Friday, October 7, 2011

Betty Neels English picnic - pasty

here's the deal with Neels

I enjoy reading a Betty Neels romance. There is a certain "purity" to her novels. They are no thrillers, there isn't any sex in them. The plots and characters are fairly repetitive. Still,  they please me. The sheer predictability make them home-like, or like a warm fireplace on a snowy night. I read them as a young girl in India, and now, as a middle-aged housewife in the US.
Back then, I was fascinated by the exotic ( for me)  locales, Amsterdam, London, Vienna etc. I walked along the English countryside, gazed at the canals and the old houses in Amsterdam, ate cakes at Sacher in Vienna, along with the heroine. I visited in my mind's eye, the English cottages, their gardens, the  black and white floors of a Dutch house, the museums and shops in the cities.
And of course, love! :)
There was a period when I forgot about these characters. But now they are back. Like a hot cup of tea, or a chilled glass of wine, these books relax me. But this time around, it is the food that captures my attention more ( of course, there will always be love  on my mind-- that pure, impossibly perfect, perfectly impossible, other worldly, golden ideal! :)). Betty Neels dishes out a  delicious menu in each of her books. And I try to recreate them. I research the recipes,  I combine, edit and create the dishes that Neels has mentioned in her novels. I am having fun doing this, as I learn new things. The recipes and pictures you see here have their origins from this liking.

Like her serious hero who is an expert at making small talk when he loves the girl, let's talk about nothing in particular, and have a glass of sherry before dinner. Here's to us! ;)
read more: who is Betty Neels

Now we 'll all go on a picnic with Betty.

 I forgot the boiled eggs for this platter. The heroine, after a nice walk on the beach, goes to a seaside eatery and enjoys a hearty teatime meal.

cucumber sandwich, sandwich with gentleman's relish, chicken vol-au-vents, cornish pasty, sausage rolls


2 lbs short crust pastry -  I used pie crust.
2 tbsp oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium potato, diced and cooked (use microwave :)
1- 2  cups ground beef ( or lamb, diced, cooked)
1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped, optional
salt, pepper
cayenne (optional)
1/2 lb cheddar, grated
Eggwash for glaze

Filling -- Heat oil. Saute onion, garlic. Add beef. Cook well. Add mushrooms. then potatoes. Season to taste. Remove from heat. Add the cheese. Stir well.

400 F oven. Roll out pastry. Cut out 6" circles. Spoon in filling. Crimp edges together. Cut slits. Brush with beaten egg. Bake on sheet for 20- 30 minutes, till golden.



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