Rösti with a blue cheese centre

a Swiss dish of grated potatoes formed into a small flat cake and fried.

When making rösti I’ve always gone for the grated and squeezed raw potato method, which has worked fine as far as I’m concerned.

However I recently read a thing on the internet that said you should parboil your potatoes for precisely 6 minutes, then cool before grating.  I can’t for the life of me remember where I read this, but I believe the person said they’d been taught to do it this way whilst growing up in Switzerland, and they spelled it ‘röschti’, so it seemed to me that they might know what they were talking about.  Worth giving it a go, anyway.

So I set about making my first batch of rösti using the parboiling method, with the intention that I also do a comparison batch using my original method.  However, I got sidetracked by a book during the cooling time for the parboiled spuds and by the time I remembered what I was supposed to be doing, hunger was pushing me to just cook and eat.

RostiI then got a bit carried away, adding the onions and blue cheese, thus I can’t definitively say whether or not the parboiling makes a substantial difference to a basic rösti.  I can definitively say that this less than authentic version tastes fan-bloody-tastic!

1 medium, or a couple of small, waxy* potatoes per person
*Charlottes are generally easy to get hold of in the UK
1 small onion
Blue cheese of choice (I used Danish Blue)
A knob of butter
A couple of splashes of vegetable oil
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

Before you start, you need to find a plate the fits over your frying pan…ideally it should be slightly larger than the pan or fit snugly just inside at the top edge.  Set it to one side cos you’ll need it later to turn your rösti over.

You’ll have to improvise if you don’t have a big enough plate (how large is your frying pan?  Or should that be, how small are your plates?).  Maybe you could try covering a chopping board with baking foil…it just needs to be heatproof and have a smooth, slidey surface.

Parboil for exactly 6 minutes
That is not a hairy potato…

Place your unpeeled potatoes into a pan of water, bring to the boil and cook for 6 minutes.

Drain and cool, then refrigerate for at least two hours.  Three hours and fifty two minutes is about right if you have a book to read 😉

Ad onions and seasoningCoarsely grate the potatoes, skin and all, into a bowl.

Coarsely grate the onion on top and season with salt and pepper.

Put chunks of cheese all overHeat half the butter and oil in a frying pan, over a medium to high heat; when it’s sizzling tip in half the potato mix and spread evenly across pan.

Add your blue cheese, then cover with the remaining potatoes.

cover with remaining potatoShake your pan around to level things out a bit then allow it to cook for a few minutes before starting to shape your rösti using a spatula.  Don’t squish it down too much.

Leave to cook for another 10 minutes or so, until the bottom is golden and crispy.

Cook other sideTake your larger-than-the-pan sized plate, place over the pan, flip everything upside down, and you should now have an empty pan and a plate containing a half done rösti, cooked side up.

Heat the remainder of your butter and oil, again until it’s sizzling, then slide the rösti back into the pan.

Cook for a further 10 minutes and serve.

Serve with salad & horseradish sauceServed for supper with a small undressed salad on the side.

The last minute addition of a dollop of horseradish sauce was, if I may say, a stroke of gustatory genius.  If you have some, you should go for it.  If not, you could try mustard, which is the condiment I originally intended to use, before the jar of horseradish sashayed seductively into my field of vision.


Braised red cabbage with apple and onion

Before I begin the recipe we must first pause to behold the wondrousness of my gorgeous new chopping board, on its first outing…Awesome handmade chopping board

This chunk of wooden beauty was a Christmas gift, handmade by Medieval, with assistance from Mme. H (such was her dedication to the hand sanding process, she had totally smooth fingertips over the Christmas period.  Ideal time to commission a crime?!)

I know the dark bits are cherry wood but I’m not sure about the others…I believe some beech may be involved.  So tactile.  Love it.

IngredientsServes 6 – 8 (this freezes really well)

1 small red cabbage
1-2 cooking apples (or sour eating apples), peeled, cored and cut into chunks
1-2 onions, finely diced
1-2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
approx. ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
a pinch of ground cinnamon
2 dessert spoons brown sugar
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar (or cider)
a knob of butter
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

First things first – find a casserole dish with a tight fitting lid.

Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 3/325°F/170°C

Cabbage heartRemove the tough outer leaves of the cabbage and cut out the heart.  Feel ferocious like an Inca.

Shred what’s left of the cabbage using a sharp knife or a food processor.

Put a layer of shredded cabbage into your casserole dish (the one with the tight fitting lid) and season with salt and pepper.

Diced onion and chopped applesAdd a layer of chopped onions and apples, sprinkling with some of the garlic, nutmeg, cinnamon and sugar. Continue to layer like this until your casserole dish is full, or you’ve used up all your ingredients.  Finish with a cabbage layer.

Dot with butterPour over the red wine vinegar and dot the butter all over the top.

Put the lid on the casserole, pop in the oven and let cook slowly for around 2-2½ hours, stirring once or twice to be sure everything cooks evenly.

Braised red cabbage

Serve with something hearty like a roast joint, a casserole or cottage pie.  Goes exceptionally well with beef dishes.


Thrice Baked Potatoes

We all know that baked potatoes are obliging little beasts that will happily carry pretty much any filling you chuck at them.  Not only that, they’re not in the slightest bit complex or challenging to make – just wash them, stab them with a fork/slit the tops, rub some olive oil and salt into the skins and slam into the oven.

However, now and again I find myself wanting something a bit more from my baked potato.  Call me demanding if you wish, but I like my food to take a bit of pride in itself, to make an effort, dress up from time to time…d’ya know what I mean? 😉

So this is where the triple baking comes in.  It does require a bit of effort but it elevates the humble baked spud from dowdy to delectable.

Serves two – three

3 small to medium potatoes, baked and cooled
Olive oil
3-4 tablespoons crème fraîche (or sour cream, or natural yoghurt)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2-3 spring onions, finely chopped
100-150g finely grated cheese 

Preheat the oven to gas mark 6/200°C/400°F

Scooped potatoes, cheese and onionCut the baked potatoes in half and, being careful not to break through the skin, scoop out the flesh with a teaspoon.  Put potato innards into a bowl and set to one side.

Olive oilBrush potato skins, inside and out, with olive oil.

Chipotle sea saltSprinkle with ground sea salt – again both inside and out.  I used this stunning chipotle sea salt that I recently rediscovered in my cupboard but plain sea salt is just fine.

Potatoes brushed with olive oil (2nd bake)Place skin side up on a baking tray or rack and bake in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes.

If you have something against doing things in triplicate, or if you just want to speed things up, you can skip this step and just have twice baked potatoes, but they won’t be as crispy.

Potato, creme fraiche and seasoningAdd crème fraîche and plenty of black pepper to the reserved potato flesh.  Remember you’ve salted the skins so be judicious if you add more salt at this point.

Potato, cheese and onionMix in chopped spring onions and grated cheese.  Taste, adjust seasoning, taste again.  Maybe just a touch more black pepper?  Taste again.

Stop tasting now or you won’t have enough filling for the potato skins.

Stuffed and cheese topped potatoes (3rd bake)Pile potato mix into the potato skins and top with remaining cheese.  Pop back into the oven and bake until filling is piping hot and golden brown.

Sausage on a plateAnd there you go…your potatoes are thrice baked.

Try them for a change as a side dish with steak, or honey mustard sausage pinwheels, or quiche, or any other thing that you fancy. They also make a delicious lunch, supper or snack.

This is just a basic recipe but really, the world’s yer lobster as far as fillings go.  Barn and I like various combinations of crispy bacon pieces, finely chopped fresh tomato, fresh mixed herbs, olives, blue cheese, sweetcorn and chillies.  Petit Man is also partial to a bit of flaked tuna in his.

What do you like in yours?

Herb crusted pork with apple and dried plum stuffing

Some experimenting took place on the 10th and final day of the Cupboard Challenge when I needed to use up pork chops, apples and cider, but didn’t want to go the obvious (and for us, usual) route of pork in apple and cider sauce.

Plated chopsDeeper cupboard digging and a bit more thought produced these rather tasty herb encrusted, fruit stuffed pork chops.  Not the prettiest dish ever, but fine tasting!

CognacSoaking the dried plums in brandy or cognac isn’t entirely necessary, but I felt it added a welcome extra flavour dimension.  If you haven’t got any hanging around, don’t worry, just skip the first step of the recipe.

To serve two

2 boneless pork chops
5-6 soft dried plums (prunes), chopped
3-4 tablespoons brandy or cognac
A splash of olive oil
A knob of butter
1 small onion, chopped
1 eating apple, skin on, chopped
Small sprig of fresh sage leaves
1-2 teaspoons wholegrain mustard
Packet of dried gluten free sage & onion stuffing mix (or you could mix gluten free breadcrumbs, chopped herbs and a little grated cheese – or you could use wheaty versions if gluten doesn’t hurt you)
Approx. 150ml dry cider
150ml (ish) single cream
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Set the oven to preheat at gas mark 5/190°C/375°F

Dried plums

If using brandy/cognac, place chopped prunes into a shallow bowl and sprinkle over alcohol.

Sage and onionAppleHeat olive oil and gently cook chopped onion and apple.  Don’t brown them, just soften them.

Apple, onion and dried plumsAdd chopped dried plums and brandy; continue to cook, stirring, until liquid has cooked off (if you haven’t soaked the plums, you obviously won’t need to do this step!)

Wholegrain mustardRemove from heat.  Stir in wholegrain mustard then set to one side until cool enough to handle.

Pork chopsUsing a sharp knife, carefully cut slits into the pork chops to create pockets for the stuffing.

Stuffed chopsFill pockets with cooked apple, dried plum and onion mix.  There will be mixture left over…keep this for making the sauce.

I didn’t feel it necessary, but if you’d like to quickly brown off each side of your chops in a hot frying pan, now’s the time.

Gf stuffing mixMake up the gluten free stuffing mix using slightly less water than indicated on the packet, and adding in a good knob of butter.

Topped chopsPress mix onto stuffed chops, cover loosely with tin foil and pop into preheated oven to bake for 30-45 minutes (depending on the size and stuffedness of chops).

Baked chopsRemove tin foil for last 10-15 minutes of cooking to allow topping to crisp up and brown.

Single creamWhile the pork is baking, make the sauce:

Add cider to the remaining cooked apple, plum and onion mix, simmer until liquid is reduced to around half.

Tip into a food processor/blender, add cream and blitz.

Return to pan and cook down until thickened.  Taste and adjust seasoning.

Plated chopsSpoon a puddle of sauce onto the plate and place pork chop on top.  We had ours with mashed potato and broccoli, which was ok; however, I think a mixed root mash and mangetout would have been even better.  What do you think?

Sunday Brunch – Hot Roast Beef, Onion and Stilton Sandwiches

A beastly week in the day job culminated in me needing to work this Sunday.  Less than impressed, I coaxed myself out of bed at insane-o’clock-in-the-morning with the promise of something über delicious for brunch.  By the time I was heading home again, at well past midday, I was also vowing that brunch would be spectacularly quick and easy to make.sandwiches and ciderA quick whizz through the local supermarket yielded some freshly baked ciabatta style rolls and a bottle of my (current) favourite cider, but still no real plan.

After a rummage through the fridge at home we finally decided to make hot roast beef sandwiches.  It turned out to be an extremely good and satisfying choice 🙂

I feel it’s a bit of a stretch, calling this a ‘recipe’ – after all, it’s a sandwich!  Perhaps calling it a ‘how to’ would be more appropriate…?!

1 ciabatta roll per person 
4 slices roast beef per person
1 small onion, sliced, per person
Small knob of butter
Splash of olive oil
Music – an essential ingredient to all Sunday brunch recipes.

Of course, your choice of music is entirely your own – as long as you enjoy it, it will work well with the recipe.

Heating the beef over onionsHeat the oil and butter, add sliced onions and sauté.  When they begin to soften, but are not quite cooked, lay the slices of roast beef over the top to heat.  Turn the roast beef frequently to prevent the upper side from drying out.

horseradish mustard and stiltonCut rolls in half, lightly toast then spread one side lavishly with mustard.  I’m currently in the throes of a love affair with this horseradish mustard, which is utterly perfect with beef, but wholegrain or English are just as good

my sandwichPile cooked onions onto the rolls and add folded slices of beef (make sure beef is piping hot).  Top with slices of Stilton and pop under a hot grill for a few minutes to melt.  Slap on the top half of the roll and consume enthusiastically.

Barn's sandwichYou may notice that I accidentally made Barn’s sandwich upside down – this appears to have had no adverse effect on the flavour 😉MelonMelon slices afterwards…because it’s always nice to have something sweet, don’t you think?