We make this frequently at home, because it is easy, and it is a top comfort food. For a vegetarian option, leave out the bacon.
- 1.2 kg well-flavoured potatoes
- 200g diced smoked bacon, lardons or pancetta
- 1 onion, finely sliced (you can add garlic if you like)
- 1 tbsp olive oil or butter
- Salt and pepper
- 1 reblochon cheese (a softish cows’ milk cheese)
- 2 tbsp creme fraiche or sour cream
- 1 glass of dry white wine (Apremont for preference: it has a fresh light taste)
- Preheat the oven to 200C
- Peel and chop the potatoes into smallish chunks. Boil them for ten minutes, drain and leave to cool
- Gently fry the onion in the oil, and add the bacon and garlic. Cook until the onion and bacon are beginning to brown slightly. Season with salt and pepper, and a grate of nutmeg
- Butter a gratin dish large enough to take all the ingredients. Slice half the cooked potatoes thickly, and make a layer over the bottom of the dish
- Add half the onion and bacon.
- Use the rest of the potatoes, sliced to make a second layer and top with onion and bacon.
- Pour over the glass of wine
- Spread the creme fraiche over the top, then halve the reblochon lengthwise, and put this cut-side down over the potatoes.
- Bake at 200C for 15 to 20 minutes, so the cheese has melted into the potatoes.
We had the big family Christmas this year, twenty people with five vegetarians. I made this for Christmas Day, and served it as an alternative for turkey et al. It was delicious, but it took quite a bit to find a corner to make it in while all the turkey and trimmings were being prepared. I used the recipe in Delia Smith’s Christmas – a very fine book indeed.
For the stuffing:
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 50g butter
- 1 tsp chopped fresh sage
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
- 75g panko breadcrumbs
- Salt and pepper
For the roulade:
- 100g grated hard cheese
- 50g butter
- 25g plain flour
- 275ml cold milk
- 3 large eggs, separated
- 40g chopped and toasted hazelnuts
- 1 tbsp grated parmesan
- salt and pepper
For the parsnip filling
- 3 large parsnips, peeled and chopped
- 25g butter
- 2 tbsp double cream
- freshly grated nutmeg
- salt and pepper
You will also need a clean tea-towel, greaseproof paper or tin foil, and a swiss roll tin, or similar baking tray.
- Preheat the oven to 200C gas 6
- Make the stuffing layer first. Melt the butter in a small pan, and fry the chopped onions for around five to six minutes, until translucent.
- Add the herbs, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper, and stir together.
- Meanwhile, line the swiss roll tin with greaseproof paper, silicon paper or greased tin foil.
- Make a thin layer of the stuffing in the swiss roll tin.
- Next, make the cheese layer. Put the butter, milk and flour together in a saucepan. Heat this on a medium heat, stirring until thickened, season with salt and pepper and continue to cook on a low heat for a couple more minutes.
- Put the sauce aside to cool. Separate the eggs, making sure the egg whites are in a grease-free bowl. Add the egg-yolks to the white sauce, and whisk them in. Next, add the grated hard cheese, and stir until it is melted in. Check for seasoning, and add salt and pepper to taste.
- In a large bowl and clean whisk, beat the egg whites to soft peaks. (I got my sister to do this.)
- Fold the cheese mixture into the egg-white: Start by adding a little of the egg-white mixture to the cheese sauce and then add the cheese sauce to the egg-whites, fold a spoon at a time until well mixed. Take care to ensure that the mixture retains as much air as possible.
- Pour the cheese mixture over the stuffing and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until set. It should be springy and feel firm.
- Last layer: make the parsnip filling. Boil the chopped parsnips for at least 15 minutes, until soft.
- Mix the cooked parsnips with butter, double cream, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Have a really good go at this to make smooth paste.
- Assembly: Put the tea-towel on the table and sprinkle with toasted chopped hazelnuts.
- Turn out the stuffing/cheese layer onto the hazelnuts. Spread the parsnips onto the stuffing layer, and then roll up the roulade along the longest side, using the teatowel to ensure it ends up as a round shape.
- Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with grated parmesan.
I found this to need a bit of reheating at the end to ensure it was hot enough to serve with the turkey. Turn the oven down to 180C, cover the roulade with tin foil, and heat through for around 20 minutes.
I was trying out a recipe for mackerel risotto last night, and as I did, I thought of all my recipe books, I have a shelf full of them. Some have favourite recipes in, others are the ones I go to when I am looking for new ways of cooking basic ingredients. This book is one of the latter type.
Valentina Harris started writing recipe books in the 1980s, and by the 1990s she was on television, bringing authentic Italian cookery to us all. She was brought up in Italy, and is a well-regarded chef. I have also got one of her earlier books, about regional Italian cookery and food culture.
Risotto! Risotto! is a fabulous book. It includes a section on the start on making stock, and on the methods of making risotto. On to the recipes, every one I have tried is delicious. The range of recipes covers all sorts of basic ingredients, and the index works well. My favourites include asparagus risotto, beetroot risotto, fennel risotto, lamb and courgette, and the famous boxing day risotto, called risotto with a white ragu.
There is an updated version of the book on Amazon, but my old version is crammed with my favourite recipes and ideas, and available for 1 penny plus postage.
I have been experimenting with goose curry recipes. Most of the recipes I could find are aimed at people who have bought a posh home counties goose that has been roasted, so we have been adapting what is out there. This is the report on the second version.
- 4 wild goose breasts, in thin strips
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 onions, chopped
- 2 stalks of celery, chopped
- 3 carrots, grated
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 2 tbsp curry powder
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 bayleaf
- 1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- salt to taste
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1/2 can coconut milk
- juice of 2 limes
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- Put the goose in the fridge overnight with the lime juice
- Heat the oil in a large pan, and saute the onion, celery and carrots until lightly browned.
- Next, add the garlic, ginger, curry powder, cinnamon, paprika, bayleaf, sugar and salt. Continue cooking and stirring for 2 minutes
- Add the lime juice, tomato paste and coconut milk, bring to a simmer.
- Meanwhile, slice the goose meat into thin strips, and flash-fry before adding to the curry sauce about 3 minutes before serving.
- Remove the bayleaf, add a sprinkle of cayenne, and serve with rice.
I’m sure this recipe could do with a bit more tinkering. I think it could possibly do with more coconut milk, and leave out the paprika. BUT it was delicious as it was.