French Flavours: D is for Diablotins au Roquefort

I have been continuing my researches to bring you another in my series of recipes of Southwest France. Here’s one you’ve probably never heard of – diablotins au Roquefort. I certainly hadn’t. Easy to make, with readily-available ingredients, they are composed of products that have been made and harvested in this region for centuries.

Before I reveal what they are in culinary terms, what is a diablotin generally? It’s an imp or goblin, un petit diable. They do good or bad, depending on their personal preference, and were associated in medieval times with witches and sorcerers as familiars.

In cooking, a diablotin is a small, round slice of bread, spread with a mixture that usually includes cheese and then baked in the oven. In this form, they can be served with apéritifs or floated as croûtons on a bowl of soup. You can also use larger slices of country bread, like Italian bruschetta and spread them with the mixture as a snack or serve them with salad as a starter.

The local version I have found uses a mixture of Roquefort cheese, chopped walnuts and butter (check your cholesterol before indulging).

Roquefort

Roquefort-sur-Soulzon

Roquefort cheese is one of Aveyron’s star products, manufactured in the eponymous town of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon. You can find out more about how it’s made in a post I wrote a while ago. Basically, ewe’s milk is heated and then sprinkled with mould powder made by baking rye bread and allowing it to go mouldy.

The cheeses are placed in the local caves, which have the right temperature and humidity levels, to mature and for the veins of mould to spread through the cheese. You wonder how people discovered this manufacturing method in the first place.

Roquefort cheese

Walnuts

Our crop from last year

Walnuts have a particular affinity with cheese and are especially good with Roquefort. Walnut trees have grown in this region for centuries and walnuts were a staple crop at one time. They provided not only a source of protein in various dishes, but were also used to make walnut oil. The trees are very susceptible both to harsh frost and drought. We lost one after the baking hot, dry summer of 2003.

The evidence of walnuts’ former importance is all around. In places you can see the remnants of walnut groves. Walnut oil mills have been preserved in this area, too, and are still working in one or two places.

Shelling the walnuts is quite a chore and you have to make sure you remove the hard membrane that separates the two halves of the nut. In past times, neighbours sat together on winter evenings (les veillées) and told stories and gossiped while shelling nuts.

Diablotins au Roquefort

50g Roquefort cheese
100g softened butter
1 teaspoon Cognac
1 level teaspoon Dijon mustard (and/or Cayenne pepper to taste)
1 baguette
2 dessertspoons chopped walnuts

  • Preheat the oven to 220° C.
  • Mix the Roquefort, Cognac and mustard with a fork in a bowl until well combined. Add the butter and mix in. Incorporate the chopped walnuts, reserving a few to top the diablotins at the end.
  • Slice the baguette into thin disks (or use a larger pain de campagne if you want to make bruschetta-like slices). Spread each round with the cheese and walnut mixture.
  • Bake the diablotins for about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the remaining chopped walnuts.

I think this recipe would make a rather good pasta sauce, perhaps with the addition of some crème fraiche. You could also use it as a dip with crisps or raw veg – again in a slightly softer version than the recipe above.

You might also like:

Roquefort
Walnut Time
Chestnuts and Chestnut Recipes
Other French Flavours recipes so far

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About nessafrance

My husband and I moved to an 18th-century farmhouse in SW France in 1997. I am fascinated by French history, rural traditions and customs and enjoy seeking out the reality behind the myths. I run my own copywriting business and write short stories and the occasional novel in my spare time. My husband appears here as the SF, which stands for Statistics Freak, owing to his penchant for recording numbers about everything.
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8 Responses to French Flavours: D is for Diablotins au Roquefort

  1. Lots of lovely pasta/ pesto ideas here just in time for the arrival of a new family member who is vegetarian and loves cheese so thank you. A french friend once gave me a hunk of roquefort and told me to mash butter into it before eating. To lessen the saltiness? Certainly to increase the fat content! Bon app!

    Liked by 1 person

    • nessafrance says:

      It sounds like a good recipe for your family member in that case. Being a vegetarian in France is not easy. I’m not one, but we have friends who are and are often frustrated in restaurants, despite explaining their requirements beforehand. So I hope this recipe will be of use to those people. I do find Roquefort rather salty and I suppose the butter helps to reduce that – but, goodness, talk about heart attack on a plate!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Carole says:

    I have used Roquefort, walnuts and cream/crème fraiche as a stir in sauce for pasta for a long time now and have to say it’s my favourite as well as being quick and easy. It also impresses UK visitors as Roquefort is so expensive in the UK. Now we’re back in the UK and sadly it’s not on the table as often as before.. Roll on our next trip to Aveyron in 5 weeks time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • nessafrance says:

      I’ve used walnuts, parmesan and olive oil to make a kind of pesto and used that with pasta, but I’ve never tried this particular mixture, although it sounds good and easy. We are just over the border from Aveyron in Tarn-et-Garonne, but I feel very attached to Aveyron. Love the countryside, the towns and villages, the food…

      Like

  3. Osyth says:

    I shock the British when I say that my opinion is that Roquefort is the king of cheeses, not Stilton. Blue cheeses is the only type that my husband can tolerate cooked so with Russian friends staying the weekend and wanting ‘typically French cuisine’ (um … where to start!) this might be a winner chez nous 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • nessafrance says:

      I like Roquefort but find it a little salty for my taste. Using it in cooked dishes tends to alleviate the saltiness. You could try these as amuses-bouche for your Russian friends. I have to admit I haven’t tried this recipe yet, but it seems quick and simple.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Sounds yummy. Will give it a try as a pasta sauce. Thanks for the idea.

    Liked by 1 person

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