Traveling home from our Argentine Tango class on Sunday, I was deep in thought about what we had learnt that week. My mind was assessing the subtle nuances of tango music, the variations in decorations performed by ladies during an ocho block, and pondering the intricacies of the molinete. Nah – I’m kidding you. I actually had the “everything is awesome” song from the Lego movie playing in a loop in my head. Alan was also very quiet while he drove, obviously deep in thought about something profound. In an attempt to escape from the song in my head I asked him to share his thoughts. Apparantly we had been passed by a van advertising “British Meat Pies and Pasties” and he was thinking about how much he would like a pasty. Gosh, we sure are one deep couple! Any time you’re looking for profound thoughts, we’re the people to contact.
Pies and pasties seem to have been an important part of Alan’s youth. He speaks fondly of Clark’s pies with their thick crusts and strangely coloured gravy. He also has a love of Cornish and Devon pasties. When we went back to the UK for my sister’s fabulous wedding we got off the plane in Gatwick, took a train to London and bought pasties while we waited for a connection to take us up north. I was very happy to see that they sold cheese-free vegetarian pasties alongside the cheese and onion or meat varieties. I have to admit that the smell of cheese and onion pasties gives me mixed feelings. When I was small my Great Auntie Nellie (lovely woman – one of the nicest people I ever met) cooked cheese and onion pie when my parents took us to visit, followed, always, by jello and a can of evaporated milk. I loved Auntie Nellie, and I enjoyed seeing her, but afterwards I always felt sad and ill. It wasn’t until years later that a connection was made. Cheese and other dairy products disagree with me. The so-called “stress headaches” during my university years were actually cheese-induced migraines (that explains the red spots before my eyes!!) and the upset tummies were not psychosomatic – I couldn’t tolerate milk! Now when I smell cheese and onion my heart is warmed by memories of Auntie Nellie while my stomach churns at the thought of eating dairy products.
Whenever we visit my mom we go into the lovely historic town of Chester to wander around the shops, usually stopping in a coffee shop mid morning then grabbing a pasty for lunch. They’re so easy to eat while wandering around the streets, looking in shop windows and exclaiming “HOW much?!” in our hybrid English-Canadian accents. Somehow they don’t seem to have made it across the pond to the land of beaver tails, poutine and tortiere (you’ll have to look those up if you’re not Canadian). So, the next day I took pity on my poor husband and made some pasties for him. I used wholewheat flour for a healthy, hearty crust, and veggie mince instead of the ground-up animal of his childhood.
Vegan Cornish Pasty
- 2 cups wholewheat flour, plus extra for rolling
- 1 tbsp flour mixed with 2 tbsp water to make the glue
- Pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup vegan margarine, well chilled
- 6 – 12 tbsp ice water, as needed
- 1 cup celery, finely chopped or, if you’re a true Britt, 1 cup swede, finely chopped
- 1 cup potato, finely chopped
- 225g veggie grounds / mince, thawed if frozen
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1 vegan “beef” stock cube, crumbled
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tbsp soy milk
To make the pastry: Put the flour and salt into a large bowl. Add the margarine and cut it into small pieces. Use your fingertips to rub the margarine into the flour until it forms breadcrumbs. Handle it as little as possible. Add the water a tablespoon at a time and mix with a knife until it starts to form a dough. Don’t make it wet – you want something you can roll out later. Use your hands to form it into a ball then cut it into 6 pieces. Form each piece into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Put in the fridge for 15 – 30 minutes.
To make the filling, mix together the celery, potato, veggie grounds, parsley, thyme, stock cube, salt and pepper. Make sure none of the veggies are in chunks larger than your thumb nail.
Take the pastry out of the fridge and roll into circles about 6″ across. I put a large bowl on top and trim them into a nice round shape. Divide the filling between the 6 circles of pastry, placing it on one half of the circle. Use your finger to apply the flour-glue to the edges then fold the pastry over the filling to create a half-moon. Press the edges together then fold them up to make a secure packet. Cut 2 small slits in the top and brush lightly with soy milk.
Heat the oven to 425’F / 220’C / Gas 7. Put the pasties on a baking tray and cook for 45 minutes until golden. Eat hot or cold, sitting down or wandering around.
And what was Alan’s reaction to the labors of his wife? “Wow! These are really good! Are they actually vegan?”. I rolled my eyes. I love him too much to fill his body with saturated fat. He thought they were so good that he ate one before we went out to a restaurant for a vegan dinner on Monday, “just in case he didn’t like the food”. And I had one when we got back home afterwards.
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