Summer holidays are almost here and that has kept us very busy with end of school year concerts, field trips and last minute assignments. How can life get so busy here after only having moved to Boulder 3 months ago? Besides the busyness, we have all settled here so very quickly. We love our neighbourhood and have such welcoming neighbours.
On either side of us we have families who have each just had their youngest child graduate from high school. Both young men are about to embark on a new life in a new city and it seems so sad that they are leaving. We have only known these families for such a short time but I love how we have been invited to be apart of their graduation celebrations, how Elliott loves to run out and chat to the neighbours whilst they wash their car or do some gardening. Our quiet street fills up with the neighbour kids and all their teenage friends and they entertain our kids for ages playing tennis, frisbee and skateboarding on the road. They all seem to be such lovely, responsible, mature young adults. It will be so quiet here when they leave for college. I really hope my own kiddos choose to go to university in the same city, close to home!
Speaking of home, I made meat pies for dinner a couple of weeks ago. Food for the homesick Australian. Joel travelled back to California to give some lectures at the main campus and I wanted to cook up something uniquely Australian for dinner when he returned. It was such a hit with the whole family that I have made these pies on three separate occasions in as little weeks. I took a plate of mini pies to a party last week where they were quickly devoured but never again will I make mini ones – so time consuming. I picked up a great tin with 6 pastry molds where the base measures 9cm in diameter. This is the perfect pie size however to make it even easier you could just make one big family pie.
Puff pastry is very hard to come by over here and if you do find it expect to pay through the nose for it. A reader awhile ago told me I should give rough puff pastry a go. It took me awhile to work up the courage but I did and it worked a treat. I have made it now several times and very satisfied with the layers of puffed pastry. The first batch I made was the best but sadly I can’t remember what cookbook I made it from (one of the downsides to having too many cookbooks). The other times I made the Rough Puff from Kate Bracks’ book, The Sweet Life, and it has been great and super easy. The shortcrust pastry recipe I use is a Donna Hay one which I have in this recipe for Caramelised Onion and Blue Cheese Tart. It is quite short and I do think a flaky pie pastry would be better for a meat pie. My mum uses the Flaky Pastry recipe in The Commonsense Cookery Book and I think in hindsight I should use that one as it is perfect in my mum’s delicious lentil pies she does. I will leave the choice of pastry to you but I will try to share a proper instructional post one day on Rough Puff Pastry as it is a great recipe to have. I’ll also be trying my hand at the Flaky Pastry next time I make these meat pies and share the results.
To make these pies a complete meal then be sure to serve them with mashed potato, peas (or mushy peas if you are that way inclined) and tomato sauce (AKA ketchup). All the kids were loving it but the funny thing is that I can’t even be sure they have had meat pies in Australia. I know Joel and I would on occasion buy a meat pie at Yatala but the kids have never been there. It is funny how being an expat makes you feel a connection with things that you weren’t that close to back home.
As tempted as we are to buy a ranch here in Boulder and get a horse or two (I have wasted hours looking at real estate and horse sales in the area and seriously considering this possibility) I feel home calling us. Another mum I met who moved from San Francisco bought some land here and just bought some pigs which her kids adore. However in the summer she gets bears come down to the creek on her property which would scare the living daylights out of me! I love how you can have a country lifestyle here but be 15 minutes away from downtown Boulder. We all love it here. It is stunning, friendly, the schools are brilliant and living here is affordable. Tilly, in particular, is loving the horse riding and we all love the hiking and the skiing. It was incredibly surreal to wake up on Mothers Day and see snow falling. We had a big snow storm and Joel had to leave that evening for sunny California (shorts and t-shirts packed in his suitcase). Levi took on the responsibility to shovel the driveway and thankfully there was hardly any snow on the roads. I thoroughly enjoyed the last few days of our snowy winter wonderland before summer hit. Walking to school whilst it is snowing is something we will never experience in Brisbane. Today is meant to get up to 30 degrees C so it strange to look back at these snowy photos and think that was only a couple of weeks ago!
aussie meat pies
1 quantity of shortcrust pastry
2 sheets of puff pastry (or half a batch of rough puff pastry)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 brown onion, finely chopped
150g bacon slices, cut into strips
500g beef mince
4 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons barbecue sauce
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons plain flour
1 1/2 cups of beef stock
1 tablespoon milk
Line the base of 1 large pie dish or 6 individual tart tins with the shortcrust pastry. Prick the base with a fork and pop in the fridge for half an hour. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C (350 degrees F) and blind bake the pastry. Set aside to cool.
For the filling, heat a large pan over a medium heat. Add the oil and saute the onions until soft. Add the bacon and cook until brown. Add the mince and brown it before adding the sauce and seasonings. Sprinkle over the flour and cook, stirring the whole time, for about a minute and then add the beef stock. Turn the heat down to low and cook for 20 minutes or until the mixture has thickened up and the meat is thoroughly cooked. Check the seasonings and adjust if needed then set aside to cool. Lots of black pepper make these pies really tasty.
Fill the pastry bases with the cooled beef filling. Whisk the egg and milk together to make an egg wash and brush this on the edges of the pastry bases with a pastry brush. Roll out the puff pastry to about 4mm thick and cut out the lids. Place on top of the pie and crimp the edges with a fork. Brush the tops with the egg wash and make a slit on top. Sprinkle over the sesame seeds and bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.