Tag Archives: Cornish Pasty

Weekend Coffee Share 18th June, 2016

If we were having coffee today, I’d be offering you a Cornish Pasty to go with your beverage of choice. Given the number of guests I usually have for my weekend coffee shares, I might have to make them a bit smaller so there’s enough to go around.

Have you ever tried Cornish Pasties? I must admit that I had to tell both my kids that they don’t contain corn and hail from Cornwell in England. However, our Cornish Pasty is better known as the “Curley” and hails from Scottsdale in NE Tasmania where my husband grew up.

We’re still fully engrossed in Masterchef here and after hearing so much about recreating your childhood memories on the plate, I decided to try to make Geoff his much loved Curley. This act of love was by no means an easy feat because I only tried the Curley a couple of times 10 years ago so I have no idea what it was like. Moreover, unlike my husband, I’m not a Cornish Pasty connoisseur and fusspot of the highest order, which made recreating the Curley pretty difficult. So, after reading a few recipes and seeing Jamie Oliver shot up in flames for not sticking to the original ingredients, I opted to go with this Traditional Cornish Pasty Recipe All went well aside from being ready at 10pm and needing to cook a quick second dinner. I also ended up with a lot of extra filling and still had some left over after making a second batch of pastry. Despite the late finish time, my husband gave my Curley his royal seal of approval, although the original had more pepper and a soft pastry. This pastry had a lovely crunch. Our daughter loved hers the next night, which is a serious endorsement as she is the fussiest eater I’ve ever met. Our son found his pastry too salty. When it comes to food, my kids have incredibly sensitive palates reminding me of The Princess and the Pea!

Needless to say, Curley will be back on the menu very soon and I’m looking at making an authentic Australian Pasty…especially as anything made outside Cornwell isn’t supposed to be a Cornish Pasty, even if it’s made by people of Cornish descent. I suspect there was an influx of Cornish immigrants into NE Tasmania looking at place names such as Launceston, Devonport and the River Tamar. Indeed, my husband’s grandmother had Cornish ancestry and was descended from Francis French from Pelynt, Cornwall who arrived in Hobart Town  on the 23 August 1831.That family was huge and populated much of Northern Tasmania.

Last Monday, was a Public Holiday in Australia celebrating the Queen’s Birthday. While she didn’t invite us to cross the high seas and join her at Buckingham Palace for High Tea, Geoff and the kids had a day off. Well, our son had a sort of day off. A friend of ours is going through her psychology registration and needed a guinea pig to sit through a supervised IQ test. These tests can be very helpful so I jumped at the opportunity which found his sister and I checking out a nearby surf beach and going out for a scrumptious lunch of corn fritters and fresh Belgian Waffles with caramel syrup and ice cream while he toiled away indoors. Meanwhile, Geoff caught up with her husband, who is his best mate, best man at our wedding. So, you have to agree, our son drew the short straw which enabled the rest of us to have a great day. We will be making it up to him.

I was really stoked with the photos I was taking of the roaring surf crashing into the beach with such vengeance. It’s been awhile since I’ve been to Wamberal Beach near Terrigal on the NSW Central Coast but we’d had nasty storms and reports of dangerous surf. Indeed, like Colloroy Beach in Sydney which saw a backyard swimming pool fall into the waves, a strip of homes in Wamberal is also seriously under threat. While I was taking the photos, I turned on the flash to freeze the waves in their tracks and captured some really dramatic effects. I was stoked…especially with my best ever photograph of a surfer.

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Winter Surfing, Wamberal, Australia…..Photo: Rowena Newton

However, while it’s all very well sharing about what’s been going on in my own little bubble, the Orlando Massacre is on my mind. Firstly, I’d like to express my heartfelt condolences to their families and loved ones and then I’d like to express my anger and wrath towards the gunman and the US gun laws. I’ve never been to America but I certainly get the impression that guns are everywhere and that it’s almost a case of getting a gun thrown in with your McHappy Meal.

I would like to urge Americans to finally take a stand against such prolific gun ownership and learn from our Australian experience.

Australia dramatically tightened our gun laws following the heinous 1996 Port Arthur massacre where the gunman brutally and rapidly murdered 35 people and injured 23 others using semi-automatic rifles. Prime Minister John Howard, supported by Walter Mikac who’d lost his wife and two young daughters in the attack, crusaded to get all the Australian states onboard and heavily restrict the legal ownership and use of self-loading rifles, self-loading shotguns, and heavily tightened controls on their legal use by recreational shooters. The government initiated a “buy-back” scheme and some 643,000 firearms were handed in at a cost of $350 million.

I really admire then Prime Minister John Howard for taking this stand, which wasn’t without serious risks. He received death threats and faced intense hostility.  Meanwhile, Walter Mikac founded  The Alannah and Madeline Foundation which supports child victims of violence and runs a national anti-bullying programme.It was launched by the Prime Minister on the first anniversary of the massacre.

The Australian experience shows that it can be done. Indeed, this story from NBC News written a year ago in 2015,  turns to the Australian response for inspiration. Australia too has it’s gun lobby but politicians and the community need to decide what is more important…the right to bear arms or the right to life. For me, it’s a no brainer.

So, while I enjoy catching up for a good social chit chat, getting together for coffee has also been about reflecting on the state of our world, the need for change and somehow turning thought into action. That’s a challenge for me personally but I do hope that through writing and raising awareness, that can somehow become a form of action.

I hope you have personally had a good week and that the week ahead goes well for you too. After researching the Port Arthur Massacre and the news from Orlando, I’m reminded how fragile life is and that we need to hold our loved ones close and never allow water to flow under the bridge, building division, fracturing relationships and bringing hurt. We need to love.

Love & blessings to you all!

xx Rowena

 

Australian Pastry… including Tasmania!

Rolling out pastry and dough, can be a bit like watching the clouds drift by. You never know what shapes and intriguing characters you’re going to find.

Yet, I was still surprised  to find Australia perfectly rolled out on the bench, while I was rolling out my pastry for the Cornish Pasties last night. I haven’t changed the shape at all. The kids simply added Tasmania because with their Dad being from Tasmania, they’re not allowed to leave Tasmania off the map.

By the way, this accidental Australia was way better than my botched efforts at trying to draw Australia at school. There’s a sort of cheat’s method where you draw a framework up with your pencil and ruler and then fill in the wiggly bits. Unfortunately, my Australia looked more like Antarctica and I must confess that I left Tassie off the map. Please don’t tell Geoff. That could be grounds for divorce!

Indeed, leaving Tasmania off the Australian map, is so commonplace that it’s even warranted it’s own Wiki page: Omission of Tasmania From Maps Of Australia  It mentions how performers who created a map of Australia during the 1982 Commonwealth Games opening ceremony, even omitted Tasmania. This prompted English-born Tasmanian poet Andrew Sant to write:

Identity deleted,
Close to the Continent
Who wouldn’t make a fuss?
There have been wars for less…

Andrew Sant, Off The Map

Being from Tasmania, of course, isn’t like being from Sydney, Brisbane or Dubbo. It’s special. Almost like being from overseas but not quite. Jokes abound about Tasmanians being inbred and backward such as having scar tissue on the shoulder from where the second head was surgically removed. Then there’s the response…”two heads are better than one!”

 

However, these days Tasmania is touted as a fabulous travel destination what with it’s unspoilt wilderness, convict ruins, gourmet food trails and stunning coastline. Oh yes! How could I forget! The grass is also greener in Tasmania…much greener! After being with my husband for almost 20 years, how could I forget?!!

Have you ever been to Tasmania? What did you enjoy most about the trip? Or, what would you like to see there?

 

Making “Curleys”…The Cornish Pasty.

You’ve got to wonder whether we procrastinating writers with our elaborate pieces outlining our “gunna do’s”, ever get anything DONE!

Well, occasionally we actually do get to ring the brass bell and shout: “I did it!” Better still, this time I can also cheer “and it worked!”

That is, as long as you don’t mind dinner at 10.00 PM!

finish time

Better late than never!

If you’re going to make Cornish Pasties, you probably need to start making the dough about 5 hours before serving, as the dough needs to rest in the fridge for 3 hours and they take almost an hour to bake in the oven because the filling is raw and needs to cook.

 

After reading my preamble in my previous post, you’d know that I was making the Cornish Pasties for my husband. He grew up in Scottsdale in NE Tasmania where they were “curleys” at the school canteen, contrasting to the standard meat pies. He moved to the mainland in his 20s as “an economic refugee” and has never found Cornish Pasties anywhere near as good as Poole’s.

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So, wanting to treat my husband, I set out in my usual intrepid manner barging in where angels fear to tread, to recreate a Poole’s Cornish Pasty, even though I only tried one once 10 years ago.

Well, the verdict was “pretty good”. My Cornish Pasty has a crunchy pastry, where the Poole’s Curley was soft. The filing was spot on, although he recommended a bit more pepper. I was wary of overdoing the pepper and being a raw meat mix, I wasn’t able to taste it.

inside pasty

A look inside our “Curley” Aussie Cornish Pasty.

Moreover, chatting to a friend this morning while dropping our daughters off at the station at the ungodly hour of 7.45AM, she also recommended a dob of butter and a sprinkling of flour to get a gravy. That would be a great addition because I couldn’t find skirt steak and it seems rump steak wasn’t quite as juicy. Our pasties weren’t dry but a bit of gravy would take it up a notch.

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My Daughter enjoys rolling out the pastry.

While the kids went to bed before the pasties were ready, my daughter helped put them together and of course, loved rolled out the pastry and assembling the pasties. While she was doing this, she kept asking me about the “corn” and said something about “Ah! The corn goes on the plate”. Finally, the penny dropped. She thought Cornish Pasties had corn in them. Yay! Another opportunity for geography and history lessons although the map had to wait for tonight. Our daughter is a master of extending and extending bedtime and my husband appeared and she was off.

Somehow, we ended up with only four pasties from our recommended six from the pastry and enough filling left over to make another 4 I reckon. So, at 2.45PM, I’m quickly heading off to make my pastry and get it into the fridge to rest.

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My Assistant Pastry Cook.

As they endlessly repeat in the Masterchef Kitchen, “Time is not your friend”.

I will be back with my revised recipe.

xx Rowena

 

 

Desperately Seeking “Curley”…Our Tasmanian Cornish Pasty.

Pasty rolled out like a plate,
Piled with “turmut, tates and mate.”
Doubled up, and baked like fate,
That’s a “Cornish Pasty.”
(An old rhyme originating around Breage, Cornwell)

What with all the discussion on Masterchef about recreating your childhood memories on the plate, my thoughts crossed Bass Strait venturing into the Apple Isle where my husband grew up eating Cornish Pasties. Geoff used to buy Cornish Pasties at the school canteen where they were affectionately known as “Curlies”. He loves Cornish Pasties and as much as he loves the taste, they also evoke memories of lush green, rolling hills and being back home on the farm with Mum and Dad.

Mulberry Cottage cropped

Geoff’s Childhood Home.

 

Whenever we’ve gone back to Tasmania, we’ve had to stop off at Poole’s Milk bar in his home town of Scottsdale to buy Cornish Pasties, including a stash to take home. As much as we’ve tried to find a local equivalent, nothing has ever matched up. They weren’t “the same”.

Knowing how much Geoff loves Cornish Pasties, I thought I should try making them. Looking for inspiration,  I Googled Poole’s Milk Bar last night. It wasn’t good news. Unfortunately, it has closed down and the building is up for sale. So, it seems that the great, inimitable Curley has joined the ranks of the  Tasmanian Tiger in reported extinction. Perhaps, like reported sightings of the tiger, it’s still out there somewhere but it’s going to be hard to track down, particularly from “the mainland”.

This now leaves me trying to recreate what my husband knows as the Cornish Pasty without really knowing what it was like. Hedging my debts, I’ve opted to make the traditional Cornish Pasty. Scottsdale was a very traditional, country farming area settled in part by Cornish immigrants. Indeed, Geoff’s grandmother was descended from Francis French from Pelynt, Cornwall who arrived in Hobart Town  on the 23 August 1831.

Also, when we’re talking about my husband’s childhood, we’re winding back the clock 40 years and food was very different then.

geoff-6 and terry-22 feb 73

Geoff left with his BIG Brother.

So, after checking out a few recipes, I found a recipe put out by the Cornish Pasty Association, which you can check out here: Traditional Cornish Pasty Recipe

Trying to replicate a traditional recipe poses its own challenges.  While I’m creative and inventive, the skill here lies in replicating the original in the same way a concert pianist reproduces Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata and doesn’t fuse it with chop sticks, their own composition or even Fur Elise. This means easing yourself inside Beethoven’s skin and reproducing his work with as much heart, empathy and sensitivity as you can muster. Otherwise, you can go write your own piece of music and call it what you like.It’s the same with the Cornish Pasty. You replicate the original in all its glory, or you call it something else.

However, replicating a traditional dish, is not without its challenges. Just like I can feel baffled by unknown “modern” or exotic ingredients, with the traditional Cornish Pasty, I am feeling equally bamboozled by the old. The pasty calls for dripping, which I haven’t seen since I was a kid. It also uses a Swede. I have used Swedes once before but they’re what I’d call “cow food” or at best “old school”, which I guess is part and parcel of recreating a traditional dish.

Making the pasty seems straight forward enough and the recipe comes with good, detailed instructions suited to the uninitiated or “virgin” Cornish Pasty maker. I appreciate this because too many recipes assume too much, preempting your inevitable “disaster”.

Yet, there’s one part that has me quietly shaking in my boots and that’s making the curly top.  Apparently, “a good hand crimp is usually a sign of a good handmade pasty.”

Note that it says “good hand crimp”, not slap-dash, sloppy or completely messed up. Knowing my luck, my “curley” will end up with straight hair looking in need of a perm!

However, what am I thinking expecting perfection on my first attempt? It takes practice to make perfect and indeed, it’s almost arrogant to think I could produce a professional quality Cornish Pasty on my first attempt… especially as a novice! I need to stop expecting too much of myself.

It’s okay to make mistakes and certainly not the end of the world.

Oh dear! While I’ve been writing about making my Cornish Pasties, time’s completely runaway from me. The pastry needs to rest for 3 hours and the pasties take around 50 minutes to cook and then dashing off for school pick-up before I can even think of getting started. . This means I need to run or these pasties will be a midnight snack and we’ll have no dinner.
head scarf ro

Heading out incognito to buy dripping, swedes and skirt steak.

This leaves me heading out to the shops looking for dripping, skirt steak and swedes. I might need to find myself a huge pair of sunglasses. After all, there’s retro and there’s retro… Soon, I’ll be wearing a scarf!

Have you even made Cornish Pasties or have any memories of them? Have you been to Cornwell and tried the real deal? I’d love to hear your tales.
xx Rowena
PS I’ll be back to report on the results.