Tag: mountain cheese

Asparagus Tortilla with Grilled Mountain Cheese and Tarragon

Asparagus Tortilla with Mountain Cheese and Tarragon

My first asparagus of the year found its way into my kitchen and I’m as excited as a kid on Easter morning. This is just the start, the beginning of the new season! I can’t help thinking of all the other delicious goods which are soon to follow: the first ramp leaves spreading their garlicky aroma in a bowl full of pesto, crunchy fava beans mixed with parmesan in a creamy risotto, juicy spring cucumber, so concentrated in flavour that some sour cream and dill is enough to throw a quick salad together and enjoy the purest and most simple pleasures of nature’s annual awakening. I don’t even want to imagine ripe tomatoes dripping juice, I’ve been missing them for so long and it’ll still be a little while before I can savour them. For now I’m just over the moon to have the pretty slim stalks of green asparagus back in my pan.

So two things were on my mind in the past few days which filled me with excitement in the kitchen: the first asparagus of 2015 and my brave decision to make a tortilla after I failed miserably at my first and last attempt more than 20 years ago. My potato omelette was burned on the outside and undone in the middle, a complete kitchen failure created at the beginning of my active culinary journey. Somehow it had an intimidating effect on me considering how long it took to give this dish a second chance. But now I felt ready to give it a go again, my asparagus and some fragrant tarragon at hand to vary this rich Spanish potato classic with some green freshness and a little grated mountain cheese (Swiss Appenzeller) to add its hearty flavours to the vegetables. It’s not as big a deal to get the potatoes right as I had imagined (or feared), the only trick is to find the right setting on your cooker. They should cook in the pan on medium heat while covered with a lid without turning black or mushy. It takes about 15 minutes and once they are done, you add some fried onions, eggs and asparagus and let the tortilla cook for a few minutes. I finish it off under the grill to melt the mountain cheese which created a smokey crust on the asparagus. It worked so easily, my tortilla kitchen trauma is finally solved!

Asparagus Tortilla with Mountain Cheese and Tarragon

 

Asparagus Tortilla with Mountain Cheese and Tarragon

 Asparagus Tortilla with Mountain Cheese and Tarragon

For 3-4 people you need

green asparagus, woody bottoms cut off, 400g / 14 ounces
medium sized waxy potatoes, peeled, 450g / 16 ounces
medium sized onion, cut in half and thinly sliced, 1
organic eggs 4
hard mountain cheese (like Appenzeller or Gruyère), grated, 60g / 2 ounces
freshly grated nutmeg
salt and pepper
olive oil
fresh tarragon, a small handful, to serve
black peppercorns, crushed in a mortar, to serve

Blanch the asparagus in boiling salted water for 1 1/2 minutes or until just al dente. Rinse with cold water, drain and set aside.

Slice the potatoes very thinly with a cheese or mandoline slicer, spread them between kitchen paper and pat them dry.

In a heavy pan (ovenproof, about 25 cm / 10″), heat a splash of olive oil and cook the onions on medium heat for a few minutes until soft, take them out of the pan and set them aside. Put the pan back on the heat and add a generous splash of olive oil. Spread the potato slices in the pan, close with a lid and cook for about 12 minutes on medium heat. Check the potatoes with a fork after 5-7 minutes by lifting them a little from the side, mind that they don’t burn and adjust the temperature if necessary. After 12 minutes, carefully turn the potatoes with a spatula (like a pancake) and spread the onions on top, give them another 2 minutes. Whisk the eggs with 1 teaspoon of salt, pepper and nutmeg and pour over the potatoes, close with a lid and cook for 2 minutes. Arrange the asparagus on top of the eggs, close the lid again and cook for about 4 minutes or until the egg is set. Lay the grated cheese on top of the tortilla and put the pan under the grill for just a few minutes until the cheese starts to bubble. Sprinkle with tarragon and crushed black pepper before serving.

asparagustortilla3

 

Asparagus Tortilla with Mountain Cheese and Tarragon

 

Asparagus Tortilla with Mountain Cheese and Tarragon

 

Asparagus Tortilla with Mountain Cheese and Tarragon

Tyrolean Cheese and Bread Dumplings

Tyrolean Cheese Dumplings

A traditional Tyrolean dumpling is one of the nicest things that can happen to white bread! Mixed with eggs and milk, enhanced with spices, herbs or bacon and finally poached in salted water, the bread turns into delicious little dumplings. Together with roast meat they are the ultimate mountain dish, their spongy texture is perfect to soak up the juices and gravy. They are usually cooked in big batches so that the leftovers can be sliced and fried in butter till golden and crisp.

Sometimes I just skip the first meal, the meat and the gravy and I fry the dumplings right away, filled with aromatic cheese like a strong, ripe mountain cheese, a Tyrolean grey cheese or Swiss raclette. You could also mix all the cheese leftovers which you find in your fridge, I do that sometimes and it can create some interesting results. This time I went for a ripe Swiss cheese, strong without being overpowering and it melted into the bread perfectly. I didn’t wait until the next day to fry them, I just let the cooked dumplings dry on a wire rack for about half an hour before I threw them in hot butter and oil. Sometimes, the leftover meal is at least as good as the main!

Tyrolean Cheese Dumplings

Tyrolean Cheese and Bread Dumplings

For 3-4 people you need

white bread or buns, cut into 1 x 1cm / 1/2 x 1/2″ cubes, 350g / 12.5 ounces
milk 250ml / 8.5 ounces
organic eggs 4
plain flour 130g / 4.5 ounces plus more if the mixture is too moist
salt 2 teaspoons
hard mountain cheese (like Appenzeller, Gruyère or Raclette), finely chopped, 100g / 3.5 ounces
medium sized onion, finely chopped, 1
butter for frying
olive oil for frying
salt and black pepper
chives, snipped, a small bunch

In a large pot, bring lots of salted water to a boil.

Fry the onion in a little butter for a few minutes till golden and soft. In a large bowl, mix the bread, fried onions, cheese and chives, leave a few tablespoons for topping. Whisk the milk with the eggs, salt and pepper and pour over the bread. Add the flour, mix with a spoon or your hands. The mixture will be sticky but shouldn’t be runny, the dumplings should keep their shape. Add a little more flour if it’s too soft. Fill a little bowl with water, wet your clean fingers and form the dumplings into long egg shapes (you need around a heaped tablespoon of the mixture). If you wet you fingers once in a while the mixture won’t stick to your hands and it will be easier to form the dumplings.

Simmer the dumplings, in batches on a medium-low heat for about 12 minutes. Take one out with a slotted ladle to check if they are done. Let them dry and cool on a wire rack before you cut them in half (lengthwise) and fry them in a splash of olive oil and around 2 tablespoons of butter on medium temperature till golden brown and crisp on both sides. Season with salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle with chives.

Tyrolean Cheese Dumplings