Brexit is on the minds of many people, and not just those living and working in Great Britain who are affected directly. How it will affect me, as a British person living in Spain, was very much on my mind on my recent trip to England over Easter. But the effects will no doubt go much further still, not only will people across Europe be affected, but I doubt the European Union itself will come out unchanged…… or perhaps I should say that I hope it doesn’t come out unchanged.
Whatever happens it is shame that Britain will be leaving the EU, but it is even more of a shame that the UK government and the European politicians didn’t see it coming. The European politicians in particular seem to have their head stuck in the sand, they didn’t and perhaps still don’t see the writing on the wall, the writing of discontentment. Yes, extremist parties are feeding local discontent in a number of European countries, but that discontent does exist, rightly or wrongly.
I think that one of the issues is a disconnection between the European parliament and the general population. Particularly in Britain, people know who their local member of parliament is, many can probably name a number of British MP’s, but I suspect that not many can name any European parliament members!
Many also question the decisions that are made in Brussels, or at least the ones they hear of. They see rules obliging restaurants and bars to use plastic sachets for oil instead of the traditional “help yourself” bottles, yet see that they are incapable of finding a solution to mass immigration across the Mediterranean, the suffering and the deaths. They seem capable of deciding whether a tomato is in fact a fruit or a vegetable, but have not come up with a coherent strategy on Syria, again doing nothing to alleviate suffering and death. They can’t even sort out the question of language, with 5,100 translators, at no doubt great cost, required to keep the humongous E.U. machine running.
As I was thinking all this, particularly during my trip to England, I read an interesting article in the New York Times on the “first” Brexit…….
Apparently there was a 20 mile wide chalk land bridge between Dover and Calais. The bridge survived the cyclical ice ages then warmer periods of rising seas until about 450,000 years ago when, during a particularly cold period, norther Britain and Norway were joined together by large glaciers. This in effect dammed the North Sea forming a large lake, whose waters steadily rose in height from the influx of waters from a number of rivers, including the Thames and the Rhine.
In the end the waters over-flowed over the land bridge, scouring the surface and eating away at the western edge as the waters cascaded down into the Atlantic. They estimate that the land bridge survived for another 20,000 years, before the first breach occurred. They suspect it was in fact fairly small and that a sediment built up to block the exit and sealed the land bridge anew.
They believe some other major event, about 160,000 years ago, created a larger breakthrough that led to a cataclysmic breaking of the land bridge and severe flooding. They speculate that it could have been an earthquake, but however it happened perhaps Theresa may have to take second place to the North Sea waters, in separating Britain from the rest of Europe!
Leaving Brexit for a moment, and moving on to the dish of the day……According to the dictionary Bajan is an informal word for Barbadian, the inhabitants of Barbados. The island was discovered by Columbus, then later occupied by the Portuguese before finally forming part of the British Empire in the 17th century. An explosive mix of invading peoples has given rise to some very interesting flavour combinations and local dishes. Later they too found their own “Brexit”, Barbados claimed independence from Britain in 1966.
But what is it about islands and invaders? I mean I can understand wanting to live in Barbados, but Britain? Don’t get me wrong, there are some spectacularly beautiful places in Britain, when the sun is out……. unfortunately the weather, if not always inclement, is not always conducive to being out in it. Yet the British Isles have been “visited” by Romans, Germanic tribes, Vikings and Normans in the distant past, not to mention peoples from the British Empire and now Europe in more recent times.
They have created a cultural diverse society which I for one enjoy in the unsurpassable variety of restaurants, flavours and dishes to delight my palate. Let us hope that this at least does not change as a result of Brexit!
So back to the Bajan Patties, a diverse set of ingredients and flavours that create mildly spicy meat filled pastries. I hope you like them.
2 Medium onions
3 Garlic cloves
300g Minced beef
3 Spring garlic plants (or spring onions)
1 Medium potato
100ml Tomato sauce
1/2 Beef stock cube
1/2 tsp Dried thyme
Freshly ground black pepper
¼ tsp Worcestershire sauce
¼ tsp Tobasco
4 Dashes Salt
2 tbsp Mustard powder
1 Egg for glazing
Take the lard and margarine for the pastry out of the fridge so that they are not too hard when making the pastry.
To make the filling:
Finely chop the onions and garlic. Fry the onions gently until they are starting to soften.
Add in the garlic then the minced beef. Fry until almost done.
Chop the spring garlic then add into the pan. Fry until done.
Small dice the potato. Add into the pan with all the other ingredients.
Cover the pan and cook for 5 to 7 minutes or until the potatoes are almost done.
Remove the lid and simmer gently until most of the liquid has evaporated.
Check the seasoning and adjust as necessary.
Leave to cool.
To make the pastry:
Sift and stir together the flour, salt and mustard powder.
Rub in the fats then cut in enough cold water to make a firm dough.
For further details see the following links:
Cut in chilled water until the dough forms.
Leave to rest for 1 hour.
Pre-heat the oven to 190ºC
Make the pasties:
Roll out the pastry until relatively thin. Cut out some circles of about 16 cm diameter.
Put a couple of tablespoons of the mixture on one half of the pastry circles.
Beat the egg and gently brush a little around the outer rim of the pastry circles. Fold over the pastry of the empty half to cover the half with the filling.
Press gently to close the patties. To decorate you can fold over the pastry edge as I have done or simple press down with a fork to leave an undulated edge.
With the point of a sharp knife make a couple of small openings in the top of each patty to let the steam escape whilst baking.
Put the patties onto a lightly greased baking tray. They will not really spread so they can be placed close together.
Brush the remaining beaten egg on the top of the patties.
Bake for 30 minutes.
You will have seen that the recipe makes 10 patties. This is because I make large batches at this time of year, eating some but freezing many. I use Spring Garlic (Ajos Tiernos) in the filling. As they are coming to the end of their season, I use this recipe as a means of using up many of the plants I have before they become too large to be really useful.
I would also like to thank José and family for the book on Bajan cooking….. it is full of great ideas and I will no doubt be sharing more dishes on this site.
My suggestions this week is a Spanish dish where pastry encloses a savoury filling, in this case the filling is tuna:
tsp – Teaspoon – 5ml
tbsp – Tablespoon – 15ml
Imperial to Metric Measurement:
1 oz – 28g
1 lb – 16 oz – 454g
1 gill – ¼ pint – 142ml
1 inch – 25mm
Common Flour Types:
Gluten: 8% to 10%
Type: ES 70W
All-Purpose Flour / Plain Flour
Gluten: 8% to 11%
Type: DE 550 / FR 55 / IT 0 / ES 200W
Bread Flour / Strong Flour / Hard Flour
Gluten: 12% to 14% protein (gluten)
Type: DE 812 / FR 80 / IT 1 / ES 400W
2017 Lincoln W. Betteridge