take my hand, we’re off to never never land

Okay, let’s all check ourselves before we wreck ourselves: my cookbook is officially out next week, for real, in the flesh, etc. On 23 August. And at the end of this blog post there is a giveaway competition thing you can enter to win one of two copies for yourself! (COMPETITION CLOSED) But if you don’t read this entire blog post first – and it’s as long and self-indulgent as ever! – I will know and my ghost will hang around you and sigh heavily and say “I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed”. And yeah, in this scenario I have a ghost while still being alive, it’s not entirely improbable, right? At the least, I’d read the heck out of a young adult lit book which had that plot.

The ‘after’ photo – above – of the plum hand pie is so much better than the ‘before’ photo of said hand pie and its little pie pals below, taken the previous evening. On account of I will possibly never work out how to take decent photos at night-time, illuminated only by an environmentally friendly lightbulb, which casts a gloomy yellow haze over everything within a metre of it and makes you squint like you’ve never squinted before, but does save ten percent power or something. Now that I’m done both damning myself and faintly praising myself, the important thing is: these hand pies are delicious and very easy and cute, and probably about to be really ‘in’, too. For what that’s worth. (Now that I’ve said it, hand pies will probably be widely denounced as embarrassingly tacky, which to be honest will probably make me love them even more.)
I made these to be eaten at a spontaneous-ish gathering of friends to watch a movie on our projector on Saturday night (Wet Hot American Summer, if you’re wondering, because as I always say, nothing bad can happen when Wet Hot American Summer is on.) It was a very fun evening, just really relaxed and lovely and silly and hilarious and low-key, the sort of fun you wish you could schedule in on a bi-daily basis, while knowing it’s best to just wait and let it happen accidentally.


Above: the morning after. Tim went to swoop in on the lone, remaining pie for a pre-breakfast snack, till I squawked “stop! The light is really great right now and I can salvage the terrible photos I took last night!” Oh, and that’s right, individual bowls for every snack and a commemorative teaspoon for the candy. Sure, we’re really messy, but we also have bizarrely specific high standards, you know?

So when I say hand pies I simply refer to what we might normally call pastries or turnovers or mini-pies. But ‘hand pies’ are deeply intertwined in the the cuisine of the American south, and I cannot resist a little culinary Americana. Or any Americana. As befits a kid who grew up in New Zealand but was obsessed with the Baby-sitters Club books and ensemble movies like Now and Then. Not that hand pies are mentioned in either of those, but let’s not get lost in semantics. My version is not strictly traditional, but what it is, is really very easy and fast and non-stressful. And delicious. I appreciate that there’s a bit of a cost at the outset in buying ready-rolled sheets of pastry, but sometimes it’s just as much looking after yourself to buy something pre-made as it is to make it from scratch.

Seriously, very little actual work gets you these fantastically good, gently spiced pockets of plummy sweetness. The the lemony warmth of the cardamom, the tear-jerkingly comforting scent of cinnamon and the toffee flavour of the brown sugar lends the tart juiciness of the plums some welcome richness. The fruit softens up but doesn’t collapse, and any juice is absorbed into the cornflour to give the filling a little heft. And they’re hand-sized! Who cares if they’re on-trend, as long as they’re on your hand and fast approaching your mouth.

plum, cinnamon and cardamom hand pies

a recipe by myself

2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornflour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 sheets ready-rolled puff pastry (all-butter if possible, but I know only three supermarkets in the fanciest bits of New Zealand actually sell that, so just deal with the weird fake margarine stuff this time round – you can’t even taste it if you don’t think about it.)
2 plums

Set your oven to 200 C/ 400F and line an oven tray with baking paper.

Mix the brown sugar, cornflour, cinnamon and cardamom together in a small bowl.

Finely dice the two plums, discarding the stones, obviously.

Slice the pastry sheets into nine equal-ish squares, by making three slices downwards and three across. Maths! Finally useful. Spoon half a teaspoon – at most – of the sugar-spice mix into the middle of each square. Spoon a small teaspoon of diced plum over the top of that, then fold the pastry in half, pinching at the edges to form a snugly-filled triangle. Repeat with the remaining squares. You might have some plum or spice-dust leftover. Arrange the triangles on the baking tray (it took me an embarrassingly long time to work out how the triangles could all fit on there evenly, I guess maths is useful, sort of) and bake for about 20 minutes. They’ll be piping hot at first, so let them cool a tiny bit.

Hand pies! Get some.

So, now you want to know how to win a copy of my cookbook, yes? I was going to interweave references to The Monster at the End of This Book throughout the blog post, but am too tired and so will cut straight to the point: I have two copies to give away. This competition is open to people in New Zealand only. Sorry, international admirers! However, I’m also giving away a copy on Instagram which anyone in the world can enter, so if you’re international and want in, follow me on there. (username: hungryandfrozen.) For everyone else…

here’s what you have to do. 

1: Leave a comment on this post telling me a recipe from this blog that you like the look of. It can be from like, last week, I’m not going to give extra points for people who go deep into my archives, but who knows, you might like what you see once you start looking.
2: Be a person from New Zealand.
3: Wait till 10am Sunday morning (sorry for those with short attention spans, myself included) which is when I’ll do a post on here letting people know who won.
4: See if you’re one of the two people who got drawn at random! And either console yourself by baking hand pies, or rejoice in your winning by baking hand pies. And emailing me your address.

May the odds be ever in your favour!

title via: my guitar heroes Metallica with their joyfully sinister song Enter Sandman.

Music lately:

Joan Osborne, Right Hand Man. This song is so excellent and saucy and great. And, um, also has the word ‘hand’ in it, but this is entirely coincidental.

Lillias White, Don’t Rain On My Parade. Brilliant song, oh-damn-that’s-so-true lyrics, and Lillias White’s smashing voice. There are a million different renditions of this song from Funny Girl, and at least a hundred of them, this included, are my favourite.

Next time: I don’t even know, especially as I’m going to be out of the house most nights this week, but we’ll see, we’ll see. Maybe even one of the recipes from my own book. If nothing else the words “my cookbook” will probably appear a lot, accompanied by a palpable air of smugness.

77 thoughts on “take my hand, we’re off to never never land

  1. Simonne says:

    The hand pies! Oh, Lord … the hand pies … (although, and I shouldn't admit this, I'll buy your book anyway so I feel a wee bit guilty entering because I'm costing you a sale, aren't it? I am. It's like buying a secondhand book … how can you keep writing if I cost you sales? … Oh, dear. Oh, no, focus! I'll enter the competition and if I win, I'll buy a book for presents. Excellent idea! Ha HA! Genius. (Also, do I get extra points for possibly the most unnecessarily long competition entry in the history of man? No? Ah … well. Nevermind)


  2. julia27 says:

    Gin and Tonic ice cream definitely a fave for me but making an effort to be original I looked through your recipe index and found feta bread yummo making it tomorrow


  3. Pearl says:

    Payday pasta for sure – so simple, so good, so beautifully photographed!
    Ooh and also I have been meaning to try my hand for so long at moonshine biffs (and not just for the name – if they are anything like milk bottles as you say then deliciousness is surely guaranteed)!


  4. Anonymous says:

    Oh my, so many options! I think it's marmite spaghetti, but with the jar of 'real stuff' I was robbed blind for in the 'international aisle'. I *will* transition. Honest. Just not to Vegemite 🙂


  5. Lily L says:

    150 recipes! Danggg you've got a lot of tricks up your sleeve. I've been wanting to make your feijoa ice cream ever since someone linked to it (and I then subsequently began reading every post with fevour).


  6. Georgia Rose says:

    I like the look of the beetroot baked in cream and balsamic. And by 'like the look of', I mean 'cook once a week', which makes a slightly awkward but still technically correct sentence when substituted.


  7. Domestic Executive says:

    Can't to wait to see the book for real. Love the way your mad cap ideas always turn into something delicious and comforting. To hard to pick from all your ice creams but will probably have to go with Caramel Pretzel Ice Cream as I can't resist the salty crunch of those pretzels. Hope you have a magnificent time with the launch. JT


  8. Gem Wilder says:

    Those hand pies look & sound delicious. However it is your Ginger Crunch Slice that I've always thought I would bake & then immediately eat in it's entirety. Which is probably not the best thing I could do, as I would probably go into a food coma, & also an allergy fit because I am allergic to oats. One day I will throw caution to the wind & bake it anyways, allergies be damned!


  9. Belle Laird says:

    Nom nom – I never knew I could make ice-cream till I found Hungry and Frozen (which would also a great name for a ice-cream venture me thinks – I'd be happy to sink my Kiwisaver funds into that one). Being a fan of chocolate covered pretzels (I actually harassed New World Thorndon when they failed to stock them) it has to be your caramel pretzel ice-cream for salty, crunchy, sweet perfection. It goes up on the list as it is best devoured freshly frozen.


  10. Sasa says:

    Nigella's buns because Nigella's buns – I made them once when I was snowed in and reading through your entire archive (I had a lot of spare time in Austria). But! Hand pies also, ftw! As well as wedding cake cakepops and trifle, I also used puff pastry that had been left in the freezer (ahem) to make savoury handpies but kind of wish I had made sweet hand pies because of the symbolism, y'know? Also, I sang Enter Sandman at karaoke last time I went with Mika and Riki.


  11. Elyse says:

    Definitely the icecream! I see so many recipes I want to try that involve ice cream makers. I am bereft of such fancy equipment, so you are elevated to some kind of sainthood in my book!


  12. PeachyKeen says:

    Braised Lentils and Vegetables with Hazelnuts, Lemon and Thyme! I Love Lentils and everyone I live with hates Lentils, so I make them as often as I can, and get to eat them ALL myself, Mwahahahahaha.


  13. Vicky Hamlin says:

    Your feijoa cocount brownie, i get soo excited at the start of feijoa season and this for a few years always the first thing i make, so worth the laborious cutting and scooping, already looking foward to next year.one of your own and one of your best.


  14. ella2010 says:

    Thai Rice Stick, Tofu and Green Vegetable Salad.

    This is one of my firm favourites when avo's are in season. Made it many times, adding(almost) anything green I have in fridge.


  15. Helen says:

    Soba Noodles with Steamed Vegetables and Hot and Sour Dressing – I adore noodles and this one is incredible.

    Thanks and best of luck with the book launch!


  16. Emma says:

    Look at all these people boldlyly proclaiming their love for your recipes! What a lovely confidence booster that must be. I will add my voice to the mix, and mention that I have made a few of your recipes / used recipes as bases, and I've loved everything I've tried. What I would most like to make that I haven't is the earl grey + maple syrup cake. And the 'kisses.'

    Sad though, my comment is now invalid, except as the aforementioned confidence booster.

    Love that you used Metallica lyrics. Bring on this mutherf'in cookbook!


  17. Anonymous says:

    I LOVE the Sesame Soba noodles, however it was the Groffle that made me chortle.
    Connot wait to see the insides of your book.
    P.s. it wouldn't let me choose a profile so my name is Anonymous but its also Lexi.


  18. Lola says:

    I want to make your GF chocolate chickpea cake, I have a friend with some real food/stomach problems. I think/hope it she might be able to eat it and we could have tea and cake on a Sunday afternoon. Also I made turkish bride soup this evening for dinner, have you tried it? You should as it is very tasty and cheap to make and I think you might like it. Well done on the book! What an accomplishment.


  19. Jessica P says:

    Ginger beer scones. Genuis. I suck at scones- I can make bread and pasta and huge cakes but scones stump me every time. Love your whole blog though; have made your apple and cinnamon muffins (well, Nigellas but found here!), ginger crunch and your slow cooked lamb with the fejoa's…yumyumyum.


  20. Nicole from Dunedin says:

    I remember when I first found this blog I was most excited by the ice cream recipes. Will always love your blackberry coconut ice cream.


  21. Melissa G says:

    I really enjoyed making your baked pears with chocolate and ground almonds (I'm a pushover for anything with rose water in in – in fact I'd better go out and buy some more tomorrow so I can make a similar thing again!
    Nice one.


  22. kerry charles says:

    I've always wanted to make the fejoia and ginger cake with the coconut topping. But whenever I have fejoias they get scoffed before I can even think about baking with them… Cant wait to see your book!


  23. Hannah says:

    There is something weird in the universe. I am seeing/making references to hand pies and Now and Then EVERYWHERE. I've been eating lots of poptarts… that almost counts as making my own handpies, right? We don't have a toaster, so I have to warm them in a half-broken toaster oven. It takes dedication. It's like cooking.

    I'm rambling. You're swell.


  24. Emma says:

    Hannah, we haven't had a toaster in years, we broil our toast (and pop tarts) in the oven. When my parents came to visit last year, they couldn't get over the EXTREME ENERGY WASTING we partake in on a near-daily basis. Whatevs man, gotta have my pops[tarts].


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