Decadent Lancashire Cheese and Onion Potato Pie

I feel as if I’m about to tell you about a dirty little secret. I don’t feel wholly clean, but I’m definitely satiated.

Inspired by one elderly lady’s ready meals (they are particularly good, and usually made by Cook Food although this winner isn’t from that stable), I plumped to replicate a Lancashire cheese and leek potato pie (you know, with mashed spuds on top).

I didn’t know what kind of sauce to use on the bottom. Didn’t fancy a bechamel base and I figured double (heavy) cream was too much. Thought about making a hollandaise and adding Lancashire cheese to that, but it could have been an expensive disaster. I settled on the cream, since I needed to use some up, but can assure you that the whole thing is incredibly rich. If you’re someone who has even once said of a chocolate fudge gateau, “It’s very rich,” as if it shouldn’t be, then look away now. Now.

decadent cheese and onion potato pie

Set your oven to around 180-190 deg C. It goes in a casserole dish.

Saute 1 medium onion in olive oil (salt them) and when they start to discolour add a couple of splashes of brandy to deglaze the pan (and for flavour). Pour in the double cream and bring up the heat to a simmer.

Dice most of the block of Lancashire cheese (no other will do), and throw it into the cream . Keep stirring. It doesn’t matter if there are a few lumps of cheese here and there. Texture is good.

Add the onions, taste for salt, go for a few shakes of white pepper (or black … some people hate white pepper) and pour into the bottom of the casserole dish.

While you were doing everything else, you were also boiling potatoes. I am lazy, so I cut them in half in their skins and put them through a potato ricer. I couldn’t resist butter, but it was an obscene addition. I mixed fresh thyme into it too, but I’m not sure I could tell.

Spread the mash on top of the sauce and bake for about 15-20 minutes.

Trifle Anyone?

I didn’t achieve a lot today, but I felt good. The daily waterfalls are kicking in and my outlook has cheered up. Today I wish there was some trifle left, because my day would be topped with a cherry.

The sherry soaked sponge soaked, sharp raspberries stabbing the silky smooth custard; lightly whipped cream and jewelike cherries competing with toasted flaked almonds. It’s busy but simple.

Well, that’s how my mum’s trifles turn out. There’s an air of finesse, in a dish that isn’t very sophisticated. Each layer should be distinct but also meld with its mates to make one amazing pudding.

This baby was my first ever, and it got eaten right up, so the hitter it was, however there were a couple of mistakes that I would want to do better next time.

1) A very large slug of sherry was added by Himself because he thought it was funny, so the dessert was overwhelmingly sherry flavoured.

2) I used a flat whisk (with the spiral loop) which whipped the cream too stiffly, without warning, so that wonderful softness was lost.

Mum’s Trifle

As many “Lady’s Finger” trifle sponge biscuits as will fit on the bottom of the chosen dish. Two layers if the dish is deep enough to take it. Soak them in sherry, one slug at a time; soaked is not soggy.

Lay a thick layer of raspberries (fresh or frozen –  no need to defrost) over the sponge and make the custard.

Custard: I keep old vanilla pods in my sugar, so I have vanilla sugar available – just as well since I forgot to buy a pod this time. Using the ratio of 1 egg yolk per 100ml cream and milkwhisk together the yolks and 1 tbsp vanilla caster sugar. Add 1 tsp cornflour (I put slightly more to be certain). Mix in a combination of milk and double cream and set on a low/medium heat. Stir with a wooden spoon until it thickens. Do not boil. Keep stirring after it’s taken off the heat.
Scratch custard is so much nicer than Birds.

Pour the warm custard over the raspberries and allow it to set overnight in a cool place. Put the oven on 180 C and toast a layer of flaked almonds on a heatproof dish. Whip the double cream lightly and cut 8-10 cherries in half.

Dollop the cream over the set custard so that it covers it – a pallette knife is a good tool for this – and set the cherries into the white stuff under a covering of nuts.