Today was just one of those days. Do you know what I’m talking about? One of those days when you really need to curl up into a ball and sleep for hours because everything you touch somehow turns to doggy-doo-doo. My colleague and I were both having one of those days at work and were wandering around in a daze, despite the multiple cups of coffee. I think it’s because the hot weather appears to have subsided momentarily, instead leaving us with a very stereotypically-grey-London-haze. What we really need is a good thunderstorm to clear the air – the humidity is somewhat ridiculous right now.
Instead of doing what any other intelligent person would do in such a state (make a quickie dinner and then sleep for hours), when I got home I decided that a good, rich, comforting dish was exactly what I needed to make me feel better. Cue the tartiflette. Or at least my version.
Tartiflette is a high-fat carb-heavy dish from France which varies from region-to-region (or so Brother tells me). The cardinal rule of tartiflette, however, appears to be the inclusion of reblochon cheese. A cardinal rule that I broke because I couldn’t find any reblochon in the supermarket. Whoops. So this is my not-quite-tartiflette-but-still-pretty-tasty-and-I’ll-probably-die-of-a-heart-attack-in-my-sleep-now. I actually found this recipe when I was reading Coconut Raita‘s blog – you can read more about the history of tartiflette over there – but adapted it slightly for my purposes.
Brother came over to pick up a framed poster we were holding for him and I tempted him to the kitchen with a plate of tartiflette and salad, which he gobbled down. He even had seconds. Win?
Incidentally, I feel like I haven’t talked much about Brother Lee, so I’m taking a brief interlude here to introduce you to him. Brother is two and a half years older than me and his favourite foods include steak, rice (with every single meal, regardless of what we’re having or what we’re having it with. We’re Chinese: this is what we do), pasta (arabiatta is his fave) and sakura sushi/sashimi. For a long while Brother didn’t cook (except to fry steak, boil peas and steam rice in the rice cooker) but since moving out his culinary attempts have expanded into a handful of very nice meals (however, I feel we may have stunted his culinary growth since moving into the flat in the building next door… oh well!). Oven-baked pesto chicken with shallots, garlic and creme fraiche is a speciality of his.
Anyway, enough about his culinary pursuits, what really makes Brother cool (apart from the fact that he’s my big brudda and therefore automatically cool, despite the numerous fights and arguments we had when we were kids, including him dropping a can of frozen Coca-Cola on my nose – yes, on purpose – when I was about 5 or 6) is that whilst holding down a regular 9-5 at a prestigious media marketing company, he is also a semi-professional athlete as the Captain of the England Handball team, and he and his doubles-partner are currently the World Champions of Doubles Handball. Now if that ain’t cool I don’t know what is.
I do heart my big brudda.
Anyway. I hope you enjoy this tartiflette as much as Brother and I did, just take it in small amounts, unless major heart surgery is on your agenda. Oh yes, and apologies for the poor quality photos, by the time I actually got around to eating this it was 9pm and twilight is unforgiving when photographing food. Trust me, it tastes better than it looks.
Adapted from Coconut Raita
3-4 medium waxy potatoes, peeled and sliced 1cm thick (if you have a mandolin you can use this bad boy to get your slices even, but if you don’t a sharp knife is just as good. Either way watch your fingers, yo. Also, if you slice the potato on the diagonal you get bigger and prettier slices – WORD!)
1 tbsp butter
1 large red onion, chopped finely
1 small-medium leek, sliced on the diagonal
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely/minced
200g smoked bacon lardons
Handful of thyme, leaves stripped from the stalks
Freshly ground black pepper
200g creme fraiche
100ml white wine
250g reblochon (if you can get it: I used raclette, you can also apparently use a young gruyere, emmenthal, fontina or tomme)
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C.
2. Fill a pan with cold water and boil your potato slices until tender – about 12-15mins. Can’t remember if I told you this before, but things that come from the earth (eg. potatoes, carrots, etc.) should always be boiled in cold water. I can’t remember why, but that’s what they taught me at cookery school, innit. There is a scientific reason behind it… eh, Google it.
3. Melt the butter in another pan, add the onion and leek and saute for about 5mins.
4. Add the garlic and bacon lardons, stir to combine and cook for a further 5mins.
5. Add the thyme leaves and grind some black pepper over to taste. I chose not to add salt as I think the salt from the cheese and bacon is enough.
6. Meanwhile, drain the potatoes and, in a shallow oven-proof dish, layer the slices until the bottom is covered.
7. Cover this layer with approximately half of your bacon/onion/leek mixture.
8. Pour over about half of the creme fraiche and then half of the wine.
9. Finally layer half your cheese on top. Repeat this layering process until all your ingredients are used up, ending with cheese.
10. Bake in the oven for about 20-30mins, or until the top is golden and bubbling.
11. Serve alongside a lovely green salad, consume and prepare for an imminent heart-attack.
That’s all for now. Lots of cooking happening over the next week or so. Watch this space for more soon. Until then, peace and love.