Mrs Kirkhams Farmhouse Lancashire Cheese & Onion Pie

Mrs Kirkhams Lancashire Cheese and Onion Pie with Quark Pastry

In the freezer I had three pieces of pastry flattened into neat circles and packed away in the freezer from making Dan Lepard’s cheese pastry from Short & Sweet the other week; you can see the pie I made with it here on the ShortandTweet roundup at the very bottom of the post. I used Quark and Felin Ganol’s flour in this pastry.

EM (Evidence Matters) has told me how wonderful a good piece of Lancashire cheese could be, and took the trouble to recommend me a particular sort made by Mrs Kirkhams, which we have found at Waitrose (pre-packed version)  The label says ‘rich ivory cheese, buttery, tangy and complex, made with raw cows milk’.  I am not brilliant at describing tastes but this was delectable and lived up to what it says on the label.

EM also suggested following Simon Hopkinson’s mother’s cheese and onion pie filling recipe from the BBC food site which uses this cheese and putting Dan’s pastry on the top as a single crust pie so I had a go last night. 

I had a small issue about the quantity of onion to use and how to chop it up. This is the trouble with trying to follow a recipe, you stare at the words, hoping for clues, you look at the picture, you read the words. You think. You mutter to yourself,  “Oh I don’t know..”  and, if you are me, your common sense – the little you have – flies out of the window and wanders off to water the primulas. 

Of course I should have cut the onions a little shorter, and grated the cheese cold and I would probably have done that if I hadn’t been following a recipe, strange the effect they have on me, do they do that to you?

We won’t talk about the flapping around trying to find an appropriate pan, I don’t have a pie dish as such, apart from the anodised Mermaid one I used here. I need a fancy pie dish! Support me on this please.

Hanging up in the garage, my French onions were somewhat depleted and one was sprouting huge shoots and had nothing left to give.  I had two small pinky ones and one large Spanish onion, so that is what I used. Today, belatedly, I thought to tweet EM and ask her about quantities of onions and she recommends 500 grams of uncooked onion for the quantities in this recipe. I have no idea what mine weighed, I just used what I had which is all any sensible person cooking at home does.

I also made the mistake of leaving my cheese out to warm up. You see I wanted to taste the cheese before I made the pie (there’s always a reason!). This made it harder to grate and it clumped together a bit which meant I had to eat more as I went along, so maybe there should have been more in the pie; cook’s perks!

The onions took a long time to reduce down on a low temperature, as I was trying not to let them go brown. Having made this once, I realise that I should have left them even longer to get really quite dry with no visible moisture at all. I decorated the top of the pastry with little tears to symbolise all that chopping of onions.

This method of cooking onions though, results in a wonderfully sweet and rich flavour and combined with Mrs Kirkhams Lancashire cheese and topped with a piece of light pastry made a naughty supper accompanied by purple sprouting broccoli.  Here it is chilled down for lunch the next day with half a tomato and a few sacrificial salad leaves from the micro green tub on the windowsill.

EM has also suggested putting slices of boiled potato in the bottom of the dish next time, so I might try that. I’ll tell you one thing though,  if they eat like this in Lancashire farmhouses they are eating well! Thank you EM for introducing me to this lovely cheese and a new pie and all the fantastic advice you give. You are a treasure!


37 thoughts on “Mrs Kirkhams Farmhouse Lancashire Cheese & Onion Pie

  1. Joanne

    Oh, that looks so very good! I love the idea of putting potato in the bottom too. My dear husband would probably turn up his nose at this, since it lacks any meat, but to me it looks absolutely wonderful. Don’t tell anyone, but sometimes I fry up onions and sprinkle a little cheese on top. It’s sinfully good. I will be trying this one when dh goes out of town next time.

    1. Joanna Post author

      Have a look at the links in EM’s comment below, there is a particularly fine potato cheese onion pie there. I want to make more of these as they are quite good fun!

      I can see I’m going to be redoing this one several times. You could give hubby a piece of meat on the side with this one and then you would both be happy!

  2. Anne

    Hello Joanna,
    I really like the tear pattern on your pie ! I made a Onion Tart last week-end and think it would have been nicer with some cheese !

    1. Joanna Post author

      Thanks Anne ! I think B would eat onion tarts and pies every day if they were on offer. I liked the cheese with it, it reminded me a little of French onion soup with those little gruyere toasts in the bottom :)

  3. teawithhazel

    i’ve never seen or heard of a cheese and onion pie before but gosh it looks good..i bought the ingredients to make an egg and bacon pie yesterday but now i’m thinking i’d prefer this..

  4. Suelle

    Despite all the trials, tribulations and tears, the end result looks very good! I’m sure this is the sort of thing you can tweak to your own taste – more cheese – OK, less onions – OK too! Might be good with a herb or mustard flavoured pastry too.

    If I added potatoes, I’d be inclined to layer them with the cheese and onions.

    1. Joanna Post author

      Thank you Suelle :) I offered to put a layer of healthy courgette in there but my offer was declined. I do like the idea of a mustard flavoured pastry!

  5. Evidence Matters (@EvidenceMatters)

    That’s a remarkably pretty pie, complete with the tear drops.

    The onion mix does have to cook for a fair while and this varies from one variety of onion to another (as you used a mix of red and what we call white but is neither spring onion nor Vidalia).

    I’m pleased that you like the cheese and more than understand why you wanted to taste it at room temperature albeit Lancashire will pretty much always crumble rather than grate at that temperature, even if it’s mature (British Cheese Board has some pernickety information about Lancashire Cheese).

    I have to confess that we did make a different recipe that resembled this Cheese, Onion and Potato Pie as well, but we didn’t use Lancashire Cheese for it because it was generally to use up old cheese or some fairly acid cooking cheddar. If the cheese was very acid, then we stirred the onions into some Baked Beans with a touch of treacle or Demerara Sugar and lots of pepper before putting the cheese into that and then mixing that with the potato.

    Without the pastry top, the cheese, onions, potato and Baked Beans were made into Beano Pie (with or without bacon) but that’s probably another day.

    1. Joanna Post author

      I now want to sample all the varieties of Lancashire Cheese that the pernickety British Cheese Board describes. I wonder where Mrs K fits in? I am plumping for Creamy Lancashire. It was creamy and buttery and not at all acidic.

      I feel a big pie period coming on…. between you and Dan Lepard I shall just give in to the Pie. Having watched Horizon on exercise I feel impelled to stand up and type this and jiggle and fidget.

      Thankyou once again x :)

  6. hotlyspiced

    I love the little tear drops – very appropriate for dealing with all those onions. I don’t have a pie dish either. Your pastry looks so good and I think a savoury pie with cream cheese in the pastry would be so wonderful. I’ve caramelised onions before and they do take an incredible amount of time to ‘sweat down’. Good effort for a great result.

  7. Ann Hall

    So glad you posted this – you have reminded me that I made a note of Simon’s pie a while ago and promptly forgot about it. I also have some discs of Dan’s pastry in the freezer and was wondering what sort of pie to make – problem solved!
    Was Zeb hanging about hoping for a crumb of cheese to fall?!

    1. Joanna Post author

      Zeb is always on cheese patrol! I was just reading a piece about New York’s police dogs and the latest dog research says their noses are even more extraordinarily sensitive than we thought before. Apparently they use standard poodles (the big ones) as sniffer/detection dogs in France. I might hire him out…..

  8. Jane

    What an absolutely beautiful dish this is. Sounds like you have fairly easy access to some truly extraordinary ingredients.I am envious! And I loved your use of the little teardrops on the top of the crust. Lovely blog!

  9. Ray

    I’ve sampled that cheese before from a Manchester market – a world away from cheap supermarket Lancashire cheese. There’s also an excellent lancashire cheese made by a former coronation street star (can’t remember his name… was married to Gail…) we were at Chesterfield market last year and were served by him!

    We went for a pub lunch today at our local and they had this delicious cheese and lentil pies as specials with veg and spinach and cashews in them – really nice as veggie food in pubs is not always that adventurous. I have not made a pie in years – i remember a number of worthy Cranks pies with fragile wholemeal pastry from my youth… i think when i have a spare weekend this needs to be remedied! :)

    1. Joanna Post author

      I was looking at the Mrs K site and toying with the idea of mail order…. there seems to be a resurgence in local cheese making going hand in hand with the rise of home made and ‘artisan’ breads. Long may it continue – particularly for cheese. I remember the Cranks pies, but this dough is much nicer, believe me – I think you need to get pie making too :)

  10. cityhippyfarmgirl

    I’ve often wondered where my common sense went when it goes walk about, I never thought to look around the primulas.
    These days I get positively skittish following a recipe and need to read it 20 times until the words swim before me and then I usually muck it up anyway, (or decide I really think I should have done it my way the first time- rather pompous sounding I know!)
    As for your pie…yum :-)

    ps. and another here who needs a great pie dish. One tiny pyrex one I do have just doesn’t cut it.

    1. Joanna Post author

      Lovely to hear from you darling! That describes it exactly, skittish! My bete noire is when I get to the end and it says something like ‘put the reserved breadcrumbs on the top before putting in the oven’ Hello??? did you tell me to save the breadcrumbs earlier…? I think that’s one of the reasons that when I do follow recipes I tend to stick to the same authors, because I’ve got used to their style and their logic.

      I do need a pie dish and so do you! x Joanna

  11. Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial

    Jo, you made my mouth water! That pie looks scrumptious, and I have a huge weakness for slowcooked onions, it would have been superb combined with the cheese! I think you definitely need a proper pie dish. Brian, are you listening? :) We have a couple of very nice Emile Henry (are you surprised?) ones, and they work well, but they’re quite big. For our meat pies, I’ve been using the rectangular enamelled ones, and they’re just brilliant.

    Love this EH one in cerise red, mine are all a bright yellow, because that was what was on sale at the time! :)

    1. Joanna Post author

      Ah, the ploys I use (playing the Celia card…hee hee) Something alchemical happens with onions doesn’t it, they just get more and more lush as they cook away, who would have thought from eating a raw one that they would get so sweet. I would love that EH one but would settle for an enamel one too. He’s on the case ;)

    1. Joanna Post author

      Leeks might go a bit mushier than onions, but layered in with potatoes as well to give them a bit of structure, they probably cook quicker too. I might ask EM….

  12. C

    Glad to hear you’ll soon be proud owner of a pie dish – such a magnificent pie deserves to be set off with a proper pie dish! It looks gorgeous, really delicious. I love the way onions change when they caramelise. I cooked some the other evening and remembered just how much I love the smell of frying onions. I’m not vegetarian (I just don’t like much in the way of meat!), but I reckon frying onions must be the veggie equivalent of frying bacon.

    1. Joanna Post author

      I have distracted him with rough puff pastry today… but I am going to look for a pie dish tomorrow, though I might just get the Falcon one to be going on with… onions are so wonderful, the base of so many great dishes and it was interesting to make the onion the main vegetable component of a dish for once :)

  13. spiceandmore

    The power of the blog…mention the need for a pie dish and voila the supporters get on to Brian and he quickly folds/agrees….
    Now what else was on that wish list of yours? :)

    Love the look and sound of that pie. Good cheese is a mighty fine thing isn’t it? How nice to create a pie just to celebrate a special cheese. And how brave to manage to save some for the pie and not just eat it all up (like i would do!).

    Love the tears too!

    1. Joanna Post author

      I have to be careful what I wish for as I may get it, and then I have to find it a home on an overcrowded shelf somewhere ;)

      I am not always that good at cooked cheese, but this one worked well, Zeb was weeping a few small tears while I was making it as he adores cheese with a passion.

  14. Sarah

    My Grandma used to make a cheese and onion pie and she was from Lancashire but I have never seen a recipe before. Thanks.

    1. Joanna Post author

      You’re very welcome Sarah, thanks for visiting. I hope it comes out like the pie you remember of your Grandma’s. :)

  15. Ian Coggin

    We make Lancashire cheese just down the road from Graham (aka Mrs) Kirkham. I have been searching for some cheese and onion pie recipes. There are lots.
    Quite sometime since you made the tearful C+O pie, however if you have still not tried all the Lancashire cheese varieties I will gladly send you a nibble of each type. Yes we are the only territorial cheese to have a confusing 3 types that’s not counting blues or added flavours such as garlic.

    1. Joanna Post author

      Thank you for your kind offer!

      May I suggest Twitter (if you don’t use it already) to get in touch with food bloggers and writers – I know several who review products as part of their blog style who I could suggest to contact. Kirkham’s was recommended to me by a friend with Lancashire roots so that is why we tried it and made this pie.

      Feel free to tweet me on @zeb_bakes. All the best, Joanna

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