Thursday, 14 July 2011

The fat lady sang...

Last night some friends and I went to watch the Royal Opera House's Cinderella on a big screen in Trafalgar Square.  After work, we arrived with glowering skies overhead (ahhh... the beautiful British summertime!) and a hotchpotch homemade picnic dinner in hand...  Everyone had made an offering: there were Cornish pasties, sausage rolls, cheese scones, scotch eggs and smoked salmon on seedy bread.  For dessert we had jam tarts and raisin scones with the mandatory clotted cream and raspberry jam...

One day I’m sure I will eventually develop some self-control, but until that time greed reigns supreme...  I ate more than my share of absolutely everything and am still stuffed just thinking about it.  In a very out of character revelation I’m considering skipping lunch!?  (...I must be unwell...)

We arrived at the free screening with a minimum of fuss... that is except for the slightly confused friend who arrived at the actual opera house instead of the free screening - informing the security guard he should let her in as (didn’t he know?) she didn’t need a ticket, this evening’s performance was most definately free!

Once we managed to get everyone in the right place (and after the ridiculing wore itself out) the evening turned extremely civilised – we’ve learnt a fair bit about being prepared over the years... and what an incredibly well stocked impromptu picnic we turned out!  There were gin and tonics, wine, picnic blankets, cutlery, jugs, crockery, inflatable cushions, warm blankets, waterproof ponchos...  Before the start of the performance, there was some group guilt as the area got busier and busier: we were surrounding a mountain of food taking up the space of at least three extra people.  But priorities are priorities!

Light supper for five...
I’m not sure the girls were particularly bothered about the music (more attention was plied to the lead lady’s back-fat than her singing capabilities) but thanks to an enjoyable picnic and some great “background music”  I might even be able to convince them to go again!

First preheat the oven to 200˚C.  Then, roll the pastry out until about as thick as a pound coin.  Cut circles however big you want your pasties to be, bearing in mind they will be half the size of the original template.  I made (very approximately shaped) circles about the size of a side plate; AWT suggests a dinner plate.

Cut the swede, potato, onion, carrots and meat into small dice approximately 5mm to ensure they all cook at the same speed.  

Mix all of the filling ingredients and season to taste.

Brush the edges of the circles with some of the beaten egg.  Arrange the filling on one half of each circle.  Fold the other half of the pastry over the filling and pinch then crimp the edges so that a seal is formed.  Try not to overfill; I wasn’t able to resist the temptation which meant pasties groaning at the seams... Not a pretty sight but possibly prophetic of how I feel today...

Put the pasties on a baking sheet lined with parchment and brush the tops with more egg wash.

Cook the pasties for 20 minutes at 200˚C and then reduce the temperature to 160˚C and cook them for another 40 minutes.  They can be eaten hot from the oven or eaten cold when left to cool on a wire rack to stop the pastry from going soggy.

450g shortcrust pastry
450g beef, trimmed and diced
1 large onion, diced
3 small carrots, diced
100g swede, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
175g new potatoes, diced
1tbsp thyme leaves
½tsp white pepper
A pinch of salt
1 egg, beaten (egg wash)

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