Cauliflower soup with Avesnes cheese and smoked ham

Cauliflower is a very healthy vegetable with anti-cancer and detox properties. However, it stinks when cooking and has a very bland taste. Basically, it is boring and needs something to liven it up.

Often it is combined with cheese, as in the British cauliflower cheese dish or the Dutch cauliflower with cheese sauce dish.

In France, cauliflower is often prepared with a white sauce of cream and flour (béchamel) to which grated cheese can be added (mornay) and also ham.

Here, I make a soup of the cauliflower and add a pungent and spicy cheese – Boulette d’Avesnes.

It is another cheese from the North, made up mainly (95 {4cde4f594ebc992dd9c13235afe1d83f0ef707c70b5a049696e6a42fcf7b49ed}) of left-over Maroilles cheese with added herbs and spices such as parsley,tarragon, clove and paprika.

It has a conical shape and is red on the outside because of the paprika. I also add smoked ham, preferably Ardennes ham to stick to the Hainault area of northern France and southern Belgium.

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Chicken with Maroilles sauce

We were in the north of France recently and had lunch with a friend who had prepared a regional dish of chicken legs with Maroilles sauce. Maroilles, named after a town, is a very pungent soft cow cheese that is produced in the Avesnois region in the north.
Our host, Nathalie Banckaert, made the dish with chicken legs cooked in a stock with wine and made the sauce from cheese, cream and wine and she presented it with noodles.
In “my” version, I braised chicken tights in butter, deglaced with 3 Monts beer from the north, and put shallots and cheese in the remaining cooking juices for a sauce. I presented it with potatoes.
If you do not have Maroilles, another pungent cheese like Epoisses, Pont l’Evêque, Livarot, a Belgian Hervé or Dutch Rommedou will do, or a « Limbuger ». For the beer, any strong brown beer is fine.

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Pasta with meat sauce

Sometimes you want something simple and pasta with meat sauce is a kind of comfort food for colder days. I do not like to buy pasta sauce in tins or jars and I did not want to go into the trouble of making a real Bolognese sauce because with the bacon (and mushrooms) it adds up to a rather filling and a bit fat sauce. Bologna, a nice town in a great part of Italy, is not for nothing called La Grassa (the fat one).

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Guinea fowl legs stuffed with duck liver

I was not at home during Christmas and while I assisted in the cooking of meals during those days, I did not have the opportunity to prepare a festive meal. But on New Year’s eve we were at home, alone, and I could prepare a meal for two. Just a one course dinner, after the calorie boost of previous days.

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Creamy roasted garlic soup

This soup is delicious in itself but it is also a very good remedy against hangovers. Perhaps it is an idea to have some ready that you can simply warm up the morning after the evening in the festive season…
There are several versions of garlic soup, especially from the southwest of France where they have the tourin – with onions and eggs – or, in the southeast, in the aigo boulido of the Provence, with sage.

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Ceps risotto with French cheese, guinea fowl and sweet beetroot

One of the things I love about cooking is they way you can use your inventiveness to make subtle changes to existing recipes and use the seasons and products at hand instead of a list of prescribed ingredients.
So it is here. The ceps risotto is a nice savoury dish for cold days to start with. There are still some fresh ceps on the market but I decided to use the dried ones from the larder.

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Tartiflette Maligny

A tariflette is a potato, onion and cheese dish usually made in the mountains of the Savoie, during winter.
We were at Maligny in a holiday home for a short stay in the Chablis area to taste and buy wines and eat some local delicacies such as snails, chitterling with Chablis wine and cheeses such as époises, Brillat Savarin and Chaource.

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Chicory, cheese and bacon quiche

‘Real men don’t eat quiche’ was the title of a 1982 book on masculine stereotypes, which only shows that not many men are ‘real’ in the red-neck sense of beef eating, beer swigging misogynists. Valentine’s Day (named after two martyrs called Valentine, killed on the same day by the same Roman emperor but in different … Read more