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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Classic Swedish fare at Den Gyldene Freden, Stockholm

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Den Gyldene Freden in Stockholm is probably the most classic Swedish restaurant I have ever visited, and having dinner here was a very enjoyable experience.

The restaurant is located in Stockholm’s Old Town, Gamla Stan, and is several floors deep with cave-like vaulted ceilings. The ambiance is both cosy and a little formal.

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The food here is classic Swedish (this is where to go if you want proper meatballs), but still up to date enough to not feel stuffy.

For our starter my mum, dad and I all had the same; a traditional landgång sandwich. Yes, it’s a glorified open sandwich, but a seriously delicious one! It’s named after a gangway plank, probably because it’s longer than a regular sandwich, and has more toppings. This long slice of rye bread was adorned with eggs, prawns, cured salmon, hot smoked fish, asparagus, wild garlic crème and pickled onions.

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Dad also had a snaps with his starter – very traditional – and something not many restaurants serve nowadays. Mum and I were happy with our wine but dad was in good company as two tables nearby also had snaps and sang snaps songs.

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Dad and I chose the same main course as well; duck sausage with thinly sliced duck breast, seasonal vegetables and a deliciously smooth potato purée. This dish was a lovely mix of rustic and gourmet. Delicious!

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Mum chose the catch of the day; fried pike-perch with new potatoes tossed in butter and chives and it was also absolutely delicious. The portions were very generous here as you can see, and no, I couldn’t finish the whole sausage even if I made a good attempt.

We were too full for pudding but lingered with our wine for a while before I went on to meet a friend and my parents headed back to the hotel.

Dad had been to this place before and really liked it, so that was the reason for going, but we all really enjoyed it! Everything about this place is classic; the interior, the food, the service. And the snaps.

A little gem I hope can stay in its spot for many more years to come, looking after our culinary heritage. As a tourist I urge you to go. Try this and a place serving New Nordic cuisine to get the whole range of Swedish food. Because this is traditional, but done very well.

Den Gyldene Freden, Österlånggatan 51, 111 31 Stockholm, Sweden

Best ever grilled cheese sandwich

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Melted cheese. Is there anything more comforting in the world? OK, a hug from a dear one and a warm duvet perhaps. But next up is melted cheese.

If in the mood for the ultimate comfort food (maybe because of a heavy night the evening before or just feeling a bit meh), I have the perfect recipe for you. This grilled cheese is exactly how I want it. Fried bread, melted cheese oozing out on the sides and a little depth from cayenne.

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Making something as simple as a sandwich, it’s important the ingredients are of great quality. You want a nice sourdough bread and nice cheeses.

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Best ever grilled cheese sandwich, serves 2

4 large white slices of sourdough bread

salted butter

medium cheddar, coarsely grated 

comté, finely grated

small pinch of cayenne 

Spread one side of each slice of bread with butter. Place a large heap of grated cheddar on two of the slices, on the buttered side. Add comté and a pinch of cayenne. Place another slice of bread, buttered side down, on top so you have two sandwiches. 

Butter one of the outsides of each sandwich and place buttered side down in a frying pan on medium heat. Butter the other side of each sandwich and flip the sandwiches around after a few minutes. Lower the heat if needed. What we want to achieve is melted cheese in the middle and crispy golden bread on the outside. When done, remove the sandwiches from the pan. Add a layer of grated comté to the frying pan and put the sandwiches back in, creating a crispy layer of cheese on the outside of the sandwich. Repeat on the other side. Remove from the pan and cut in half (or four). Enjoy!