I have been reading this fabulous book, ‘Mr Wilkinson’s Favourite Vegetables’. I would recommend it to you all. The subtitle is ‘A Cookbook to Celebrate the Seasons’. He describes each vegetable, and how to grow it, before laying out a few fabulous recipes for each.
With the onset of autumn there have been some wonderful Brassica vegetables at market. Mr Wilkinson inspired me to celebrate Brassica vegetables as a genus. I like them all when they are treated with respect: cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, brussels sprouts. I thought about making a Brassica vegetable tart with them, similar to the trout tart I made a few weeks ago. But thoroughly enjoying the cabbage and potatoes I served with something or other the other day, I was inspired to match my Brassica vegetables with left over mashed potato in a vegetable pasty. It took me too long to get around to making them, so I ended up making a fresh batch of mash, but if you want to use leftover, make sure it’s nice and peppery, with a little extra salt. I used red peppercorns and that worked a treat.
I recognise many people are not the lovers of Brassica that I am, so I thought I could sweeten the deal by holding the little pasties together with a herb and cheese pastry. I’m cutting down my wheat intake at the moment, so I wanted to use spelt flour in the pastry. I love the flour produced by the fully restored wind-powered Callington Mill in Oatlands Tasmania. From them, I purchased some magnificent organic stoneground light sifted spelt flour. If you are not blessed with Callington flour, the equivalent would be unbleached ‘white’ spelt flour from your health food store or large supermarket. Spelt is an ancient grain, with a mildly nutty taste, and made for a truly delicious pasty pastry. If this isn’t for you, replace the spelt with all-purpose white flour. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any homemade tomato chutney, but I picked up a lovely jar from Beerenberg Farm, who often make comparable substitute for homemade.
For the pastry
|50||grams||aged or English style cheddar cheese|
|1||tablespoon||chives or spring onion, finely chopped|
|1||tablespoon||parsley, finely chopped|
|200||grams||unbleached spelt flour*|
|50||grams||unbleached white flour|
|additional||wholemeal flour, for sprinkling|
* replace with all-purpose white flour (preferably unbleached)
For the filling
|1/2||teaspoon||pink peppercorns, ground|
*replace with 3 roughly chopped everyday kale (otherwise known as Tuscan cabbage or black cabbage)
To make the pastry: place the salt, butter and water in a small saucepan and heat till butter is melted. Add the spelt and white flours and mix till well combined. Set aside to cool. Prepare the filling. Once the filling is prepared and the dough is cold, press the dough out flat and add the cheese and herbs a little at a time, folding the dough atop itself to incorporate. Roughly knead the dough to fully incorporate the herbs and cheese.
To make the filling: boil the potatoes in their skins till tender. Drain away the water, and when the potatoes are cool enough to touch remove the skins. Roughly mash with the butter, salt and peppercorns. Add enough milk to make a firm mash. Cut the broccoli and cauliflower florets into very small florets of about 1 cm.
To assemble the pasties: preheat the oven to 180oC. Divide the dough into 4 equal portions. Divide your vegetables into four. Flour a chopping board or clean work surface with wholemeal flour. Roll one portion of dough into a circle about 25cm round. In an oval shape in the centre of the dough, spread a spoon of mashed potato, then arrange the kale, a little more mash, broccoli and cauliflower, more mash, cabbage and more mash until you have used up one portion of each of the vegetables. Take both sides of the pastry round and bring them to the top of the pile of vegetables. Carefully squeeze the ends of the pastry together so there is a ‘seam’ of pastry across the top of the pasty. Be careful not to let the pastry tear, and to allow even distribution of the pastry to enclose all the filling. To neaten up the ‘seam,’ pinch the dough so it has a clean edge and bend the seam into a wavy pattern with your thumb and forefinger. Repeat for the remaining pasties. You may want to brush the pasties with an egg, milk or egg/milk wash before baking them. This gives them a lovely sheen, but can make them take longer to go golden.