Conchiglioni Butternut Squash “Al Forno”

Conchiglioni "Al forno"

I went for a walk last Sunday; “a walk?” says my alter-ego ” more like a freaking pilgrimage!”. Ok, ok, a pilgrimage so… I like to sleep with the window open, no matter what the season, how cold or windy the weather is, I listen to the sound – or rather the consequences- of our blue home rotating… I woke up and all was calm, the sky was blue and I found myself inextricably drawn outside, I wanted to feel it, be a part of it… I put my walking shoes on, and like “Travis” in “Paris, Texas”, I started to walk…

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Cardinal Points

When I am in that mood, I keep on going; I hate turning back, I get bored so I try to do a loop, a great way to discover your neighbourhood, a way to reflect, a “communion” a friend of mine called it once. I realised that my little spin was going to take me on a 12 km journey, on hard tarmac. I didn’t care, the mind was talking, and I felt a wee project drawing itself near my parish of Dromone, the old church and grave, a Divine motivation, a pilgrimage, self inflicted flagellation and pain… When my mind is set on something, I never turn back. Us Bretons, are known in France as the most stubborn folks on the planet… Hence the expression “Breton head”…

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Cherry Flan Tart

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Cherry Tart

As promised, here is the recipe for my Cherry Flan Tart( or is it Cherries Flan tart?), featured in one of my previous post a couple of days ago in “The Cherry Picker”.We are right on cherry season, so many memories, especially in my Grandparents’ house, climbing the tree by the terrace and gorging ourselves with this wonderful summer treat! Before you ever start to do this dish, make sure you taste the cherries first. If they lack zing or a bit of body, you can soak them in some Kirsch or even lime juice for a couple of hours. It will give your tart an extra dimension when it comes to the final taste. Just dry them well before putting them in the cast, that’s all. But hey… First things first, the secret to a great tart, is a great homemade shortcrust pastry. And this is how I do mine…

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The Cherry Picker

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Fresh Cherries Tart

The story takes place in Rennes, Brittany, during the famous summer of 1968; my Dad and his best friend Yves have more or less finished their studies, and the country is still in turmoil after the students and workers’ revolution of the notorious month of May. Youth is still pissed off, there is a hunger for things to change, anger against the more conservative previous generation; the parents. My father was raised in a strict patriarchal environment, as my grandfather was in the military, now stationed in the offices of the Breton Capital where I was to do my military service 25 years later… Well, two days of it anyway, as I managed to get away with it in the most spectacular manner. I didn’t pretend to be suffering from anything, it just happened by telling the truth, the fact that I couldn’t be bothered. In Ireland, we call those guys “Jammy Bastards”… But that is a story for another time. Despite the fact that my Dad’s father was pretty tough, his mother was a gentle soul, balancing the family cocoon quite well. Yves wasn’t as lucky and basically told his own family to fuck off and left to make it on his own… He was soon to be hungry and realised that before he could get a job with all his good qualifications, he ought to get himself sorted through the summer…

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Franckie’s Filet Mignon

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Franckie’s Filet Mignon with pepper sauce

I often make this dish, it has it all. Tasty, easy to make, it makes a great Sunday dinner, a midweek special treat or a feast after a grand day out. My mother used to make pork steaks in a big pot, slow cooked with onions, garlic and peas, slightly burnt at the bottom, it was delicious too. To save on a lot of dishes during and after cooking, I do mine in a papillote , which is really between two sheets of tin foil. It keeps all the flavours of the ingredients that you put together. One tip though, leave the greens out or they will turn brown. Apart from that, go for it!

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Left Overs Irish Bacon Fusion

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Bacon Pasta Fusion

Well, to be fair, there is so much Bacon and Cabbage one can eat, and those of you who read my Bacon and Cabbage post will understand. I am a busy guy, and Friday is a big day for me and my lovely colleagues as we have to get the place ready for a busy Saturday; once home, I normally go for something quick, but tasty. I had some of my lovely roast bacon left and I decided to go “fusion” with the left overs. Was I inspired by the fact England is about to “sign off” from the European Community? Maybe or “surely” like they say in “The North”( my Belfast friends get very upset when I call it “Northern Ireland”, keep that in mind). Saying that, we all need a bit of comfort and humour, especially when things are about to hit the fan… My God!!! I am becoming way too Irish!

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Bacon and Cabbage

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Bacon and Cabbage

Well I don’t know what took me, I mean the weather was beautiful and all, maybe it was the long walk in Mullaghmeen forest with Doggie Woggie that gave me the Munchies, or the fact that Ireland was playing Italy, for an ultimate football showdown in France that evening, but I started to develop some serious cravings for a good auld bacon and cabbage… I know, I know, it is one of them self satirical and self derision thing the Irish enjoy so much. The funny part is, Brittany has very similar dishes; not one, but several! ( some are frankly gross, like that one rolled in bread dough and then boiled in a cloth, from an Island where I used to work). Some of France’s most famous traditional dishes, like Choucroute, Potée or even Garbure are just different versions of Bacon and Cabbage… Here is the way I make mine…

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