Thursday, April 05, 2007

A friend popped in to see me yesterday afternoon, so I just had to open a bottle of wine, didn't I? I twisted my own arm, quickly succumbing to the pressure! He was dropping off a Raclette he'd picked up for me down the coast. It was too good a deal to miss. $40.00 at Aldi, the German-owned supermarket chain.

A Raclette (pronounced - "Rah-Klett") for those who've never heard of them is a Swiss speciality. Think 'fondue', then wipe that image from your mind! It is a type of grill, placed in the centre of the table, like you would with a fondue and diners cook for themselves. Up to 8 people can do so at the same time, but I think 4 people would be enough otherwise it could get a little out of hand. If catering for 8 or more people I would suggest having two Raclettes operating. It is powered by electricity and is thermostatically-controlled, which ensures that constant temperature is maintained. It has a large metal grill-plate on top and below this plate are individual pan-holder sections into which small flat pans fit. The element is between these two cooking areas. In these flat pans, one places the ingredients to be cooked. Wooden spatulas are provided with the appliance for the release of any sticking food without scratching the non-stick pan surface. My Raclette is oval in shape, not rectangle as pictured. I've been busily gathering together ideas for when I christen it. I won't be using it for my Easter Sunday lunch, but I know I'll be organising another lunch soon after, as I'm eager to use it. In the meantime, I'll share with you a couple of Raclette recipe ideas.

In Australia two cheeses which are ideal for raclette are available from the gourmet cheese section at any supermarkets. A German-made cheese called "Alpsberg" is highly recommended. It is a delicious cheese with excellent melting qualities with a great flavour. The other is Australian-made Swiss-style cheese called "Aussie Swiss Gold" which has a great sweet nutty flavour. Other Swiss cheeses such as Emmenthal or Gruyere are also perfectly suitable are available from large delicatessens etc. Mozzarella mixed with grated Parmesan and Romano cheese is also good. It is recommended that you mix some mozzarella (grated or fresh) with the Alpsberg cheese to balance the moisture content.

Traditional Swiss Raclette: Boil 1kg (2lb) even-sized baby potatoes (Chats) in their jackets. Line a basket or bowl with a napkin and wrap the hot potatoes in it to keep them warm. Cut 800gm cheese in pan-sized slices and set them out on a dish. Put bowls of trimmings, a pepper mill and paprika on the table.

Side Dishes:
A selection of dried meats, proscuitto, parma ham, pancetta, Chorizo sausages or any spicy, flavoursome Continental sausages etc. Baguettes, gherkins, preferably dill-pickled cucumbers, pickled onions.

Place a slice of cheese into raclette pan and place under the grill to melt. When the cheese has melted, scrape onto potatoes, gherkins and pickled onions. Grind fresh pepper on top with a piece of dried meat and baguette. A light white wine such as a Sauvignon Blanc or Semillon Blanc is ideal with this treat.

Prawns and Creamy Mascarpone Sauce: Peel and de-vein large prawns/shrimp and marinate in extra-virgin olive oil and crushed garlic. Cover and refrigerate for several hours. Place 250g Mascarpone into serving bown and add finely chopped Italian parsley (curly-leaf if you don't have Italian parsley, will suffice). Bring ingredients to table. At the grill: take a prawn, place in pan, add a spoonful of cream cheese and a small piece of suitable cheese (perhaps, mozzarella) over the top and grill till cheese has melted. Serve over bread. Sprinkle with freshly-ground pepper.

Prawns in Garlic Butter: Using peeled green (raw) prawns/shrimp, place a prawn or three in an individual raclette pan, add some garlic butter (lots of garlic!) and place the pan in its section under the grill. Serve with crusty bread and/or rice which you can keep warm on top of the grill. Bog in....let the juices flow down your chin!

Cherry Tomatoes and Mozzarella: Cut cherry tomatoes in halves and place in serving bowl. Slice 100g fresh mozzarella (if you can get it) and sprinkle on both sides with some freshly chopped basil, stems removed, and place on a serving plate. Finely chop 3 bacon rashes, fat and rind removed (or you can use pancetta or proscuitto). Place in a serving bowl. Place ready-made croutons in another serving bowl. At the raclette grill: In a raclette pan, take a few cherry tomato halves and some croutons, cover with a slice or two of mozzarella and top with diced bacon. Allow to grill under raclette until the cheese has melted and the bacon becomes crispy.

Stuffed Mushrooms With Feta: Clean the outside of 12 large, firm mushrooms with a damp paper towel (do NOT peel mushrooms any time for any recipe!) and remove stems. In a bowl, add 75g Feta cheese, 75g ricotta cheese, 1/2 a red/Spanish onion, finely chopped, 1 tablespoon dried oregano and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and mix together. Fill mushrooms with this filling. Then mix 2 tablespoons of bread crumbs with 3 tablespoons grated Romano or Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle on top of the filled mushrooms. At the raclette grill: Place a filled mushroom in a pan and place the pan under the grill. Cook until the tops are crispy.

I can see myself having a lot of fun with my new Raclette! I hope I've tempted you, too!


  1. You really need to get up here and do Repkas one of these days.

    Your menue looks delish. Air fare prohibits at this point. Whimper...

  2. I know, marc...even my walking fare is prohibitive! ;) One day...when I win the Lotto! Ha!

    I hope you and Stormy have a wonderful Easter...I guess you'll be bird-watching...I hope some of those birds lay some Easter eggs for you both! :)

  3. hey, you've been busy - I'm heading down a bit, to read the 'final chapter'... back shortly..

  4. Mmmmm...raclette! I discovered it a few years ago when I bought some on spec at a cheese factory I was auditting. Yummo. Didn't quite get that reaction from some others in the household after I had microwaved some over some potatoes for lunch one day and everyone kept looking under the microwave to see if a rat had died there.

    Other things look delicious, too.

  5. See you soon, Della! :)

    There's so much you can do with raclettes, Lee. I discovered them a few years ago, too, with various friends, but I've never own the appliance...these were on special at Aldi and it was too good to pass up.

  6. I am not surprised people love to come to your place to eat, Lee.. you have the BEST things...

  7. deslily5:00 AM

    you had me until you came to "mushrooms"... not! lol..but the rest sounds great!

  8. It reminds me of a Korean barbeque place that I went to here in L.A. years ago. They had something similar in the middle of the table and you cooked your meat on it.

    I'm not sure I'd want to try it at home. But, it would make for an interesting dinner party. Enjoy!

  9. oops! How'd that happen?

  10. Neocon...I deleted your comment...I hope you don't mind...but I thought you wouldn't want your email addy showing. Thanks for your comment, by the way. :)

    I guess I've always enjoyed entertaining at home, Della...I don't do it nearly as much as I used to once upon a time... when I think back to all the dinner parties I used to put on, I think I must have been crazy! lol

    Hi Deslily...I love mushrooms. I'm never without some in my fridge. Sometimes I buy the box of spores and grow my own at home. :)

    Hey there Robbie...raclette dinner/luncheon parties are similar to fondues...they're fun and inspire conversation...there's never a dull moment!

    Happy Easter to you all. :)

  11. No space for another thing in my kitchen. And it's big too, my kitchen that is. Funny how different things are popular in different countries, even though we can get anything from anywhere now. Haven't seen anyone use a raclette in many years.

  12. Great pics, Lee, even if they're not of "your" raclette! Only one friend here in Sicily knows what a raclette is, because she has visited Switzerland, so I'll be showing her your post. Thanks for the lovely recipes, too.
    Thanks also for the ecard you sent me today. It really cheered me up. But every time I try to email you, I get an admin message saying my email couldn't be delivered - any idea why?
    Buona Pasqua from Sicily.

  13. I have no room in my kitchen for anything else either, kitchen is far too small for my liking. I'll be storing the raclette in the box in which it came...somewhere...I'll find a place for it somewhere! ;) I don't think many use or know about raclettes here either, jmb...they've never been popular in this country as far as I'm aware...but I've been involved in food for many years, one way or the other so probably is why I'm more interested.

    I have no idea why your emails aren't going through, Welsh. That's very strange. Just check you have the right addy...I'll send you another email just to confirm. Weird.

  14. Lee,

    Thanks for deleting my comment! I told Don what I did and he said surely you had deleted it! What I did is use my google/bllogger account and clicked "other" D'oh!

  15. Anonymous8:01 PM

    Lee, I have a great little market/deli near my home outside NYC. They have a cheese section that could be matched only in heaven. I walked in the other day and one of the many daily samples they set out was Mount Everest Gruyere - yak milk cheese from Nepal. It was pretty damned good.
    Yak milk cheese !

  16. Well,'re going to have to buy yourself a raclette, then...that's all there is to it! :)

  17. Lee, this so intrigued me that I went on line to check on raclettes. The one like you received is around $100 here. They also had one with a stone grilltop. I love cooking on stones. It was around $120.

  18. Neo...that's why I bought this was a very good special. The store apparently sold out of them in no time at all...and little wonder.

  19. Anonymous2:25 AM

    Those recipes.... are from the Raclette Australia website, right? I hope you asked them for permission....

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