Potato Dauphinoise

I’d find it difficult to completely cut carbohydrates from my diet and my own personal philosophy in life is a little bit of everything (that you’re not severely allergic to) can’t do you any harm.  I find it sad that so many people profess to be allergic or intolerant to so many foods when really they just don’t know for sure and are just guessing at what is upsetting their digestion.  I can speak from experience here as I was advised that I was wheat intolerant for over 5 years, removed it from my diet completely, but still suffered.  Only upon proper medical food allergy testing did they actually find out that my demon food was to be egg white, and on cutting that out of my diet, my life and health improved significantly.  But I digress, this is about a recipe not me on a soapbox, so here it is…

Serves 4

Little knob of butter to grease your dish
200ml Double cream
250ml Milk
2.5ml Nutmeg, freshly grated
1 Garlic clove, peeled and flattened (not crushed)
4 Large potatoes
100g Gruyere or Cheddar cheese, grated

1. Heat the oven to 190℃.
2. Butter the inside of a 20cm deep square dish.
3. Add the cream, milk, nutmeg and garlic clove into a large saucepan until boiling.
4. Meanwhile peel the potatoes, and using a mandolin (I thoroughly recommend the Oxo Good Grips Hand Held Mandoline), slice into 3-4mm thicknesses.
5. Reduce the heat under the cream and milk to a simmer and add the sliced potatoes.
6. Simmer gently for 3-4 minutes, gently stirring occasionally to prevent the slices sticking together or catching on the bottom of the pan.
7. Remove the potato slices with a slotted spoon to the buttered dish to create a relatively level surface covering the whole of the dish.
8. Remove and discard the crushed garlic clove.
9. Pour the milk and cream mixture over the potatoes.
10. Sprinkle with cheese.
11. Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown on top and the potatoes are cooked.
12. Serve sliced into portions.

A wonderful, creamy and rich vegetable dish to serve with so many meals.  If you’re watching you calories, then reduce the cream and replace this with milk, but be prepared to lose some of the taste if you do!

Serve this with my Fillet Steak in a Worcestershire Cream Sauce recipe for a decadent meal.

Food Review – Lake District Dairy Co. Quark sauces

Monday evening a couple of weeks ago saw me part company with my husband & daughter as they headed out for dinner and the cinema together as I attended the Underground Cookery School to preview the new Quark sauces that the Lake District Dairy Co. will be launching in August & September.  They’ll be produced in three varieties; Garlic & Herb, Tikka and Tomato & Basil.


 



The Lake District Dairy Co. brand was first launched in 2008. In April 2013 they introduced the first 100% British produced Quark to the supermarket shelves.  It’s a product that’s fairly common on the supermarket shelves of Europe, but not so much here, and since it’s launch has become one of the fastest growing products in the cheese category.

Quark is a naturally fat free, low carbohydrate, low calorie alternative to dairy ingredients such as crème fraiche, double cream, cream cheese or clotted cream. It’s also higher in protein than the dairy products it can substitute, and is therefore a great ingredient replacement for those looking to follow a healthier diet, without having to compromising on taste. Quark is currently available in 3 varieties; original, lemon and vanilla.  Add to this the new range of cook in sauces, and you now have the choice of 6 variations from which to choose.  It can be used in both savoury and sweet dishes, so the only limitation is your imagination!

First on our menu was a starter.  After making our own pasta, we filled it with Garlic & Herb Quark, folded it into ravioli and served it with a Tomato & Basil Quark sauce, sundried tomatoes, fresh herb leaves, Parmesan and drizzled with olive oil.



We then went on to learn how to remove the breasts and legs from a chicken which we transformed into Chicken Tikka Quark skewers served with Garlic & Herb Quark and roasted artichoke filled pancakes, as well as a potato, Garlic & Herb Quark salad, and a roquette and okra dressed salad.



For dessert we made two ice creams using original Quark; a lemon one and a vanilla one, but I ate my dessert before photographing it, sorry! 

These sauces are proving to be very versatile.  For the quick simple meal, you could simply open, heat and serve the sauce with fresh pasta or cooked chicken. If you have little more time, you can use these as the base ingredient and transform your meal into something more delicious indeed!



I was invited to the Underground Cookery School to take part in this event by the PR company of Quark. I was offered samples to being home to try, however I was unable to accept them as I had no refrigeration facilities in the hotel. I did, however, receive a goodie bag of utensils and menu cards with which to create the dishes we made on the night.  I was under no obligation to write a review of this evening or of the products we were introduced to.

Port & Wensleydale with Cranberries

When the busy build up for the Christmas season seems to take away your days in the blink of an eye. When the endless round of shopping, cleaning, cooking and (for some) working over the Christmas season seems to consume your waking hours and all of your energy. The early morning awakening with excited children, desperate to see if Santa has made his visit, not to mention the preparation that goes into cooking the gargantuan proportioned dinner that we all seem to indulge in. No sooner is the ‘big day’ over with than preparation begins to herald the start of the New Year. Whether its preparing for a party at home, or getting ready to join friends and loved ones, or very simply having a quiet night at home surrounded by those closest to you.

We all seem to eat more of the things that we would only ever eat once a year, like chocolate for breakfast perhaps, or pâté, chutney, and Stilton.

This year I was kindly sent a bottle of Aldi Fletcher’s Fine Ruby Port and a truckle of their Wensleydale with cranberries to try. These have been expertly paired by Master of Wines, Sarah Jane Evans. With all the hubbub of Christmas and the New Year, as well as me working over the festive period, we decided to leave our treat until everything had settled down and we could sit peacefully together and really enjoy it.
So, with yesterday being my husband’s birthday, the wax was peeled back, the crackers brought out, the cork was popped and the glasses were filled. We put our feet up, put a DVD on & sat together to finally relax, bring in 2014 and to toast the year ahead.

We are partial to a glass of Port in this house but had never tried Aldi’s before.  We found it to be a dark ruby in colour and compliments the colour of the cranberries. The rich, smooth flavour of the Port is a perfect match to the creamy, crumbly Wensleydale. I would thoroughly recommend a bottle of this, and at £6.29 it can more than hold its own against the more expensive brands. The cheese is flavourful, creamy & crumbly. It’s certainly one that should adorn your cheese board, at any time of the year!

To 2014 and the year ahead. May it be a healthy & happy one for you all. Cheers!
The bottle of Port and the truckle of cheese were sent to me free of charge from Aldi’s PR company. I was not under obligation to either publish a post or to provide a favourable review of them.

Parmigiano Reggiano

Parmigiano Reggiano was one of the first products to be awarded a PDO, or Protected Denomination of Origin product, which basically means it can only be produced from milk obtained from, and then manufactured, in it’s place of origin, namely the provinces of Parma, Reggio Emelia, Modena, Bologna to the west of the Reno River and to Mantua to the east of the Po River.

The history of the cheese dates back over 800 years to 1200AD. So renowned in quality in fact, that during the Great Fire of London, Samuel Pepys mentioned it as one of the items to save! Today only around 430 Artisan dairies craft this amazing product for us to enjoy.
It’s a nutritious and easy cheese to digest, so can be enjoyed by young and old alike, whether it’s served simply on its own with a good quality balsamic vinegar or as in ingredient in a wide variety of dishes. 
Standard maturing times are from 18 months, to 24 months and finally through to 36 months. Each matured ‘wheel’ of cheese has its own distinct flavour and characteristics. The 18 month is perfect served in chunks with an aperitif or a dry white wine. The 24 month is mild but full flavoured and has a crumbly, grainy texture; good with red wines or fruit salads, figs or prunes.  The mature 36 month cheese is extra strong and is the most nutritious, whilst the texture is drier, more crumbly and grainy. Perfect with full bodies red wines, aged balsamic vinegar and honey.
Unlike cheaper alternatives that you can buy pre-grated in tubs (which can sometimes have a rather unpleasant odour when sprinkled over hot food) , Parmigiano Reggiano cheese has both an amazing aroma as well as taste and is best grated fresh from the block.  We’ve always been a lover of good quality food in this house and I must admit I do find it difficult to economise on good quality ingredients; Parmigiano Reggiano cheese being one of those that I buy most weeks.

I was recently lucky enough to receive two complimentary recipe books with some truly delicious sounding recipes (sweet and savoury) featuring Parmigiano Reggiano.  The recipe that has so far stood out and was thoroughly enjoyed by all the family was for Chicken Breasts with Pesto and Parmigiano Reggiano.  We used a sundried tomato pesto sauce as opposed to a green pesto and served it with olive oil drizzled  roasted vine tomatoes, peppers, courgettes & shallots which we sprinkled with rosemary and served up with some cous cous. I can’t wait to try some more of the recipes now.
I think I need to buy myself a wheel of cheese at this rate as the little packs just aren’t lasting!
Thanks to The Dialogue Agency PR for the books; I can see these are going to be well used & the food thoroughly enjoyed!