Tag Archives: cheddar

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……………..!

Butternut Squash and Chickpea Crumble with caramelised onions, cream cheese and oaty cheddar topping

9 Feb

Bit of a long title, I know, but I couldn’t leave anything out. All the ingredients are really important and it got you interested didn’t it? Want to see inside? …….OK…..

You need to know how delicious this is. The butternut squash is roasted with rosemary & a little chilli to bring out the sweetness and intensify the flavour. The chickpeas give a textural surprise layer and contrast to the squash. The onions are caramelised with brown sugar and balsamic vinegar. The cream cheese layer gives a creamy sour edge on top of the sweet onions. And the topping, well, it’s a crunchy, cheddar, oatmeal, breadcrumb and olive oil crumble seasoned with a touch of rosemary to echo the squash.

 This is a hybrid of two recipes I had been thinking about making over the last week. The first was an Aubergine Crumble from Flavour by Vicky Bhogal and the second was a recipe for Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Cassoulet I found on Cooking Pretty. She bakes the cassoulet with a gruyere topping which really appealed to me so I just put the cheesey crumble mix on top of the cassoulet and changed a few other ingredients. I made four individual crumbles but you could easily make one big one to serve at the table. The result is pure comfort food, warming and delicious…

Butternut Squash & Caramelised Onion Crumble

serves 3 -4 vegetarian

  • 1/2 butternut squash (about 750 gr) washed and cut into 2cm chunks
  • olive oil
  • salt & black pepper
  • a pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tsp rosemary leaves, roughly chopped
  • about 2oo gr (1/2 tin/jar) cooked chickpeas, drained & rinsed
  • 1 large onion, finely sliced
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp thyme/rosemary, finely chopped
  • about 100 gr cream cheese
  • 50 gr rolled oats
  • 50 gr breadcrumbs
  • about 100 gr grated cheddar (or other cheese)
  • 1/4 tsp finely chopped rosemary leaves
  • olive oil, salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 210 C. Put the squash chunks on a lined baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper, rosemary & chilli flakes and roast for 35 – 40 minutes or until your squash is soft.

Meanwhile heat some olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and fry the onions, thyme/rosemary, brown sugar and balsamic vinegar for about 20 minutes stirring occasionally until caramelised. Make the crumble topping by mixing the oats, breadcrumbs, grated cheese, rosemary salt and pepper in a small bowl. Drizzle over about 3 tbsp olive oil and mix with a fork or your fingers until it resembles a crumble.

When the squash is cooked, remove it from the oven and turn the oven down to 190 C. Tip the squash into a large bowl and blitz with stick blender until it is a chunky puree.  Taste and season if necessary. Pour this into the base of your dish/dishes and spread it out evenly. Season your rinsed chickpeas and scatter them over the squash. Tip the caramelised onions over the chickpeas and spread them about evenly. Spread a thin-ish layer of cream cheese over the onions (it doesn’t matter if it’s messy) and then top with the crumble mixture. Pat it gently and drizzle with olive oil. Bake in the oven for 20 -25 minutes until the top is golden and crispy.

Serve with a green salad for lunch or with some green beans & new potatoes as a more substantial meal. You could also put some pumpkin/squash seeds in the topping if you hadn’t burnt them instead of toasting them like I did! It was still delicious though, as you can see……

This is a really cute dinner party dish as well. You can prepare them beforehand and just heat them up when your guests arrive. Simple…..

My Macaroni Cheese

20 Oct

This has to be my favourite comfort food dish of all time. Not the most exciting I know but with the addition of garlic spinach, nutmeg & your favourite three cheeses this really is heaven. We had our friends Tim & Tony for dinner on Monday night which is their only night off from the restaurant so the last thing they want is a posh dinner, and also Tim is the fussiest person in the world when it comes to food. The Menu had to be easy, delicious, comforting, and prepared ahead. There is no way I am going to stand around cooking while everyone else is chatting & enjoying themselves and besides our dining table is in the kitchen and I can’t handle people seeing the mess… So the menu was: 

Roasted Tomato & Red Pepper Soup with Garlic & Parmesan Bread

Macaroni Cheese with Three Cheeses & Garlic Spinach

Hot Chocolate Melting Centre Pudding with Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

All three of theses dishes are easy to make and real crowd pleasers, the perfect combination of comfort and joy !! I’ll start with the macaroni cheese…

Macaroni Cheese with Garlic Spinach Recipe

Serves 4 Vegetarian

  • 500gr dried macaroni (I used penne rigate because I prefer it)
  • 1 bag fresh spinach (about 300 gr) any tough stems removed
  • 1 tbsp butter & a little olive oil(to cook spinach)
  • 2 or 3 cloves garlic chopped finely
  • 50 gr butter (Plus extra for buttering dish & for the top)
  • 50 gr flour
  • 250 ml milk (I use goats milk) you may need more
  • freshly grated nutmeg about 1/2 tsp
  • a pinch dried chilli flakes (optional)
  • salt & pepper
  • 150gr grated cheese (I used a mixture of mozzarella, cheddar & parmesan) you can use whatever your favourite cheeses are.
  • 1 tomato thinly sliced
  • about 25 gr breadcrumbs & extra grated parmeasan for the top

Put the butter, olive oil & garlic in a large pan with a lid and cook on a med heat for 1 – 2 mins until the garlic is soft (not browned). Then add the spinach stir a little & put on the lid for a minute. Stir again and replace the lid. Repeat until the spinach has wilted, add salt & pepper, turn off the heat & put the lid back on.

Meanwhile cook the pasta in boiling salted water for 3 minutes less than the packet says beacause it will continue to cook in the oven. Drain and set aside.

Melt the 50gr butter in a saucepan over a med heat then dump in the flour, stir & cook for 1 minute. Add the milk bit by bit stirring to incorporate each time until you have added it all and you have a smooth white sauce the consistency of thick cream. You may need to add more milk. Add the nutmeg, chilli flakes if using & salt & pepper, stir to combine. Take the pan off the heat and add the cheeses one by one stirring to melt.

In a large bowl combine the pasta with the cheese sauce, stirring to coat evenly then add the wilted spinach and garlic with slotted spoon (you don’t want the green water that has come out of the spinach), then stir to incorporate the spinach. Taste for seasoning you may need more salt, pepper & nutmeg.

Butter a large baking dish then sprinkle it with breadcrumbs. (It stops it sticking and creates a base). Pour the pasta into the dish making sure it’s even. Top with the sliced tomato,sprinkle with breadcrumbs, grated parmesan and dot with a little butter.

Ready for the Oven

If you are making this ahead, cover it and put it in the fridge until you need it. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees and cook for 35 mins until browned. If you are cooking it straight away (as it is still warm )you will only need to cook it for about 20 mins until browned or even put it under the grill for 10 – 15 mins.

I think they enjoyed it !!

The recipe for Hot Chocolate Melting Centre Puddings follows….

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