Sunday, April 20, 2008

One Thing Leads To Another

Todays recipes are based around cheese. There are many varieties of cheese, and some are better for one purpose than another, although - in general - one hard cheese can be substituted for another.
Many of the dishes below could be made using a different variety of cheese so why not experiment using what you have in your fridge.

For the first recipe, instead of using milk, add the extra liquid by way of water, then stir in some dried milk towards the end of the cooking time. Instead of prawns, some flaked cooked smoked haddock could be added.
Cheddar Chowder: serves 4
1 rasher streaky rindless bacon, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
8 oz (250g) potato, peeled and diced
1 oz (25g) butter
15 fl.oz (450ml) chicken or vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper
15 fl.oz (450ml) milk
1 x 198g can sweetcorn
3 oz (75g) grated Cheddar cheese
2 oz (50g) frozen cooked prawns, thawed
chopped parsley for garnish
Melt the butter in a sauce pan and fry the bacon and onion until softened. Add the celery and potatoes, cook and stir for a further 2 minutes, then add the stock. Cover and simmer until the potato is cooked. Add the milk, sweetcorn and prawns, heat through and season to taste. Serve in warm soup bowls garnishing each with a sprinkling of parsley.

This next recipe is for a cheese pate, using three different cheeses, so a great opportunity to experiment. Just make the most of what you have, remembering that a bit of blue will give the strong flavour the pate needs. As to the mustard, Dijon is much milder than the English. Do not add too much, taste and then add more if necessary.
The Variable Cheese Pate: serves 4
3 oz (75g) each, blue cheese, Cheddar and Wensleydale
2 tblsp natural yogurt
2-3 tblsp double or whipping cream
2 tsp each finely chopped chives and parsley
little blob of made mustard
Mash the cheeses together then work in the yogurt and cream. Finally, stir in the herbs and mustard. Mix together until everything is well blended.
Transfer to a serving bowl, cover and chill overnight. Serve with melba toast, crispbreads, rye bread or cream cracker type biscuits.

Fondues are coming back into fashion, but even if there is no fondue pan to hand, make the cheese sauce in a small pan and stand this over a candle heater. This recipe is a variation on the Swiss Fondue, as we probably have the makings to hand already in our storecupboards. If no cider, use apple juice. The onion - being used to flavour rather than as part of the dish - can then be wrapped tightly in cling film to be used the same day, or the next in another dish. Traditionally French bread is used for dunking, and - as often stale French bread can be left over from a previous meal - this can be frozen away ready for a dish such as this.
Farmhouse Fondue: serves 6
half a small onion, cut in half
half a pint (300ml) dry cider
1 tsp lemon juice
1 lb (500g) mature Cheddar cheese, grated
1 tblsp cornflour
2 tblsp sherry
pinch of dry mustard
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
cubes of white bread for dunking
Rub the inside of the chosen pan with the cut side of the onion. Put the pan on the hob and pour in the lemon juice and cider. Heat gently until just beginning to simmer. Adding the cheese a little at a time, stir and heat until melted. Blend the cornflour with the sherry, adding the W.sauce and the mustard, with enough pepper to taste. Stir this into the cheese and continue with the stirring, cook for a further 3 minutes until thickend and creamy. Stand the pan over a candle warmer (already placed on a table), and serve immediately with the bread cubes and forks (preferably long-handled ones) for dipping.

Whether for buffet parties, or just to nibble while watching TV, these 'cubes' make good eating. If possible choose a flavoured cottage cheese either with onion, herbs or pineapple. This is one time when cup-a-soups are worth having. Change the flavour if you wish.
Nutty Cheese Dice: serves 8 - 10
8 oz (225ml) cottage cheese
3 oz (75g) Double Gloucester cheese
3 oz (75g) Wensleydale cheese
3 tblsp asparagus cup-a-soup mix
2 spring onions, finely chopped
dash Tabasco sauce
3 oa (75g) salted peanuts
Drain any surplus liquid from the cottage cheese, and place in a bowl with the other cheeses and the soup mix. Blend together thoroughly. Stir in the onions and the Tabasco sauce. Shape into a 1" thick block, wrap
tightly in clingfilm and chill in the fridge until ready to use, then cut into 1" (2.5cm) cubes.
Blitz or very finely chop the peanuts, then toss the cubes in the peanuts. Arrange on a plate and chill until ready to eat.

Final recipe today is for a traditional recipe, and although given as coming from the region we live in at the moment, a very similar version is also made in Leicestershire, where we used to live. Possibly many counties have their own version.
Yorkshire Curd Tart: serves 6
8 oz (225g) shortcrust pastry
8 oz (225g) curd cheese
2 oz (50g) ground almonds
2 oz (50g) caster sugar
2 eggs, separated
grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
2 oz (50g) sultanas
5 fl.oz (150ml) double cream
Roll out the pastry to fit a 9" (23cm) flan ring or loosebottomed flan tin. If using a ring only, place this on a baking sheet before you fit with the pastry. Prick the base
Put the cheese into a bowl with the rest of the ingredients (egg yolks only, not the whites) and mix well together. Whisk the egg whites until stiff, then fold this into the mixture. Pour into the flan base and bake at 200C, 400F, gas 6 for 20 minutes, then lower the heat to 18oC, 350F, gas 4 and cook for a further half an hour or until the filling is firm and golden. Can be served warm or cold and lovely dusted with a fine coating of icing sugar.