He went back towards the toolshed, but suddenly, quite close to him, he heard the noise of a hoe— scr-r-ritch, scratch, scratch, scritch. Peter scuttered underneath the bushes. But presently, as nothing happened, he came out, and climbed upon a wheelbarrow, and peeped over. The first thing he saw was Mr. McGregor hoeing onions. His back was turned towards Peter, and beyond him was the gate!
-Peter Rabbit, Beatrix Potter
Onion pie is hearty food. Filling, warming, it reminds me of grandma’s kitchen. A permanent lingering smell that I realise only now must have been the smell of that versatile veggie– cooked in stews and roasted in chickens. The smell seeped into everything, the wallpaper, the carpets, every nook and cranny. Either the smell makes you crinkle your nose or it will bring back memories.
Onions also remind me of autumn, or fall, as we’d call it back home. Here’s it not fall. No leaves change to vibrant reds or oranges. Only brown. Here autumn doesn’t mean Thanksgiving, where the onion would normally be stuffed inside the turkey. Or Halloween.
No, here in Australia, autumn means a sigh of relief from the sweltering summer. And it means Easter. Growing up in Canada, Easter meant spring. An easing of winter. Which, in Vancouver, just meant less cold and just as much rain. But it was spring. It meant hydrangeas exploding into a pastel canvas of blues and purples in our leafy backyard. It was white wicker baskets and matching flowery dresses. You don’t realise how much the seasons you grew up with affect how you view your holidays. Until they’re turned on their heads.
For the same time I’m planning Easter for this weekend, I’m also buying up the last batch of pumpkin ale imported from NY, drawing up Halloween prop plans, all while nestled up in my ugg boots and fleecy trackies. All because the season is telling me it’s the right time.
So to incorporate Mr McGregor’s vegetables, and to, for once, acknowledge that Easter is indeed in autumn here, I give you cheese and onion pie.
Start by making the pastry by mixing to gather 4 cups (alb) plain flour, 2 tsp baking powder, pinch of salt, 120g of softened butter, 1 egg and 1/2 cup (120 ml) of cold water. Don’t dump all the water in together, as it might make the dough to wet. Therefore pour it in bit by bit until it holds together when you squish it together with your hand. If it’s too wet, just add bit by bit of flour. Wrap in a ball in cling wrap and place in the fridge for several hours.
When you’re ready to make it, pull out two saucepans. In one small pot, boil salted water and add in 1 medium sized potato or 2-3 small potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks. Cook until fork soft, about 15 minutes. Drain and place to the side.
In the other saucepan, medium size, add in 2 finely sliced onions and bring to a boil. Let cook for several minutes, before draining. Place the onions back in the pot. Sprinkle 3 tbsp of plain flour over them, then stir in 1/2 cup of milk. Heat until the mixture thickens, then add the potato chunks, 150g of grated cheese (one with a stronger flavour is preferable), 1 tsp dijon mustard, 1/2 tsp of paprika and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F and grease a pie tin. For the cute straight up and down look, I used Ikea’sDRÖMMAR red muffin tin.
Bring out the pastry and roll it out. Cut out into circles and place into pie tins. Stuff with a little greaseproof paper and fill with pie weights, rice or dried beans. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove the weights and paper and fill with the mixture.
You can roll out extra dough and create a top for these, but they look pretty adorable like little pastry cups.
Place back into the oven and cook for another 20 minutes.
These can either be served hot or cold.
recipe altered from http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/cheeseandonionpie_89625