I can’t say I am an expert of British cuisine or French produce, but last week I had the chance to expand my knowledge of both at the Comté cheese cookery class at Divertimenti. The Knightsbridge cookshop and school is one of the best places in London to improve your cooking and baking skills and learn new recipes with the help of talented chefs.
I attended a cookery class for bloggers and journalists with the lovely, a private chef and food writer based in Dorset. Laura taught us a bit of the history of Comté cheese as well as two recipes that are very traditional in British cooking: cheese scones and chicken pie. These recipes have been re-invented by Laura with the addition of Comté cheese! The aromatic cheese comes in different varieties as it can be aged between 6 to 18 months. We used the “young” Comté cheese and it worked perfectly in both dishes.
Comté cheese has a very long history: for more than ten centuries the villagers of Jura (a mountain range located north of the Western Alps in France) have lovingly crafted this unique and delicious cheese. Comté is a protected label (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée – AOC), so there are rules and requirements to follow during its production. Only cheese made with the raw milk from this region can carry the Comté label.
A prestigious cheese like Comté requires excellent milk, which is why Comté cows are authorised exclusively from the Montbéliarde and French Simmental breeds. With each cow given a whole hectare of pasture land in the summer months, they are free to feed on a delicious natural grass diet. [Comté Cheese Website]
I love cooking classes because all the ingredients are prepped and measured in advance and the kitchen utensils are always of the highest quality. Who wouldn’t love to cook when all the hard work is done by someone else and all you have to do is mix things together and be creative? Jokes aside, I was very impressed by the kitchen at Divertimenti and I would recommend their workshops to anyone.
We started by making the dough of the scones, then while this was resting for ten minutes we moved on to the chicken pie.
Making the scones from start to finish was easy and relatively quick, considering the dough resting time. This is important to follow to achieve the best results! Be careful not to overwork the dough. Stir and knead the dough as little as possible to keep the butter cold and the texture soft and crumbly.
- 250g plain flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp caster sugar
- 60g unsalted butter, chilled and diced
- 100g Comté cheese, grated
- 1 free range egg, beaten
- 100ml whole milk
- 1 free range beaten egg yolk, beaten
Preheat the oven to 200°C / 180°C fan.
Mix the flour and baking powder together with a balloon whisk (to break up any lumps and aerate the flour), mix in the salt and sugar and rub in the butter until resembles fine breadcrumbs.
Gently stir in 3/4 of the grated Comté (keep a little aside for the topping). Beat the egg and milk together, add to the dry ingredients and mix everything together with a knife. Use your hands to bring it all into a dough. Leave it to rest for 10 minutes.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to 3 cm thick and cut into circles using a 4cm diameter cutter. Place the scones onto a greased baking tray and rest for 10 minutes.
Brush the scones with beaten egg yolk and top with the remaining grated Comté.
Bake for about 12 to 15 minutes, then move to a wire rack to cool.
Best eaten freshly baked, buttered, with a slice of Comté and a dollop of fig jam.