Tartiflette:

Tartiflette:

PICTURE 26

Tartiflette is like Carcassonne – it’s not quite what it seems. 

Carcassonne in southern France has become regarded as one of the best maintained medieval walled fortress towns of France, whereas the truth of the matter is that it was substantially rebuilt during our Victorian age to encourage what we, these days, call tourism, and thus improve the economy of the town and the region. 

Picture of carcassonne

Have you seen it?  It’s really worth a look.  But what has that got to do with….    Well, Tartiflette has become regarded as an ancient peasant dish from the Savoie region.  True, it comes from the Savoie region, but it was actually invented as recently as the 1980’s by the Syndicat de Reblochon to sell more Reblochon cheese and keep the workers in employment.  Clever ploy, eh?!

Whatever its origin or history, I don’t care – cos it’s gorgeous.

There is no really definitive recipe for Tartiflette, despite its short existence.  However, this is the one that I prefer, the one that we have developed/experienced in the south of France near to Narbonne, though I’m sure if you visit the Savoie region it will be a little different.     And they’ll probably deny everything I’ve said about its origin! (But they’ll have their fingers crossed behind their backs!)

Prep:           20-ish minutes.

Cooking:      35-ish mins.

Course:        Main

Serves:        4-6

Rating:         2:  Easy

Find:

  • 1 kg nice waxy new potatoes; boiled, peeled and thickly sliced
  • Whole Reblochon cheese
  • 200 g cheap rindless smoked bacon or prepared lardons (for a veggie version, omit the bacon and substitute smoked tofu or one of these veggie bacon rasher type things. You’ll need more than this recipe says for the same amount of spuds.)
  • 1 large red onion (I sometimes put a shredded leek in there as well)
  • 2 cloves garlic (more if you wish to give it more ‘wellie’!)
  • Glass of white wine
  • Small tub Crème Fraiche
  • 50 g butter
  • Frying pan – large
  • Ceramic oven dish – also large
  • Pepper, salt to taste (but be careful with the salt as you have bacon and cheese)

Method:

 

  • Wash the potatoes (don’t peel them) and steam them or cook them à l’anglais – in boiling water. Let them cool a little before starting to handle them.
  • Slice the bacon into small strips (lardons will be ready for use) and fry in a little grapeseed, rapeseed, groundnut or sunflower oil and butter until the edges just start to brown. Remove, drain and put aside.
  • Peel and finely chop the onion. Fry them in the same pan, in the bacon fat until soft.
  • Add the wine, moving it about the pan to get all the sticky, gooey bits off the surface of the pan, and then reduce it down a bit to intensify the flavours.
  • Peel and thickly slice the now cooled potatoes, frying them with the onions and wine. Finely chop the garlic and put that in as well – don’t allow the garlic to start to brown or it might impart a bitter taste.
  • Chuck in the bacon mixture. Ensure that the bacon fat and wine mixture becomes evenly distributed over the entire pan contents. Preheat the oven to 200°C (mk6).
  • Pour the crème fraiche over the mixture, mix gently and then pour the whole lot into an oven dish.   Do not remove the natural crust from the Reblochon cheese (though if it has a label or a plastic coating of any sort, remove all of that, of course) and cut into slices ensuring that the harder ‘crust’ or edges are cut quite small and buried deeply so that it softens easily.
  • Stir the cheese into the mixture a little, then put some of the thinner slices on top of the potatoes and pop it in the oven for approximately 20 minutes. Check that the top does not over-brown (another way of saying ‘don’t let the bugger burn’.)
  • Remove the dish from the oven and let it stand for a few minutes before delving into its steaming contents. Don’t burn your mouth!
  • Savour with a glass or four of nice, crisp, white wine – or whatever wine you like.

You’ve just made a dish full of history – recent history, perhaps, but history all the same.

Egg on cheese on beans on toast:

Egg on cheese on beans on toast:

Prep:           5 mins.

Cooking:      10 mins.

Course:        Snack

Serves:

Rating:         1:  Very easy

Method:

  • Oh yes…… the Advanced version……. As Cheese on beans on toast, but put a fried egg (See Tricks’n’Tips on frying an egg) on top.

Yes, I know, very technical – remind me to call the Patents Office.

Cheese on toast:

Cheese on toast:

Prep:           5 mins.

Cooking:      10 mins.

Course:        Snack

Serves:

Rating:         1:  Very easy

Method:

  • As Cheese on beans on toast and Beans on cheese on toast, but omit the beans.
  • See – you didn’t know that you could cook like this, did you!
  • …and you STILL can’t use a toaster for this.

Beans on cheese on toast:

Beans on cheese on toast:

Prep:           5 mins.

Cooking:      10 mins.

Course:        Snack

Serves:

Rating:         1:  Very easy

Method:

  • Do just the same as Cheese on Beans on Toast, but this time put the heated beans on top of the cheese after you’ve gooified, it instead of under.
  • Simples, tch! (impression of a TV meercat….. bad impression of a TV meercat..)

Cheesy Cauliflower Pancakes

Cheesy Cauliflower Pancakes

Perfect for a light veggie lunch, a starter or just a scoff!

Description

Prep:           10 mins.

Cooking:      15 mins.

Course:        Starter, lunch or snack,

Serves:         4

Rating:         2:  Easy

 

Find:

  • 1 cauliflower – either a fresh head, or a bag of frozen florets
  • 2 eggs
  • 100g cheese of some sort – I prefer Leicester, but….
  • 1 onion, finely chopped.
  • Breadcrumbs, soft – about 2 slices or more, well blitzed
  • Seasoning – perhaps even a little cayenne pepper….
  • Oil (not 3-in-1, sewing machine or engine)
  • Perhaps some light soured cream, just to be a little indulgent…
  • Frying pan

Method:

  • Cut the cauliflower into florets and cook in boiling water until tender, probably about 10 minutes
  • Drain well and mash the cauliflower while it is still warm
  • Grate the cheese, chop the onion, (tote that barge; lift that bale; get a little drunk and…. Y’know the song!)
  • Stir in the cheese, eggs, onions, bread crumbs & salt to taste….this is where you can add a bit of cayenne….
  • Oil your frying pan and pop it over a medium to high heat
  • Make the cauliflower mixture into balls, then burger shapes; thick and round, whatever size you wish – make one big one if you wish, but it’ll be a bugger to turn over!
  • Fry until the mixture is properly set, lovely and golden brown on each side, perhaps about 3 minutes per side, maybe more
  • Plate up. Tuck in.  Enjoy with some light sour cream!

Roasted carrot & goat’s cheese starter

Roasted carrot & goat’s cheese starter

Description

Prep:           10 mins.

Cooking:      80 mins.

Course:        Starter, lunch or snack,

Serves:        4

Rating:         2:  Easy

 

Find:

  • 750g young, small and tender carrots
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • Grated zest and juice 1 small orange
  • 400g can chickpeas , drained and rinsed
  • 100g crumbly vegetarian goat’s cheese
  • A few mint leaves, roughly chopped (how many? Let’s say 19 ½ …..)
  • 75g pomegranate seeds
  • Platter
  • Warmed flatbreads or pitta, to serve

Method:

  • Heat oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5.
  • In a clean carrier bag, toss the small, young carrots with 1 tablespoonful of the oil, sprinkle with the cumin seeds and orange zest, and season with salt.
  • Spread onto a large baking sheet and roast for 50 mins until tender and catching some colour on the edges.
  • Stir the chickpeas into the roasted carrots, then tip onto a large serving platter.
  • Drizzle with the remaining oil and a little of the orange juice.
  • Crumble over the goat’s cheese and scatter with the herbs and pomegranate seeds.
  • Serve warm with toasted flatbreads.

Cauliflower cheese 2

Cauliflower cheese 2:

PICTURE 10

Prep:           10 mins.

Cooking:      30 mins.

Course:        Snack/Main

Serves:        2 or 4

Rating:         3:  Moderate

Find:

  • Cauliflower (a standard cauliflower serves 4 for a starter or 2 as a main)
  • All in one sauce – See Tricks’n’Tips
  • Grated cheese
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Seasonings – with lots of black pepper
  • Ovenproof ceramic or glass dish
  • Saucepan

Method:

  • Cut cauli into florets (25mm/1 inch), discarding the thick stem and all but the smallest of leaves,
  • Boil in salted water for 5 mins and then ……
  • Fry the softened florets in any of/a mixture of olive, walnut and/or sesame oil, browning them well, tasting and seasoning as you go. Don’t be concerned when they break up as you fry them, because they’re bound to.
  • Again, as above, make Delia’s all-in-one sauce, add the grated cheese to the sauce (saving a bit for the top mixture), stir in well and pour over the now super-tasty cauli in an oven dish.
  • Mix the saved cheese and the breadcrumbs together and sprinkle on top, then put in the oven (200 degs C) for 15 mins.

Great with ANYTHING!

I feel a song coming on……

 

’Super-cauli-tasty-crispy-expi-ali-docious!’

 

Cauliflower Cheese 1:

Cauliflower Cheese 1:

Prep:           10 mins.

Cooking:      30 mins.

Course:        Snack/Main

Serves:        2 or 4

Rating:         3:  Moderate

Cauliflower can be so BORING!

But there are ways to avoid it being so… so…. so…. BORING!.

Try this:

Find:

  • Cauliflower (a standard sized cauliflower serves 4 for a starter or 2 as a main)
  • All in one sauce – See Tricks’n’Tips
  • Grated cheese
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Seasonings – with lots of black pepper (or be really daring and try some curry powder….)
  • Ovenproof ceramic or glass dish
  • Saucepan

Method:

  • Cut cauli into florets (25mm/1 inch), discarding the thick stem and all but the smallest of leaves, boil in salted water for 10 mins.
  • Make Delia’s all-in-one sauce (such a godsend – see Tricks’n’Tips), add the grated cheese to the sauce (save a bit for the top), stir in well and pour over the drained cauli in an oven dish.
  • Mix the saved cheese and the breadcrumbs together and sprinkle on top, then put in the oven (200 degs C) for 15 mins.
  • Great with a green salad.

 

Cheese on Beans on Toast

5T1.[A] Cheese on beans on toast:

(The 5T1 refers to Section 5, Toast-based, first item)

(The A refers to this recipe being cheap’n’cheerful)

Prep:           5 mins.

Cooking:      10 mins.

Course:        Snack Lunch Anytime Midnight

Serves:        AMAR  (as many as required….)

Rating:         1:  Very easy – no; it’s easier than that; let’s rate it as ½ …. In other words you can do it in your sleep..

Find:

  • Hard cheese – no, that’s not a comment….(Cheddar, Leicester or similar)
  • Can of baked beans (that’s baked beans in a can, y’know? You’ll be able to tell, cos it’ll say Baked Beans on the label.)
  • Sliced bread (or bread, then slice it to make…. er…. slices)
  • Butter if required
  • Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce bottle – preferably with some Worcestershire Sauce actually still in it.
  • Grill (no, you CANNOT use a toaster when there are beans in the recipe….. don’t be a Dumbo, ……..)
  • Cheese grater

Method:

  • ‘Turn on’ the grill (that doesn’t mean you have to buy it a drink and tell it that it’s looking beautiful today…..).
  • Grate your cheese. Use a hard cheese like Leicester or Cheddar or something similar – not Edam as it doesn’t melt readily under the grill.

Note:  Supermarket ‘value mild, coloured’ cheese is generally tasteless and pretty ‘orrible.

  • Use a normal hand-held coarse cheese grater on top of a plate or something clean that will catch the grated cheese (or have it ready-grated in the fridge, courtesy of Ikea or Asda – see Tricks’n’Tips for an explanation of that statement; it’s good!).
  • Ok, now take your bread from its packet and put it onto the grill pan. That’s the bread; not the packet.

Now WAIT….  Whatever grill you have it will take a time to get going.  Think of yourself on a Monday morning – don’t YOU take a while to get going?                                                              (These days I take time to get going ANY morning.)

  • After the grill has been heating up for a few minutes, put the bread under the now hot grill (cos it’s been on for 5 mins) and keep an eye on it. It just needs to brown a bit

My ol’ Dad had a good saying……

“When it’s brown, it’s done…… 

When it’s black, it’s buggered.”  

It may not be quite politically correct to describe it as such, but as a piece of advice it’s very true.

  • The best method is to toast one side of the bread under the grill, take it out and spread butter on the untoasted side (you can omit the butter if you want to be a health freak) and put the warmed up baked beans (either in a pan or in a non-metallic bowl in the microwave) on the bread. Season with black pepper, but not salt – there’s already enough salt in the can of baked beans to pay a division of Roman Centurions for a year; and sugar too.
  • Load the coarsely grated cheese onto the same side, atop the beans, just squashing it all down a bit to stop it from falling off the edges.

Ensure that the crust edges are covered as well as possible as otherwise they will suffer from burn.

  • Ok, so now, reach for the Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce bottle. Just give the cheese a bit of a splash of the sauce.
  • Now do it again. Lea & Perrins makes crappy cheese taste really great – believe me (even the cheap supermarket ‘value, mild, coloured’ cheese variety is improved – but L&P’s is not a complete miracle worker).  Ok, put the loaded up slices (carefully now – you may need to slide a spatula underneath to support it better….. don’t drop it…….) back onto the grill pan and pop it back under the grill.  When the cheese has melted, so that it is all bubbly and gooified, it’s ready.

STOP!  Check again.  Don’t take it out too early; remember that you loaded the cheese onto the slices to cover the edges to avoid burn…….

You did…. didn’t you?

  • Ok, out from under the grill, onto a plate, cut into half slices (or quarters if you’re a wuss) and CONSUME WITH GUSTO (if you can find her).

See, my lovely peeps?  Good, eh?

Stick with me, kiddoes; I’ll look after yer.

Red Onion & Goat’s Cheese Tart

Photo:  Chris Wiles Photgraphy

Red Onion & Goat’s Cheese Tart

Prep:           20 mins.

Cooking:      40 mins.

Course:        Lunch/Snack – veggie friendly

Serves:        4-6 (max 4 for main course)

Rating:         2:  Easy

Originally ‘invented’ because we had a very good friend (veggie) staying with us in France.  Being a veggie in France (and surviving the experience without getting bored by repeatedly being given salad) is not easy, and catering for one who eats neither meat nor fish is a problem; much more of a problem than in the UK.  But we did this:

Find: 

  • 1 roll of ready-made puff pastry
  • 4 large red onions, peeled & sliced thinly
  • 2 large cloves garlic, chopped as small as you can (or 4 small, etc)
  • 1 large red pepper, chopped/sliced/diced as you wish
  • 7, 8 or more good thick slices through a goat’s cheese roll
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • Good squeeze (or approximately one good ‘British Standard Dollop’ – see Tricks’n’Tips) of tomato puree
  • Olive oil
  • Splash balsamic vinegar
  • 1 glass (or 2, or 3…..) red wine
  • A beaten (or at least very demoralised) egg
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Large tart tin (300mm) – no comments about big tarts, please…..
  • Frying pan

Method:

You can do the onion mixture and make&bake the tart base ahead of time; even the previous day, should you wish.

  • Pre-heat the oven to 200 degs C.
  • Oil the tart tin, roll out the pastry onto it and press into the corners, making it look pretty. The pastry I used in France fitted the tin beautifully – it was cut into a circle already!
  • Use a fork to prick the bottom of the tart with lots of holes. You will need to bake the tart for a short time without anything in it (called ‘blind baking’), to ensure that the base is cooked through and it doesn’t end up having a soggy bottom.  No-one deserves a soggy bottom!
  • So, either using a pastry brush or a tablespoon, spread some of the beaten egg all over the very perforated inside of the bottom of the tart pastry. This will help to stabilise the pastry as it cooks ‘blind’.  You could use the baking beans procedure instead (see Tricks’n’Tips).
  • Pop the tart into the oven for about 10 mins. It does not need to colour very much at all or the exposed pastry could start to burn when the tart is actually being cooked.
  • When the tart base is just showing the slightest signs of colour, remove it from the oven. Keep the oven set to about 180C.
  • Put the butter, sliced onion and red pepper into an oiled frying pan over a medium/low heat and gently fry them off for about twenty minutes, avoiding them colouring up too much.
  • Keep stirring so that it does not start to become over-coloured (in other words ‘burn’). Keep stirring.
  • Put the can of chopped tomatoes into a saucepan on a medium heat. Add a good squeeze or a British Standard Dollop (whatever you consider that is) of tomato puree, a little red wine (as much as you wish – but consider that you’ll need to reduce it down; I use about 2 glasses), the chopped garlic and a splash of balsamic vinegar.
  • Stir over a very low heat to reduce all of this liquidy stuff down so that the resulting concoction is no more liquid than a runny paste.
  • Keep stirring the onion mixture. And then do it again. It should be caramelising by now.
  • Cut the goat’s cheese log into rounds. Or whatever shape it is (log or square or otherwise), chop it into slices.
  • Chuck a big teaspoon of sugar into the onion mixture and stir well, again. And again.  It should start to become more golden as you stir it.
  • When the tomato mixture has reduced sufficiently…. Now how can I tell you that, eh? Perhaps reduced to about half of the original volume?  Yeah, I s’pose.  It doesn’t really matter, honest.  It should resemble a paste rather than a liquid.

Of course, you can do this ahead of time; even the previous day, should you wish.

  • Ok, so pour the toms mix (whether it’s hot or cold) into the base of the tart and spread it about (if it comes out in a solid blob, you’ve over-reduced it…..put some water in) as evenly as you can.
  • Now pop the onion mixture (whether it’s hot or cold) on top, and spread it about as evenly as you can.
  • Make a few indentations in the onion mixture for the goat’s cheese. You want to put the cheese bits INTO not onto the onion mixture, or the cheese could dry out and you’d finish up with a sort of goat’s cheese biscuit on top!
  • Chivvy it all about until it’s about level and looks mighdy purdy…. (looks nice) and then stuff it in that hot oven for a while.  Hmmmm….
  • Look at it after 20 mins, but as like as not it’ll probably need 40 just don’t let it burn.
  • Bring it out and slice it; and gobble it all up! Or serve it with a nice salad.

Owzat?