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! 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.

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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!
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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. jess says:

    I'll be making the caramel pretzel ice cream as soon as I'm back in New Zealand. (also, my cousin eats hand pie by just putting a slice of pie in his hand and covering it with whipped cream. It's not pretty to watch, but it's delicious. And more authentically Americana.(

    Like

  2. Rachel Hunt says:

    LOVE the dark chocolate mousse with just chocolate and water (and juice and honey if you feel like it). Not an ideal bedtime snack due to caffeine content (chocolate has caffeine, right?); weirdest dreams, worst sleep.

    Like

  3. Amy Talbot says:

    My latest yummy baking treat from your foody blog is Fejoa, Apple and Ginger Cake. It combined three of my favourite foods (fejoa, crystallised ginger and shredded coconut) and throws in an additional piece of fruit (apple) to appease my conscience about using butter and sugar and other delciously empty carbs. The recipe is a great combination of flavour and texture and foolproof to make and the end result was a visual and taste treat that went well with coffee.

    Like

  4. kristeen says:

    I liked Aunty Daisy's Kisses post, it reminded me of my home science classes and my mothers baking! The 'Kisses' are so simple but so nice. I am in the middle of sorting out a box of my mother's things I collected when she passed away a few years ago. (Some of her old recipe books made hilarious reading). I used to sit and listen with my Nana to Aunt Daisy's 'good morning, good morning everybody' report on the radio. Lovely recipe and lovely memories for me.

    Like

  5. Chris Meehan and students says:

    My first experience of your lovely foody music-y blog which I have now favourited and will also recommend to my two daughters who are ex Welly girls. For me the sound of your ginger crunchy slice will be the first baking to be done in my new home next week in my new Falcon range – excitement plus. Oh and I enjoyed reading about Hudson and Halls which I was drawn to because I saw the beautiful love story on TVNZ Heartland about them. Your book will be fabulous!

    Like

  6. Chris Meehan and students says:

    My first experience of your lovely foody music-y blog which I have now favourited and will also recommend to my two daughters who are ex Welly girls. For me the sound of your ginger crunchy slice will be the first baking to be done in my new home next week in my new Falcon range – excitement plus. Oh and I enjoyed reading about Hudson and Halls which I was drawn to because I saw the beautiful love story on TVNZ Heartland about them. Your book will be fabulous!

    Like

  7. zoe gilpin says:

    Yummmmmm! Your lemon cake with white chocolate butter cream looks A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!! Made dad go to the store to get all the ingredients so i can make it tomorrow. Thanks for this recipe keep em coming!! 😀

    Like

  8. Kate Dent Rennie says:

    Hey Laura. I have never read a food blog before in my life before I read about you in this morning's Dom Post, but now I think I might be hooked. There are lots of your recipes I will be trying, but your payday pasta looks like a good start.

    Like

  9. Kate Dent Rennie says:

    Hey Laura. I have never read a food blog before in my life before I read about you in this morning's Dom Post, but now I think I might be hooked. There are lots of your recipes I will be trying, but your payday pasta looks like a good start.

    Like

  10. Anonymous says:

    Hello Laura – I love the look (and sound)of Lemon Cake with White Chocolate Buttercream. I know I will love the taste too 🙂 Congratulations on the launch of your cook book!

    Anne(onymous)

    Like

  11. Jen says:

    I have made the oatmeal chocolate chunk cookies. They are divine. And I can convince myself that they are healthy. Sort of. Congratulations on the book!

    Like

  12. Anonymous says:

    Congratulations Laura. You are one photogenic great cook – and … I love your take on ginger slice. Memories of the '70's – walking home from school, suburbia, the ginger slice a-bakin'- my favourite … delish.

    Like

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