Cornish Recipes - from the Cornish-L

The Cultural Context of the Pasty - examining the pasty's cultural shift.



Traditional Pasty-

Our family Cornish Pasty recipe was always an oral thing with all the details passed verbally during family pasty making get-togethers. The written recipe was pretty vague:

Regular pie Dough
Round steak
Potatoes- diced
Onions- chopped
Pepper, Salt

Cook for an hour at 350 degrees. Add a squirt of water in each pasty after first 1/2 hour in oven.

We always had to mark one pasty for my Uncle Harold who didn't like Parsley, and we never heard of adding Turnip. I understand that Parsley is more typical of recipes coming out of the Camborne area. My family was from Sithney, Crowan, Illogan Parishes...right along that corridor. *****************************************************************

As more modern generations tried to make pasties, results could be disappointing because they didn't have all the details. Through the years, I have tried to put details into our recipe and have also adjusted the recipe somewhat.

The funniest addition to my recipe is Turnips. We had been to Cornish Days years ago at the Empire Mine in Grass Valley, California. A docent had asked if we put Turnips in our Pasty. We had never heard of such a thing, but next time we made pasties, we added Turnip to a few. (We didn't tell my Dad!) Low and behold, even my dad liked it! It added great moisture and subtle flavor. It was then that we told my Dad and he gave it the "100% Cornish Descendant" approval. (Hard to come by.) We've added Turnip ever since.

BUT, when I went to Cornwall and was served a home made pasty by a very distant cousin, there was this strange "carrotty" taste. I asked what it was and she said Turnip. I asked to see this "Turnip" and it looked just like a Rutabaga! Apparently the white thing we call a Turnip in California is much diffferent than the Cornish "Swede" Turnip.

Genetics is amazing. I don't like the taste of the "Swede" either. But now I'm stuck with a Pasty the whole extended family loves that includes the "California Turnip."


Pasty Making Gathering-

     The making of Pasties from start to finish can take about 3 hours. If you're organizing a family Pasty making get together, you may want to cut down on that time by doing "prep work" the day before. These tasks can be "farmed out" so that people coming from a distance can bring a prepared ingredient and it spreads out the work.
     Have your best Pastry Dough maker make several batches the day before and bring them to the gathering. They store well in plastic wrap in the refrigerator. Be sure they know how to make a flakey dough. Our ancestors measured the success of a good dough as being able to fall down a mine shaft and still protect the contents. But then our ancestors didn't usually eat much of the crust :~) A nice flakey crust is easier to work with and tastes wonderful.
     Pick the Parsley off the stems the day before, but leave some for any tiny Cornish descendants to pick when you get everyone together. "Parsley picking" was the traditional thing in our family to include the youngest family members in the activity.
     Chop the onions and white turnip the day before. They store well in the refrigerator.
     Freeze the Round Steak and then cut into cubes when it's only half thawed. It cuts up really fast this way instead of sliding and wriggling around.
     Potatoes must be cut just before using, so put your best choppers to work on this when you get together. Cuisinarts and cone- type choppers are great!
     Teens can be "picky" and hard to involve. Ask them to bring what they'd like to put in their pasty. We've had Eggs (not a success, but funny), Chicken, Broccoli, and Mushrooms. The latter 3 ingredients were a big hit, even with our traditionalists. Be sure the teens make their own pasty and mark their initials with a fork. Especially if they make one with EGG.


Roberta's California Cornish Pasty-

a good recipe for brand new pasty makers (Quantities will make 4 pasties)

-Pastry dough for 2 double crust pies. (Divide equally for 4 pasties)

        1 lb. round steak, cubed into about 1/2 inch pieces
        4 medium sized potatoes, sliced or cut into 1/4 to 1/2 inch pieces
     1/2 white turnip, sliced or cut into pieces (optional)
        2 medium sized white onions, chopped
     1/2 bunch Parsley, stems removed
           Butter, about 1 Tbsp per pasty
           Salt and Pepper

Roll out pastry dough to a thickness of 1/4 inch and the size of a large dinner plate (abt. 11 inches in diameter.) Place 1/4 of meat on 1/2 of the pastry circle. Layer 1/4 of potato on top of meat, then onion, then turnip. Top with a large handful of Parsley, 1 Tbsp Butter, and a generous amt. of salt & pepper.

Fold over the pastry dough to form a "tart" shape and crimp edges to seal. Place on a large, ungreased baking tray. Don't make a hole in the top as it will let the juices escape and your pasty will not be as moist. Don't let the pasties sit very long before getting them into the oven as the meat juice will seep through the dough and cause your pasties to stick to the pan.

Bake at 425 degrees F. for 15-20 minutes to brown, then reduce heat to 300 degrees F. and finish baking. (Total baking time is 1 hour.)

(You're on your own with the Chicken, Broccoli, and Eggs!)


Sour Milk Cookies-

Although this recipe came down in two Cornish lines, I can't guaranee it's Cornish. It may be "Early Californian." Perhaps others out there can verify it's origin. The recipe helped to use up sour milk which everyone had around at the time. Now, of course, our milk is so pasturized and homogenized that sour milk is harder to come by. You may need to add a tsp of vinegar to the 3/4 cup of milk and let it sit overnight.

Cream together:
       3/4 c. butter
    1-1/2 c. sugar
             Add 2 eggs and beat well.

Mix together:
    3-1/2 c. flour
       1/2 tsp. baking powder
       1/2 tsp. cinnamon
       1/2 tsp. nutmeg
       1/4 tsp. cloves

Add to dry ingredients to creamed mixture alternately with
       3/4 c. sour milk
      + 1 tsp. baking soda in the sour milk

Bake in 350 degree oven for 20 minutes on a greased cookie sheet. ********************************************************************




Copyright ©1996-2000, Roger & Roberta Peeples

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