My great great grandmother, Orra Bell Hose, married an Englishman.
After fighting in the civil war, Ora Belle’s father, John Henry Hose, moved the family to the Black Hills of South Dakota, where they opened a boarding house for miners during and the gold rush of the late 1800s. That’s where Ora Belle met her English husband.
Like many people, William Thomas had come to the Black Hills to find his fortune. He didn’t find it, and like so many people ended up working in the mines. As you can imagine, mining was not a particularly glamorous profession a hundred years ago. The miners worked long hard days in the hot dirty mine. They needed to bring food, but it’s not like they could pop their bento box in the office fridge until lunch time. They had to carry everything they had with them through that hot, dirty mine.
That’s where the pasties come in.
As far as I can tell, the Cornish are proud of many things, but mining and pasties just might top that list. Pasties are little pocket pies that you can fill with just about anything you like. The miners could easily slip them into the pockets of their overalls, and pull them out when they were hungry.
My family’s favorite recipe (which you can find at the end of this post) appears to be very similar to the description of a traditional Cornish Pasty – meat and potatoes, but my grandmother tells me that the miners enjoyed all sorts.
Since I don’t eat meat, I decided to try my hand at a vegetarian version, but I recommend the traditional pasties whole-heartedly to all the meat-lovers out there. I grew up eating them, and it was always a treat.
These apple pasties are perfect little pockets of fall flavor. The apples this time of year are so crisp and sweet, which balances out the sharpness of the cheddar. I have to be honest, though, the star of the show is still the crust – so crispy, light, and flaky. Best pie crust in the world.
Savory Apple and White Cheddar Pasties
(Makes about 6 Small Pasties)
Dough for 1 Pie Crust (recipe here)
1/2 Tbsp. Butter
1 large Apple (about 8 oz.), peeled, cored, and cubed
1 small Shallot, chopped
2 oz. Frozen Spinach
2 oz. White Cheddar, cubbed
1/4 tsp. grated Fresh Nutmeg
Salt and Pepper to taste
Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees. Melt the butter in a large pan, and add apple, shallot, and spinach. Saute over medium heat until the spinach is thawed, and the shallots are soft. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper, and set aside. Roll out the pie crust and cut into circles. I used two 3” circles per pie. (You can also use one 5” circle per pie for a more traditional half-moon shaped pasty) Place about 1/6 of the filling in the middle of one circle, brush the edges with egg wash, and place another circle of on top, and crimp the edges. (Or fold over and crimp for half-moon shaped pasties.) You can make these up to one day ahead, and keep them in the fridge until you’re ready to bake them.
Place all the pasties on a lightly oiled cookie sheet, brush the tops with egg wash, and bake for about 15 min. or until the crust is golden brown. Serve these warm while the cheese is hot and melty.
** I used 1 egg whisked with one tbsp. of cream.
I couldn’t even wait to get them off the cookie sheet before I dug in. They were delicious!
As for Ora Belle and William, there wasn’t much of a happy ending. William contracted a severe respiratory illness at an early age, and left Ora Belle and their three young children to return home to England to die.
Such is life.
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