Some years ago now, a few members of the family embarked upon the West Country equivalent of the Camino de Santiago in Galicia and visited Padstow in Cornwall. We were to undertake a two day, fish-worship, courtesy of local boy Rick Stein. At that time a hero of the incoming middling classes whilst remaining an iconoclast to many of the locals; either way he had garnered a small property empire along with a huge reputation. With its strap line of Eat Stay Shop Cook we wandered around the Stein estate with some little unease noting that apart from Windsor, Sandringham and Balmoral, no other town or city in the UK had such a christened link to a single inhabitant. Small wonder it’s become known as Padstein-on-Sea, and so geared is the immediate area to fish cuisine, one fears that if Atlantic quotas changed suddenly, the entire population of the town would have to be re-trained.

After one of Rick’s Cornish breakfasts, a forthcoming table booked for lunch at his café and a grand dinner at his restaurant planned for the evening, we wandered, pilgrim-like, into his deli, which is just down the road from his Rick Stein Cookery School. You get the picture.

What drew me into the deli was the fevered manufacture of pasties beyond the attention-seeking window display. There in a haze of milled flour appeared two ethereal female staff, suitably clad in celestial white uniforms, decanting the simple contents of a standard Cornish Pasty onto discs of short pastry, deftly flipping the casing into a semi-circle and swiftly braiding the edges to seal. A regimented line of heavenly pasties stretched out across the marble counter. They consisted of two sizes, one a delicate little model for the incomers’ canapé season and the other, a more determined construction for the blow-in sixth-form surfers from Marlborough school. All pasties, lined up in military order, displayed a humiliating consistency I could only begin to dream of.

I held this image of ergonomic construction during the return journey and once back home set about recreating my vision of pasty heaven. Had it been right over left, left over right, eastwards crimping or westwards braiding? What looked so simple and delicate in Padstow quickly began to look like a Luddite attack on a pie factory here in my kitchen. It will surprise none of my friends to hear that I am not a natural pastry cook, however, give-or-take, I get by. But the replica pasties I attempted were to soundly beat me then and continue to beat me today, no matter how many Cornish YouTubes I have endured.

So having reluctantly lowered my sights for the immediate future, I bought a set of plastic hinged clam shells which make perfect Pierogi (the Warsaw Legoland equivalent of the mighty Cornish pasty), but for all other enrobed recipes I reach for a pack of readymade Filo pastry. Which brings me finally to a pro tem family favourite – Samosas. Armed with a stack of filo and a grasp of basic origami, my anxiety over braiding can be temporarily put to one side. But when I finally master the manufacturing side and get a couple of Cornish Pasties over the line, I will return to the subject here. Until then…

Chicken and Coriander Samosas from Made in India (2014) Meera Sodha

2 tbs rapeseed oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 tbs crushed coriander seeds
1 fresh red chilli, diced
500g minced chicken
½ tsp cumin seeds, crushed
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp garam masala
3 cm piece of ginger, peeled and minced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp salt
1 medium bunch of coriander, chopped
1 x 270g pack of filo pastry
100g unsalted butter
Rapeseed oil to coat the tray
First heat a large pan and add the oil.
Fry the onion for about 8 minutes, until it begins to get translucent. Add the coriander, chilli and chicken.
Cook for about 10 minutes then add the cumin, chilli powder and garam masala.
Lastly, add the ginger, garlic, lemon juice and salt.
Continue to cook until the chicken turns brown.
Remove from heat and let it cool for a bit, then add the cilantro.
Taste to see if it needs any extra salt.
How to make samosas
Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas 6.
Delicately unroll one sheet of pastry and place on a large chopping board. Brush it lightly with melted butter and layer with another sheet of filo pastry.
Cut the sheets horizontally into three strips (around 10cm x 25cm), using a sharp knife.
Make a cone shape at one side of the strip.
Place about 1 tablespoon of the filling inside the cone and fold the open side of the cone into the rest of the filo strip to cover and seal it. You should have a triangle shape now.
Keep folding over the rest of the pastry around the shape of the cone until you come to the end of the strip.
Cut off any excess pastry, stick the strip down with a brush of melted butter and push on the seal with your fingers. Repeat.
To bake your samosas, brush them on both sides with butter and place on a lightly oiled baking tray in the centre of the oven for 15 minutes.

Wine thoughts

Jura is a tiny region lying in the hills east of its mighty neighbour Burgundy. The term Crémant offers some of the finest sparkling wines made outside the restricted Champagne region.

For the samosas, I suggest the Crémant de Jura, which fitted the bill with considerable style. A delightful sparkling wine, which is made using Champagne’s rigorous méthod traditionelle, albeit with a slightly less aggressive fizz. Palate cleansing, a tad off dry with a consistent and refreshing bead, this Crémant white remained unfazed by the complex spices and buttery pastry. It also provides a surprisingly good value partner across the board, often at a fraction of the cost of Champagne whilst using the exact same varietal – Chardonnay.