Individual Cauliflower Cheese Pies

27 Feb

I used vegetable suet and wholemeal flour to make this pastry. I’ve had this packet of vegetable suet in the cupboard for a while and not really known what to do with it. Proper suet is a made from the fat deposits around the kidneys of an animal. I know, disgusting. Vegetable suet (I used Atora Light) has 3o % less fat and is made with vegetable oil. Much more appetising, don’t you think?

Suet can be used to make dumplings, pastries, pies and puddings.  The classic Steak & Kidney Pudding is made with suet pastry and so are most of the traditional Pork Pies. But don’t let that put you off!

The vegetable suet was really easy to work with, so much easier than using butter. You just stir the suet granules and flour together and add water. That’s it, no messy rubbing butter into flour business. You don’t even have to chill it before you use it (although I put it in the fridge while my filling cooled down). It’s definitely a much quicker option if you’re pressed for time or just very impatient, like me.

Don’t be scared about the pastry being that soggy, doughy pudding pastry either, unless you like that sort of thing! Even using wholemeal flour it turned out to be light, flaky and delicious. I followed the pastry recipe on the box (which was for a quiche) but you can send off for an Atora recipe book if you want to make that strange, soft pudding pastry. 

I knew I was going to make a cauliflower cheese because I had a cauliflower getting bored at the back of my fridge. I toyed with the idea of making dumplings with the suet and doing a Cauliflower Cheese Cobbler (which I will definitely try next time) or even a Cauliflower Cheese Quiche. But I am a sucker for individual pies (don’t like sharing, only child!) and The Washer Up wanted to see if I could make his favourite pork pie-like pastry with the suet, so pies it was.

Instead of making a white sauce with butter & flour for the Cauliflower Cheese, I cooked the leeks in the butter and put the cauliflower florets in a freezer bag with the flour and seasonings and shook the bag to coat the cauliflower. This way when you tip the floured cauliflower to the butter & leeks you get the white sauce base to add your cream or milk to and only use one pan, result!! This is a Nigella trick she uses to make her chicken & mushroom pot pies. Anything that saves time and washing up is a definite bonus….

Individual Cauliflower Cheese Pies

makes 4 small individual pies, vegetarian

  • 150 gr self-raising flour (I used wholemeal self-raising)
  • 75 gr vegetable suet (Atora Light)
  • 3 or 4 tbsp iced water
  • salt & black pepper
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into 1 inch or less size florets
  • 1 leek, halved lengthways, rinsed & sliced
  • 30 gr butter, plus extra for buttering pie dishes
  • 30 gr plain flour, plus extra for flouring
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • a few sprigs thyme leaves chopped, about 1/2 tsp
  • a pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • salt & black pepper
  • 1 pot creme fraiche about 200 ml
  • about 100 – 150ml veg stock 
  • 50 gr mature cheddar, grated
  • 50 gr Greek feta, or Lancashire crumbly, crumbled
  • 50 gr manchego or parmesan grated
  • 1 egg, beaten, for glazing

Butter & flour your pie dish/dishes and put them in the fridge. If you like you can make your pastry first and leave it in the fridge while you make and cool the filling. Mix together the flour, suet, salt & pepper in a bowl and stir in enough iced water to make a firm but not sticky dough. Wrap it in cling film and put it in the fridge.

Heat the butter over a medium heat, in a large frying pan with a lid.  Fry the leeks in the melted butter with a pinch of salt for a few minutes until softened. Meanwhile put the cauliflower florets, flour, nutmeg, thyme, chilli flakes, salt & pepper in a freezer bag, seal it and shake it so that the cauliflower is coated with the seasoned flour. Tip the contents of the freezer bag (including the excess flour) into the pan with the leeks, stir and cook out for about 2 minutes.

Add the creme fraiche, stir to coat the cauliflower, then add in 100 ml veg stock, stir, cover and leave to cook for about 5-7 minutes until the cauliflower is tender crisp.You can add some more veg stock if it is too dry. Then add in the cheeses, turn off the heat and stir to melt the cheeses.  It should be a thick cheesy sauce clinging to the cauliflower with not too much liquid or the pastry might get soggy. Check seasoning and leave to cool.

Preheat the oven to 200 C and take the pastry out of the fridge. Cut the pastry into four and roll out one piece at a time to a thickness of about 3 mm. Cut about a third off of the pastry and set aside for the lid. Push the pastry into your dish, you may have to cut bits off if it overlaps too much and stick bits in the gaps, this is fine. Just make sure it’s about the same thickness all the way round so it cooks evenly. Fill it right to the top with the cooled filling and push it down well.

Roll out the reserved third to about 3 mm thick and use another pie dish to cut a circle the same size as the top. Keep any pastry offcuts in cas you need them. Roll the circle out a little to make it slightly bigger, but not much.  Brush the edges of the pastry that will be touching the lid with the beaten egg then lay the lid on top. Push it down with your fingers, then crimp around the edges with a fork to seal it. Trim of the excess pastry round the edges, make 2 holes in the top with a sharp knife and brush the top with beaten egg.

Repeat with the other 3 pies and cook in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until puffed & golden brown.

Serve hot straight out of the oven with a simple green salad or some green beans, it’s delicious. Equally good served at room temperature for lunch with some beetroot chutney if you want to go down that ploughman’s/ pub lunch route.

Ahhhh.. Pub Lunch. There are not many things I miss about the UK but lunch (or even just a packet of cheese & onion crisps) in a pub garden on a sunny day is one of them. That, and Grandad’s pickled onions. Which would be great with this, by the way. Maybe Michelle could bring some over in May (hint). Now, you really wouldn’t want that to break in your luggage……………..!


18 Responses to “Individual Cauliflower Cheese Pies”

  1. Susan February 27, 2011 at 5:28 pm #

    These little veg pies look lovely! Love the Nigella trick! Your broccoli soup looks delish, too!

  2. Kim - Liv Life February 27, 2011 at 6:09 pm #

    I have never heard of the suet… you have really piqued my interest though! I’m going to have to do a bit of exploration in that area. Love the cauliflower combo! And your pictures are perfect!

  3. tony ward February 27, 2011 at 9:02 pm #

    grandad does his pickled onions with chilli now…thats a result too….this with your fabulous receipe means a FAB dish to look forward to and ENJOY !!!!
    How do you do it guapita ?? besos xx
    You need to come to S.A. and help look after me !!

  4. happywhennothungry February 28, 2011 at 1:02 am #

    Wow these pies look so delicious! I’ve never seen something like this, but it looks tasty!

  5. Felice February 28, 2011 at 2:18 am #

    Cauliflower is so underrated. I wish I would get my family to eat it. This looks delicious so maybe if I make it they will change their minds.

  6. Shari Wakefield February 28, 2011 at 2:33 am #

    This looks AMAZING! Congratulations on putting together such a wonderful recipe! I’m trying to introduce pies to my parents-in-law…My mother-in-law (a traditional Croatian) thinks pies are disgusting. I think pies are FABULOUS! I’m going to try with a simple beef and veggie pie – maybe with potato on top… but maybe she would enjoy this better (she does love cauliflower)…yum, yum, yum…thanks for an outstanding post!

    Shari from

  7. Lindsay February 28, 2011 at 2:41 am #

    These look sooo good!

    For some reason (perhaps because I didn’t grow up with it?) I’ve been afraid to use veggie suet… so I use butter whenever the recipe calls for it.

    (E.g. my steamed wholemeal & rhubarb puddings: The butter’s so good I’m not sure I need to muster up the courage to try suet — but you’ve got me thinking for sure.

  8. Tes February 28, 2011 at 7:28 am #

    I was never like cauliflower that much, but this pie makes me drooled 🙂 Sounds super yummy 🙂

  9. Medeja February 28, 2011 at 1:12 pm #

    You can even confuse them with sweet pies 😀 they look really delicious 🙂 you are great baker 😀

  10. Liz February 28, 2011 at 2:16 pm #

    Oh, my…look at that cheesy goodness in a perfect, flaky crust! Fabulous!!!

  11. Gillian February 28, 2011 at 3:56 pm #

    These look amazing! I will definitely be trying these. Thanks for the friend request on Foodbuzz…I will definitely be coming back to your blog for some more good veggie eats!

  12. Diaczun Style February 28, 2011 at 4:05 pm #

    These sounds amazing! Love your blog… officially bookmarked! 🙂

  13. Celia February 28, 2011 at 4:49 pm #

    Yum! I love meat pasties; this combo, though, is a great idea for getting the same rich savory pie flavor for vegetarians.

  14. Kita March 1, 2011 at 6:11 am #

    These look delicious! Cheesy and good. I love the individual portion sizes too!

  15. Dimah March 1, 2011 at 3:17 pm #

    wow! that looks great!!

  16. Thas March 3, 2011 at 3:45 am #

    Cooking vegetarian has been a real challenge for me and your recipes inspire me to cook more veggie dishes. This is such a creamy and rich dish. I can’t wait to try this.

  17. denise @ bread expectations March 4, 2011 at 4:28 am #

    I love cauliflower so yes, I am salivating all over my keyboard now – thanks! But really, this looks so good (my God that gooey, cheesy filling!!)I think even my boys could be hoodwinked into eating cauliflower (the most evil vegetable on the planet to them)

  18. Mateja March 5, 2011 at 1:31 am #

    Your litlle pie are cute, delicious and totally addictive. I adore cauliflour and everything cauliflour- cooked or baked. Just delicious and beautiful, thank you for sharing 🙂

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