Les Greedy Cochons Raclette Night

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Almost a year ago, when I’d been blogging about cheese for just a few weeks, I was invited to a Fondue Secret Supper Club by a North London couple called Les Greedy Cochons. It felt terribly daring at the time, partly because it was in the badlands i.e. north of the river and partly because Secret Supper Clubs sounded far too hip for the likes of me, who hadn’t been out for the best part of a year since I had my youngest baby. I was most definitely not feeling like a hipster.
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Perl Las, Mushroom and Wild Leek Quiche

Perl Las, Mushroom and Wild Leek Quiche

You can’t move in the food blogosphere at this time of year for wild garlic. I even saw someone on Twitter refer to it as a ‘wild garlic willy-waving contest’ the other day, which did make me titter. But, nevertheless, I was determined to find me some and pair it with some cheese. I’d heard rumours that there was a patch of wild garlic in our local woods (and when I say ‘woods’ please do not imagine anything expansive; Robin Hood would have lasted about ten minutes before he was either discovered or one of the dog-sized rats that live in there ate him alive). But still, it’s a pretty enough spot for SW17.
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Fromage Friday: Devon Oke

Celebrities making cheese is nothing new. Alex James turned his back on the rock lifestyle to give his name to a range of award-winning cheeses before courting controversy by launching a range of cheddars blended with salad cream, tomato ketchup and tikka masala (not altogether, I hasten to add) and a ‘pouring cheese’ called Spudsworthy. Sean Wilson made Martin Platt leave the cobbles and the Rovers Return to make a range of Lancashire cheeses. But could it be that S-Club 7 pop poppet Rachel Stevens had really given up showbiz glamour to get elbow-deep in curd?

Well, no, obviously not. It’s a different Rachel Stevens. In fact it’s Rachel Stephens. But it made a nice intro to this week’s cheese, didn’t it? And, in fact, this week’s choice does have its roots in the world of media, albeit of a somewhat different sort from that which churned out nineties floor-fillers such as Don’t Stop Movin and Bring It All Back. But, first, Ghetto boys, make some noise! Hoochie mamas, show your nanas!* Here is Devon Oke:

devon oke cheese
*No, I have no idea what these lyrics mean either.
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Stilton, Rosemary and Walnut Shortbread

stilton walnut rosemary shortbread

As you can probably tell, I love pretty much all cheese. I get asked a lot what my favourite cheese is or which cheese I would take to a desert island (which are completely different questions; halloumi isn’t my favourite cheese but that’s what I’d take to a desert island). There’s no one answer for it, as it depends on what mood I’m in, what the weather’s like and who’s paying. But Stilton would have to be up there in all its creamily piquant loveliness.
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Fromage Friday: Sleightlett

The clocks going forward last weekend mean several things. First is that my children will wake up absurdly early, full of vim and vigour, at a time fit for only dairy farmers and red-eye pilots. Another is that an increase in warmth and daylight will start to frisk up my tastebuds. Cravings for cheese on toast and chunks of Stilton wane in favour of something a wee bit fresher and lighter. Coincidentally this is the season when fresh goat and sheep’s cheeses start to appear after a winter break; so either my tastebuds are works of evolutionary genius, perfectly in tune with nature’s cycles, or else I’ve been reading too many spring recipes in the Waitrose magazine. Either way, it was a goat’s cheese that took my fancy on a recent spending spree in Neal’s Yard Dairy and very seasonally cheeseonal Sleightlett is too.

sleightlett cheese
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April’s Cheese, Please! Recipe Blog Challenge – Blue Cheese

The Big Cheesy Barbeque: Shropshire Blue Burgers cheese

It was always going to be hard to follow March’s home-made cheese spectacular. I thought about taking advantage of today’s date and asking fellow bloggers to perhaps milk a pet for cheese-making purposes or cook up a dish specifically with Casu Marzu (more popularly known as Sardinian Maggot’s Cheese). But in the end I decided to plump for something more inclusive – because everyone loves blue cheese, right?
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March’s Cheese, Please! Challenge Round-Up – Fresh Cheese

I wondered if asking people to make their own cheese and devise a recipe around it would be a step too far. I envisaged the tumbleweeds blowing across my blog throughout the month, as I frantically made cheese myself and cooked it up to make things look busy. But I under-estimated my fellow bloggers big-time and the sound of whey dripping through tea-towels echoed across the globe. A couple of them in particular (no names mentioned… ;)) seem to have become quite hooked on the entire process and I look forward to some magnificent creations clogging up their fridges and cellars very soon. But onto the round-up…
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Fromage Friday: Swaledale PDO

Anyone who grew up in Britain in the seventies or eighties will remember Sunday night TV for one thing: James Herriot driving his Austin 7 through the Yorkshire Dales to the sounds of a soaring, tinkling piano soundtrack. All Creatures Great and Small had a huge effect on me as a child and inspired two ambitions: one, to become a vet and two, to play the piano. The first ambition was swiftly crushed come GCSE time when half of my teachers ganged up to inform me that I was hopeless at science and should do something arty-farty instead. The second was more fruitful and I taught myself to play the entire theme tune from scratch. It remains the only piano piece I have ever played (aside from Beverley Craven’s ‘Promise Me’, but let’s draw a veil over that).

I digress. I chose this week’s cheese because it epitomises the landscape of the Yorkshire Dales. Its history and substance is so intertwined with the area, from the cows and sheep that pepper the hills and valleys to the dry stone walls which its very rind resembles. I’ve even put it on a grassy-green plate this week, because it seemed somehow to belong there:

Swaledale Cheese PDO
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Working Girl’s Baked Ricotta

Working Girl's Baked Ricotta

Faced with a mountain of home-made ricotta, I turned to my recipe books for something a bit different. I found the inspiration for this recipe in an old M & S book called Viva Italia! As you can well imagine, M & S did not call it ‘Working Girl’s Baked Ricotta’ but given that many of the ingredients were the same as those of the classic Pasta Puttanesca, I threw in some red chillies for good measure and renamed it. I struggled with the renaming bit. ‘Whore’s Baked Ricotta’ sounded a bit rude, as did Nigella’s translation of ‘Slut’s’. And so I went with Jamie’s ‘Working Girl’s’, which I realise sounds like a bad eighties film but at least it won’t scare the horses or provide any more encouragement to the ‘cheese soft porn’ visitor.
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Fromage Friday: Cornish Blue

This week’s cheese was a very lucky find. With Friday approaching and a fromage-less fridge, I braved the cheese counter at my local supermarket to see if I could find anything of interest. Apart from the usual continental suspects and a handful of decent territorials, there is usually very little to be found there, unless you like your cheese soused in some dodgy booze flavouring or tasting of jalfrezi (and sorry if it makes me a cheese snob of the worst kind but I just don’t).

My heart was beating with fear and trepidation at the sight of all the shrink-wrapping when I noticed this week’s cheese nestling against the glass. I’d heard good things about Cornish Blue so snapped some up sharpish (much to the annoyance of the deli lady who was obviously in a big huff about the fact she had to cut into its virgin rind). But the big question was: what’s an artisan cheese like you doing in a joint like this?

cornish blue cheese
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