Friday, 15 July 2011

Caramelised Onion, Thyme and Cheddar Pie



I just can't get to grips with this weather at all. After shivering through Monday-Wednesday this week with bare legs, counting my way through the day on my successive layers of goose pimples, I surrendered and wore tights on Thursday. And was baking hot.



After a few days of over-optimistic salads and fruit (when a hearty stew and a blanket of mashed potato would have been more appropriate), I decided to try Nigella's version of an onion tarte tatin for lunch. She says that it's appropriate "when it's dark early and I'm tired". Sounded perfect, I thought! That'll keep the chills at bay!



Cue sun, birdsong and balmy breezes. Accompanying my lovely-but-undeniably-stodgy caramelised onion, thyme and cheddar pie. Oh well, can't win them all. 



This took a little bit of time to put together - slow-cooking the onions, making the scone dough - but none of it was at all difficult and the end result was definitely a success. The onions are sweet and buttery, scented with thyme and adorning a crust that's squidgy in the middle, crunchy on the edge. Incidentally, I faint-heartedly refused to include the full amount of cheese and it really did need the full amount. Note to self, never skimp on cheese. I also now see that I got the recipe totally wrong, and I was meant to add 2/3 of the cheese into the scone dough. Ahem. Second note to self, read recipe properly.



Despite the cheese debacle, this made a lovely vegetarian lunch with a bit of salad on the side. Well, lovely but autumnal. I might even go so far as to say wintry. I will definitely be returning to this recipe, but maybe when the weather is slightly less summery, and more English-summery. Judging by the rain-sodden forecast for this weekend, I'd say the pie is looking pretty perfect for tomorrow.



Caramelised Onion and Cheddar Pie
Adapted from Nigella's Supper Onion Pie in How to be a Domestic Goddess
Serves 6-8


- 6 small red onions
- butter and olive oil, salt and pepper
- some fresh or dried thyme, about half a teaspoon
- 150g cheddar (I only used about 100g and couldn't really taste it. Forget your arteries, go for the full amount!)
- 250g plain flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 100ml milk
- 40g butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon of mustard (she says English, I only had Dijon)
- 1 large egg, beaten


Cut the onions into eight segments each and cook gently over a medium heat in the butter and oil for around half an hour, stirring regularly until they're soft with dark golden edges. Add the salt, pepper and thyme and turn into a 24cm pie dish - she said to butter it but I forgot, and mine still turned out ok. Scatter over a third of the cheese. As already mentioned, I seem to have lost the ability to read and just scattered all the cheese over at this point. Do as I say, not as I did!


Preheat the oven to 200C. Stir together the flour, baking powder, salt and remaining cheese (no comment) in a bowl, and mix the milk, melted butter, mustard and egg in a separate bowl or jug. Combine, stir to a sticky dough and tip it out onto a floured surface so that you can form it into a circle the size of the pie dish. Plonk on top of the onions, press down the edges, and put in the oven for 15 minutes at 200C, then 10 minutes at 180C. 


When it's golden on top and looks crunchy, take it out and let it stand for a couple of minutes. Then hold a big plate over the top, take a deep breath and flip it over. A few bits of onion may loiter in the dish but just drop them on top of the pie and enjoy.

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