Winter Snack Recipe:
Ploughman’s Rarebit – Cheese and Chutney on Toast with Pickles
My mum’s pickled onions are the best in the world! Well, unless your mum’s are the best, as I am sure they are; but, if I am going to eat commercial pickles, than I expect the same quality as my mum’s – crisp, perfectly spiced and crunchy with a subtle vinegar flavour that is not too pungent. Garners Pickled Onions fulfil that high level of expectation and are always on my shopping list when I am out of “home-brewed pickles”, so when I was sent a hamper of their delicious pickles and chutney recently, I was quite literally over the pickled moon! I was also sent some canapé recipe ideas, and asked to try some out or use my own recipes for their products. I liked the look of a couple of the recipes, but we tend to eat our pickled onions “naked” when laying on a buffet for Christmas and New Year, and, as we already had some rather complicated little morsels made, I decided to break into my pickles booty in the New Year. So, here I am with my first recipe, a weekday winter snack recipe that makes use of a favourite regional cheese of mine, Double Gloucester, as well as Garners Organic Apple and Onion Chutney and some of their Original Pickled Onions – Ploughman’s Rarebit – Cheese and Chutney Cheese on Toast with Pickles.
The recipe is simplicity itself, all that is needed to assemble this hearty winter snack or supper dish is real bread, I used sourdough, a good British cheese, a tangy chutney, organic preferably and some pickled onions, eh voila, a ploughman’s lunch on toast. I used some wonderful Double Gloucester, as I had a chunk left over from the Festive Cheeseboard, but as you can see from the photos, grated cheese doesn’t melt as well as sliced cheese, however, the taste was amazing and I didn’t mind my rarebit’s crumbly good looks! According to British Cheese Board, Double Gloucester was originally made in the Severn Vale and was made from Cotswold Sheep’s milk. As early as 1498 so much cheese was being made in Gloucester that a permanent market was set up in the City of Gloucester, where there is still an indoor market today. However, by Tudor times, cows milk was the norm across the Vale of Berkeley and down to Bristol. This came mainly from Old Gloucester cows whose milk was ideal for cheese-making with small fat globules that made a fine even textured cheese. In 1789 production of Gloucester cheese was estimated at more than 1000 tonnes, but production had all but stopped by the end of the 19th century due to low-priced imports and the easier profit made by selling fresh milk.
Although I prefer my Double Gloucester on the cheeseboard, with artisan bread and peppery crackers, I do love cooking with cheese, and so my twist on two classic British recipes, Welsh Rarebit and Ploughman’s Lunch, was created. I would have added some English mustard to my bread before buttering it, but the apple and onion chutney was so fruity and delectable that I decided to opt out of that particular tasting “tick box” – however, if you omit the chutney, then give your rarebit a leg up with a goodly smear of English mustard before adding the cheese, its brilliant and works wonderfully with the pickled onions.
Dollop some extra chutney on the side along with a couple more pickled onions for good measure, and you will be rewarded with an excellent lunch, snack, tea or supper, which is packed full of flavour. I hope you enjoy my recipe for today, of course other cheeses can be used – Cheshire, Wensleydale, Lancashire or Cheddar all spring to mind, but I bet a blue cheese would also be the cat’s whiskers in this recipe. That’s all for today, see you later when I will be sharing some new reviews, another 5:2 diet recipe for fast days and a naughty cake recipe! Have a wonderful day, Karen
Cheese of the Month
My lovely friend Linzi from the fabulous Lancashire Food Blog and I have decided to start promoting British cheeses, so, we have started a little Cheese of the Month club…….I may post more than one cheese a month, but my first cheese is of course Double Gloucester. Check out Linzi’s blog regularly for her Cheese of the Month posts too. (With thanks to Mr Lancashire Food for the fabulous badge!)
More about my chosen cheese…..
DOUBLE GLOUCESTER CHEESE:
In a country that produces so many wonderful traditional cheeses, it is tragic that for many Britons cheese means plastic wrapped industrially produced cheddar . Once the timid venture beyond that ghetto, it is still sad that they may be faced with equally anodyne versions of the great British cheeses, like Double Gloucester. True artisan Double Gloucester has real character, a nutty savour that is all its own, making it a pleasure to eat.
Gloucestershire encompasses the Cotswolds and part of the Severn valley, lush areas that not surprisingly provide excellent grazing. Add to that fact the local Gloucester cattle breed which produces milk well suited to cheese making, and the ingredients for a cheese making tradition are in place. This tradition can be observed in some of the remaining old farmhouses in the region, around Cirencester , Dursley or Cheltenham say, where a third floor would have contained a cheese room, and may still do so.
There is another traditional aspect to Double Gloucester that must not be omitted in any review of the product. This is the Cooper’s Hill cheese rolling event , held every Whit Monday at a site between Gloucester and Cheltenham, when four large cheeses are rolled down a steep hill, with a merry crowd in pursuit. This is said to be derived from the need to mark field or farm boundaries, though how cheese would be involved is rather mysterious. It is even suggested that the strong rind on Double Gloucester was developed to suit the cheese rolling, but that seems extremely dubious.
Why is Double Gloucester called double? There are two theories. The first, and surely most likely, is that it is made from two milkings, the morning and the evening. The other possibility is that it was simply thicker than the other cheese made in the area, unsurprisingly called Single Gloucester. As with Red Leicester , the orangey-red hue of the cheese comes these days from annatto, but in times past this would have been produced using carrot juice, beetroot juice, or some suggest saffron, though the expense would have been enormous. Again as with Red Leicester, why the colour has been used is open to debate.
Double Gloucester is arguably at its best using unpasteurised milk – whole milk of course, though nowadays far less likely to be from Gloucester cattle than was once the case. It is pressed in the final phases of cheese-making, giving the end product a firm texture, while retaining a creamy flexibility. Describing flavours is notoriously difficult, so best to say that a well-matured Double Gloucester (they are generally matured for at least three months, and often up to eight and even beyond) is rich, with a good depth of flavour, and a nice acidy bite to it. Best to try some from a good quality source for yourself and see what you make of it.
To cheese aficionados one last comment may seem sacrilege, but Double Gloucester makes wonderful cheese on toast, and great Welsh rarebit , particularly if ale is used in the recipe – a drink with which the cheese either cooked or not has a great affinity.
Disclaimer: With a BIG thanks to Garners for sending me a fabulous selection of pickled goodies, look out for some more recipes using their pickles and chutney very soon. All opinions are my own and I was not required to write this post or promote Garners in any way. Karen S Burns-Booth