Cheese potato pie and baked beans on the school lunch menu

I wrote yesterday about the sort of salads my mother-in-law prepared when she was head of the kitchen and chief school cook in Surrey in the 1950’s. I have her cookery book and was looking through it when I saw a couple of things which were similar to what I remember having many years later for my school dinner in Cambridge. We used to have a really nice cheese pie, with pastry on the top as well as the bottom, but there was also an open top version, like a flan or tart; this always came with baked beans which were a funny, very particular orange colour – not at all like the baked beans from the tin which we had at home. Maybe the baked beans were home-made by our school cooks? If so they have used a recipe similar to the one in my mother-in-law’s little cookery book:

Baked beans in tomato sauce

The recipe is enough for 100 children, so I have scaled it down somewhat – but you will have to use your judgement on ingredients!

  • 1 lb haricot beans, soaked overnight and cooked
  • dripping (or butter or oil)
  • 2 oz flour
  • 2 oz brown sugar
  • 1 pint stock
  • mixed spice
  • ½ tsp vinegar
  • ½ tomato purée
  • seasoning to taste
  • chopped parsley to garnish
  1. make a sauce with the dripping, flour and stock
  2. add the rest of the ingredients
  3. when mixed stir into the drained beans
  4. cover and bake for at least ½ an hour at gas mark 4, 350°F, 180°C
  5. sprinkle with parsley

This is the actual recipe; I think I would add some black treacle, more vinegar (not malt as they would have used in the school kitchen) and maybe a little chilli!

I could imagine mother-in-law might serve her school children this with it:

Cheese potato pie

  • potatoes (she uses 25 lbs for her 100 children!) cooked, drained, water reserved
  • grated cheese
  • chopped onions (she uses 6 lbs – you use as much as you think you need or would like! I might make mine quite oniony!)
  • milk (she uses dried milk – possibly milk was still on the ration when she was doing this; she rehydrates the milk with some of the water strained from the potatoes)
  • dripping (or butter or oil)
  • seasoning
  1. fry the onion in dripping (or butter, or oil)
  2. mash the potatoes with milk and some of the potato water if you like
  3. mix the potatoes, fried onions and some of the cheese
  4. put into a serving dish and brown well in a hot oven after sprinkling the remaining or extra cheese on top



  1. Rosie Scribblah

    Oh yum! I used to love cheese pie. I make my own baked beans, with tinned haricot, so much easier. I also use loads of flavourings, fresh herbs, balsamic vinegar, chilli, Worcestershire Sauce and tinned tomatoes for the sauce.. My young nephew ridiculed me as tinned beans are so cheap, until he tasted mine! 😁

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lois

      I never thought of using tinned beans!! What a clot!! Next time we go shopping…Oh, actually, I do have a tin of black beans… that would be naked beans with a twist as they say!


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