Gougères

These cheese puffs were another small bite I made for my Eurovision party. They were also a good way to use up the rest of the gruyère I bought for the beer cheese sauce. They are best eaten fresh but I just warmed them up in the oven for 5 minutes at 150 degrees C. The recipe is from one of my favourite celebrity chefs – Rachel Khoo – and her book ‘Little Paris Kitchen’ so named as living in Paris, she couldn’t afford much of a kitchen.

Makes about 15

Ingredients

  • 60ml water
  • 65ml milk
  • 50g butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 85g plain flour
  • 35g gruyere cheese
  • 2 eggs

Method

1.) Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C and line a baking tray

2.) Measure out the water and milk into a measuring jug, grate the cheese, beat the eggs into a container and beat with a fork, measure out the butter into a pan

3.) Measure out the flour and melt the butter into the pan.

4.) Once the butter is melted, add the water and milk, the flour and beat, add about 2/3 of the cheese and beat in until melted

5.) Add half the egg and mix, then add the other half and beat until a glossy paste

6.) Put the dough into a piping bag (or into a freezer bag with the corner chopped off to make a nozzle).

7.) Pipe on the baking tray into about 15 walnut sized balls. Don’t worry about getting it perfect. I went back and topped them up.

8.) Wet a finger and pat down the points on each ball.

9.) Sprinkle over the rest of the cheese on the tops.

10.) Bake for 20 minutes.

Beer Cheese Dip

I made this beer-cheese dip to go with my pretzels. I don’t feel like I need to advertise it much – beer and cheese – what more could you want. As you can see, it makes a fair bit. The rest of it I mixed with some cooked pasta and roasted butternut squash and baked topped with some breadcrumbs as a makeshift mac and cheese. I used Newcastle Brown Ale as my beer of choice as I don’t much like hoppy beers and this one has a nice mellow flavour. The sauce will solidify as it cools down – there really is that much cheese, so make it ready to eat straight away or bung it in the microwave to melt. The recipe is adapted from the blog ‘Spend With Pennies’.

Ingredients

  • 60g butter
  • 35g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • pinch cayenne pepper (or paprika)
  • 250ml milk
  • 170ml Newcastle Brown Ale
  • 235g mature cheddar
  • 120g mozarella
  • 120g gruyère cheese
  • 2 tsp mustard

Method

1.) Grate the cheddar and the gruyère and chop up the mozarella

2.) Measure out the milk and beer into a jug and measure out the butter into a pan

3.) Measure out the flour. Melt the butter in the pan then add the flour, garlic, onion and cayenne powder. Beat to a paste and stir around the pan for 2 minutes.

4.) Add splashes of milk and whisk until each is combined into the paste, eventually forming a thick sauce.

5.) Add the cheeses to the pan and mix until all melted into a smooth gooey sauce.

6.) Stir in 2 tsp of mustard.

CAULIFLOWER GRATIN

I’d admired the look of this recipe from Rachel Khoo’s ‘Little Paris Kitchen’ for a while but not made it as I didn’t know what to serve it with. I’m not really sure why this was an issue because I’ve bought cauliflower cheese meals and eaten them just as they were. It feels like dinner party food but really it’s just a mornay sauce – (béchamel + cheese) baked with some veg and topped with breadcrumbs and hazelnuts. The cauliflower could be replaced with another kind of vegetable including potato and I’m sure it would still be good if you just have a bit of leftover cheddar to use up rather than a fancy comté. I might even anglify this and try out a broccoli, walnut and stilton gratin.

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 2 cauliflowers
  • 50 g hazelnuts
  • 1 slice toast (I used a bagel thin)
  • 30g butter
  • 30g plain flour
  • 500ml milk (I used soy milk)
  • 1/4 onion
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 clove
  • pinch nutmeg
  • salt
  • 200g comté/gruyère cheese
  • 50g parmesan

Method

1.) Preheat the oven to 180 degrees

1.) Chop the cauliflower into florets then cook until tender (steam, boil or roast)

2.) Drain off any residual water or stick in the oven for 5 minutes

3.) Now make the mornay sauce. Peel and chop the onion finely. Weigh out the butter into the pan. Weigh out the flour into a separate bowl. Grate the cheeses. Measure out the milk.

4.) Melt the butter in the pan. Add the flour and beat with a wooden spoon into a paste. Cook off for another minute.

5.) Take the pan off the heat and whisk in the milk in increments until all combined.

6.) Put back on the hob, add the onion, clove and bay leaf and simmer for 10 minutes.

7.) When done, sieve out the onion, clove and bay leaf and add a pinch of nutmeg and some salt.

8.) Weigh out the hazelnuts and bash them in a pestle and mortar.

9.) Bash up the toast into breadcrumbs.

10.) Add most of the cheese to the sauce and stir until it melts.

11.) Mix the cheese sauce together with the cauliflower.

12.) Pour the cauliflower mixture into 3 loaf tins.

13.) Sprinkle over the rest of the cheese, the breadcrumbs and the hazelnuts over the loaf tins.

14.) Bake them in the oven for 10 minutes.

15.) Switch to the grill setting and grill until lightly toasted (less so than mine – I was distracted by the football!)

Mac and cheese

Despite living in the US for 3 years, I didn’t come across mac and cheese too often except as a side at BBQ restaurants. However, what’s not to love about pasta baked with cheese and topped with more cheese. As I’m still clinging onto my New Year’s weight loss resolution I used the recipe from Skinnytaste’s blog incorporating butternut squash into the sauce. This makes it much more acceptable for me as I can’t eat a meal without vegetables but if you’re on the hidden veg train this is a really good way to do it. You can’t see or taste the squash in this recipe. My only gripe with the recipe on the website is that there just isn’t enough cheese, so I’ve increased the amount in my ingredients below. You could play around with the type of cheese too. I subbed in some applewood smoked cheddar just because it caught my eye. Due to a butternut squash shortage?? I used a pack of pre-made root vegetable mash though this did cut down on both time and washing up.

Serves 5-6

Ingredients

400g tub root vegetable mash

285g dried macaroni pasta

120ml vegetable stock

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp garlic paste

salt and black pepper

130g breadcrumbs

2 tbsp grated parmesan

1 tbsp butter

1.5 tbsp plain flour

2 cups milk ( I used soya milk)

80g gruyère

80g smoked cheese

100g spinach

Method

1.) Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C

2.) Add the pasta to a pan of boiling water and cook until soft

3.) Make up the vegetable stock and add to a food processor along with the root veg, onion powder, garlic and salt and pepper

4.) Blend the mixture until smooth

5.) Once the pasta is done, drain and set aside in a large mixing bowl

6.) In the pan, melt the butter and add the flour to make a paste. Cook on a low heat for 5 minutes to cook down the taste of the flour, whisk in the milk in increments. When it thickens, add more milk until all of it is used up.

7.) Grate the gruyère and the smoked cheese (the smoked cheddar was too soft to grate so I just crumbled this up – it will melt in the milk).

8.) Add the cheese to the milk, stir until it melts. Add the spinach and let it wilt.

9.) Take the pan off the heat and add the puréed vegetable mixture.

10.) Stir this into the pasta in the mixing bowl.

11.) Pour the pasta into a baking tin. Mine was a 30cm glass pie dish.

12.) Bake the pasta for 25 minutes.

13.) In the meantime, grate the parmesan and mix in a bowl with the breadcrumbs.

14.) When the pasta is done, take the tin out of the oven and switch the oven to the grill setting.

15.) Sprinkle over the breadcrumbs and put the dish on the top shelf of the oven for 5 minutes.