Cheese & Potato Nests

A little behind on the posting yet again but I did have three interviews for two jobs this last week. I did end up with two job offers so at least it was time well spent. I have a good feeling about the job I picked as my new employer has at least one cat who nearly made an appearance on Microsoft Teams during our interview. I find that having a cat is always a sign of good character! This is my last French recipe for the time being as I can’t realistically pretend I’m on holiday anymore even with a mini-two day heatwave in Manchester. Cheese and potato is a big crowd pleaser and I served these with some pan fried fish. Again, this was from Rachel Khoo’s ‘Little Paris Kitchen’ as it’s the only French cookbook I own. Weirdly, this is a recipe made up by the Reblochon company to try to sell their cheese.

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 500g waxy potatoes (Maris Peer or Charlotte are recommended)
  • 1 onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 pack quorn bacon
  • 100ml white wine/stock
  • 250g Reblochon (or 250g of a mix of Reblochon and brie as I used)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Method

  1. ) Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C
  2. ) Melt the butter in a microwave for 10 seconds
  3. ) Brush a 12 space cupcake tin or a 6 space muffin tin with the butter
  4. ) Peel the potatoes and chop into matchsticks. Then set aside. You could use a mandolin but I’ve abandoned these after cutting my fingers to shreds.

5.) Peel and finely chop the onion.

6.) Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the onion and the bay leaf. Fry for about 5 minutes until starting to soften. In the meantime, chop up the quorn bacon into cubes. Then add to the pan and fry for another couple of minutes.

7.) Break up the cheese into blobs.

8.) Add the wine or stock and cook down until there’s just a couple of tablespoons left.

9.) Remove the bay leaf and tip the mixture into the bowl with the potatoes.

10.) Add the cheese and give it all a stir.

11.) Divide it between the 12 cupcake places or 6 muffin places.

12.) Bake for 15 – 20 minutes. I’m not sure you can really overdo these. If the potato sticks are a bit burnt at the top, all the better.

13.) Serve by scooping out with a spoon.

Galettes

Having just spent a week in Provence, I usually like to try to make some dishes of the local cuisine after I arrive home. I think it’s an attempt to convince myself that I’m still on holiday. Towards the end of the trip, we visited a hilltop village which catered very well to English tourists by selling all sorts of crêpes and this put the idea into my head. The word galette more refers to the shape of the dish so a galette can be savoury – a crêpe made with buckwheat flour (as above) or sweet. The sweet version is kind of like a pie with the ends folded over, usually filled with some sort of fruit. These savoury ones are featured in Rachel Khoo’s ‘Little Paris Kitchen’. The recipe in Rachel Khoo’s book does call to leave the batter overnight but I must admit I wasn’t well prepared enough to do this and it was still very tasty. As a filling you can have whatever you like but I used spinach (in an attempt to reach my 5 a day fruit and veg recommendation), eggs, quorn ham and a selection of french cheese (Reblochon, Brie and my personal favourite Brie de Meaux).

Serves 4 for lunch, 2 for dinner

Ingredients

  • 200g buckwheat flour
  • salt
  • 600ml water
  • butter
  • 1 pack quorn ham
  • 1 bag spinach
  • 4 eggs
  • 150g cheese (I used a mix of Brie de Meaux and Reblochon)

Method

1.) Mix the flour and salt in a bowl.

2.) Gradually add the water and whisk after each addition until you have a smooth batter (but don’t overwhisk).

3.) Let the mixture refrigerate for an hour minimum or preferably overnight.

4.) When ready to make the galettes, preheat the oven to 180 degrees C

5.) On a baking tray, spread out the spinach, places slices of the ham around, tear up the cheese and add blobs everywhere. Move the spinach around so there’s some wells then crack the eggs into there.

6.) Bake in the preheated oven for around 10 minutes.

7.) In the meantime, start making the galettes.

8.) Put a frying pan on a medium heat and add enough butter to melt and cover the pan.

9.) Add enough batter that with a bit of tipping the pan, it is covered with the batter. (The recipe is supposed to make 10 – 12 galettes though I found it made a bit less)

10.) After a minute or so, use a spatula to loosen the edges of the galette. start lifting the galette to check if it’s done, then when it looks done on one side, use the spatula to turn over the galette and brown on the other side.

11.) Repeat with butter and buckwheat flour mixture until all is used up.

12.) Serve up the galettes and top with the quorn spinach mixture (or whatever you fancy)

Sticky Onion Tart

This sticky onion tart is a kind of savoury tarte tatin but isn’t so tricky to make. I used pre-made puff pastry, I wouldn’t really make the effort to make puff pastry unless it’s for baking. Find the most buttery puff pastry you can for the maximum flavour. I felt that the tart was burning in the oven so I just covered the tart with some foil. The recipe was from Jamie Oliver’s ‘Veg’ which I’ve already waxed lyrical about enough on this blog.

Serves 6 (as a starter)

Ingredients

  • 6 medium onions
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 4 fresh bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 4 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 320g sheet puff pastry

Method

1.) Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C

2.) Peel and finely chop the garlic and measure out 100ml water

3.) Peel and halve the onions

4.) Add the butter to an ovenproof frying pan and melt

5.) Strip the leaves from the thyme sprigs into the pan and add the bay leaves

6.) Add the sugar, vinegar and 100ml water

7.) Add the onions, flat half down, arrange the garlic between the onions

8.) Season with salt and pepper and turn the heat down to low

9.) Steam for 10 minutes then turn up the heat until the sauce starts to caramelise

10.) Cut the pastry into a square that will cover the majority of the pan. Slice the remaining pastry into two halves.

11.) Place the pastry over the onions and push into the sides with a wooden spoon. Place the other strips at both sides.

12.) Bake in the oven for 35 minutes (you might want to place a piece of foil over it)

13.) Take out the oven and carefully flip out the tart.

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!)