Tag: fourme d’ambert

A grilled Beetroot, Bacon and Blue Cheese Sandwich

A grilled Beetroot, Bacon and Blue Cheese Sandwich

These three B’s lead to an amazingly luscious sandwich: beetroot, bacon and blue cheese! The earthy-sweet, salty and smoked flavours are anything but silent, however surprisingly harmonic in this combination. They merge naturally with the sharpness of the melted Fourme d’Ambert cheese and the crunchy rucola (arugula) which I added for some colour and green freshness.

It started off with one of my weekly kitchen tradition, I always cook a big pot of the purple roots to have them at hand for our salads or as a little snack cut into small cubes and drizzled with olive oil and Balsamico vinegar. As I saw the rustic vegetable dancing up and down in the deep red water I got mesmerized, dreaming of all the delicious recipes I would use them for. The three B’s where one of them!

When I put the sandwich under the grill, the seductive aroma of grilled cheese spread in the air. Attracted by the smell, two hungry people found their way in front of the oven. My partner and his mother Jenny who isn’t usually too fond of strong cheeses, blue ones in particular, looked at me with impatience and hunger. They both love my Sandwich Wednesdays but the fact that I have to take pictures first can be quite a mean teaser. Grilled sandwiches especially are a feast for the eyes but even more for the nose. It can be so cruel to sit in front of this beautiful creation in all its juiciness when all you want is to take a big bite but you can’t. You have to wait until the last photo is taken. That makes me appreciate it even more!

A grilled Beetroot, Bacon and Blue Cheese Sandwich

 

A grilled Beetroot, Bacon and Blue Cheese Sandwich

A grilled Beetroot, Bacon and Blue Cheese Sandwich

For 3 sandwiches you need

long rustic buns, cut in half, 3
large beetroots, scrubbed and rinsed, 2
bay leaf 1
bacon 3-6 slices
strong blue cheese, like Fourme d’Ambert or Stilton, cut into slices, 100g / 3.5 ounces
rucola (arugula), a small handful
olive oil
sat and pepper

Cook the beetroot in lots of salted water with the bay leaf for about 50 minutes or until the roots are soft. Rinse them under cold water and let them cool for a few minutes. Peel and cut them into thick slices and brush them with olive oil.

Fry the bacon in a little olive oil until golden brown and very crisp and brake it into large pieces.

Spread 3-4 beetroot slices on the bottom side of each bun and put a few bacon pieces on top. Finish it off with the blue cheese and put it under the grill for 1-2 minutes until it starts to melt. Sprinkle with pepper and rucola, close the bun and enjoy!

A grilled Beetroot, Bacon and Blue Cheese Sandwich

 

beetrootbA grilled Beetroot, Bacon and Blue Cheese Sandwichconbluecheesesandwich3

 

A grilled Beetroot, Bacon and Blue Cheese Sandwich

 

A grilled Beetroot, Bacon and Blue Cheese Sandwich

Beluga Lentil Salad with Pear, Blue Cheese and Thyme

Beluga Lentils with Pear and Blue Cheese

When I went through the shelves of my pantry to bring some order to the boxes and bags filled with all kinds of dried lentils, beans and seeds, an open bag of Beluga lentils fell into my hands. I could have chosen Swabian Heirloom lentils, or the red, yellow or green legumes, but this time my eyes got stuck on these pearly black beauties.

The black seeds inspired me to make a salad that looks like it came right out of a Renaissance painting, dark, dramatic and a bit mystic (although it’s just food, it has its own aura). Beluga lentils don’t need much preparation, no soaking in water and they’re done in just 20 minutes. I cooked them with a bay leaf and a handful of lemon thyme sprigs and stirred in a little bit of olive oil after they soaked up all the cooking liquid. For my salad, I cut a firm pear very thinly with a cheese slicer and arranged the sweet slices on top of the warm lentils with small lumps of Fourme d’Ambert. You could also use a ripe Stilton or a soft Gorgonzola if you prefer a more subtle blue cheese flavour.

I like it when the white cheese melts into the warm dark lentils but you can also serve it as a cold salad.

Beluga Lentils with Pear and Blue Cheese

Beluga Lentil Salad with Pear, Blue Cheese and Thyme 

For 4 people you need

Beluga lentils, rinsed, 220g / 8 ounces
bay leaf 1
fresh sprigs of thyme, a small handful (if the sprigs are woody just use the leaves)
olive oil
blue cheese, broken into lumps, 120g / 4.5 ounces
ripe but firm pear, cut in half, cored and sliced with a cheese or vegetable slicer, 1
salt and pepper

Cook the lentils according to the instructions on the package with the bay leaf and thyme but without salt. Mine needed 2o minutes in 750ml / 1.5 pints of water. If the lentils don’t soak up all the liquid, drain them but keep the cooking liquid and the sprigs of thyme. Stir a splash of olive oil into the lentils and season with salt and pepper to taste. Now, you can add a little of the cooking liquid if the salad is too dry.

Put the lentils into a large bowl with some of the thyme sprigs and arrange the pear and cheese on top. Serve warm or cold.

Beluga Lentils with Pear and Blue Cheese

 

Beluga Lentils with Pear and Blue Cheese

 

Beluga Lentils with Pear and Blue Cheese

 

Beluga Lentils with Pear and Blue Cheese

Crisp Celery and Blue Cheese

Celery and Blue Cheese

Crisp celery, aromatic blue cheese, cream cheese and crushed black peppercorns, that’s all you need for this little antipasto snack!

I used Fourme d’Ambert, one of the oldest French cheeses from the Auvergne region. It has a strong taste and a creamy texture which blends perfectly into the creamy dip for the stuffing. Sometimes I replace it with Stilton, its rich aroma goes very well with this recipe. Although my chosen vegetable, crunchy fresh celery stalks also have a strong and unique taste, I didn’t want the cheese to be too overpowering so I mixed it with some mild and milky cream cheese. You could also use Gorgonzola but in that case I would mix it with mascarpone instead of cream cheese, it’s a great combination, also on bread! The roughly crushed pepper adds some spiciness which makes the snack complete.

For 8 stuffed celery stalks, I mixed 50g / 2 ounces of Fourme d’Ambert with 1o0g / 3.5 ounces of cream cheese (depending on the blue cheese you might need some more or less) and spread it into the thick parts of the vegetable. I ground some black peppercorns roughly in a mortar to finish it off!

Celery and Blue Cheese

 

Celery and Blue Cheese

 

Celery and Blue Cheese

Gnocchi with Blue Cheese Sauce

Gnocchi with Blue Cheese Sauce

As soon as the temperatures start to rise the Mediterranean influence on my cooking begins to increase accordingly. I feel like olives, fresh herbs, capers and garlic, lemons and seafood, and all the fresh vegetables which finally start to grow. The tomatoes and cucumbers start to taste strong again and yesterday I bought my first bottle of rosé wine of the year, another sign of the official start of the new season!

From now on, I could just live of pasta, vegetables, simple dishes which sparkle through the ripe flavours of their ingredients, basically Italian cooking which refines minimal dishes to perfection and celebrates each single element of a dish. A great example are gnocchi. After I ate my own, homemade gnocchi for the first time I couldn’t enjoy the store bought ones anymore. The dough is so easy to make, potato and nutmeg as the dominant flavours, flour, eggs, butter, salt and pepper mixed together and shaped into little gnocchi. Far less complicated than homemade pasta as long as one rule is obeyed, the potatoes must have cooled off before mixed with the flour. Apart from that it’s an unbelievably easy dinner and so delicious that some sage leaves fried in olive oil and some grated parmesan would be enough to make me happy. If only there wasn’t this amazing blue cheese sauce that I fell in love with a couple years ago. It’s smooth but aromatic, cooked with garlic, onions, parsley, juniper berries, cloves and bay leaf which are taken out before the blue cheese is mixed in. I use Fourme d’Ambert cheese from the Auvergne region in France which is creamy but very strong in taste, the gnocchi just need to be glazed with the sauce, enough to enjoy all the intense aromas.

In January I made my wintery gnocchi with pumpkin and potatoes and a walnut pesto. Sometimes I mix spinach into my gnocchi dough which I have to make again, soon, as there is nice and crunchy spinach at the moment!

Gnocchi with Blue Cheese Sauce

Gnocchi with a Fourme d’Ambert Blue Cheese Sauce

It’s best to use floury potatoes with a fluffy and dry texture for the gnocchi dough. Keep in mind that you don’t mix the flour with the cooked potatoes unless they are absolutely cold.

For 2-3 people you need

For the Blue Cheese Sauce

small onion, chopped, 1
garlic, cut in half, 1
butter 30g / 1 ounce
milk 125ml
heavy cream 125ml
white wine 150ml
parsley 3 sprigs
cloves 2
juniper berries 2
bay leaf 1
black peppercorns 4
blue cheese such as Fourme d’Ambert 45g / 2 ounces

In a sauce pan, fry the onions and garlic in butter until golden and soft, add the other ingredients except the blue cheese and bring to the boil. Let it simmer for 10 minutes on medium heat, pour through a sieve and add the cheese. When the cheese has melted, let the sauce simmer for 5-8 minutes on low heat until it starts to thicken slightly. Season with salt and pepper.

 

For the Gnocchi

potatoes, cut into cubes, 450g / 16 ounces
butter 30g / 1 ounce
organic egg yolks 2
plain flour 125g / 4.5 ounces
nutmeg, grated, to taste
salt 1 1/2 teaspoons
black pepper, grated, to taste

Cook the the potatoes in salted water until soft (around 15 minutes). Drain them when they are done. Press the drained potatoes through a potato ricer and mix immediately with the butter and egg yolks. Put in a cool place (in the fridge) until the mixture is completely cool.

In a large pot, bring plenty of salted water to the boil. Set the oven to 100°C / 210°F and put an ovenproof dish inside. You will need it to keep the gnocchi warm while you cook them in batches.

With a spoon (or your hands), mix the cold potato mixture with the flour, salt, nutmeg and pepper until combined. Dust your hands with flour and roll the dough – in batches – into sausage shapes on a well floured working surface and cut off 3x3cm / 1×1″gnocchi. If you like you can roll them on a fork for the typical gnocchi pattern. Put them onto a floured baking sheet.

Cook your gnocchi in batches in the boiling water so that they can float. After 3 minutes, when they start to come up and float on the surface take them out with a slotted ladle and drain them. Keep them in the warm dish in the oven until you are done with the last batch.

Arrange the gnocchi on plates and pour some of the blue cheese sauce over them.

Gnocchi with Blue Cheese Sauce

 

Gnocchi with Blue Cheese Sauce

 

Gnocchi with Blue Cheese Sauce