As I mentioned when writing my toad in the hole recipe, the best idea I had in my final weeks of pregnancy was to fill my freezer to the brim with pre-made food. I will start with a disclaimer here – I have a compulsive need to organize things, and there’s almost nothing I love more than a good spreadsheet. Seriously, it comes right after family, friends, wine and chocolate! So, armed with my trusty laptop, I spent many, many hours searching the internet for recipes that sounded good, and arranged them all in my mind-saving spreadsheet for easy access.
Now I realize that this doesn’t sound fun to some (OK, let’s try 99% of) people. And so, what I’d like to do with the first part of this post is to share my own for you all to use as you wish. The only thing that I have removed from the spreadsheet is the highlighting that I used to keep track of what I’d made and what was still to be done. It’s a small thing, but I really recommend doing that as you go. My list was really big, and my mental capacity at the time was teeny tiny! It’s amazing we manage to get through pregnancy at all, with all of the things our darling unborn children do us along the way!
In it’s full form, this spreadsheet also included many other sheets, including our baby registry list, contact info for various people (in all seriousness, my husband could barely remember my name by the time we got to the hospital, we needed lists!), packing lists, lists of classes we were taking, and a few other things. If you want a more comprehensive version, let me know and I’ll send it to you. For now, this is purely my recipe list. I didn’t actually get everything on this list made, mainly because my apartment contains a somewhat sorry excuse for a freezer, but I have since had everything on the list, and I personally like all of the recipes. For things that don’t need a recipe, or for recipes that I already had myself, I just listed freezing instructions. You’ll see when you look at it. The spreadsheet is freely available for you to download.
There is something on this list that you may not be overly (or at all) familiar with if you’re not from the UK, and that is Cornish pasties. This is something that I have been eating since I was a child, because my Mum’s side of the family are all from Cornwall, and it’s one of those things that would always put a smile on my face when my Mum made them for us. Originally, they were something that the tin miners would have had for lunch, with a savory filling at one end a sweet filling at the other end. The folded crust made it nice and sturdy to hold, and would be thrown away so that they didn’t have to try to scrub their hands clean in the middle of a mine. They’re very simple in terms of ingredients, but if you want to make the pastry from scratch, they can be time consuming. The list does include a link to a recipe from the BBC website for shortcrust pastry if this is a route that you want to take. I have to admit that I have never been good at making pastry. Scratch that. I’m terrible at it. I have almost no issues with baking cakes, breads, other baked items. But when it comes to pastry, the only success I’ve ever had is a recipe that uses a food processor and makes a sweet shortcrust pastry for a chocolate ganache pie. So, being heavily pregnant and easily annoyed by almost anything, I cheated and used pre-made pie crust. Does it taste as good as when my Mum makes it? No. Is it good enough when you’ve barely slept and only have 5 minutes to eat? Hell yes. The other ingredients are potato, onion, swede (also called turnip or rutabega, depending on where you are. Only the Cornish call it turnip though, don’t confuse it with the small white things that the rest of us know as turnips!) and chuck steak. You don’t even need to pre-cook anything. We always used plates as templates to cut the pastry – side plates for smaller ones, dinner plates for large ones. And when I say large, I mean enormous. A side plate sized one is plenty for most people.
To make the pasties, cut your pastry into circles, and fill one side with a decent heap of diced potato, swede and onion. Add some steak, also diced, and season with salt and pepper. Fold the other side over, and use either milk or egg wash to make sure that the edges seal together. Fold the sealed crust inwards, similar to a calzone, and transfer to a baking sheet. Poke a hole in the side to let the steam escape, brush with milk or egg wash, and bake at 350 F for around 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Done. Personally I think they’re best hot with tomato ketchup, but they work cold too. If you’re making a batch and freezing them, cook them, let them cool, wrap each one individually in foil and then freeze them all together in a large ziploc bag. Then you can just pull out as many as you need, unwrap them and reheat from frozen in a 350 F oven for about 30 minutes. I hope you enjoy the recipe, and if you give them a try please let me know how they turn out!