My bookmark folder is out of control. I have magazines stacked in boxes, cookery books on shelves and in the spare room. Scraps of paper with scribbled notes, recipes half written out in notebooks and then there are the ideas that float about in my head waiting to be formed in to something more concrete. I don’t stand a chance of getting through all of the recipes that I want to make or adapt somehow.
I actually blame my parents. I grew up with shelves lined with cookery books; a lot dog eared and stained from use, most with notes in the margins or torn out recipes stuffed between the pages. There is something rather comforting about being surrounded by a never ending supply of food ideas. The majority may never see a pan or plate but we’ll never run out of options.
For the moment my dad is on something of a restricted diet. He is embracing it whole heartedly but I know there are things he sorely misses and he is satisfying his needs vicariously. This means that his stash of ‘to cook one day’ recipes is being raided and pressed into my hands with a “I thought you might like the sound of this”. And I do, we have similar tastes when it comes to what makes a good meal.
Simple is good, letting flavours shine. Potatoes are always welcomed and, as is evident from this blog, cheese and bacon make everything better. This bake is adapted from a recipe torn from The Times, a few years ago from the looks of it and I can’t seem to find it online. But it provided a very fine spring board for adapting. A simple dish of potatoes, onions and bacon, topped with melting cheese.
Spinach was added for a dose of greenery and peas because, as every parent of a small person knows, peas are acceptable at any time, aren’t a ‘real’ vegetable in their eyes and will always disappear off the plate.
We had ours with freshly baked bread, oozing with melted butter. A complete carb overload but one that was worth it and just right on the nights when the wind is howling.
A note here on the potatoes, the original recipe called for new potatoes which is what I’ve put here but next time I’ll be using Apache potatoes for their buttery chestnut flavour. You ideally want a waxy potato that will hold its shape, the Charlotte variety is lovely but at the end of the day whatever you’ve got in will do the job. You can’t really go that wrong with potato, bacon and cheese.
A simple but very tasty meal to serve with a good chunk of fresh bread to mop up the juice.
- 500g new potatoes
- 2 red onions, sliced
- 250g pancetta
- 180g bag baby spinach
- 2 handfuls frozen peas
- Freshly ground pepper
- 150g cheese, grated, Gruyere is good but cheddar will work well if that’s what you’ve got.
- Put the potatoes on to boil in a saucepan of slightly salted water.
- Fry the onions and pancetta in a tablespoon of oil until the onions are soft and the pancetta starting to crisp.
- Preheat the oven to 190c fan.
- Once the potatoes are tender, drain and cut each one in half. Return to the pan, add the onion, bacon, spinach and peas, mixing well. Season with black pepper.
- Tip in to a gratin dish (you can use either one large one or four smaller ones) and sprinkle over the cheese.
- Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes, until the cheese has melted.