Tarte au Fromage d’Abondance

Tarte au Fromage d’Abondance

Here in the heart of Les Portes du Soleil on the Swiss/ French Alps border, is the town of Morzine, which, was  one of the pioneering ski areas of the  1930’s. A pretty enough town mostly built on the surrounding hills overlooking the town with views up to Avoriaz, a purpose built resort with ski areas up to 2,400 m. From the distance  the resort blends well into the rocks and mountain but close up it is really quiet ugly.

Back to Morzine, these days it is more than a ski resort, hosting in the summer “Harley Days” where the town is swamped by about 3,000 Harley riding bikers, the Tour de France and do not forget the hordes of mountain bikers, who use the ski lifts ( which have been adapted) to get up the mountains with their  bikes, only to descend at break neck speeds, looking more like Darth Vader, than humans. It is not unusual to see,  people hobbling around in casts and on crutches in winter and summer alike.

Morzine is close to Geneva, and hence is accessible to many Europeans and especially the Brits! A whole industry has arisen to cater to them, from catered chalets, to laundry services, to builders, to real estate agents and even to a Tesco delivery service! Restaurants abound, serving predominately mountain food and of course pizza. Chalets give their staff one night a week ‘off duty’ and so the guests descend upon the restaurants en mass. As I have said before Mountain food is  variations on a theme, cheese, ham, cream, charcuterie, including Cheese fondue, cheese raclette ,  croute au fromage, platters of charcuterie, etc etc. However one restaurant we we do frequent above others, is La Grange in the center of Morzine itself. It is run by a young Anglo French couple, Alex and Fred. They have been open for about 8 years and so far so good. When we visited the other night, a Tuesday, we were amazed at how busy they were. One party of about 20 walked in whilst we were there. I think they must have had 100+ covers that evening. As with most restaurants their menu is for serving the tourists , so lots of chees, ham , charcuterie and cream. However, they do have other offerings, such as local lake fish, wild boar stew, steak and salmon trout from the local Ardoisières valley fish farm. Sometimes, they do a very good Steak Tartare, though sadly not that often.

The one thing that we really enjoy when going there is the Tarte au Fromage d’Abondance. Abondance is a ‘ controlled named ‘ cheese from the Savoy region.It is made from semi skimmed milk and made into 10 kilo rounds. It is a very similar cheese to Gruyere but has a buttery, nutty flavour. It is semi hard and melts very nicely, which makes it ideal for cooking and can also be a substitute for Raclette cheese.. Here in the Savoy , it costs between 11€ and €18 a kilo, but in the UK it can cost as much £35( la Fromagerie in Marylebone for example). So I have been experimenting in making this delicious Tart. And it is not a quiche. 

The lovley Cheese from Abondance
 So to make this tart, you need enough pastry to line a quiche pan, I used a 12″ pan and pastry using 8 Oz flour you can use your favourite recipe or even buy some ready made, but not any type of puff pastry.

  1. 500 grams grated abondance cheese
  2. 4 large eggs
  3. 200 MLS Crème Fraiche
  4. Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Method 

Roll out the pastry, thin enough to line a quiche pan, but not too thinly. Trim the top edge and   prick the bottom of the pastry to prevent it from rising. Line the pastry with some baking paper. Fill this with some form of baking beans. You can buy ceramic baking beans but you can use rice, noodles, dried peas ,beans etc. 

the pastry lined with paper and anssortment of cereamkc beans, rice and noodles
 Bake at 200 C for about 15 mins only so just a little pre baking. Remove from oven and remove the paper and beans. Whilst the pastry is in the oven , whisk together the eggs and the Crème Fraiche . Season with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Spread the grated cheese over the pastry case evenly and spoon over the egg Crème mix. 

The finished Tart
 Return to the oven and bake for about 45 mins until the top is a golden brown. Remove from oven and leave to cool a little. It is best served warm but not hot. Could be served with some buttered new potatoes or a simple green salad.

For richer, for poorer, but not for Lunch!

For richer, for poorer, but not for Lunch!

It is that time of year again, we are on the move and as such, it means sorting out the refrigerator, and so I make soup. Fortunately, Himself likes soup and although I married him for richer, for poorer, I did not marry him for lunch! So this at least is an ideal compromise, as I make soup, bag it in Zip Lock bags ( perfect for one person….Large portion), remove the air and flat pack them in the freezer, ready for whenever!

So my most common soup, when clearing out is my infamous Refrigerator soup, others include, Cauliflower and blue cheese ( always have Stilton left over after Christmas), Leek and potato, ( always have too many potatoes), and french onion,( again too many onions and garlic),and when I have too much lettuce I make pea, sometimes with ham, and sometimes without, just depends if I have too much ham.

Seriously, though, my refrigerator soup, is made with whatever is left and todays version has the title of Refirgerator Soup, a la Provencal, as it could almost be Ratatouille!!

So as I say, when needs must I make soup from almost anything , more or less the only ones that I can really replicate time and time again are French Onion and Pea! But I came across a recipe the other day, hiding in my numerous Cookery books . Ones that are less popular have been decamped to France and in some cases, ones that are extremely popular have been duplicated in France, and I subscribe to French cookery magazines and web sites, always interesting to have an insight to other cultures and cuisine .
However the recipe I happened upon, was aptly named Ron’s Mum, Mully Soup!
Ron’s Mum was I believe of Burmese origin but sadly died many years ago, and so did Ron . I always said that the recipe would die with Ron’s Mum, and whilst living in the US circa 1994 , Ron asked ” do you by any chance have my Mums recipe for Mulligatawny soup? And I did. So here it is, it was the best Mully soup going but this was dated about 1970, so times have changed and I think I would use ready cooked chicken today and maybe not the condensed chicken soup, but give it a try and see for yourself.

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Soups from Top to bottom are, Soup a la Provençal, thick Mulligatawny and Ron’s Mum Mully Soup! Given a taste test the other night the general consensus was They preferred Ron’s Mum, however, number two daughter declared after looking at the contents of tinned soup ( lots of filler and only 3% soup) that if she had known beforehand then she might not have eaten it! Ah well! It could be a quick semi homemade soup providing you have the cooked chicken and the can of soup ( I normally do not) enjoy!

January in the mountains

Once upon a time, January in the mountains, meant freezing temperatures, good snow, and Ice. This year we have the Ice and Rain and wind ,obviously some snow higher up, but wind helps to make lots of ice and swipes away what snow there is.

This equals good news for some of the restaurants as now they are busy at lunch time as well as in the evening. One of our favourites in Morzine, is La Grange, a very rustic place decorated with cow bells, and sleighs and other artefacts of a bygone era. It is owned and operated by Alex ( British) and Fred ( French) . In the off season, Fred uses this time to try his hand at different types of cuisine, ( and does a wonderful Steak Tartare) but in the Winter it is cuisine Savoyard that comes into play. Other restaurants that have tried to be non conformist seem to have failed, the Savoyard cuisine is the one that the tourists are looking for. It is not for the faint hearted, as I have said before, variations on Ham, Cheese and Cream are the order of the day, however the a la carte menu does offer good quality steaks, chicken ,duck pork and fish ( though personally am not keen on FERA du lac, which is a lake fish and I always find it tastes a bit muddy!)
However on our recent visit, it was packed to the doors, but Alex was her usual smiley self and food was as good as usual and copious. I started with the Tarte d’ abondance, which is a very a very rich quiche like tart, but with, I think more cheese and cream, than in a quiche!

Liking it so much, I decided to make it last night, did some research and fiddling with recipes, came up with this:-

Pastry, you can use a packet of bought short pastry ( I always make my own, but then you can all me odd!)
6 eggs, beaten with enough single cream to make up 1/2L of liquid,
500 grams of good cheese, here it would be Abondance, but any of hte following can be used, Beaufort, Emmental, Gruyere, or even goats cheese, but would not recommend any of the british cheeses, either too strong, or do not melt the same.
Roll out the pastry and line a greased quiche type dish with it. Fill dish with the cheese and pour over the egg/cream mixture. Bake at 170/180 degrees for about 40 minutes until golden brown.When hot the filling will be runny but sets on cooling, so best eaten warm, but not piping hot. Serve with a green salad.

Over the Festive season, youngest daughter also took her turn in cooking dinner and she came up with Vegetarian Chilli, which although she is not a vegetarian, enjoys being creative with pulses and grains. so here is her dinner, which is YUMMY!

4 garlic cloves chopped plus 2 large chopped onions
2 cups of chopped vegetables, to include mushrooms ( optional), red/green peppers, carrots, sweet potatoes
1 hot pepper, seeded and minced (optional)
1 Cup frozen peas and or corn
1 tsp ground cumin, ground coriander, chili powder, salt and black pepper
2 cans chopped tomatoes
16 oz – can tomato puree
1 – can kidney beans, ,black beans, red beans, or any other such as chick peas or lentils. all drained
2 Cups water
1/2 Cup bulgur wheat or quinoa cooked
Hot sauce or cayenne pepper (optional)
1/4 Cup minced fresh cilantro, for garnish
sour cream, and mashed avocado for garnish (optional) grated cheese

Directions
put some oil in a large pot. Sauté the vegetables and spices in the oil over medium to medium-low heat for 10 minutes or until tender. Add a few tablespoons of water if the veggies begin sticking to the pot.
Add the remaining ingredients except the cilantro, sour cream and avocado and simmer over medium-low heat, covered, for 30 minutes. Stir and simmer for an additional 20 to 30 minutes until the veggies are cooked through.
Season with salt and, if more spice is desired, hot sauce or cayenne pepper to taste. Serve sprinked with the cilantro with the sour cream grated cheese and avocado on the side
Tip: Leftover chili freezes

Photos from the top, filet of beef, onion tart, supreme of chicken, Tarte au fromage, my Tarte au fromage and the interior of La Grange br />
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