I have never ever hankered after a daughter. Obviously if one had appeared then I’d have loved her and been very happy indeed. But one never did. And I now find myself in the curious position of being a mother of three sons, still under 35 and yet about to sell all the unisex baby bits on eBay. I’m getting rid of everything. Even the fertility monitor thingy we used to conceive Lawrence. It’s all off to a faceless man or woman online. My baby days are over. I thought I’d be fine about it, really I did. But I’m not.
I’m not sure it’s even related to gender. I actually don’t think it is at all. I think it’s what it all signifies. There’s a moment in every woman’s life when they either hang up their pregnancy boots and decide that road, though trodden, is now closed. Or they don’t go there at all (wilfully or not) and metaphorically hang those boots up, albeit unworn. I guess my selling all this stuff is a great big flag in the road.
So, I will never be the mother of the bride. I will never say ‘my daughter and I’. I will never go for a mother and daughter’s pamper day – goodness, not that I’d want to, I’d rather tear my hair out. And the size 10 dresses in my cupboard will never be worn again by anyone blood related to me. In fact, it might be time to get rid of them too.
For the pastry:
- 140g cold butter, cut into 1cm cubes
- 280g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
- 50g parmesan or other hard cheese, finely grated
- 100ml very cold water (I keep a bottle in the fridge for making pastry)
- 500g pack of shortcrust pastry
For the filling:
- 5 medium onions, peeled and finely sliced
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 30g butter
- 3 tbsp castor sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 200g very strong cheddar, grated
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 284ml double cream
- Black pepper, to taste
If you are making your own pastry, rub the butter into the flour until you have a fine breadcrumb consistency. Stir through the grated cheese and then add the water, stirring with a blunt knife until it starts to come together. Use your hands to scoop it into a ball, without kneading. Wrap it in cling film and rest in the fridge.
Prepare the filling by very gently frying the onions in the oil, butter, sugar and salt over a low heat. Fry until completely brown and starting to become quite sticky. This can take up to 30 minutes depending on your hob. Set aside. (Please note if you are especially sensitive to the taste of sugar you may wish to reduce the amount used here or indeed not bother using any at all. The amount used here is stipulated to work with a very strong cheddar).
Roll the chilled pastry disc or shop bought pastry out on a lightly floured work surface using a floured rolling pin, into a circle about 5cm larger than the quiche tin (I use a 23cm loose bottomed quiche tin) and as thick as a pound coin. Transfer the pastry into your tin by gently placing both hands underneath it, spread wide with palms facing upwards. Push the pastry into the sides of the tin and run your rolling pin across the top to trim off the excess pastry. Chill the pastry-lined tin for 15 minutes and preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6.
Line the pastry with greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans, uncooked rice or dried beans. Bake for 15 minutes, remove the beans and paper, then bake for another 10 minutes. Remove the pastry case from the oven only when it looks entirely cooked through, then fill with the carmelised onions. Beat together half the cheddar, the eggs, cream and black pepper and pour over the onions. Lastly top with the rest of the cheese. Bake for 20–25 minutes until browned and a knife inserted in the centre shows no wet filling.
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