Down in the West Country recently, I found myself with a large amount of Barber’s Cheddar cheese (there’s a story behind this but that’s for another time). I’ve written about their cheese before here: not only do they make a really good block Cheddar, they are also the oldest Cheddar-maker in the world and the guardians of Britain’s traditional starter cultures, which is a pretty big deal for many of our farmhouse cheese-makers.
I was then gifted two ingredients, fresh from the garden, that I’d never cooked with before: sorrel and elephant garlic. Sorrel is a spinach-like herb with a slightly sharp taste that’s been compared to sour strawberries. Elephant garlic is not actually a true garlic but a cousin of the leek; its flavour is much more subtle and less likely to frit the vampires.
So I stared at my haul, Ready-Steady-Cook style, for quite some time:
And then inspiration struck! I’ve always been a fan of a cheese and onion pasty and, indeed, during my first year at university ate the same lunch every day without fail: a cheese and onion pasty from a well-known Northern franchise, a bottle of chocolate milk and a Double Decker (my calcium levels were looking good, if nothing else). When I was pregnant with my second child, I was again lured by the pasty siren (this time with salt and vinegar crisps). Pasties are hearty comfort food, full of stodgy potato and tangy cheese. Here, the elephant garlic, roasted with olive oil and thyme, provides the oniony tang and the sorrel adds a herbal taste (plus one of your five-a-day if you’re going to live on them for nine months).
Ingredients (makes four whoppers or eight smaller pasties)
1 x 500g pack of puff pastry
2 medium potatoes, boiled and roughly mashed (some pasty aficionados like to chop them into little cubes and cook them raw in the pasty but I prefer a fluffier texture)
2 handfuls of sorrel
1 head of elephant garlic
250g Cheddar cheese, grated
1 egg, beaten
First, pre-heat the oven to 200˚C / 180˚C fan-assisted / Gas Mark 6. Pour olive oil into the top of the elephant garlic and sprinkle over some chopped thyme and salt and pepper. Roast until soft (mine took about an hour and a half).
Whilst that’s cooking, roughly chop the sorrel and cook it gently to wilt it. Sorrel, unlike spinach, doesn’t keep its colour well and so you go from this vibrant green:
To this, which is vaguely reminiscent of something from a cow’s backside:
When it’s cooled down, chop up the elephant garlic and mix it into the mashed potato with the sorrel and grated cheese. Season well.
Split your pastry into four or eight pieces (depending on the pasty size you want). Roll out each piece on a floured surface to make a rough circle (well, mine were more square-like really…)
Place some of your filling in the middle, dampen the edges of the pasty with water and fold over, crimping the edges to make a pasty shape (I folded my squares into triangles).
Brush with beaten egg, place on a baking sheet and cook for about 20 minutes for a small pasty and 30 minutes for a larger pasty. Serve warm from the oven or keep cold for a picnic.
Because this post contains sorrel, a herb, I’m linking it up with the Cheese, Please! Challenge; this month’s rules are here.