When my daughters and I spent a day last summer at the Jane Austen Festival in Louisville, Kentucky, we took part in an afternoon tea. Besides drinking about three pots of delicious tea between us, we stuffed ourselves with an amazing array of tea-time food-pastries, cookies, and more substantial offerings like Beef and Stilton Pasties.
Bonnie Wise, one of the organizers of the festival and a member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, was kind enough to answer a few questions for me via email-and to send me two recipes from that afternoon tea. I saved them for a whole year so I could make them as part of my series leading up to this year’s festivities, now less than one week away!
I had to modify the recipe slightly, due to a mistake I made at the grocery store. The recipe calls for refrigerated pie crust, but I got it into my head that the meat was stuffed into puff pastry! It turned out delicious and I’ve included instructions for using either one, according to your taste.
Bonnie says the recipe is based on one found in Victoria Magazine called TeaTime Bliss. I made this for a weekend lunch and served it with a salad and herbed mash potatoes. It was easy! Big thanks to my 9 year old daughter Elizabeth for helping me in the kitchen-she rolled the pasties and also took some of the photographs you’ll see below!
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1 small onion, chopped
• 1 tablespoons Herbes de Provence (or you can mix your own using thyme, basil, oregano and parsley to suit your taste)
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon pepper
• 1 pound ground beef or chuck
• ¼ cup crumbled Stilton or other blue cheese
• 1 package refrigerated pie crust or puff pastry
• 1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water (for use with pie crust) or 4 tablespoons melted butter (for use with puff pastry)
In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil.
Add the onions and herbs and cook 3-5 minutes or just until the onions become soft and start to turn clear. I also picked some basil from my garden and ground it with my mortar and pestle and added that to the mixture-I used about two handfuls of leaves.
Add the beef and cook thoroughly throughout. Drain grease.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
If using pie crust: On a lightly floured surface, roll out piecrust to ¼ inch thickness. Using a 3 inch round cutter, cut 24 circles. Lightly brush half the circles with egg wash. These egged halves are where you will put the cheese and meat when that step comes.
If using puff pastry: (NOTE: pull out one roll of pastry 2 hours before you begin this recipe, in order to give it time to thaw at room temperature). Roll out puff pastry on completely clean and dry surface. Immediately pull two sheets off and cover rest with plastic saran wrap and damp towel. Brush those two sheets of puff pastry lightly with butter.
For either method, once the pie crust or puff pastry is prepared, spoon one teaspoon of blue cheese and two teaspoons of meat mixture onto surface.
For pie crust-cover mixture with circle of pie crust not egg-washed. Crimp edges. Set onto baking sheet and brush with egg wash.
For puff pastry-roll the pastry, beginning on one side and continuing to the other, then fold two edges into middle.
Place with the folds down on the baking sheet and brush with butter. Repeat the whole process, pulling out two more sheets, brushing them with butter and filling theme with meat and cheese.
Bake for 17-25 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve immediately or freeze and rewarm in the oven.