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Archive for the ‘Cheese’ Category

My love for tartiflette knows no bounds: tender slices of potato, smoky bacon and browned onions melded together by hot melted cheese sets my heart a-flutter (and, if I consumed it as frequently as I wished, would probably also stop my heart). Designed to revive hard-working mountain dwellers in the Haute Savoie, nowadays it’s also the perfect calorie-fest after a hard day’s skiing. It’s hearty, rich, warming and utterly, utterly delicious. The cheese of choice is Reblochon a mildly pungent, nutty cheese from the French Alps which has a melty, soft texture and turns bubbly, golden and crisp around the edges when baked. During three lovely months spent in the Haute Savoie, living in the lake-side town of Annecy, I worked my way through a good number of tartiflettes made with all sorts of cheeses. Whilst they were all great (especially the goat’s cheese ones) the classic recipe is definitely the best. If you should find yourself in the area you can’t go far wrong at Le Freti, cheese shop by day and restaurant by night. Just be sure to book a table in advance. (more…)

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It’s been a busy old few weeks round here, especially the weekends which have been full of sanding and varnishing floorboards and a day-long haul to Ikea where we finally ordered a shiny new kitchen! We’ve been working like the clappers to get everything ready before the cabinets arrive on Friday (Ikea’s lead time is ridiculously quick). Doors have been hung, skirting board painted and worktop samples ordered; my kitchen is finally starting to come together but rather than feeling excited I’ve been immersed in a sense of blind panic. Foreboding questions are doing laps round my mind. What if it turns out I’ve chosen the wrong combination of cabinets? Is the worktop really going to be too low? Where is all the food going to live? How will I ever find a sink I actually like and can afford? Or a tap? When I find it’s all getting a bit too much I head into my temporary kitchen 1) to remind myself that even if the final product’s not perfect, it’s better than what I’ve got at the moment and 2) to get stuck into some baking which, in the most part, is my favourite way to relax.

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Hello folks! Just a quick announcement before getting on with this post. Food Magazine‘s 2013 Reader Awards are accepting nominations for your favourite West Country food producers, shops, chefs, cafes and restaurants and, for the first time, bloggers. If you have any favourites that you think deserve some recognition you can vote for them here. And if you’ve enjoyed reading this little blog I would be over the moon if you nominated it. #awkward! Thank you!

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Last week my mum and I went on a last-minute city break to Avignon where we indulged in sunshine, shopping and lots and lots of beautiful food. Since coming back I’ve been on a Provençal cooking kick having been overloaded with inspiration on our mini holiday. Just wandering around the wonderful indoor market is enough to make you want to sell up and move to France: the stalls were overflowing with all manner of heirloom tomatoes; tiny, round green and yellow courgettes; plump purple- and white-flecked aubergines; strings of garlic; fat bundles of fresh herbs and about 20 types of onion. The delis had big bowls of ratatouille to take home and reheat alongside stuffed tomatoes, rabbit stew, individual egg and vegetable flans and roasted meats. Hams and whole salamis hung above mountains of olives and the boulanger oppostie sold crunchy, fresh sourdough bread, fougasse studded with nuts and apple tart by the slice. Other displays contained jewel-like candied fruits, macarons and iced, almond-shaped Calissons from nearby Aix. (more…)

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I love cooking vegetables on the barbeque and, even though I’m an omnivore, I’m quite happy to stick to vegetarian options when we get the grill out. The tendency (for me at least) is to make the most of the occasion and overeat so vegetable based options seem the way to go since they are usually a bit lighter than a slab of meat. I also love throwing halloumi on the BBQ, it’s texture transforms from tough to soft and  pleasently chewy and it’s salty flavour goes so well with charred veggies. It’s worth tracking down good halloumi made with sheep or goat’s cheese which has a much better flavour and texture than the stuff made with cow’s milk but, should you stuggle to find any, the marinating step makes even the mass-produced cheese taste good.

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When I lived in Italy I shared a flat with my good friend from university and two lovely Italians. Over the year there was a lot of cultural exchange as the Italians introduced us to the best of their country: gelato, good coffee, piadine; and the Brits tried to dispel the myth that our food is terrible. We baked hearty cottage pies and stuffed our suitcases with crumpets, cheddar, Marmite and all the necessary items for a proper cream tea. For her birthday our Sicilian flatmate wanted a taste of home and decided to make arancini, deep-fried rice croquettes, a speciality from her home island that often feature at special occasions. She called her mother to get the family recipe and then we gathered round our dining table for the afternoon while she patiently taught us the correct method to make them. (more…)

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In an unwise decision the other night I decided to reclaim my cast-iron griddle pan from its box in the loft where it has been temporarily stashed since the start of our kitchen renovation, and introduce it to my temporary kitchen-in-the-lounge. Bad move people, bad move. My hankering for charred courgette salad nearly drove us out the house: the lounge’s complete lack of an extractor fan meant the room rapidly filled with billowing smoke − a good test for the fire alarms but a total common-sense fail. Whoops! Having safely deposited the rabbits in the back garden, we had to open up all the windows and doors to properly vent the smog. Goodness knows what our neighbours made of it all. Rest assured, for now the griddle pan has been retired back to the attic and any griddling action will take place on the barbeque if we ever get a long enough dry spell in the midst of all this rain.

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