Tag Archives: mince

Sophie’s Savouries

26 Feb

So I was paging through Delicious by Sophie Gray trying to find something nice but cheap to make that I hadn’t made a million times before. I saw a bunch of things but I did notice that her recipes for empanadas and samosas were quite similar – unsurprisingly I suppose, since they’re both basically “pastry stuffed with a potato-heavy filling”. Neither of them were quite what I wanted but I thought they’d be quite nice if I put them together so I did and here you are.

A Sidebar on Indexing

If you are a publisher of cookbooks, or think you might be one day, can I address you for a moment? When indexing your cookbook, you of course should index by both title and main ingredient. Delightful. However, can I suggest that when you index by title, you also index by what the food actually is? When I am looking for samosas, it is going to take me a very long time to figure out that they’re actually under “c” – for “crispy baked samosas”. Ditto empanadas – under “s” for “savoury sausage empanadas” – and Irish stew – under “slow-cooked Irish stew” (this was particularly difficult to find because while samosas were under potato, and empanadas were under sausage, I actually had no idea the key ingredient of Irish stew was lamb).

Sophie’s Savouries
Adapted from Sophie Gray
Serves four or five depending on how hungry everyone is.  Although Sophie thinks they serve six.


Four or five small-ish potatoes, peeled and diced
200g mince (or three good sausages, with the sausage meat removed from the casings)
One large onion, diced or sliced
A little olive oil
1 cup frozen peas, as-is, or cooked fresh or dried peas
A heaped teaspoon each of cumin, coriander, turmeric, and garam masala
Half a teaspoon of paprika
1 t salt

300g flour
100g butter
Cold water


1. Preheat the oven to 180 C. Boil the potatoes in salted water until tender, and drain.

2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a pan and fry the onions until translucent. NOTE: I used powdered spices, but if you’re going to use whole coriander and cumin seeds, add them to the heated oil before the onions.

I did not do this deliberately, but doesn't the paprika look kinda like a heart here? ❤

3. Add the mince and fry gently until brown but not dry.

4. Add the potatoes, spices, and peas to the mince and crush it all together with a fork. No need to overcrush or mash or whatever, don’t get fancy. (I mean, you can if you want to, but.)

5. While it cools enough to handle, make the pastry. Sorry, I took a million photos of the boring cooking bit and none of the slightly more tricky pastry bit, but I’m pretty sure you all know how to do this anyway.

6. Rub the butter into the flour, or use a food processor or pastry blender until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

7. Slowly add just enough water to form a soft dough.

Okay, I took one photo.

8. Roll the pastry out, quite thinly, on a floured surface. You’re going to want to do this in a couple of batches and I needed a really quite floury surface, but I possibly over-watered it. (Mine was excellent though, so maybe you want that.)

9. You have some options when it comes to rolling your pastry out. You can either roll out one big sheet or a couple of big sheets and use a plate to cut out circles, or you can divide your pastry into eight to twelve evenly-sized lumps and roll them out into circles by hand.  I did a bit of both and I can’t say I thought either came out differently, although I am a pretty crap circle-roller so that affected some things. The size of the plate for the first method doesn’t really matter. Sophie said a bread and butter plate (actually she said 19cm in diameter) but I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t use a saucer and have wee ones, or a dinner plate and have as-big-as-your-head ones.

10. As you roll them (trust me, you do not want to stack these up and then try to peel them off each other), place the circles on a greased baking tray. Brush the edge of one semicircle with a little water, then pile a good wodge of filling on that semicircle, leaving the edge clear. Lift the other side up and over the filling, pressing the edges together – I crimped most of them the way I would crimp dumplings, but I have to admit that the ones that I simply pressed down on using a fork looked nicer. You could also do the fancy Cornish pasty twist if you know it.

As you can see, I don't know the fancy Cornish Pasty twist.

I have to admit that the ones I sealed with a fork are probably a little nicer looking than the ones I folded together.

11. When everything is all packed up (you might have extra filling or dough, I just managed it by making one pastry super-sized) and laid out on greased baking trays, bake for 25 minutes or until they go a little brown and crispy. I didn’t egg wash these because she didn’t call for it, but I would if I did it again – make ’em nice and brown. Milk would do the same trick if you don’t want to waste a whole egg.

12. Serve hot with a salad.

You don’t get a picture of the insides because I had run out of turmeric and so my filling looked, to be honest, like grey wet washing, but with turmeric yours will look beautiful, I bet. These are great for lunch the next day, too (although the pastry, unsurprisingly but regretfully, did not stay crisp after spending the night in the fridge & being heated in the microwave). I did not try this, but I imagine that you could freeze these uncooked and bake to defrost, or nearly-cook them and freeze them and bake to reheat. Plus, this filling is very accommodating – you could go all cornish pasty and do it with carrots and swedes, leave out the meat (although then they’re basically samosas), use different spices, whatever, you do you, to steal a line from Autostraddle.


Friday Feed: Some Assembly Required Burgers

27 Jan

Some Assembly Required Burger

I have made a lot of burgers in my life, because they’re one of the most delicious things you can do with mince, and I’ve been a student for basically the whole time I’ve been a cook. For many, many years, my favourite burger of all time has been an adapted version of the Tigers & Strawberries Bulgogi Burger, a beautiful burger that’s been popular among my friends and is specially good because you can serve it without buns. As, again, a student, I learned from my extremely thrifty flatmate Lucy that special meal ingredients, the kind of thing that you pop into Pak’n’Slave to get on the way home, are the fastest way to break the budget – so that recipe has served me faithfully and well. But last week my dad and I made burgers and they were, in my opinion, even better.

This meal definitely bears the influence of the bulgogi burgers – especially in the spuds – but in other ways is definitely symptomatic of my family’s chuck-it-in-there-and-see-how-it-tastes food philosophy, with bits and pieces from all kinds of recipes – so obviously, I had to call them Some Assembly Required Burgers.

I don't know why I go to the Frankenstein's monster place when I'm cooking. Thanks to Screencap Paradise for the caps, I futzed with them a bit.

Serves 4-6. Ingredients in order of recommended preparation.

6 large roasting-variety potatoes, washed but not peeled
Olive oil
Chili flakes to taste
3 cloves of garlic, diced
Fresh basil and parsley, shredded

2-3 large beetroot

Burger ingredients laid out and ready, including a hunk of Best Soup Bread waiting to be breadcrumbs.

500g beef mince (ground beef, in the USian. NZers, I think the 500g packs of Angus Pure are a really good deal, especially at New World where mince doesn’t get cheaper than that anyway. Pak’n’Slave store packed is probably cheaper tho.)
1 carrot, peeled and grated
1 onion, diced
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1-2 eggs (I used 2 and they were, ok, a little sticky)
3 cloves of garlic, crushed and diced
A tablespoon or so grated ginger. Protip from my mother: Keep it in the freezer, peel & grate when you want it
Salt & pepper
Fresh rosemary to taste, diced
1 T soy sauce

Lettuce and other salad greens
Spring onions, diced
Tomatoes, diced or sliced
Whatever else you like in your salad
Vinaigrette – optional

Burger buns – we bought them tonight, but if I plan ahead/have tonnes of time I like these light brioche burger buns.

Condiments, i.e. mayonnaise, tomato sauce, cheese slices for whiny sisters, fried eggs for whiny brothers, malt vinegar for whiny fathers, mustard for whiny brothers, butter for whiny fathers, after this point I would (& did) say if they want anything else they can shut up and make it themselves. I mean, I’m cooking here!


1. Preheat the oven to 200 C (400 F). Slice the potatoes smallish, toss with olive oil, a shake of chili flakes (don’t overdo these, a little goes a long way especially if you have a fussy sister) and sea salt, shake them out into a try (I recommend lining with baking paper if you don’t want them to stick like mine do, I just hate the waste/don’t mind sloppy presentation. When they’ve been cooking for 20-30 minutes, toss in the garlic. When they’re about 10 minutes from being done – they should take around 50 minutes all up – toss over the shredded parsley and basil.

I dunno if you can really see the seasoning here.

Cooked taties. These look messy because I'm too cheap to use paper. Taste good though! And they're more crispy this way.

2. Prepare the beetroot by slicing off the leaves to leave very short stalks, and slicing off most of the beardy stuff at the bottom. Don’t peel them. Boil them for 40 minutes. If you got the beetroot out of the garden/they came with tops, preserve some of the beet tops for your salad!

3. Chuck all of the burger ingredients in a bowl and mush them up with your hands (WASH FIRST). This is kind of yucky and kind of fun! Cover the bowl and pop it in the fridge until you need them.

4. You probably have time to make your salad now. I gave ingredients up top but like, you could pretty much do whatever you want. Or you could just shred the lettuce and slice the tomatoes. Or coleslaw would be really good too (COLESLAW: shred a bunch of cabbage, grate a couple carrots, a couple apples, and some cheese, maybe toss in some raisins, put on a vinaigrette, DONE. Look, I know you probably know how to do that, but once upon a time I made a coleslaw in front of a friend and she was like “whoa that tastes really good”. Coleslaw is easy and cheap, you can have it in your life too!)


As you can see, I like tomatoes and flowers (borage and nasturtiums) in my salad


Sidebar on vinaigrette

Vinaigrette is one of those things that everybody makes completely differently but it tastes delicious. I like two parts olive oil, 1.5 parts balsamic vinegar, a heaped teaspoon of seeded mustard (or hell, sometimes dijon if I’m desperate), a crushed minced garlic clove, salt, pepper. And a little honey if it’s a spinach salad and whisk it all with a fork to emulsify. Other people skip the mustard, or the garlic, or they use red wine vinegar or lemon juice instead of balsamic, or they use avocado oil. In my really really studenty days, I have made vinaigrette with malt vinegar, I don’t really recommend that though. You should play around and try to figure out what you like. Learn it, though, because it is SO much cheaper to make this than to buy it. Also I guess you can put  a creamy or mayoy dressing on your salad or coleslaw but please do not tell me about it. Anyway, chuck the dressing on just before you serve, to keep your salad fresh and crisp.

5. Put the salad on the table, put the dressing beside it, and forget about it (yay!) Shape burger patties according to how many people you’re feeding and then fry/barbeque/grill (broiling in the USian). I grilled because I like grilling things but usually people would fry them (you only need to grease the pan a little, and about 5 minutes on either side depending on how thick your patties are) or barbeque them on the flat plate.

As ever, I don't really go in for pristine presentation. These are pre-cooking, I didn't manage to get a photo of the cooked ones!


6. While the patties are cooking, take the beetroot off the heat and flush with cold water. Peel them – this is really easy: you just push the skin off with your fingers. Then it’s sort of like you’re holding a warm, bleeding organ in your hands, so feel free to do the Stefan Salvatore Dance of I Just Ripped Your Heart Out. Slice the beetroot and plate it. Also take the potatoes out and plate them, put them on the table and cover them with at teatowel and forget about them (yay!)

7. At this point you could toast your buns if you can be bothered, but I never can, especially if they’re fresh. Put everything on the table. Assemble your burger: Bottom bun, swirl of mayo, swirl of tomato sauce, burger, cheese slice if applicable, salad, beetroot, top bun. Potatoes on the side.

A half-assembled burger and potatoes on a brown plate.

Om nom nom! This is a terrible photo, sorry, of a half-assembled burger.


8. Nom that burger good! Now have another. You’re welcome.