Cheese & Onion Pie

Cheese & Onion Pie

As well as my addiction to foodie mags I love me a good Saturday morning foodie show and start most weekends in the very fine company of James Martin and assorted chums.  Like Simon Hopkinson, for instance, who’s recipe this is (or strictly speaking his mum’s) and the sight of it being made was enough of a lure to buy the cookbook that went along with the show!  Somehow, I managed to sweet talk/con Hubby (*definitely con – Hubby) into making it this weekend (I think I called dibs on making the soup and left him with the pie…) and I have to say, it tasted just as good as I thought it would.

The slow cooking onions were soft and so sweet, which went perfectly with the sharp oozy cheese they were layered between, and the pastry literally crumble-melts in your mouth.  We ate it still warm with a big bowl of homemade soup, feeling particularly productive as a result, but I suspect it will taste even better still when Hubby has it at work tomorrow for lunch 🙂

Simon Hopkinson’s recipe uses Lancashire cheese only, but Hubby and I found it a little crumbly and quite salty so we swapped out half the amount required for a lovely Mull of Kintyre cheddar instead and it worked a charm, which is what we’ve listed in the ingredients bit.  If you’re a big fan of Lancs cheese though I’d go with Simon Hopkinson and just use 100% of that.

Cheese & Onion Pie
Sweet slow cooked onions go perfectly with sharp cheese in this Lancastrian pie.
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Cook Time
50 min
Cook Time
50 min
Ingredients
  1. Stuff you’ll need for the pastry…
  2. 60g butter
  3. 60g lard
  4. 200g self-raising flour
  5. pinch of salt
  6. 2-3 tbsp ice-cold water
  7. butter for greasing
  8. Stuff you’ll need for the filling…
  9. 25g butter
  10. 3 onions, thinly sliced
  11. 1 teacupful of water
  12. salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper (white is recommended over black)
  13. 125-150g Lancashire cheese, coarsely grated
  14. 125-150g Scottish cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
  15. a little milk to seal and glaze the pastry
Other stuff you’ll need…
  1. loose-bottomed tart tin (approx 20cm wide x 4cm deep)
Make the pastry first:
  1. Cut the butter and lard into small chunks and place in a large bowl with the flour and the salt. Gently rub the fat into the flour using your fingertips until it all looks and feels like very coarse breadcrumbs. If you’ve reached this point and it doesn’t look like breadcrumbs, but like dough, the best thing you can do is start again and make sure the fats are a room temp, as above, as you won’t be able to incorporate the water very well otherwise. That said, if you do have a breadcrumb-like texture, then mix in the water to bind the mixture together before kneading the dough until the water is well amalgamated. Don’t be afraid to go with the full 3 tablespoons if you think it needs it. Dust it with flour and pop it into a plastic bag, and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. You’ll want to take it out of the fridge 15 minutes before you’re ready to roll it, to give it time to come back up closer to room temperature.
  2. While your dough is chilling, put the oven on to 180C/350F/gas mark 4 and pop the baking sheet in to preheat as well – this will help cook the base of the pie more evenly.
Make the filling:
  1. Melt the butter in a large roomy pan before adding the onions. Turn the heat down low and allow the onions to gently wilt and stew for about 10 minutes, you don’t want them to colour. Once the 10 minutes is up season and add the water, then leave it to keep cooking still over that gentle heat with an occasional stir until almost all the liquid has cooked off. Tip the cooked onions onto a plate, spreading them out to help them cool, and set aside.
Make the pie:
  1. Lightly butter your tart tin, and set aside.
  2. Retrieve your pastry from the fridge and tear about 2/3rds of it off. Roll this out until it’s moderately thin, and then line the base and sides of the tin with it. Use a fork to gently prick the base of the pastry all over in a random and moderate spread, then cover the base with half the onions and then half the grated cheese, and then repeat with the remaining halves.
  3. Roll out the remaining 1/3rd of the pastry to a similar thickness (or thinness!) as before, making sure it’s wide enough to cover the tin, and then gently lay it on top of the filling. Brush the edges of the pastry where the edges of the pie case and lid meet with milk to seal the lid before pressing the edges together gently to seal. Trim off any excess overhang, and then brush the surface of the pie with milk.
  4. Before you pop it in the oven, use the point of a sharp knife to make 3 small incisions into the centre of the pie. Lightly drag the point of the knife across the surface of the pie, not enough to cut through it just enough to mark it, to creat a lattice pattern. Lastly gently press the tines of a fork around the edge of the crust to help seal the pie.
  5. Put the pie on your preheated baking sheet and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 40-50 minutes, until the pie is golden and you can see a wee bubble of cheese and onion juices coming up through those holes you made in the middle.
  6. Once your pie is out of the oven, leave it for at least 20-30 minutes before trying to remove it from the tin. It also helps to run a butter knife gently all the way around the edge of the tin, and then place the pie on top of something like a can before slowly easing the side of the tin down and off.
  7. Cut into wedges, and enjoy while its still warm or at room temperature.
A few notes from Hubby
  1. Make sure that your fats, the lard and butter, are at room temperature before you start. This will ensure that they’re much easier to work through the flour without a lot of kneading involved. Over-mixing will toughen the dough and just result in problems later.
  2. On the onions; I, being a fussy sceptic who loves his seasonings, added two of my ‘secret ingredients’, in a few dashes of Maggi Liquid Seasoning and a spoonfull of Chicken Powder (think fluffed chicken stock cube), and the flavour most certainly did not suffer as a result. Also, the recipe says ‘teacupful of water’ – I took a normal tea/coffee mug and had it about half-full, and this worked a treat.
Adapted from Simon Hopkinson
Adapted from Simon Hopkinson
fifigoesnom https://www.fifigoesnom.com/
Great chieftain o’ the pudding-race!

Great chieftain o’ the pudding-race!

Hubby and I do not need an excuse to break out the haggis and will happily devour it in most any of its incredibly versatile size shapes or forms.  Not content with its traditional chums of neeps and tatties, I’ve tried it Chinese style in spring rolls, Indian style in samosas, Mexican style in quesedillas, poshed up in filo pastry parcels with a sweet plum sauce, deep fried out the chippie, not to mention as an unmissable part of a “full Scottish” breakfast fry up!  I’ve even recently been sent a recipe for haggis lasagne which I’m very very intrigued by… (watch this space!).  But on Burns Night it really has to be eaten traditional style, which means the ‘holy trinity’ of haggis, neeps and tatties.

So we couldn’t let Burns Night go by without honouring Rabbie with a plateful of the good stuff, and the good stuff is hands down Macsweens!  Much easier to pop into the supermarket and buy one of theirs than chasing down one of the damn beasties in the wilds yourself 😉

I won’t lie and say that the ingredients aren’t a little offputting… In fact, I had quite the fight to get Hubby to try it at all but once he did he was quite smitten and probably has it more than me these days!  And if you can eat a hot dog then you can eat haggis, and at least the offputting in haggis is quality offputting…

But once you get past what’s in it, it really is properly delicious.  All peppery and spicy with an earthy and grainy and chewy texture that I’m really not doing justice to! Just trust me and try it, you might find yourself pleasantly surprised 🙂

Back to Burns Night 2013!  Here’s the before picture…

Haggis, Neeps & Tatties | fifigoesnom

Haggis, Neeps & Tatties | fifigoesnom

 

 

 

And here’s the after picture, with a requisite shot of whisky in the glass as well as in the cream sauce (delicious recipe courtesy of The Macsween Haggis Bible).

Haggis, Neeps & Tatties | fifigoesnom

Haggis, Neeps & Tatties | fifigoesnom

 

 And the after after picture 🙂  Haggis all gone…

Haggis, Neeps & Tatties, the empty plate version | fifigoesnom

Haggis, Neeps & Tatties, the empty plate version | fifigoesnom

 

And for desert, who could resist these cute “Babbie Haggies” jelly belly beans which, much as I love Scotland’s national dish, are only haggis coloured and not haggis flavoured!

Haggis, savoury and sweet | fifigoesnom

Haggis, savoury and sweet | fifigoesnom

 

Happy Birthday, Rabbie!

Gnommy Gnocchi in a basil & tomato sauce

Gnommy Gnocchi in a basil & tomato sauce

I found this recipe yeeeeeeeeeeears ago in one of those supplements that Sainsburys magazine used to do.  There’s no date on it that I can find, but given that it talks about gnocchi being a “recent arrival on the supermarket shelves” (!!) I guess I’ve been making it for a while… 😉  I credit the recipe’s survival on my bookshelf to it being a truly wonderful comfort food dish, all carby and silky and unctuous (what a fab word!) thanks to all that oozy melted gruyere.  It’s quite rich so probably isn’t something you’ll make often, but you’ll enjoy the arse off it when you do!

Some random thoughts – Four cloves of garlic might sound a bit much, but I do think the dish needs it to balance the strong cheese, but you might want to tone it down if you’re planning on being sociable afterwards.  Speaking of strong cheese, if gruyere is too much for you then fontina or comte would make a good substitute.  And if you want to show off then you could make your own tomato sauce from scratch – Hubby does this just to put me to shame, I must “ask” him to blog it for me now that I think about it…

PS

Gnocchi in a Tomato & Basil Sauce
Serves 4
A delicious pasta dish with a silky, unctuous tomato and cheese sauce that is perfectly comforting.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
35 min
Total Time
40 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
35 min
Total Time
40 min
Stuff you’ll need…
  1. 500g pack gnocchi die patate
  2. 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  3. 1 large white onion, finely chopped
  4. 4 cloves garlic, minced or finely chopped
  5. 30g fresh basil leaves, roughly torn
  6. 1 heaped tsp tomato puree
  7. 142ml whipping cream
  8. 100g gruyere cheese, grated
  9. olive oil
  10. salt and black pepper
Cook!
  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the medium saucepan over a medium-high heat, then add the onions and sautee for about five minutes until they’re soft and the edges are browning. Add the garlic and sautee for another 2-3 minutes before adding the tomatoes (tin and puree). Season well with salt and black pepper and then pop the lid on to cover and simmer gently for about 15 minutes.
  2. Next, add the cream and about 3/4s of the basil, and give everything a good stir. Turn the heat up a little and cook for another 15 minutes, giving it a stir every now and then. No lid this time, you want the sauce to reduce and thicken slightly.
  3. About five minutes before the sauce will be done put the kettle on and pour the hot water into the large saucepan and set it over a high heat. When the water is properly boiling, salt the then place the gnocchi in the water.
  4. Put the grill on high so that it can preheat while the gnocchi cooks, which should only take a minute or two before they start bobbing up to float on top of the water, at which point scoop them out using a draining spoon and place them straight into the ovenproof dish (about 1.5 litre/2.5 pints capacity).
  5. Once all the gnocchi is in the dish, pour the tomato sauce all over them and then gently turn the gnocchi over in the sauce so that they’ve all got a good coating of the stuff. Next, sprinkle the cheese over the top before popping it under the grill to get the cheese bubbling. It should only take 2-3 minutes but leave it under for longer if you prefer your cheese brown in bits. Finally, scatter the rest of the basil over the top and serve! I can highly recommend having some crusty bread on hand to scoop up the dregs of the tomato sauce, it’s too tasty to waste 🙂
Adapted from Sainsburys Magazine
Adapted from Sainsburys Magazine
fifigoesnom https://www.fifigoesnom.com/

 – sorry for the awful pun in the title, I just couldn’t resist 😉

 

Blueberry Glazed Pork Pies

Blueberry Glazed Pork Pies

Wow! Christmas, pre during and post, was BUSY! Lots of time spent celebrating the holidays with family, and mostly by eating, marvellous 🙂 So rather than dwell on how quiet this blog has been let’s just move swiftly along and greet the New Year with a new recipe!  And what a fab new recipe it is too! I do like a cheeky pork pie, but Hubby isn’t a big fan of the jelly (understatement…), so when I saw this recipe in the Great British Food magazine I thought it might keep both of us happy.

I am happy to report that it most certainly did, and then some!  They may not be picture perfect (somewhere Paul Hollywood is twitching and he doesn’t know why!) and half of my bluberries may have popped, but I love the homemadeyness of them all being a little uneven, and they were hella good fun to make 🙂 And the joy of readymade pastry makes this recipe a total doddle and something you can rustle up in a little under half an hour.

Any worries I might have had that the blueberries would be a little tart were for naught as they sweetened up perfectly when combined with the redcurrant jelly and were a wonderful counterpoint to the savouriness of the sausagemeat. Next time I make these I’m going to experiment with the filling…  Our local butcher, Crombies, does an amazing pork and caramalised onion sasuage that I think would work an absolute treat!  And!  My sister in law gave me a bottle of her delicious homemade bramble vinegar which I’m going to sub in for the red wine vinegar as I think it’ll be amazing with the blueberries.

We ate half our batch for lunch, and popped the rest in the fridge to snack on. I suspect they won’t last the weekend…

Blueberry Glazed Pork Pies
Yields 12
Sweet blueberries compliment savoury sausagemeat, stuffed in lovely pastry pie cases.
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
35 min
Total Time
55 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
35 min
Total Time
55 min
Stuff you’ll need…
  1. 65g dried sage and onion stuffing mix
  2. 500g readymade chilled shortcrust pastry
  3. flour for rolling or waxy baking parchment (really!)
  4. 3 spring onions, snipped into slices
  5. 400g good quality pork and herb sausages, poked out of their skins
  6. freshly ground black pepper
  7. 1 egg, beaten to glaze
  8. 175g blueberries
  9. 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  10. 2 tbsp redcurrant jelly
  11. 1 tsp cornflour mixed with 1 tbsp water
  12. butter for greasing the muffin tin
Other stuff you’ll need…
  1. 11.5 cm biscuit cutter or small coffee cup saucer
  2. 12 section muffin tin
Stuff to do first…
  1. Put the oven on and preheat to 180C/350C/Gas Mark 4. Lightly butter the muffin tin, including the areas around each of the muffin cups. Wash the spring onions.
Bake!
  1. Start by making up the stuffing mix per your packet instructions – I used Paxo – and set to one side.
  2. Roll out your pastry, either on a floured surface or be sneaky like Hubby and snub flour completely by rolling your pastry out between two sheets of waxy baking parchment! Properly genius!! You’re aiming to get the pastry quite thin yet sturdy enough to hold the filling without breaking when they’re cooked and you’re gently wrestling them out of the muffin tin (can you tell I learnt this the hard way?!).
  3. Cut out 12 circles using the biscuit cutter/saucer, re-rolling the pastry until you have enough. Then gently press the pastry circles into the muffin tin (using the ball end of the rolling pin to lightly poke them in works a treat) so that the pastry stands a little above the top of the tin in a wavy edge. Set to one side.
  4. Snip the spring onions into your mixing bowl and then snap on the CSI vinyl gloves and get the sausages! Using scissors or a sharp knife, cut a slit up the length of the sausage skin and then poke all the sausagemeat out into the bowl with the spring onions. Give it a good few grinds of fresh black pepper (since the sausages were seasoned before they were cased you shouldn’t need to add any salt) and then get your hands in there and mix it all up. Tip the stuffing in and mix that all in too.
  5. Divide your sausagemeat mixture between each of the pastry cases, using the back of a spoon to even them out.
  6. Brush the top edges of the pastry cases with a little beaten egg, then pop into the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, until that top edge of the pastry is golden and the filling is cooked through. Leave them to cool for 15 minutes, then carefully free them from the muffin tin (I found a butter knife really helpful) and place them on a cooling rack.
  7. While the pies are cooling down, put thevinegar and redcurrant jelly into a small saucepan. Stir on a medium heat for 2-3 minutes until the jelly has melted and then add the berries. Mix the cornflour and water to get a smooth paste and then stir into the berries and cook until the juices have thickened a little and the berries are starting to soften – don’t cook the berries for too long or they’ll pop. Leave to cool before spooning over the pies (if you’ve overdone the cornflour then spoon while its hot because once it cools it will be impossible to work with, again, as I found out the hard way!).
Notes
  1. The cornflour may take the sheen off the blueberry topping mix in which case brush a very VERY little bit of olive oil over the berries to give them a glaze. Scoff!
Adapted from Great British Food Magazine
Adapted from Great British Food Magazine
fifigoesnom https://www.fifigoesnom.com/
Bacon Cheddar Beer Bread

Bacon Cheddar Beer Bread

So!  Along with my newly(ish) discovered like of soup comes something similar for bread, not of the sliced loaf variety but of the more artisany tear and share type that you can dunk in aforementioned soup – I’m a total sucker for sourdough, or a nice boule, oven warmed and then slathered in butter.  Making bread from scratch though hasn’t ever appealed, that whole kneading thing being a bit of a turn off, so when I found this recipe on The Slow Roasted Italian (via Pintrest or course!) that sounded delicious AND required nothing more than a good stir I knew I had to give it a go!  Smart move on my part 🙂

Simple really is an understatement, in fact, this recipe is simpler than simple and another of those ones where the effort to taste ratio is crazy heavily biased towards taste (hurrah!)  I can’t say I wasn’t a little suspicious about the total lack of kneading, as well as there being no yeast involved, but my loaf baked up very very nicely.  Unsurprisingly, it was denser than a traditional loaf but it was perfect for purpose and absolutely hit the spot when buttered up and paired up with a big bowl of soup.  I wouldn’t try and make a sandwich using it though…

Much, if not all, of the credit for the final flavour has to go to Hubby who was in charge of the beer selection – he went for an Innis & Gunn which is his go to beer for drinking and cooking, a lovely homegrown brew, and opted for their rum finish which was a little darker to get a punchier flavour.  Totally the right choice!  Hubby was also in charge of the cheese combo as I am rubbish when it comes to the stuff (cheese boards actually terrify me!) and went for a mild cheddar (arran) and an emmental which was plenty cheesy enough for me.

If I had any advice to give it would be to start with milder cheeses to figure out what they’re adding, and then experiment accordingly. And to have a go at making this bread.  Go on… It’s SO easy, it would be a shame not to 😉

Bacon Cheddar Beer Bread
An easy knead-free bread that is full of big savoury flavours, perfect with soup.
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Stuff you’ll need…
  1. 3 cups all purpose flour (363 grams)
  2. 1 tablespoon baking powder
  3. 1 teaspoon salt
  4. 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  5. 1 1/4 cup shredded cheese (mix up to three different types)
  6. 340 ml/12 ounce beer (I&G was a wee bit over so we just poured it all in)
  7. 4 slices of cooked bacon, chopped
  8. 2 tablespoons butter, melted
Prep…
  1. Get the oven on first and preheat to 175C/350F, then grease your loaf tin with butter and set aside. Cook your bacon up, I usually like mine crispy but for this I kept it quite “soft”, drain on kitchen towel and then snip or cut into wee pieces. Melt your butter and set aside.
Stir!
  1. In your mixing bowl put the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Mix it all up with a whisk and then make a well in the middle. Into the well put the bacon, about 3/4 of the cheese and then pour in the beer. Stir with a wooden spoon until its all combined.
  2. And that’s it! Seriously! All that’s left to do is pour your mixture into your loaf tin, top with the rest of the cheese, drizzle over half the melted butter, and then pop it into the oven.
  3. Bake for 30 minutes.
  4. Take out the oven, drizzle the rest of the butter over the top, and then pop it back in again.
  5. Bake for another 25-30 minutes, by which time the cheese should be nicely browned on the top, and when you tap the loaf it should thump.
  6. Give it five minutes to cool a little and then pop the loaf out of the tin, it should literally fall out, and leave on a wire rack to cool. We gave it about 20 minutes and then scoffed it with a big bowl of soup. Epic!
fifigoesnom https://www.fifigoesnom.com/