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!