cheese

Week 33: Savoury Clafoutis

I always said that if you hung on in there, I’d show you my Clafoutis.

Actually, it’s not mine, it’s Rachel Khoo’s from her Little Paris Kitchen book.  A Clafoutis is traditionally a French Dessert, but recent the French have started to cut out the sugar and swap the fruit for savoury treats like cheese.

And that’s just what I’ve done (like the recipe told me to)  To make a 2 man Clafoutis you will need: 2 eggs, salt, 25g ground almonds, 1 tbs plain flour, 50g creme fraiche, 50ml milk, 50h mature cheese (I used Comte, but you can use Gruyere, Cheddar or Goat’s Cheese), 50g cherry tomatoes and 25g of black olives.

To start, butter and flour your Clafoutis-ing tin, and turn the oven up to 180c.  Whisk the eggs with a pinch of salt until they are pale and thick.  Sift in the flour and almonds and then fold them in with the creme fraiche and the milk.

Scatter the cheese, tomatoes and olives in the prepared Clafoutis-ing tin and pour the batter over it and sling it in the oven for 30-40 minutes.

Now here’s where I got slightly confused, I genuinely thought that a Clafoutis would be more like a toad-in-the-hole than a fritatta… and it wasn’t even that much like a fritatta:

Behold!  My Clafoutis! (As the actress said to the bishop) it was kinda like an omlette-y foccacia.  My lover told me that it was pretty bland and I shouldn’t make it again, but I liked it.  Clafoutis for one I think!

The Clafoutis recipe is in the summer picnics section of the book, and it can be eaten hot or cold.  I was tempted to go and eat it on the front step for the Lazy London Picnic experience but chose plates around the coffee table instead.  Unlike the quiche I didn’t get to try it cold.

I’ve got the recipe for a sweet version, so I might inflict that on him over the summer.  As punishment.

 

The Little Paris Kitchen by Rachel Khoo (Penguin Books 2012 ISBN: 978-0-718-15811-8)

Little Paris Kitchen

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Week 7: Mushroom, Feta and Tomato Baked Peppers

There’s a turn of phrase that you might get bored of reading on here.  That phrase is: I’ve never cooked with __enter name of common foodstuff here__. Cue gasp and y’all shriek “What never?  What have you been eating for the last 31 years?  Gruel?!?”

I have eaten loads of things at other people’s houses and in restaurants and stuff, just not gone to the shop and bought them to use in delicious meals…

This meal marks me losing my feta-ginity, and also the first time I’d ever cooked a sundried tomato.  No one warned me that feta comes wet, so I squirted feta juice all over the kitchen, and my shoes, and got it in my hair.

To make this (to serve two) you will need 4 sun-dried tomato pieces (in oil, drained well), 2 tsp sunflower oil, 175g chestnut mushrooms (wiped and diced) 20g blanched hazelnuts, 1 garlic clove, 50g dry white breadcrumbs, parsley, 1 tsp dried chilli flakes, 100g feta or soft goats cheese (drained) and 2 smallish peppers (red or yellow).  The book recommends to serve with a mixed salad – which I forgot to buy.

To make, turn your oven to 220c (200c fan) /gas 7, and cut the peppers in half from top to bottom – remove the seeds and membrane.

Heat the oil in a frying pan and stir-fry the mushrooms for 4 minutes, add the roughly chopped hazelnuts and fry for another minute until the nuts are lightly toasted and remove from the heat.

Stir in the tomatoes, garlic, breadcrumbs, parsley and chilli flakes until thoroughly combined.  Break up the feta and toss them around with the rest of the stuffing.  Stuff into both halves of each pepper and put on a foil-lined roasting tin (stuffing side up).

A quirk of the recipe was that to stop the filling burning, you have to make a little cover for each pepper from tin foil – this would be fine but the fan in my oven seems to have been swapped for the fan from an industrial leaf blower, and the little foil hats kept blowing across my kitchen when I put them in.

I skewered them with cocktail sticks, but I think this affected how quickly  they cooked, because the second time I made them they were blacker.

Bake for 35 minutes until tender – remove the foil hats for the last 10 minutes.

stuffed peppers

They turned out much better than the photo!  Also, they were surprisingly spicy considering they only had a teaspoon of chilli flakes between 4 half peppers.

When you go out shopping for this recipe, don’t get peppers that are too big, or they’ll be half full.

The book says that one portion (two half peppers) is 401 calories – obviously this will be different for everyone, unless they have the exact same brand of cheese and identical peppers.  I thought I might be left hungry after eating this, but I wasn’t.  I’ve already made this a second time and one of my friends has requested this for a dinner party when I get a table.

I would definitely recommend the book, although, all the recipes are for different numbers of people, which is a bit of a nuisance when just cooking for the two of us!

Hairy Dieters

The Hairy Dieters by Dave Myers and Si King (Weidenfield & Nicholson/Orion 2012 ISBN: 978 0 297 86905 4)

Week 5: Penne with Gorgonzola and Walnuts

Week 5!

After the success of Burger Night I thought I’d try another pasta dish, so out came the Cupboard Love book again.  I love a bit of stinky French Cheese, so I was hoping for beautiful things from this dish.

Maybe I didn’t get the right Gorgonzola, but it just didn’t taste how I thought it would – it was very rich but just lacked any real flavour (other than the sage) but I think it would be good with a big chunk of meat…

pasta gorgonzola

The recipe says that I can “up the ante tastewise… by adding a sprig of thyme or a scant grating of nutmeg”.  If I try making it again I might try that, and less/no sage – but I don’t know if I’ll make it again.

Cupboard Love by Tom Norrington-Davies (Hodder & Stoughton 2005 ISBN 0 340 83525 5)

Week 4. Burger Night!

Who here hasn’t tossed a burger?

I must have flipped a million of them while I worked at McDonalds, but I’d never made my own.  I was having a lazy week, and while I spent the week planning to cook something else for New Recipe Night I opted for a basic, no-nonsense hamburger recipe from the Cupboard Love book.

It’s very simple.  It’s beef mince.  I went to my local butcher for some good quality mince and got stuck in and was so impressed by the burgers – I have introduced ‘burger night’ into most weeks.

burger night

To make four burgers you will need 500g of beef mince, half a teaspoon of salt and a pinch of black pepper.  Nothing else.

Combine the mince with the salt and pepper, and form in to burgers about 2mm thick.  Heat a heavy based frying pan/griddle and put the burgers on when it is searing hot.  Cook each side for about 6 minutes which leaves them a little pink in the middle – which is just perfect.

The hardest bit off this recipe is timing the oven chips and toasting the bun so everything is ready to serve at once.

I used normal white flowery baps from Sainsbury’s, lightly toasted on the cut side, oven chips (Tom Norrington-Davies recommends oven chips, although he provides a recipe if you absolutely must make your own; however I prefer Aunt Bessie’s) a slice of mature cheese from Sainsbury’s (I go for the Taw  Valley strength 4, or normal strength 5 cheddar) and some Scandinavian mustard that I picked up at the Scandi Kitchen (but French’s squirty mustard would do too).

It’s really filling and a firm favourite over the last few weeks.  Just a word about the meat you use though – I get mine from the butcher who minces it from a bit of meat while you wait (so as not to have a load of mince sat around) and when it fries there is no splatter and it has a really deep beefy flavour.  The other week I got caught out by the butcher having half day closing on Thursday and had to get the mince from the supermarket and the burgers shrank because of all the water added and as the water left the meat it splattered all over my kitchen, and didn’t taste very nice.  If you can, go to the butcher – the price is more or less the same and it’s much much tastier.

Sure burgers aren’t healthy in the classic sense of the word, but these are much better for you than buying ready made ones, or from a takeaway, so give it a go and add Burger Night to your week!

 

Cupboard Love by Tom Norrington-Davies (Hodder & Stoughton 2005 ISBN 0 340 83525 5)

cupboard love