If you’re throwing a festive party, these cheesy bites will spice things up for your guests, and go perfectly with a cheeky dirty margarita
If you’re still on the hunt for a gift for a foodie friend, look no further than The Cheese Life, a beautiful new book from cheese purveyor and restaurateur Mathew Carver and food journalist and cheese writer Patrick McGuigan. Including creative cheese recipes (from the ultimate fondue to the perfect grilled cheese toastie), unique insights into how cheese is produced (including interviews with the clever folk behind it), and even expert advice on the best drinks to match with each cheese variety, the book is a celebration of all things cheese. Mathew founded The Cheese Truck back in 2014, selling toasties to festival goers from a repurposed ice cream van. His toasties gained a cult following and so he went on to give London more cheesy creations with three restaurants across the Capital: The Cheese Bar, The Cheese Barge and Pick & Cheese (featuring the world’s first cheese conveyor belt). Here, he shares an irresistible recipe from the book: “These chilli and cheese bombs are guaranteed to make you hot under the collar. Beneath their crispy, golden exterior lies an explosion of spicy chillies and velvety mozzarella.
They pair perfectly with a margarita, or even a dirty margarita (see additional recipe). Hot Stuff by Donna Summer must be played at the same time. It’s the law!”
Kyle Books, £25 (thecheeselifebook.com)
For the jalapeño poppers:
150g pickled jalapeños (drained weight) | 125g mascarpone cheese | 275g cooking mozzarella or scamorza cheese, grated | 100g plain (all-purpose) flour | 5 eggs, beaten | 250g panko breadcrumbs | 1l vegetable oil for deep-frying | Salt and pepper
For the garlic and herb dip:
1 clove confit garlic | 175ml soured cream | 1 tbsp mayonnaise | ½ tsp dried thyme | ½ tsp dried oregano | Salt
1. Add the drained jalapeños to a blender or food processor and blitz them until finely chopped. In small batches, place the blitzed jalapeños in kitchen paper and squeeze to dry.
2. In a bowl, mix the mascarpone and chillies together and season before finally adding the grated mozzarella. Shape the mix into ovals (about 30g each) and panné them by rolling in the flour, then the egg and then the breadcrumbs.
3. In a large heavy-bottomed pan, heat the vegetable oil to 160C; you can test the temperature with a sugar thermometer. If you don’t have a thermometer, test the oil with a cube of bread. It should brown in 40-50 seconds when the oil is the right temperature.
4. Deep-fry the poppers in batches of 3 or 4 for 3-5 minutes until golden brown and piping hot.
Garlic and herb dip
1. Mash the confit garlic with the back of a fork to make a rough pure.
2. In a bowl, mix together the remaining ingredients. Add the confit garlic pure and gently mix. Taste and add table salt if required.
PAIRS GREAT WITH…A DIRTY MARGARITA
Lime wedge table salt, for dipping | 1 tbsp lime juice | 3 slices (rings) of pickled jalapeños | 5 tsp Tequila or Mezcal | 4 tsp Cointreau | 1 tbsp agave syrup | 1 tsp pickled jalapeño liquor | Ice
1. Wipe the rim of a rocks glass with a lime wedge and dip into salt to coat the rim.
2. Place the lime juice and 2 of the jalapeño rings in a shaker and muddle.
3. Add the Tequila, Cointreau, lime juice, agave syrup, pickle liquor and ice, then shake.
4. Fill the glass with fresh ice, then pour over the margarita through a strainer and garnish withthe remaining jalapeño ring and lime wedge.