I’ve been watching Celebrity Masterchef, something I do every year. I do like their format this year, and bringing restauranteurs in, rather than going out to “The Professional Kitchen” has worked very well. I never really like the artificial pressure of the way that is set up. I also feel really sorry for everyone involved when they have to go and cook for a poor workforce who only have limited time for lunch and then have to wait 15 minutes for their stuffed peppers/ chilli.

The format change, and a watch-a-long with friends, has meant we’ve been googling restaurants and recipes as we go along and I found one particular recipe I liked the look of, dauphinoise pie from Calum Franklin, available online via The Staff Canteen Dauphinoise, comte and caramelised onion pie. “Ooo,” thinks I, “I could make that!” and I look at the prep time (4.5 hours) and I write a shopping list. Saturday evening meal sorted.

The first thing I do is half the amounts because I don’t need 6 cheese and onion pies. As this heroic tale unfolds this will turn out to be the wisest decision I make this weekend. I pop the shopping list into my bag on Saturday morning as I head out to marshal our local Parkrun because I can get the ingredients I need on the way back: butter, comte, cream, potatoes. I plan to just pick up the things I need to make this dish and then do a proper shop later in the week.


Saturday lunchtime I prepare a quick sandwich lunch (pie later!) and start the prep for the dauphinoise. I’ve a lovely Le Mini Magimix which means that slicing potatoes is the quickest part of making this dish. Remembering, all the time, to only use half I pop the dauphinoise in the oven for 45 minutes. It smells delicious, I’ve never added herbs to this but I will in future. I get the dauphinoise out of the oven, ‘allow to cool to room temperature then add another sheet of parchment on top and gently press with 1kg of weight in a similar sized tray overnight in the fridge’.



is this worth the weight?

Not having pie for tea tonight then. The potato filling goes into the fridge with weights on its feet lid and I change my plans. Luckily past me bought some chicken kiev and this is an acceptable substitute. I load and run the dishwasher because I’ve generated a lot of washing up and I haven’t even got properly started.


Sunday, after The Archers Omnibus, I read properly the rest of the instructions. I need “tea cups” which I don’t have but I do have some stackable mugs which get a wash as I’ll need them later, and I find my cutters etc. There are a number of other chilling and resting steps (it is pastry, after all) so I make the decision to finish the pies after my Sunday Lunch visit to my parents. This part of the process is pretty straight forward. One thing I have to do that I haven’t done before is properly caramelise some onions. At this point it should be clear that I enjoy eating food a lot more than I enjoy preparing it, my effort into food prep really revolves around wanting to eat tasty things were I know what is in them. I caramelise onions, properly. I even manage not to burn them which is the normal way of things when I have to remember to stir things after an amount of time…

My flattened dauphinoise, over easy

Post-Sunday lunch (brisket cooked by dad, delicious) I make the pastry (simples! Le Mini is amazing) and while I am resting it in the fridge for 15 minutes (I’m slightly off recipe here, this says to roll and cut first then chill for half an hour, but I’m splitting the difference) I cut the disks out of the dauphinoise. It turns out that I have too much of this by quite a lot but I wonder if it needed to be thicker in the oven. I cut twice as many disks out as I need and decide to double up the mix when I stack them in the cups in the fridge to chill.

It’s time to roll and cut the pastry. I always roll pastry too thick so this turns into a bit of a saga with things being cut then me looking at it and rolling it a bit more and trimming. There is just enough pastry which is almost certainly due to me not rolling to super-thin professional chef standards. Into the fridge with it for 15 mins

I clean down and hoover then mop the floors while I’m waiting.

Assembly. I don’t need to double up on the dauphinoise, the pastry doesn’t fit over the top so I take the disks off and they go into the freezer with the off cuts as they must be good for SOMETHING in the future. I do my best to follow the instructions but my pies are never going to look as good as the professional version and I concentrate on getting a good seal rather than a pretty trim. Back into the fridge with the first egg wash on. At this point it is after 6.30 p.m., I ate lunch at 3 p.m. and I’m not hungry anyway. These pies are not going to be sampled tonight but I need to finish them as I can’t have the prep bleed into three days.

At this point I look as grim as my pies

Oven on to preheat, second egg wash on, left to set for a while, scoring done, cup of tea made and pies into the oven. At this point I’m not hopefully they will even be in nodding distance of the image on the website but as they cook the lovely smell of pastry, onion and cheese wafts into the living room and I start to believe that everything will be ok.

Success! I’ve only one pie with a minor leak, they do not have soggy bottoms and the cooking process ironed out my crinkly lids. I have no idea what they taste like: I know what the filling tastes like due to trimmings but I’m looking forward to getting answers today when I finally eat one of them!


After sampling I can decide if I’d make them again. If I did I would probably make a single, square, pie and cut down the amount of potato mix (or plan to eat the next day as part of my meals). I probably wouldn’t do an overnight rest unless I had time, either. I think cooled is enough, especially if you aren’t doing individual pies.