Eat your heart out

Keele University’s Peter Walters creates a hearty Valentine’s feast

February: the month of love. The Anglo-Saxons called it ‘Sol-Monath’ or cake month, because cakes were offered to the gods. So instead of hearts and flowers, bake a cake for your partner this Valentine’s Day. For those who are sweet enough, try the recipe below for a savoury alternative. 

Parsnip and Bacon Cake

For 4 persons

  • 50g butter, softened
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed to a paste with a little salt
  • 1kg parsnips, peeled
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 200g streaky bacon lardons
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 100ml white wine
  • 120g crème frâiche, plus 60ml extra
  • 225g Reblochon cheese, thinly sliced through the rind
  • 75g Comté cheese, coarsely grated

● Heat the oven to 200°C. Lightly grease a 2-litre shallow ovenproof dish with a little of the butter, then smear over a tiny bit of the crushed garlic.

● Cut the parsnips across at a slight angle into 5mm thick slices. Add to a pan of boiling salted water, bring back to the boil then cook for 4-5 minutes. Drain and leave to cool slightly.

● Meanwhile heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan. Fry the bacon until lightly golden, then remove with a slotted spoon to a plate. Add the remaining butter to the pan with the onions and fry for 6-7 minutes, stirring, until golden brown. 

● Add the rest of the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add the wine and simmer gently until reduced by half. Take off the heat and stir in the 120g of crème frâiche.  

● Layer one-third of the parsnip slices over the base of the dish and cover with half of the onion mixture. Scatter over half the bacon lardons, grind over a bit of pepper and add half the cheese slices. Repeat the layers once more then finish with a layer of parsnips. 

● Dot with the rest of the crème frâiche, sprinkle over the Comté cheese then bake for 25–30 minutes until golden and bubbling.

Try another recipe from Peter Walter’s here.

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