About us

We are two friends, one living in town and one in the country, who love to cook and entertain at home. We share a passion for our gardens and for the easy-going lifestyle of sub-tropical eastern Australia. And, yes, we both have garden ponds teaming with frogs.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Pasties, sausage rolls and sheep dogs

Country Frog: Hearty fare, and simple to make, our farm-style Aussie Pasties, like pies and pizzas, can be made with ingredients to hand, including left-overs, and with plenty of improvising from fridge or pantry. They are fun for children to make and, being Australian, of course they can be cooked on the barbeque.

Town Frog: Our version of pasties evolved over time. It all began once upon a few years ago when I dropped the children, who were quite small tadpoles back then, to the farm to spend the day with Country Frog while I drove to Brisbane to pick up a new dog. He was a two-year old male Australian Shepherd, and very gorgeous.

I had only ever seen one Australian Shepherd in the past, a liver/brindle naturally tail-less female. She was having a farm-stay break with CF while we were also staying there, and we immediately fell in love with her. She had looks and personality - everything a girl could want in a family pet.

The legend of the Aussie Shepherd runs like this… In the early 1800s when sheep were new to pioneering Australians, a few squatters shipped over flocks of Spanish sheep, and these merinos came with experienced sheep herders and their dogs. Then gold was discovered across the ocean in California and every man and his dog, literally in the case of the Spanish shepherds, set sail from Sydney Cove to join the 49er gold rush (that’s 1849). When they had recovered from gold fever, the sheep men and their dogs took up what they did best, sheep herding, and there, in America, the dogs came to be known as Australian Shepherds. The breed did not come back to Australia again for another 130 or so years.

On the day that I collected our first Aussie Shepherd, I returned to the farm to find the tadpoles and Country Frog at the barbecue making sausage rolls - basically cooked sausages and fried onion wrapped in damper dough, and re-cooked on the hotplate until the dough was crisp all over. We called them Australian Shepherd Rolls in honour of our lovely new dog, and have been refining the recipes and techniques at every farm-stay break ever since. Now we have the Aussie Shepherd Pasty, and we think this is the best version with a combination of vegetables and minced meat, or vegetables and lentils. Curried Veg and Lamb is perhaps the favourite. So far.

Makes 4 generous pasties, enough for six serves

The filling for these pasties is a simple combination of pan-cooked diced vegetables and mince, or lentils for a vegetarian option, with flavours of your choice. We swing towards curry spices, but fresh herbs and tomato for an Italian accent are delicious as well.

For the filling you will need: Chopping board and sharp knife; frying pan or wide saucepan.

200gm mince – lamb, beef, pork or chicken
&/or ½ cup brown lentils soaked in 1 cup boiling water for 30 minutes
1 large onion, peeled and diced
1 large carrot, diced
1 cup green seasonal vegetables (try diced fresh beans, peas, shredded cabbage, broccoli etc)
2 – 3 medium potatoes, washed or peeled and diced
2 tsp mild curry paste or good curry powder
½ tsp salt and ½ tsp freshly ground pepper
Splash of cooking oil

1. If using lentils, soak in hot water (to reduce cooking time).
2. Heat small amount oil in pan; add diced onion and cook until just coloured.
3. Add curry spices and pepper; mix up well.
4. Add minced meat/chicken and cook, stirring, until browned.
5. Add all other ingredients (add lentil and soaking water at this point). Stir up well; turn pan to medium-low heat; put the lid on and simmer ten minutes or until vegetables are soft.
6. Remove lid and continue to cook until the mix is fairly dry. Or if you prefer a gravy, sprinkle on 2 teaspoons plain flour or 1 teaspoon corn flour (use a fine sieve or tea strainer to sprinkle), and mix in well to thicken any liquid.
7. Set the pan aside with the lid off to cool slightly while making dough.

For the dough you will need: Medium mixing bowl; bread and butter knife for mixing; rolling pin or clean bottle for rolling.

2 cups self-raising flour (a mix of white and wholemeal flour works very well and makes a firmer dough)
¼ cup olive or other vegetable oil
¼ tspsalt
About ½ cup water at room temperature
Optional: 1 egg

1. Place flour, oil, egg and salt in bowl.
2. Make a hollow in the centre of the flour and pour in water. Mix with a knife, working from the centre out, to form a stiff dough. Add extra water if needed, but don’t worry if all the flour is not incorporated. Add extra flour if the dough is too soft.
3. Turn onto floured surface and knead lightly until fairly smooth.
4. Divide into four portions. Roll out each until the size of a bread and butter plate.
5. Place filling onto one half in a semicircle, keeping 1 cm of outer edge clear.
6. Damp that part of the edge with water (using your finger, to ensure edges will glue together), then carefully fold the bare half over. (If dough has stuck, use an egg lift). Press the edges with finger or fork to seal. 
7. Repeat for remaining dough. 

Frogblog Tip: Once filling has been added, the bottom of the pastie will become quite soft, so it is a good idea to lift it onto a lightly floured plate at this stage. When ready to cook, slide from the plate into the pan or onto the barbecue. If cooking in the oven, place onto the tray as soon as the pastie is filled, or place the rolled dough onto the tray and then put on the filling.

To cook:
In a fry pan – heat a heavy-based pan over medium heat with the lid on; place in two pasties, back to back. Replace lid immediately. Cook 7 minutes or until base has browned and turn over with egg lift to cook second side until brown (the filling is already cooked, and still warm, so will heat through nicely in that time).

On the barbecue hot plate – Pre-heat the plate to the temperature for cooking sausages (not as hot as for steak). Place pasties on back to back and cover with an upturned baking tray to form a mini oven. Flip when base is brown, and repeat for second side.

In the oven – Pre-heat oven to 200 C (moderately hot). Brush the top of the pasties with a little milk or cream. Cook 15 minutes or until top is golden brown.

Country Frog says that next time we make these we will do a version that honours the true history of the dogs now called Australian Shepherds, by adding finely chopped chorizo, crumbled sheep-milk feta and a handful of sliced black olives. We’ll call it Spanish Shepherd Traveller’s Pie.

Written and compiled by two frogs

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