Pancakes again

Well, crêpes really I suppose. I think of ‘pancakes’ as being the thick, stodgy affairs my mother cooked on Pancake Day (Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras) when I was a kid, or those things served in American diners. Which are fine and which I love with maple syrup and butter and bacon, but crêpes are…

Quick hedgerow tart

We (OK, OK, my wife) picked a sack of blackberries when we went for a walk along the old railway line the other day, and she’s been hassling me to do something with them ever since. Like, she said, make a tart. With crème patissiere. And pâte sablé. Well, me and pastry – as they…

Brioche buns

So when I was younger – OK, over 40 years ago – I went to an English Public School. The thing you have to know straight away about English Public Schools is that they’re not Public, they’re Private. Not just anyone can go there, OH no. You have to pass an exam – commonly called…

Non-Proustian madeleines

I have made thousands, tens of thousands, perhaps even hundreds of thousands of these madeleines. I can make them in my sleep. I may even have made them in my sleep, in fact. I can make them in an hour, enough for a giant birthday party with enough left over for breakfast. In fact, I’ve…

Chapter 27: Week 25: A little cheffy common sense

French bureaucracy is complicated for a number of reasons, not least the fact that it’s charged with keeping French bureaucracy going. In the UK, 11% of the workforce works for the government in one capacity or another – policemen, nurses, bureaucrats, whatever. In France, the percentage is 24%. Twenty-four percent! A quarter of the workforce…

Obsessive chefs

I have worked for mad chefs and for obsessive chefs. The two are not necessarily the same. One mad chef told everyone in the kitchen different stories about his life: to me, his daughter was finishing her studies to become a doctor; to the sous chef she’d just been airlifted by helicopter to a specialist…

Trilogies.

When I started working with Jean-Remy Joly at La Table des Agassins just outside Avignon, one of the first dishes I learned to make was this, the Trilogy. It’s layers of confited (dried or preserved) tomato, goat cheese and aubergine caviar, an assemblage of Provençal ingredients he put together when he first arrived in the…

Freaky

Whilst searching for something suitable as a subject for a dictation for my English-learning French students, I came across a new craze: Freakshakes. They’re milkshakes gone bonkers; milk, ice-cream, chocolate sauce, chantilly, sweeties, doughnuts, apple pies, whatever, all piled into and onto your glass. Miam, as they say in French. Once my daughters saw them,…

Lunch

Father’s Day today, so I get to have a day off from cooking and washing up. Ha ha ha ha ha! No seriously I enjoy food too much to leave my wife alone in the kitchen, so I’m cooking today. On the menu: duck breast with mushroom sauce, roast potatoes and asparagus with parmesan. The…

Simple bread

Bread is simple, simplicity itself; flour, water, salt and yeast and there you go. Well, almost – a certain amount of measuring and technique may well get in the way of your perfect loaf. Me, I’ve always had problems making anything that involved baking, especially if yeast was in the mix. Pastry I make is…

The simple things in life…

I recently came across something I wrote a while ago about omelets, which are pretty simple things really. Simple until you start mucking about with them, that is. Then they become complicated. Like the rib of beef I cooked a few weeks ago; brown it on both sides, pop it in the oven for a…