Cheese and Potato Bread with Sage and Caramelised Onion
Yes, it really has happened. On Saturday 3 June 2006 an extraordinary phenomenon occurred in the wilds of Suffolk: absolutely clear, very blue sky, not a cloud in sight and a whole day of wall-to-wall sunshine! At last this year’s clinging winter has, we hope, been seen off. Our holiday adventure was a huge success. Despite sometimes driving rain, we managed to motor our way through seven countries in Northern Europe, and if things work out we should be presenting you with one or two new recipes from those regions. So watch this space. We did on Saturday night re-live the Hungarian bit by making goulash and bought some very good Hungarian rose from Waitrose to go with it. We had friends for dinner, so the rest of the menu comprised the last of our asparagus with foaming hollandaise, and the now top-of-the-pops favourite pud, the Rhubarb and Preserved Ginger Brulee (which we think is actually better bruleed under a hot grill rather than with a blowtorch – the former providing a thicker sheet of crunchy, glass-like caramel). One thing we always love serving with asparagus is homemade potato bread to mop up all the lovely buttery sauce. This time we tried a new version with sage and strong cheddar cheese, with caramelised onions stuffed in the middle. It was huge success all round, and although the English asparagus season is coming to an end, it struck me that being so easy to make this gutsy, well-flavoured bread would be grand for outdoor eating (if the sun stays with us) and ditto picnics. Lastly the very good news is that we now have 13 fully-fledged ducklings. So mums one and two have done a terrific job contributing to the wildlife population of the pond and meadow. Oh, and looking ahead, the gooseberries will be making their 2006 debut in about three or four days, so no prizes for guessing the subject of my next recipe.
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First heat the oil in a small frying-pan, chop the onion roughly and when the oil is hot add it to the pan. Toss it around for a minute or two to get browned at the edges, then turn the heat to low and leave it for 10-15 minutes to melt and caramelise.
Meanwhile grate the potato on a coarse grater straight into a mixing bowl and do the same with the cheddar cheese (reserving about one-third of the cheese for later). Add the cottage cheese.
Then sift in the flour and add the cayenne, salt and chopped sage. Now, using a palette knife, turn and blend all the ingredients in the bowl together.
Next beat the egg with the milk and pour it into the bowl, mixing first with the palette knife then finishing off with your hands (if it seems too dry add a spot more milk).
Now cut the dough in half, shape one half into a small round and place it on the baking sheet. Spoon the browned onion all over, then shape the other half of the dough into a round and place it on top, pressing round the edges to weld it together, and then re-shaping the whole thing into a small round.
Sprinkle a little more flour over, then finally sprinkle the rest of the cheddar cheese over. Brush the sage leaves with olive oil and arrange them on top. Bake the loaf on the centre shelf of the oven for 45-50 minutes. Cool on a wire tray and eat as fresh as possible, or it does freeze very well.
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