Tag Archives: cheese

New potato oven raclette and a dog at the end of his tether

racelette hugotypewriter1by

My patience has reached its limits, especially when it comes to pests with wings. I thought we’d seen the back of the tweeting squatter after I had explained (with my teeth showing) that she had delighted us long enough with her presence. I think that my natural assertiveness must be very intimidating because she flew off that very evening. I thought that was that; alas I was mistaken. She comes back at least once or twice every single day for a bellyful of couscous and special dove grains and a snooze. How can she possibly be so hungry and so tired? It’s not as if she has a proper job like me. What annoys me most is how pleased they always are to see her. She fascinates them so much (why?) that they sometimes forget to give me my camembert after lunch, which makes me feel unloved. And as if all this isn’t irritating and hurtful enough, a large bird with a long neck has also turned up. It’s called a heron apparently and thank goodness it doesn’t come into the house because it’s very big indeed. All in all, I’ve had it up to the back of my impressive canines with anything that flaps or chirps. This raclette dish isn’t my favourite, although they seemed to love it for some reason. The upside, however, is that it contains cheese, which is not at all good for birds, so that can only be a good thing.

Ingredients (serves 4)

225g new potatoes, cooked

1 tablespoon olive oil

100g raclette cheese, grated (although any hard cheese will work)

1 medium-sized onion, finely sliced

4 slices Bayonne ham, roughly cut into strips (or Parma ham)

Sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper

1 teaspoon paprika

4 or 5 leaves of fresh basil to garnish

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Prepare a medium-sized oven-proof dish by greasing with olive oil. Slice the potatoes into pieces roughly 3mm thick and create a layer on the bottom of the dish, sprinkle with cheese, add a few strips of ham and onion and continue layering until everything is used up. Make sure to save a bit of cheese to sprinkle on top along with the seasoning. Cook for 40 minutes, garnish with the basil leaves and serve with crisp green salad. And don’t listen to Hugo – it’s divine!

leotweety heron

Ossau Iraty and black cherry chutney


I haven’t started talking in tongues; this is the name of a delicious cheese from the Basque region. So delicious, in fact, that it was named ‘Best Cheese in the World’ at the World Cheese Awards 2011. It is nicest served at room temperature with black cherry chutney.

I last enjoyed it just the other day, at the top of a mountain in 30 degree heat, surrounded by 30 ten-year-olds. And it was delicious nonetheless 😉 ! We were on a school trip to the pyrenees, a somewhat long but very enjoyable day. Well, apart from the bit where the coach had to reverse down a tiny mountain road, negociating no fewer than EIGHT hairpin bends backwards. I’m not that cool on tiny mountain roads in a car going forwards, so I’ll leave it to you to imagine the state I was in after this little escapade. There’s always a plus side though, and in this case it was that the children were actually SILENT for the time of the manoeuvre. They also derived much amusement from the fact that their teacher inadvertently let slip a four-letter word (or French equivalent thereof) in sheer terror.

As you can see, I didn’t take a photo of the cheese and chutney. But I did take one of a ‘typical Frenchman going for a picnic in the mountains’!

To make the black cherry chutney:


300g black cherries
1cm fresh grated ginger
Pinch of cinnamon
Black pepper
60g of cane sugar
2 tbls white vinegar

Heat the cherries and sugar in a casserole for just under five minutes. Add the ginger, cinnamon and black pepper and continue to heat for another five minutes. Add the vinegar and cook until the mixture starts to congeal. Leave to cool before serving.