Recipe: cheese toastie with Maroilles

I don’t know if it was because I’d just seen Nigella make a brie, parma ham and fig toastie on her latest TV show or just the fact that I am perpetually in the mood for a cheese toastie, but as it happens two weekends ago, I knew just how I would use the Maroilles cheese a French colleague had given me the same week. In return he got a nice piece of Swedish Herrgård cheese, matured for 18 months. But back to the Maroilles.

When talking to French people, food as a conversation topic is never far away. And that’s how I found out that this Maroilles cheese, from the area of Picardy, is both delicious and probably the smelliest cheese in the world. To me that’s more intriguing than off-putting and I was super excited when I tried it. Similar to Reblochon, it’s a washed rind cheese with a lot of flavour, but it’s much creamier, and dare I say, delicious.

This cheese toastie is utterly simple to make, but very rewarding when you bite into the crisp bread with melted cheese oozing out on the sides.

Maroilles cheese toastie, per toastie

2 slices Poilâne bread

salted butter

2 thick slices of Maroilles cheese

Butter the two Poilane slices on one side. Place the cheese on one of the buttered surfaces and spread them it out so it covers the whole bread slice. Place the other slice of bread on top, buttered side down (i.e. touching the cheese). Press the sandwich together. 

Now, melt a generous knob of butter in a frying pan on medium-high heat (3-4 out of 6) and place the sandwich in the pan. You don’t want the butter to burn so if unsure lower the heat. You want the sandwich to be golden on both sides and the cheese to melt inside so it takes a few minutes on each side.

Fry until golden brown on one side, pressing down with a spatula. Turn the sandwich and fry the other side. Once crisp and golden and the cheese has started to ooze out on the sides remove from pan and place on kitchen roll to remove excess butter. Pat the top of the sandwich with kitchen roll too, then cut into half and serve. Yu-um. 

PS. This is what I love the most about food; it brings people together. My colleague thought the Herrgård was a nice addition to his cheese board, with otherwise only French cheeses I presume, and I got to try a cheese I had never heard of until he boasted about the best produce from his region in France. Merci!

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Tartiflette

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This Easter weekend was all about resting for me (apart from a party on Saturday night of course). I have spent a lot of time in my PJs, with my iPad on my lap watching series. So food wise it was also all about comfort for me. Comfort food I mean.

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And with the cold weather outside it felt so right indulging in this rich gratin of potatoes, lardons, onions and a fair amount of Reblochon cheese.

A traditional tartiflette should be made from these ingredients only, as the dish was greated in the 1980s to promote this particular cheese from the French Alps.

The result is, as expected when it contains cheese and lardonsdelicious! It has a crispy top layer and underneath soft oozing cheesy potatoes. Wonderful!

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Tartiflette, serves 2

Adapted from Rachel Khoo’s recipe.

250-300 g Maris Piper potatoes

1/2 onion, finely chopped

1 small garlic clove, chopped

1 bay leaf

100 g smoked lardons

50 ml white wine

125 g Reblochon, cut into cubes

salt, pepper

Butter a small gratin dish. Peel and grate the potatoes. Chop onion and garlic. Fry onion, garlic, lardons and the bay leaf on medium heat in a little butter or oil in a non-stick frying pan until the lardons are browned. Add the wine and let it reduce to less than half. Remove the bay leaf and add the potatoes. Mix well. Add the cheese cubes, salt and pepper and mix again. Transfer the mixture to the gratin dish. Place in a 180C oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden on top and the potatoes are cooked through.