Cheese, Potato, Leek and Red Onion Pasties

Seriously, what’s not to like about the comforting cheese and potato combo? I don’t believe that there is anything that you can buy that tastes as good as a home made version, so this recipe will see Linda McCartney and Greggs step aside and hang their heads in shame.

This recipe makes about 10-12 pasties, using a 10cm cutter.

Cheese & Onion Pasties

450g/1lb shortcrust pastry – you can buy it or make it yourself. Home made is super easy and tastes so much better.

2 large potatoes

600g mix of leek, normal onion and red onion.  Add some chives into the mix if you have any, or the green bits from spring onions (don’t stress if you haven’t got any of these, just leave them out and make up the 600g with the ones you have got – I didn’t have chives or spring onions for these and only half a red onion that I had left over from the day before)

40g butter

1 heaped teaspoon of mustard (any kind, this is just to lift the flavour) if you don’t have mustard, you could use 1/4 tsp chilli flakes/sauce or even 1tsp ketchup/tartare/horseradish sauce. That kind of thing.

Around 300g mature grated cheese (use all of the odd bits in your fridge, make sure some of it is stronger tasting cheese for maximum flavour)

Salt and pepper (to taste)

1 egg beaten (to glaze, so this is optional – shiny or dull, they taste great!)

Chop the onion mixture  roughly (leave the chives/spring onions to one side if you’re using them) and put it in a pan with 150ml water and 40g butter.

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Cover with a lid and bring to the boil. Simmer on medium low heat with the lid on for 15 minutes until the onions are soft (add a splash more water if you need to). Take the lid off and carry on cooking until the water has evaporated and the onions start to fry in the butter and are easily squashed between your fingers and are just starting to caramelise. Stir in the chives/spring onions if using and set aside.

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Cook your potatoes – either bake them if you have the oven on and scoop out the cooked flesh, or microwave or boil. You don’t need the skin.

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Roughly mash the potato with a fork. You don’t want the potato to be smooth, very chunky is what you’re looking for. Stir in the onion mixture along with the cheese, mustard (or substitute) and seasoning. Start with 1/2 tsp salt, taste and add more if necessary. Start with 1/4 tsp pepper, taste and add more if needed. Set aside to cool.

Put the oven on 200C (180C fan)

Roll out the pastry until it’s a bit thicker than a 2 pence piece, but not as thick as £1. Cut into 10cm circles. You can use a knife to draw around a small bowl if necessary. You can also make the pasties smaller if you want to use a smaller cutter – just make sure that you take them out of the oven sooner.

If you’re using egg to glaze, brush around the edge of the circle with egg and put around a heaped tablespoon of cooled mixture into the middle and pull one half of the pastry over the top of the filling to lie against the other side. Use your fingers or a fork to seal the edges tightly together. If you use too much filling, the pasties will burst open while they’re cooking – still edible, but not as pretty!

Grease a baking tray or line with greaseproof paper and put the pasties on each time you’ve made one.

Brush egg all over the top of the pasty if using and bake for 20-30 minutes until golden.

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Chinese Pot Stickers

I love Pot Stickers – crunchy and golden on one side and delicately steamed and soft on the other. Whatever filling there is inside the little dumplings remains juicy and succulent. A plate of these along with a dipping sauce of your choice is hard to beat for a taste of China.

I always stock up on frozen Dumpling wrappers when I go to the Chinese supermarket and as long as I remember to take a pack out of the freezer in the morning, all that I have to do is quickly whizz up the filling in the food processor and pack it into the pastry circles. 15 minutes later, there they are ready to eat.

I wondered how difficult it would be to make the dumpling wrappers and after asking around, I was told it was super easy and the texture of the finished dumplings was far superior. I was given an authentic recipe and I’m here to report – it’s super easy! It’s a cross between making pasties and pasta.

The top tip that I was given was to use boiling water when you’re making the dough which gives it a delicate feel when it’s cooked. This pastry can be used to make any Chinese dumpling, it’s not just for Pot Stickers.

Pot Sticker Dough (Dumpling/Wanton wrappers)

Makes 40-50 – you can make half this amount, or make all of this amount and open freeze them raw ready to cook from frozen.

285g plain flour

150ml boiling water (you may need a little more)

1tsp salt

In a food processor, whizz together the flour and salt. While the motor is running, pour in the water steadily. Process for a further 20 seconds and you should end up with something that looks like wet coarse crumbs.

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Add one tablespoon more of water, process for another 10 seconds. Put the mixture into a bowl.

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Pull it together into a ball, this should be really easy to do. This is what mine looked like after a couple of squeezes.

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Knead for a couple of minutes. The dough should be soft but firm and not sticky. If your dough is too dry or sticky, add drops of water or a little flour and knead them in to adjust.

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Put the dough into a plastic bag and keep in the fridge for at least an hour. You can leave it over night if you need to.

When you are ready to use the dough, cut it into 4 pieces and leave it to come to room temperature (especially if you’ve left it overnight in the fridge).

At this point you can roll out the dough as thinly as possible or (as I did) use a pasta machine which makes everything much easier. Use the machine in the same way that you would with pasta – start on the widest setting, gradually working your way down to the thinnest. Then cut the dough into 8-10cm circles with biscuit cutters.

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Don’t stack the circles on top of each other as they will stick together. It’s better to have your bowl of filling handy, ready to make Pot Stickers with the ones that you cut out from each quarter of dough.

When it comes to crimping, there are lots of techniques that you can learn on the internet to make your dumplings look pretty, but I stick to using the same crimping that I use on the edge of pie crusts just making sure that I pinch extra hard to make more of a point. If you make a slurry out of cornflour and water to paste around the edges, even if you just pinch them together really hard, they should stay stuck during the cooking process.

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Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan/wok and then add 10-15 Pot Stickers. Fry until they start to turn light golden.

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Keep checking the side that is in contact with the frying pan/wok. You don’t need them to be really dark as you’ve got to cook them some more. Add 1/4 cup (30ml) of water to the pan (it will hiss and spit, so take care!) and cover with a lid. Turn the heat to medium low and cook for 10-12 minutes with the lid on. To check if they’re done, take one out and cut it in half. When you put your finger onto the chicken filling it should be too hot to hold there and everything should look cooked and juicy.

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Filling recipe

This is enough to make about 40 Pot Stickers. You can make this in advance and keep in covered in the fridge until you need to use it, or freeze it. Use 1tblsp for each dumpling.

850g chicken thighs or mince (you can also use turkey or pork mince)

3tblsp soy sauce

3 spring onions finely chopped

A large thumb of ginger coarsely grated

A good pinch of pepper

Use chicken thighs if you have a food processor. If you don’t, use chicken mince.

If you’re using thighs, cut them into cubes and add them to the bowl of the food processor along with everything else. Whizz until everything is finely chopped (not pureed!) and set aside.

If you’re using mince, squish everything together with your hands. Set aside.