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 www.bookhamcheese.co.uk
|8 oz (225g) celery stalks|
|2 oz (50g) Stilton|
|2 heaped tablespoons half-fat crème fraiche|
|2 heaped tablespoon breadcrumbs|
|1 dessertspoon butter, melted|
|Salt and freshly milled black pepper|
|Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6, 400F, 200C.|
|Need help with conversions?|
You will also need a small gratin dish, 6 ins (15 cm) square or similar, lightly buttered
This recipe is from A Year in My Kitchen
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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An unusual way of cooking celery, the addition of a cheese and onion sauce brings a creaminess and plenty of flavour to one of winter's best vegetables.
This is a great way to serve celery as a vegetable. I used silicone paper (baking parchment) for this as it looks very pretty if you take the whole parcel to the table – otherwise foil would do. For 4 to 6 people, you can double the ingredients...
This is really good made with a creamy blue cheese like the Irish Cashel Blue, but if you can't get hold of that a blue Wensleydale would also be good.
Celery has such a lot going for it as a raw ingredient in salads, and because of that we rather forget how good it is cooked and served as a vegetable. This method is delightfully quick and easy, and tastes just wonderful.
For vegetarians – or simply for a change – it is a nice idea to omit the bacon and pile some croûtons on top of this soup in a heatproof bowl, then sprinkle with ¾ oz (20 g) of strong Cheddar and melt under a hot grill.
Not simply a recipe for leftover bits of Stilton, this one, but a delicious creamy soup that can enhance any dinner or supper party. Be careful not to boil the soup when re-heating.
This recipe for one is a great way to jazz up a plain omelette, with Stilton adding plenty of flavour. And, if there are two people to feed, it can easily be doubled up.
This recipe makes the most of leftover Stilton – but it could be made with any hard cheese (or even a mixture of all those end bits clinging to the rind).
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