Four recipes from The Cheese Life cookbook

Patrick McGuigan and Mathew Carver have channelled their obsession into the new book The Cheese Life, with four recipes perfect for Christmas

Cheese inspires obsession like no other ingredient. Rooted in the land, it gives us a sense of place, seasonality, craft and nostalgia, with a fat-to-salt ratio that makes it lethally moreish.

As a nation, we’re pretty enamoured with the stuff. Britain is now caught up in a remarkable cheese renaissance. Driven by a new generation with a fondness for funk, we now house a 200-strong force of small cheesemakers – many of whom are winning awards on the international stage.

Patrick McGuigan and Mathew Carver have co-authored the newly released cookbook The Cheese Life. The former is a cheese oracle and writer, and the latter the owner of London’s The Cheese Bar, The Cheese Barge and Pick & Cheese – the world’s first cheese conveyor belt restaurant. Given that cheese at Christmas is about as guaranteed as a yuletide family feud, it only seemed fitting to include four fromage-focused recipes from the book in Foodism’s festive special. From gouda-filled gougères to sausage and cheesy mash, these recipes really do prove that love is rind.

Cheese puffs with gouda cream

Take your cheese game up a tier and get this recipe for gougères under your belt - it’s shot through with gouda and Christmas cheer

Makes 25

Preparation time 35 minutes

Cooking time 25 minutes

Nothings says yuletide joy like inhaling cheesy nibbles with a cold glass of bubbles. Cheese puffs, known as gougères in France, are made with choux pastry then enriched with cheese and baked until light and airy with a crisp golden shell. They’re served with a gouda cream that’s so silky we’d take a bath in it.

These puffs make the perfect snack and can be prepped ahead of time and saved for later. “They bake even better from frozen than fresh,” say Patrick and Mathew. “Simply pipe them onto baking trays, put cling film over the top and place them in the freezer until solid. Then, consolidate into airtight boxes. When you want to eat, bake from frozen for 25-30 minutes.”


For puffs:

  • 115g water
  • 115g full-fat milk
  • 90g butter
  • 145g plain flour
  • 4 large eggs, beaten, plus 1 extra to glaze
  • 180g gouda cheese, grated
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper

For the gouda cream: 

  • 100g gouda cheese, grated
  • ½ tsp cornflour
  • 200ml double cream
  • Salt and pepper


To make the puffs:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C, Gas Mark 6. Line a few baking trays with nonstick baking paper.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine the measured water, milk and butter and bring to a gentle simmer. While still over the heat, add the flour and salt and pepper. Stir and cook until you get a smooth, uniform dough: it should be pulling away from the sides of the pan. This should take about 2–3 minutes. Remove from the heat and beat in the eggs, adding them a little at a time, then waiting until each addition is fully incorporated before adding more.
  3. Allow the dough to cool, then add three-quarters of the gouda and the nutmeg.
  4. Transfer to piping bags, then pipe puffs onto the lined baking trays. Each puff should be about the size of a walnut and spaced well apart as they will expand. With the final beaten egg, brush a glaze on the top of each puff and then sprinkle each with all the remaining gouda.
  5. Place the trays in the oven and cook for 22–25 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oven and use a skewer to poke a hole in each puff to release the steam.

To make the gouda cream:

  1. In a bowl, toss the grated gouda in the cornflour.
  2. Heat the cream in a saucepan. When the cream starts to boil, reduce the heat and add the cheese. Whisk until fully melted, then season with salt and pepper.
  3. Eat immediately, dipping the puffs in the gouda cream.

Lancashire aligot and Cumberland sausage

Exceptionally rich, aligot is cheese and potatoes at its finest. This recipe gives the dish a British interpretation, with Cumberland sausages

Serves 4

Preparation time 50 minutes

Cooking time 12 minutes

Sausage and mash is perhaps as British as it gets but dare we say, we could learn a thing or two from the French. Hailing from the L’Aubrac region in the South of France, aligot is one of the most delicious takes on mash. Traditionally made with Tomme de Laguiole, an alpine cheese that’s buttery, earthy and melts easily, it’s combined with mashed potatoes to make the most outrageously unctuous and cheesy mash out there. Put simply: pomme des terre perfection.

The dish has been given a Great British makeover. “It’s a simple dish of cheese, potatoes, and garlic normally served with a good toulouse sausage. But we’ve given it a British twist by using crumbly Kirkham’s Lancashire and a Cumberland sausage instead,” says Mathew and Patrick.


For the confit garlic butter (makes 315g):

  • 125ml olive oil
  • 65g garlic, peeled
  • 250g salted butter, at room temperature

For the sticky onions:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 75ml red wine
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 ½ tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 tsp mixed dried herbs
  • Salt and pepper

For the aligot:

  • 250g potatoes (King Edward/maris piper/russet), skin on, cut into 4cm chunks
  • 60g confit garlic butter (see above)
  • 60ml full-fat milk
  • 150g Kirkham’s Lancashire cheese, grated (or other crumbly cheeses, see note)
  • 100g cooking mozzarella or unsmoked scamorza cheese
  • Salt and pepper


To make the confit garlic butter:

  1. Put the oil and garlic in a pan over a low heat. Cook slowly for 10 minutes until the garlic is soft. Drain off the oil and leave to cool.
  2. Crush the confit garlic with the back of a fork until it has broken down into a paste. Add to a bowl with the butter and whip until smooth. You’ll need 60g of this for the dish – the rest will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for two weeks, or in the freezer for 1 month.

To make the sticky onions:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a gentle heat and cook the onions for 10 minutes until soft.
  2. Add to a stock pot with all the remaining ingredients and cook, over a medium heat, until the liquid has reduced to a thick, sticky consistency, about 5–10 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

To make the aligot:

  1. Place the potatoes in a pan of salted water and bring to the boil. Boil until tender (15–20 minutes), then drain and peel the skins using a tea towel to rub them away
  2. Mash the potatoes until they’re as smooth as possible. It’s best to put them through a potato ricer or mouli and then push them through a sieve to purée them for the silkiest results.
  3. Cook the sausages in a frying pan over a medium heat for 8–12 minutes. Make sure to turn during cooking, until piping hot and cooked through.
  4. When the sausages are cooked, set aside in a warm place, pour away the fat from the pan and then add the sticky onions with a splash of water. Place over a low heat to gently reheat.
  5. While you are cooking the sausages and onions, you can continue making the aligot. Place the mashed potatoes in a pan with the confit garlic butter, and half the milk. Mix and then place over a medium–high heat for a few minutes.
  6. Reduce the heat to medium and then stir the grated Lancashire into the potato mix with a wooden spoon until it melts. When you first add the cheese, it’ll look lumpy, but as the mash gets hotter, the cheese will melt, until you reach a smooth consistency. The mix should be reasonably thick but dropping off the spoon. If it’s too thick, add milk.
  7. Add the grated mozzarella to the mash and forcefully beat, still over a medium heat. Keep beating it relentlessly until the mash becomes stringy and pulls away from the side of the pan.
  8. Season the mash with salt and pepper, and serve immediately in a warm dish. Place the mash in first, lay the sausages on top and then spoon over the sticky onions. Dig in straight away while the aligot is still hot and stringy.

Roasted plums, ricotta and ginger crumb

Looking to lump the cheese course and dessert into one? Look no further than this recipe, which sees plums roasted to devilish effect

Serves 4

Preparation time 15 minutes

Cooking time 60 minutes

We've hit you with a fair share of rich dishes, so to shake it up for dessert, we’ve gone for something a little lighter. Combining jammy fruit, tangy ricotta and a fiery ginger crumb – this is the holy trifecta of a good pud and a certified crowd-pleaser.

This recipe is about as easy as it gets and has endless variations. “We’ve used fresh ricotta (try to find Westcombe Dairy’s light and airy Somerset ricotta), but you could easily use mascarpone, whipped goats’ curd, crème fraîche or Greek yoghurt,” say Mathew and Patrick. “For the fruit, some of our favourites are pears, peaches, plums, cherries, nectarines and figs. We make a ginger crumb to go on top, but you could add pistachios, walnuts, flaked slivered almonds, granola or even chocolate.”


For the roasted fruit:

  • 8 ripe plums, halved and stone removed
  • 45g sugar
  • 4 star anise, ground

For the ginger crumble (makes 8 biscuits):

  • 90g salted butter
  • 75g light soft brown sugar
  • 115g golden syrup
  • 200g plain flour
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp ground cloves

To serve:

  • 320g ricotta cheese
  • Drizzle of honey


To make the ginger crumb:

  • Preheat the oven to 140°C. Line a baking tray with nonstick baking paper.
  • Heat the butter, sugar and golden syrup in a small pan over a low heat until the butter has melted.
  • Place all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. When everything in the pan is melted, pour over the dry ingredients, and mix well.
  • Leave the mixture to cool for a bit, then roll into 8 balls, flatten to 1cm thick and place on the lined baking tray. Bake for 40 minutes.
  • Remove and allow to cool; the biscuits will firm up as they cool.
  • When cool, crumble to biscuits with your hands until your desired texture is achieved.

To serve:

  • In 4 individual bowls, add 80g ricotta, then top with a few halves of plum, a sprinkle of the crumb and a drizzle of honey. Dig in!

Old school cheese board

Nothing says Christmas like a cheese board - bring it up-to-date with elevated pairings that promise to tease out the best notes of the cheese

Serves 6

Preparation time 40 minutes

Cooking time 2 hours

It'd be criminal not to include a cheese board in our festive recipe collection. As with the best things in life, the wheel doesn’t need reinventing – and this old-school cheese board proves just that. “These British cheeses have stood the test of time for a reason,” say Mathew and Patrick. “Cheddar, wensleydale and stilton are rooted in the history and geography of the counties where they are made, while dorstone and waterloo are veterans of the British cheese renaissance”.

We all can agree that the secret to a good cheese board isn’t just in the cheese. The crackers, chutneys and condiments bring something new to each morsel – so this board has expertly matched a condiment to each cheese. From homemade chilli jam to grape mustard to honeyed garlic, these pairings are the brie’s knees.


Chilli jam (makes approx. 400g):

  • 500g red peppers, deseeded and chopped
  • 110g fresh red chilli, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 10g fresh root ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 135g honey
  • 135g caster sugar
  • 100ml red wine vinegar

Grape mustard:

  • 100g brown mustard seeds
  • 60ml red wine vinegar
  • 125g grape molasses
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp table salt
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • ⅛ tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tbsp red wine
  • 40ml water

Port-soaked raisins:

  • 125ml ruby port
  • 1⁄2 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 70g icing
  • Sugar
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 160g golden raisins

Honeyed garlic:

  • 4 heads of garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Honey

Poached cherries in sherry (makes approx. 400g)

  • 1 tsp cornflour
  • 250g fresh pitted cherries
  • 175ml sweet sherry
  • 50g icing sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon


Dorstone + chilli jam:

  1. Place the peppers, chilli, garlic and ginger into a food processor and blend well to a paste.
  2. Add the paste, along with the honey, sugar and red wine vinegar, to a heavy-bottomed pan and bring to a simmer. Gently simmer until it starts to caramelise, about 30–40 minutes.
  3. Reduce the heat and gently cook for 20 minutes, until it turns a deep red colour and has a sticky consistency. Transfer to a clean, airtight container and allow to cool before sealing. It will keep for 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

Cropwell Bishop Stilton + Port-soaked raisins:

  1. Put the port, vanilla, icing sugar, star anise and lemon juice into a pan and bring to the boil. Add all the raisins, turn the heat down and simmer for 4 minutes.
  2. When cooked, allow to cool and then place into an airtight container. Leave to soak in the refrigerator, ideally overnight.

Montgomery's cheddar + Grape mustard:

  1. In a pan over a medium heat, lightly toast the mustard seeds until fragrant.
  2. Mix together the toasted mustard seeds and all the remaining ingredients in an airtight container and leave to stand for 48 hours.
  3. Divide the mixture in half. Transfer one half to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Stir back into the rest of the mixture.

Waterloo + honeyed garlic:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C, Gas Mark 4.
  2. First cut off the top off the heads of garlic so the inner cloves are exposed. Drizzle olive oil over the top of the garlic heads and then wrap them together in aluminium foil. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes until soft.
  3. Allow to cool, then carefully remove the cloves and place in a bowl.
    Use a spoon to mash up the cloves until you have a smooth paste.
  4. Weigh the paste: you want 30g of honey per 50g of garlic paste. Add the honey to the paste and mix until smooth and consistent.

Yoredale + poached cherries in sherry:

  1. Dust the cornflour onto a plate, then roll the cherries until they are nicely coated.
  2. Add the sherry and icing sugar to a small pan. Bring to a boil, then simmer until it has reduced by half, about 5–10 minutes.
  3. Add the cherries, put a lid on the pan, reduce the heat to low and poach for 5–10 minutes until soft.
  4. Add the juice from one lemon and you’re good to go! 

The Cheese Life is published by Octopus Publishing (£25); available to buy here