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Merry Cheesemas Everyone! Vintage Cheddar Brioche and Cranberry Palmiers



According to statistics shown in The Guardian in 2018 the UK was estimated to have wasted 2 million kilos of cheese during the festive season. Yes: we all do love our extravagant cheeseboards and impressive platters that makes our guests go "ooooh", but cheese seems to be everywhere at Christmas and we use it as a tool to get those love heart eyes from our guests. We tend to get over excited, i think, when it comes to entertaining our friends and family and all prior control over budget and quantity goes out of the window at Christmas. Food wastage during December is one of the most critical months of the year, simply because we overwhelm our fridge with more food than we can consume, plan for and distribute.


I think I speak for all of us here that COVID-19 has thrown a spanner in the works for many of us in that our Christmas table may not be quite so full with friends and family this year. Lets think "glass half full" here, and look at the positives that a global pandemic over Christmas will provide us. There will be less people around that table of yours, which will make it easier for you to cater to. Your fridge needn't be so full, you can plan and control what you put out, and perhaps lets just use this time to be particularly mindful of our food wastage this year and really take a look and what we can use in our cooking.



Cheese, yes, is something we waste a lot but actually, its all the festive food, because its all over-purchased, its bought for the intent of entertaining, for show even (make that board look extra special)... Jarred goods, such as cranberry sauce, bread sauce, pestos, relishes, caramelised onions, and even sauces like pasta sauces, curry pastes (you get the gist), quite often get used once and then placed, unfinished, at the back of the fridge only to be found after New Years when you decide to tackle your fridge and its green and fluffy inside. Yum...


My recipes aren't going to fix the world, but they might help give you some inspiration as to what you can do with those random bits, you don't know what to with. By all means, go ahead and eat a block of cheese, but perhaps you could do something a little more fun and exciting with it.



INGREDIENTS

- 275g plain flour

- 7g aches fast action dried yeast

- 25g caster sugar

- 1/2 tsp salt

- 2 eggs, beaten

- 50ml milk

- 80g softened butter, cubed


- 3 tbsp cranberry sauce

- cheddar cheese

- 5 rashers smoked bacon, finely chopped


Here you could substitute the cranberry sauce for any kind of jarred sauce, as I listed above. Pestos, caramelised onion jams and chutney, relishes; these would all be delicious. You could use many different types of cheeses, perhaps even a mixture of theses that your fridge accumulated over that cheese and port night you had with your friends (though at the moment, I'm not sure how many of us can actually do that right now...). The bacon isn't necessary but does add a wonderful flavour. You could use ham, hock, crumbled cooked sausage, salamis, chorizo whatever you have!


METHOD

Put your flour in a bowl. Add your sugar and salt to one side of the bowl and the yeast on the other side. Salt kills yeast and so direct contact may affect the rise of your dough. Make a well in the flour then add in the milk and the beaten eggs and mix. Use the hook attachment on a stand mixer, or the kneading attachment to your hand mixer or just go old school and use those hands of yours. The dough will be sticky so bare with. Knead and mix the dough for 5 minutes until you have formed a smooth and shiny ball.


Begin to add small cubes of softened butter to the dough, with the attachment on a low speed. Add in the next cube of butter once the previous has been fully incorporated. Keep mixing on a low speed until you have mixed in all of the butter. Continue mixing for 2-3 mins.


The dough should be smooth, shiny and elastic.


Dust your work surface with flour.

Take the dough out and roll into a rectangle about 30x40cm.

Begin by spreading your sauce, ensuring you reach the edges and spread an even layer. Sprinkle your grated choice of cheese evenly across the dough. Fry your bacon, or whatever you choose to use, until it is crispy. Again, sprinkle evenly on top of the cheese.


Line your loaf tin with baking parchment. Dust your work surface lightly with plain. With the longest edge closest to you, roll the dough as tightly as you are able to. Turn your roll so that the shortest edge now faces you and cut down the middle of your roll to create two long strands to plait. Plait a two-strand loaf by placing the left strand over the right, and then the right strand over the left. Do this cautiously as the dough is very stretchy and loose. Try not to pull at it or make it any longer as you plait.

Clamp the ends of the plait tightly together and carefully lift your brioche plait into your loaf tin, again trying not to change its shape as you lower it into the tin. If its a little long, try bunching it up a little and tuck the ends under.


Place the tin into a plastic bag, ensuring there's plenty of space inside and tie the bag to lock in the air. Place in a warm place to prove for 2 hours.


Preheat your oven 15 minutes before the end of proving, to 190 degrees celsius. Your brioche should have doubled in size and will now bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 170 degrees celsius and bake for a further 25 minutes.

Take out of the oven and its tin and place on a cooling rack.


You could eat it now, or you could take it a step further and drown it in cheese sauce. The cheese sauce is an absolute must.


CHEESE SAUCE

- 1 tsp plain flour

- 1 tsp butter

- 250ml milk

- handful grated cheese. I put approx 50g cheddar but have a taste of your sauce and add more here or there if you want it a little cheesier

- 2 fresh sage leaves

- 2 sprigs rosemary

- 1/4 tsp nutmeg

- 1/2 tsp paprika


Melt the butter in a pan on a medium heat. Add the flour to the pan and mix to a paste. Add 50ml of milk at a time and incorporate fully. The mixture will appear quite thick to begin with but as you add the milk it will get thinner. I personally like to stop adding milk when its at a consistency that I like. You should also bare in mind that cheese will melt and make the sauce thicker. Finely chop the rosemary and sage and add to the sauce, along with paprika and nutmeg. Season to taste with salt and pepper. This is really up to you how it tastes, have a play around with it.


White wine would also be lovely used here as well. Heat a splash of wine in a pan until it sizzles and bubbles. Then add your butter and continue as stated above. It may be a little runnier but its nothing that a bit of cheese won't fix!


Drizzle over the loaf or serve in a bowl (or fondue bowl if you have one) to dip in. I do warn you though you will be eating the entire loaf. It is one of those things that you just can't put down!


CHEDDAR & CRANBERRY PALMIERS



Ready-made puff pastry, I feel, is a wasted food's best friend. You can spruce up, use up just about anything and make it into a sheet pie, deep dish pie, pastry parcels and petite little treats that you can have in the cupboard to satisfy your nibbles or use to entertain your guests with at dinner. Puff pastry is a great tool to use for left over jarred sauces that you can't find a use for- just like the last bit of cranberry sauce after christmas dinner! Palmiers are a delicate, delicious and extremely simple french pastry that you could make to use up your cheese and sauce scraps!


I earlier mentioned some sauces that would be put to good use in the brioche loaf but they all would work just as nicely in a pastry. Pesto and parmesan is a popular and very tasty palmier but I used cranberry sauce and cheddar and baked up a festive little treat.


INGREDIENTS

- 1 sheet of ready-rolled puff pastry

- 2-3 tbsp cranberry sauce

- 50g (handful) grated cheese


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius and line a baking sheet with baking parchment.

Unroll the puff pastry once it has rested to room temperature and spread to all edges with a thin and even layer of cranberry sauce. Sprinkle on your grated cheese, evenly distributing.

With the longest edge closest to you, tightly begin to roll the pastry. Continue to roll until you reach the centre. Do the same to the other side so that you have what looks like two rolls.

Chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.


Take the roll of of the fridge and slice 1cm thick pieces along the roll. Use a serrated knife and let the weight of the knife cut as you "saw" in and out. Don't push down on the pastry otherwise you will squash the delicate pattern that you created.

Lay your pieces on the baking sheet, with roughly 2 cm minimum space away from one another. You can egg wash them to get a nice golden, glazed look but this isn't necessary. Bake for 8-10 mins.

Cool on a cooling rack and serve just warm. These are lovely warm or cold, but I personally love a pastry fresh from the oven!


I hope this has given you the cheesy inspo you needed to get your fridge all freed up to begin a fresh New Year. I mean cheese is too good to waste and I struggle to think that we really waste that much cheese.... but apparently we do so no excuses, guys! Raid your fridges for all the cheese and sauces you can find! What can you make -- oh this is exciting! Let the cheese come out to play!


Thank you for taking the time to read this,


Gina ~ The Noo Noo Project



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