September 24th 2013 – Feeling much better

Some time has past and it took longer to get over my operation than I expected.  Emotionally speaking.  I think I was too wrapped up with myself in the present and wasn’t interested in linkages to past places, people and food.

Happily, with this late summer in full swing I want to write again.  Mainly for myself but hey.

I can’t remember when I first tasted beer.  I can remember the first time I bought a drink in a pub though:

“Good evening, lads” said the landlord in The Great Northern (now Brennen’s Bar).  This was a pub near, not surprisingly, the train station in Spalding.  I was out with a friend, Dave P. and it was his idea.

“What would you like?”, he asked us.

This threw me, despite not being unused to the Pub environment, my Dad having seen to that throughout my early years.  He never let me order drinks though, and the last time he bought me one in a Pub was when I was about 11 and it was a Bitter Lemon in the Castle Inn, Coningsby.  He quizzed me about horse-racing in front of his friends

“Who is the ‘Wizard of Finden’ ?”

Actually I cannot find any reference to this name now.  There doesn’t even seem to be a place in England called Finden.  After all these years my memory clings on to half-remembered facts and events.  The answer I gave was

“Fred Winter”

but he trained at Lambourne, apparently.  Well, there you go.

Anyway, back to the Great Northern.

“What do you recommend? I asked.

He looked us up and down a bit (shades of 10cc) and then said

“Rum and Black.  That’s what you want”.

In later years I found out this was a Ladies’ drink but I still don’t think the landlord was being unkind.  I liked it, anyway.

The first beer I remember drinking was Sam Smiths Old Brewery Bitter in the very back room of the Olde White Horse in Spalding.  This was a private, curtained off room where twice a week the RAOB club met.  It was also where a group of us used to meet up on Youth Club nights.  At 40p a pint, ‘same glass please’, £2 was enough for a good evening.

I had to work for nearly 5 hours at a local garden centre for that pleasure.  Now just one hour’s work gets me plenty.  I must be getting on in the world, or just getting on.

So last Sunday I cooked lamb and slowly made my way through 6 bottles of fine, modern English Beer.  Here’s what happened:

Braised Shoulder of Lamb with Potatoes and Lemon

This is from ‘Recipes and Ramblings’ by Elisabeth Luard, inspired by a vist to Kale, Turkey.

You will need for 6 people

A robustly chunked shoulder of lamb.  2ish kg, hacked into 6 pieces.  Actually I made the recipe with half a shoulder and cut through the meat to the bone to give 3/4 good pieces.  They come away from the bone easily enough after cooking.  The hacksaw looked a bit rusty in any event.

A good few slugs of Olive oil

Enough waxy potatoes for 6 people, peeled and cut into pieces just large enough to fit into your mouth.

2 lemons, scrubbed if waxed, roughly chopped

Half a dozen good sized garlic cloves, cut in half, leaving the skin on.

Fresh Rosemary.  I don’t know how big your sprigs are.  Tread the middle ground between too little to make an impact and too much to overpower the dish.

Tablespoon of dried Oregano.  You need dried, to stand up to the long cooking time.

1 good glass of white wine, a good ‘every-day drinking’ quality.  On the dry side.

Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper.  Or hit some peppercorns hard enough to crack them, in a controlled way so they don’t pepper the kitchen.

Lots of bitter, peppery leaves.  I used rocket, curly endive and lamb’s lettuce.

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Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.  Put everything (but not the salad you fool!) in a roasting tin, mix together with your hands, rubbing the meat well with the flavourings.  Cover with foil and cook for an hour or more, until the meat starts to come away from the bone, ie quite tender.

Remove the foil and 3/4 of the juices.  Mix everything again, taking care that the potatoes don’t break up and put back into the oven for 30 minutes or so, until the potatoes bown a little.  I stuck the grill on, protecting the lamb with foil to help this along.  Tinged though, not blackened.

Meanwhile, you want to get rid of as much of the fat as possible from the juices.  Freezer for 20 minutes may work and spoon off the fat on the top.  I used on of those ‘upside-down jugs’ that let you pour from the bottom of the jug.  Reduce this to a good coating consistency.  You will use this to dress your pile of bitter leaves.

Eat.

Now for the beers, starting with the weakest (in alcohol) of the bunch.

Redchurch Brewery Broadway Black Ale

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I’m very, very surprised.  This must be the tastiest 2.9% beer I’ve ever drunk.  Enough malt, well-hopped (but not overly, thank goodness), lovely white head and a full mouthfeel which is a real accomplishment.  I’m also glad they’ve called it a Black Ale instead of the self-contradictory idea of a Black Pale Ale, so beloved by some IPA makers.  IBA is what that is.

Real dilemma now.  What comes next?  Beavertown or Kernel Pale Ale? Or Siren’s Liquid Mistress Red IPA (IRA! Or is that why they call it a Red IPA?).  It’s a ripper of a beer.

Beavertown Gamma Ray American Pale Ale 5.4%

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I’ve a soft-spot for Beavertown beers.  They have some of the best labels going and they make great beer.  Here goes this one.

Relatively lightly hopped, slight orangey bitterness, good.

Let’s go Kernel now.  Fortunately there should be some Kernel available in Belgium this week.  Don’t hold your breath, anything could go wrong.  But if it doesn’t, be quick.  Be very quick.

The Kernel India Pale Ale Simcoe Centennial Motueka 6.4%

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My word, that’s good.  Astonishing actually.  Perfect hop balancing, great malt.  Slight toffee apple, makes you want to chew but you can’t.  Nutty, biscuit, there’s an elusive taste there.  Marie-Rose finds apricot.  She’s right.

Two Weird Beards and the Siren Red to go.  Shall I split the Weirds?  Perhaps.  But I don’t think that’ll work.  I have ‘Holy Hoppin’ Hell’, a double IPA at 9.7% and Bad Habit, a Belgian Tripel at 8.6%.  Go on, the Mistress it is.

Siren Craft Brew Liquid Mistress Red IPA 5.8%

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I like RIPpArs but mourn the loss of Brodie’s Hackney Red from my supplier, The Bottle Shop in Canterbury.  That was a lovely beer.  Of course, The Kernel’s collab with Brodie’s ‘London Brick’ was unimaginably good, unless you had some.  Damn that was good beer.  This is fine, not quite in the top places but if you like Everton then you’ll understand.  At West Ham we’d have this beer any day of the week.

So, last two beers of the afternoon.  The two Weird Beards.  I must say that I don’t like ‘funny’ labels or names on beers.  The Kernel may be minimalist but for me that is infinitely preferable to elves and stuff.  Anyway, here we go.

Weird Beard Holy Hoppin’ Hell.  A Double IPA.  9.7%

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Blimey.  That’s clever.  All you want from a high alcohol IPA but it’s not cloying.  Slight burnt raisin but the light effervescence cleans the tongue between draughts.  It’s like a space has been left in your mouth for another glug.  So I will.  I like this.

And last, onto the one I was a bit apprehensive about.

Weird Beard & Northern Monk Brew Co Bad Habit A Belgian Tripel 8.6%

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Smells and tastes like a small Belgian Brewery beer.  Which could be a complement, if that’s what they were trying to do.  Unluckily for me I know a few much better Tripels and if I want to drink a beer of that style I won’t be opening one of these again.  That’s just my opinion.  I guess that’s the Belgian yeast  I can taste there, the Cascade seems a bit lost.

Hindsight suggests that the last two should’ve been swopped around.  I’m not even finishing the last one, the first 5 were enough entertainment over a Sunday afternoon.

© Bob Cavanagh, 2013, http://www.deliciouslydifferent.be

June 5th 2013 – Sorry Rick.

A month without posting but back in the saddle.  Not really.

Anyway, Rick Stein.  I’ll come straight to the point, I had what I can now see as an irrational dislike of the guy.  For some reason I found him a bit, well, twee.  Not a serious cook, just an old git playing on having a dog called Chalky as a viewer magnet.  I’m sorry.  It’s a bit like saying I dislike Aston Villa.  I don’t know why, there probably wasn’t an event in my past which caused either. Probably not, but suppressed memories are exactly that.

A couple of years ago I happened to watch a program from his French Odyssey series, the one with cooking eels on a barge if you know it. It was probably on Saturday Kitchen as I would never have watched the series.  I enjoyed it and thought – why don’t I like this guy?  Was it envy, plain jealousy?  Could’ve been.  Now I have a Jack Russel of my own perhaps I can see a kindred Russely foodie spirit.  The fact is I was wrong.  The guy cares properly about food and people and perhaps my dislike was caused by finding myself wanting in one of these departments.  If not both.

So here is one of my favourite recipes from the book of the series.  I have just started to be able to stand long enough to cook after an operation which is why there has been a gap between now and my last post.  That and a week on the Costa Brava where I picked up a half-decent meatball recipe (albondiga) which I’ll share soon and I’ll link it into a football anecdote.  In fact I would love to do a World Cup of meatballs, based on the countries qualifying for Brazil and have each recipe play against the other with tasters voting for the best ones.  The countries can be in the same groups as the World Cup starts but after that, who will come out on top.  Looking forward (for once) to any penalty shootout.  I’ve got that planned as well, but I’m keeping it to myself and may Rick.  So Rick, if you are reading all this then how about it?

I fantasise and digress, so here is the recipe.  Actually, here are nearly all of the ingredients.  If you want the recipe then buy the book.  It also seems that there are some recipes on the internet which are the same but don’t mention Rick.  Which is wrong.  Give it a go, it’s really very, very good.  So thanks Rick.  You are one of my Food Heros.

Squid and potato stew with rouille

‘In the tradition of bouillabaisse’.  As Rick says.

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That’s it, I can’t sit for much longer.  Got a great cheats rouille though.  Take some mayonnaise, enough for 2.  Crush up a couple of cloves of garlic against some sea salt with the blade of a knife.  Add that to the mayonnaise.  Now add 1/2 tsp of smoked paprika and the same of a non-virulent chilli powder – I use Kashmiri.  You could use one tsp of a piquant smoked paprika but I don’t keep any of that.  Mix well, allow to sit for 20 minutes et voilà.

© Bob Cavanagh, 2013, http://www.deliciouslydifferent.be

May 5th 2013 – Slugs and snails and a Jack Russell’s tail

The weather was fine for the Fête de St. Georges, the dragon was slain, good triumphed over evil.  Now I’m not sure how much I can read into this but certainly there are a few battles in the garden which I fight every year and some I just can’t.

We have two natural ponds and these, despite the best efforts of the Gendarme, as the heron is known, there is a lot of noise.  It keeps Marie-Rose awake at night and every year we symbolically devour a plate of Cuisses de grenouilles.  I can take it or leave it, but for Marie-Rose it is revenge, pure and simple.  Not that the frogs we eat come from the pond.  We can’t win the battle and quite frankly, there should be no battle to be fought.  Peaceful coexistence is called for, even if the frogs have a different view on ‘peace’.  Besides, they are useful.

Other battles include the one against bindweed.  I confess.  I do spray it from time to time, using a little plastic cone to stop the chemical being blown around on reaching other plants or even the soil.  This is not so much a battle but a campaign of attrition.  Each year there is less but I must be vigilant.

There is the fight against slugs too.  This year has seen their numbers reduced and I thank the chickens who gladly eat the larva when exposed by the clearing the grass etc at the foot of my raised beds.  I’m sure that the frogs eat some but I can accept that I am kidding myself here.  What they, and the pipistrelle do, is to hoover up mosquitos and their larvae, to such an extent that we hardly ever see them in the house.

I have also been hand-pollinating my apple trees.  I bought a new one this year, a Belgian variety called Reinette de Waleffe, as one of my trees was in flower much before the others in the area.  There seem very few pollinators about at the moment so I must do it myself.  The shape of things to come I guess.

Now slugs are homeless snails, and when I see the fresh, crisp dandelion leaves all around, I hanker after snail risotto.  The dandelion leaves are free, but I do recommend that you search out the biggest ones.

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Many people are worried about dog wee contamination, so I use one of these:

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I find a big patch of dandelions, off the beaten path, and call Cooper over.  If he doesn’t sniff and wee on them then I’m sure no other dog has either.  It’s not quite like having a truffle hound but hey.

Washed and picked over we get:

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Snail, mushroom and dandelion risotto

Other ingredients you’ll need are:

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The cheese you see is Cornish Yarg wrapped in Wild Garlic leaves.  I always thought Yarg was a real old Cornish word, maybe Cornish for ‘jolly tasty cheese’ or some such.  In fact it is the cheesemaker’s name backwards.  If you don’t have any then use what you like, although garlic is necessary somewhere so add a finely chopped clove to the lardons and mushrooms later.  You’ll also need some hot stock, chicken, veal or vegetable.  A litre should be ample, so long as you haven’t over-estimated the amount of rice.  Which I do.

Firstly ensure that you have nothing else to do for 30 minutes.  Risotto demands your full attention.  So, finely chop the shallot and fry gently in some bacon fat if you have some.  If not, use whatever you prefer and contemplate frying some lardons of bacon to add later.  Add half the butter and enough rice for two.  Continue to fry gently until the rice starts to become opaque – do not let brown.  Add the wine and cook off the alcohol.  Now start adding the stock, a ladle at a time, waiting for all the liquid to be absorbed before adding the next. Stir as you go.  This is important but don’t be vigorous. In a separate pan fry sliced mushrooms gently in some butter (with the lardons if using) and when ready (10 minutes) add the snails.  Keep warm. When the rice is just right, ie, you are happy to eat it, add the snails and mushrooms and warm through for a moment.  In with the cubed cheese and dandelions:

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Taste, season, add the remaining butter, stir once and serve.  You won’t have forgotten to warm some plates, of course.

© Bob Cavanagh, 2013, http://www.deliciouslydifferent.be

April 21st 2013 – Saint George beckons

It’s St. George’s Day in a couple of days.  I realise it’s not widely celebrated in England, but here in Grez-Doiceau it is.  He’s our patron saint too and here we have a 3 day long festival in his honour, even with a Dragon being slain.  We’ll be there on Sunday with English beer and cheese like we have done for the last two years.  One cheese we sold back then has been on our list ever since – the Ashmore Farmhouse.  Although made in Kent it is a true cheddar nonetheless.  Hand-made from raw milk, it has deservedly won accolade after accolade including Taste of Kent awards and being named in the World’s Top 50 cheeses in The World Cheese Awards 2012.  If you’re ever in Canterbury, pop into the Goods Shed by Canterbury West and buy some.  Visit Carl the Butcher too, Lee’s General Store and buy some remarkable beer from The Bottle Shop while you’re at it.

I have always wanted to find St George’s mushrooms too, so named because they start appearing now.  If I see some I’ll take a picture and sadly not cook them.  There really are not many poisonous lookalikes at this time of year, the two main ones being the Red-staining fibre cap (it stains red when bruised, the St. George doesn’t, the spore deposit is brown, St. George is white), and the Livid Pink Gill.  Fleshy mushrooms with pink gills and pinkish spore deposits are best avoided.  All this means that even if I find some, Marie-Rose won’t let me eat any.  A slight pity but I must respect her wishes – it’s not an important battle to win.  I’d be more worried if she encouraged me.

So after the dog walking, earthing up of potatoes, a refreshing beer, a walk organised by the local Primary school, the barbecue that follows (will there be Saucisses, Lard, Baguette and salad?  When isn’t there…?) I’ll turn my attention to supper.  It’s not as warm today as I hoped so perhaps something along the lines of Poulet Basquaise.  But that’s not very English.  I think a fish pie with a twist – it won’t be fish but chicken!

You will need:

A Chicken’s worth of chicken without bones. I’ll bone 4 thighs and 4 legs.  Weird chicken, I know.  Just prefer the dark meat.  Use kitchen paper to pull the skin off.  Make stock now with the bones, a carrot, and onion with skin, a bayleaf, a few peppercorns and a parsely stalk or two.

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A large, chopped onion, not too fine

A few rashers of bacon, chopped

A leek, if you have one, cleaned and chopped

Some lard or butter if you must and flour, salt and (white) pepper

Parsely, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme.  Any or all of these, finely chopped.

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A pint of cider or perry

Cream

Floury potatoes, cooked and mashed.  2lbs will do it.

Pre-heat your oven to moderate, 350°F or so.  Cut up potatoes and cook in salted water.  Drain and leave to steam dry in a pan with the the lid not quite on…

Meanwhile, cut the chicken up into reasonably sized chunks.  Half a thigh or thereabouts.  Season and sauté in the fat, not over such a fierce heat that the butter burns if you are not using lard.  Lard is best.  We don’t want a brown sauce.  Remove, and fry bacon, onion, leeks in the fat for a few moments until the onion is translucent.  Do not brown.   Maybe check the potatoes and deal with them (turn off the pan with the leeks etc. in  it)

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Now turn the leek pan back on, adding a tablespoon of flour and cook for a few moments but don’t brown it. Start adding the cider/perry and build up a nice sauce, you may not need all the liquid.  Drink the rest.  If you need more liquid use some of the stock you have already made.  Add enough cream so it looks just right and check for seasoning.  White pepper is correct here but if you only have black then so be it.

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Put in your pie dish, mash the potatoes or put through a ricer if your mum bought you one for Christmas.  Cover the chicken etc. with the potatoes, and make ploughlines with a fork.  Dot with butter and put in the oven.  It is ready when golden-brown and bubbling through at the edges.  Turn off the oven and leave to rest whilst you boil some frozen peas.  Or some green asparagus if the weather has been kind.

There you are.  That’s English.  And if you like you can pipe a St. George’s Cross on the top with ketchup.  I might resist that temptation.  Might.

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In fact I was reminded of the clash of the Waterzooi.  I have always felt cheated by the idea of chicken rather than fish.  ‘ Water’ gives it away a bit, though I suppose Poule d’eau could be used but I just don’t fancy them.  What goes around comes around and I remember my first few days in Peru.  Day one I ate ceviche de conchas negras, day two saw a big headline in the papers: COLERA.  Day three saw restaurants offering ceviche de pollo or ceviche de hongas.  And now I do it myself, substituting chicken for fish.

© Bob Cavanagh, 2013, http://www.deliciouslydifferent.be

April 18th 2013 – Green shoots

Last Sunday we had my wife’s four brothers and one of their wives around for lunch.  I won’t bore you with ‘why’ or ‘what we ate’, suffice to say a lovely leg of Kentish Lamb was involved.

Before they came I made sure that I tidied up my raised beds; at least one of the guests was a vegetable gardener and I couldn’t lose face.  ‘Look now, look all around, there’s no sign of life’ I heard in my head.  Incidentally as I drive from Canterbury to Ramsgate where I pick up from Gadd’s Brewery, I always pass a road sign pointing to Thanet and Earth. ‘this is Thanet Earth’ then invades my consciousness.  The kids think I’m a right Duran Duran nut, only I have seen Barbarella.

I digress, the point is that the next day (Monday) I saw this:

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OK, you had to be there but from bare soil the day before there were the first Broad Bean and Potato leaves.  They had survived and were just lusting for some warmth.

I wait for Kentish Asparagus.  I’m not convinced by the white stuff, perhaps its too delicate for my palate.  My wait is nearly over.

However Asparagus is not the only Spring shoot to be savoured.  I will just quote from Dorothy Hartley’s ‘Food in England’:

‘BRACKEN

The bracken increase that destroys so much of our land comes from so many causes.  Bracken used to be cut for bedding for farm animals, for covering-in root crops, and for weaving into shelters and hurdles, and trusses of it were burnt in the ovens and used to light the open hearths.  Quantities were used by the slate and earthenware workers to pack their wares for road transport.  The invention of the pneumatic tyre on the lorry caused much bracken to remain uncut, as less packing was needed.  The sheep were on the hills so early that they ate young shoots for lack of other grazing – and where the bracken was not brought down for use about the steading, the shepherd would cut it all over his sheep walk because, growing high; it hid the sheep, induced fly, ans spoilt the fine grass ‘bite’.  All these reasons combined to keep the growth of the bracken within bounds.  Now it is not cut and has become a desperate weed instead of a useful growth.’

She wrote this in 1954

She goes on:

‘Young bracken fronds are edible when about three inches high and still tightly curled; they should be so young that they snap off.

Tie in loose bundles and cook like asparagus – only longer, and serve with melted bacon fat.  They have a distinctive smoky flavour – rather like the smell of Darjeeling rea.  Brown bread and butter is the best accompaniment.  You either like them very much or not at all.’

Me?  I like.  But then again I think ‘New Miseable Experience’ by the Gin Blossoms is great music to cook by.  And you do too, Gary.

© Bob Cavanagh, 2013, http://www.deliciouslydifferent.be

April 10th 2013 – And the Spring cometh

At school today a friend of mine told me they had seen a couple of swallows not far from me near Wavre.  I’m dead jealous, I’ve been looking out for them over the Dijle for a couple of weeks.

Although not yet a summer, finally there is a different feel to the air.  There was rain, for example.  I’d forgotten what rain was like.  Snow, yes.  Sleet, yes.  Damp muggy fog, yes.  But not rain.  It was like a foreign substance, for a while, and I was moved to take the covers off my potatoes and to start checking each day for signs of Broad Beans.  The Jerusalem Artichokes have also gone in.  It’s been over 10 years since I’ve grown them, the last time was in Spalding.  The tubers I get here are much less knobbly and easier to peel and I hope for a good crop.  They’ve taken the place of the runner beans, providing a living and fruitful screen for the woodstack.  ‘Jerusalem’ apparently is a corruption of girasol (‘turn to sun’ or sunflower in Spanish) and in a long, hot summer (yeh right) they will even flower.

Easter was too early for new season lamb and I wait for not only that but also Jersey Royals and Asparagus.  I’m not a fan of ‘continental’ white asparagus and refuse to eat any from Peru but as with Strawberries, choose to wait for them to come into season here in Northern Europe.  Kentish Asparagus, Jersey Royals and of course, Wepion Strawberries.  These are the signs that Spring is in full swing.

It’s all this anticipation which leaves me a bit flat when thinking about what to eat.  What I want to eat isn’t available, yet.  I need something to carry me over, a bridging meal.  Something which promises warmer weather but will keep me going during the cool evenings.  Something simple.

Onion and Apple Pie (Cornish)

I don’t want to give quantities here, but 3 apples and medium-large onions should be a good start.  Peel, core and thinly slice the apple.  Peel and ring-slice the onions thinly too.  Oven needs to be hot, 200°C.

It’s like a Cornish Dauphinoise, in a pie!

Line a pie-tin with shortcrust pastry.  Put in a layer of apple rings and cover with a layer of onion rings, finely chopped sage, pepper, salt, and a pinch of mixed spice.

Keep alternating until apple and onion are used up.  I like to add some bits of Cornish Yarg (the ‘wrapped in garlic leaves’ one) as I go too.  Put good-sized bits of butter over the top (or clotted cream) and cover with a thin crust.

Bake, brushing with egg first if you like.  Eat hot.  You probably don’t need any accompaniment.  Green salad?  Watercress?  Nah.

© Bob Cavanagh, 2013, http://www.deliciouslydifferent.be

April 1st 2013 – Respect for bread and potatoes

I waited a day before writing as I was hoping beyond reason that the weather would change, now that it was April and not March.  It’s still cold, but brighter.  I don’t have a daffodil in flower and only 7 buds show any promise.  I have Siskins and Goldfinches though at my feeders.  The latter are pretty enough but the Siskins are the Canaries of the north.  They are also quite fearless, letting me approach within a few yards whilst the Tits and Chaffinches fly away.  There was even a Brambling, looking out of place with his summer plumage.

“The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there” is the opening line from L.P. Hartley’s ‘The Go-Between’ and living here in Belgium sometimes makes me feel as if the clock has gone back in time.  I remember a time in England, not that long ago, when machines which were coin-operated and a service to the community were free from robbery, graffiti and vandalism.  I’m thinking not only of the phone box, but also honesty boxes for daffodils, strawberries and other produce from small-holdings.

I’m lucky alright, because I live near a coin-operated bread-selling machine.  I can get bread just like that, anytime night or day.  The machine has never been vandalised or broken into, but remains a testimony to respect.  No-one would even think ‘ooh, what shall I do, there’s nothing to do, I know, I’ll smash up that stoopid bread machine and it’ll be right funny, imagine the people’s faces when they try and buy bread and they can’t.  Ha ha.’.

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And that is not all.  I am doubly blessed.  In Korbeek-Dijle, not far away, there is one of these:

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If I get hungry and the shops are shut and there’s nothing in, I can buy bread and potatoes.  And you know what to do with those!  That’s right, a chip butty.  Here in the land of frites they know the worth of this carb-carb combo as they have the mitraillette.  True I can’t see
Pizza et frites catching on, but the chip sandwich is a classic, right up there with ‘best-ever’ sandwiches like the BLT, the Club, the Welsh Rarebit (open-grilled sandwich, ideal for a cross-over smorgasbord), the Peruvian Triple (what?) and Butifarra, the Chilean Barros Luchos, the Bush Rat brochette baguette, the…..

Well, the list is personal and I won’t tell you how to make the perfect Chip Butty.  They are deeply personal things but for me I want three pairs of opposing forces fighting it out on its journey to the bottom of my tummy;  Hot-Cold (Chip-Butter), Soft-Crunchy (Bread-Chip), Salt-Sweet (Salt-Ketchup).  Get it right and you will never look a foie gras in the eye again.  Possibly.

But what else can we do we these two bedfellows?  That is not so easy.  I shall ignore the idea of Potato Bread, because that’s bread made from potatoes, not something with bread and potatoes as stars in their own right.

I put before you the

Curried Potato Sliced Bread Croquette

You need:

Potato Curry, dry.  (I used Madhur Jaffrey’s recipe for Vegetable Samosa filling from ‘Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cookery’.  If you don’t have a copy then buy one.  You know it makes sense).

Square sliced bread, crusts removed. (Crusts can feed chickens and other birds, or make breadcrumbs with them).  If your bread machine sells nothing like Sunblest (which it won’t), choose the one which has the densest crumb and is white.  Or get that British Breakfast Bread from the supermarket.

Deep Fat Frier.  With oil.  Turned to 11.

A widish bowl with water in it.

Basically dip one side of each slice of bread very quickly in the water, hold it in one hand and press it flat – it will get a bit wider.  Put some curry in the middle and work the bread around it until you have a sort of lozenge or torpedo shape.  The dampness of the bread will aid you here as long as it’s not wet in which case it will fall apart.  Leave to rest fo 10 – 15 minutes in a warm place (my kitchen is fine).  Fry them, 6 at a time, turning once, until nice and brown.  Eat hot, perhaps dip into some Mango Cutney or Mint Raita.  Here are some pictures as I went along:

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Note nice Gadd’s No3.  For drinking.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAOnion, Ginger, Peas, Fresh Coriander

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAPotatoes, Cumin, Garam Masala, Cayenne Pepper (I used the tiniest amount of Trinidad Moruga Scorpion flakes), Salt and Pepper, Lemon Juice.  Really important to get the lemon-salt balance right.

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Damn fine too.  Even the French seller of Alpine cheeses at the market shook my hand after tasting one. And I sell English cheese there.

© Bob Cavanagh, 2013, http://www.deliciouslydifferent.be