The Taste of Brazil

Matthew Carver's cheesy trio (clockwise from top): Cropwell Bishop stilton-stuffed prunes, English pecorino squash spätzle and Mrs Kirkham’s lancashire aligot. Show caption Matthew Carver's cheesy snacks (clockwise from top): Cropwell Bishop stilton-stuffed prunes, English pecorino squash spätzle and Mrs Kirkham’s lancashire aligot. Photograph: Ola O Smit/The Guardian. Food stylist: Esther Clark. Prop stylist: Anna Wilkins. Food assistant: Troy Willis.

Stilton-stuffed prunes, lancashire aligot and pecorino squash spätzle – warming savoury dishes that will have you coming back for more

Matthew Carver

Cropwell Bishop s tilton-stuffed prunes

These fruity, cheesy, bacony snacks are hard to beat – think turbo-charged pigs in blankets.

Prep 10 min Cook 12 min Makes 5

10 dried prunes 50g stilton (we use Cropwell Bishop), cut into 5 x 10g pieces 3 rashers smoked streaky bacon, cut in half widthways Olive oil

Split the prunes in half lengthways without separating them entirely, remove and discard the seeds, then sandwich each 10g piece of cheese between two split prunes.

Lay out the bacon slices on a board and wrap a piece securely around each prune and cheese “sandwich” (think pigs in blankets), rolling it around each prune one and a half times.

Heat the oven to 200C (180C fan)/390F/gas 6. Put a teaspoon of oil in a frying pan on a medium heat, then fry the wrapped prunes, rotating them regularly so they colour evenly all over, for about three minutes.

Transfer the prunes to an oven tray lined with greaseproof paper and bake for three to five minutes, until the cheese starts to ooze – keep an eye on them, because you don’t want all the cheese to escape. Remove, and serve hot.

  • UK readers: click to buy these ingredients from Ocado

Mrs Kirkham’s lancashire aligot

The perfect cheesy, potatoey accompaniment to some good pork, fennel and red wine sausages, and braised red cabbage.

Prep 10 min Cook 40 min Serves 2

For the confit garlic butter 12 5ml good olive oil 11-12 (65g) peeled garlic cloves 250g salted butter, at room temperature, diced

For the aligot 250g floury potatoes (king edward or maris piper for example), peeled and cut into small, even-sized pieces Salt and white pepper 60ml milk 150g lancashire cheese (we use Mrs Kirkham’s), grated 100g low-moisture, grated cooking mozzarella (the type you use on pizza works well here) 60g confit garlic butter (see above and method)

First, confit the garlic. Put the oil and garlic in a pan and cook over a gentle heat for about 30 minutes, until the garlic is soft. Drain off the oil (save it for cooking) and leave the garlic to cool.

Crush the garlic in a medium bowl until it’s completely broken down, then add the butter and whip until smooth. You’ll need only 60g of the confit butter here – the excess will keep in the fridge for three or four days, or freeze for a month.

While the garlic is cooking, put the potatoes in a large pan of salted water, bring to a boil, cook until soft, then drain and leave to steam for a few minutes. Mash the potatoes until they’re as pureed and smooth as possible (use a mouli or ricer, if you have one). Put a serving bowl in a low oven to warm up. Put the mashed potatoes in a pan with 60g confit garlic butter and half the milk, and stir over a medium-high heat until hot. Beat in the grated lancashire until it melts – it will look lumpy at first, but as the mash gets hotter, the cheese will eventually melt and the mix will turn smooth. At this stage, the potato mix should be reasonably thick but still drop off a spoon, so if it’s too thick, add splashes of the remaining milk until it’s the right consistency. Stir in the grated mozzarella and beat thoroughly until the mix turns stringy – you want that Insta-worthy cheese pull. Season with salt and white pepper, decant into the warmed bowl, and serve immediately.

  • UK readers: click to buy these ingredients from Ocado

English pecorino squash spätzle

A nifty take on the classic south German dumplings.

Prep 10 min Cook 1 hr 15 min Serves 2 (or 3-4 as part of a meal)

For the squash puree 1 small butternut squash, cut in half lengthways and seeds scooped out Salt and pepper

For the spätzle 85g butternut squash puree (see above and method) 2 medium eggs 110g plain flour Vegetable oil

To finish 1¼ tbsp (10g) pine nuts 1½ tbsp (10g) pumpkin seeds 60g confit garlic butter (see aligot recipe above) 100g grated pecorino – an English one, ideally (there are a few around these days) 5 sage leaves

Heat the oven to 200C (180C fan)/390F/gas 6. Season the squash with salt, place in a deep oven dish filled with a couple of centimetres of water and wrap the lot in foil. Bake for 30-45 minutes, until soft, then remove and leave to cool. Scrape out the flesh and mash smooth. You’ll need 235g puree for this dish – any excess will keep in the fridge for up to three days, or freeze for two months.

Now to make the spätzle. Fill a medium pan with salted water and bring to a boil. Put 85g squash puree, the eggs and a teaspoon of salt in a bowl and mix to combine. Add the flour and mix to a smooth, thick batter. Take care not to overmix it and make sure you use the batter straight away.

Fill a bowl with cold water, ready for chilling the spätzle. Set a colander over the pan of boiling water and drop a ladle of batter into the centre. Slowly move the batter back and forth with the back of the ladle or with a spatula, so it drops through the holes into the hot water, leave to boil for two minutes and, when the spätzle rise to the surface, use a slotted spoon to transfer to the bowl of cold water. Repeat with the remaining spätzle batter, then drain them all and toss in a little vegetable oil, so the dumplings don’t stick together.

Heat the oven to 170C (150C fan)/325F/gas 3. Put the pine nuts and pumpkin seeds on a baking tray, roast for about five minutes, until golden, then remove and set aside.

Gently reheat the remaining 150g squash puree. Put the 60g confit garlic butter and sage in a frying pan over a low heat, until melted, then add the spätzle, and saute gently in the butter for a couple of minutes, tossing regularly to coat, until glossy and warmed through. Add the nuts and seeds for the final minute.

Spoon the warmed puree into a serving dish, top with the spätzle and a generous grating of pecorino, and serve.

  • UK readers: click to buy these ingredients from Ocado

• Matthew Carver is chef/owner of The Cheese Barge and The Cheese Bar in London












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