Cavolo nero and bacon tartiflette

Tartiflette is a comforting French dish popular amongst those heading to Alpine resorts. Just picture the scene, coming back in from a day on the slopes and in need of a comforting dish to warm you up whilst sipping a glass of wine or two in front of a roaring log fire- heaven! If you like potato, cheese and bacon then this is the perfect dish for you! In my version I have added cavolo nero as a nod towards one of your five a day but you could leave it out if you prefer or replace with spinach if you like.

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Ingredients- serves 4
150g smoked bacon lardons
250g cavolo nero- washed
2 garlic cloves- crushed
1 shallot- finely chopped
Knob of unsalted butter
800g waxy potatoes, such as King Edwards
400g Reblochon or Camembert cheese
300ml double cream
120ml vegetable stock

1. Firstly preheat the oven to 200c/ 180 fan. Take a frying pan and heat over a medium heat; fry off the lardons until golden, remove from the pan and set aside. Keep an bacon fat which is in the pan. Shred that leaves of the cavolo nero and fry in the pan along with the garlic and shallot until wilted. Remove and set aside.

2. Rub a little softened butter in the inside of a baking dish approximately 20cm x 25cm in size. I sometimes use individual baking dishes so everyone has their own so it’s up to you.

3. Cut the potatoes into 3mm thin slices and layer in the dish with the cavolo nero, bacon and half of the cheese. Leave the thinnest potato slices for the top so they go crispy when it’s cooked. Season the layers as you go.

4. Pour over the cream and stock and top with the remaining cheese. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour until golden and bubbling. Allow to stand for few minutes before digging in.

Cavolo nero and bacon tartiflette- go off piste with my version of this Alpine classic! The diet starts tomorrow…

Roasted garlic, thyme and parmesan potato dauphinoise

If there is one dish that is a sure fire crowd pleaser and ultimate comfort food then it has to be this! Potato dauphinoise is classic and mainstay of French cuisine and here it has a revamp to add even more flavour to it. This can be enjoyed with a range of main dishes however steak does it for me every time! Taking inspiration from French cooking I have added roasted garlic and thyme to ramp up the flavour. Now this may not be considered health (far from it in fact!) but a little of what you fancy does you good so read on and indulge yourself…

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Ingredients- serves 4
Knob of unsalted butter
1 small garlic bulb
800g Maris Piper potatoes- peeled
Fresh thyme
Salt and pepper
300ml double cream
Freshly grated parmesan- optional

1. Preheat the oven to 180c/ 160 fan. Cut the top of the garlic bulb and wrap it in foil and drizzle with a little oil before baking for around 20 minutes until the garlic is soft. Allow to cool before squeezing the garlic from the bulb and mashing with the back of a fork. Take an ovenproof dish that will be large enough for you to fit the sliced potato in. Use a knob of butter and run it all over the inside of the dish to stop the potatoes from sticking when they cook.

2. Carefully use a knife or mandolin with the guard on to thinly slice the potatoes. Use any larger slices to create the first layer in the dish and make sure the slices slightly overlap; season with salt and pepper before adding some of the thyme leaves and a little of the roasted garlic. Repeat until the potatoes are used up and remember to season each layer well.

3. Press the layers down slightly and pour over the double cream. Allow it to soak through the potatoes and finish with some freshly grated parmesan, if you like. Bake in the oven for 45-60 minutes until the potatoes are tender and bubbling. I often cover the dish with foil for most of the cooking time before removing towards the end to brown in off but this will depend on your oven. When ready, remove from the oven and allow to sit for a few minutes before serving.

Roasted garlic, thyme and parmesan potato dauphinoise- a gratin to stand the test of time!

 

 

Kale, butternut squash and pancetta gnocchi

Kale, butternut squash and pancetta gnocchi combines many of my favourite ingredients in a light yet rich sauce to welcome in autumn in the coming weeks. Food should be colourful and vibrant and it certainly is! I have used a simple white sauce base with a touch of parmesan, garlic and red onion to lift and enhance the flavours of the vegetables but it would also be delicious with a mascarpone sauce if you prefer. Gnocchi is easy to buy and quick to cook and, as I baked it, I didn’t need to boil it before cooking so it’s even quicker!

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Ingredients- serves 4
500g fresh gnocchi
Olive oil
75g cubed pancetta
2 cloves of garlic- crushed
1 red onion- finely chopped
1 small butternut squash- cut into small dice
200g bag of kale- washed, tough stalks removed and shredded
Small handful of fresh sage- finely chopped

For the white sauce
40g unsalted butter
40g plain flour
250ml double cream
250ml milk
75g freshly grated parmesan

1. Get started by preheating the oven to 180c/ 160 fan; you don’t want the oven too high so the vegetables and gnocchi don’t catch and burn. Take a large frying pan and add a glug of oil over a medium heat. Fry off the pancetta cubes until turning slightly golden, remove from the pan and set aside. Use the frying pan again and cook the onion and garlic for a couple of minutes until beginning to soften before adding the diced butternut squash. I fried the onion and garlic in the pan with the remaining pancetta juices for extra flavour. Turn the heat down to low/ medium and cook for a further few minutes. Add in the shredded kale, sage and cooked pancetta and cover the pan with a lid or foil. Cook down until the butternut squash is tender and the kale is steamed.

2. Meanwhile, you can make the white sauce. Take a medium pan and melt the butter and flour together over a medium heat. Mix together the cream and milk and gradually add to the pan; don’t rush it! If lumps appear, simply take the pan off the heat and whisk it until they disappear and continue on. When the sauce has thickened, take the pan off the heat, season and add half of the parmesan (the rest will be used as a topping for the gnocchi bake).

3. When the squash and kale mix and sauce is ready, take a large roasting dish and place the gnocchi in the bottom. Add the white sauce of the vegetables and make sure each piece is well coated before tossing through the gnocchi. Sprinkle the remaining parmesan over the top and a drizzle of oil and bake for half an hour or until golden. I covered the dish with foil for the first half of cooking and then removed it to finish it off. Serve is warmed bowls and dig in!

And there you have it- kale, butternut squash and pancetta gnocchi with a light creamy sauce. The perfect way to get in the autumnal mood! I mean, look, who could resist these colours in the pan?…

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Indulgent lobster and saffron cream garganelli

Most people would reach for the perennial classic, linguine, when they are making a seafood based pasta however this recipe uses garganelli instead. Garganelli are small quills with delicate ridges which hold a rich creamy pasta sauce beautifully.  I bought mine from my local Italian deli, Buongiorno Italia, which is a must visit if you ever find yourselves in St Albans- www.buongiornoitalia.co.uk. I challenge you to only buy what you intended in there and nothing more!

To make this recipe accessible I used one lobster tail per person however two would be fabulous if you have a few extra pennies going spare or of course a whole lobster. This lobster tail pasta is indulgent and extravagant but worth the effort so read on…

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Ingredients- serves 2
200g garganelli pasta
2 lobster tails- shell removed and kept whole
1 garlic clove- crushed
100ml white wine (or champagne!)
100ml double cream
Pinch of saffron
Small handful of flat leaf parsley- finely chopped
Olive oil
Knob of unsalted butter
Salt and pepper to season

1. Start off by bringing a pan of water up to the boil and cooking the garganelli until al dente; drain well.

2. Whilst that is cooking away, take a large frying pan, heat to medium and add a glug of oil plus a knob of butter. Pop in the lobster tails, cover the pan with a lid and cook for a few minutes until tender. I like to baste the lobster with the butter whilst it is cooking from time to time too. Remove the lobster from the pan, allow to cool until you can handle it and chop the meat into pieces.

3. Using the same frying pan, add in the garlic and cook for a minute before adding the wine. Simmer and reduce the wine by half before adding the cream and saffron. Stir well to ensure the saffron colours the cream evenly. Season to taste before adding the lobster pieces back into the pan. Gently warm through and toss with the garganelli before adding a sprinkle of parsley.

Lobster and delicate saffron cream garganelli- treat yourself to a little luxury!

Comforting creamy potato, cabbage and onion bake

I made this dish as an accompaniment to a recent St Patrick’s day dinner with a gammon joint on the side but the beauty of this recipe is that it is good for any occasion. This is a great way of also using up any odds and ends you may have.

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Ingredients-serves 4
500g potato such as Maris Piper- peeled and cubed into inch chunks
1 large onion- sliced
2 garlic cloves- sliced or crushed
Leaves from 4 sprigs of fresh thyme
Small cabbage such as celtic or savoy- sliced
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
100ml double cream
100ml vegetable stock
100g Taleggio
Salt and pepper to season

1. Start off by parboiling the potatoes in lightly salted water before draining well. Preheat the oven to 180c/ 160fan. While this is happening, take a large frying pan and heat a little vegetable oil before frying the onion, garlic and thyme for a couple of minutes.

2. Next up goes the cabbage slices which need to cook down for another couple of minutes so they soften. Remember to remove any hard veins in the cabbage as you cut it as nobody wants to end up chewing on one of those all evening. Drizzle over the cream and stock before adding the mustard and stirring well to combine. Simmer for a minute before seasoning well and do always check the seasoning. Pop in half of the Taleggio by cutting into small pieces.

3. Toss the potato chunks through and ensure all the ingredients are well combined. Place the whole lot in an ovenproof baking dish and top with the remaining cheese, and dots of butter if you like, before baking for around half an hour until lightly golden and bubbling.

Serve with meat such as gammon or enjoy by itself. Place in the centre of the table and watch everyone dig in- just make sure there’s some left for you!

Potato, cabbage and onion bake- a great way to celebrate humble vegetables in the most delicious way!

Creamy Brussel sprout gratin

After a Christmas of boiling sprouts to within an inch on their lives and then serving them up only for family members to bemoan them, this poor old vegetable needs a revamp! This gratin pairs the earthiness of sprouts with the sweetness of shallot, saltiness of ham and luxury of cream so read on…

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Ingredients- serves 2
A small bag of sprouts approx. 250g- peeled and trimmed
30g butter
30g plain flour
150ml milk
150ml double cream
50g parmesan
1 banana shallot- finely sliced
4 slices of Parma ham or similar
30g breadcrumbs

1. Preheat the oven to 200c/ 180fan. Heat the butter and flour together in a saucepan before adding the milk and cream little by little. Make sure no lumps form! Bring to the boil when all the milk is combined before lowering a gently simmer to thicken the sauce.

2. Meanwhile, par boil the sprouts and set aside. Take a small pan and gently fry off the shallot until softened and turning golden. You can also either use the same pan to crisp up small pieces of the ham or you can add this uncooked later on so it’s up to you. I used Carmarthen ham which worked perfectly.

3. The sauce should now be ready to season and to stir most of the parmesan into. Reserve some to combine with the breadcrumbs (I used panko) for the topping if you like. Add the sprouts, ham and shallot to the cheese sauce before placing in an ovenproof dish to bake for 30 minutes or until golden and bubbling.

Serve as the main event or with a meat dish. It also goes well with a good piece of steak!

An indulgent gratin perfect to use the last of the Christmas sprouts!