Sunday, September 23, 2012

Welcome, guest author Joanna Campbell Slan!

Please welcome multi-published author Joanna Campbell Slan. Her newest book—Death of a Schoolgirl—features Jane Eyre as an amateur sleuth.  How clever is that!  Joanna is also the author of the Agatha Award-nominated series that stars Kiki Lowenstein. 

Take it away, Joanna.

A Savory to Die For: Cornish Pasties

Author’s note: As I write this, I’m on Day #30 of the Hcg diet. Since I’m only allowed 500 calories a day, telling all of you about Cornish pasties is an act of love. Yes, I’m a mystery author who would KILL for a Cornish pasty right about now!


While the word “sandwich” first appeared in 1762, a reference to the “pasty” can be dated to the 1300s, making “pasties” (pronounced PASS-tees) a much older form of convenience food. But only in the last 200 years have pasties taken on their particularly Cornish identity, because miners found these savory meat pies perfect for taking with them down into the bowels of the earth.

The distinctive “D” shape of the delicacy figures into their history, because the one-sided crimped crust created a useful handle when heating the food.

I remember my first pasty very well. While wandering the streets of Windsor, England, my girlfriends and I were caught in a light rain. Being both hungry and wet, we ducked into the tiny West Cornish Pasty Shop on Peascod Street. Oh, my! What a happy visit that was.

            The crust warmed my hands and the filling warmed my tummy.

 Since then, I’ve been a devoted fan of pasties, a Cornish meat and veg pie. In fact, I’m lucky enough to live not far from a real pasty shop in Vienna, Virginia! PURE PASTY. Given my affection for these treats, you can see why when I was writing Death of a Schoolgirl, I decided that Jane would have to buy a pasty when her carriage stopped at a coaching inn. The hosteler’s wife hands Jane the still-warm pie inside a muslin bag. Unfortunately, Jane only gets one bite before a thief steals her food!

Eager to try a pasty? The Pure Pasty folks will ship them to you. Or you can make your own.

Cornish Pasty Recipe


1 lb. ground sirloin (a piece of sirloin or chuck cut into bite-sized pieces)
1 small onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1/4 rutabaga, cut into cubes
2 potatoes, cut into cubes
1 cube beef bouillon
1 T. catsup
Salt and pepper


Pre-made pie crust, enough for a double crust
Beaten egg

Take pie crust out of refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature.

Crush bouillon cube in catsup. Combine together filling ingredients. Mix in bouillon cube and catsup. (You might also like to add a dab of Heinz 57 Sauce. I do!)

Roll out pie crust on floured surface. Cut into four large circles. (Turn a bowl upside down and use it as a pattern!) Divide filling uniformly, heaping it in center of circles. Lift sides and pinch together to form letter “D.” Crimp edges together with fork. Cut several ½” slits in top of each pasty. Brush with beaten egg and put on cookie sheet.

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

Photograph, permission from Michael Burgess, owner of Pure Pasty! Oh, yum!

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For more information about Joanna go to her website:

Click this link to purchase DEATH OF A SCHOOLGIRL.


  1. Joanna, I haven't had a pasty since I gave up meat, but your recipe is making me think that I could alter that recipe and make it veg-friendly. And that would make me happy because I LOVE pasties!

    Thanks for sharing both the delightful story and the yummy recipe.

  2. I lived in London for a year working as a nanny. One of the treats I frequently got for myself was a pasty from Marks and Spencer. Yum! I'll definitely give your recipe a try.

  3. Joanna, love the post! Love the cover of your new series. Congratulations.

    ~Daryl aka Avery

  4. Wendy/Annie--Pure Pasty also has veggie pasties. Since I was writing about the traditional form, I mentioned the meat pies, but certainly a veggie pastie would be easy enough to create.

  5. Grace/Lu--I loved Marks and "Sparks," especially their undergarments and colcannon, a mix of cabbage and mashed potatoes. Yum, yum.

  6. Avery,isn't the cover glorious? I love it.

  7. 500 calories a day? That must be tough. What do you eat?

    That's a wonderful photo of you, Joanna. And I love your cover, too. Your voice in that series is just amazing! I can't imagine how you do it. Congratulations!

    The pasties look terrific. Now I want to go to London!

    ~ Krista

  8. Mmmm, yum. I would have these tonight if it didn't require another trip to the supermarket! Reminds me of samosas and Spanish meat pies, both of which I love.

    I'll go to London with you Krista and we can imagine we're in Joanna's book...

    1. That's a deal. Packing my bag now . . .

      ~ Krista

  9. First of all, big congrats on the launch of your Jane Eyre Chronicles mysteries, Joanna. Brava! I'll join Lucy and Krista on that London jaunt--and if deadlines prove too taxing, there's always a virtual trip with your next book! (Thx for including those fun links, too. Pure Pasty looks like a great destination foodie visit.) ~ Cleo

    1. Great! We'll have a ball -- and lots of pasties!

  10. Krista, I ate lint, cardboard, and styrofoam. (Not really, but close!) Thanks for the kind comment about the voice. I worked very hard on it. We wanted it to be a bit more modern than Bronte, but authentic. And my photo is by the wonderfully talented Robin Templeton, a member of the Chessie Chapter of SinC.

  11. Lucy, pasties are a lot like Samosas and calzones. I bet that almost every culture has a variant.

  12. Cleo, the owner of Pure Pasties was so very kind to provide the photo--and I plan to visit him very soon.

  13. So here's the deal, ladies. I'm planning to go back to the UK soon, to do research and such. I'll let you know so you can come with...what a blast we would have.