Cooking with Comté

I was very kindly gifted some of my favourite cheese of all time – Comté – and asked to try out a few recipes that British chef Laura Pope had developed, these can be found below. Both the frittata and the filo parcels are perfect for summer dinners and very easy to make. Personally I think ham and Comté is the ultimate combo so I used this in both my dishes but you can tailor the recipe!

For those of you unfamiliar with what Comté tastes like, it’s a fairly unique French cheese that is handcrafted 365 days a year in France, each wheel with its own unique flavour. It’s not too strong and overpowering yet still has a delicious distinct salty flavour that tastes great on its own or melted into hot dishes. You can find out more on their website: www.comtecheese.co.uk.

Comté Frittata with Summer Vegetables

  • 1 tablespoon light olive oil
  • 1 onion, sliced thinly
  • 8 large free-range eggs
  • 1 tablespoon plain flour
  • 115ml single cream
  • 200g medium Comté (12 to 18-month) – 150g grated and 50g cut into long matchsticks
  • 25g soft herbs, e.g. parsley, basil, dill, chives or mint, leaves roughly chopped
  • Knob of butter
  • Seasonal vegetables, cooked, e.g. a few spears of griddled asparagus or charred slices of courgette
  • Optional: roasted red pepper, sliced into strips; fried lardons or chorizo; sliced ham

Method

  1. Heat a large non-stick frying pan over a medium heat, add the olive oil. Add the onion and cook for about 10 to 15 minutes until it is soft and lightly golden, but do not let it burn.
  2. Heat oven to 190℃ (170℃ fan).
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, flour and cream by hand and season with ¾ teaspoon of fine salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Mix in the herbs and the grated Comté.
  4. Add the onion to the egg mixture and stir it in.
  5. Return the frying pan to the hob on a medium-high heat, add a knob of butter and, once it is foaming, pour in the egg mixture. Lay over the green vegetables and, if you are using them, the peppers, lardons, chorizo or ham. Cover with the lid and cook for 5 minutes until a ring about 1 to 2cm thick around the edge of the pan is set, but still runny in the middle.
  6. Scatter the sticks of Comté over the top of the frittata and put it in the centre of the oven, uncovered, for about 6 minutes until it is just set – you can turn on the grill for the last 1 to 2 minutes to brown the top if necessary, but watch it carefully so it does not burn.
  7. Remove the pan from the oven and let it sit for 5 minutes. Carefully slide the frittata out of the pan (do not flip it over) onto a large plate or serving board and slice it into wedges. Serve warm, or it is wonderful for a picnic once it has been refrigerated.


Filo Parcels of Comté, Courgettes, Spinach & Leeks

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons light olive oil
  • 2 leeks, trimmed and washed thoroughly, then finely sliced
  • 2 courgettes, coarsely grated and placed in a sieve to drain excess liquid
  • 80g baby leaf spinach, washed and roughly chopped
  • 200g medium Comté (12 to 18-month), cut into 1cm cubes
  • 7 sheets filo pastry, measuring about 25x45cm
  • 75g unsalted butter, melted
  • Optional: 1 or 2 slices of ham, finely chopped

Method

  1. Place a large frying pan over a high heat, add the olive oil, then the leeks. Season with a little fine salt and a few grinds of black pepper, then stir to coat the leeks in the oil and seasoning. Cover the pan, turn the heat down a little to medium-low and sweat the leeks for 10 to 15 minutes until they are soft and a little golden – stir and check regularly so they do not burn and turn the heat down if necessary.
  2. Remove the lid, raise the heat to high, add the courgettes and cook for a further 3 to 4 minutes, stirring regularly, then add the spinach and cook, still stirring, for about 2 minutes so that it wilts and some of the liquid cooks off. Check the seasoning and add more if needed, but not too much as the Comté will add plenty of flavour. Transfer the vegetables into a bowl and leave to cool before stirring through the cubes of Comté (and the ham, if using).
  3. Heat the oven to 180℃ (160℃ fan).
  4. Melt the butter in a small saucepan and lay out a sheet of filo pastry on a clean, cool worktop. Brush some butter over the filo and cut it lengthways into 2 strips. Put about 2 tablespoons of the mixture at the bottom of each strip and fold each one over diagonally to make a triangle, then continue to fold over up the length of the pastry. Repeat with the remaining filling and filo pastry.
  5. Arrange the parcels on a lined baking sheet and brush the tops with more butter. Bake in the centre of the oven for 18 to 20 minutes, or until they’re golden brown and cooked through. Serve immediately, but beware the piping hot filling!

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