Still Hot & Humid

By | Cheese, pancetta, Pasta, peas, Recipe, summer night | No Comments

Put a large pot of water on to boil. Shuck your peas, dice some  pancetta and a shallot. Add your pasta to your pot, and while it’s cooking heat some olive oil in a frying pan. Cook the pancetta and shallot gently, add the peas and about 125 ml of chicken stock and simmer until just cooked.
By now your pasta should be ready skim off some of the froth from the pasta water, then drain the pasta. Add the pasta to the pan with the froth (it’s starch), stir together and season with salt and pepper. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese – a perfect dinner for a hot evening.

Cheese and Rabbits

By | Cheese, Sandwich, Toasted Cheese, Welsh Rabbit | One Comment

What is better than a grilled cheese sandwich? Almost nothing. I’ve eaten this every day for lunch this week. I have alternated the cheese, cheddar and Cheshire two great English cheeses, although cheddar is made everywhere and so cheddar refers to a style of cheese rather than the cheese from the town Cheddar. It is Cheshire, which is the choice cheese for Welsh Rabbit. Yes that is rabbit not rarebit. Check here. I would have made Welsh rabbit but you need a knife and fork to eat it and the sandwich can be easily enjoyed on the deck in the wonderful sunshine 18C today amazing.

Here is how I made this beauty, which strictly speaking should be called fried cheese because I cook it in a frying pan. Take 2 slices of good bread, this is sourdough, and butter them on the outside.

Then turn the bread over and spread  both sides with a good chutney or mustard – the choice depends on my mood. Add the cheese – your choice but you want a cheese that melts cheddar, Cheshire, Gruyère or a good French mountain cheese like Beaufort.

Put the sandwich in a heavy pan, cast iron is perfect, over low heat. The butter will melt and crisp the bread. At this point you should find something else to do because this takes time. You want it to cook slowly so the bread browns and becomes crisp, turn it and go away again. If you do it right the bread will be brown and the cheese melted but not running out of the sandwich. It takes time, more time than you think.

Here you can see the first side is nicely coloured and the second side is well on the way. The cheese is softening and just beginning to melt. Once you take it out of the pan you’ll have to wait again. I know you want to eat it straight away but don’t – you’ll burn the roof of your mouth on the hot cheese. That is no fun and if you do you, won’t be able to eat a grilled cheese sandwich tomorrow.


By | Butter, Cheese, Croissants, Le Dome, Paris, Pascal Beillevaire | 2 Comments

Perhaps you thought I didn’t get my croissant? Well I did have to wait until Saturday morning but it was worth it. Crisp, flaky and made with enough butter to stain the bag and make my fingers greasy,  it was delicious and the perfect start to the day. Best of all the bakery is a mere five minute walk away, dangerous.

For some reason the croissants are always better on the weekends. I’m not sure why – perhaps they make a bigger batch? Croissants are hard to make in small batches, or maybe they are doing so much baking that they are distracted and leave the croissants in the oven just a little longer. Weekend croissants have wonderful caramelized edges. Notice the croissants are straight not crescent shaped. They sell crescent ones too but they are not au beurre. I don’t want to even think to about what replaces the butter. Without butter it simply isn’t a croissant.

Talking of butter, one of my favourite foods, I have recently discovered another delicious  raw milk butter. This one is from a cheese store Pascal Beillevaire.  Look how beautiful it is, with the cow and the milkmaid embossed onto the surface. There are several stores in Paris, the one pictured below is just behind the famous fish restaurant Le Dome, at the top of the 14th in rue Delambre.

Of course they sell a wide range of raw milk cheeses too and once you enter the store and inhale the aromas you won’t be able resist them. Just don’t forget the butter, it comes sweet or salted.