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Miguel de Cervantes

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Entries in cheese (3)

Sunday
Oct162011

Neal’s Yard Dairy, choice cheese retailer

Updated on Wednesday, October 26, 2011 at 9:02PM by Registered CommenterVix

It is strange the things you miss while travelling. As I got ready to depart Lima for London, after three months on the road in South America, I found myself looking forward to a proper cup of tea, fresh milk and cheddar cheese.

My Dad, Chef Has, would think it blasphemy that my idea of a proper cuppa these days is not the carefully prepared pots of loose leaf tea he reared me on: cups and pot warmed with boiling water, a spoon for each person and one for the pot, drawn for no less than five minutes, milk first and NO strainer: “I’m not scared of bits!” (I never got more than a 6/10 despite my studiousness). No, give me a builder’s any day, lovingly prepared with PG tips. Yes, Dad: tea-bags. 

He does, however, approve of my taste in British cheese and, more specifically, my cheese retailer of choice, Neal's Yard Dairy.

I was lucky enough to discover this prime providore the very week I moved back to the UK four years ago. Foodie friends had told me that Borough Markets should be top of my agenda and so I headed there on my first Friday in The Big Smoke. (I had been advised that Saturday’s should be avoided because of the crowds. Sound advice; I later made the mistake of going on a Saturday and left in an emotional state bordering on suicidal.)

I was blown away by the quality and range of the produce on offer and spent a long time walking back and forth trying to take decisive action but failing miserably. In the process I stumbled across Neal’s Yard Dairy and what can I say? A love affair was born.

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Wednesday
Aug252010

White sauces - bechamel and veloute - two of 'the mother sauces' of French cuisine

Two of my best friends from Sydney are arriving on Friday to stay for the weekend before we set off for a week of island hopping on the Dalmatian coast of Croatia. They will be arriving very early at Heathrow and, although they are both well known for their stamina, I figured it would be best to plan activities for the daytime, rather than evening, so that we will be homeward bound by the time the jetlag starts to kick in. Since one of these activities is lunch at one of the world’s top restaurants, I have decided that the usual four course dinner with which I like to treat my guests will probably not be necessary or even desired that evening, and after a couple of bottles of wine I won’t really be in a fit state to make such a feast. As such, I have decided to make a moussaka tomorrow night or Friday morning, so that there is something to pop in the oven when we get home from our outing. And, just in case you were starting to wonder how this was ever going to get round to the topic of white sauces, every good moussaka needs a béchamel!

I was going to try and keep this brief, but believe or not, there is a surprising amount to say on the subject. I decided to turn once again to Mastering the Art of French Cooking to check whether my recipe stood up to its classical origins and was shocked to find not one or two, but six pages on béchamel sauce and veloute, and that is before they even get into the variations which use these as their base.

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Saturday
Jul172010

Angela Hartnett’s ricotta and spring vegetable salad

Updated on Saturday, July 17, 2010 at 5:02PM by Registered CommenterVix

 

My Dad was given a copy of Angela Hartnett’s Cucina: Three Generations of Italian Cooking by a good friend of ours. He was visiting from Australia and left it with me to lighten his load while he was travelling around. When he returned to Australia he forgot to reclaim it and what a happy accident that was. I love it!

One of my favourite of the recipes I have tried is her ricotta and spring vegetable salad. Apart from being quick and easy to make, it is wonderfully versatile. It works just as well as an accompaniment to meat in a main course, in particular lamb, or as a starter and ingredients can be substituted according to what you have in your fridge. Hartnett herself attests to this versatility:

In southern Italy they have firm, salted ricotta, which is grated over salads and pastas like parmesan, but I like the cool, soft ricotta in the salad against the crunch of the spring vegetables. You could also use goat’s cheese, and whatever vegetables are available.

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