The first blog of a new decade, and, of course, it’s at this time of year that we think about being healthier and less indulgent after the Christmas celebrations. I always stress that the lovely sweet baking treats that I’ve written about and made recipes for so many years - cakes, buns, cookies and so on - are to be considered treats and not for every day, but when children are going back to school and life is getting back into a routine it may be more important than ever to think about eating less sugary foods. Baking doesn’t always have to mean cakes, and I enjoy making breads, pies, pancakes, flans and so on just as much.
So… I thought I’d give you a nice, easy savoury recipe this month: one that’s useful for popping into the children’s lunch boxes and easy to adapt for vegetarians and vegans.
My mother’s family came from Cornwall, and I’ve always had a soft spot for the local food there, especially their Cornish pasties (and thick, yellow Cornish clotted cream - but that’s for another time!) and they adapt so simply and beautifully to a variety of sizes and fillings. Originally devised for men working out in the fields as a sort of early fast food to include the meat and vegetables in one neat, edible packet to be eaten in the hand, they are equally good made as little baby ones for children or for snacks with drinks or coffee. They look very cute in this small size too. I’ve suggested using tomato ketchup as a lining for the pasties to make them more child-friendly, but to be honest it’s very subtle in the finished pasties, so you may like to add a bit of ketchup to the filling itself as I suggest.
Mini Bacon and Cheese Pasties
- 1 pack Jane Asher Home Bargains pastry mix
- 150g back bacon (weight after rind and most fat removed as necessary)
- 1 medium sized onion
- 150g grated cheese (cheddar or Gruyere or whatever you may have left after Christmas!)
- 1 medium egg
- A little tomato ketchup (optional)
- A little milk
You will need a 10cm cutter
Makes 12-14 mini pasties
Preheat the oven to 200c (180C, fan, gas mark 6). Line a large baking tray (or sheet) with baking paper.
Chop the bacon and onion into small pieces. Fry the bacon for a few minutes then add the onion and continue to fry at medium temperature until the bacon in beginning to crisp and the onion is translucent - about 10 minutes altogether.
Meanwhile, make up the pastry as directed on the packet.
Transfer the onion and bacon to a mixing bowl and allow to cool a little while you roll out the pastry thinly on a floured work surface. Cut out 10cm circles, re-rolling as necessary until you have about 12 - 14 circles.
Add the cheese to the bowl, mix well, then add the egg and mix again until everything is combined.
If desired add a couple of squeezes of ketchup at this stage.
Brush each pastry circle with a little tomato ketchup, right to the edge (optional).
Put a teaspoonful or so of the cheesy mix onto half of each circle and fold up into half to make little pasties, squeezing the edges together and crimping with your fingers to make a neat join (I found I had to slightly stretch the pastry as I pulled it together, and sometimes tuck the filling into the sides as it tried to escape…). If you haven’t used the ketchup, wet the edge of the circle with your finger to make it stick.
Brush each pasty with a little milk and put onto the baking tray.
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until beginning to turn golden at the edges. Eat while still hot or warm, or allow to cool completely.
For a vegan version, simply leave out the bacon and egg, and make cheese and onion pasties, using a vegan cheese - or use any vegetables you fancy with a little organic, vegan ketchup to perk them up. Brush them with an alternative milk such as soya or almond, or leave them un-brushed: it will make very little difference. The joy of pasties is that they are completely adaptable to any filling - savoury or sweet.