Potato galette

I adapted this from a recipe by Jeremy Lee of the Blueprint Café. It’s rather like pommes Anna, only made with duck fat instead of butter. OK, neither of them is very good for you, but it’s not something you’re going to eat every day! Serve with a simple roast; we had it with the pot-roasted pork I posted a couple of days ago. It is crispy on the outside and melting in the middle — lovely!

Really it should be turned out, but a galette made with enough potatoes for 9 people was so large and so dense I just served it straight from the dish, using a slotted spoon so it wasn’t swimming in fat. If yours is smaller, do turn it out.
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Gorgonzola risotto

Gorgonzola risotto

One more recipe for the cookbook challenge. I had just one question about this: would it be as good as Rossella’s fabulous pear and gorgonzola risotto? Answer: not quite. It’s a plain risotto with gorgonzola and parmesan melted into it and a garnish of fried onions and apples. We felt there wasn’t really enough gorgonzola, but I liked the slight crunch of the apples in contrast to the creamy rice. Nicky managed to take a presentable photo of hers; I tried, but I can’t say the same. Well, I’ve already established that risotto is not photogenic!

Brown Tom

Brown tom ready to eat

This recipe inaugurates a new tag of “frugal food”, which seems appropriate in these credit-crunch times. Made mainly of ripe tomatoes and stale bread, it costs almost nothing, and can make a light vegetarian main course along with a green vegetable or salad. Carnivores can have it as a substantial side dish with a roast — less meat needed! And of course I wouldn’t be posting it if it wasn’t delicious. The bottom layer of crumbs soaks up the juices, while the top is brown and crunchy.

I habitually whiz stale ends of bread to crumbs in the blender and then store them in the freezer in ziploc bags, as they are useful for so many things. So I used some of those for this, and the last of the season’s tomatoes. It’s really best made with the ripest, reddest tomatoes you can find. If they’re a bit pale, up the garlic and herbs to compensate.
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Caramelized apple, onion and cheese risotto

Caramelized apple, onion and cheese risotto

Taste & Create time, and I seem to be firmly stuck in the risotto groove. My partner this month is Cuisine Heart, and after browsing her blog I found several recipes to interest me. After the fabulous pear and gorgonzola risotto, I was tempted by her caramelized apple, onion and cheese risotto. Also I was running out of time, and it was easy and quick to do, using ingredients from the storecupboard. It’s basically a standard risotto method, except that you caramelize the apples and onions instead of just gently softening them in the oil, and use dry cider instead of white wine.

Verdict: OK, it is not up to pear and gorgonzola standards, but it was delicious and unusual. The only cheese I had was a stub of Comté and lots of parmesan, so I made do with those and didn’t add cream at the end. I loved the tart fruitiness of the cider and apple. We ate it on its own, but it would be nice as an accompaniment to roast pork. The photo is just further proof of how unphotogenic risotto is.

Ratatouille

Ratatouille makes it a real pleasure to be vegetarian. Don’t get me wrong; far too often, “ratatouille” is a mushy, tomatoey mess swimming in red, slightly sour juices. Sometimes it even has carrots in it. That is not the dish I’m talking about. The real thing is a lot more work, but well worth the effort –especially as it’s even better when left overnight. It’s equally good hot or at room temperature, as a main course or as an accompaniment to grilled or roast lamb for confirmed carnivores.

I learned to do it decades ago from that holy bible of French cuisine, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, by Beck, Bertholle, and Child. Even Julia and her friends, who are no strangers to hard work, admit it’s a lot of effort. But my very first attempt at their recipe proved how worthwhile the extra work was and now I never do it any other way. As with moussaka and lasagne, I do generally make more than we intend to eat, and either eat the leftovers the following day, or freeze them.

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Tomatoes stewed in olive oil

A typically simple dish from the Roux brothers, one where the ingredients “ont le gout de ce qu’ils sont”, as Curnonsky said. You need proper ripe tomatoes for this, and the best olive oil you can lay your hands on (I used the last of our designer Tuscan oil). It requires no last-minute attention and can be served hot or at room temperature, so it’s good for entertaining.

Serve with grilled or roast meat, or just on their own, with good bread to mop up the juice. Keep any left-over juice to add to salad dressings or sauces.

Source: the Roux brothers’ French Country Cooking.

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Le vrai gratin dauphinois

Someone asked today how to make a gratin dauphinois without the cream separating and going oily. This is Edouard de Pomiane’s answer. However, I often leave out the flour with no ill effect. He specifies white Dutch potatoes — I’m not sure what he means by this, but I generally use waxy ones, as that’s about all we can get round here. Quantities are not very exact.

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The Prize-winning Chinese Yorkshire Pudding

This recipe comes from the “Great Yorkshire Pudding Contest” held in Leeds, as recounted by Jane Grigson in “English Food”. Five native chefs were humiliated by Mr Tin Sung Chan from the Chopsticks Restaurant, who took the top prize with this unorthodox recipe. His pudding, wrote the Guardian’s reporter, “rose to the height of a coronation crown and its taste, according to one of the judges, was superb.”

If you are in the habit of making Yorkshire pudding, you will find the proportions a bit bizarre. But if your puddings always sag, this recipe is definitely worth a try!

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