We’ve all been there, midweek is coming and Sunday’s roast chicken left overs need using. Curry, stir fry? This time I went for quiche, with a bit of sheep’s cheese from the West of Ireland. Not strong but full of wholesomeness. Ok, from scratch, here it goes!
Before being catapulted into adult life, we were taught a couple of life saving skills. After lunch, wait at least two hours before you go swimming in the sea, never EVER drink white after red, it takes ten minutes to get a hardboiled egg from the boiling point, spaghettis are cooked when they stick to the wall, how to make a vinaigrette, and, what was going to separate the men from the boys, the sheep from the goats; how to make your own mayonnaise. In a region almost surrounded by water, it was only going to be a matter of time before a friend or a family member would ask nonchalantly while preparing the crab claws and meat: “You do the mayonnaise, yeah?” You knew then that the last task of your right of passage had come before you.
As long as I can remember, there was a chipper, Citroën van, parked on the main harbour. We used to call in, as a family, for a drive and a small “barquette” of chips, strolling along the quiet sleepy harbour. My mother, like a lot of other vagabonds, bohemian chip buffs, asked for a dollop of mustard; so was the way most of the crepuscular dreamers enjoyed them.
I must admit, the journeys to my native Celtic peninsula have become a slightly sporadic affair in the past few years; the time between visits is getting less frequent. They say that life gets in the way, and I get the odd “oh sure, you are one of us now!”, or almost. The truth be told, we all have to cast anchor some day, voluntarily or not, or simply coming to terms with the inevitable. As a teenager, I often dreamed of my perfect place to live; lighthouse keeper of Ar Men, rock of all rocks at large of Sein Island, self sufficient in Swedish Lapland’s Sarek National Park or even honorary Highlander on the western Hebrides islands of Scotland. They say that Bretons never leave their native land… They bring it with them. I suppose this is true, there is a Gwen a Du flag (“White and Black”) hanging at the back of my office chair, a Breton map in the living room (old fashioned, but really neat!) and a hell of a lot of Atlantic sea salt in “the press” and butter in the fridge! The stripes to this Zebra…
Hey y’all, here is a tasty tip/ hack for a midweek dinner; mashed peas and buffalo mozzarella stuffed pork filet ( or Pork steak). It takes no time and it is very tasty! 20 minutes in the oven and a few roasties… Sorted!
Ok, Don’t panic; the easy part is to open the pork steak in half… Easy now… In a pan, with a bit of water and salt, boil a couple of handfuls of peas with two cloves of garlic; after 5 minutes, drain and cool gently under a bit of cold water. Whiz the peas with a bit of olive oil and butter. Shred ½ a buffalo mozzarella here and there and place inside the filet; roll gently and bake with a few roasties to be for 20 minutes at 200c.
I know it sounds a bit weird, a salad in winter? Having made a big pot of ragù Bolognese yesterday, tonight’s dinner is already sorted and wintery enough! Almost as much as the weather forecast schedule to hit us in the next 24 to 48 hours; storm force winds, snow? Hard to imagine this lunchtime, the pale sun is beaming in the sleeping veg garden, where once again I promised myself to have beetroots and herbs, carrots and leaves… One can dream… Or ought to get his act together.
The dog and one of the cats reluctantly tagged along for a short walk through the woods, across the field and back in the garden. I asked my four legged companions if they were ready to go home for lunch; the dog is standing impatiently by the door of the house as if saying “wow, that was fun, we should do that again sometimes? Now open the door will ya?” They always seem to know when the weather is about to change; but saying that, I do leave the radio on for them in the afternoon.
First, separate and wash the florets of the cauliflower; as always, and especially for this vegetable, I would recommend to buy organic. Boil in salted water for 5 to 8 minutes; you can check with the tip of a knife but you don’t want them too soft. Drain and cool under cold water. In a pan, pour equal measure of milk and fresh cream, a whisked egg, a pinch of Saffron, a grated clove of garlic and a pinch of salt. Warm up ever so slightly in order to extract the best of the saffron stems. Place the florets in a buttered oven dish and pour the mix over. Grate a bit of Parmigiano Reggiano (Parmesan) on top and I love to cover the whole thing with a layer of bread crumbs. But that is entirely up to you.
I don’t know what is worse really; December’s over indulgences or January self flagellation? The debate is open. You can juice broccoli or bath yourself in Aloe Vera, the truth is we are still in the middle of winter, long nights and short days passing, cold lights and windy greys drifting. Don’t be too hard on yourself, don’t miss out on the peak season for small comfort treats.
Stews and soups are fun but I find satisfaction and healing in a good gratin. Anything “al forno” in fact, potatoes, pasta… Bring it on; but since we are trying to be good here, I have another idea to meet each other half way, the cream of vegetables, the blossom of all Brassicae, the flower of all cabbages.
As I was preparing my next story, and therefore tonight’s dinner, I decided to have a bit of fun with Parmigiano Reggiano rosettes; or whatever they are called… First, you need some parmesan, the gold of Italy, but any two years old cheese should do, mature gouda being one of them, or, Coolea from Cork…
Grate the cheese and place good pinches of it on a dry tray, leaving reasonable intervals to allow “freedom of melting”; you don’t want them to overlap. Bake on a hot oven at 200c for 5 minutes or so.