Queso Fundito . Tex-Mex / North American


This is a warm, melty, spicy cheese dip for scooping up with nacho chips or soft tacos. That’s a ten inch cast iron griddle pan above with enough for two people. The silver foil is because I hate washing up and spoiling the non-stick layer on my favourite old pans. The champion of  several hundred steaks, that pan deserves better than soaking overnight in cold water…………

I’ve used Ree Drummond’s recipe here, The Pioneer Woman…straight from her blog:


Basically you need to make some loose sausage meat called Mexican Chorizo,  you need some grated cheese that will melt without splitting and you need some diced peppers and onions and then soft tacos or nacho chips.


Mexican Chorizo:

Fry the following together and freeze for another day

500 gms Minced pork ( low fat is fine….just add olive oil, but higher fat is OK too …it carries those flavours)

1/4 teaspoon of Ground Cloves ( grind them yourself or buy ready made in which case use double!)

1/4 teaspoon of Ground Cinnamon

1 and a 1/2 teaspoons Garlic Granules

3 heaped teaspoons Ancho Chilli Powder ( or use mild chilli powder and sweet paprika in equal portions)

1 teaspoon Dried Oregano

1 teaspoon Dried Thyme

1 teaspoon Ground Cumin

1 teaspoon Ground Coriander  ( seeds)

1/2 teaspoon of ground Black Pepper

When the above are all combined and the meat is cooked  ….( a huge spoon is best for crushing and separating the meat)…add the last ingredient…it’s weird but it works!

1 tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar ( or any vinegar if you have none)

Save this in a freezer-proof plastic bag and break off and thaw to use as needed.

Don’t clean the pan! …use the flavoured oil there to cook your peppers and onions


Melting Cheese:

This is a tricky one…the cheeses American cooks use aren’t available to us in the UK generally so we need to choose our cheese to grate carefully. ‘Processed Cheese’ grates well and it has a long shelf life ( that’s why the ‘processing’ was invented) but you can only buy it in the UK in sliced form for burgers nowadays, though there are other forms…but they are expensive:

001Processed cheese in tins from Jamaica, tubs from Scotland and burger cheese…all melt perfectly without ‘splitting’ and giving off fat.

Other cheese that don’t split are the ‘soapy’ ones…..Alpine cheeses like Emmental or Gruyere and Dutch cheeses like Edam and Gouda. I believe Havarti and Leerdammer will work too.

If you want to keep it economical you can buy ‘economy grade’ mild cheddar and Red Leicester to grate but you must warm them slowly. Ree gives an oven temperature of 400 degrees Fahrenheit, equivalent to 200 Degrees Centigrade or Gas Mark 6…that is FAR too hot…use 160 deg.C or Gas Mark 3 and keep a close eye on it…it doesn’t want to bubble, just slowly tremble. Ree gets away with her high temperature because the cheeses she has melt easily.


Peppers and onions:

Dice and fry gently in this order, green pepper, onions and red pepper. When they have taken on a few brown edges and are softening crank up the heat and add a big splash of boiling water from the kettle to de-glaze the pan. Continue cooking until the water had almost gone and remove from the heat to cool.



The dressing for after cooking ( pure Ree this one):

Tomatoes with the seeds and water removed then diced.

Chopped Coriander Leaf ( Nothing wrong with frozen for this)


Assembling and cooking:

Layer the grated cheese into a griddle pan, layer on some Chorizo, more cheese, Diced Peppers and Onion, more cheese, dusted with Hot Chilli powder and Ground Cumin.


If using soft tacos, brush a hot pan with melted butter, flop in a tortilla, brush the top and flip to cook the other side…repeat. If using Nacho Chips get them in a bowl ready.

003There’s also some left-over cut up Tortilla leaves brushed with butter and cooked in the oven there….


008Ready to rock!


Cook the Queso Fundito in the oven gently at 160 Deg. C Gas mark 3, for about 8 minutes, turning the pan around at least once to cook evenly. It might take a bit longer…ovens vary, but be patient and don’t turn up the heat if using cheaper cheeses.

009Note the little fork to load those soft tacos!


A little music to dine by:







Austrian Supper…Goulash


Slowly braised beef, with added strips of feather steak which takes 7 hours to cook but imparts a glossy texture and a superb rich flavour to the sauce. Simply shred off the meat and discard the sinew ‘feather’. It can smell unpleasant whilst cooking but it does not taint the finished dish. It’s worth seeking it out……


Otherwise it’s just onions, a pinch of salt, and the ‘Hungarian’ flavour of a good quality mild paprika ( it simply must be Hungarian paprika..there are seven grades of mild…you want at least ‘Edelsuss’ or noble sweet, the middle grade….if you can find a better ‘delicate’try it. The Spice Shop in Blenheim Crescent, Notting Hill does mail order ‘first class’ Hungarian paprika…….


The last seasoning is caraway seeds.  This dish is usually served as a soup in ski huts across Austria, but here it is served as a main course with buttered noodles. It seems strange that an Hungarian dish should be everywhere in Austria but up until 1914 they were the same great empire ruled by the Hapsburgs.


I cooked this to celebrate another skiing race, ….the famous Hahnenkamm from Kitzbuhel on the notorious Streif course.


We finished with another ski hut special…Kaiserschmarrn, or ‘Emperor’s Mess. Here’s a proper recipe



I cheated and used a packet mix from The German Deli…..:-) served with frozen raspberry schnapps( at least I made that myself)



Race highlights…..it’s a big party in Kitzbuhel….akin to the football World Cup in Britain..

A little music to accompany dinner……



You can make Goulash as a stew with dumplings too:


The dumplings can be plain old packet mix ones, they are always light, but you can tweak them too…how about Tirolean Dumplings with fried bacon and onions in the mix?

I couldn’t find any feather steak this week so the above was thickened with cornflour and some low-salt gravy granules. It kills the vibrant colour a bit …. but not the taste.


Or maybe these…Käseknodel…Cheese Dumplings as in the image above:


Make up the dumpling mix as instructed in a bowl, but add some dried thyme. With floured hands dab a small 1 cm cube of cheese ( I used Gouda) onto some caraway seeds, und place in the middle of a round of dumpling mix. Bring the mix up the sides and seal to exclude any air. Dust with flour to stop them sticking to a plate and add to the Goulash, cooking through for about 30 minutes. the mix makes 8, but with the cheese inside I got 10 dumplings. I think next time I shall use a cheese with a stronger taste.



Wengen Wurst fest


A menu for the whole day to celebrate the Ski World Championships returning to Wengen, Switzerland as it always does mid-January.  Next week-end is always Kitzbuhel for the famous Hahnenkam race, but Wengen’s is always on the Lauberhorn mountain, just below the Eiger, Jungfrau and the Monch mountains.


Look carefully and you can see the Lauterbrunnen valley below the town…no roads, the only access to Wengen is by train.


Frustuck ( breakfast)..sliced meats, sliced cheese,bread rolls and butter:



Brettljause….a snack on a wooden board …. pickles, cured meats and a schnapps to finish:



And finally, the wurstfest for the big race:  Tiroller Groestl, sauerkraut and a mixture of  sausages:


the sausage are, from left to right, two Nurnberg Rostbratwurst, a Berner-Wurstl( wrapped in bacon…see recipe elsewhere) a Thuringian Bratwurst at the back, then in front of the Berner -Wurstl an Hungarian salami and an ordinary old Weiner, or hot dog.



The race?


Cancelled due to 16 inches of overnight snow………  😦



OK Franz Lang is German, not Swiss…but he is the king:





Beef Stroganoff, the Syrovania way


Syrovania is a restaurant within a cheese factory in a guarded industrial estate in Moscow’s old manufacturing district. Like many other cheese factories it sprung up when food imports bans from the EU came into force. The name means ‘Creamery’, but is correctly written in Russian Cyrillic like this:



This recipe it dedicated to its creator, Yuri Rozhkov, TV celebrity, Michelin-starred chef and Maître Cuisiniers de France who has sadly died aged just 45. Fresh cheese, demi-glace stock, fried potatoes, parsley and a finish in the oven were his take on the classic dish…….yuri-rozhkov

Although it looks like a one-pot dish it isn’t, the main parts are cooked separately, then combined and finished in the oven. There’s absolutely no reason why certain bits can’t be done beforehand…even the day before…and finished after a starter course in just 10 minutes.

The five main components are as follows:

Sliced onions and garlic cloves gently fried until lightly coloured and soft, with a beef demi-glace stock added at the end, then put aside. Demi-glace stock is hard to find and even harder to make, buy a good beef stock or some good gravy and reduce it, but do watch it doesn’t get too salty.

Fried sliced mushrooms, again with a good colour on them. If you have to rely on supermarket ‘farmed’ mushrooms just finish them with a little Chinese Oyster Sauce..it really brings out their mild flavour. The pour over sour cream, or   crème fraîche…you can always ‘sour’ double cream with some lemon juice and white-wine vinegar.

New potatoes, boiled in the skins, cooled and sliced. If you do these the day before cover them in kitchen paper overnight in the ‘fridge, slice them and store them in a plastic bag, with a sheet of folded kitchen paper to absorb even more water. I used Vivaldi from the Eastern villages of Cyprus, with the famous red soil still clinging to them….so good!

Fillet steak strips seasoned as they are cooked, cut in a special way and beaten into ribbons.  In truth, cut and beaten the correct way, the meat is so tender you might use a slightly cheaper cut with a lot more flavour. Fillet steak was used for Count Stroganoff because he had toothache! He was also very rich……..

Grated cheese to garnish…Yuri said their cheese is like Edam or Gouda

Preparing the beef.

The idea is to cut the beef into strips in such a way that the natural meat fibres are facing upwards, before beating the strips into ribbons with a steak hammer ( smooth side) or rolling pin.


In the case of a fillet joint, sometimes called a Tenderloin, the fibres run up and down the meat, so you cut 1/4 inch steaks from  the joint and cut these into strips. You will feel the difference if you try and beat a strip to a ribbon from the wrong side…it just doesn’t want to flatten..turn it through 90 degrees and feel the difference!



Now you can imagine the fibres running through the thin steaks from one cut side to the other. Cut these steaks into strips and beat from a side that was the top or bottom of the steak…they will spread out into thin, tender ribbons. If you try and beat on the wrong side of the strips they feel far, far tougher.


You can imagine why you don’t really need fillet steak for this…battered and beaten, …. any steak is going to be tender and a cheaper cut will be more tasty too!

I imagine rib-eye steak and Sirloin would be even better than fillet




The grated cheese, Gouda in this case, the onion and garlic mixture in beef stock and the potatoes.


The beef ribbons and the sour cream and mushrooms.

So, you now have the five main ingredient groups ready….just the potatoes to fry in a little olive oil and butter, put aside …and then fry the steak ribbons….time to turn the oven or grill on!


Fry the potatoes to get some nice crisp edges. Meanwhile add the stock and onions and the cream and mushrooms to a gently warming oven-proof frying pan or shallow casserole dish. Stir to combine slightly.

When the potatoes are done fry the steak strip to get a little colour and season with a little steak seasoning….maybe Keg Spice that I’ve mentioned before.

Turn the meat out over the mushrooms and onions, stir to combine a little and layer the potatoes over the top. Finish with the grated cheese and a little parsley to garnish, before putting in the oven or under the grill to melt the cheese. Serve with some fresh green vegetables for contrast………

Спасибо  Юрий         or           Spasibo Yuri!….Thank-you




Serve with shots of frozen vodka…put a small bottle in the freezer in the morning, it will go thick with the cold and the bottle will ice over when you take it out of the freezer.


Tvoye zdorovye!







Mashed Potatoes, the cheffy way

Stuffed potato skins was always a popular choice for the menu with the chefs…they got to eat the middles as mashed potato………….


Everybody makes ‘mash’ from boiled potatoes, right?….and washes half the flavour away too.


Just use jacket potatoes instead….loads more flavour. You can even microwave the jacket spuds….about 10 minutes on full power per pound should do it. Then allow them to cool fully before cutting in half and scooping the mash out with a dessert spoon.



Here’s what the customers got:




Here’s what the kitchen staff got:


Because the potato is thoroughly cooked already it doesn’t even matter if you leave some lumps…in fact it’s quite pleasant…don’t forget the butter and black pepper……..


If you want to make what the customers got as well….just deep fry the skins briefly, then fill with soft cream cheese, top with grated cheddar with some pre-fried bacon bits and bake in the oven for 2o minutes at 200 Deg. C Gas Mark 6. Serve with chopped spring onions and a sour cream and chive dip.







Rock-Bottom Roasties..the crispest spuds ever!

rock-bottom-roasties2I did ‘utterly fool-proof roast potatoes here:


But I’ve been trying to reproduce an accident that happened 10 years ago and I’ve finally cracked it. It all came about when I over boiled the potatoes and they fell apart! I cooled them and rebuilt them by hand. Not trusting they’d be any good I did some more properly, but I cooked the ‘broken’ ones as well and they were superb….so crunchy!


So here’s how to do it on purpose!


Peel potatoes, red skinned ones are often best and pre-cook them by gently simmering until one looks like it’s about to fall apart. Lift that one out with a slotted spoon and continue cooking the others gently for a little longer.


Now lift them all out of the water and cool by an open window. Once cool hold one in the palm of your hand and crush it with the other palm until it just collapses. If it over-collapses just re-shape it again.


Every single one of these has been crushed to the point of collapse and gently re-shaped again.

Place the re-formed potatoes on a plate with kitchen roll on top of it, shake a little salt over the potatoes and cover with more kitchen roll and then cling-film. Refrigerated for 3 hours or even overnight to dry them out. You’ll see the cling-film is wet beneath and the kitchen towel soaked….now your spuds are nice and dry and will roast perfectly….water is the enemy of good roasting ( and frying) as the water absorbs the energy and distributes it as steam so your spuds never get hot enough……..

Roast these in half beef dripping -half vegetable oil ( goose and duck fat burns and stinks the house out) for one hour, to one hour and ten minutes at 200 degrees C, or Gas mark 6. Do nothing, …. they might stick but they’ll release later on all by themselves. There’s no need to turn or baste them…though a turn at 45 minutes might just make for double sided crispy spuds………


Just how crispy are these roasties?  Loud enough to hear them being eaten from the next village, that’s how!  They stay crisp in a pool of hot gravy for twenty minutes..they stay crispy in a steaming hot kitchen for over an hour and a half…by which time they have all been eaten, dipped in salt. They’d probably last longer…..who knows?

Sausage and Egg McMuffins



2 small eggs

2 muffins

one slice of processed cheese

2 patties of sausage meat, stiffened with breadcrumbs and seasoned with dried sage and a large pinch of sugar. I make these in advance and freeze them wrapped individually in cling film.




Two hash brown to accompany.



Dry-fry the hash browns and then add the two sausage patties to the pan.

Drop the eggs into poaching rings in a saucepan with a little oil added….nick the yolk with the egg shell so it bursts and lays flat…it’ll cook much quicker now. Once the eggs show that they are setting around the edges splash in some boiling water to one side from the kettle and put a lid over the pan.


Turn the hash browns and sausage patties and then use a knife tip to loosen the eggs from the poaching rings, putting the rings away to wash and the lid back on the saucepan.


Split and toast the muffins, putting a little butter on the bottom half. Follow with a sausage pattie, half a slice of cheese and the set poached egg, before putting the other muffin half on tip.


Watch the fat content of any sausage meat you buy….some can be as high as 33% ! If you don’t like what is on offer just buy some mid-quality sausages and spit the skins to recover the meat. The sugar sounds a little crazy but it balances the bitterness of the sage and the real thing is definitely sweet!…and they do indeed have dried glucose syrup in them!

German Christmas Market at home

If you go to one of the German Christmas markets, or Christkindlmarkt there’s a few things you’ll find there that are easy to do at home.

Christkindlesmarkt, weihnachtliches Nürnberg


Glüwein, or mulled wine.

This is really rather bitter as it’s usually made with cheap wine and homemade can be just as bitter too unless you use a good quality ‘New World’ style wine. If you do use a cheaper wine just sweeten it with sugar..maybe 5 heaped tablespoons will be needed.

Pour the wine, sweetened if needed, into a pan and add the following:

A tablespoon of lemon juice.

An orange, quartered and with three cloves stuck into each quarter.

One stick of cinnamon.

200ml of water.


I still find this lacking, but it’s the original recipe. I like it better with the following added:

Two tablespoons of black treacle.

One quarter teaspoon of Mixed Spice.

One quarter teaspoonful of ground Nutmeg.

One tablespoon of syrup and ten pieces of fine-diced Crystalised Ginger


Bring to a gentle heat with the lid on the pan and serve into pre-heated glasses or coffee mugs can take the heat un-heated.

Christmas Market in Hamburg


Nürnbergrostbratwurst…or sausage in a bun.

This sausage with the big name is actually very small…the size of your little finger. The only UK seller seems to be Lidl these days, though Helen Brownings Speedy Sausages are similar, but spiced wrongly.

These are kuchewurst, or cooked sausages, like a bratwurst or hot dog and only need warming through, they are usually served three to a little bun:


These slightly sweet sausages are a big hit with children and very easy to cook as they just want a little colour..maybe three minutes in a dry pan!


Gebrannte Mandeln…or burnt almonds.

These are a bit addictive…you have been warned!

Mix equal quantities by volume of sugar and water together in a pan on a high heat. When the mixture starts to thicken and bubble add almond nuts still in their skins and stir continuously. After about 5 minutes the water has mostly gone and when you see your first ‘sugar string’ lower the heat right down and stir in the following:

A teaspoon of ground cinnamon and more sugar….keeps stirring!!


Add a few drops of vanilla essence and more sugar. As the sugar is amalgamated into the sticky coating turn out onto greaseproof paper to cool, separating the nuts with your spoon. Be careful, melted sugar is hot enough to burn your skin off!

Traditionally sold in a paper cone when still warm.



Music, there’s always music:








Chilli Cheese Fries


This can be made really easily from pre-bought or pre-cooked and stored ingredients.

Basically you add half a can of warmed chilli con carne over some cooked oven fries, cover with crated cheddar cheese and grill to melt the cheese.



Absurdly satisfying for such simple ingredients.



A simple French alpine dish of cheese and potatoes, served with pickles.


Pre-cooked waxy ‘new’ potatoes, allowed to cool, cut into slices and then added to the oven-proof dish. Take a Reblouchon cheese and wipe the  skin clean with a cloth, cut in half from the side and scoop the cheese out  of one half with a teaspoon, spread the cheese pieces amongst the potatoes pieces, dust with a little black pepper:



Onions fried in butter with fatty smoked bacon.




Add the onions and bacon to the cheese and potatoes and cover with the remaining half of cheese, cut into two:




Bake in the oven at 190 Degrees Centigrade, or Gas Mark 5 for 35 minutes, making sure the cheese is bubbling in the middle before serving with  some mixed pickles: