thing, and without meat, you're heading further into a territory that relies heavily on someone's likes and dislikes.

    Cornish pasties are a fairly simple dish, though. You just need a good dough, a filling that will make *her* drool, and a light hand with any liquids you are using in the filling. Ideally, one should be able to eat this with their hands, so keep that in mind as you fill and close them. Good luck!

    3 Replies
    1. re: onceadaylily

      I agree good dough is key. I have been making my old family recipe for some time now and they are great for lunch.

      Layer the ingredients below on a precut 6-9" disc rolled about 3/8" thick of mealy pastry dough
      - Traditionally called Skirt Steak but stewing beef works well cut in to 3/8" bits
      - Rutabaga and Potato sliced in to 1/2" square and 1/8" thick
      - Chopped onions
      Seasoned with Salt and Pepper to taste.

      Fold from the sides and seal with egg wash then place on a baking sheet and cook for an hour at 375F.

      As Onceadaylily said traditionally they are a meat dish so if she is vegetarian you could get creative with the fillings. Check out the West Cornish pasty shop in the UK, they are a chain and have a number of other flavours that you could use for inspiration. I last tried their pork and apple pasty and it was amazing.

      1. re: Kooper

        So can I use a pie dough recipe for this, or is pasty dough different? I'm afraid I don't have much baking experience.

        1. re: blkery

          Yes, and sort of. You are looking for a pie dough recipe, pie dough is a *type* of pastry dough.

          Some people use puff pastry for pasties, but that's not the traditional method, and buys you more work than a pie dough.

    2. That recipe ( makes twelve servings. That's a lot of pasties. Add this to it:
      Heat 2 Tbsp oil in a large fry pan and gradually add 2 pounds of washed spinach leaves. Cook until fully wilted, then drain well and press out as much liquid as possible. Combine that with 1/2 pound of crumbled feta cheese.
      Add that to the recipe you listed. It'll make a wonderfully broader flavor appeal.
      As for the crust. I like to use a layered pastry crust (about four layers of dough separated by layers of butter) but any good pie crust recipe works quite well.

      1. A Cornish pasty by definition has beef in it, traditionally skirt steak. For a vegetarian, I'd make the mushroom pasties I did for a picnic a while back. I can post the recipe if you want.

        4 Replies
        1. re: greedygirl

          I agree. A veggie cornish pasty is an abomination of an idea and a cultural insult to the Cornish people.

          I would woo the woman back by preparing some "real food" into which you will have put your heart and soul. And she will recognise this.

          However, if you must give her food encased in pastry (let us not call this a cornish pasty), then I suggest making it as close to the original as possible - so you'll need onion, potato and swede. And then you'll need something to replace the meat. The Vegetarian Society website suggests red kidney beans which I think will work. Make sure you heavily season with pepper. But if you feed her this poor thing, don't expect her to enjoy it.

          1. re: Harters

            greedygirl - thanks for your reply, i'd love to see the recipe

            harters - i don't think one can be so precious about cuisine - all recipes have been modified from their cultural origins. by the standards you propose, the british calling tikka masala a curry is a cultural insult to pretty much everyone in south asia. let's not feel so hurt about food - it's meant to be enjoyed.

            1. re: blkery

              I think Harter's was just reacting to the geographic designation used to off-handedly in the title dish. Cornish pasties *do* denote a particular history. Let's omit 'Cornish' henceforth (despite the fact that some people may have had this recipe in their hot little hands, but lacked only the beef, and made do).

              Garden pasties? Hippie pasties? Ethically-modified pasties? Pie sandwich?

              1. re: blkery

                I agree, bikery. We're only talking about food here and it's important not to get too far up one's own arse over things.

                Actually it was the sub-continent restaurant owners who called the dish "tikka masala", circa early 1970s. Very few, if any, white Anglos own or manage "Indian" restaurants.

                You'll now often see recipes for the chicken tikka masala pasty - something which sounds vile to me but I suspect if Cornwall still had a tin mining industry, miners would be taking them underground for their snap.

                As for the regional identity of the cornish pasty, we hope that it will soon receive Protected Designation of Origin status within the European Union, meaning that only a pasty made in Cornwall will be able to be called Cornish. Oh, and there was also a bid, somewhat tongue-in-cheek I think, to get similar status for "chicken tikka masala" to get PDO status as the "Scottish chicken tikka masala", as there is now a strong case that the restaurant in Glasgow that first produced it has now been identified.

                I make an inauthentic pasty - inauthentic in that I use carrot and, as a quick cheat, have always used tinned stewed beef. I do make a standard shortcrust pasty - half fat to flour, and generally like to use 50/50 lard/butter - but, inauthentically for Cornwall, crimp it along the top not the side.

                As another idea for a veggie pasty, one of our very common flat pies is cheese/onion/potato. I think that would work well in pasty (after all, like a pie, it's just pasty moulded round contents). You need a strong cheese that will retain a bit of texture while it melts - I'd use a good Lancashire but that may not be easily available outside the UK.

          2. Perhaps brown lentils, cooked and smashed a bit, could sub for the meat.

            But are you sure you want a lass that can be bribed so easily? :-)