In the first of tonight’s double-whammy …. Spinach and ricotta makes a headline appearance, largely due to its prevalence in my kitchen at the present time.
This amazing recipe for Cheese Flan is remarkably relaxed about being bastardised. It takes to it really well. In this house it has not once been made true to the recipe, and every time it’s come out excellent. This is an epic pie.
Today’s effort happened because I forgot I already had a bag of spinach and bought another. I hoyed the green stuff into the mix and it worked. What’s left to say? Chop it roughly, that’s all.
Take some ready-made pastry (I stole some off my dad) and line a dish with three-quarters of it. Mine is round, I’m guessing 9″ diameter; the official size is 12″ x 9″, rectangular. Don’t trim it too well, you’ll need an edge. Don’t put it in the oven yet. It’s not a blind bake.
Get the oven on! 200 deg C or Gas Mark 6 (I don’t understand deg F except for weather).
Chop up an onion (or 2-3 littler ones) and get them boiling in a pan for five minutes. Grate about 8oz strong cheese into a bowl, (spinach went in now), and drain the onions well. Combine the lot, drop in an egg on the top of the mix and beat it a little before you stir it in.
Tip the doughy mix into the uncooked pastry shell and roll out the remaining lump of pastry to about 3-4 mm thickness. Slice it in strips, about 1 cm width, and brush some milk around the edge of the pastry.
No brush? Just dribble it on with a teaspoon. It doesn’t matter if a little bit gets in the mixture.
Lay the strips of pastry over the pie in one direction. Paint milk across them and lay a few strips in the opposite direction, making a lattice. Paint those too. The milk helps everything stick better, and gives the pastry a bit of a glow after it’s cooked.
Sling it in the oven for 28 minutes. About half an hour, but I would check at 25.
Caution: this is a bloody good way to accidentally eat 8oz of cheese in one day.
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.
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.