Category Archives: cheese

heston blumenthal’s ultimate cheeseburger

heston blumenthal's ultimate cheeseburger

What is it with burgers? After spending the 2000s in the doldrums, they’re now elevated to greasy lunch treat du jour.

I was a little surprised to see this recipe from Heston pop up online; his In Search of Total Perfection Burger involves grinding different meat cuts together, the most laborious method for making a bun you’ve ever seen, and a quite detailed method of making cheese slices involving sodium citrate and other odd things (a recipe that’s in marked contrast to my ingredient infographic!).

But this version appears to mostly be a shill for his Heston burgers, with a much simplified cheese slice recipe. So I gave it a go. And being the arrogant sod I am, endeavoured to improve it.

I used Comté cheese and cheddar for a more interesting blend, and whisked it with Chardonnay over ale as I don’t like the taste of beer. I included my own touch that I usually use of a drip of oyster sauce to act as a glaze. It provides a tantalising umami layer in your burger that you can’t quite place but makes it irresistible. The cheese slice was very tasty and really not a lot of work so well worth doing again. You could probably come up with a bunch of interesting ingredients to add into it too.

Looking for a tasty burger recipe this bank holiday weekend? You could do a lot worse than this recipe.

The original Heston recipe without me mucking about with it can be found here. And read In Search of Heston having a go too.

Heston’s ultimate cheeseburger (serves 2):

For the cheese slices:

50g mature cheddar, grated

50g Comté cheese, grated

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

10g cornflour

¼ teaspoon dried yeast

¼ teaspoon Marmite

¼ teaspoon English mustard

80ml white wine

For the burger sauce:

1 tablespoon mayonnaise

1 teaspoon tomato ketchup

½ teaspoon burger mustard

Everything else:

2 quarter pounder burgers

2 sesame seed buns, split and toasted

½ teaspoon oyster sauce

Handful of crisp lettuce leaves (I like lollo rosso)

  1. Combine the cheeses, mustard, Marmite, cornflour, yeast and Worcestershire sauce in a bowl and refrigerate for 2 hours (I’m not sure what this refrigeration achieves. Do the flour / yeast expand in the fridge? I’d try this again without the fridge step to see what happens).
  2. Line a shallow tray with baking parchment, and get the wine on to a simmer. Add the cheese mix a handful at a time whisking merrily until all dissolved and smooth. Pour into your tray and chill for at least 30 minutes or until needed.
  3. Mix the ketchup, mayo and mustard together to make a smooth sauce and set aside until you’re ready to serve.
  4. Heat a drop of oil in a pan and add the burgers. Cook for 30 seconds on each side, turning until they’re done to your liking (anywhere from 5 – 10 minutes depending on thickness and how done you like them). 2 minutes before the end, smear the oyster sauce over the patties to make a thin glaze, and after a minute cut out a cheese rectangle and plonk on top to heat through for the final 60 seconds.
  5. Serve in a bun with the sauce and lettuce, plus gherkins and onions if you like.
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cheese and onion mash

cheese and onion mash

The other week, I got my hands on a Masha. It’s a new potato mashing device that looks pretty much like a hand blender. I’m sure you’ve heard the horror stories when using a stick blender on mashed potato: you get glue. The fibres tear, leaking starch everywhere and the whole thing coagulates.

mashaThis gadget comes with a fabulous verb though. It extrudes. In other words, it pushes the potato through some holes. Doesn’t sound that revolutionary but it really does make some pretty fine mash. Sexy looking device too, and it washes up dead easy to boot.

Would I use it much? Probably would actually. I surprised myself. I was absolutely certain this was going to a once-only toy but the speed and ease with which it makes smooth mashed potato is impressive. I prefer mine smooth to chunky and this is much quicker than mucking about with a sieve, which is my usual weapon of choice.

Cheese and onion mash (serves 2):

250g white potatoes peeled and chopped, good old Maris Piper would be great

½ onion, sliced

1 star anise

20g Comté cheese, grated

Butter and milk, to taste

  1. Put the oven on to 180°C. Put the onion slices in a baking tray with the star anise, drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper. Pop in the oven for 20 – 25 mins, stirring every now and then until starting to catch.
  2. Meanwhile cook the potatoes in boiling salted water, for 15 – 20 mins until knife-tender. Drain well, add a knob of butter, a splash of milk and use a Masha for a few seconds to mash. Stir in the butter and onions (discard the star anise) and season to taste.

reuben-style sandwich

reuben style sandwich

Goodness, those New York delis know how to make a decent sarnie, don’t they?

This is a take on classic Reuben sandwich, which has about a thousand origin stories. Whatever its beginnings, this stacked snack is packed with sharp, salty, savoury delights. I can’t claim this is authentic; just “inspired by”. I’ve put lovely, lovely Comté in here. The sweet nuttiness is brilliant with the strong meaty flavours.

I had to buy an enormous jar of sauerkraut to make this; just as well I’ve discovered I have a real appetite for it!

Reuben style sandwich (serves 1):

6 inch french stick bread

2 gherkins, sliced

2 slices pastrami

1 slice salt beef

30g Comté cheese, grated

Mayonnaise

English mustard

1 heaped tablespoon sauerkraut

  1. Preheat your grill to high. Slice the bread in half and pop under the grill and heat the cut side until dry and crisp. Remove one side from the grill and spread over mayo and mustard as desired. Brush the other side lightly with oil, top with the sauerkraut, meats, gherkins and cheese and put back under the grill until the cheese starts to melt. Sandwich together and munch happily.

jackie kashian’s cheese penne bake

jackie kashian macaroni cheese penne bake

I devour podcasts by the audio gallon. Since 2007 (late to the podcast party, I know) I’ve had a regular diet of banter, thought, review and revue. Many have come and gone from my queue, and I’m always happy to try new ones.

A few weeks ago I discovered The Dork Forest. Hosted by comedian Jackie Kashian she indulges her weekly guest in one of their obsessions, or ‘dorkdoms’. It’s a lot of fun, and if you like your podcasts rambly and occasionally educational, this is one for the playlist. On a recent episode her guest Tracey Ashley couldn’t praise her macaroni cheese enough. I don’t need asking twice; I raced off to try it.

Jackie’s original recipe is here, but be warned it’s written in American (Sticks of butter! Sharp cheese!). My rough Anglican version is below. I’ve not used Gruyere as it wouldn’t survive against the strong cheddar I used, an Asda mature cheddar with wholegrain mustard, part of their Asda Summer range. Any cheddar will do but the mustard flavour through it is really good. I’ve also subbed penne over macaroni. But it’s a great pasta bake, with a silky sauce and big flavour. I think it’s the breadcrumbs that make it.

Thanks to Asda for sending me the cheese to try.

Jackie Kashian’s cheese pasta bake (serves 4):

1 garlic clove, halved

4 tablespoons butter, melted

3 slices bread

3 tablespoons flour

500ml whole milk

2 teaspoons salt

¼ nutmeg, grated

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

400g cheddar cheese, grated

400g penne or other pasta

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Take your garlic clove and rub it around the inside of a baking dish. Whizz up your bread in a food processor, stir in 1 tablespoon of the butter and set aside.
  2. Get your pasta on to boil in plenty of salted water, and drain when done. Meanwhile make your sauce.
  3. Over a low heat stir together the remaining butter and flour until you have a roux and continue to cook for another minute until pale in colour. Add all of the milk and whisk constantly for about eight minutes until thick and smooth. Add the salt, nutmeg, cayenne and cheese. Take off the heat and stir through, then fold in the pasta.
  4. Pour into your baking dish, top with breadcrumbs and bake for 30 minutes until golden brown. Wait 2 minutes before serving to let the sauce settle, and serve with a green salad to try and offset some of the guilt.

masala cheese scones

curried masala cheese scones

I’d been treated to a big lunch and knew I wouldn’t want a full dinner. But what to have? On the walk home from the station I got a craving for cheese scones. A hot scone or two with a little butter melting on them… yes!

When I got in there was a little package of cheese waiting for me from Joseph Heler. It was “Red Leicester with Authentic Indian Chutney”, traditional English cheese flavoured with Geeta’s mango chutney. I hacked off a chunk immediately, and it’s perfectly pleasant but not bursting with Indian flavour. It’s the kind of thing that would be perfectly good as part of a wider cheeseboard, along with the Wensleydale with cranberries or stilton with apricots or Dairylea with ginger or whatever.

It was just in time for my cheese scones though, and with an extra kick of Indian spicing it made a great snack. And make sure you serve it not with strawberry jam, but more mango chutney.

Masala cheese scones (makes about 6 – 8):

150g self-raising flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon garam masala

½ teaspoon salt

25g butter

2-3 tablespoons milk

75g Joseph Heler’s chutney cheese, grated

1 large egg

1 tablespoon nigella seeds

  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C. Mix the flour, baking powder, garam masala and salt together, then rub in the butter. Mix in the cheese.
  2. In another bowl beat the egg and 2 tablespoons of the milk together, the incorporate into the mixing bowl. Blend gently – try not to over-mix – and pull together into a soft dough. It should leave the bowl clean.
  3. Pat gently into a chunky patty about 2cm thick, slice roughly and put on to a floured baking tray. Brush with the remaining milk, scatter over the nigella seeds and bake for 15 – 20 minutes until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack for about 10 seconds before scoffing the lot with mango chutney on the side.


Gary Fennon
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soufflé potatoes

twice-baked potatoes

twice-baked potatoes

student-survival-guideStudent food can mean an endless diet of jacket potatoes. If this is the case you can ring the changes with my puffed-up potatoes and incorporate whatever you have in the fridge to round out your dinner. The whisked egg whites lift the stodge of dense potato and gives a soufflé-like finish. It takes a little longer to make than a regular “jack pot” but I think the finish is worth it.

(In the pictures they’re accompanied by sweet and sour peppers but this is optional – there’s plenty of sustenance in the potato!).

Approximate cost  for main ingredients, excludes storecupboard ingredients (prices from Tesco.com 7th Oct 2012): 62p

Soufflé potatoes (serves 1):

1 baking potato

1 slice of smoked ham, sliced

Big handful of grated cheddar cheese

1 spring onion, sliced

1 egg, separated

1 teaspoon mustard

  1. Bake the potatoes as you would for jackets, smothering with a little oil, salt and pepper and baking in a 180°C oven for about an hour.
  2. Just before you take the potatoes out of the oven, whisk the egg whites to soft peaks. Mix the mustard into the yolks.
  3. Take the potatoes out of the oven and leave to cool for a moment (this helps loosen the flesh from the skin and makes them easier to handle).
  4. Using a teatowel to hold the spuds, cut the potatoes in half lengthways and scoop the flesh out into a bowl. Put the hollowed-out skins back on the tray.
  5. Mash the flesh with the cheese, mustard, ham, spring onion egg yolk and mustard.
  6. Fold in the egg whites and scoop into the empty skins. Put back in the oven and turn up to 220°C.
  7. Take out of the oven in about 15 minutes, or when the tops have started to brown.

lasagne al forno

lasagne al forno

Lasagne has to be one of my favourite dinners. If I’m stuck for what to cook, it always pleases a crowd and satisfies. I like a lasagne with gutsy tomato sauce, plenty of layers of pasta and a bubbling, cheesy topping. I’ve tried all sorts, with Marmite in, with marmalade in, with soy sauce in… this version is about as traditional as I make mine.

I used some CIRIO tomatoes in this one, a mix of thick passata, tomato puree and the amazing Pizzassimo sauce.

On a whim, I picked up a jar of pre-made white sauce. Before I knew how to make bechamel I would use Ragu white sauce. I don’t know why I went for this; I haven’t tried it in maybe 12 years. But I was really pleased with the taste of it, slightly peppery and perfectly creamy. I didn’t dare look at the ingredients list but if I was running short on time I’d definitely use it again.

Looking for other lasagne recipes? Try Summer veg lasagne or this more full-on lasagne recipe.

Lasagne al forno (serves 6 with a green salad):

1 onion, finely chopped

500g beef mince

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon tomato puree

1 jar tomato passata

½ tin Pizzassimo sauce

500ml beef stock

1 jar Ragu white sauce

About 10 lasagne pasta sheets

Big handful of grated cheese. Yes, cheddar will do

  1. Get a large saucepan on a low heat, add a splash of oil and fry the onion gently for about 10 minutes. When softened, crank up the heat and add the mince, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. Add the garlic, tomatoes and stock and simmer for 20 minutes. Check for seasoning and take off the heat to cool slightly.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Get an ovenproof dish and start with a layer of pasta. Add a thin layer of mince mixture, half the white sauce and top with pasta. Add more mince, more pasta and top with white sauce. Grate cheese over the top and bake for about 30 minutes until bubbling and golden. Leave out of the oven to set for a couple of minutes, it’ll be easier to cut.