Celery and Stilton au Gratin

I am utterly confused, in common with very many people I suspect, about global warming. Is it happening, why is it happening, what will then happen? I follow all the arguments and concerns about emissions, and make up my mind that jetting fresh fruit and vegetables halfway around the world is terrible waste of aviation fuel…then I worry about the livelihoods of all those farmers in Kenya and Peru! If our garden is anything to go by this year, our part of the globe is certainly warming. We are barely more than a week into January and the rhubarb (outside!) is already blooming, and the first snowdrops are poking through (see picture). I checked back to one of my first kitchen diaries and it was well into March that I was writing about them then. I mentioned last week that we have a very healthy crop of celery for the first time in the kitchen garden and since then we have been in overdrive trying to make the most of it. One of the most pleasing results of all this activity has been this very simple combination of celery and stilton (of which people always seem to have a little lingering on after Christmas). This can be served either as an accompanying vegetable, or I actually think it is nice enough to serve as a vegetarian main course with some nutty brown rice.

Vegetarian parmesan-style cheese is available from

Serves 2

This recipe is from A Year in My Kitchen

Celery and Stilton au Gratin
 8 oz (225g) celery stalks
 2 oz (50g) Stilton
 2 heaped tablespoons half-fat crème fraiche
 2 heaped tablespoon breadcrumbs
 1 dessertspoon butter, melted
 Celery salt
 Salt and freshly milled black pepper
 Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6, 400F, 200C.

You will also need a small gratin dish, 6 ins (15 cm) square or similar, lightly buttered



Start off by trimming the celery stalks and cutting them into 5-6 inch (13-15cm) lengths so they fit snugly into the gratin dish.

Then peel them to get rid of the stringy bits, pop them into a steamer and steam for just 7 minutes.

Now arrange the celery over the base of the gratin dish and season with salt and pepper. Crumble the Stilton all over the celery, tucking it into any gaps as well, then spoon the crème fraiche over, using a spatula to spread it evenly all over the surface.

Finally toss the breadcrumbs in the melted butter then sprinkle them evenly over the top and give them a light sprinkling of celery salt.

Then transfer the dish to the centre of the pre-heated oven and cook for 25 minutes until the top has browned nicely and the celery stalks are tender.

(Incidentally Tesco now stock some very good, chunkier than usual, breadcrumbs in their new Ingredients range)

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