Christmas has nearly arrived, so here's an appropriate set of comforting, cheesy recipes to see you through to 2024.

Sadly this is my last column, but you can read me on my award-winning blog and on social media @msmarmitelover. Do keep in touch – I’d love to hear from you.

The following recipes are all made with French cheese. Christmas jumpers and mulled wine are optional. White wine is the best pairing because it cuts through the richness and the fat.

In France's Auvergne, particularly in the towns of Aubrac and Aurillac, you see Aligot sellers stirring giant copper pots, repeatedly drawing up stretchy lengths of potato and cheese with a wooden spoon. Rather romantically it’s known in French as ruban de l'amitié - the ‘ribbon of friendship’.

Ham & High: Aligot is a cheesy dish from the Auvergne region of FranceAligot is a cheesy dish from the Auvergne region of France (Image: Kerstin Rodgers)

Aligot (serves 5)

Tomme Fraiche can be hard to get hold of in London, but a combination of one third mozzarella and two thirds Comté will work well.


1 kg floury potatoes, unpeeled, skin slit around the circumference
2 tbsp sea salt for the boiling water
100 g butter
300 ml full fat creme fraiche
1 garlic clove
300 g Tomme fraiche, grated
Salt and pepper to taste


Boil the potatoes with their skins on in well salted water. When cooked, cool down slightly with cold water then peel off the skins. This is much easier with a slit around the circumference.

Pass the peeled potatoes through a ricer (this is also good for mashed potato as it means the potatoes don't become too gluey). Then combine the 'riced' potato with the butter in a medium saucepan on a low heat.

In a separate saucepan, heat the cream and the clove of garlic on a low to medium heat. Add the cream gradually to the riced potatoes, stirring all the while. Then add the grated Tomme to the potatoes. Keep stirring until the mix is stretchy and unctuous. Serve hot.

Ham & High: Tartiflette is usually made with bacon lardons but Kerstin has rustled up a veggie version with mushroomsTartiflette is usually made with bacon lardons but Kerstin has rustled up a veggie version with mushrooms (Image: Kerstin Rodgers)

Tartiflette (serves 6)

Traditionally this is made with Reblochon, a washed rind cheese from the Haute-Savoie region in the Alps, sold in a semi or whole round, but you can use other cheeses. Usually this dish is made with bacon, but I've made it vegetarian by adding mushrooms. I've noticed that English recipes for Tartiflette add cream or crème fraîche. In France they tend not to, as it's rich enough.


1.2 kg smallish potatoes (Charlottes are good), boil with skins on, slit around the middle
50 g butter
3 or 4 shallots, finely sliced
2 fresh bay leaves
2 cloves garlic, minced
Glass large white wine or dry sherry
200 g button mushrooms, cut in half
1 whole reblochon cheese
Salt and pepper to taste


Boil the potatoes in their skins, then drain and cool down slightly with cold water. Remove skins and cut into 1 cm round slices.

In an oven-proof dish, fry the shallots and garlic and bay leaves in the butter on a low heat until soft. Add the potato slices to the oven-proof dish, stir gently so as not to break them up and add the mushrooms then the white wine.

Then place the entire Reblochon in the middle of the dish and transfer to the oven. Bake for 20 minutes until melted. Season to taste. Eat with a green salad and white wine.Ham & High: Tartiflette is traditionally made with Reblochon cheese from the Savoie are of the French alpsTartiflette is traditionally made with Reblochon cheese from the Savoie are of the French alps (Image: Kerstin Rodgers)

Raclette (serves 4)

Raclette is the name of a cheese, but the root of the word is ‘racler’ (to scrape).

My parents often tell me about their honeymoon experience in a wooden chalet in the snowy Alps where they watched a red-faced sweating man sat by the fire with a wheel of Raclette. He had a routine: lean in, melt the cheese and scrape it into a plate then take a swig of white wine.

This is the authentic and romantic way to do it, but nowadays you can buy it in slices. There are Raclette machines to melt the cheese, but I’ve found it works just as well using a tea light under a small frying pan, a grilled sandwich maker or even running back and forth to the microwave where a 30 second blast will give you a delicious gooey puddle.

Eat with pickles, potatoes and a green salad.


Count around 200g of Raclette cheese per person so 800 g Raclette cheese

To accompany:
1 kg small potatoes, unpeeled, washed and dried
200 g coarse salt
Jar silverskin onions
Jar cocktail gherkins


For the potatoes:
Preheat the oven while you prepare the bowls of pickles and a simple green salad. I bake the potatoes on a bed of coarse salt in the oven. This makes them extra fluffy inside and crispy on the outside. Bake at 200C for approximately 45 minutes.

For the raclette:
Raclette can be bought in slices or as a quarter or half of a wheel, whatever is available. You just need to melt it gradually, scraping pools of gooey cheese onto plates. You can eat the skin.