6 July 2020
JULY BLOG

Last month I gave you a very summery recipe, having been rather fooled by all the sunshine we had in May and June, but as I write this it’s distinctly chilly and grey and the winds have been ferocious. It’s not put me in the mood to give you a summery recipe as I did last month, and yesterday I suddenly felt like making something warm and savoury.

One of the (few!) advantages of lockdown for me has been all the extra time I’ve had to cook – and having four of us to feed. Normally it’s just my husband and I, but evening meals while isolated with my son and daughter-in-law have become a highlight, and whether it’s been me or my son cooking we’ve had fun planning what to eat with whatever we managed to get delivered or had in the store cupboard. Things are much freer now, of course, but I’m still trying to plan a week’s meals ahead: very unlike me, as I’ve never bothered to think beyond the same day before, and it makes me feel a bit as if I’m running a hotel.

When I was in An American in Paris a couple of years ago, the dressers were an even more vital part of the team than usual: the show had hundreds of different outfits worn by the huge cast, and there were dozens of quick changes to be made each show. There is so much work involved in keeping a production at its best throughout the run: the performers may be the ones being seen and getting all the applause, but, much as we may have to work hard for that two or three hours on stage, there are teams of others who work far longer hours without all that obvious appreciation. And those who work in the wardrobe department are some of the hardest working: actors and singers may go home at 10.30 at night, but at least we don’t have to come back until the following evening – whereas the dressers will be in most of the day doing the laundry and mending and sorting endless piles of costumes. Why I bring this up is that my dresser on An American in Paris would not only plan all his and his husband’s meals a week in advance, but would do all the shopping for them in one go and cook much of it ahead as well, putting some in the freezer and setting aside boxed lunches for himself in the fridge. Very impressive.

But…. This old fashioned Cheese and Onion Pie that I’m giving you as this month’s recipe was a spur of the moment bit of baking. I’m not sure what made me think of it, but I always love cheese dishes, but didn’t feel like the eggy-ness of a quiche. So I experimented a little and came up with my version of a delicious, warming, easy to make pie, that would be good for a quick lunch on its own, or – as we had it – for an evening meal with some vegetables.

In Home Bargains news: the chocolate chip cookie mix I’ve been promising you is now indeed in all the stores and I’m getting a fantastic reaction to it – as I knew we would. I’m really proud of it and I know you’ll enjoy it as much as I and the family do, so give it a go if you like chewy, American-style home-made cookies. Let me know how you get on!

Love Jane x

Cheese and Onion Pie

I used a mixture of roughly half and half Cheddar and Gruyere cheese, but any kind that melts well and has a strong taste will do. Use less if you’re not quite as much a cheese fan as I am!

Ingredients

  • 30g butter
  • 5 small or 3 large onions halved then sliced
  • 225g grated cheese
  • 1 packet Jane Asher Pastry Mix
  • Flour for dusting
  • 1 egg – yolk only

Makes 4-6 portions

Method

Melt the butter in a large frying pan over medium heat and add the onions. Stir and then cover (if your pan doesn’t have a lid then use a baking tray or foil).

Let them cook for at least ten minutes, stirring occasionally, then uncover and continue to gently cook them for another 10-15 minutes until they are really soft and translucent – don’t let them brown. Put then aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Lightly grease an 8” flan tin or shallow cake tin with a removable bottom.

Make up the pastry as directed on the pack.

Divide the dough in half, roll out one half

And use it to line the tin, pushing it gently into the shape and leaving the excess pastry over-hanging the edge.

Cover the pastry with about half the onions and then top with half-the cheese.

Repeat with the rest of the onion and cheese.

Roll out the remaining pastry to a shape large enough to cover the pie and unroll it over the top.

Gently press it down around the edges of the pie and then seal the edge by squeezing the sides together. Trim any excess away.

Make an egg wash by mixing the egg yolk with a few drops of water. Brush it over the top of the pie.

If you fancy adding a bit of decoration, roll and cut a few shapes from the left over pastry and add them on top. Brush them with egg too.

Make two or three tiny incisions in the top with a sharp knife and bake for 45-50 minutes until golden brown.

You can serve the pie immediately, but the cheese will ooze out all over the place, so be ready! Otherwise, leave it to cool for 20-30 minutes and eat it warm and delicious with salad or vegetables.