Category Archives: cheese

Starter: Goat’s cheese tartlets – Main: Mediterranean chicken

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I started my new job just over a week ago and I am finding the early mornings a bit of a shock to the system.  That being said I’m slowly getting back into the routine of things. One thing that I can say however is that I have not missed the London commute during my time off; the tube whilst practical is not a pleasant experience in rush hour.   Consequently I am forcing myself to brave the elements and cycle to work 2-3 times a week…

There was one thing that I had been missing whilst I was living in France and that was cooking/going to dinner parties.  This weekend I had the flat to myself and I seized the opportunity to get friends over and spend the evening eating good food and drinking far too much wine!

We started off the evening with a very simple canapé/starter of goat’s cheese and sun blushed tomato tartlets.  I used filo pastry to make them as it is beautifully light and the resulting tartlets look very pretty.  On this occasion I didn’t serve the tartlets with anything, however, a simple rocket salad work well.

For the main I cooked chicken in a Mediterranean style sauce mixing a combination tomatoes, olives and feta.  The resultant dish was fresh and packed full of flavour.  I would recommend serving the chicken on a bed of mashed potato with steamed vegetables.  It is a simple dish to make and is a great option to make if you are having lots of people over!

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Mediterranean Chicken (Serves 5-6)


  • 5/6 chicken breasts
  • 800g chopped tomatoesDSC_0551 (3)
  • 10-15 cherry tomatoes
  • 100-125g black pitted olives
  • 2 large onions (finely sliced)
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • ½ glass of red wine (I used a Rioja)
  • 200g feta cheese (cut into cubes)
  • ½ tsp herbs of Provence
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1tbsp freshly chopped parsley
  • Seasoning
  • olive oil for cooking with


1.  Preheat an oven to 180C fan.

2.  Place the onions and garlic in a frying pan with a little oil and cook on a medium heat until they are soft.

3.  Pour a little oil into a large roasting tray, add the chicken breasts and make sure they are coated with the oil and season well.

4.  Add the softened onions, olives, chopped tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, wine, lemon zest, bay leaf, herbs and mix together.

5.  Cover the roasting tray with tin foil and cook in the oven for 35-40 minutes.

6.  Once the chicken is cooked, remove from the oven.  Scatter over the feta cheese and parsley and then serve with some mashed potato and the vegetables of your choice.


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Goat’s cheese and sun blushed tomato tartlets

Ingredients: (makes 24)

  • ½ a packet of filo pastry (cut into 2” squares)DSC_0543 (3)
  • 250g goat’s cheese (cut into small pieces)
  • 100-125g sun blushed tomatoes (cut into small pieces)
  • 2tsp freshly chopped parsley
  • olive oil
  • black pepper


1. Preheat an oven to 170C fan.

2.  Lightly grease two mince pie trays, place 2 squares of filo pastry into each of the moulds.

3.  Mix together the goat’s cheese and sun blushed tomatoes in a bowl, then put a little of the mixture into the centre of the pastry.

4.  Drizzle over a little olive oil and season with black pepper.

5.  Bake in the oven for 5-7 minutes, until the pastry is crisp and golden brown and the cheese has melted.

6.  Remove from the oven and scatter over the chopped parsley just before serving.

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Turkey in a creamy sauce with leeks and green beans

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It has been a while since my last blog, but I am slowly getting into the rhythm of London.  I had forgotten what London is like, particularly if you are a cyclist! I bought my road bike when I was last living in London and used to enjoy commuting on it as it guaranteed I got a good dose of fresh air.  However, I had forgotten how busy the roads can be and now more often than not find myself holding my breath and staying as close to the curb as possible every time a huge lorry or bus rattles past me – a stark contrast to the country roads of France which I had all to myself…

I had also forgotten how little time there is to cook when you live here as so often the evenings are filled with seeing friends or going to the gym etc.  Consequently being able to rustle up a quick supper that is fairly healthy is an absolute necessity.  The meal below is one such example as it shouldn’t take more than 15-20 minutes to make.   The leeks and beans make sure that you have a proper amount of vegetables and add a nice variety of textures to the dish.  The sauce is not overly creamy and complements the vegetables and turkey bringing the whole dish together.  I would tend to serve this dish with plain rice, however boiled potatoes or a jacket potato would make a nice alternative.

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Turkey in a creamy sauce with leeks and green beans


  • 400g turkey breast (cut into bite sized pieces)
  • 2 leeks (washed and cut into 1cm circles)
  • 1 large handful of green beans (cut into bite sized pieces)
  • 50g cream cheese (roughly 1 heaped tbsp)
  • 1 chicken stock cube
  • 1 handful of flour
  • 50-100ml water
  • Seasoning


1.  Combine the flour, seasoning and crumble the stock cube into a bowl, add the turkey pieces and mix until the meat is coated with flour.

2.  Heat some oil in a frying pan, then add the meat and brown off.

3.  After about 5-10 minutes add some water a little at a time stirring continuously until you have a sauce the consistency of gravy.

4.  Add the leeks and beans, cover with a lid and cook for 5-7 minutes, or until the leeks have softened.

5.  Just before you are ready to serve, add the cream cheese and season as needed.

6.  Serve on a bed of plain rice or with a few boiled potatoes.

Warm goat’s cheese salad

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After a not too stressful trip back to the UK I am back in London.  I have been assured by the Old Man that Hetti (the puppy) is OK and demanding attention from anyone that will give it to her.  Meanwhile I have commenced the delightful task of job hunting…

Yesterday, evening on the request of my brother’s girlfriend I cooked a vegetarian supper.  As I have mentioned before my mind often turns blank when I have to think of a vegetarian meal.  I wanted to cook something relatively healthy, unfortunately that meant that anything involving pastry was out.  Also, I wanted to use up a couple of the leftovers that were in the fridge.  After a little bit of thought I settled on the idea of a warm goat’s cheese salad.

The salad had a lovely combination of flavours and textures.  The goat’s cheese melted slightly due to the heat of the new potatoes and sugar snap peas and made the salad beautifully creamy.  It was filling and is definitely a good meal to have in reserve if you have a vegetarian over for lunch or supper.

Warm goat’s cheese salad (Serves 3)


  • 200g soft goats cheese
  • 1 bag of baby leaf herb salad or lettuce
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  • 10-15 new potatoes (pre-cooked and cut into small cubes)
  • 12-15 cherry tomatoes (cut into quarters)
  • 3 beetroot (pre-cooked and cut into small cubes)
  • 1 handful of sugar snap peas (cut into small pieces)
  • 2-3 spring onions (cut into thin strips)
  • 2-3 sprigs of fresh oregano
  • olive oil and balsamic vinegar (for dressing)
  • seasoning


1.  Heat some olive oil in a frying pan and add the potato pieces, oregano and season well.  Cook on a medium heat until the potatoes are golden and crispy all over.

2.  Once the potatoes are almost cooked add the sugar snap peas and cook for a minute or so that they are warmed through.

3.  Dress your plates by place the salad leaves on the base then scattering over the tomatoes, beetroot, spring onions, potatoes and sugar snaps.

4.  Finally place slices of the goat’s cheese on top, drizzle over a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar and season with some freshly ground pepper.  Enjoy!

Savoury chelsea buns


Yesterday, Mumsy returned from buying the bread looking very pleased with herself.  She explained that she had been chatting to various people whilst waiting for the bread to come out of the oven and had arranged for us to go around a local ‘Fromagerie’ (Cheesemaker ) that evening at 6pm.  Two thoughts immediately crossed my mind; (1) that Mumsy had arranged something at [heaven forbid] ‘Apéro time’; and (2) why did she think I wanted a tour of a fromagerie/dairy farm?

In fairness to Mumsy, earlier in the week I had asked if we could pop up to the local Fromagerie (about 5km away) to buy some cheese.  I was interested in ‘Le Quercy Blanc’ (as the Fromagerie is known locally) because I had tried several of their cheeses at various fêtes during the summer and thought they would work well in a couple of recipes…  Also, I fully endorse supporting local producers – not only does it keep them in business but, more often than not, their produce is infinitely better than the equivalent that can be found in the local supermarket.

Anyhow, yesterday evening Mumsy and I donned our coats and boots and set off in the pouring rain.  The first thing to say is actually I was pleasantly surprised at how interesting it was.  Having grown up living in farmhouse that was attached to a Diary Farm I knew about the milking processes, but I have not seen cheese production on a small scale.  The farm is run by 3 families and between them they have roughly 200 milking cows, (the vast majority of which are Holsteins).  For their cheese production, they syphon off a very small quantity of the milk the output of roughly 4 cows (between 100-125litres a day).

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 The proprietors explained the cheese making process which to all intents and purposes was very straightforward.  The ‘raw’ (i.e unpasteurised) milk is placed in a large vat, ‘la présure’ (rennet) is added, how much that is used depends on the type of cheese being made (e.g. a Tome requires a higher concentration to produce its texture and form).  The milk is then left to do its work over a period of 24hrs, whereupon the curds are separated from the whey.  From there it is either potted up and labelled as ‘Fromage Blanc’ or salt is added to the curds which are then shaped in moulds before they are left to mature in a ‘warm’ refrigerator (around 14C)  from anywhere between a week (for the soft centred cheese) to 2+ months for the Tome.  After that time the cheese, brushed down in the case of the Tome, is then placed in a ‘cool’ refrigerator where it is stored until it is sold.      


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I have to say I am really pleased that I visited the Fromagerie as it allowed me to create these Savoury Chelsea buns for lunch.  The cheeses complimented the sweet flavour of the dough and the combination of the lardons, cheese and red onion and port marmalade worked better that I could have hoped.  Whilst I appreciate unless you go to an extraordinary effort to travel to this part of the world you will be unable to use the same cheeses that I have, do not worry just use the cheeses that you have available that are similar and most importantly that you like! Enjoy!


Savoury Chelsea Buns (makes 12)


For the dough:

  • 250g plain flour
  • 150g wholemeal flour (Type 80)
  • 40g sugar
  • 1tsp salt
  • 25g fresh yeast
  • 50g butter (melted)
  • 200ml milk (warmed slightly)
  • 2 eggs

For the filling:

  • 25g butter (melted)
  • 3 heaped tsp red onion and port marmalade (see recipe)
  • 2 soft centred cheese, roughly 100g (I used a local cheese, but Rocamdour, Cabecou or even a Brie would do)
  • 50-75g Tome, grated (alternatively use medium Cheddar or Gruyere)
  • 50-75g lardons or bacon bits
  • ½tsp thyme
  • 1 egg beaten (for glazing)


1.  Place the flour, salt, and sugar in a large bowl and mix together.

2.  Place the yeast in a bowl, add the milk, butter and eggs and mix together well.

3.  Add the wet mix into the dry mix and combine using your fingers.  The dough will be fairly wet.

4.  Place the dough on a floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes.

5.  Place the dough into a bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rise for about 2 – 3 hours (until it has doubled in size).

6.  Knock the air out of the dough, place on a floured surface and flatten into a rectangular shape.

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 7.  Brush the dough with the melted butter, spoon over the red onion and port marmalade, scatter over the cheese, lardons and thyme.

8.  Roll the dough up into a long cylinder shape then, cut into 12 equal-sized pieces.

9.  Place the pieces in a greased and floured tin, brush with the egg wash and leave to rise until they have doubled in size.

10.  Once they have risen, bake in an oven at 180C fan for 18-20 minutes.

11.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving.







Cauliflower and blue cheese soup

Cauliflower is fairly good value at the moment and I have been trying to think of some different things to do with it.  As cauliflower and cheese is a classic combination I thought I would try it in a soup.

I found that blue cheese works well in the soup as it adds a salty creaminess that doesn’t overpower the flavour of the cauliflower. By adding crème fraiche, I found that it enhanced the creaminess of the cheese and helps to make the soup silkier.  The lardons give yet another texture – especially if you can make them golden brown and slightly crunchy.  However, they aren’t strictly necessary but are a nice addition.

I served this soup with homemade cornbread which added a light sweetness which lifted the soup, however good French bread would work just as well.


Cauliflower and blue cheese soup


  •          1 medium cauliflower (cut up into medium sized pieces)
  •          1 onion (diced)
  •          2 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
  •          2 bay leaves
  •          1 small bunch of thyme (tied together)
  •          1 ½  litre stock (vegetable or chicken)
  •          50g blue cheese (e.g Bleu d’Auvergne)
  •          3 heaped tbsp crème fraiche
  •          ½ tsp pepper
  •          50g lardons (for decoration, optional)
  •          oil (for cooking with)


  1. Place the onions, garlic, thyme and bay leaves in a large pan with a little oil and sweat on a medium heat until the onions are soft.
  2. Add the cauliflower and stock, bring up to the boil and cook until a knife goes easily through the cauliflower.
  3. Remove the thyme and bay leaves then, liquidise the soup.
  4. Put the soup back into the saucepan and add the crème fraiche, crumble in the cheese and season.
  5. Cook for 4-5 minutes stirring occasionally.
  6. Meanwhile cook the lardons in a hot saucepan until they are golden brown and crispy.
  7. Serve the soup with a few of the lardons scattered on top with some French bread or cornbread.



Cottage Pie

Cottage pie is another one of those staple meals that somehow manage to keep these cold winter nights at bay.  It is a meal that I used to make fairly regularly at university as it was affordable and could easily feed a large number of people.  It is what I would describe as wholesome food – it gives you a good dose of protein, vegetables and carbs.  It is a meal that could very easily be prepared in advance and stored in the fridge for cooking later in the week.  It is definitely a meal to keep in mind during these winter months as it is another one of those comfort foods.


Cottage Pie


For the meat sauce:

  • 400g minced beef
  • 1 onion (diced)
  • 2 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
  • 2-3 carrots (peeled and diced)
  • 1 tin of tomatoes
  • 1 heaped tbsp tomato puree
  • 2-3 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 1-2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1tsp mixed herbs
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • seasoning
  • oil (for cooking with)

For the mashed potato topping:

  • 5-6 medium potatoes (peeled, cut into quarters)
  • knob of butter
  • 3-5tbsp milk
  • seasoning
  • 25-50g grated cheese


Step 1 – make the meat sauce

  1. Place the onions and garlic in a pan with a little oil and allow to soften.
  2. Add the meat and cook stirring occasionally until it has browned off.
  3. Add the carrots, tinned tomatoes, tomato puree, beef stock cube, herbs, half of the ketchup and the Worcestershire sauce and season well.
  4. Allow the sauce to bubble away and reduce slightly for 20-30 minutes.  Then taste and add more ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and seasoning as necessary.

Step 2 – make the mashed potato topping

  1. Whilst the sauce is reducing start making the potato topping.
  2. Place the potatoes in a saucepan with some salt, cover with water and bring to the boil. Leave to simmer until potatoes are cooked (to test see if a knife passes through the potatoes easily).
  3. Drain the potatoes and put back in the saucepan.
  4. Add the milk, butter and seasoning then using a potato masher, mash the potatoes until they are smooth.

Step 3 – make up the cottage pie

  1. Place the meat sauce in a deep ovenproof dish.
  2. Then carefully cover with the mashed potato and create a swirly pattern using a fork.
  3. Finally top with some grated cheese.
  4. Place in the oven and cook at 180C fan for 30 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving with the vegetables of your choice.

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Turkey lasagne with bacon, broccoli and leeks…

Got leftover turkey? Christmas is fast approaching and there is always the question of what to make with the leftover turkey.  Pies and curries are always a good option but I have been trying to devise something a little bit different and came up with the idea of using festive flavours in a lasagne and I promise you it works well!

The recipe below can be made using cooked or uncooked turkey and you could even substitute the lardons for leftover ham…  The lasagne combines the flavours of a good pie with a creamy white sauce and a delicious cheese topping.    There is no need to follow the recipe absolutely when making this lasagne. If you have other leftover vegetables that you think would work well in it – for example carrots or sweet potatoes – just throw them in and use any leftover gravy in place of the stock cube and water.

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Turkey lasagne with bacon, broccoli and leeks

Ingredients: (Serves 6)

  • 8-10 lasagne sheets

For the meat filling:

  • 300g of turkey breast, cooked or uncooked (cut into slices – if using uncooked turkey, then lightly dust the meat with some seasoned flour)
  • 100g lardons
  • 2 mushrooms (cut into chunks)
  • ¾ heads of broccoli (cut into chunks)
  • 2 small leeks (sliced)
  • ½ tsp thyme
  • 1 chicken stock cube
  • 100ml water
  • seasoning
  • oil (for cooking with)

For the white sauce:

  • 1pt milk
  • 30g butter
  • 1 handful of plain flour
  • A pinch of all spice
  • ¼ tsp thyme
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped leeks
  • pepper (for seasoning)

For the topping:

  • 25g hard cheese (e.g. Emmental, Cheddar and/or Red Leicester)


Step 1 – prepare the meat filling

  • If you using uncooked turkey, fry it off in a little oil with the lardons and thyme on a medium heat.
  • Add the leeks and mushrooms (if you are using cooked turkey then add it now) – cook for 2-3 minutes.
  • DSC_0677Crumble over the stock cube and season then, add the water then cover and allow to cook for a further 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the broccoli pieces, remove from the heat and set to one side whilst you make the white sauce.

Step 2 – prepare the cheese sauce

  • Make a roux by melting the butter in a saucepan.
  • DSC_0679Add the flour and make a thick paste.
  • Slowly add the milk a little at a time, stirring/whisking continuously to avoid lumps.
  • Add the allspice, thyme, leeks and season with pepper.  Continue stirring/whisking until the sauce has thickened.

Step 3 – make up your lasagne

  • Soak the lasagne sheets in warm water for a minute or so.DSC_0681
  • Take a large oven proof dish and make up the lasagne in the following order:

  1. Meat sauce
  2. Lasagne sheets
  3. Meat sauce
  4. Lasagne sheets
  5. Cheese sauce
  6. Topping – scatter over the cheese

Step 4 – cook

  • Place in oven and bake at 180C fan for 25-30 minutes.
  • Serve. 


Classic Lasagne

The weather is truly miserable at the moment, it is cold and rainy and it doesn’t make me want to go outside very much.  It is the perfect weather for enjoying a lasagne, another of my comfort foods.  The recipe below is our family recipe that I have been using for years.  It is everything you want from a lasagne – a meat sauce between layers of pasta and a creamy cheese sauce.  For some reason lasagne reminds me of my university days. I think this is because it is an affordable dinner party option that was always comforting and guaranteed to go down well!

Whilst I have been living in France I have been experiencing issues with the pasta bought locally not cooking properly which I think this is down to it containing a lot of starch.  Consequently, I have had to soak the pasta sheets before putting them in the lasagne rather than just putting them under the tap which I would normally do, which seems to have resolved the problem of excess starch.

As a family we tend to enjoy the lasagne with a big tomato and red pepper salad or coleslaw.  If I am feeling particularly indulgent I sometimes serve garlic bread as well.


Classic Lasagne

Ingredients: (Serves 6)

  • 12-16 lasagne sheets

For the meat sauce:

  • 300g minced beef
  • 1 onion (diced)
  • 1 garlic clove (minced)
  • 500ml passata (or tin of chopped tomatoes)
  • 1 heaped tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • 1tsp mixed herbs
  • seasoning
  • oil (for cooking with)

For the topping:

  • 25g hard cheese (e.g. emmental or cheddar)
  • freshly grated nutmeg
For the cheese sauce:

  • 1pt milk
  • 50g butter
  • 1 handful of plain flour
  • ½tsp of freshly grated nutmeg
  • pepper (for seasoning)
  • 75g hard cheese (e.g. emmental or cheddar)



Step 1 – prepare the meat sauce:

  • Place the onions and garlic in a frying pan with a little oil, cook for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the meat and allow it to brown off.
  • Once the meat has browned off add the rest of the ingredients and allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Step 2 – prepare the cheese sauce:

  • Make a roux by melting the butter in a saucepan.
  • Add the flour and make a thick paste.
  • Slowly add the milk a little at a time, stirring continuously to avoid lumps.
  • Add the nutmeg and season with pepper.
  • Once the sauce has thickened slightly add the cheese and stir until it is melted.

Step 3 – make up your lasagne:

  • Soak the lasagne sheets in warm water for a minute or so to remove some of the starch and allow them to soften slightly.
  • Take a large oven proof dish and make up the lasagne in the following order:
  1. Meat sauce
  2. Lasagne sheets
  3. Meat sauce
  4. Cheese sauce
  5. Lasagne sheets
  6. Meat sauce
  7. Cheese sauce
  8. Topping – scatter over the cheese and grate over some nutmeg.

Step 4 – cook:

  • Place in oven and bake at 180C fan for 30 minutes.
  • Serve with coleslaw, a salad and/or garlic bread.  Enjoy!


Chicken in breadcrumbs

This is one of my all-time favourite things to eat.  This is my aunt’s recipe which she often cooked for us when we visited her in Italy.  Whilst it may not be the healthiest thing to eat, it is absolutely delicious as most fried foods tend to be…

When I was last in London my brother cooked this for me, however, he broke away from the traditional recipe and used a combination of stuffing mix and parmesan because he couldn’t find any breadcrumbs.  I have to say it worked well, but, my aunt’s recipe will still always be my favourite!

I tend to make my own breadcrumbs these days as a way of using up any stale bread as I hate throwing things away.  Below is a quick guide to make them.

Quick guide to making breadcrumbs

  • Preheat oven to 100C fan.
  • Cut any old or stale loaves/rolls etc. into chunks.
  • Place the chunks onto a roasting tray and bake in oven for 45 minutes to an hour to remove any moisture from the bread.
  • Remove from the oven and leave to cool down.
  • Place the bread in a food processor and blitz until you have fine crumbs.
  • Store in an airtight jar.


Chicken in breadcrumbs


  • 3 chicken breasts
  • 4oz breadcrumbs
  • 1oz parmesan
  • seasoning
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • oil (for cooking with)
  • 1 lemon (cut in quarters for serving)


1.  Slice or beat the chicken (using a rolling pin) into thin escalopes.

2.  Dip the chicken pieces into the beaten egg (make sure it is well covered).

3.  Combine the breadcrumbs, parmesan and seasoning together in a bowl.

4.  Place the chicken pieces into the crumb mix and coat thoroughly pressing the crumbs firmly into the chicken.


5.  Heat a good amount of oil in a frying pan.   Once it is very hot, carefully add the chicken in batches and fry on both sides for 3-4 minutes. (Check to see if the chicken is cooked by cutting into the middle of one of the escalopes).  Place the cooked pieces in an ovenproof dish, keep the warm in the oven at 100C fan

6.  Once all the chicken is cooked serve with a piece of lemon and the vegetables of your choice for example ratatouille and/or mashed potatoes.



My parents own an incredibly old Raclette machine that they were given as a wedding present many moons ago…  Every once in a while it is dusted off, ready to be used to cook/grill the Raclette.  I am not sure how safe our machine is but I don’t care as it transforms the Raclette into molten cheese that is absolutely delicious when served with crudités (raw vegetables), boiled new potatoes and cured meat.


As kids we used to love it when it was a Raclette night.  However, there is one major downside to this type of supper – you have to wait your turn – not an easy feat when there are six of you …  The fun side of cooking and eating  Raclette this way is all about getting your timing right; taking your turn too early results in a minimal return of the cheese, whereas taking it too late means the vast majority of the cheese will end up on the base of the machine leaving it wide open to being pilfered by various members of the family…

Raclette is an expensive cheese to buy, so it is best bought when it is on offer.  However, as a treat once in a while it is worth spending your money on…  You can normally find it being sold in a deli, specialist cheese shop or, if you are very lucky, in the supermarket.  Don’t panic if you don’t have a Raclette machine you can always melt it in a non-stick frying pan or on a griddle.



Raclette Night


  • Raclette (amount will depend on how many people you are feeding)
  • boiled new potatoes (serve with butter)
  • carrots (cut into batons)
  • celery (cut into batons)
  • cauliflower (cut into manageable pieces)
  • mushrooms (cut into chunks)
  • red pepper (cut into batons)
  • radish (and any other vegetables you fancy)
  • cured meat (e.g. Rosetta salami, Parma ham, etc.)


1.  Melt the cheese using your machine or in slices using a frying pan/griddle.  Serve whilst hot with the other vegetables and meats that have been laid out on a large platter.  Enjoy!