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Beetroot and goats’ cheese pies – cooking with Simon Rimmer

December 8, 2018

Simon Rimmer in the kitchen making pies

Look into my suitcase as I haul it from the baggage carousel, delve down under the clothes, unwrap a sturdy cardboard box and, inside, you’ll usually find a selection of crisp golden, pastry-hatted pies that have travelled with me through the skies.

I carry out this covert operation for KP, who lures friends and family into his ring as pie and Cornish pasty mules too.

Do I ever get to taste one? Not a chance. He takes one out of the freezer whenever I have a night out and eats it steaming hot from the oven, resolutely solo, never sharing, ultra-protective.

It’s very rare that I make my own pies. The different steps of pastry preparation and filling, the rolling out and having to be neat puts me off. Given how much we love them, it’s rather sad that I don’t get round to it more often.

So when an invite to pie-making session with Simon Rimmer popped into my inbox, I was keen to go. Simon owns many restaurants and is well-known from appearing on TV in the UK on shows such as Great British Menu, Sunday Brunch and even Strictly Come Dancing. He came to chef fame by setting up Greens, an acclaimed vegetarian restaurant in Manchester, but also claims, as a rather strange contrast, to have invented ‘pulled pork’.

His restaurant in Dubai, The Scene, is on the 4th floor of Pier 7, which has a curved deck and a fabulous view over Dubai Marina. The doors were flung open so everything was flooded with daylight and fresh air.  Simon greeted us like old friends and we gathered round for instruction. It’s easy to see why he’s such a success on TV, with a very warm manner, good sense of humour while demonstrating very clearly and precisely. Our cooking skill level was quite varied. Hungry Girl Dubai had us all chuckling when she asked if Simon had ‘put a bit of lube’ on the tins, in her warm, Irish accent. By the end we were all very keen to don aprons and make our own pies.

ingredients for beetroot and goats cheese pies

I had never attempted to make hot water crust pastry before thinking it would be too difficult. Like most pastry-making, it has its rules and challenges, but it was not as tricky as I’d thought. The dough is a lot more forgiving than shortcrust.

The beetroot filling would be worth making alone to serve cold as a salad, in a sandwich or into a baked-blind, shortcrust pastry case. The secret is to cook the onions long and slow, so they are soft, yielding and fragrant. Either simmer the beetroot in water until it can be pierced with a knife but is not soggy, or wrap in foil with a little olive oil and fresh thyme and roast in the oven. Use the best goats’ cheese you can find (suggestions below).

The appeal of pies and the lexicon that goes with it is a lengthy subject. As you would expect, I grew up on British pies; American pie traditions are like a foreign language to me (pot pies, hand pies, pumpkin pie – a tart surely?). Simon’s pies live up to tradition of having pastry on top and bottom.

It’s a cold-hearted person who can resist breaking a crisply, golden crust with a fork to unveil the secret within, inhaling the release of fragrant filling and digging in for a mouthful.  Thanks to Simon for expanding my pie-making repertoire and for a very enjoyable afternoon.

Cooking in the kitchen with Simon Rimmer

Simon Rimmer's beetroot and goats cheese pie

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Rustic, individual pies that make a great packed lunch or picnic, as well as a hearty supper.

Recipe instructions adapted slightly.

Ingredients

  • 2 onions
  • 10g butter plus extra for greasing
  • 10ml vegetable oil
  • 300g beetroot, cooked
  • 200g goats’ cheese
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • salt
  • 400g plain flour plus extra for dusting
  • 150g vegetable suet
  • 40ml milk
  • 50ml water
  • 1 egg yolk

Directions

  1. Peel and slice the onions thinly. Warm the oil and butter in a heavy-bottomed pan and cook the onions gently until they are soft and caramelised but not burnt (about 40 minutes).
  2. Cut the beetroot and goats’ cheese into 1 cm cubes.
  3. Mix the goats’ cheese, beetroot, caramelised onion and thyme leaves in a bowl and season to taste.
  4. Place 400g of flour into a mixing bowl.
  5. Melt the suet by warming with the milk and water in a saucepan over a low to medium heat.
  6. Remove from heat and gently add to the flour, a little at a time, stirring until combined and a smooth consistency. If the dough is not pliable add a little more warm water.
  7. Dust a work surface and rolling pin with flour and roll out the dough thinly as you can without it breaking (or flatten it by hand).
  8. Lightly grease 6 deep, individual pie tins with butter and line with the pastry, pressing it up the sides.  Reserve the rest of the pastry.
  9. Spoon the filling into the pastry cases, right to the top.
  10. Gently roll out the remaining pastry, cut into rounds and place the lids on top of the pies. Seal the edges by pressing gently with a fork.
  11. Brush the pie lids with beaten egg yolk.
  12. Bake in an oven preheated to 180C for 25-30 minutes.

Excuse the quality of this video as filmed into the sun and on my iphone. It does explain exactly how to make the pastry (and how friendly Simon was).

Which goats’ cheese to use? Simon used the soft type, with a firm, cream cheese texture and advised against using a Brie-style. I’m a big fan of White Lake goats’ cheese as they have a range of award-winners with different tastes and textures including some that would melt beautifully in this filling. I served Rachel to some friends recently and no one guessed it was made of goats milk.

Are you a pie fan and, if so, what’s your favourite pie filling? Do you ever make your own pies? Have you ever made hot water crust pastry?

Beetroot and goats cheese pies

Thanks to Simon and the Scene for the cooking class. My fellow pie makers were Fathima – Table for Five, Nicole – She Dined in the Sun, Courtney – A to Zaatar and Laura – Hungry Girl Dubai

21 Comments leave one →
  1. December 8, 2018 9:50 pm

    The colour of this is absolutely incredible! I’m not a huge fan of beetroot but I think wrapped in this pastry with a lovely layer of goat’s cheese I’d definitely be willing to give it a go 🙂

    • December 9, 2018 9:52 am

      Beetroot is a bit divisive isn’t it. The addition of thyme sets off the sweetness quite nicely so could convert you if you’re not usually that keen.

  2. Veena Pamela Azmanov permalink
    December 8, 2018 9:59 pm

    This is such a lovely combination and these look pretty cool for a party snacker. A must try for sure.

    • December 9, 2018 9:53 am

      You’re right – could be excellent party food especially catering for vegetarians. The colours are festive too. Thanks for commenting .

  3. Mary permalink
    December 8, 2018 10:03 pm

    I’ve been wanting to try my hand at hot water crust! TI love these flavors and this pie sounds delicious!

    • December 9, 2018 9:53 am

      Let me know if you give it a go. I’m raring to make my next pie now I know how easy the pastry is.

  4. tsallinger permalink
    December 8, 2018 10:57 pm

    Oh wow! These pies look incredible. I have never tried a hot water crust before either. Definitely need to now!

    • December 9, 2018 9:54 am

      It made me feel like an expert pie maker when really it was quite simple. Let me know if you give it a go.

  5. Rebecca Swanner | Let's Eat Cake permalink
    December 8, 2018 11:11 pm

    Your photos are great and these goat cheese pies sound delicious!

    • December 9, 2018 9:54 am

      Thanks Rebecca. I did have a smile looking back on those candid moments. We all really enjoyed it so much.

  6. December 9, 2018 12:54 am

    No, I have never made hot water crust pastry. I usually cut the butter in with a pastry blender. This gives something akin to feuilletée with less trouble. If I had to choose a favorite pie, I guess it would be chocolate cream. For that I make pâte sablée, a cookie dough crust.
    In America, we also have Boston Cream Pie which is a cake. 🙂

    • December 9, 2018 9:56 am

      Love how you’ve extended my US pie vocabulary! I guess we have lemon meringue pie which doesn’t have a pastry top. You sound like an expert pastry maker (I think I’m too impatient!)

  7. December 9, 2018 9:32 pm

    Pie making is more fun with a group and it looks as though you had a blast with Chef Simon and your fellow pie makers. Beetroot would make these pies a lovely addition to a festive table

    • December 10, 2018 4:58 pm

      Such a good idea – don’t usually have beetroot on the Christmas table but 2018 might be an exception.

  8. December 10, 2018 8:15 am

    Yummm! Beetroot and goat’s cheese sounds like such an amazing combination! I’d love to try out this pie some time. 🙂

    • December 10, 2018 4:59 pm

      Classic combination especially with the thyme.

  9. kavitafavelle permalink
    December 10, 2018 2:15 pm

    I love the vision of you carrying a suitcase full of pies and pasties across the world for KP! Looks like you had a great time making pies with Simon Rimmer. I love his fun approach to cooking, so I bet it was a great day! Had no idea he had a place in Dubai! The pies look SO GOOD!

  10. December 11, 2018 11:11 am

    Looks fab!! what a great experience xx

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