You know – those recipes that call for a dash of this and a pinch of that. Acck!! I need measurements, people!! The recipe I am going to share today is one of those recipes though. Hmmm … that’s interesting 🙂 Actually it is the recipe that I used to ease myself into not completely freaking out over vague recipes. Don’t get me wrong – I prefer a well detailed recipe over a generalized one any day, but I have at least learned that I do not need to run screaming away from them. If this one is any indication, I may actually be semi-decent at this cooking guessing game.
My father-in-law is British and my husband spent a bit of his growing up years in England with his family. So some of the things he asks for me to cook are, well, a little strange to me. Steak and kidney pie anyone? Apparently the kidney is truly kidney and not lovely kidney beans as I had allowed myself to believe. One of the British dishes that I can get onboard with are “Cornish Pastries”. They are comfort food at it’s best and while making them requires a bit of work, they freeze really well and are perfect for lunches or for those days that you just do not want to cook. I even took pictures – which I have to admit I would rather eat the food I cook than take pictures of it, so my food photography skills leave a little to be desired. If you want gorgeous food pictures, check out Smitten Kitchen’s blog on the right of this screen. Gorgeous. Mine, well, they are functional, shall we say? Also, I was so keen on sharing this recipe as it helps with cooking anxiety, I never thought about the fact that Cornish Pastries are not an overly exciting looking dish. Oh well … trust that it is one of those dishes that tastes about 100 times better than it looks. Well, enough rambling from me … let’s get cooking!!
Peel and chunk up an equal portion of turnip (rutabaga if you want to be technical) and potatoes. Bring to a boil (each in their own pot) and cook until fork tender. Drain and mash. Brown ground beef, along with an onion. Now, here is where this recipe gets a little heeby-jeeby for me. I would say that the ratio I use is this: 2 parts turnip to 2 parts potato to 1 part browned beef (with as much onion as you wish in it). In real terms – when I made these last week, I cooked a dutch oven half full of potatoes and again of turnip (see picture above) and used one pound of ground beef and two small onions, diced. Stir the mashed potato, mashed turnip and browned beef together until well mixed.
Now if you are making a small amount, or have lots of room in your grocery budget, the easy and not-so-cheap way is to use puff pastry. This makes a very nice Cornish pastry, however, one time that I made Cornish, I stopped after I had purchased $30 worth of puff pastry. Yes, I honestly believe in going big or bust when it comes to making these things!! I just made these this past Wednesday and Friday. I cooked my turnip/potato/browned beef mixture, made one batch of pastry and assembled about 12 decent sized Cornish Wednesday night. I then covered my turnip/potato/browned beef mixture, put it in the fridge and made two more batches of dough on Friday and finished them. I now have about 35 large Cornish and 10 baby Cornish (for Masters Terence and Caleb) in my freezer. We also had them for supper both nights.
So, back to the pastry discussion. After plunking down $30, I vowed that I would have to find a more economical way to do this, as the rest of the Cornish is a very frugal meal. So, my mother recommended a pastry recipe that she used to use for a similar pastry meal. It makes a great, frugal alternative to store-bought puff pastry. Here it is, with my tweaks:
- 4 c. flour
- 3 Tbsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 3/4 c. shortening
- 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 c. milk
Combine flour, baking powder and salt. Cut in shortening, to flour mixture, until shortening is all incorporated. Add one cup of milk, combining well. Continue to add small amounts of milk and combining, just until you can handle the dough. If your dough is too sticky, add a bit of flour. Turn dough onto floured surface. Lightly knead in any excess flour. Roll out thin (about 1/8″ to 1/4″ inch thick). Using a round template (I used a cereal bowl for our Cornish and a dessert bowl for the boys’ Cornish) cut out circles of dough.
Note: If you are using store-bought puff pastry, cut squares of dough. Your finished product will be a triangle instead of a half circle. You will have less waste of pastry, this way.
Place some of the turnip/potato/browned beef mixture on one half of the circle of dough, in about 1/2″ from the edge (see above photo for guidance).
Fold the dough over the turnip mixture and seal edges well. Use a fork to press a decorative edge over the sealed portion.
Bake at 450 for 12 – 15 minutes, until lightly browned. Serve with brown gravy on top, or cool and freeze. After freezing Cornish, first thaw them and then reheat in the microwave or in the oven at 350, until the center of the mixture is hot. Enjoy!