Nigel Slater comes to Supper:
A Rich Dish of Sprouts and Cheese for a Very Cold Night
It was a very cold night last week – the wind howled and moaned, and frisky little drafts kept tickling my neck originating from the door to the pantry, which creaks in an annoying way when it’s windy and blows cold air into the toasty warmth of the room. The fire was lit and it was time to sit down with a selection of cookbooks, to peruse and choose in peace…….with a cup of tea and a slice of bun, well, a piece of cake as it happens. Before I settled down for a long winter read, I remembered dashing Dom from Belleau Kitchen’s latest challenge for his intriguing and fun Random Recipes event; select a book at random that was given as a Christmas gift last year, and then, at random, choose a page - then make the “random recipe” on that page. I receive lots of books at Christmas, and it has to be said that most of them are cookbooks; last year I was lucky enough to become the proud owner of six shiny new books, ranging from a WI Preserves book to Nigel Slater’s Tender (volume 1) as well as an Italian cookbook, a Bertinet book on bread and a River Cottage culinary delight too. I placed them in a pile, attributed numbers to them, then asked my husband to pick a number – it was number 5, which was Tender: Volume I, A cook and his vegetable patch……..and a GREAT pick as it is one of my favourite books. But, when I asked him to pick a page, 119, there were no recipes on that page, just a beautiful frosty picture of a sprout plant!
Undeterred I flicked over to the next page, all about sprouts, all very helpful and interesting too, as the whole book is to a cook and keen gardener such as myself; the next page revealed sprout varieties……and it wasn’t until I hit page 126 that a recipe was revealed…….although I had read the chapter with interest, making mental notes as I entered the world of this most divisive of vegetables, the Brussels Sprout. The world is split into two camps, those who love this pretty green mini cabbage and those who loath it – it’s a Marmite moment. I am in the sprout lover camp, and look forward with anticipation when they come into season. However, we had just attended a friend’s “Pre-Christmas Party and Dinner” the night before, where I had been a gluttonous sprout scoffer, and the thought of eating more so soon wasn’t ringing many Christmas bells……..in a manner of speaking. But, Nigel saved the day, as he often does, the recipe revealed to me on page 126 was a perfect little dish of not just sprouts, but was a woolly blanket of a recipe where the humble green vegetable is swathed in cream, bathed in cheese, doused with mustard before being baked au gratin, in the style of Pommes Dauphinoise, it was a winter warmer of immense proportions.
It was a rich dish indeed and was devoured with crusty bread for a simple supper, in the manner of Nigel Slater’s TV programme of the same name. I didn’t have the suggested blue cheese to hand, Stichelton Blue, in fact, rather distressingly I found the cupboard bereft of any blue cheese, so, I used some lovely Sage Derby instead. Cream was also absent, so Crème Fraîche took its place, but the rest of the recipe was made as suggested by Nigel. We ate this rich little dish, on a VERY cold evening, by a roaring fire with hunks of crusty bread and glass of red wine……..it was quite delicious and very filling. Nigel suggests that this would make a wonderful accompaniment, I agree, but it also made a very comforting and tasty supper just by itself. The recipe for this delectable recipe is of course in Tender, (Volume 1) on page 126, alternatively, you can find the recipe here: Sprouts with Stichelton and mustard where Nigel says…..”Any blue cheese will melt into the sauce for these sprouts, but I have been using a lot of Stichelton recently – a relatively new cheese. A particularly satisfying side dish for boiled gammon. Serves 4 as an accompaniment”……..
DO try this recipe, it is simply wonderful, and as the title suggests – it is indeed a very good recipe for a very cold night and would make a great dish to serve post-Christmas dinner with the surfeit of sprouts that you will probably have kicking around! That’s all for now, I will see you later……and try not to shop til’ you drop. I hope you like my entry into Random Recipes Dom, and a big thanks to Nigel who came for supper the other night by way of his wonderful book Tender, Volume 1. Karen