Cheese, Onion & Potato Pasties

I’d managed to overbuy some potatoes for this weeks meals, and having already peeled & diced the potato, I wasn’t quite sure what I could do with the leftovers.  It turns out that potatoes can be frozen, providing that they are blanched first to prevent them from turning black.  To blanch potatoes, you simply immerse in boiling water for about 4 minutes before quickly transferring into a bowl of iced cold water until cooled (about 10 minutes).  Once cool, dry the potatoes using kitchen roll or a tea towel and transfer to freezer bags before placing in the freezer to be used at a later date.

As well as the potatoes, I also had a packet of puff pastry left over from a family party where I’d used it for canapés, and as a Northerner born and bred, I love a good pasty, I already had some cheddar cheese in the fridge so Cheese, onion & potato pasty was the obvious choice for me.

 Whilst I could have just gone ahead and made Cheddar cheese & onion pasties, I love the bitterness of white crumbly cheeses, such as Lancashire & Wensleydale, so I decided to use a mix of Cheddar & Lancashire cheese in my pasties, but any cheese you have to hand will do.

As a side note, ready made puff pastry is one of my favourite time saving ingredients, you can do so much with it; canapés, pies, a twist on a pizza etc. and the results always look really impressive, when in reality, you haven’t had to try that hard, as you’ll see from the following recipe.

20140413-202229.jpgINGREDIENTS

  • Knob butter
  • 1 small onion, finely sliced
  • 1 small potato, cubed
  • 375g packet of puff pasty
  • 75g cheddar cheese
  • 75g white crumbly cheese

Serves 4

METHOD

Preheat oven to 180c

In a large saucepan, melt the butter over gentle heat

Add the onions and potatoes and sweat over a low heat with the lid on for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally

Season well with crushed black pepper (I tend to avoid adding salt as it should get this from the cheese & butter)

Mix in the grated cheese and allow to cool otherwise the heat from the mixture will make the pastry difficult to work with

Whilst the potato & onions are cooling, cut the pastry into 4 circles approx. 6cm diameter (I use a bowl to measure). You’ll find that you will need to reroll the in order to get all 4 circles

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Add about a quarter of the mixture to one half of each pastry circle; leave about 1/2 cm gap between the mixture and the edge of the pastry. Don’t overfill the circles with mixture or you’ll find it difficult to close your pasty.

Fold each circle in half and press the edges together with fingers or a fork, cut a couple of small incisions in the top of each pasty

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Brush the pasties with egg and place in oven for 15-20 minutes until golden brown

TIPS

Egg works best for glazing the pasties, as it will give nice golden colour but you can use milk if you’d prefer (which I did in this recipe)

If you have too much mixture for your pasties, bake it in oven for 15-20 minutes and it will make a lovely accompaniment for a meal

The pasties can be frozen when cooled and are equally delicious, whether served hot or cold

Ice Ice Baby – Freezer Benefits

In an earlier post, Sausage, Chilli & Tomato Pasta, you probably noticed that a lot of the ingredients I used had been frozen.

Now I’ve spent a large proportion of my adult life in shared housing where I’ve had to store my entire grocery shop on one lonely fridge shelf, and freezer space was nothing but a luxury to dream of.

It’s only in the last couple of years where I’ve had the very grown up pleasure of not only my own flat but also access to a fridge & freezer that’s all mine.

The benefits of having a freezer came instantly, I was suddenly allowed to take advantage of supermarket offers that I never could before such as Sainsbury’s meat, poultry or fish 3 or £10 which is one of my most purchased offers.

Batch cooking and the ability to freeze leftovers has also been a huge benefit. If I cook 4 portions of Spaghetti Bolognese, no longer do I have to spend an entire week eating it as the wonders of Tupperware mean I can freeze it for a later date. For days when I’ve got caught back late at the office, it’s great to come home, not have to cook and still be able to eat a nutritious home cooked meal that’s awaiting me in the freezer.

Recently, since I embarked on my food waste frenzy, I’ve started to freeze even more stuff, not just fresh meat and leftovers. Half of the stuff I wasn’t even aware you could freeze.

Ice cube trays have become my new found friend, I’ve used them to freeze home-made stock, the left-over dregs of an unfinished wine bottle and the end of bunches of those pesky supermarket herbs which never get used up in one portion. Once frozen, you can tip the ice cubes of stock, wine etc. into a freezer bag, label up and keep until a later date when a recipe calls for the ingredient. Freezing items such as stock & wine, not only stops you throwing left-overs out, it reduces the need to buy big packets of these ingredients when a recipe only calls for a small amount.

In my experience, a lot of what you do and don’t freeze comes out of habit, for example I’d never thought to freeze items such as butter and milk but I’ve tried both recently with no adverse effects. The butter I’d taken advantage of a 2 for 1 offer and the milk I’d picked up a couple of pints only to arrive home to find my partner had done the same. In days gone by, both of these ingredients would probably have lingered on my fridge shelf, past their best and been confined to the bin, but the freezer came to the rescue.

Other items I’d never dreamed of freezing were fresh fruit & veg, but my foray into food waste has taught me that a lot of fresh fruit & veg can indeed be frozen with little detrimental effect on the ingredient. So far I’ve frozen chillies, celery, lemons and peppers. The advice seems to be in all instances to chop up the veg first and then freeze in freezer bags. The ingredients probably won’t be up to being used in a nice fresh salad but for stews & stir-frys etc. I haven’t noticed any negative effects on the flavour or the texture. I suppose if you think logically, you can already buy a lot of frozen vegetables so what’s the difference in doing it for yourself.

If you’re unsure about what you can and can’t freeze, Google and the blogging world will come to your rescue. As mentioned the positives of this are not only reducing waste, it also helps to reduce costs as you’ll have ingredients on hand and not have to buy new over-sized packets of stuff and you can take advantage of those supermarket offers that I generally advise against. I’ve also found that I do not have to visit the supermarket quite as often as I regularly find that I have enough ingredients in my freezer to knock up an ad-hoc meal on demand. So don’t be afraid to get cold and get freezing, hopefully you’ll start seeing all the benefits that I have

Horror of the herbs

Fresh Herbs are probably one of my biggest items of food waste.  I’ve tried to grow my own but I’m not very green fingered and a top floor flat with no outside space, doesn’t seem to provide optimal growing conditions.

Where possible I try to substitute fresh herbs for dried but for lots of recipes dried herbs just don’t quite cut it. The shelf life of shop bought fresh herbs is extremely short and I find the packaged quantities just far too large to use up in one meal. More often than not, on my weekly clean up of the fridge, there’s normally some black coriander or some shrivelled parsley that’s headed for the bin.

I’ve got quite good at making pesto, a great use for left over basil.  There’s also a whole variety of  other condiments and dressings that can be made from various herbs. Fresh herbs can be mixed with oils to create marinades for meat or added to dairy products such as butter and cream for a bit of a twist.

Despite these ideas I still manage to incur an abundance of throw away herbs each month and so I decided to turn to the internet to research what other options are available. It transpires that there’s a whole host of ways to extend the life of herbs. You can freeze them, dry them, infuse oils with them and so on…all ideas I’d never have thought of. Hey, there’s even websites dedicated solely to care and storage of fresh herbs.

These ideas aren’t my own but there’s so many websites, including wikihow that show you how to do all of the above ideas. I think my preferred option is the freezing idea and although this takes away freshness and means that the herbs can’t be used for garnishes, I imagine that the herbs would still taste fantastic mixed into many dishes.

So after a little bit of googling I now have many herby experiments to try and can hopefully reduce my food waste even further. I’d be really interested to know if anyone’s tried or tested the freezing of herbs, or better still if any readers out there have any additional ideas of how to use up these pesky leftovers?