First week of 2015
Mont d'Or

Well, it's leftover Christmas week month. As usual.
Not only do I have my own leftover cheese to eat up, but this year I've also got Flora's. And her leftover sprouts.

Flora kindly donated a tub of salmon pâté, an overripe Chaource and one of the rare and relatively short-seasoned wooden tubs of Vacherin Mont d'Or. It was absolutely fabulous scooped straight out of its box with hunks of bread, but unfortunately a little too ripe to bake. Consequently I revisited a couple of my staple cheese-guzzling recipes - tartiflette and cheese risotto.
I made the tartiflette with the Mont d'Or I couldn't manage to guzzle raw, the Chaource sans greying, stinking rind and the salmon pâté and very nice it was too. So you don't need to restrict yourself to Reblochon, whatever those Savoy cheesemakers' aggressive PR agents might want you to believe.

I also revisited another couple of dishes from a previous mustard feast this week for our West Coast Charter Reunion Dinner. After the success of our original charter holiday we thought we'd enter the expedition log into our yacht club's annual competition. Which was all the excuse we needed to get together and eat and drink whilst pretending to write it up.

I had another go at getting a crispy crust on the intriguing oyster-stuffed saddle of lamb (distinctly rubbery the first time around - and I promised myself I'd take another run at it), and getting the timing right for the complementary butternut squash gratin. The secret there being to cook it for an hour longer than you thought it could possibly take. Still a bit too much of an onion-string-vest vibe about it for my taste though. Might be worth a re-re-visit.

The West Coast Charter crew. Revisiting. Saddle of lamb now with crispy crust Ignore the complainers - you need fat slices because they're so bloody delicious. Butternut squash and mustard gratin. With added onion string vest.

Leftover Cheese Risotto
main veg
Not just a great way of using up leftover Christmas cheeses - you can get rid of your goose stock too!

Serves 8

Set the stock to simmer in a saucepan.
Heat a little olive oil and a generous chunk of butter in a large, deep frying pan.
Sweat the onion until they're on the point of colouring then stir in the rice until its glossy with the butter. Add the garlic, then the wine and bubble it off.
Gradually add ladlefuls of the stock allowing it to be absorbed, then adding more until the rice is creamy, bubbly and just softening.
Grate the hard cheese, cut away the crust from the soft cheeses, chop the Mozzarella into decent chunks.
Now add the grated cheese, gently mix in the soft cheese, add a little cream if you like, season if necessary, dot with pieces of Mozzarella and simmer gently until the cheese has melted.
Sprinkle with herbs of choice and serve decorated with quince jelly.
Pretty decent.
Like most risottos, it doesn't keep, or reheat awfully well once cooked to al-dente perfection - going progressively more mushy.

Grilled Oysters with Garlic and Herb Breadcrumbs
fish starter
I first had these, or something very much like these, at Les Halles Brasserie on Park Avenue, New York. Yep the one where Anthony Bourdain used to work. Not that he worked there when I used to visit. Or at least, I don't think he did.
One day for lunch I asked them to do me some grilled oysters and this is what they brought me.

Allow 3 or 4 oysters per person.

Grate or briefly blend the bread to make crumbs.
I dried the breadcrumbs a little in the oven before using them - probably I needn't have.
No I don't think I needed to. I grilled oysters again with fresh crumbs and they were excellent.
I added minced red onion this time (which gave the crust a nice crunchy texture), but no cheese.
Mix the breadcrumbs with the crushed garlic, your chopped herbs of choice, grated cheese, and any flavourings such as Pernod, minced onion, lemon juice or peel.
Season and stir in a stream of melted butter until the breadcrumbs begin to clump together. It takes quite a lot of butter to prevent the breadcrumbs burning under the grill.

Open the oysters by holding the curved shell in your left hand and working a thin heavy blade into the hinge. Slice it back and forth to free the adductor muscle holding the top shell closed. Since you're cooking the oysters anyway you're allowed to grill them until they hiss or even microwave them briefly to make them easier to open.
Discard the top shell and cut the oyster free from the bottom shell. Pour away the juices and reserve them if you like. You can rinse the oysters too if you think there might be any bits of shell on them.
I like to cut larger oysters in half to make nicely bite-sized pieces too.

Preheat your grill (you can bake these in the oven too, if you prefer).
Pile the breadcrumb mixture onto your oysters on their bottom shell, and grill until the breadcrumbs are golden brown.
Most excellent.
If you want to be super-fussy you can cut the oysters up before before grilling to make them easier to eat.

Roast Brussels Sprouts with Bacon
veg meat side
Discovered randomly while looking for something to do with all of Flora's leftover Christmas sprouts.
Good discovery!

Serves 4-6

Preheat your oven to 400°F/200°C/Gas Mark 6. Trim the ends and any old outer leaves from the Brussels sprouts, cut larger ones in half, and put them in little more than a single layer an oven dish.
Toss them with melted fat of choice. Season. Sprinkle the bacon on top.
Bake for about half an hour, turning every 10 minutes.
When tender and golden, check for seasoning and sprinkle with balsamic vinegar, if you like.
Absolutely delicious sprouts, moist yet crunchy - can't believe I hadn't come across these before.
Apparently the same technique will work with cauliflower or broccoli.

Comments (1)

Newest first Oldest first

  1. Yummy's avatar Yummy

    Looks delish, only sad to not have had any :(

    #1 – 8 April, 2015 at 12:20 pm

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