[Smashy the Hammer] [An Aspiring Luddite]
I carry no phone
An aspiring Luddite
In a wired world.
[Jeff Berry]
Jeff Berry is an early adopter of the Internet and the Web, a late adopter of Twitter, and declines to adopt Facebook. With the death of Google+, he's experimenting with federated platforms. He admins a medievalist Mastodon instance, and can found on the PlusPora diaspora pod. He hates cell-phones.

Pasties For Lunch
8 November 2013

Since becoming a full-time student again, my schedule has changed rather dramatically. Most days, I'm home for lunch and/or dinner as I do my research and work on my various projects. One day each week, however, I'm out of the house for most of the day, sometimes for more than twelve hours at a stretch. So some provision for food must be made.

In the olden days, when I had a regular office, I'd just bring leftovers and heat them up, or even make something from scratch in the steamer. Alas, I don't have an office anymore, at least not one other than the one at home. I could just buy a meal somewhere - drop into a pub or something for lunch - but that's both expensive and doesn't let me cook, so that's two problems. That leaves a packed lunch of some kind. I could make a sandwich, and, in fact, I did just that once or twice, but that means keeping sandwich makings around, which I tend not to do.

Thus, the pastie. It is an appealing solution since it can contain whatever I feel like putting into it, is tidier than a sandwich, and is much more fun to make.

One can, of course, fill it with a variety of things, depending on whim or preference. I've made a few variations already, but the one below, with a mashed potato base, has a few distinct advantages: the potato matrix holds the other ingredients, so they are less likely to spill out as you eat, and also provides a convenient way to make sure that the spicing is uniform throughout.

While a pastry dough of some kind is more traditional, I use a simple bread dough, similar to a pizza dough, with the result that I end up with something that resembles both a traditional pastie and a calzone. This hybrid meets my needs admirably. [Lots of pictures]

The Filling

I've not given quantities for the vegetables for two reason: first, the exact mix is a matter of taste; second, you will be making a bunch of boiled vegetables, which you will actually combine into filling at a later date, with the other bits going to whatever purpose you desire. I used one carrot, 1/2 a head of cabbage (the middle half, since I'd been eating it from the outside in), three onions, and quite a few potatoes. Quarter the onions, cut the carrot into bite-size chunks, cut the cabbage up a bit, and do the same to your potatoes, depending on their size. Put them all in a pot with some salt, a sprig or two or rosemary if you like, and enough water to just cover. Simmer for about an hour, until the potatoes are done - they need to be soft enough to mash.

Drain them, saving the broth for later use if you are so inclined, and let them cool. At this point they can go in the fridge for at least a few days if you aren't quite ready to make the pastie itself. When it is time, get the dough started (see below), and proceed with the actual filling construction.

Mash your potatoes, adding just enough liquid in small doses to get them relatively smooth. I used milk, but the leftover vegetable broth would do just fine if you want to avoid dairy. Take as much cabbage, onion and carrot as you like, and chop the cabbage and onion a bit. The carrots are already in bite-sized pieces, right? Add them to the mashed potatoes and mix gently. Spice the mixture with salt and pepper. If you are going to eat the pastie at room temperature, be sure to spice it at room temp. If you're planning on eating it hot, you could probably go a bit lighter on the seasoning. I simply used salt and pepper, myself, but the variations are endless. I'll probably make a curry-spiced version at some point ...

On to the dough.

The Dough

For two pasties:

First, I must confess that other than the flour and water, I don't measure the ingredients. I put in a good glug of olive oil, a couple of pinches of salt, and dribble of yeast. In any case, put the dry ingredients in a bowl, keeping the salt and yeast on opposite sides if you can. Add most of the water and begin to stir with your fingers to make a dough. Add more water if needed. When the dough comes together, knead it for a few minutes, but don't go crazy. Cover and set in a warm place for a while. You don't need it to rise as much as bread, so the canonical 'doubling in size' isn't necessary - it's to make a crust, not a loaf after all.

At this juncture, your filling is ready, and your dough has been rising or proofing for a while. Punch it down vigorously, and divide in half. Roll one half out into a circle, or punch and push it out into shape with your knuckles, if you'd rather, until it's about 8 or 10 inches across. Place some filling on it. Try to avoid the temptation to overfill, which is often my downfall. Fold the pastie over and crimp the edges. I just squish them together and then roll the edge back on themselves, but your mileage may, naturally enough, vary.

Then onto a baking sheet or dish! Splash just a bit of olive oil on the top of the pasties and gently rub it over the surface, and then sprinkle them with coarse salt. Into a 190C/375F oven they go for about 40 minutes. Since the filling has been pre-cooked, when the bread is done, the pastie is done.

This makes a pretty substantial pastie, suitable for lunch or dinner on a long day on campus. Or out and about.

© 2013 Jeff Berry
The Aspiring Luddite