The Olympics are a pretty big deal in my house, they have been for as long as I can remember. Every 4 years when I was growing up, my family would check out from the distractions of our usual routine for a while and dedicate ourselves to cheering on team USA. Now that I’m grown, there are few things in this world I love more than the Olympics. I think it has a lot to do with my fond childhood memories of spending time with my parents, it probably has a little to do with the pageantry and media circus of the whole thing, but mostly it has to do with the fact that I’m a total achievement junkie.
I’m a rather emotional person (not in a crazy mood swings kind of way, just in a I cry at commercials kind of way), but NOTHING chokes me up more than witnessing truly remarkable human achievement. The fact that these athletes dedicate their entire lives training to be the best they can be at their sport, forsaking small goals in pursuit of a lifetime goal, just gets me weepy. When someone wins a race, or just competes to the best of their ability and gets emotional once they’re done – I am overcome. It’s like I AM THE ONE who just stuck the landing, or beat my personal record.
I think the Olympics are a remarkable opportunity for bonding with your family, friends, and coworkers. Think about it, the Olympics are about peace, tolerance, diversity, competition, dedication, integrity and accomplishment. I think we can all get behind that.
One of our biggest family traditions related to the Olympics is to either prepare or get take out food from the culture of the host country to eat in the living room while we watch the opening ceremonies. We had gyros in 2004, Chinese takeout in 2008, and tonight we’re picking up fish and chips and knocking back gin and tonics. It won’t be fancy, it won’t be haute cuisine – but it will be special none the less.
Earlier this week I made some curry pastys to get in the Olympic spirit. Pastys are like little hand pies or empanadas that are a big street food in the UK. They can be filled with almost anything you can think of. I made curry beef pastys because it seemed appropriate considering the Indian influences on the cuisine of the United Kingdom. They are so easy to make, and quite tasty if I don’t say so myself. You could modify the filling to include your favorite ingredients, and the crust recipe is one you’ll want to file away for later. Or maybe you could start a tradition with your family and make these for the closing ceremonies?
Pastry dough recipe: Each batch of this recipe yields 12 pastys. My filling recipe makes enough for three batches. I don’t recommend doubling or tripling the pastry dough recipe, just make it one batch at a time – it comes together really quickly, I promise.
Source: The Best Recipes In The World, Mark Bittman
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus a little more
1/2 cup cornmeal or more all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons shortening or vegetable oil
Mix the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt together in the food processor and process for about 5 seconds. With the machine running, add the 1/2 cup shortening or oil and process for 10 seconds. Then, with the machine running, add about 1/2 cup cold water, just enough for the dough to form a ball. Don’t add more water than necessary; the dough should be fairly dry. Knead by hand until smooth, just a minute or so.
Pour the dough onto a floured surface, divide into 12 pieces. Roll into balls, and wrap in plastic or cover with a damp towel and let rest for at elast 20 minutes. (You can refrigerate the dough overnight; be sure to let it come to room temperature before proceeding.)
2 lbs lean ground beef
1/4 cup curry powder
4 generous squeezes of sriracha (very accurate measurements, I know)
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp vinegar
1/4 cup sour cream
2 Tbsp corn starch
1/2 cup frozen peas
water, as needed
In a skillet over medium high heat, cook the ground beef for 2-3 minutes or until most of the pink has gone away. Add the curry powder and stir regularly to evenly distribute as the meat browns. Add sriracha to your taste, cook for another 5-7 minutes and your meat should be well browned. Reduce the heat to medium. Make a slurry with the soy sauce, vinegar, sour cream and cornstach. Add the slurry to the skillet and stir to incorporate. If the mixture is a little too solid, add some water, probably about 1/3 a cup. Add in the frozen peas, and cook for another minute or two till they are warmed through.
Allow the filling to cool down for at least 15 minutes before beginning to make the pastys.
Roll out the balls to 6 inch rounds, using additional flour to keep them from sticking. Add approximately one tablespoon of filling to the center of the round, the fold over on itself to make a half moon shape. Press the edges together with your finger, and either seal by pressing the tines of a fork into the dough, or like I did, fold it over on itself and pinch.
Place on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment. Brush with the mixture of one beaten egg and a few tablespoons of water. Bake at 450 for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
These are great at room temperature, so they make ideal party foods. The pastry holds up well in the fridge for a few days, so they are nice leftovers too.