March 25, 2011
I’m back in France at my mum’s just now, and had the opportunity to spend a couple of days in Le Mans at the beginning of the week. Yes, we all know it’s where the 24-hour car race takes place, but really, there is so much more to this beautiful medieval city.
On my last morning there, I had just enough time to nip down to the marché des Jacobins (every Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday, from 7.30am to 12.30pm) to see what the local stall-holders had to offer. Located under the gaze of the stunning St Julien cathedral, it has to be one of the most beautifully located markets ever.
In other respects, it’s a fairly typical market, but, of course, typical rarely means boring when it comes to French produce. This is a funny time of year for fresh fruit and veg – the last of the winter stuff well and truly over, and the delights of spring not quite kicking in. But, still, the market was pretty much busting at the seams with lovely looking food.
Radishes being one of my favourite nibbles, I couldn’t resist buying a large bunch of the crunchy gems, pictured below. Just behind them is a kind of salad called mâche, something you don’t see very often in the UK. It’s one of my mum’s favourites, so a large bag of that was purchased, too. We also bought some dandelion leaves, which were dotted with tiny buds of the flower and had a surprisingly sweet flavour.
As well as the fresh stuff, there were inevitably a number of stalls selling bread. I noticed that a lot of places in Le Mans sold what was called traditional baguette, and when I tried some, I realised it was a kind of levain baguette. And delicious it was, too.
Despite being pretty restrained with our purchases, once Mum and I got home, we realised we did have rather a large amount of lettuce-y type things to munch through. So, for lunch today, I made a large salad of mâche, dandelion leaves, radishes, chicory, celery and cherry tomatoes.
I rustled up smoked salmon omelettes, with herbs from Mum’s garden, to eat alongside the salad, and, with the sun shining and temperatures heading towards 20 degrees, we sat outside for what felt like the first summer lunch of the year. Lovely.
April 17, 2010
I’ve been out to eat quite a lot this week, so last night found myself with a relatively full fridge. I thought I’d better try and use as many things as possible in my supper, and, what started out in my mind as a simple meal of omelette, salad and fried potatoes, ended up with a great long list of ingredients worthy of one of Ottolenghi’s finest!
Here’s what I used:
For the omelette: two beaten eggs, spoonful of pul biber/tomato paste, tablespoon of chopped parsley, one grated courgettes, two finely sliced spring onions, olive oil for frying.
For the salad: two tablespoons of frozen peas boiled, half a head of chicory sliced, two or three mint leaves torn up, dressing made with red wine vinegar, olive oil, mustard, sugar, salt and pepper.
For the potatoes: er, potatoes. Useful tip though, I slice a raw potato, boil it until nearly cooked, then fry in an almost dry non-stick frying pan. Much healthier!
Anyway, the upshot of my very tasty supper was that I will no longer moan about recipes that have lots and lots of ingredients and several different cooking methods involved. Because I really can’t talk, can I!
January 28, 2010
Last night I used the remains of the weekend’s fishy purchases – the mackerel. I’m very fond of mackerel, but it is fairly oily so I like to cook it with something quite sharp, to offset the fatty taste (which I know is what a lot of people don’t like about it).
In among the vegetables I’d bought at Borough Market on Saturday was the first of this this year’s chicory. I love bitter salads, and this crispy leaf is definitely one of my faves. I usually eat it raw in salads, but it can be cooked too, and I thought its flavour would be perfect with the mackerel.
So I cooked the chicory in some olive oil, before adding a leek, for some sweetness, then flavoured the braise with some rosemary, a bay leaf and a splash of Balsamic vinegar. As a side dish to the mackerel it worked really well, but if you want to make it into a veggie main course, a tin of butter beans goes with it very nicely.