I always think of pastizzi as being a particularly Sydney food phenomenon. This may be because what is now known as The Original Maltese Cafe in Darlinghurst has been making pastizzis in Sydney since 1952. The cafe has expanded in size and number of locations over the years but they still make a mean pastizzi. You can now get frozen pastizzi at your local supermarket but nobody makes them as well as the Maltese cafe. They make a whole range of fillings now (including sweet pastizzi) but back in the old days in the original hole-in-the-wall-cafe, there was generally a choice two kinds – ricotta cheese or mushy pea. Now you can’t go wrong a cheese filled pastry, but my personal favorite has always been the mushy pea.
These pastizzis are the perfect finger food for any party. There was a time when you couldn’t go to a inner city party in Sydney without encountering a tray of pastizzi next to the fruit platter. While I used to bemoan the ubiquity of the pastizzi at parties, I would always end up eating them, because when you’re at a party, there’s really nothing better than a pastizzi fresh out of the oven.
Last Saturday was the Australian federal election and I made a batch of cheese and mushy pea pastizzis to take to a friend’s election party that night. In the end, the party was downsized because my friend had been sick and, due to a general sense of depression that the conservative party’s win would be so enormous, Australia would effectively be reduced to a one-party state. Although it was a huge landslide victory to the conservative parties and one of the biggest Labor defeats for a century, so great had been the sense of impending doom, we all felt a mild sense of relief that it wasn’t quite as bad as we had expected. Such is life and democracy.
Australia has a new Prime Minister, Tony Abbott: a climate change skeptic, lycra wearing fitness nut (the public really should be protected from the sight of their PM in lycra), known in northern hemisphere circles as the ‘Putin of the South’. If nothing else, the next three years should be brilliant for political satire. Even though the new government hasn’t been officially sworn in, things are already getting a bit weird. One of the new government’s MPs, Dennis Jensen, has put his hand up to be science minister. Since Dennis Jensen has a Masters degree in physics and material science, he would seem to be a good choice. But Dennis, like his leader, is also skeptical about climate science and is a big fan of the totally barmy right-wing nutter Lord Monckton, who keeps touring Australia because we’re the only country in the world who seems to take him seriously. It makes you wonder where the line between satire, farce and outright tragedy can be drawn. Luckily, I’ve got loads of pastizzi in the freezer, so that is a cheering thought amidst all this post election gloom.
Note on the recipes: Even if you can’t be bothered making your own pastizzi and prefer to buy them frozen, I can highly recommend the spiced tomato dipping sauce – it was the first time I made it last weekend and it really is awesome.
Mushy pea pastizzis
Adapted from Super Food Ideas, Taste.com
- 175 grams dried green split peas
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small onion finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 3 teaspoons of mild curry powder
- 4 sheets of frozen puff pastry, partially thawed
- 1 egg lightly beaten
- Place peas in saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and lower heat to medium. Simmer uncovered until peas are cooked. Drain.
- Saute onion and garlic in oil in large frying pan until translucent. Add curry powder and cook for about 30 seconds until fragrant. Add peas and ¼ cup of cold water. Cook, stirring occasionally until most of the water has evaporated. Leave aside to cool completely.
- Preheat oven to 220°C or 200°C fan forced. Line trays with baking paper.
- Cut rounds of 10 centimetres out of the pastry (five rounds a sheet). Brush the edge of the pastry rounds with eggs and place a flat teaspoon of filling onto the centre. Shape filling into a log and fold over the pastry to enclose and twist ends of the pastry to seal.
- Brush pastry with egg and bake in oven for 20–25 minutes until golden brown.
Spiced tomato dipping sauce
Adapted from Food.com
- 1/3 of cup onion finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 1½ teaspoons fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon hot paprika (or to taste)
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 pinch cayenne
- 1 pinch of ground cloves
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1½ tablespoons of cider vinegar
- 1 400gram (15 ounce) can of tomatoes, chopped and the juice reserved
- 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
- In medium saucepan, saute onions, garlic and ginger over low heat until onion is translucent. Add spices and saute until fragrant (about 30 seconds).
- Stir in vinegar and simmer for about 1 minute.
- Add tomatoes, juice and brown sugar.
- Bring to the boil and simmer, stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes until sauce has thickened.
- Cool slightly and blend sauce in blender or food processor until smooth.
Serve warm or at room temperature