Hello beloved readers.
Now, I could furnish you all with a multitude of excuses of why I haven’t updated the blog for a little while, but you don’t want to hear that load of pathetic old cobblers, you want frigging RESULTS and I understand that, I really do. So here I am, delivering STUFF for you to cast your critical eye over.
Bearing that in mind and without further ado, get your eyeballs around this.
I've kind of been lacking inspiration recently. Don’t get me wrong, I cook all the time. It’s even what I do for a living at my day job, and I'm always eating out in restaurants. Food is pretty much my raison d'être (check me and my posh words out!), but something has just felt like it was missing. It’s hard to define or pin down but I just haven’t felt particularly excited about anything much lately, but that all changed last week.
I happened to pick up a copy of Caroline Conran’s, Sud de France – The food and cooking of Languedoc.
This is hard to describe but flicking through I gradually felt the clouds lifting and was somehow instantly rejuvenated in a culinary sense. I'm not entirely sure how or why, I just realised that I wanted to cook all of it and couldn't wait to get started.
Now I know you’re probably thinking-
‘What a load of bollocks Dan, you probably ate some dodgy prawns or sumfink and the effects happened to wear off as you read that book ’
But it’s true I tell you. I have been INSPIRED.
Seriously, It’s an absolutely fantastic book. Every single recipe is introduced with anecdotes that beautifully sketch out intriguing glimpses of everyday life, eating and cooking in the Languedoc region of France. The recipes themselves are refreshingly exact, to the point and most importantly, they work (a prerequisite of a recipe book you might think, but it’s surprising how many books fall at that particular hurdle).
There are no photos of the food, just the authors own drawings and I love that. You’re free to interpret how the food should look on the plate and you’re forced to use your imagination and work a little bit, which feels somehow very right. It also helps, dare I say it, to make it all feel very reminiscent of Elizabeth David and that is definitely a compliment.
Anyway, it’s a truly lovely book. Buy it.
There’s one recipe in particular I absolutely love. It’s really simple, almost ridiculously so, but It just blew me away. French beans with garlic – Haricots verts a l’ail.
I cooked this recipe using bobby beans (an English variant of green beans that are in season, right now) and used Neal’s Yard Dairy’s rather amazing crème fraiche (if you've never tried it, I urge you to give it a go, it’s the best crème fraiche I've ever tasted – if you’re in Bristol, they stock it in Source at St Nicholas Market).
I served it with the Chicken with sherry vinegar and tomato recipe from the same book (also superb).
Bobby beans with garlic and crème fraiche
500g Bobby beans, topped and tailed
150ml Crème Fraiche
1 plump clove garlic, finely chopped
Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Throw in the beans and let them cook for 8 minutes.
- I’d normally cook fine beans for 3 minutes, al dente, but stick with it, the author explains that she thinks the beans don’t develop their flavour if they are eaten too crisp and raw. Based on the results, for this particular recipe, I think I agree.
Meanwhile simmer the garlic in the crème fraiche in a small non-stick pan for about 5 minutes, until the garlic starts to smell fragrant.
Drain the beans thoroughly, toss them in the cream and garlic mixture.
Season with pepper and salt if necessary.
And that’s it. Simple and bloody amazing!
Yeah, I’ll say it again… buy this book.