Cheese and Vegetable Pasties
When I was studying in London, my friend Christi and I would walk to Covent Garden on fall afternoons, sit on a curb listening to a James Taylor-soundalike street musician, and curl freezing fingers around steaming pasties. Those were perfect hours – late afternoon sunshine slanting across cobblestones, cold wind biting ears and noses, and the many languages of tourists blending into a comfortable bustle in the background.
A few years later, I found myself in the middle of a law school-induced funk. Overwhelmed, exhausted, and lonely, I missed the peace of those curb-side concert picnics and the company of friends. I couldn’t transplant Christi to my living room, but I could make pasties. And boy, did I make pasties.
These have become my go-to comfort food. I reach for this recipe when, like this week, I need a break from the world, a homemade lunch ready to go straight from the freezer, and a little bit of friendship and memory.
Cheese and Vegetable Pasties (inspired by these from the West Cornwall Pasty Company and cobbled together with the help of Google, memory, and friendly taste-testers.)
If I’m in a rush, I can have these in the oven in about an hour. Other times, though, I think it’s nice to make a rainy afternoon project of it, and take my time.
Once they’re baked, they’ll keep in the freezer for a LONG time. Freezers and palates differ, of course, but I ate one for lunch the other day that I made back in January. Still yummy.
(A friendly note: “pasty” is not pronounced “PASTE-y.” It’s “PAST-y,” pronounced to rhyme with “FAST-y.” I point this out only to spare you the teasing that ensues when your British flatmates finally realize that you’re hungry, and not heading to a strip joint.)
Makes 8 pasties*
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 1/2 cups ice water
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, cut into small pieces (I used one salted, one unsalted, but whatever you fancy should be just fine.)
- 1 egg, beaten with an equal amount of water, for brushing after assembly
- In a large bowl, mix together all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, and salt.
- Cut in butter (with two butter knives or a pastry knife) until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
- Stir in 1 cup water. If the mixture is to0 dry, which it almost certainly will be, add another 1/2 cup in small increments until a ball forms. Stir with a wooden spoon to start, and knead with your hands when the dough becomes to stiff to stir.
- Divide dough into 8 pieces, and shape into balls. Cover, and set aside in the fridge, if possible.
- 5 Tbs olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 cups carrots (just under 1/2 lb.), thinly sliced
- 2 1/2 cups (just under 1 lb.) peeled potatoes, diced
- 2 cups broccoli florets in bite-sized pieces
- 1/2 cup veggie broth
- 2 large sprigs rosemary
- 2 bay leaves
- Plenty of salt and pepper
- 1 1/2 cups finely grated cheese (This time I used white cheddar, but Parmesan is great, and I imagine Gruyere would be very tasty too.)
- 2 Tbs butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups milk, scalded
- Nutmeg, to taste
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Heat 3 Tbs. olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Saute onion and garlic until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in carrot, potatoes, and broccoli. Add water, bouillon cube, rosemary, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Cook for 15 minutes, or until veggies are cooked through and starting to get soft.
- Place remaining 2 Tbs olive oil and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat, until butter is melted.
- Whisking constantly, add 1/4 cup flour
- Continue to whisk until the flour/butter/oil mixture reaches the color of coffee with cream
- Add scalded milk and continue whisking
- Add a few grates of fresh nutmeg or shakes of the ground variety, to taste
- Stir in cheese as you like until it melts
- Mix with the cooked vegetable mixture
- Important Note: Cool the filling before spooning it into the crust. Otherwise, the hot filling will melt the butter in the pastry, which will (a) result in an un-flaky crust and (b) probably make the dough tear.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- On a lightly floured surface, with a lightly floured pin, roll each pastry ball into a circle, 6 to 8 inches in diameter.
- Place about 1 cup of filling on one half of each circle. Fold pastry over filling, and pinch edges to seal. Place on baking sheet, and brush with egg. Don’t worry too much about this part – the dough is remarkably strong, and shouldn’t break.
Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until golden brown.
*Unless, of course, you also have one of these super cool pocket pie molds that Lily put in your Christmas stocking last year. (Mine’s a pumpkin, which they don’t seem to sell anymore, but the apple variety looks very cute, too.) If you do, you’ll get around 15 pasties from this recipe; each pasty holds about 1/2 cup of filling.