Entries in cheese (63)



at some point last year i bought a pack of pizzocheri – a type of pasta made from buckwheat, shaped like tagliatelli. i think i’d seen reference to it a in recipe somewhere but of course i’ve never found that recipe and the packet has sat unopened in my cupboard for many months until this week, when i hit google looking for inspiration.

 actually, inspiration was quite limited – every recipe i found was a variation on the same theme, pizzocheri della valtellina – pizzoccheri, potatoes, cabbage, lots of cheese and lots of butter. the cheeses used varied, some of the dishes added to sage and. or garlic to the butter before allowing it to brown and there was  amix of dishes cooked solely in one pan, assembled in layers for serving, and others where the layered dish was baked.

i decided to bake mine, cooked the ingredients separately so nothing would be overcooked, used a mix of gruyere and taleggio, chose spinach instead of cabbage and used both garlic and butter, plus a bit of nutmeg.

the resulting dish is rich, creamy but with surprisingly delicate layers of flavour – the pizzocheri has a very distinctive buckwheat flavour which works well with the strong cheeses (the ones i chose both melt beautifully which i loved) and gentle potato flavours. i really liked the spinach in this – i don’t think cabbage would do such a good job at balancing out the richness. and the garlic, nutmeg and sage were just occasional notes in the background.

if you do fancy trying this, have a look at the recipes online – as i said there is a lot of consistency but also a  lot of variation, so you’re bound to find something you’ll like. if anyone has any suggestions for using the rest of the packet of pizzoccheri, in a different way, let me know!

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aubergine-wrapped halloumi with pomegranate dressing


last year i had a really delicious meal at maria elia’s restaurant, joe’s,  and so when i noticed she had a new book out, i couldn’t resist picking up a copy.  quite a few of the recipes in full of flavour have caught my eye, not least a chicken liver pate that, unlike every other version i have ever made, is not loaded with butter. however, it was something simple that i kicked off with – halloumi cheese, sprinkled with lemon and oregano then wrapped in aubergine, warmed through under the grill and served with a pomegranate dressing.

dennis cotter has a similar recipe, but in his case the aubergine-wrapped halloumi has a roast garlic and shallot raita accompaniment. however, as with dennis’ recipe, it is the dressing that is the star of the show and what brings the dish together, halloumi and aubergine both being ingredients that happily allow other flavours to shine.

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cavolo nero pesto


i’m a woman with an obsession. each week i pick up a bunch or two of cavolo nero and work it into our meals at every opportunity – most recently we had roast chicken, with a lovely caramelised onion and cavolo nero pilaf.

however, things caught up with me this weekend – i’ve been under the weather for ages (an endless cold, which is finally on its way) and a week of lazy food left me with an excess of cavolo nero that was almost past its best. my friend helen came to the rescue, reminding me of skye gyngell’s cavolo nero pesto recipe, which she’d tried and loved last year.

it’s an interesting pesto, relying on butter rather than oil for its richness (although there is a bit of oil in there), plus anchovies as well as the more usual garlic and parmesan. it tastes wonderful and i was instantly sad i’d not made it in time to ease a little under the skin of my chicken, before it roasted.  

this week it’ll be tossed with pasta (plus an extra handful of cavolo nero which will be added to the pasta water a few minutes before it is ready) and i want to try mixing it with crushed beans to make a bruschetta inspired by one i ate in italy, several years ago.

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cheese and onion pie

this is my mum’s recipe and it’s just wonderful. it’s also fabulously flexible - easy to pull together, delicious both hot and cold (i prefer it cold/ at room temperature), easy to transport (perfect for picnics or packed lunches) and has the sort of flavours that most people like. it also keeps well.

a puff pastry base is placed in a pie tin and filled with layers of raw sliced onion and sliced cheese – i tend to use white onions and cheddar but you can vary these depending on what flavours you want, or what you happen to have in.  beaten egg is then added, so that it just comes up to the top of your onion/cheese mix; a pastry lid goes on top and then the whole thing is glazed with a final bit of beaten egg and sprinkled with kalonji (aka nigella seeds, which have an oniony flavour) before being cooked at 200c for c30 minutes (until the pastry is cooked through and golden).

the amount of cheese, onions and eggs that you add determines the texture (and flavour) of the pie – i like to pack the cheese and onion in as tightly as possible so you get quite a rich dense filling. if you only layer it loosely and maximise the egg content then the end result will be lighter and more quiche-like in texture. it’s a matter of personal preference, or just down to what ingredients you have to hand. either way, it’s delicious and well worth adding to your repertoire.


broccoli and feta couscous salad

a new year and a renewed commitment to packed lunches – i expect this is not uncommon at the moment and this broccoli and feta couscous is a delicious, healthy starting point.

i used a mix of normal and giant couscous (mograbiah) and then it was all about adding flavour. i fried sliced red onions and cavolo nero with chilli and garlic over a low heat, until the onions had started to caramelise and the cavolo had turned a very dark colour. broccoli was boiled and chopped into small pieces. feta was crumbled. this was all mixed with the couscous plus the juice and zest of a lemon and some herbs (mint and flat leaf parsley). i had intended to add toasted pine nuts but forgot – never mind, it tasted delicious nonetheless.