|celeriac, onion and Stilton pithiver|
As the rapturous reception dies down, the applause quietens, and the cheers of "Oh my god, Rachel, that's amazing!" fade away, I blush prettily, shrug modestly and murmur "Oh it was nothing, but I'd like to thank . . ."
And the cheesy, dreamy fantasy bursts as I come down to earth and look at expectant supper-hungry faces - "Well it looks alright, but what's in it?" and my particular favourite "It's vegetarian? I don't eat vegetarian".
Clearly my skills are wasted on a bunch of unadventurous carnivores that could care less what they food looks like. But hey, this girl can dream!
|what's inside? celeriac, onion and melting Stilton!|
I don't think I have ever made any secret of my love of celeriac or of blue cheese, but this is the first time I have baked them together in a pie. It was simple, very easy and tasted wonderful; the combination of blue cheese and onion with the slight peppery bite of celeriac would definitely be worthy of a cheer or two!
Skill level: Medium
1 x English onion, finely chopped
1 x garlic clove, very finely chopped
lightly salted boiling water (to blanch the celeriac)
1 x celeriac (about 450g), peeled and very finely sliced
fresh thyme leaves
salt and freshly ground black pepper
plain flour (for rolling out the pastry)
500g ready-made, butter puff pastry
plain flour, for dusting
200g blue cheese, crumbled (I used Stilton)
1 egg, beaten
- Melt the butter in a pan, add the onion, garlic and a pinch of salt and gently cook for 3 to 4 minutes; (it shouldn't colour). Set aside to cool.
- After peeling the celeriac, cut it in half and then slice it very thinly. You can use a sharp knife, but it works best with a mandolin. Put the c in half and slice it as thinly as possible with a very sharp knife or mandolin. Blanch the celeriac in the lightly salted, boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry to about 5 or 6 millimetres thick. You will need to cut out 2 circles, one bigger than the other. I used plates to cut around. The pastry base had a diameter of 25 centimetres and the pastry top was 29 centimetres. You need to make sure that there is at least a 3 centimetre difference as the larger piece will be going over the smaller one and the topping.
- Lay the smaller pastry circle on a lined baking tray and prick several times with a fork.
- Lay out some of the celeriac slices over the smaller circle. Make sure that you don't go all the way to the edge; leave a margin of at least 2 centimetres (as this will form your pie edge). Add a little of the onion and garlic. Sprinkle over a few fresh thyme leaves and the crumbled blue cheese. Season with black pepper.
- Repeat the layers. Depending on how big your pastry base is, you may only get 2 complete layers in or perhaps 3.
- Brush the pastry margin with a little of the beaten egg.
- Lay the larger pastry circle over the top (trying to keep it centred!)
- Press down on the edges with your fingers to seal the filling in.
- I knocked up the edges and then decorated the top by using a very sharp knife to make half-moon shapes spiralling from the centre. I also cut out a tiny circle in the top, to allow steam to escape, but gently rested the pastry circle on its hole (as the pastry will expand when cooking).
- Brush with the beaten egg and set aside in the fridge for 20 minutes before baking.
- Pre-heat the oven to 180C / Gas Mark 5.
- Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until golden brown. Careful before serving, it will be hot!
- Works beautifully with other cheeses such as Cheddar, Lancashire or a hard goat's cheese.
- My mother used to make individual sized pithivers with Jerusalem artichokes, mushrooms and goats cheese. No prizes for guessing what I am planning on baking next!