Tag Archive for Cheese

Buckwheat galettes with ham, egg and cheese

If you’ve been to Brittany (France), you’ve probably eaten them; these are also called “galette bretonne complète” sometimes. They make them a bit different over there, but since I need to do with the standard kitchen equipment, this is the way to go. Traditionally the buckwheat flour is used because it was the only grain that would grow on the poor grounds in Brittany. Nowadays it’s mainly about the flavour, it gives the galettes a savouriness that wheat flour doesn’t give it. And topping something with ham, cheese and eggs is always a good plan.

Buckwheat Galette with Ham, Egg and Cheese

Buckwheat galettes with ham, egg and cheese (makes 8)
Adapted from Rick Stein’s French Odyssey

75 g buckwheat flour
25 g flour
large pinch of salt
120 ml milk
~120 ml water
2 eggs
25 g butter, melted

8 eggs
200 g cooked ham, sliced
200 g gruyere (or gouda), coarsely grated

Mix the buckwheat flour and plain flour with the salt and make a well in the middle. Add the milk and whisk into a smooth batter. Add the eggs and butter, and mix. Don’t overbeat, this will make the pancakes tough. Leave to stand for at least 30 minutes.
Shortly before baking, thin the batter with water until it has the consistency of cream. The exact amount will depend on your flour and eggs.
Pour a thin layer of batter in a heated large frying pan and swirl so that the mixture lightly coats the base. Cook over a fairly high heat for about 2 minutes until lightly browned. Flip the galette over and break one of the eggs in the centre. Break the yolk with the back of a spoon, and spread over the surface of the galette, leaving the edge free. Sprinkle with 1/8 of the ham and 1/8 of the cheese. Fold two opposite sides of the galette towards the centre, then the other two sides, forming a square and leaving the middle open. Flip over and cook briefly to heat the ham through and melt the cheese. Repeat for the remaining galettes. Serve straight away.

Cheesy Carrot Bake

Again one of those dishes that seem a bit weird, but interesting, and really tasty when you try it. A cheesy bake is a completely different way of serving carrots than the normal boiled carrots or carrot salad. It tastes like carrot, but not overwhelmingly, and isn´t too sweet either. The cheese gives it a lovely savouriness. You could use a different herb (coriander, thyme) as variation.

Cheesy Carrot Bake (serves 4)
Adapted from Great British Chefs

225 g carrots, grated
1/2 tsp salt
1 small onion, finely chopped
20 g cheddar, grated (or gouda, or parmesan)
1 egg
50 ml vegetable stock
few sprigs of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 tsp olive oil
pepper

Preheat the oven to 180C.
Place a pan over a medium heat and add the grated carrot and salt. Cook until the liquid given off from the carrot evaporates. Add the stock and reduce until dry. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
Place a separate pan over a low-medium heat and add oil. Once the oil is hot, sweat the onions until soft but not coloured. Add the chopped onion to the carrot mixture along with the cheese, coriander and egg. Mix well to combine and season with pepper.
Place the mixture in a small deep baking dish lined with parchment paper. Smooth over and place in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Serve warm.

Courgette and Feta Salad

I would never have though of making this combination of ingredients on my own. And that is what I love about the recipes by Tom Kerridge, usually they have something odd, something quirky, something that leaves you wondering if it would work. And when you make it, it is fantastic. I would love to be able to create recipes like he does, that go further than the standard combinations.
The salad consists of contrasting flavours. Soft, mellow grilled courgette; tangy, salty feta; crisp, bitter green paprika; fresh lettuce; but even though they are contrasting, they marry perfectly into a very tasty salad.
Tom Kerridge suggests to serve it as a side with slow-roast leg or shoulder of lamb, or on toast for a light lunch or supper. I like to serve it the Italian way as a separate salad course, because it is quite strong-flavoured it might otherwise overpower the other flavours of the dish. I also think it would be a great dish for a buffet, bbq or even a picnic (it is quite sturdy).

Feta and Courgette Salad

Courgette and Feta Salad (serves 4)
Adapted from “Tom Kerridge’s Best Ever Dishes”

2 Little Gem lettuces, leaves washed and separated
1 green paprika, finely diced
100 g feta, crumbled
100 ml extra virgin olive oil
4 courgettes, cut diagonally into 0.5 cm slices
sea salt
25 ml sherry vinegar

Heat a little olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan over a high heat. Fry the courgette slices in batches until golden-brown on each side (about 1-2 minutes on each side). Sprinkle a little sea salt over each batch. Arrange together with the lettuce on a large serving platter (or individual plates). Sprinkle the paprika and feta over. Mix the olive oil and sherry vinegar, drizzle over the salad. Serve.

Quark-Cheese Muffuns

Usually muffins are sweet, but why not make them savoury? I adapted this recipe from a sweet one, because I had some leftover cheese and quark, and it worked perfectly. They are moist, fluffy and savoury. We ate them with our dinner, to mop up sauce. But they also work well as a lunch or picnic dish. They have enough flavour and are moist enough to eat them without accompaniments, but they don’t have such a strong flavour that they overwhelm everything you eat with them. I do think that they are nicest when they are freshly baked.

Quark-Cheese Muffins

Quark-cheese muffins (makes 12)
Adapted from “Das Grosse Backbuch – Kochen und Geniessen”

225 g low fat quark
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup oil (something neutral as sunflour or rapeseed)
pinch of sugar
pinch of salt
200 g grated cheese
250 g self-raising flour

Prepare a muffin tin by lining the holes with paper liners. Preheat the oven to 175C.
Mix quark, egg, milk, oil, sugar and salt. Add the cheese and mix. Add the flour and use a dough hook to mix well.
Divide the batter over the holes of the muffin tin. Place in the preheated oven and bake about 25 minutes, until golden and cooked. Leave to cool for a few minutes, then take from the tin. Serve warm or leave to cool further on a rack.

Dutch Food: Cheese Rolls

Sausage rolls are a bit difficult to eat when you are a vegetarian. Luckily, the Dutch have found a solution for that, one that suits many non-vegetarians as well: cheese rolls, crispy puff pastry filled with a savoury, creamy, cheesy filling. You can buy these cheese rolls hot at some bakeries, on (train) stations and at food courts in department stores; sausage rolls, and sometimes ham-cheese rolls, are sold there as well. People usually eat them as snack or lunch. Beware: because they are made with puff pastry and loads of cheese, so they are quite fat. I prefer to eat them warm and fresh from the oven, but they are still nice at room temperature a while after baking. But don’t keep them for too long, or they will get too soggy.

Cheese Rolls

Cheese rolls (8 rolls)
25 g butter
1/4-1/2 tsp curry powder
25 g flour
200 ml milk
100 g grated cheese (medium aged Gouda)
8 squares all butter puff pastry, defrosted if frozen
25 g grated cheese (aged Gouda or parmesan)

Melt the butter in a pan, add the curry powder and fry until fragrant. Add the flour, fry for a minute. Gradually add the milk, while stirring continuously. Keep stirring until a thick sauce has formed, and leave to bubble for a few minutes. Take from the heat and stir through the sauce. Leave to cool.
Preheat the oven to 200C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
Half the puff pastry squares. Slice half of them, but keep the edges together, to form a raster. Scoop the cheese mixture on the other half of them, keep 1 cm around the edge free. Brush the edges with water and place the ones you sliced on top of them. This explanation is a bit cryptic, but I guess it is manageable together with the photo of the finished thing. Seal the edges well. Brush the tops with water and sprinkle the old cheese over.
Transfer to the baking tray and bake about 20 minutes, until golden and puffed.

Note: to make this recipe truly vegetarian, choose cheeses that are suitable for vegetarians.

Spaghetti with caramelized onions and crispy breadcrumbs

Usually onions are added to a dish to give it an extra layer of flavour, which is quite logical because they contain loads of umami. But they are also delicious as the main veggie of the dish, and as an added bonus they are really healthy and cheap too. The onions in this dish are sweet, savoury and soft; the crispy breadcrumbs give a nice, crunchy texture. The original recipe uses fusili, but I used spaghetti, because I use spaghetti for almost all pasta dishes. The original recipe also suggest to serve the dish with a white cabbage and carrot salad; I didn’t, but a fresh salad would combine well with the pasta.

Cooking onions can be tricky, they can stay quite hard even after cooking for a long time. To prevent this, I have a few tricks. I slice my onions thinly or in small cubes, because thicker slices and larger cubes tend to stay hard more often. I always use a generous amount of fat (oil or butter) and a generous pinch of salt to fry them in, separately from the other ingredients. Only after softening them I add other ingredients or add the onions to other ingredients, even when the whole thing will cook much longer. And I always start on high heat while stirring to soften the onions, and then turn down the heat to cook and caramelize them further.

Spaghetti with caramelized onions and crispy breadcrumbs (serves 4)
Adapted from Volkskeuken

2 old whole-grain slices of bread
8 tbsp olive oil
600 g peeled onions, sliced thinly in half moons
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped finely (I prefer the dish without garlic, I find the garliccy flavour too overwhelming)
1 tbsp dried thyme (I prefer to use fresh from my garden)
1 tsp sugar
Optional: 50 ml white wine
400 g pasta
120 g grated cheese (something with oomph, like a medium aged farmhouse gouda)
a bunch of chives, sliced
salt and pepper

Crumble the bread. Mix with 2 tbsp olive oil and a pinch of salt. Sauté in a skillet on medium heat until crisp. Spread out on a plate and set aside to cool.
Heat the remaining olive oil in a skillet. Add the onion, garlic, thyme, sugar and a generous pinch of salt and cook on low heat until soft and caramelized (about 20 minutes). Stir regularly. If using, add the wine at the end and cook for a few minutes on high heat to reduce.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta. Reserve a bit of the cooking liquid. Mix the pasta with the onions, and then with the cheese and chives. Add a little of the cooking liquid to make it unctuous. Season with salt and pepper, scoop into plates and sprinkle with the crispy breadcrumbs. Serve immediately.

Note: to make this dish truly vegan, make sure you use egg-free pasta, egg/dairy-free bread and a vegan-suitable cheese substitute. You could also omit the cheese, the dish will still be delicious.

Stuffed Vegetables

Rice with lots of different bits and pieces, savoury and sweet, loads of different flavours and textures, stuffed into delicious vegetables. You definitely don’t miss the meat in this dish! I like stuffed vegetables, it is a fun way of serving, a bit different than the average rice dish. But I always have one problem: the amount of filling never matches the volume I need to fill the vegetables that I want to fill. Usually I err on the side of caution and make more filling than I need, and serve the remainder on the side. Or store it for next days lunch.
I cooked a double batch of rice on a previous day, stored half and used it for this dish. Because brown rice takes 30-45 minutes, I wouldn’t cook it specially for this dish, so a bit of planning is advised. Alternatively you could use basmati, or another rice, that does cook quicker.

Stuffed Vegetables

Stuffed Vegetables (serves 2)
Slightly adapted from “Leon – Fast Vegetarian”

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp sambal badjak
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tomato, cubed
1/4 cup raisins, soaked in hot water and drained
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1 cup brown rice, cooked in bouillon
1/2 cup drained and rinsed canned chickpeas
1/4 cup cooked spinach, chopped
1/4 cup cubed feta (or crumbled goats cheese)
salt and pepper
optional: 1 tbsp chopped fresh herbs (like parsley, mint, dill and/or coriander)

vegetables of choice (aubergine, pumpkin/squash, courgette, onions, paprika, tomato)

Precook the vegetables in the oven at 175-200C (time/temperature will depend on the kind of vegetable you use), then scoop out the flesh if necessary.
Heat the oil in a pan, add the onions and sauté until soft and golden. Add the garlic and sambal, and sauté for another few minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar and tomato, and cook for 2 minutes. Add all the other ingredients, mix and season well with salt and pepper.
Stuff the vegetables with the filling and cook in the oven at 160C for 20 minutes.

Note: Omit the feta to make this dish vegan friendly. Or use a vegan cheese instead.

Baked ricotta

When you bake ricotta, the structure changes completely. Unbaked ricotta has a quite grainy texture, the baked ricotta becomes silky smooth, while still having that fresh, milky flavour. And where unbaked ricotta is scoopable/spreadable, baked ricotta is delicately firm. You can cut it, instead of scoop it, but only very carefully, or it will crumble. Because it is so delicate, it will taste very, very creamy.

I served my baked ricotta as part of a main dish, with pasta, tomato sauce and fried aubergine, as a variation on pasta alla norma. But you could also sprinkle it with fresh herbs, a squeeze of lemon juice and more olive oil after baking, and serve it with bruscetta as a party snack or appetizer. Maybe add some chilli flakes, semi-dried tomatoes, olives, or roasted paprika. If you omit the salt and pepper, you could even make a dessert version, with honey, walnuts and figs.

I’ve tried this both with ricotta that I left to drain overnight, and ricotta that I didn’t drain. Although both end up nice, I prefer the drained version, because it browns better/faster, is less wet, and becomes even smoother than the undrained version. So if you have the time, drain your ricotta. Some recipes ask you to mix the ricotta with a few eggs and the seasoning, and to cook it in a ramekin, but I like my version better because of the shape. Also, the texture will be completely different, a lot more airy from the eggs. I prefer this silky smoothness.

Baked ricotta
1 tub of ricotta
olive oil
salt and pepper

Start the day before you want to serve the ricotta. Line a sieve with a cheesecloth (or clean tea-towel), rinsed well under cold water and squeezed to get rid of most of the water. It is also possible to use a carefully rinsed coffee filter. Place the sieve over a bowl. Open the tub of ricotta, inverse it on top of the cheesecloth and gently squeeze the tub to release the ricotta in one go. It is important to keep it whole. Gently place the container back over the ricotta (I found this the easiest way to cover up the cheese), and place the whole thing in the fridge. Leave overnight to drain.
Preheat the oven to 200C. Transfer the ricotta to a lightly oiled baking tray, the ricotta is vulnerable, so be careful! Use a pastry brush to very carefully dab oil all over the ricotta, again being very careful not to damage the shape. Place in the oven and bake 45-60 minutes, or until nicely golden. Season with salt and pepper, and serve.

Salatteller

I’ve eaten this dish for the first time in Germany, hence the German name. It literally means salad plate, and I’m wondering why I’ve never thought of this myself, piling tasty stuff on dressed lettuce. It is very easy, there is almost no cooking involved (only the eggs), and just a little chopping, furthermore it is light but substantial enough, so it is perfect for those hot, lazy days in summer. You can make it extra easy by buying pre-chopped and pre-cooked things, and most of it can be prepped in advance, also in larger quantities, so it is a perfect buffet dish as well. And if you pack everything in separate containers, you can take it with you on a picnic as well.
Start with a lettuce and dressing you like, I used butterhead and a yoghurt dressing. Then add cooked green beans, slices of tomato, cooked corn, slices of cucumber, carrot julienne, kohlrabi julienne and/or strips of paprika. For protein (and extra jumminess) add cubes of cooked ham, cubes of cheese (I used Dutch medium aged Gouda), and quartered cooked eggs. To finish it, add a scoop of coleslaw or farmer salad. Place it all on a plate in a pretty way, and eat immediately.
A vegetarian version is also possible: omit the ham and make sure the dressing, coleslaw/farmer salad and cheese are suitable for vegetarians.

Salatteller

Spaghetti with herbed cream cheese, spinach and bacon

A very simple, but satisfying pasta dish. Make this when you are in a hurry and need something comforting to eat. Also a classic for students on tight budgets. It is usually made with freezer spinach, but I like to use fresh spinach because freezer spinach is horribly overcooked and mushy. You could use chicken instead of bacon to make the dish a bit lighter.

Spaghetti with herbed cream cheese, spinach and bacon (serves 2)

200 g spaghetti
salt
150 g bacon, cut into lardons
150 g herbed cream cheese (like boursin or philadelphia)
300 g spinach, washed

Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Add salt liberally. Add the spaghetti and bring the water back to the boil. Stir after 1-2 minutes to make sure the spaghetti isn’t sticking. Cook until your preferred done-ness (the times on the package are an indication, but tend to be a bit on the long side).
Meanwhile, fry the bacon in a dry pan on medium heat until it releases its fat, and the bits are golden and slightly crisp. Discard (some of) the bacon fat if you want (keep it to fry an egg or some bread in). Add the cheese and let it melt on low heat. It might curdle a bit. Then add the spinach (in portions if necessary), place a lid on the pan and cook until just wilted. Add the spinach and mix well. Serve immediately.